snow and work (and a secret open thread)

1. First, since this is a holiday, feel free to use the comments section as an open thread if you’d like to.

2. Last month, we talked about how managers should handle snow days. Today, here’s a round-up of advice from the employee side of things: whether you have to be paid for snow days if you don’t work, whether you can be made to use a vacation day when your office closes for snow,  and lots of other aspects of snow days.

Everything you need to know about how your employer can (and should) handle snow days

Should you go into the office during severe weather?

Do you have to be paid if your office is closed due to weather?

Is it bad to stay home from work due to weather?

My boss seems annoyed when I stay home every time it snows

Am I grinch for expecting my staff to work from home on snow days?

{ 660 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. hermit crab

    I love snow days! Not because I don’t have to work, since I can walk to the office and there’s no excuse for me not to come in, but because there are no meetings, no phone calls from clients, and the dress code is “whatever the heck you want.” Sometimes I’m the only person here and I can play music from my computer speakers without wearing headphones. :)

    Who else is in the office right now in the DC area?

    Reply
    1. Jess14

      Yes, DC here, but I telecommute so I always work! Actually, I have a question about that if anyone wants to chime in. So, we have a DC office, although the HQ is somewhere else. I’m technically “assigned” to the DC office (I’m on its payroll, my business cards have the DC office address, etc) but I have no physical presence there and telecommute 100% of the time because my boss and the rest of my team are at the HQ. The DC office follows OPM, so they’re closed today and my colleagues are enjoying the day off with pay (not required to take vacation, or work remotely). I always continue working through snow days unless I lose power or internet, which is rare, but it is much harder because I’m a single mom with shoveling to do and kids out of school. Should I ask if I can take at least part of the day off when the DC office is closed?

      Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I’d say it this way: “Is it safe for me to assume I should follow the DC office’s procedures on snow days?” In other words, start from the premise that you should.

        If they say, “Well, you don’t have to drive, so does it really impact you?” then you can say, “Days when OPM closes things down are often days when I spend a good chunk of the day shoveling and dealing with child care, so it would be great to follow them if that’s feasible.”

        Reply
      2. hermit crab

        So your colleagues can take the day off, even if they technically could work from home? If that’s the case, I think it would be OK to ask. I’m not sure how best to bring it up, though!

        Reply
      3. AnotherFed

        Are you government? If so, I think the rules are that anyone who can telework must either telework or take leave that day, so it seems like your coworkers shouldn’t be getting the day off if it’s possible for them to telework…

        Reply
        1. Jess14

          No, not government. My coworkers are not required to telework. Some of them probably do anyway, I don’t really know.

          Reply
  2. Mimmy

    Just a little light snow here (NJ) – it’s barely even sticking. I think it’s supposed to get warmer tomorrow, which is super awesome after that arctic blast over the weekend!

    Reply
    1. Coffee Ninja

      Where in NJ are you? It’s sticking quite a bit here (southern NJ). Took me two tries to get into my driveway. Now they are saying we’re getting freezing rain before the warm front rain tonight…but warm rain = no shoveling :)

      Reply
      1. Mimmy

        I’m in central New Jersey (nearest major location is Rutgers University). And yes, the snow did accumulate more after I posted. But you’re right – no shoveling!!! Win!!

        Michelenyc – Yup, I heard 50’s for tomorrow as well! Dang Mother Nature!

        Reply
    1. Total Rando

      I saw this too, and I have to believe that SOMEONE knew what was happening and was just happy to let it keep happening… Right? It’s pretty crazy if truly no one noticed.

      Reply
    2. Connie-Lynne

      Ugh. I had a boss who stopped showing up to work, people noticed, but instead of doing anything about it they just expected me to do his job and my job for a year and a half.

      When he was finally let go they offered him two months’ pay. When I was bullied out of the same company a year later, the CTO made my life a living hell until I just opted to leave.

      What a shitty place.

      Reply
      1. Jen

        Wonder if we worked at the same company!! I was also bullied out after doing 2.5 jobs for 2 years and have had several colleagues exit with handshakes and severance after spending a full year checked out entirely.

        Reply
    1. Muriel Heslop

      My colleague says yes! She has been lobbying a few of us to read the book so we can compare and contrast with the film. She says they are both “dynamite”!

      Reply
    2. Oryx

      I’d say it depends on how much you like hard science fiction. I love sci-fi, but when it comes to reading it I’m not a fan of the hard stuff and found myself bored reading The Martian. That said, I actually enjoy hard science fiction films and loved the movie. I have heard the audiobook version is really good (it won an industry award) so I may give that a try, just to see if it makes any difference.

      Reply
        1. Marzipan

          I didn’t find it hard going, though it is big on the details of exactly how he does everything. (My dad, who is an engineer, liked it better than the film for that reason). To me it was a quick, fun read.

          Reply
        2. FD

          On the sliding scale of sci fi, I would consider Ray Bradbury to be on the harder end, in that most of his tech is at least extrapolated from current tech, compared to something like Star Trek, where you have a lot of science babble.

          I would call The Martian a couple of steps harder than that. The best comparison I can come up with is that he’s a bit like Michael Crichton, except that his characters are much more likable.

          Reply
      1. Anon J

        I am the same as you, but I didn’t find The Martian to be really hard SF. To me, hard SF means you can’t even follow the story without a doctorate in physics (Egan, for example). The Martian was just as fun even when I skipped the sciencey bits!

        Reply
        1. Oryx

          But there *were* sciencey bits and those bits were rooted in actual real science. That’s what makes it on the hard side of things.

          Reply
    3. hermit crab

      I have the opposite question! I’m not much of a moviegoer/watcher, and suspenseful movies tend to make me really anxious for some reason, even if I already know the ending. Are the visuals in The Martian worth it?

      Reply
      1. Gem

        As someone who deeply loves the book, I would say yes. There are tense moments, of course, but Mark’s humour and a disco soundtrack is used with deftness to keep it moving nicely.

        Reply
    4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      Yessssssssss. I was riveted by the book, moreso than the movie.

      However. There is a LOT of math. Like, full pages of formulas. I happily skipped past them, but if that’s not something you’re going to want to do, perhaps it isn’t for you.

      Reply
      1. K.

        I’m reading the book now (saw the movie) and am skipping the formulas. I’ve been saying that you could get a semester’s worth of a physics curriculum out of this. (Wouldn’t surprise me if someone is teaching it!)

        Reply
    5. TCO

      Timely question. I just saw the movie last night (it was great!). I was planning to read the book first, though–it’s next in line on my e-reader.

      Reply
    6. Gem

      As I said below, I bloody love the book, but read that before the movie, so take what you will from that, but I feel there are some things missing from the film that make the book worth it.

      Reply
    7. Jen RO

      Yes, I read it recently and it was better than I expected. The movie is a pretty faithful adaptation though, so maybe not read it right now?

      Reply
    8. Claire (Scotland)

      I think so, definitely. I read the book first, and loved it, and then enjoyed the movie a lot. I got the DVD last week and am now rereading the book.

      Reply
    9. Aunt Vixen

      I haven’t seen the movie (yet), but I read the book in about a day and a half, so if you do decide to read it and end up not liking it you won’t have lost much?

      Reply
    10. jhhj

      Hmm, so, it depends. I really liked the book — which has a bunch more plots left out of the movie — but it lacks such things as “characterization” and “psychological realism”, it’s literally just solve a problem cleverly, disaster, solve cleverly, repeat until you’re off Mars. (It’s very nicely written.)

      It’s sort of a competency porn kind of book, in a nerdy way — here’s snarky MacGyver plus science details.

      Honestly, if you read the xkcd comic about it and said “wow, I should read a book like that” then you should read it. If this is not your exact reaction, enjoy the movie and don’t bother with the book.

      Reply
      1. Kyrielle

        I don’t know. The xkcd makes me go “uh, no thanks” – but I read the book and LOVED it. I think you’re underselling how much characterization there is, too.

        Reply
        1. jhhj

          Bearing in mind that I liked the book very much and will read his next one, I disagree that snark = character. The book had a goal, and it succeeded admirably, but that goal wasn’t psychological realism.

          Reply
    11. Mrs. Badcrumble

      I could see how it made a really good movie, but I hated the book. Like, I didn’t bother finishing it, and I almost never do that (as a reference, I can make it through Thomas Pynchon and Salman Rushdie no problem, but Joyce’s Ulysses defeated me) It wasn’t the technical-ness that turned me off (I read Seveneves by Neal Stephenson recently and it’s far more technical AND an awesome read), it was the unending internal monologue that I found simultaneously irritating, fatuous, and dull. But I really could see how it made a good action movie (…sans internal monologue).

      Reply
      1. Mephyle

        I read the book first, in fact I missed the movie in the theatres and I’m waiting for it to be released for home viewing. I enjoyed the book tremendously. If you are a skim-reader, who has no problem skimming lightly over the parts you find too technical or not interesting for whatever reason, you may enjoy it even more. I found the narrator’s voice tremendously realistic. I’m sure engineers or (perhaps even more so) people who are close to engineers will nod in recognition.

        Reply
    12. A Non E. Mouse

      Yes! Read the book!

      I actually read the book first (it’s a very quick read). As others mentioned the book is far more technical, which I found fascinating. It also did far more day-by-day, and while I was watching the movie it was almost like some scenes were cut – the explanations in the book fleshed it out so much more.

      The movie was a good movie on it’s own; the book was a good book on it’s own.

      Reply
      1. A Bug!

        Yeah, they cut out a ton of the story to make it fit. I wondered while watching it if I was filling in details unintentionally and how it affected my impression of the film.

        I’m not usually a hard science fiction fan but I found that the science parts were pretty accessible. I didn’t feel like I was reading a textbook and I didn’t feel like it was written for more educated people than myself. A lot of that is thanks to Watney’s sense of humour – since most of it’s written from his perspective in first-person, it really helps keep the story from getting bogged down with hard science and doom and gloom.

        Reply
    13. Red

      I thought it was easily one of the best books I’ve read (listened to, to begin with anyway – I use Audible). His humour was hilarious and honestly, it was pretty believable. They did cut a lot out to make it movie length, but they actually did a pretty good job of it, and didn’t butcher the story line too badly (for a change).

      Reply
    14. Kyrielle

      Yes! There are character moments and plot points in the book that are totally removed from the movie, either because of scheduling constraints or just because. (And there’s one joke in the movie that makes a _lot_ more sense in the book because the underpinnings of it were removed from the movie but it was left in.)

      It’s a similar, richer story. And frankly his internal monologue is hilarious.

      Reply
    15. Karowen

      I’m super late to this, but YES. The movie was great, but the book was much better. I do love me some fantasy but normally hate sci-fi, and yet couldn’t put it down. My fiance, who is assuredly not a reader, also couldn’t put it down.

      Reply
    16. Windchime

      I read the book a year or two ago, before I knew there was going to be a movie. I liked the it, but it was full of lots of details about how he achieved the things he had to do to stay alive. Specific details, which kind of bored me after awhile. But I have to say that I kept reading because I also got a better sense of the precariousness of his situation. The movie made it seem less serious than the book made it. Also, it was dark much of the time that he was stranded in the book.

      I think you should read it. It was good, just a little heavy on scientific details.

      Reply
  3. stopping by

    Alison-ok for a work post? If not delete and I will try to post on Friday.

    Anyone have advice for academic interviews? I have my first in 9 days, including 45 minute lecture, panel interview, meetings with deans, etc etc–all day. I am a long time practitioner, with some teaching experience, applying to teach in a new professional degree program. Thanks in advance.

    Reply
    1. BRR

      If it’s ok to recommend elsewhere I’d check the professor is in. It’s like AAM for academia and she recently released a book.

      Reply
    2. limenotapple

      Hide away a little snack in your bag. It’s exhausting going through a whole day of being “on”. I don’t know if that is the kind of advice you are looking for, but it really saved my bacon the last time I had a two day interview.

      Reply
        1. Rana

          Also, be prepared for equipment failures. It’s good to have a low-tech, hard-copy version of your presentation, in case the AV equipment proves incompatible or isn’t working that day.

          Reply
          1. So Very Anonymous

            This! I also have multiple electronic copies just in case — one in Google drive and/or Dropbox, one emailed to several email accounts, one on a flash drive. Such a help when I was interviewing and the flash drive didn’t work.

            Reply
    3. ModernHypatia

      Prep helps. For all day interviews, I put together a Google Doc of my entire schedule for the trip, who I’m meeting with, what their role is, and some brief notes on any particular major projects that are relevant, or questions I want to make sure to ask them in specific. That way I can review it quickly in the bathroom or during a break.

      Be aware of what different people might ask or focus on. (For example, an end of day meeting with the department chair is often partly for talking about salary, tenure or promotion expectations, etc.)

      Pace yourself. Make sure whatever you wear (especially shoes) is comfortable for an all-day interview. Take advantage of whatever breaks they give you. Hopefully they’ll give you water/coffee/whatever at regular intervals, but you may feel more secure stashing a bottle of water and a shelf-stable snack in your bag just in case you need it. Be patient when people ask you the same question in three different successive meetings. It’s probably different people, and they have their own reasons for asking.

      Remember that you’re always on – even at meals. Have pleasant stuff to talk about at meals that you’re comfortable talking about. I’m a librarian, so I always expected the ‘what kinds of things do you read’, and since some of my reading is not something I’d want to talk about in an interview (fannish interests, obviously religious titles, etc.) I always made sure to have a couple of recent books I’d read that I was happy to talk about, plus a couple of other topics. (Asking about the area/town if you’re from outside the area can also fill a lot of time, but it’s not sufficient.)

      There’s also good advice on the Chronicle of Higher Education forums.

      Reply
      1. So Very Anonymous

        I was just coming here to say the same thing about answering the same questions for different people. Try to keep in mind who those people are/what roles they play and why they need to know the answer.

        Also strongly seconding comfortable shoes. Learned that the hard way.

        If there’s a dinner before the day-long interview (or after), don’t drink. Seems obvious, but I’ve heard stories about this. You’re “on” during meals.

        Expect to be completely wiped out by the end of the day. Take notes if you can towards your thank-you notes, but I usually wait until after I’ve slept to compose/email those.

        Reply
        1. Laura

          If others are drinking and you would like a drink, you can have a drink. Just remember that you’re still on :) But it will not reflect terribly on you to have a glass of wine at dinner. (I once had someone get weirdly aggressive at me for NOT drinking. Red flag!)

          Reply
          1. So Very Anonymous

            I had that happen too! I was actually taking something that I couldn’t drink with at the time, but this person reacted oddly negatively to my not being a beer connoisseur like he was. You really have to know your tolerance level (I have none, so I don’t drink in those circumstances) — but yeah, the most important thing is that you keep in mind that you are “on.”

            Reply
            1. FutureLibrarianNoMore

              Ugh.

              I don’t drink anymore. I used to, but stopped because I really don’t like the taste, and it is expensive! I am astonished at the amount of harassment I get because I don’t drink. I don’t sit there and glare at people who are drinking! I hope interviewers won’t expect me to drink, but I guess it will weed out the places that won’t work for me really quickly.

              Reply
    4. Laura

      9 days is plenty of time to prepare!

      For the 45 minute lecture, find out as much as you can about what they are expecting. Do they want a research talk or teaching demonstration? Who is going to be in the audience (faculty, grad/undergrad students, people from other departments, etc.)? Do they want you to leave time at the end for questions? I recommend practicing this a few times. I *never* practice giving talks and am a fantastic speaker but dang if actually practicing my job talk didn’t make a big difference.

      Have lots of questions prepared, and think about the best questions to ask particular people. For interviews with administration, you can ask questions about things like opportunities for professional development and how the program/department contributes to the overall mission of the school. For courses you’d be teaching, ask the people currently teaching them about them! Ask about the students. Ask about anything unique about the school or the program. Ask junior faculty about the tenure/review process. A lot of people are not going to have questions for you and the whole interview will be “so, what questions do you have for me?”

