All those quitters? They are at work.

Porsha Sharon, 28, still thinks about the outbursts she witnessed from customers she served last year at Buddy’s Pizza in Troy, Michigan. A woman walked into the restaurant and simply ordered a pizza, to which Ms. Sharon responded by pointing to the full menu: What kind?

“Didn’t you hear what I said?” the client answered, according to Ms. Sharon’s recollection. “Are you dense?”

Other customers mocked Ms Sharon for wearing a mask. Eight-hour shifts ended with searing pain in his swollen feet. She received an offer in March to start working as an administrative assistant at a law firm, a job she did temporarily while at university, and last month she left the pizzeria.

“The last generation, they were miserable at their jobs, but they stayed because that’s what they were supposed to do,” Ms Sharon said. “We’re not like that, and I like that for us. We say to ourselves: ‘This work overloads me with work, I get sick because my body stops, and I’m done with that.’ »

Katy Dean, chief operating officer of Buddy’s Pizza, a Michigan restaurant chain, said abusive customers were a “difficult component” of the current restaurant climate. “If a customer refuses to calm down and treat our staff with respect, we empower our managers to ask that customer to leave the restaurant,” Ms. Dean said.

This moment of work has been called anti-ambition. But for many workers, the frustration gave way to an outburst of ambitious calls for better jobs: for promotions, industry changes, stable hours, sick leave, bereavement leave, furloughs maternity benefits, retirement plans, security protections, vacations. “No one wants to work anymore,” reads a sign outside McDonald’s featured in a viral TikTok. To whom former Labor Secretary Robert Reich responded: “No one wants to be exploited anymore.”

Last year, when millions of people said “I quit,” the reckoning went far beyond the boundaries of the businesses and industries at its center. White-collar workers were not quitting their jobs at the same rapid rate as those in hospitality and retail. But they still made bold demands of their employers, aware that unemployment is low and competition for talent is fierce.

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