      Drink lots of water. Don’t be afraid to ask for bathroom breaks. Don’t be afraid to take a 5 minute bathroom break and just hide and sit for a few minutes without talking to anyone.

      Bring snacks and tissues and ibuprofen and chapstick and band-aids. Wear something that makes you feel killer.

      Do you have specific questions?

      Reply
    5. Stopping By

      Fantastic. Thank you everyone! Very helpful. I like the suggestions about snacks, etc. One issue is a 4 hour time difference (Calif-Nova Scotia), so my first meetings are when I would normally be quite asleep. I’m working on getting up earlier, so at least I will give my talk at a time I am normally awake.

      I’ve been given a topic for the talk, and have a basic outline in mind. Anxiety is running about the visuals/power point which I normally avoid like the plague, but I’m in a visual field, so they can’t be avoided . . . As much as I hate the idea of practicing the talk, it seems like a good idea–which means that I have to formulate something in time to practice. Normally, I’m a good speaker but I haven’t given a talk in years, and I work from an outline, not something written out . . .

      It will all be fine, and it will all be more fine thanks to your input.

      Reply
      1. Laura

        You can mention the time difference offhand, sometimes that is helpful because people can totally forget. “Would you like some coffee?” “Oh that would be lovely, I’m trying to convince much brain it’s not 3am!”

        Reply
      2. cardiganed librarian

        Ooh, I moved to NS for a job a little while ago. Are you originally from the region? If not, it’ll probably be a topic of small talk, and they might try to gauge a bit whether you could actually stand to live here – there’s a wide perception that outsiders can’t quite hack it. If it’s Halifax (which is a lovely city), remember that it’s the metropolis for at least three provinces, and don’t call it quaint! (If you’re a Maritimer returning home, I apologize.) Also, don’t be too freaked out by the snow. It’s only like this three months of the year. *weeps*

        Reply
        1. Stopping By

          Not from there, and a California native (hard to argue with the beautiful 75 degree F day today!), so indeed they will wonder. I’m more worried about the lack of light/surplus of light than the cold. I did live in upstate NY so I have a little experience with cold/snow to point to. The good news is that I prefer a small town and a smallish city to larger ones–assuming there is a wide diversity of people there.

          Reply
          1. cardiganed librarian

            Does it help to remember that Halifax is actually south of the northernmost border of Washington state, and about the same latitude as Rochester? Diversity… well, there are Scottish, English AND Irish people here! Kidding, Halifax is a pretty cosmopolitan city. It’s not Toronto, and you probably won’t find the Mexican food satisfactory, but visible minorities don’t stand out as they do in the more rural parts of the province. It sort of punches above its demographic weight because it’s the biggest city for over 10 hours of driving. Tell them you like fiddle music and you’re gold. ;) Good luck with the interview!

            Reply
            1. Stopping By

              My people! :-) (Celtic/anglosaxon mutt here.) Actually, I do like fiddle music. One of the reasons it looked appealing when I applied way back last summer . . . Assuming/hoping that diversity includes some queer sorts. I imagine so, given its position, as you said. Thanks!!

              Reply
          2. Book Person

            My main experiences are with Acadia and Dalhousie University (both of which have extremely friendly professors and lovely campuses), but broadly speaking I can say Nova Scotia tends to be a very friendly province! Halifax is a fun city to live in (though finding parking can be difficult if you commute into the city–if you live close enough to be able to walk or take transit to campus that is best); there’s a decent art scene and a range of restaurants and bars (most bars per capita in Canada, actually, though Newfoundland holds the record for number of bars on one street). I lived in the province for 8 years and still have fond memories of it, but the winters are intense. The temperature swings up and down like crazy–snow one day, rain the next. You’re probably visiting at a good time to see what it’s like; I know some friends who visited from BC only in the summer months, and then had a nasty surprise in the winter.

            Halifax doesn’t have the best history / track record in terms of diversity, though, I’ll be honest. Might be worth some additional reading or asking questions of other faculty members if that’s a potential deal-breaker for you. I’ve heard mixed stories from my friends there, ranging from people having no problems at all and being welcomed, to getting lots of questions (which, even when well-intentioned, can be tiring), to actually leaving the university and moving to Ontario. So, proceed with eyes open!

            Reply
      3. So Very Anonymous

        I’ve had good success with practicing the talk with a friend. I’m a good ad libber from notes, and I worry always about practicing because the ad libbing works best when it’s spontaneous. But for one set of interviews (including the one I got this job from) I practiced the talk with a friend, who timed me AND stopped the timer when I threw in a good ad lib so that I could write it down in my notes. Gave me the opportunity to practice without making me feel like I was losing the spontaneity. Practicing will also help you feel more comfortable with the powerpoint (I’m totally with you on that one!).

        Reply
        1. Stopping By

          Yes, I’m afraid of losing my ad lib capacity, but I like your suggestion and will try it. I’ve roped a friend in to assist. This sounds like a good method.

          Reply
      4. ModernHypatia

        I find adrenaline carried me through ‘not my usual schedule’ very nicely. (I was usually going the other direction, but the last job hunt, I was working an afternoon-evening shift, and had two cross-country trips for interviews.) Also, they may well feed you breakfast beforehand, which gives you time to get your brain going.

        Definitely save your talk in multiple formats. I usually do an online version on Google Drive (clear out anything embarrassing that might show up in Google Drive or Dropbox or whatever you use into a not-obvious folder) with PowerPoint, and a PDF version that I can use in a pinch, and save the last two to a USB as well as the cloud drive. Having a backup plan in case the technology fails is major.

        Also, plan to go under your allowed time, even with allowing for questions (so a 45 minute lecture you should plan on maybe 35 minutes of lecture, some questions.) Practicing is really helpful to get a solid timing. I don’t write out all my notes, but I do practice enough to be sure of the timing and make notes about things I particularly want to mention.

        Reply
    6. LibbyG

      The dean interview is often the most mysterious. For sone deans, it’s a social call. For others, it’s a chance to ask you about things important to them. Browsing the Chronicle of Higher Ed and Inside Higher ed might prepare you to chat about current issues. And if you don’t know what to ask them, you can ask about professional development opportunities for faculty, the role of faculty in assessment, accreditation, student recruitment and retention.

      I hope you enjoy it! They’re wooing you as much as vetting you. If you’ve been invited to campus, then they already think you’re perfectly qualified. They want you to rock.

      Reply
  4. Sascha

    North Texas has not had our February week of Snowpocalypse, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. I’m a little sad. I sort of like Snowpocalypse. I get the week off from work!

    Reply
      1. penny

        Yeah 76 high today and 80 later this week. I guess no freeze day this year. I am not turning on my AC though! Every time I cave and turn it on a cold front comes through.

        Reply
        1. Elizabeth West

          Same here–and I don’t take the plastic film off the windows until very late in May. We have actually had snow in early May a couple of times. There are a couple of windows where I leave it up all year because it’s easier and I never open them anyway.

          Reply
      2. Sascha

        Ahhhhh you’re right, not looking forward to summer AT ALL!!! One reason why I’m shaving my hair off this weekend.

        Reply
    1. Shelby Drink the Juice

      I’m also in the DFW area. The lack of an ice storm this year is freaky! Not that we get snow/weather days, but it’s a nice reason to telecommute.

      Reply
    2. Kate

      I was hoping for it too! I’m on maternity leave so was looking forward to sitting by the fire while the big kids played in the snow!

      Reply
    3. Lead, Follow or Get Outta the Way!

      It’s still possible though. Last year (if I recall correctly) DFW had it around very early March. It was late enough in the year that my son’s school district had to add a day to the end of the school year because they had already passed one of their snow make-up days. I think his school district was closed for 3 days.

      Reply
      1. Alma

        It is pouring rain here, skipping entirely the snow that was to begin at midnight and be <1", but frozen at dawn. Don't quite know what to make of it, since the rain that was to begin later tonight was going to melt the ice, and then we'd have temps about 45*F tomorrow.

        I'm in the wrong business. Weather forecasters are usually wrong around here, and they still get paid big bucks.

        Reply
  5. Snow Angel

    I have a job interview tomorrow with snow and freezing rain in the forecast tonight. I already emailed the person I’ll be interviewing with to let me know if there will be any change due to the weather but should I call in the morning, a couple hours before my appointment, just to be sure? I’d rather not brave the roads if they won’t even be there.

    Reply
    1. Elle

      I wouldn’t; I feel like you’ve already gotten confirmation that they will contact you if something changes. You could call to make sure they’re answering their phones, but I wouldn’t do anything past that.

      Reply
      1. Total Rando

        This depends, did they respond to your email saying they would let you know?

        If they did respond, assume they will let you know. If they did not respond, I think it’s okay to call and confirm that the office is open tomorrow.

        Reply
        1. Snow Angel

          I emailed them early this morning but they have not responded, I believe their offices are closed for the holdiay.

          Reply
          1. Michelenyc

            Not sure where you are at but based on what I have seen on my weather app for NYC it’s going to be 50 by 8am so everything is going to be a disgusting mess by the time I leave for the office at 8:30!

            Reply
    2. Mando Diao

      I think you can call and say, “I’m scheduled for an interview today, and I just wanted to make sure you weren’t closed due to snow.”

      Reply
  6. Muriel Heslop

    My colleague (and friend) is caring for a spouse with end-stage cancer. Any suggestions on ways I can support her? Work is her “getaway” right now, but I would love to find ways to help that don’t involve me asking her. Already done: meal gift cards, massage, mani/pedi. Those all seem so basic – I would like to do more.

    Reply
    1. em2mb

      Household tasks. Does she need someone to help clean? Is her yard in disrepair? I know those kind of everyday tasks are always the ones to get neglected. My boss at my first job – OK now, thankfully! – was in chemo when I worked there, and we would take turns mowing her yard for her.

      Reply
      1. TootsNYC

        I think outdoor stuff is especially easy to get overlooked, because what’s inside the house is so absorbing.

        The other thing might be to just be alert to sudden logistical problems that arise, that you could solve for her, or could recruit/organize others to solve.

        Like, the toilet stops working; you could volunteer to wait for the plumber. The car makes a funny noise; you could help figure out how to get it in to the mechanic, maybe take it for her, figure out loaners, etc.

        Reply
    2. NotherName

      If it’s practicable for you, maybe offer to do her grocery shopping once a month or so? (Not necessarily pay for the groceries, but the time and effort of shopping is a lot for some people.)

      Also, if you cook, an actual casserole or heat-and-eat meal would be helpful.

      Or just ask her what she needs, but also have some suggestions ready.

      Reply
    3. Ordinary Worker

      Meals in disposable containers are always nice (if you know what they like).

      I know when I get stressed figuring out what to eat and preparing it is difficult.

      Reply
    4. OwnedByTheCat

      Maybe gift cards to programs like Instacart so she can have groceries delivered? I’d feel awkward having a friend do my grocery shopping but there are times that it’s hard to squeeze in all those chores!

      Reply
    5. neverjaunty

      She may not want more. Please just ask, in a way that conveys you’re there if she needs help, but don’t push more than that.

      Reply
    6. Mando Diao

      Things like toilet paper and tissues go quickly during times like this. People are always visiting, and they always want to bring “fun” stuff like food. No one ever thinks to bring toilet paper for all the guests.

      Reply
    7. anon attorney

      I am a carer. What I would like from my coworkers:

      – someone to run to the store for my lunch on days I’m too tired and stressed to eat
      – being kind and supportive but not in a way where I feel I have to be grateful all the time or that I am getting special treatment. My coworkers are kind, but sometimes I just want to be treated normally more than anything else. Even to have a laugh and a joke sometimes.
      – if you’re sincere, an offer to go for coffee or drinks and talk, even about trivial things. If you don’t want to hear about the stress that’s OK but just be honest.
      – having my back when clients or suppliers etc are unpleasant and offering to take the weight of some of that.

      Above all else, just be kind. It goes a very long way.

      Reply
      1. Muriel Heslop

        Thanks for all of the suggestions!

        I’ve been buying her gift cards for pre-made meals which she seems to like, and yesterday I got her lunch for her while I was out. Her adult sons have been taking care of yard and house work, but I bought some toilet paper and kleenex last night to have on hand.

        She doesn’t really want to talk about it at work, but we do have plans for margarita after work on Friday.

        Thanks again!

        Reply
        1. Alma

          I knew a man who simply made sure the family’s trash cans and recycle got out to the curb and put away at the end of the day (it was a very long country driveway – the husband would load it onto the trailer on his lawn tractor, and the wife couldn’t do that). He never asked or spoke to her able it, he just did it. That was HUGE.

          You can also volunteer to be the contact person for food gifts. That is something that can easily get out of hand. The family can leave a cooler by the front door or back door, and people put their dishes in there.

          Give the family permission to put a sign in the door – “Thank you for your concern and well wishes. Our ‘best times’ for visits varies widely. You may call and leave a message, and we can respond when a short visit would be welcomed. “

          Reply
    8. Auntie

      When you stop by or pop-in, bring some necessities… things that are needed all the time (cleaning supplies, toiletries, laundry stuff — its okay to ask what they use) Ask if she needs you to pick up dry cleaning or actually do the laundry for her.. washing sheets and blankets for someone bedridden (my niece is, due to complications from aggressive cancer treatment) is a daily task tbh. We often change her bedding at least once a day if not more depending on what happens with her, so the washing machine is always running.

      Organizing her supplies sometimes gets left to the wayside and her boxes pile up (deliveries for her diapers, blue pads, feeding tube supplies, syringes etc) when I get a chance, I organize and break down the boxes and put stuff where it needs to go.

      At first there wasn’t any organization going on in her room. We just grabbed stuff out of the boxes stored in another room, as needed. But we set that up and it made changing her bedding, her diapers, cleaning her up when she’s vomited or messed the bed, doing her meds, getting her feeds going etc, much easier.

      Washing dishes and supplies.

      OR… just go sit with her and let her be “normal” for an hour or two. Come chat, she might need a laugh or need to unload. Bring her a book or a movie or offer to sit at the house with her spouse (if she and you are comfortable with this depending on your relationship and the scope of their needs) so she can get out of the house for an hour or two…

      Reply
    9. Kristen

      When I was caring for my husband during his battle with cancer, the most appreciated things were the things that I didn’t have to ask about….coming home and there was a load of laundry done, the grass was cut, the mail was on the counter, the trash cans were at the curb/brought back up to the house. I was blessed with family and friends that lived close and would just stopped by and do it. I never did know who all of my “angels” were, and they continued to help me after my husband passed and I was emotionally overwhelmed for months in just trying to take care of myself.

      Reply
  7. StudentPilot

    It’s Family Day in Ontario….and it’s not a holiday for federal government employees. Which is why I’m at work. (It’s a ghost town anyway)

    We’re supposed to get the snow tomorrow – right now they’re saying 30 – 40cm (12 – 16 inches?)

    Reply
    1. Former Diet Coke Addict

      Ah, my husband is at work and I’m not for a rare example! Just battening down for the snow. Here on the lake they’re calling for only 10-15cm, which is no big deal, but not that far north of here they’re saying 25-35. I’ll believe it when I see it, though, there hasn’t been a single snowstorm this year that’s lived up to the hype.

      Reply
      1. StudentPilot

        Ha! My husband is at home while I toil away (for another 20 minutes! I didn’t realize it was already that late)

        I’m with you on the I’ll believe the amount of snow when I see it….

        Reply
    2. Book Person

      Flew out of Toronto this weekend. The doors on the plane FROZE OPEN it was so damn cold. Glad to hear I missed the snow (please get rid of it before I’m back? :D)

      Hope that you’re having a good (if quiet) Family Day! Unfortunately BC had theirs last week, so I didn’t end up getting a holiday either when I normally would have. Alas.

      Reply
  8. Snarkus Aurelius

    Here’s an odd question.

    My place of employment goes through a lot of lawsuits.  We’re going through one right now, and this is a first for my coworker and me.  As part of this lawsuit, our computers are going to be taken by IT for a couple of days to look for relevant emails.  I see nothing wrong that, but my coworker is acting really weird.  She keeps pressing that she wants her own attorney, but for what I don’t know.  She’s not named anywhere except the list of computers that need to be searched.  I keep telling her that we have our own attorney and there’s nothing to worry about, but she wants to talk to her own lawyer first before she does anything.  She keeps acting weird and cagey every time the subject comes up — something she never does.

    I’m right to be worried here, right?  She has done something, right?

    Reply
    1. Gem

      It might not even be something related, or even her doing something as opposed to knowing about it maybe, but it sounds dodgy to me, yeah.

      Reply
    2. Judy

      I don’t know if she’s done anything, but I’m somewhat surprised that they would take your computer for a couple of days. Any time I’ve been involved in a lawsuit at work (mostly IP) they have a company come in and take an image of our hard drive with special software. They usually only have the computer for 30 minutes to an hour. Usually later I’m interviewed to walk through certain things, but once (we decide to file IP lawsuit/ we are party to an IP lawsuit) they gather and quarantine the information within the next several days.

      Reply
      1. OfftheRecord

        Now I’m having visions of a Stephen Avery type situation where a nefarious boss arranges to have IT plant evidence on an unsuspecting workers computer while they hold it for 8 days.

        Reply
        1. AndersonDarling

          I’m thinking the opposite. IT is going to scan the computers and remove anything questionable before the authorities can search.

          Reply
      2. Busy

        Are you at a larger company? With smaller companies, they may not want to pay for the external data team to do this procedure (it’s sooooo expensive!), and would instead opt to go with a cheaper inhouse option. I know we’d try to do as much as possible in-house were we to need to collect; I’d only go with an outside firm if it was a DOJ/FTC investigation and I wanted the CYA.

        Reply
      3. Snarkus Aurelius

        IT is searching for the plaintiff’s name in all emails and files. That’s it. Given what occurred was pretty massive, I’m not surprised it’ll take a few days to go through everything. That’s a wide scope with a lot of stuff attached to it.

        If my coworker was goofing around on Gawker or AAM, it won’t come up because it’ s not relevant and IT doesn’t have time for it if they did find it. They’ve got at least 40 laptops to search.

        Reply
    3. After the Snow

      Possible. Not necessarily regarding the lawsuit but maybe something else she doesn’t want anyone to see. Given what’s be posted here maybe she’s keeping a spreadsheet of everyone’s vacation days or when they are late?

      Reply
        1. Not So NewReader

          This is what I am thinking, too. Maybe she spends too much time surfing the net or something like that.

          As a friend, it’s hard not to worry about something like this. But basically, what is, is. If she feels she needs a lawyer then she can go get one. Some people lawyer up for a parking ticket. She may be one of those people. I do think that she will draw more attention to herself by getting a lawyer, especially if no one else is lawyering up. It could be that 50% of the people also have the same thing on their computer.

          Reply
          1. Lindsay J

            Yeah I think some people just have fundamentally different perspectives of dealing with anything “legal”.

            I tend to be of the “I don’t have anything to hide, so I will be as open as possible,” train of thought.

            However, I have friends that I know also don’t have anything to hide that would still be lawyering up in that case.

            My boyfriend (who went to law school) is more of this perspective. We’ve discussed situations before and his perspective (regarding talking to cops) is pretty much that anything you say could possibly implicate you – either because of someone willfully misconstruing what you say, or because you just plain might misspeak because you’re tired and/or scared and in an unusual situation. If you’re truly innocent you’ll still be innocent after you get a lawyer and that furthermore you have the right to remain silent and a right to an attorney and you should always exercise those rights if you feel empowered to so it doesn’t become a situation where “oh, they asked for a lawyer, that means you’re automatically guilty,” becomes the default assumption for anyone exercising those rights; if everyone exercises those rights someone doing so won’t be seen as being “difficult”, it’s just the norm.

            I’m not sure where he would stand on lawyering up in a civil dispute like this (I’m assuming this is a civil dispute anyway) but I imagine he would still err towards the side of caution.

            Reply
            1. Lindsay J

              Though ftr he would allow them to collect the computer without any hassle as he would understand that he had no expectation of privacy on a company-owned device or likely any device connected to company networks or used in the course of business.

              And if he did consult with a lawyer after it was taken nobody in the company would know about it unless he were called to explain items found on the device in relation to the pending suite.

              So I don’t think he would be trying to be adversarial about it. Just assertive about protecting himself/his rights I guess.

              Reply
        2. Snarkus Aurelius

          The IT people are searching emails and files for one word and one word only: Plaintiff Name.

          If she has been talking poorly with the Plaintiff’s name? Yes that’s serious stuff because it could confirm their case!

          Reply
    4. OfftheRecord

      Maybe? Maybe not? I’ve worked for a lot of local and regional governments. Ultimately in those situations your email, browsing history, and everything you do on those computers is therefore subject to search and review. I don’t do anything I shouldn’t be on my computer – no checking personal email, FB, nothing, and I’ve never done anything that I think would constitute anything “wrong” let alone illegal. I think I’d still be really weird about someone wanting to go through everything though. While we have no expectation of privacy at work it still feels like an invasion of whatever bit of privacy we do have. I don’t know that I’d be insisting on a lawyer though, but I don’t know if it necessarily implicates someone that they want to know their rights in that situation (if there are any).

      Reply
      1. ScarletInTheLibrary

        Similar situation. I have searched some strange things for reference requests and processing materials. In context, it makes sense why I was looking into crime and punishment (for a collection dealing with parole boards) or if a address is a home address or work address (home address would have to be redacted). Out of context, my searches make me look like I’m making a bomb and looking for victims.

        Reply
    5. cbackson

      Not the thrust of your comment, but an important PSA for those who may not be sure – you actually don’t have your own attorney in this case. The company has an attorney, but that attorney doesn’t represent you and is obligated to protect the company’s interests over yours. If you ever *do* have a personal concern in this situation, talk to your own lawyer, not the company’s!

      Reply
      1. Snarkus Aurelius

        Which is what I keep saying, but she insists on talking to her own attorney first. Initially she was mad because our attorney hadn’t met with us beforehand to discuss the case. Although that might have been ideal, it wasn’t necessary.

        Reply
        1. Busy

          Yea… that’s really odd of her. Unless she did something wrong related to the suit, I can’t see why she’d want her own attorney? But maybe that’s just the remaining piece of drama queen in me that I haven’t quite squashed yet. :)

          Reply
        2. Observer

          She insists on talking to her own lawyer before allowing the company IT guys to take her company computer? Good luck with that. Any good lawyer will tell her that the computer belongs to the company, and unless there is something VERY odd in your handbook, there is zilch she can do about it.

          The thing is, though, that although the company lawyers are there for the company’s interest and not yours, it’s not in their interest to implicate either of you guys in anything.

          Reply
        3. Anna

          You might remind her that talking to her own attorney doesn’t make an ounce of difference since the computer is company property and anything done on company property is open to the company’s review.

          I used to work for a place that had been sued and kept being sued. Our IT dept. required us to run backups regularly so if something came up, they could just take the backups and review those. It’s weird to me that they have to take the entire computer.

          Reply
          1. Observer

            Using backups run by staff for law suits is a recipe for getting slapped with even more suits and penalties. How in heavens name can a company show that they have reasonable confidence that everything was actually backed up?

            Reply
    6. Fleur

      Possibilities that stick out at me:

      1. She’s one of those “Am I being detained?” people who on principle just want to be extra sure their rights are not being trampled.

      2. She’s got something embarrassing on her computer: less than professional browser history, personal correspondence, shopping stuff, possibly financial info linked to personal surfing.

      3. Something illegal.

      It’s definitely shady, and now I’m super curious. Hope you can give us an update!

      Reply
    7. Amandine

      Not necessarily, she could be squirrelly for other reasons. Maybe she has anxiety issues and those are being set off by this. Maybe she just feels uncomfortable because she’s never been through anything like this and doesn’t know what to expect. Maybe she’s got family members giving her advice like “get your own lawyer, this could be REALLY bad for you!” and it’s scaring her. Who knows?

      I mean, maybe she did something, sure. But maybe not. But I don’t think the behavior you describe is definitive.

      Reply
        1. neverjaunty

          My first thought would be that she’s emailing snarky things about her co-workers, or is having a fling at work memorialized in email or chat. Either way, you can assure her that all it’s going to do is give th document reviewers a brief respite from a dull job. ;)

          Reply
      1. AndersonDarling

        Yeah, she could think the lawsuit is a rouse for the company to get their hands on her computer so they can search for a reason to fire her. She could just be squirrelly.

        Reply
        1. Mallory Janis Ian

          I’ve seen plenty of people who are just plain squirrelly for no reason that is apparent to me. They just get hyper-vigilant about things that end up amounting to nothing, and there’s no reason why except that their own temperament or experiences predispose them to see threats when nothing of concern to them is going on. Maybe your co-worker is like that. Or maybe she thinks she’ll get fired if her web history reveals too much innocuous internet surfing. There could be all kinds of explanations in which she hasn’t done anything significantly wrong but still feels paranoid, anyway.

          Reply
    8. TootsNYC

      No, she hasn’t necessarily done something.

      I had to talk a junior colleague (my subordinate, actually) off the ledge when my company’s lawyers told us, “Don’t delete or destroy any files, digital or physical, related to this project, because a lawsuit is pending.” She was certain she was going to get in big trouble. She wasn’t the decision maker, etc., though she did have a verification role. But it wasn’t a senior one.

      But she was absolutely terrified.

      Reply
    9. Ask a Manager Post author

      Even if she’s just doing it out of an abundance of caution, in most workplaces that would be a really adversarial, career-killing move. It’s like saying you’ll need to talk to your lawyer before you’re willing to submit a self-evaluation or before agreeing to a new lunch schedule.

      I’d love an update on how this one plays out.

      Reply
      1. Snarkus Aurelius

        This! Thanks for articulating what was bothering me. I couldn’t put my finger on it until you said adversarial. That’s exactly how this is coming off.

        The next time the issue comes up, I’m going to remind her that: A) she can talk to her own lawyer if she wants, but her laptop is government property so a private attorney is pointless; B) talk of getting a personal lawyer is unnecessarily adversarial and sends the wrong message; C) IT has to search over 40 computers for one proper noun so anything beyond that is irrelevant and investigating it is a time waster; and D) if there’s something bad, she might as well tell me now because I’m reviewing all of it anyway, and if she hides something from me, I’m going to have serious trust issues with her.

        Reply
        1. TootsNYC

          I don’t think getting a private attorney is pointless or adversarial–as long as it stays private.

          Is she thinking of getting an attorney to STOP the computer “seizure”?

          Reply
          1. Snarkus Aurelius

            She’s not saying. All she wants is to talk to one first. We haven’t even gotten the official notice yet!

            Reply
        2. Anna

          OMG! ESPECIALLY if it’s a government computer. Holy crap, they monitor that stuff anyway from their data centers so she has no leg to stand on.

          Says the person who is actually typing this response on a government owned computer.

          Reply
      2. Rater Z

        I’m late to the conversation but I wonder if she went thru something like this at a previous job and got caught up in the middle of a mess or losing a job because of it, etc. It could be that someone in her family has been thru a mess like this as well.

        Reply
    10. Ruffingit

      Maybe, maybe not. Could be she was job hunting using her work computer. Could be she exchanged some not so nice emails regarding the boss or whatever. Who knows? It doesn’t have to be something unlawful for her to act like this. Or, given her wanting her own lawyer, it could be she did do something. Either way, I think the next time she brings it up, you should be straight up with her and say something like “Jane, you’ve brought this up several times now and frankly, it makes me wonder if you’ve done something related to this lawsuit. Either way, get a lawyer or whatever you need to do, but there’s nothing more I can say about this.”

      Reply
  9. SandrineSmiles (France)

    I slipped and crashed down some stairs two weeks ago. I can walk almost normally now. Wheeeeeee! Nothing was broken then.

    My main Youtube channel finally reached over 1000 people and I’m just so happy about it… though it’s difficult to make videos at Mom’s since the Internet is sooooooooo bad there. Ouchies.

    I’ve also decided to try this famous “just save up” thing, even though I don’t have much, and have decided to open another bank account in a bank totally unrelated to my main account so I can put money aside there and just not touch it. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

    Reply
    1. Washington

      The account in a different bank, with a direct deposit directly to it, really worked for me. (Protected me from myself )

      Reply
  10. Bowserkitty

    This is the first time I haven’t had President’s Day off in 3 years. It kind of sucks but the perks of my new job far outweigh the need to have one measly Monday off back at my old job.

    I’m still going to grumble at my OldJob friends who brag to me today.

    Reply
    1. Jinx

      I didn’t even realize it was President’s Day until someone at work mentioned it. I could have used the three day weekend. >_< I shouldn't complain though, because we actually do get quite a few holidays a year.

      Reply
    2. OfficePrincess

      Ugh. It’s a corporate holiday here, so HQ has it off, but the field sites are all at their individual discretion as long as it doesn’t interfere with the customer’s needs. So of course, we’re here. I wish HQ also had that same rule since the holiday is again delaying IT finishing setting up reports we were supposed to start using for our customer at the beginning of the month.

      Reply
    3. Stranger than fiction

      I’m just glad to be working in an office today and no longer in the restaurant industry. I remember these Monday school holidays seemed to be the day all the moms got together and brought their precious ones to lunch…but the moms would end up practically ignoring the children while they ran wild in the restaurant or screamed or dumped food on the floor.

      Reply
    4. Ad Astra

      My company gives us a week off between Christmas and New Year’s, but we have to work on MLK Day, President’s Day, Columbus Day, etc. To me, it’s a good trade. I wasn’t going to spend President’s Day with my family anyway, you know?

      Reply
    5. Mallory Janis Ian

      I wish I was off *sigh*. This is one of the holidays that our university uses to pad the shut-down period between Christmas and New Years, so that we have two weeks off without having to use PTO. I appreciate it then, but sometimes I’m a little wistful when those holidays (employee’s birthday, Daisy Gatson Bates Day, President’s Day, etc.) arrive and I don’t have the day off.

      Reply
  11. Oryx

    I’m grateful to have a job now that allows working from home, which is nice on snowy days. ExJob was at a very small technical college where staff were required to come in or burn a vacation day when classes were cancelled. We had no on-campus housing, so it’s not like students would still be on campus by default and using any of our services.

    Reply
    1. Sascha

      My previous university did that to my department. It was infuriating, especially since I worked in the online education department where all of our work was…online. Any support requests would be coming in via email or forwarded to our cell phones. But the director of the department was a crazy micromanager and wanted us to drive on the ice to be there in person, no matter what (while she stayed at home).

      I’m much happier at current university, where I am working from home right now (and it’s sunny and 72), and when we do have snow days, my bosses say we don’t have to work at all or use PTO!

      Reply
      1. Jinx

        When I was a TA one of the professors I worked for made us hold office hours on Labor Day, even though the campus was closed and he canceled his own office hours. His reasoning was “student jobs aren’t real jobs, so labor day doesn’t include you”. Yeah, no students showed up, so we got to spend a few hours getting paid to stare at walls. Wasn’t a huge deal, but man was he an ass about it.

        Reply
        1. Mallory Janis Ian

          Wow, at my university, professors are not allowed to require their TAs to work on days when the university is officially closed or when classes are officially canceled. If students mentioned it to the department head, that faculty member would be told not to do that again.

          Reply
        2. overeducated and underemployed

          Ahahaha. That’s why the Dean of my former grad school says grad students shouldn’t unionize: grad student work is part of their studies, not “real work.” According to him, organizing as workers might induce the faculty to be less “nice.”

          Reply
      2. Oryx

        It was always frustrating because I never understood the logic — you recognize it’s not safe for the students to be out attempting to get to campus, but it’s perfectly safe for your staff. Okay then. Especially considering they rarely ever cancelled classes. I think it happened twice in the five years I worked for them so it had to be really bad weather wise for them even considering doing it.

        Reply
        1. the_scientist

          My alma mater would do a reverse version of this- for inclement weather, they would close the school for staff, but not cancel classes. Or at least, leave the cancellation of classes up to the discretion of the instructor. I always thought it was such a strange policy- either it’s safe, or it’s not.

          Reply
  12. Lily Evans

    This is the perfect time for a secret open thread because I need to vent about my manager before a meeting in an hour. This manager is a very nice person but seems incapable of making a decision and sticking to it! A recent exanple it last week there was an issue with absences not being on the out of office calander and instead of just putting out a reminder that supervisors should update this calender when their direct reports call out sick (which is how it used to be and what makes sense) but instead they want to wait until the next staff meeting so that everyone can discuss it. What is there to discuss? This is an environment where people in the office and customers need to know if someone is reachable each day. That’s why the calendar exists. I just want to tell them that not every issue can be settled by committee! Be devisive not indecisive! (I’ve been listening to the Hamilton soundtrack too much…)

    Reply
    1. Newbie

      Where I work we would need a committee to form the committee that would then discuss the issue. And then official voting to ensure each committee is made up of a representative distribution of employee categories. So it could be worse than just a discussion at the next staff meeting…

      Reply
  13. The RO-Cat

    We’ve had a freakishly warm winter here – temperatures in the 10s (Celsius) in the highlands and up to 20 in the lowlands, only 1 (one) weak blizzard and generally it feels like winter forgot how it worked and borrowed tools from the spring. I can’t help but connect to the strength of El Nino this year, though I have no scientific data for that.

    Reply
  14. Retail gal

    Oh yay! Because things are always happening Saturday or Sunday to me, which would mean buried in the Friday thread. I have a “What would you do?” question.

    So my main job is working in the “cash office” at our store. (Prep till, count register bags and enter amounts into the computer, prep deposit, etc) There’s a second gal that does the same thing as me, just scheduled on different days. (Audit purposes) Yesterday, I notice she’s written that the vault was short $20 because “the till came in short”. Long story short, the till was not short, she accidentally put an extra $20 into the deposit bag for the day. So a) she lied about what happened, and b) didn’t investigate or try to fix why the vault was short.

    Now, she has put in her two week notice last week, and has only been at this job two months. So, would you say something to her about it? What would you say? (If it matters at all, she’s about 21 years old) I have no supervisory or hire/fire power.

    Just curious what others would do/say in this situation.

    Reply
    1. After the Snow

      Since she’s leaving I would let it go. My biggest frustration when I had this job was when no one had ordered change and I (part time) would came in and have to try to fix it before the weekend.

      Reply
      1. SaraV

        Argh. I’ve had to make personal trips to the bank branch, on company time, when that has happened.

        Speaking of change orders! Two weeks ago, other gal made a significant change order. (About 1/3 of the value of our vault) Not a problem. Except! When I came in the following day, and there’s another bank bag in the safe. All I can think of is that after our gal left the VM for the bank with our order, someone didn’t clear it. The next day, someone heard the change order again, so refilled it again! I had to account for +33% in our vault just in case Something Happened, and had to loop corporate audit into it. I was. not. happy. And yep, it was the weekend.

        Reply
    2. Not So NewReader

      “I know you are only here for two more weeks, but could you check the deposit when the vault is short?” If she looks puzzled, just explain the vault was short by $20 and the deposit was over by $20.

      I would not make it into a big deal. I’d keep the question short and the explanation short. But I would think that I have to say something because, dang!, that is a money error. It’s not the same as a missing pen or missing packet of post-its.

      Reply
    3. Beezus

      If she’s only been there two months, she might not even realize what she did wrong. Do you really know that she deliberately lied or that she didn’t try to investigate the offage?

      Unless training her or calling her out on errors is part of your job, I’d just add something matter-of-fact to my daily notes explaining my findings without making conclusions about how it was handled the previous day. “The bank sent over receipts for yesterday’s deposit and noted a $20 cash overage in the deposit bag. I think this might be related to the $20 shortage yesterday. I recounted the till cash and it was correct.”

      Reply
    4. knitchic79

      At our store there are always two people processing bank bags & deposits right in the moment. Having someone available to double check what’s going out and coming in really helps cut down on things like what you are talking about. I know not every store has that kind of staffing though.

      Reply
    5. Lindsay J

      I would say something, because I’m assuming that a cashier would have gotten written up and potentially fired for being off $20. So even if she’s done giving a crap about her job for her sake, she needs to give a crap about her job so she doesn’t negatively affect other people’s jobs.

      Reply
  15. cataloger

    My employer has recently instituted a new policy regarding emergency closures: staff who come in during emergency closure (who are not designated to do so) are subject to disciplinary action! It seems to be both a safety measure, and a response to staff coming in anyway and then trying to bank emergency closing time to use as PTO at a later date (not allowed).

    Reply
    1. Cafe Au Lait

      That (mostly) seems fair. It would be unfair to penalize someone who has a long drive and left before the storm occurred. But yeah, banking a emergency day to take PTO later? Crazy talk.

      Reply
  16. Bowserkitty

    Oh, and can we talk bathroom etiquette? Because there’s a private (aka employees only), unisex restroom just down the hall from me and I’ve noticed since moving into this office that certain people in this area have no idea how to aim for the toilet. Or how to put the seat back down. Or how to put the seat UP, for that matter. We’ve got a huge meeting today that I’m not part of and after everybody took a bathroom break one by one I went to use it myself and it was absolutely disgusting. I went out of my way to use the female private restroom on the other end of the building and it was beautiful.

    I work around a bunch of doctors. Not just that, but we’re all adults. WHY IS THIS SO DIFFICULT. It’s my biggest pet peeve but I don’t know who to talk to about it. I’ll complain to the secretaries around me (for commiserating, as they have dealt with it longer) but I’m afraid to bring it up to my boss because…what if he’s a perpetrator~!?

    Reply
    1. AFT123

      Well, try and think of it this way, at least about putting the toilet seat down – Why would the onus always be on the men? I have always been of the mindset that since men use a toilet one way and women another, we should just be responsible for our own accomodation regarding the seat being up or down when we use it. It doesn’t seem “fair” to have men need to put the seat down each time.

      As for general cleanliness… I thought I heard about an experiment that showed putting a target or something for men to “aim” at in the toilet increased their accuracy but some huge percentage. Is that an option? I have never been a guy so I don’t know if it is difficult to aim well, haha. I do agree that in general, men’s rooms are just dirtier overall and I don’t really understand that either. What do they do in there?

      Reply
      1. Amtelope

        If the seat is left down and a guy uses it while standing up without noticing, the consequences are less unpleasant than if the seat is left up and someone tries to sit down on it without noticing. I am against toilets being left in a state that makes it easy for absent-minded people to fall into the toilet.

        Reply
      2. RKB

        Because if men and women both pee and poop, 3/4 of that is sitting. That’s how it’s been explained to me. It’s unfair to leave the seat up for an action that happens only 25% of the time.

        Reply
      3. Mephyle

        My preference is that everyone should put the lid down to flush. Hasn’t anyone else read the scary articles about how flushing sends fine aerosol particles of liquid all over the bathroom?
        I think it also makes it fair, because then everyone has to just do one lift, of either the lid, or the lid+seat, to deploy the toilet for their use.

        Reply
        1. Panda Bandit

          Putting the lid down just makes the particles come out the sides. Toilets would have to be completely redesigned if you wanted to stop the particles.

          Reply
        2. Bowserkitty

          YES. I saw the Today Show do some sort of story on it when I was in high school and ever since it’s become habit.

          Reply
    2. Florida

      I’m not sure how to handle this, but I know how not to handle it. Please please please don’t put a sign that says something like, “Your mother doesn’t work here. Please wipe off the seat after using restroom. Thank you. :) ”
      My pet peeve is when the bathroom and kitchen have all sorts of passive aggressive signs posted all over the place.
      If I were in your shoes, I would walk the extra distance to use the female bathroom. If anyone ever comments on it, tell them you go there because it’s cleaner.

      Reply
      1. Bowserkitty

        My female coworkers have suggested it, so I’m glad to be given that perspective. I hate making waves so I definitely don’t want to do that, but that just sealed the deal for why I wouldn’t.

        Reply
        1. Bon

          We used to have a sign on our bathroom wall:
          “If you sprinkle when you tinkle, please be neat and wipe the seat!”

          If it hadn’t been put up by a woman I actually liked and who would get it in the neck if it was taken down… I would have ripped it to shreds and flushed it!

          Reply
    3. penny

      Fwiw,I used to work in s big building where the offices on each floor shared a bathroom (no unisex ones) and the women’s bathroom could get pretty disgusting. BM & Lady stuff unflushed & on the seats, urine on the seats (pretty sure I finally figured that one out -there was an Asian lady who, I swear on my life,stood ON the toilet seat and squatted to pee,thus pee on the seat and floors. Google it). Some people are just disgusting and selfish.

      Reply
      1. Bowserkitty

        URINE ON THE SEAT. This is what has been happening, what I mean by people forgetting to put the seat up. There’s three women in this area (myself included) using the restroom (and the rest are men), and I know it’s neither of them because we’ve all complained about it.

        I’m definitely familiar with squatters, but I was always too afraid to use them when I was in Japan! One of my Californian gal friends absolutely loved them.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          I don’t know that complaining about it means they didn’t do it, though. I think women often don’t realize when they’ve leaked on the seat because it happens when they’re preparing their departure, not during the act; unless they’re looking behind themselves they don’t see what happened. I’ve been in plenty of women’s rooms where women have been the leakers.

          Reply
      2. oleander

        Yes, there are too many women who pee on seats, and there’s no reason to blame a particular ethnicity! Sometimes women who are incredibly squeamish and hate the idea of actually sitting on a public toilet seat just kind of hover over it, which leads to very approximate aim. (How I know — when I was a (white) teenage girl I sometimes found myself in the bathroom with other (white) teenage girls who did this very thing. Usually by the time they were finished, they were so uncomfortable and awkward they just finished up as fast as they could, without a glance or an acknowledgement for the pee on the seat.)

        Reply
    4. MKT

      Amen.
      I am the lone woman in my office and we have a unisex bathroom.
      I’m confused as to who taught these boys(they’re actually men, but their bathroom habits are more closely related to toddlers under three feet tall) how to use the bathroom, up to and including putting the seat down and shudder drips.
      As my niece would say, I just can’t even.

      Reply
    5. Zahra

      Don’t forget that some splashes are going to be made by people who “hover” (or squat) above the seat instead of properly sitting to pee or poop. We do know that there are more germs on our computer keyboards or on our cellphones than the toilet seat. Can people just sit properly? It would reduce the rate of UTIs too!

      Reply
        1. Mercury

          We have the toilet seat covers and some people just prefer to hover. We have a fantastic housekeeping staff that keeps our restrooms very clean and well-stocked with covers but people still hover.

          Reply
          1. Marcela

            I remember being told as a child all kind of horrible tales that would happen to me if I didn’t hover over the seat. From sickness to disgusting stuff. Only pregnancy was absent. It was just a few years ago than I realized that the worst was urine in the seat, so I stopped hovering completely. It helps than in the US most bathrooms have seat covers, and now I’m in a mission against hovering, especially if I hear comments about how women are supposed to be cleaner than men.

            Reply
          2. Rana

            I have to say that some of the most contentious threads I’ve ever seen on the internet revolve around the question of hovering. My feeling is that it is at times justified (like if the seat is so thoroughly disgusting that even wiping it would be gross). If one hovers at other times, then you’re obliged to see if there have been any splashes, and wipe those up.

            Pee doesn’t faze me (I’m the parent of a small child) but I’d rather not deal with other people’s blood or feces.

            Reply
      1. Vulcan social worker

        One thing women who hover can do is put up the seat. If you’re not sitting, it doesn’t matter if there is a seat there or not, and then you have just the bowl to aim at, so larger area and you won’t get pee on the seat for the next woman! Problem solved.

        Zahra, how does sitting reduce the rate of UTIs? I don’t sit and have never had a UTI, but obviously a sample of one doesn’t mean anything. (I also don’t pee on the seat since I use the aforementioned method of lifting the seat.) It’s my understanding that squatting is the better method. (Google the squatty potty if you’ve never seen it.)

        Reply
        1. TootsNYC

          “One thing women who hover can do is put up the seat. If you’re not sitting, it doesn’t matter if there is a seat there or not, and then you have just the bowl to aim at, so larger area and you won’t get pee on the seat for the next woman! Problem solved.”

          This!! If a guy is going to pee standing up, we think he ought to lift the seat.

          Ditto women, then.

          (also, the seat sticks out about 1/4 inch on each side, so by lifting it out of the way, you shrink the thing you’re standing over)

          Reply
      2. Anxa

        I’ve been a hoverer before. It’s easy to wash your hands several times, but not your thighs.

        Not everyone is blessed with fully intact skin. I’ve gotten staph infections from (presumably) toilet seats before. I’m so tired of people acting as though a toilet seat isn’t a particularly germy place. I lift the seat in most cases if I need to hover that day.

        For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t sit on a chair with shorts or a short skirt on either during those flare-ups.

        Reply
        1. Vulcan social worker

          Thanks, Anxa. I am feeling justified at the moment. I always look a little askance at (usually) young women who wear very short skirts or shorts and sit on the subway. If I don’t want to put my thighs on a toilet seat, I also don’t want to put them on a subway seat. I really don’t trust that people aren’t leaving gross things behind, ketchup and soda being the most pleasant of them. I always look before I sit, but at worst it gets on my pants or knee-length skirt since I am beyond short skirt age (for me personally — I think it’s fine for anyone of any age to wear what they want, but I am done with skirts above the knee unless I am wearing opaque tights, and even then it’s not going to be all that far above the knee).

          Reply
        2. TootsNYC

          I’m totally OK w/ hovering–I don’t really care what you do. I’m not looking.
          Just don’t pee on the seat, OK? Because even though I *do* have intact skin, and have never gotten a staph infection, I don’t really want to sit on urine.

          It sounds like you don’t, so great.

          But it’s really eye-roll inducing when someone makes a big fuss about hovering themselves, so THEY don’t get germs on them, but then they leave piss on the seat for the next person.

          Reply
          1. Anxa

            This is why I think hovering is not the issue, but peeing on the seat.

            What’s especially annoying is toilets that flush so violently they splatter the seats while you are trapped in the stall with no where to run while your pants are still around your knees.

            Reply
      3. Auntie

        I only don’t hover when I’m especially tired or going to be there for a while… even if the seat looks clean. It’s just a habit ingrained since my youth and my thighs are especially strong for it, I’m sure HAHA. But I do always look after I do so to see if I’ve made a splash and then clean up after myself. Indeed, some of us do not.

        Reply
    6. Auntie

      Technically…..

      Men also poop. And hopefully they sit to do this, so technically the onus should be on them to keep the seat down when that is how it is used 100% by one set and at least 50% by another… just saying. lol.

      Reply
  17. The Pompous Feminist Mongoose

    Can someone help me get over myself? Or give me some kind of compassionate advice about how to let go of my former career aspirations?

    Here’s my situation:

    I am a CPA. I worked in public accounting for three years until a couple months ago when I got a job in a small tax department at a law firm. I do the same work I did as a CPA, but my new job title is paralegal. There is no room for advancement here, but I work a lot less overtime and get paid more. So what’s the problem? I am so used to focusing on climbing the ladder. When I worked in public accounting, I drank the kool-aid. I worked the overtime, I did all the extra stuff you have to do when you want to climb the ladder. And then I had a kid. And I couldn’t keep working 60+ hour weeks.

    So I got this job. And I think I actually really like it here. But I am having a hard time letting go of everything I left behind. I’m having a hard time with my new job title. I feel like I’ve somehow failed myself and feminism. Anyone else felt like this when taking a step back in your career? How do I get over myself?

    Reply
    1. Oryx

      How on earth did you fail feminism? I know we all have our own definitions, but for me, part of feminism is about giving women choices. That means allowing them to choose which career path they want to take — even if that means taking a step back in their career if that’s what is best for them and their family. It also means allowing them to have a family if that’s what they want. Because, remember, having a child was sort of a given for women back in the day. Not having one wasn’t really an option unless physically unable, so just being able to say “Yes, I am *choosing* to have a child and I am *choosing* to make career choices” is a big step for us. Being able to navigate that balance of career and motherhood is also a big step, since it used to be always one or the other.

      You can still be a feminist and not want to climb the ladder of advancement. Burning yourself out on a job just to prove something isn’t a requirement of feminism, at least it wasn’t last I checked.

      Reply
    2. After the Snow

      You have not failed yourself or feminism. Feminism is supposed to be about choices and not being hindered. That is you can make any choice that you want/need to that makes sense to you and those who are important to you. Feminism should not be only about how to get to the top.

      Reply
    3. Elizabeth West

      You haven’t failed at all. You did what was right for you, in your situation. That’s empowering right there. In a perfect world, a mum (or perhaps a single dad) could choose to continue on that ladder and still be able to prioritize raising a child, but that isn’t how it is right now. It does NOT mean that you are a bad feminist. It means we still have a ways to go. None of us can amend that on our own.

      You’ve had some big changes in your life. And it’s okay to be unsure of them. And it’s also okay to mourn a little for what went before.

      Reply
    4. CPALady

      You haven’t taken a step back. You’re still a CPA. As long as you keep up with CPE, you’ve got the letters behind your name. Use ’em! I’m now in a non-profit, but I earned the dang things and have them in my signature, at least.

      Enjoy your new position – the reasonable hours, the higher pay, the ability to take a day off between New Year’s Day and April 15!

      Do you feel like there is a more appropriate job title given the job duties you’re doing? Document that and give it a go with your boss in a few months.

      Reply
    5. fposte

      I’m pretty sure there was nothing at Seneca Falls about accountancy job titles. And there’s not much point in climbing a ladder if you don’t need to be on the roof.

      Have you had trouble before with thinking you were doing enough? It’s something a lot of us struggle with, I know.

      Reply
      1. CPALady

        I like to think of Seneca Falls as so much more exciting than accountancy job titles! Thanks for reinforcing that belief.

        Reply
        1. Meg Murry

          Not to mention the fact that you work less and get paid more! I’m pretty sure I would rather have a “lesser” title with more pay and less work (or even for more effective $/hour rate, even if it doesn’t work out to more money per year).

          Here’s a way to re-frame your thinking: instead of focusing on climbing the career ladder just for the sake of climbing the ladder, you’ve found a way to balance being content at work while also being happy with your life outside of work.

          Besides, even “Lean In” suggests you envision your career as a jungle gym instead of a ladder. Right now you’ve taken a couple of steps to the right. You haven’t climbed off the ladder/jungle gym altogether, and it sounds like as long as you keep up your certifications you could go back to working as a CPA if you wanted to in the future.

          When people ask about your job, do you say you are “just a paralegal”? Don’t downplay it – I’m pretty sure being a CPA is what landed you this position. You could also say “I have a CPA and now I’m putting those skills to use as a paralegal at a law firm – it’s a pretty sweet gig!”

          There is no shame in not climbing the ladder just for the sake of climbing the ladder. Like others have said – feminism isn’t just about busting through glass ceilings – it’s about having a choice about whether you want to have a career, family or both and how you balance them.

          Reply
    6. AndersonDarling

      Are there things you can add to your personal life to full in the need to excel? I used to be all about climbing the ladder. But then I developed a personal life and goals outside of work. I discovered that work wasn’t everything and I was more invested in developing my outside-of-work skills. Oddly enough, when I stopped obsessing about work I found a new balance and was more successful at work!

      Reply
    7. Dr. Doll

      I remember reading, as a young sprout of a PhD student, about a female professor of biology who literally worked for 24 hours straight, saw her kids for 10 minutes and had an undergrad student researcher as an au pair (conflict of interest, anyone?), and had meetings in the bathroom while, er, bathrooming. The article was fawning about her dedication and professional accomplishments. I thought it was revolting and decided never to allow that to happen to me, and if my R1 didn’t like it, screw ’em.

      And once when talking to some senior, female faculty members who were going on and ON about the lack of women in leadership at our university, I exasperatedly said, “Why are we women measuring our success with the same yardstick that teh menz do?” I was told I needed my consciousness raised. I got it, of course, but I still disagreed. Why should women measure success on a yardstick carved by men?

      So…redefine success for YOUR life, and fly that flag proudly.

      Also — when you see other people, women OR men, who want what you got, support them. We don’t need more 60+ hour work weeks in the world. We need more sanity, peace, and freedom.

      Reply
    8. Small town reporter

      You are not alone! I can totally get how hard it is to let that career ladder go. I went from being the senior government reporter at a small daily paper in a very cool place (so basically my dream job in my dream location) to being the editor (and sole reporter) at a weekly paper in a much less exciting town. I have a college friend who is now the China correspondent for a national magazine. I see other friends moving up to bigger and more prestigious publications and radio stations. And here I took what looks, on paper, like a big step backwards.
      But the quality of life improvement has been huge. I see my kids a lot. My husband works a job with the same hours I do now, because we can afford day care here and couldn’t before, so we worked opposite schedules. I see him more. We do fun stuff on the weekends. When I have to cover something on the weekends, my family usually comes (because it’s a fair or festival). The stories aren’t always as hard-hitting, but community members go out of their way to tell me they value the work I do. There is no room for advancement, but I’m turning that need to succeed into goals for the kinds of stories I want to write and the kinds of news I want to publish. (It has worked, to a small degree. The closest small daily tried to recruit me a few months ago and I turned them down, because I wasn’t ready for the daily paper grind again yet.)
      So find some personal goals to set. And then, go home and enjoy your family. Remind yourself why you’re doing this (the phrase “they’re only small once” is one I use a lot — it helps that I’m in a community that is very family oriented and supportive). I really think going over those points helps.
      Also, no job is forever. You sound successful enough that, if you want, someday you could transition to a career track again, if you wanted. You may find, after a year or two, that you’re not interested, though. My life is much less stressful, even on my busiest days, now than it was 18 months ago.

      Reply
      1. TootsNYC

        “I’m turning that need to succeed into goals for the kinds of stories I want to write and the kinds of news I want to publish.”

        This!

        You can still have drive and and upward momentum. Just identify a different goal, and strive to that goal. Think of other ways you are doing work that is “bigger than your paycheck” and “bigger than you.”

        Reply
    9. Mando Diao

      Do what you want. Don’t let other people or broad ideals make you feel pressured to take the route that isn’t in line with your personal wants and needs.

      Forgive me, but when I get into that mode, I step away from the internet for a while. It is my experience that people who spend a lot of time going down the internet rabbit hole get caught up in the semantics and minutiae of sociopolitics in ways that non “internet people” don’t. Spend more time living your life instead of reading about other people living theirs.

      Reply
    10. Not So NewReader

      You make more money, you work less hours and you feel you failed? wow.

      If you were talking to a friend and a friend was in a situation remarkably similar to what you are saying here, what would you tell your friend? Now, this is a person you cherish and you want her to realize how great she is. So what do you tell her?

      It could be just me, but something that makes you feel shackled is not liberating. If feminism is an expectation to be lived up to then it becomes a shackle; a ball and chain to drag through life. We (women, men) are only truly free when we decide to be comfortable with decisions that are good for our own setting. If we let others decide what is good for us, we are not free. We are chained to their opinions of what they think is right for us.

      Annnndd, not done yet.

      If the measure of our worth as human beings is solely based on our rebellion against the giants in our society, then there is no point to doing anything else in life. And we know there’s lots to experience in life. There is more to life than just fighting society’s wrongs. It’s my opinion that the more aspects of life one experiences the better equipped one is to actually make changes in what our society does wrong.

      Assuming I must climb the ladder to be a success, then I have failed, too. One thing I know for sure, we can use the jobs we have to set off chain reactions and cause changes to take place. Sometimes we start minor changes and never see the long term results of our minor changes. Or we take it for granted, after all, we are just doing our jobs. We miss the impacts we do actually create. Then, once in a great while, we hit GOLD. We trigger a massive change in our company or the people around us. I call this a privilege because it so seldom happens.

      So look around. Your passion is feminism. How will you use your job, the position you have right now, to advocate for other women? Start looking around today. When you find something you can do, then do it. Once completed, look for the next action you will do. And so on.

      Reply
  18. NK

    This comes at a good time – I had a question for open thread but was bummed to wait until Friday!

    I am 18 weeks pregnant, and have told my boss, coworkers, and coworkers on teams I used to work on. In other words, it’s no longer a secret at all and I’m hoping it gets through the grapevine. For whatever reason, I find the whole sharing the news part awkward. The one person I have not told is my boss’s boss, and I know my boss did not tell him. He’s a really nice guy, has young kids, and has treated pregnant women who work for him well, so there’s no concern about his reaction. But he’s a very busy guy, and I don’t get a ton of real face time with him, let alone chit-chat where it might come up naturally.

    I feel like I need to tell him before it becomes awkward when I’m very visibly pregnant. Also, I told a former boss who’s on the same level as him, so I feel like he should be in the know. I sit about 30 feet outside his office, so an email feels weird. But I just have no idea how to share the news in a natural, normal way. Any tips?

    Reply
      1. NK

        I could ask him to… it just came up last week that he didn’t tell his boss; I should have just asked him then – now it feels a little weird.

        Reply
        1. Not So NewReader

          “Boss, I got to thinking about our convo from last week and I realize I should have asked you at that point, but would pass the word to Big Boss?’

          Reply
    1. hermit crab

      My approach (not really a solution) to the “I want to send this in an email, but I sit too close to you for that to make sense” problem is to send an email during off hours. That way, it can have an “I just haven’t gotten a chance to say something in person” vibe rather than an “I haven’t figured out how to convey this awkward information” vibe. At least, I hope it does!

      Reply
      1. NK

        I think I might just do this if I can’t figure out a way to bring it up in the next week or two. At least it gets it out of the way without the in-person awkwardness!

        Reply
    2. Marzipan

      Do you actually need to tell him? He’ll presumably notice eventually; or if there’s a staffing-related need for him to know then surely your boss will tell him anyway?

      Reply
    3. Graciosa

      I think you’re really overthinking this.

      You have no obligation to find ways to share the news with your boss’ boss in person – or to send an awkward email for that matter. Your boss is responsible for sharing (or not sharing) personnel news upward. No special effort on your part is required.

      If you’re visibly showing the next time you see him and it’s apparent that he didn’t know, you respond normally to whatever he says. You’re expecting? Yes, you are. Your [son/daughter/baby] is due in [month] and you’re so thrilled! He hadn’t heard? Really? You’ve been telling everyone you’ve seen since February, but you probably haven’t had a chance to talk since then. [Insert other baby related topic that changes the conversation – decorating the nursery, grandparents are thrilled, have chosen or are waiting to choose names, whatever].

      If you’re thirty feet away from his office, I expect this will happen naturally sooner rather than later. Or, before you’re showing, there may be opportunities when he mentions his kids (prompted by you or not) and you can mention that you’re having one of your own.

      But seriously – do not stress. I will assume your brain needed something to worry about and latched on to this, but a really nice boss with young kids who treats pregnant women well is not a high risk disclosure.

      Reply
      1. Turanga Leela

        Yes yes yes. You don’t need to tell. Someone will tell him, or he’ll notice or realize at some point, and then you just say, “Oh my gosh, I thought you knew!”

        This approach works with tons of people, including casual acquaintances and very distant relatives.

        Reply
      2. NK

        Thank you. That is true, it’s really not my job to have to tell him.

        I guess the only other thing is that when I asked my boss for advice about the whole career/mom thing, he suggested I talk to another manager at his boss’s level (there are a handful of them at that level in our functional area and they meet as a group frequently) who had kids while building her career here. If I meet with her, that would be the second person in that group of his peers who knows before he does. Is that an issue?

        Reply
        1. Graciosa

          Of course it’s not an issue.

          The next time you worry about this, remind yourself that you are overthinking it and have nothing to worry about.

          Stop focusing on this and worry about fun stuff instead (like baby names or how to decorate the nursery).

          And congratulations –

          Reply
        2. TootsNYC

          He’s not your grandfather, who really ought to hear the news from you.

          This is work, not family.

          The only person you need to be sure hears the news directly from you is: your boss; your subordinates.

          Otherwise, they can hear it from the chain of command.

          Reply
        3. Not So NewReader

          Nope. You were directed to speak to her because she has the background to provide you with answers you need.

          Reply
        4. TCO

          You might be used to thinking of your pregnancy as a “secret”–because it probably was for a while. Would it help if you looked at is as a more neutral, mundane piece of news? That’s what it actually is in your workplace. When you see it that way, there’s less worry about who knows, who hears first, etc. If you were planning a vacation, your only concern would be that the people affected by your absence had time to plan for it. Maybe you can look at this the same way?

          And yes, of course, a baby is big news and a family-friendly employer probably cares to share in that happy news. But maybe you’re giving it too much weight. Good luck!

          Reply
        5. Jen

          Nope. And he really might know; your boss may eventually bring up coverage for you when you are gone (not a temp necessarily, but “oh, NK will be out for 3 months so we’ll need to plan for that.”). You could also bring it up casually, if it comes up, or not at all. He’ll see your belly eventually and probably ask your boss.

          Reply
      3. TootsNYC

        I agree. He can find out when your boss says, “Oh, yes, and we’ll need to cover NK’s maternity leave.”

        It’ll be fine.

        Reply
  19. Jinx

    My husband and I are in the market for a mattress. The thing is, we’ve never owned a real mattress as a couple – our starter bed was this hand-me-down platform thing with a box spring and basically a futon pad laying on top of that. So we don’t even know what we like. let alone how to go about finding it. I’m looking for advice on where to buy, what to look for, how much to spend… pretty much everything.

    Halp?

    Reply
    1. Kristine

      Just gonna drop a recommendation for Casper. Best mattress I’ve ever had and well worth every penny. It’s the only one my husband and I could agree upon.

      Reply
      1. Jinx

        I’ll have to check it out. $850 is more than I wanted to spend but I’m a huge cheapskate. :P I waffled when we bought our couch, too, but it ended up being worth it. I like the idea of the 100 day trial period, that definitely gives us time to decide we don’t like it.

        How does the Casper feel?

        Reply
        1. Kristine

          It’s soft, but not so soft that you sink super far into it and leave a human-shaped indent. It rebounds really well.

          Reply
    2. BRR

      There are a lot of online mattress shops that give you X number of nights free to try. My boss has a Casper she loves. I know it firmer but not firm. She says it took like a week to get used to but now sleeps better than she ever has.

      Reply
    3. fairyfreak

      I’d start with how much to spend. With mattresses, you can spend a LOT. Figure out what you want your top budget to be, and then look at what you can get for that. You might decide you don’t want all the features, and can spend less, or you might love what’s in the price range.

      Reply
    4. Ordinary Worker

      Haven’t looked at the site myself yet but I’ve heard that oldbedguy dot com is a good website for all things mattress related.

      Reply
    5. LadyHope

      Try Consumer Reports! The things they evaluate will give you an idea of what to look for and they usually have “best buys” which are the most bang for your buck. You have to subscribe but it’s worth it, to me.

      Reply
      1. Iphigenia

        Or if you don’t want to subscribe, you can check it out at your local library. It’s a common magazine for libraries to subscribe to, and if you’re lucky, they also have an e-subscription service that you can use.

        Reply
    6. Violet_04

      I went to the Old Bed Guy site but got quite overwhelmed with all the information there. Consumer Reports is also helpful, but you may need to be a subscriber or have an account to see the full reviews.

      Anyway, we finally got rid of our 13 year old mattress. There’s a Macy’s furniture showroom near our work, so my husband and I stopped by after work and laid on a bunch of mattresses. We knew we wanted something on the firmer side and we had an idea of the price range, but didn’t do much more research beyond that. We ended up with an extra firm mattress with a pillow top from BeautyRest. I think Macy’s brands it as the Teagen. There is a 60 day return policy, but we’ve had it for a couple of weeks now and it’s been a huge improvement.

      Macy’s offered it’s own warranty, which we passed on, but there is a manufacture’s warranty. Just make sure to get the details. Also, if it’s in your budget you might want to get new sheets and pillows.

      Reply
      1. Jinx

        We have a Macy’s furniture store here too – it’s where we bought our couch, actually. I’ll have to check and see if they have mattresses, since we’ve had positive purchase experiences there.

        Reply
        1. Violet_04

          We bought ours a couple of weeks ago and the sales person called back to let us know the one we bought was going on sale for President’s Day so she entered a price adjustment. Regardless of where you shop, check on their policy. We ended up getting $280 discount!

          Reply
      2. Cafe Au Lait

        This is a plug for libraries: almost all libraries subscribe to consumer reports. It can be found under your database listings, or ask a librarian for directions.

        Reply
      3. notfunny.

        You may be able to use an electronic subscription via your local library/academic institution to read consumer reports!

        Reply
    7. NP

      This is something you need to test out in person. Go to a mattress store, any mattress store, and lie down on them. You’ll quickly discover if you like firm, soft, etc. From there, you can either buy in person or from online. From personal experience, it is worth paying more for a better mattress. You are going to be spending 1/3 of your time on it.

      Reply
      1. Turanga Leela

        I love mattress shopping and have always done it in person. Trying out mattresses will help you learn the vocabulary—it’s hard to know if you want a pillow-top mattress if you’re not sure what a pillow-top mattress feels like. Same goes for memory foam (which I don’t recommend, because it winds up being very hot and kind of hard to get out of in the morning).

        Reply
        1. fposte

          If you could figure out a way to be a personal mattress shopper, you could make a ton of money. I would definitely pay my way out of doing this.

          Reply
    8. fposte

      I would rather shop for a new car, I swear. Mattress shopping bites.

      The one thing that I’d say is worth doing if you can is to check out any mattress factories near you that make their own brand–they’re likely to be cheaper than most retail locations and often more adaptable, as well as more reliable when it comes to supporting the product.

      I really, really want to explore latex this time if I can deal with the pricepoint, but I really want to try it without a pillowtop, which is unpopular in showrooms.

      Reply
      1. Vulcan social worker

        My latex mattress was the best thing I ever bought. I justified the cost because it is supposed to last 20 years, not 10 like a regular mattress. My first mattress that I bought myself was $99 at Ikea. It did its job for 10 years like it was supposed to, though I kept it for 12. By year 12 it was pretty uncomfortable, but I’d certainly recommend an Ikea one to someone not looking to spend a whole lot of money on one. I’m assuming since my $99 one was good for as long as it was supposed to be, the higher-end ones are probably worth trying out too.

        fposte, if you’re interested in the latex mattress, do you sleep with a latex pillow? I find that it is really helpful for my neck pain. I take it with me when I travel. Fortunately with one of those compression bags it ends up really small and takes up next to no room in a suitcase.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          I don’t have a latex pillow–do you think that would be a good mini-test? Maybe I’ll look for one of those when I shop.

          And tell me about your latex mattress. Is it Talalay or Dunlop? Is there a brand you liked?

          Reply
          1. Vulcan social worker

            The brand is Natura. I remembered it as Talalay, but I looked it up just now to try to figure out which model it was, and it seems that most of Natura’s have a Talalay top and a Dunlop core, so that’s probably what mine is. I am not sure which model mine is, as it’s about six years old now and I don’t know if it’s one on the website or if they have changed models. I absolutely love it though. It is very heavy. Whereas I could lift the Ikea mattress myself to flip it, it’s a good thing a latex mattress never needs flipping, because I couldn’t possibly do it. I’m just as happy on it now as I was the day I tried it in the store.

            The latex pillow is a bit different as it’s softer and you can squoosh it up a bit. You can choose your firmness of the latex bed, but it’s not molding to your body in quite the same way that a latex pillow molds to your head. Latex pillows are pretty expensive. I’ve had mine for as long as I’ve had the bed and I got a good deal on a set of two on overstock dot com. (I figure if I put it as a link it will get held up as potential spam.) Fortunately the s.o. prefers the cheapest fiberfill thing Target sells so they are both mine (though I’d have just ordered another set if that were not the case as I am not that selfish and I believe that sleeping comfort is the most important thing, even more so than good nutrition).

            Reply
        2. Lindsay J

          We just got our mattress at IKEA and it’s really nice.

          It’s one of their higher end ones – the Myrbaka in latex – and it’s amazingly comfortable. It’s much nicer than the mattress I got from a mattress store for a similar price a few years ago.

          I also liked shopping at IKEA because we could walk around and look at and try all the mattresses without being bothered, and we didn’t have to deal with trying to haggle or dealing with high pressure sales tactics like you get at regular mattress and furniture stores.

          A lot of their mattresses are on the super firm (uncomfortably hard for me) side, but they do have some selections that are really nice. We also liked the pocket spring models and if money wasn’t a concern we would have gone with the Morgongåva (natural latex) model but it was about double the price of the one we got and the comfort level was close enough we couldn’t justify it.

          Reply
    9. Colorado CrazyCatLady

      I find it so frustrating to sort through mattress and pillow reviews! What helps one person’s back or neck, hurts someone else. That said – I think it’s REALLY important to at least check them out in person and lay on them. A lot of mattress companies let you try them for a certain number of days, too.

      I have a queen size pillow top mattress that I bought for around $500 and a Tempur-Pedic mattress that I purchased for a lot more. I love the former and hate the latter but YMMV! Prices range hugely depending on size, brand, type, etc.

      For what it’s worth, TemperPedics form to your body and envelop you in uncomfortable heat. They’ve also been awful for my back, but like I said, what works for one person is wonderful for another.

      Reply
      1. Jinx

        My husband is really fascinated with the idea of memory foam and temperpedics, but without trying it I’m not sure whether we’d like it in practice. The problem is we’re both weird – he likes to sleep flat on his back and any sort of sinking makes his back hurt; I sleep on my side and a firm bed digs into my hips.

        Reply
        1. Turanga Leela

          See my comment above. I loved my memory foam mattress pad in college, but when we got a memory foam mattress for my mom’s guest room, nobody liked it. The consensus was that it got extremely hot, and it didn’t seem to help anyone’s back pain the way we thought it might. My aunt and I are now fighting over whether the guest room should have a pillow-top mattress (my choice) or a very hard mattress (her choice).

          I think Sleep Number makes beds where you can adjust the firmness independently on each side.

          Reply
    10. Ann Cognito

      We bought a new mattress last year and went to a bunch of stores, asked the sales people to show us the beds with medium-hard mattresses, then tried them all out. It’s the only way. We eventually settled on one, but even then it took a good six months until it felt like “our” mattress, the way our old one did; you know the feeling where you come home having been out of town, get into bed and just think “ah, my mattress”. Somehow your body just knows!

      Reply
    11. Granite

      We bought our last couple at Ikea. Inexpensive, but good value IMO, and no pushy sales people. I’ve never met a mattress sales person that didn’t behave like a used car sales person.

      Reply
    12. Not So NewReader

      I just bought a mattress that I am happy with. The thing that got me was the box spring was so darn tall. I have a custom made bed from long ago, and it’s unusually high. I almost needed a ladder to get into bed.
      I called and they swapped for a shorter box spring.
      Measure the heights of the mattresses and box springs, make sure it’s in keeping with your expectations.

      Reply
    13. Noah

      I bought a Leesa mattress recently. Same idea as Casper. Alison had a sponsored post about it several months ago and I bookmarked it because I knew I would be buying a mattress soon.

      I like it. I really enjoyed the fact that the only options available were what size to get. I was very overwhelmed at the mattress store with all the different choices. Kinda a medium firmness, I added my featherbed on top and it is the perfect softness for me now. It was right around the $700 mark. There was a trial period, but I slept so well the first week I knew I would probably be keeping it.

      Reply
    14. Hlyssande

      Tuft & Needle mattresses seem to have good reviews too. They have a great refund & donation program too if what you buy doesn’t work out.

      Reply
  20. Manders

    Does anyone have suggestions for a good free task management program that a department of 3 or 4 people could use? We’re having a recurring problem where we send things off for approval, the people who are supposed to approve those things forget about them or get buried in emails, and weeks later we remember the project because we found our handwritten notes or Outlook reminders. We’re also having a problem where two people might remind the same person on the same day, or nobody sends a reminder because everyone though someone else did it.

    I’m thinking of some sort of shared system we could use to make lists of the projects that need approval, with a notes section so we could add some sort of comment every time we send a reminder to the person who needs to approve the project. Unfortunately, there’s no way to streamline the approval process beyond sending regular reminders.

    Reply
    1. TCO

      If you happen to use Gmail, Boomerang will solve part of your problem–I use it to remind myself if something I sent off for approval didn’t get a response. Todoist is another Gmail plugin that allows users to collaborate and share tasks.

      Would a shared calendar for due dates, reminders, etc. be useful, or do you need a more robust system?

      Reply
      1. Manders

        The tricky part is that these things don’t really need a calendar, since some of the projects aren’t time-sensitive–we just need some sort of shared list that’s slightly more complex than an Excel spreadsheet. We use Outlook for most things in the office, although there are some products we use that we sign into with our personal Gmail accounts.

        The legal staff in our office have their own shared task management system, but it’s set up to track cases, not the kind of project we do.

        Reply
      2. Trixie

        Adding on to Gmail, I just learned about canned responses and LOVE THEM. New job involves answering routine questions and this saves so much time, even compared to copy/paste. Canned responses and filters are my new favorites. Will have to check Boomerang next because for now every small reminder is on the schedule.

        Reply
      1. MorganLizzie

        I definitely second (third?) this. Trello is awesome for teams, and I even use it for keeping track of my own longer term projects or those backburner “to dos”.

        Reply
      2. Mallory Janis Ian

        I use Trello for my own work to-do list. My lists are set up from left to right: Incoming Tasks; Most Important for Today; Today; This Week; Waiting On; Done; and Reference. I email tasks to Trello as I process my inbox in the morning and then put it on whatever list is appropriate. I think for a small team, you could use a similar set-up, but with lists for individual team members to grab a task into their “lane” while they’re working on it, and then send it to the “Done” list when they’re done.

        Reply
    2. Phoebe

      Have you looked at Trello? Link: https://trello.com/ You create boards with lists that you can attach all kinds of things to. You can share the boards and set reminders. Our production department uses it for project management.

      Reply
    3. Phoebe

      Have you looked at Trello? Here’s a link to the website: https://trello.com/ . You create boards with lists where you can attach all sorts of things. You can tie it to a calendar, but you don’t have to. Our production team uses it for project management.

      Reply
    4. Trixie

      My department is huge fan of Google shared docs. We can each add to agendas, add our notes to projects, edit training docs on an ongoing basis, etc.

      Reply
    5. Nanc

      Take a closer look at Outlook, specifically Tasks and Task Request. You can assign tasks to more than one person. You can put in a due date and set a reminder for a day (or hour, week, month, whatever) ahead. You can send it with an attachment or not. You can create and assign categories. Since you’re a small department it might be worth thinking inside the box–looking at the tools you already have and use and see what else they can do for you.

      Reply
    6. Treena

      I’ve used trello in the past, but switched after discovering Wunderlist. Trello is more complex and has a bunch of options, but I found it overwhelmingly unnecessary and Wunderlist is very customizable in the sense that pretty much everything boils down to a to-do list anyways.

      Reply
  21. highered frustration

    Got another no for a job I was really looking forward to. That’s about 5 no’s in as many weeks. I’ve been trying for over a year and a half. Could use some positive vibes! :/

    Reply
    1. AndersonDarling

      Those were just practice interviews. Now you will be ready for the job you are meant to get!
      Besides, those companies that you interviewed at, I heard they are all lame. Totally lame-o. :-D

      Reply
    2. Virginian

      I’m also in the same boat. I had three interviews late last year and none of them panned out. I hope that your luck improves.

      Reply
    3. K.

      I’m in the same “interviews, no offers” boat lately. Sending you positive vibes! I have an interview tomorrow that I hope ends in a yes.

      Reply
  22. Bekx

    I put it an offer for a condo Saturday night. They have until tonight to respond and ohmygod my concentration right now is down the drain. Just let me know if you’re taking my bid or counter offering already!!

    That being said. I’m absolutely terrified to spend the downpayment I’ve been saving since I was a teenager.

    Reply
    1. penny

      That’s awesome but I understand you’re fear. I hope you get it! I’ve been thinking about buying a house but it’s just me and it’s a scary prospect!

      Reply
      1. Bekx

        It’s just me, too! It’s so scary. What if I lose my job? What if I can’t pay the bills? What if there’s a spider and my dad can’t come over and kill it for me???

        If you would have told me 4 months ago I’d be doing this I would have laughed in your face. It moved very quickly once I got the ball rolling.

        Reply
        1. penny

          Lol I’ve considered all those things! I was talking to coworkers who moved in to a new house and the neighborhood being new & by a field has had lots of mice in garages this winter! I was like omg I’m going to have to hire someone to remove the mouse traps cuz no way am I getting near those! It doesn’t help being barely out of the housing g crisis,it can’t help but be on your mind esp when your the only one paying the bills!

          Actually my manager has given me leave to put together an info meeting for employees about how to buy a house which is awesome. But I don’t even know where to start in getting someone as a speaker. I’m the kind of person who researches phones for a year before buying a smart phone so I think I’d be panicking if it just happened in a few months!

          Reply
          1. Bekx

            Oooh. Yeah. I’m very fortunate that my cousin is my buyers agent. She’s held my hand the entire time and I trust her judgement. I think that helped a lot. I’m the same way with the whole “research something for a year before buying it.”

            ANd NOPE about mice. No thanks. Nooo thanks.

            Reply
            1. Penny

              That’s very fortunate to be able to have someone you trust who is knowledgeable. Good luck and I hope they put you out of your misery before tonight!

              Reply
        2. Coffee Ninja

          Good luck!! That is so exciting. Don’t be *too* worried about losing your job/being unable to pay the bills – I don’t know where you’re located, but in my area there are a ton of assistance programs for homeowners who were current on their mortgage but fell on hard times (I looked in to them a couple years ago when my company went through layoffs. Luckily I survived).

          I’ve been in my house for 6 years this Thursday and I have called my dad to exterminate for me a couple times :) He lives 10 minutes away, and I SURE AS HELL was not going to sleep with a cricket in my bed!!

          Reply
          1. Bekx

            Thanks! I had no idea those programs existed…I’ll hopefully never need to find out more info on them!

            Hahaha, what are dads for?

            Reply
    2. Kristine

      Signing away that much money is one of the scariest things you’ll ever do. But if you did your research and you feel comfortable with the place you’re buying, you’ll start to settle into it. My husband and I bought our place in February 2015 and every day I am happy to come home to a place that is twice the size of our old apartment (but the same price), knowing that I’ll never get a surprise rent hike or maintenance visit, and getting to make plans to knock out the ugly kitchen with a sledgehammer because I can.

      Good luck, I hope you get the place!

      Reply
    3. Bekx

      :( They are debating whether or not to counter offer or take the condo off the market and wait until the summer. I haven’t heard an official no yet…but I have a gut feeling and now I’m bummed.

      Reply
  23. AFT123

    I just went from working exclusively at home back into an office environment in a big city. I also just found out I’m pregnant. I miss being able to telework SO MUCH. Please talk me off the ledge of going back to my dysfunctional, low paying, dead end job just for the telework benefit.. .

    Reply
      1. AFT123

        I had been looking for quite a long time and very critically weighing the positions I had offers for – I had 4 offers over the course of 6 months before I decided this would be the right one. It’s a huge, well regarded company, the position seemed like a good next step for me doing work I would likely enjoy, and the pay was much better. So far, the work itself has been very slow paced and it seems to be the culture here, which is a shock for me. It’s fine enough, I just have a lot of downtime and seems like I will forever, that I’d rather be bored at home where I can find productive stuff to do. I think I’d LOVE this job if it were remote.

        Reply
    1. penny

      Read Lean In!I just finished it and she does address these issues including starting a new job when you get pregnant that you’ll be happy to return to.

      Reply
  24. Totally Anon for This

    I’m at work today. We used to have President’s Day off as a paid holiday, but that ended as of February 2015. We were told it was “a positive realignment of responsibilities”. This day was cut, along with several others, bringing our total paid holidays down to 6 per year. The staff we support still gets President’s Day off, so my day is pretty dead. Not happy about any of this, but there’s nothing we can do about it. Even complaining on social media can get you fired, so thus the “anon” name.

    And it’s snowing. Not a lot, but it’s supposed to get worse as the day goes on. We were told we could leave if we feel uncomfortable, but we must make up the time this week. The office never closes for snowstorms, and if there is anything that disrupts work, like snow, power outages, mainframe computer crash, we have to either make up the time or use our vacation time to make up our 40 hours (we’re non exempt).

    What really sucks is I have the ability to work from home. It’s no different at home, than here, except no coworkers. I have a laser printer and a good computer system, and I can log in remotely. But I’m not allowed to work from home, even when the weather is extremely bad. I have to drive to the office (25+ miles one way) or take a vacation day and not work at all. The rationale is “not everyone can be trusted to work from home, so no one may work from home.” It’s such an old fashioned butts in seat mentality. I tried reasoning with my manager, as this would truly be just a few days a year, but no dice.

    A new job can’t come soon enough.

    Reply
    1. Mercury

      Totally get where you are coming from. I could do my job from home 3/4 days a weeks and come in for the weekly staff meeting but no. I need to be in cube land where they can “see” me working. Ugh. Just want to scream.
      We are having a very slow day here and half the office staff isn’t even here. All either scheduled off using “adjusted” (comp) time because they are exempt and the non-exempt full timers (except me) called out sick or worked a half day. I want to switch the phones to voicemail and go but I’m staying because I was out sick a week in January.

      Reply
    2. neverjaunty

      Good vibes to you for a new job. When a company starts in with wrapping business decisions in BS language that makes it clear they think you’re stupid, it’s time to go!

      Reply
  25. AMD

    Has anyone ever successfully helped someone with a big ego come to a better understanding of their weaknesses and how to develop? One of my direct reports is new to the workforce, five months into his first professional job, and gave himself a perfect self-evaluation stating he had no weaknesses and improves himself “every day in every way always.” I am about to give him his official evaluation. I want him to develop a more realistic and mature outlook on himself and help him be open to critical feedback, which he ahsn’t been, but I’ve never had any friends or coworkers before who have such an unrelentingly high view of themselves, so I feel like I don’t know what to expect and what approaches work well. Any advice?

    Reply
    1. OfftheRecord

      Is your assessment of his ego coming from his evaluation or his general demeanor in the office? Because honestly, when I first started the professional work force I didn’t understand the purpose of self-evaluations. Admitting I did things wrong seemed like I’d be pointing out reasons for my boss to fire me. I was not keen on it. Is it possible he just doesn’t have the work force maturity to understand that?

      Reply
      1. AMD

        That is definitely part of it – maturity and familiarity with professional norms is an issue. (Early twenties, no really structured previous professional jobs.) That’s apparent in the way he communicates with me, with my boss, with our peers, and with lower-level staff. But the ego is definitely part of his personality – he gets extremely agitated in response to negative feedback and truly believes he’s amazing at most aspects of the job.

        Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          I managed someone like this once. I finally sat her down and said, “When you imagine yourself a year from now or five years from now, do you picture yourself being better at what you do — more skilled, further along in your career? The way you get there is by feedback and by spotting places where you could get better and working on those. It is literally the path to moving up. When you take the stance that there’s nothing you need to improve in, you’re blocking your ability to progress professionally.”

          Reply
          1. Meg Murry

            Oh, I love this, totally filing it away mentally.

            Relatedly – does anyone else keep a file of this kind of thing? I thought someone mentioned keeping a document of advice like this, but I’m not sure how I would file things away in a way that wouldn’t get unwieldy and that I could find it again.

            Reply
          2. TootsNYC

            I told my teenage son: “Never lie to yourself. Never make excuses for yourself. Because you block the road to improvement. You -have- to be able to acknowledge your flaws and your mistakes, or you will never, ever move beyond them.”

            Reply
      2. Jinx

        Yeah, I struggle with this as a relatively-recent graduate. You don’t want to admit to a weakness because you’d be saying something “bad” about yourself, and your boss will judge you for it. You’re supposed to say you’re good at everything.

        At this year’s review, my boss had me write down a list of all the characteristics that compose my job and rank them highest to lowest in terms of my performance, then he gave me his assessment item by item. Phrased like that, it didn’t feel like “I’m doing x right and y wrong”, it was more about “I’m doing well in all of these aspects, but I’m very strong at x and could use more work in y”.

        Maybe you could approach his self-evals like that?

        Reply
        1. AMD

          That is a good approach! I didn’t get a chance to go over what I expected from it with him before he had to submit it to our online system, but maybe for next year I could say “Put your top five things in your strengths category with your achievements, and then your lower three things in your opportunities category” or something.

          Reply
    2. BRR

      I would give any feedback you have and see how he reacts. He might take it ok. But also be prepared to let him know that even the best employees can improve in somethings.

      You could also hand him back his evaluation and ask him to put a couple of specific areas for improvement instead of such a broad statement.

      Reply
    3. katamia

      Are you sure it’s ego and not him thinking he has to present himself as perfect in every way (the way that a lot of people think they have to be in job interviews/jobs/life)?

      Reply
      1. AMD

        It might be a little of that, and I want to tell him “Next year, I’d find it helpful if under your “Opportunities” section you would put what you recognize are areas you need to work on and how you’re addressing them, instead of the approach you used here.”

        However, the last two times we’ve had conflict, or I’ve had to address a performance issue with him, he’s told me I have no right to ask him to go against his judgment in the best way to do things, or to tell him he’s not doing good enough when he’s just starting out and still learning. He complained about me to my boss, who told him to keep his head down and focus on learning to do his job well and support me better. So I feel like the evaluation is truly a symptom of his personality rather than just unfamiliarity with how to write a eval – he really believes the every word of the six paragraphs he wrote under his “strengths” section describing himself as the best people person, best communicator, most dedicated worker ever.

        My boss also has said that if we don’t “learn to work as a team,” he won’t work at our site anymore. So I believe it’s my job as his manager to make a good faith effort to help him develop and improve, but I know that if he rejects that and is just crazy then my manager has my back.

        Reply
        1. OfficePrincess

          As his direct supervisor “you have no right” to tell him to do his job correctly? Wow. I think your suggested wording is a good start. Beyond that, he just needs to be coached like anyone else – lay out the expectation that he work as a team and whatever else you need him to improve as non-negotiable. And then hold him to it. Hopefully he will get it, but it sounds like he has a lot of maturing to do, so it may get ugly. Good luck!

          Reply
          1. AMD

            That’s my instinct – to just be kind of (not meanly) flat, “The expectation for performance here is X, Y, and Z,” and if he gets agitated, defensive, or angry, just get more dispassionate.

            But I feel like I want to try to rescue him from himself a little – that learning how to actually develop someone like that and communicate well with them would be a good skill to have as a manager. So that’s what I really want, is not just to wring better performance out of him, but also develop him into a better employee who can take feedback and critically self-evaluate.

            Reply
            1. neverjaunty

              You can’t fix someone with this attitude. Seriously, there is such a difference between someone who doesn’t understand that it’s OK to admit to job weaknesses, versus someone who claims his boss has “no right” to tell him to do something differently.

              I can only imagine how he treats staff who DON’T supervise him.

              Reply
            2. Meg Murry

              I think a rating system where everyone gets 3s out of 5s is difficult for people coming out of school where it is expected that you can get all As or all As and a couple of Bs. Apparently one of our newer hires cried when she got a review that was straight 3s with only 1 or 2 4s, because no one explained to her that that is actually a perfectly normal, GOOD review for a new hire and she thought we were saying she was a “C student” or basically mediocre.

              Before sending anyone to do a self evaluation that they submit to an online system, I would suggest sitting down with them and explaining how it works. I like the advice above that instead of ranking each skill to instead list them in order of strongest to weakest, and then you can go over and see if your lists match.

              Reply
            3. katamia

              Oof. Okay, I assumed a charitable interpretation of his actions, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. I don’t think that this is something you’re capable of changing. It has to come from him. In addition to Meg Murry’s idea of making sure he’s clear on how the evaluations work and on ranking his skills, I think the best thing you can do to change his attitude in the long run (I don’t have any managerial experience so I can’t speak to the “You have no right” element) is to model the attitude you want to see in him, unfortunately.

              Reply
            4. Observer

              @Neverjaunty makes a good point about how he treats others. Now, you can’t demand that people be buddies with everyone in the office, but you do need to make sure that people treat each other with respect. So, that’s another thing to keep an eye out for.

              And, you most definitely CAN address that as a work issue, if he is rude or disrespectful to people.

              I also think you need to be realistic. You have gotten some good suggestions for language that might work. But, ultimately, if your report is not ready to listen, nothing you say will make a difference. And that’s not something you can really change.

              Reply
        2. Ask a Manager Post author

          Whoa. I’d actually address that head-on — “I think we need to clarify your role and my role. Part of my job is to assess your performance and give you feedback, and when I’d like you to be doing something differently, I’ll tell you that and I need you to make those changes. Can you work that way?” Followed by, depending on his reaction, “If you’re not up for that, I need to get someone into the position who is.”

          Reply
          1. Not So NewReader

            Better said than what would have flown out of my mouth. Grr, how do people miss this memo?

            I would have to point out that every job he will ever have will have a boss. And it is the boss’ job to give instruction, evaluate work effort and so on. Learning how to work within this structure will benefit him for the rest of his life.

            Reply
            1. Unnamed Source

              I missed the memo. I was shown a very poor example by a mother who became angry when she was criticized. She’d rave about it for days. I absorbed her attitude. It took me a long time to identify and repair the damage. I realize now that she probably had Narcissistic Personality Disorder. But what she taught me kept me from advancing in my career for a long time.

              Reply
              1. Not So NewReader

                Yeah, I was told very early at one of my jobs. My parents did not believe in teaching, so I was kind of naive/stupid. I don’t think my setting was as bad as yours, but I can see what you are saying. Fortunately, someone told me by using a third party as an example. I read the subtle message and made sure it wasn’t me doing THAT. There’s two parts here. One is not knowing what to do and how to handle things and the second part is pushing back when authority figures speak. It’s that push back that makes every so much harder.

                Reply
                1. Unnamed Source

                  I wish I’d been smart enough to heed the hints I now know that people tried to give me. I was raised with a large chip on my shoulder. Only after I married someone from a fairly normal family did I start to see how messed up mine was. I try not to kick myself today. That’s about all I can do. I realized something was wrong but was retired before I figured it out.

        3. A Bug!

          I’m not a manager and am probably reading into your comments but I wouldn’t be so sure your boss truly has your back. Before I go on I’d like to give you my context so you can let it inform how you take my comment. I’ve had a manager who treated interpersonal conflicts within his team as an irritation and limited his involvement to an exasperated “work it out.” And I’ll be the first to say that I wasn’t blameless in the matter, but we were a team of inexperienced people who didn’t really mean poorly – we needed a manager to, well, manage us. Instead, he didn’t want to hear about any of it or do anything to address the issues directly.

          So, when I read your comments, your boss sounds similarly hands-off about things. Yes, if the two of you are ultimately incompatible, your employee’s going to be the one who goes, not you, and that’s good, but I get the feeling that he views you both as equal contributors to the problem. And I also get the feeling that your boss didn’t make it clear to your employee that your boss really stands behind your decisions and expects your employee to recognize your authority rather than going over your head to get feedback vetoed.

          Reply
  26. Anxa

    Aye,

    My work had a delayed opening, and I was still late. So embarrassing… I gave myself enough time to commute, but burned through that buffer by having a longer-than-usual de-icing session. And so when I got stuck in traffic I ended up keeping someone waiting.

    So not only did I lose an hour’s pay, but I also ended up having not-a-great-day at work.

    Reply
    1. LizB

      :( That sucks. This is my first winter owning a car, and I’m amazed how much longer it takes to get anywhere when you factor in de-icing AND weather-related traffic. I’ve been late or just barely on time to quite a few meetings lately, which is totally embarrassing. I hope tomorrow is better for you!

      Reply
      1. Anxa

        Just an ice-scraper I already have. It was pretty quick work the last year, but this time was more difficult despite it being a much thinner layer (I live in the South…it’s the clear hard shell around your car type of ice).

        If this was a more common occurrence I’d probably splurge on some isopropyl or something else to help.

        Reply
        1. Not So NewReader

          Rainex is great on thin ice like that. It really makes a difference in scraping. People told me it would and I did not believe them. Scraping went from a 30 minute plus process down to about 7-8 minutes. I could not believe the difference. And it does seem to help in heavy rain storms, too. So you would get year round use out of the product.

          My problem was that coworkers had to wait for me to scrape off my car when we left at night. They did not like waiting. “Gee, NSNR, get some Rainex, WILL YA?!” hahaha. So I did and now I am sold on the idea.

          Reply
  27. Pseudonymity

    I am preparing to resign from my position. My boss has a track record of reacting badly to resignations. I am very nervous. Any sympathizers or suggestions out there?

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth West

      Get as much of your personal stuff out of the office and off your computer as you can before you resign, in case the boss freaks and asks you to leave that day. I’d prepare procedural documents, wrap up projects, etc. as much as possible too, so you can point out that you’re making the transition smoother for everyone else.

      Your boss is a big baby, IMO–this is business. People can and do move on. You’re not doing anything wrong. Good luck!

      Reply
      1. AFT123

        Second this – also have prepped a few canned responses that feel like safe things to say, that you can repeat over and over if you think you’ll get badgered. “I have learned a lot here, but I know I’ll regret not taking this opportunity” kind of thing.

        Reply
      2. OwnedByTheCat

        Oh, yes, to this too. It can also be cathartic and make it seem more “real” to have everything ready to go!

        Reply
    2. OwnedByTheCat

      I sympathize. When I resigned my last job my boss swore and yelled at me then ignored me (ice cold) until I left. It was HORRIBLE.

      I’d make sure you have some R&R lined up. Maybe go straight from your resignation to happy hour with friends, or go to the movies, or get a massage. Then focus on your new job/everything else good and not about this mean, irrational person.

      *hugs*. I hope it goes well!

      Reply
    3. AndersonDarling

      Remember, you can always walk out of the room if it turns ugly. You don’t have to ask for permission, or wait for a break in the conversation.
      But it could go perfectly fine, so there isn’t any reason to loose sleep over the possibility of the boss getting upset. Just be happy about the new job!

      Reply
  28. katamia

    I’ve been feeling really demoralized recently. My job is hurting me–literally. It’s bad for my ankle, knees, back, and neck, and the noise-cancelling headphones I need (yes, I need them for the job, and they need to be noise-cancelling) give me nausea and headaches. But it’s the only thing I’ve ever done where I’ve remotely been successful over the long run. I’ve never been able to get traction in any other field (graduated from college right as the recession hit, and I never really got started), and I’m starting to think it’s just never going to happen. Everything I try goes badly, and it’s not through self-sabotage–it’s been a combination of bad luck, my not vetting workplaces well in the past/believing the “get a job, any job” advice, and some health issues.

    It feels like the only option is to go full-on freelance instead of the partial freelance I’ve done on and off for awhile (depending on the other jobs I’ve held), but the thought of having to find clients, hunt them down to get payment, do advertising, etc. on top of actually doing work just feels like too much for me to handle right now, when I’m so down about everything. How do you make yourself get started on something that you need to do even when you can’t imagine it will ever be a success? At this rate, making JKR levels of money off my rather niche and surrealist (read: relatively non-commercial) writing is starting to feel more realistic than my actually having any non-writing career success.

    Reply
    1. Not So NewReader

      If you don’t get a lot of answers, please post again on Friday. Lots of people here have good inputs on these types of questions. Meanwhile, do you think you should see a doc for a check up? (Maybe you already are and that is part of the problem, too.)

      Reply
      1. katamia

        Thanks. I probably will repost if I can make it to the Friday thread.

        I’ve seen a doctor, and while they’re trying some things to fix what can be fixed (the issue with noise-cancelling headphones is just an inner ear thing, and the only way to fix it is to stop using them), they know about this job and believe (which I agree with) that at best, the job is slowing down my recovery, and at worst, I might not fully recover until I stop doing this job.

        Reply
        1. Not So NewReader

          Ear stuff– ugh!
          I had problems with my ears draining and I found that it messed up my thinking like I never would have believed. Yeah, long story short, the job. Every muscle in my body was tense and this included neck muscles etc., which in turn impacted my ear situation. ugh.
          I got out of the job and a little while later my health stuff calmed down.

          Reply
  29. Anon for this.

    It’s annoying that my employer hasn’t said whether evening classes are cancelled and I’ve had some staff concerned about coming in. I’m an in area where there’s only a possibility of freezing rain. I come from the frozen north, so this doesn’t bother me at all, but I am worried about them since they come from HI. I tried to let the person know that they could come in a bit later if need be, but she was already on her way to work.

    Reply
    1. MsChandandlerBong

      Ugh, I hate when schools and businesses wait until the last minute to close. I used to volunteer as a judge for competitive events involving students interested in business/marketing/entrepreneurship. The district event was always in December, and there was always a chance snow would affect the schedule. Last year, I waited until the last possible second to leave, but there was no announcement about closing. I drove about an hour in the snow, paid turnpike tolls, and almost got into an accident when I got about a mile from the event center. Drove into the parking lot and discovered that they had announced a closing at 7:56 a.m. (and I had to leave at 7 a.m. to get there on time)! So I had turn around and drive back through the storm, then make another two-hour round trip the next day for the rescheduled event.

      Reply
      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        My children’s school always used to be the very last school in our region to announce closures for snow days. Every school around us would be closed by 6am, and then finally, close to 7:30 am, our school would send the announcement. By that time, I would have already decided that, if there was school, my kids were not going to be there. So aggravating!

        Reply
  30. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees

    I feel like companies should be very lenient about declaring snow days on days that are otherwise holidays. If you’re guaranteed to have a low workload, why not just close?

    I know there have been questions about this topic in the past but I can’t seem to string the right words together to track them down…

    There are several organizations that I would be interested in working for were they hiring for a position I was qualified to fill. These organizations do not have employment information listed on their website. I would like to reach out to these places to inquire if they have the type of position I am looking for (I suspect they do) and where I could find more information if they ever need to hire to fill that position (NOT to just send a resume and cover letter and declare that I want them to hire me). Is this kind of outreach appropriate?

    Reply
      1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees

        Not that I have found, which could mean that they don’t, that they don’t have opening, or that I haven’t hit the right places

        Reply
    1. penny

      You could set up Google alerts for those company names. Sometimes they have an email address for those inquiries. Our as suggested check other major or niche job boards (dep on field).

      Reply
    2. Graciosa

      No, not really.

      Instead of either 1) providing them with your candidate information to keep on file for consideration should a suitable opening become available or 2) waiting for a suitable opening to become available and applying, you would like to call them up and discuss possible positions on the phone – without having been granted an interview – at your convenience rather than theirs.

      So no, not really appropriate, but certainly annoying.

      If you really genuinely don’t know whether they have suitable positions, sending the information in is fine, understanding that they will either be able to use it or not – on their schedule, after reviewing it, and not when you happen to feel like cold-calling them and demanding their attention.

      Networking is something entirely different. If you would like to see if you have contacts who can tell you more about the company (availability of positions, working environment, opportunities, etc.) then start using your network and ask. This involves using people who already know you (or people who know people who do) rather than cold calling HR.

      This is basically what LinkedIn was created for.

      A referral from a known contact to a hiring manager in the business (not cold calling HR) is a different matter – although, again, the right approach is likely to involve email first unless you get pretty explicit instructions otherwise. My usual response as a hiring manager is to ask my contact to send me over the potential candidate’s resume to keep in mind for future openings.

      I don’t have a lot of time to chat with people I don’t know when I haven’t reviewed their resumes and am not even hiring, but I do keep them if referred by a trusted source, and I am more likely to consider them when I do have an opening.

      But most of the time, I am managing a department and juggling at least forty-five pressing demands on my time that are more important to the business than taking cold calls. If you’re calling HR, I may never know about it (which is good for me but not for you).

      So I would suggest finding a true networking contact to help you get a resume to the hiring manager as a referral, or sending your materials in to HR if you don’t have a contact. Unscheduled phone calls demanding my time at your convenience are a bad job searching strategy.

      Reply
      1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees

        I genuinely don’t know if these places in questions (small, independent museums) have on site archives because they don’t have that information on their website. I’ve worked for other small independent museums that also lack that information on their webspace so I know that the lack of online info doesn’t necessarily mean the institution is poorly managed and it annoys but doesn’t concern me. You’d think it would be safe to assume they have those kinds of positions but small institutions can do some weird things with their stuff. The lack of knowledge is why I was hoping it was ok to reach out using the provided email contact form they offer, but I do get what you’re saying and I certainly don’t want to annoy or inconvenience anyone.

        I’m an upcoming recent grad in the field, so my network is growing but still quite small and not very diverse geographically. I’m hoping to get out and visit at least one of these places I’m interested in in person as a tourist at some point this year

        Reply
  31. Virginian

    Gov. employees, how long did it take to get a call back about an interview? I just applied to a position with 20+ openings and I know there’s no guarantee that I’ll get a call at all, but I’m trying to be a little positive.

    Reply
    1. Coffee Ninja

      I just interviewed for a government position. I applied 12/27 or 28, they called me 1/29 to schedule the interview, and I interviewed last week.

      Reply
    2. AnotherFed

      Weeks. If the job got a lot of applicants, it’ll take HR a while to go through them all and put together the cert list. Once they do that, the hiring manager still has a pile of candidates to go through and decide who to interview. Depending on how big the pile is, they either agree to interview everyone who made the cert or take a week plus to fill out the forms to justify not interviewing some people. It can easily be 4 weeks after the posting closes before anyone gets called to set up an interview.

      Reply
    3. Sparkly Librarian

      Forever. I applied in August of the year I got my master’s (required for the position), and had the first “interview” (an oral exam) in October. Then I didn’t get contacted for a real interview until the November more than a year later.

      Reply
    4. TempestuousTeapot

      For a state job in Florida, it takes about 3-4 weeks from application to call back. Interviews are scheduled 2 weeks out. If you are the best candidate post interview, it will be another three to four weeks for the offer call to come in with yur start date scheduled at that time. Do your best, don’t stress it, and best of luck to you!

      Reply
    5. RKB

      Well, I applied 5 times to my municipal position. My last application, I totally forgot I even sent it! That was in March. They called me in August. I had the job by The end of September.

      My provincial job, I applied once, was called in to an interview a week later, and had the job when they finished checking my references.

      So… It depends.

      Reply
    6. LSP

      Applied in Aug. Informal interview in Dec. Interviewed in May. Job offer 2 weeks later…but things didn’t work out.

      Don’t hold your breath, but remain positive. Sending you lots of luck! The best advice I got was to move on with my life and anything that came of this would be a pleasant surprise.

      Reply
  32. penny

    Anyone have any small talk topics or go to questions? I work in a pretty male dominated industry where I usually only interact with them remotely for work purposes. But sometimes when they are in town training I’m invited to meetings or dinners with them. I love the people I work with and they’re all great guys but I’m horrible at small talk as it is and some how its just harder with men who want to talk sports (which I don’t watch or play) or hunting (I don’t do) or the industry (I’m in hr so I can’t discuss it as in depth tho i listen to learn). I hate when I get stuck on what to say! Help me be less awkward!

    Reply
    1. Violet_04

      Movies, TV, weather. Ask how their travel to the city went. Possibly personal travel plans. Kids – if you already know they have them.

      Reply
    2. fposte

      Can you ask about the things you don’t know? “Did you grow up hunting? I know some people do it with their dads–is it a family tradition?” “What got you started in the industry?” “What do you think a newbie like me probably doesn’t know about the industry but should?” Sometimes listening is the best small talk of all.

      Reply
      1. Random Citizen

        Yes, this! I love when people have hobbies that I don’t know much (or anything :P) about and I can just ask a hundred questions without feeling like I’m prying into their personal life. Plus, enthusiasm is contagious, and if I can get someone talking about what they’re passionate about or interested in, I could listen forever (and ask my hundred questions)!

        Reply
      2. Penny

        Yes I’m all for listening! I’m pretty introverted, so these types of gatherings tend to wear me out anyway even though I do enjoy getting to meet with the team. I’d rather be able to ask questions and listen. It’s when the conversation hits that pause that bugs me.

        Reply
    3. Random Citizen

      If we have a while to talk, I love to ask how they ended up in their current job and go from there – what drew them to this job, what they like about it, did they always think they would end up in a job like this, what they went to school for (if they did) and why.

      Shortly after I graduated from high school I asked one of the retail managers I worked with what jobs he had at the store and what he liked about the job he had now (he had recently been promoted). He ended up telling me all about his aspirations to become a lawyer and why (he loved the idea of doing pro bono work!) and how he ended up here, and where he hoped to go next, and why, and his favorite classes were (related to his dream job/career trajectory), and I learned so much from him! We were working at the time (stocking shelves in the same aisle), so there was room for natural gaps, but I’ve found that line of questioning to work well when sitting across the table from someone as well. If there’s more than one person, though, that could be trickier.

      I’m kind of awful at small talk outside of this line, though, because I’d hate for anyone to feel like I was prying – and I don’t want to! – so my conversations tend to have a lot of dead space. :P

      Reply
    4. processimprovement

      Read Read Read. With a view to what will get a conversation going.
      So many of my conversations start with “I just read this interesting article on….” “Finished this great book that suggested this….” If you don’t like reading documentaries will do the same thing for you.

      Reply
    5. AnotherFed

      Do you like beer? If so, micro/craft breweries and interesting beers can be a good conversation item, especially if you’re out somewhere with a good beer menu that can pretty much start the topic for you. If there are local breweries you can talk about/recommend if they have free time, that could probably lead into good openings for other people to pitch in about neat places they’ve been or funny things that happened on other trips.

      Reply
    6. Mando Diao

      Ask something that’s guaranteed to get them talking. Ask if they’ve seen the Oscar nominees yet, which one they liked best and why. The clincher is that they might not ask you about your favorite, so you have to be prepared to not say your piece. But that’s how one is branded a “good listener,” and it’s a good label to be able to wear.

      Reply
      1. Penny

        Movies & TV are a great topic for me since I love them and could talk all day about them, but this is really good specific advice! I’m always just like, seen any good movies lately :/

        Reply
    7. Meg Murry

      If they are traveling to your office, asking them how the trip/travels went is usually a safe question, and often goes down the path of “well, today was uneventful, but last month I was on a flight that was delayed three times ….” type of story that anyone who has ever been on an airplane or highway can relate to.

      How long have you been working in [industry] or how long have you been at [site] can go over ok too.

      If you know about the meeting and it’s attendees in advance (as opposed to someone saying “hey, come out to dinner with the training group with us in an hour”) sometimes you can glean interesting information by stalking people on LinkedIn. “So Bob, I hear you came from [Big Competitor] before coming over to [Our Company]. I’ve heard they are way more formal that we are here – is that just the rumor, or do you find that to be true?” “Oh, I think I heard that you were in [Other City] before – I’m thinking of going on vacation there, any suggestions as to things I must do?”

      I also LinkedIn stalk so I’m less likely to keep calling Joe by the wrong name and forgetting whether Bob was from Tulsa or Tucson – I’m not good at remembering that kind of thing when I’m first introduced to someone, so I like to review in advance.

      Reply
    8. Me2

      One of my favorite things to ask strangers is how they came to be living where they are living. Oh, you grew up in Minnesota but you now live in Oregon? What brought you out here? Have you lived anywhere else? It usually leads to some interesting conversation. If they’re homebodies, you can ask what it is that they like about their area, recreation opportunities, primary employers in the area, etc.

      Reply
    9. Me2

      Plus my husband and I have a Kevin Bacon theory with new people, if you chat with them long enough you will probably find something in common, you lived in the same area, your neighbor went to their college, you both like knitting outfits for your cats, it could be anything and it’s fun to try to find the links. Maybe they’re a frequent commenter on AAM Don’t worry about being too nosy, people love to talk about themselves.

      Reply
    10. Penny

      These are all great suggestions and I’m putting them in a Word doc on my work computer for future reference! I’ll definitely be coming back to this thread, so keep ’em coming!

      Reply
    11. Not So NewReader

      Can you ask them questions that would help you do your job better? Perhaps no one signed up for a particular optional benefit, you could ask them why they think that happened. Or maybe there was massive confusion on X and you’d like their thoughts about what would lessen the confusion.

      Reply
  33. sprinkles!

    Has this happened to anyone else?

    I got an email from HR from a company I applied to almost two months ago. I assumed I didn’t get the position since I submitted my application for a Senior Teapot Manager position. The HR representative asked to meet me in three days at 9 a.m. for a Teapot Manager position …which I had never applied to. To be clear, I was a Teapot Manager several years ago and have since gotten a lot more experience. Because I know positions/titles can vary wildly from company to company, I double-checked the Teapot Manager position on the company’s website and it’s very similar to the work I did years ago.

    I replied back and said something along the lines of “I think there has been a misunderstanding – I have never applied for a Teapot Manager position. I did however apply for the Senior Teapot Manager position a few months ago – is this the position you are trying to fill?”

    HR responded back, telling me they had filled the Senior position but they are now trying to fill the other position. I ended up thanking them for clarifying and that at this time, I was not interested in a Teapot Manager role.

    I thought it was super weird that they didn’t give me an option on days/times for an interview for a job I never actually applied to, especially since it’s fairly short notice. Since I applied for the senior role, I’ve heard that their turnover is really high and that it’s a generally crappy place to work. It’s not a government or nonprofit but a smaller for – profit business (less than 100 employees).

    Reply
    1. BRR

      It’s weird but I wouldn’t put it outside the scope of normal. More like on the edge. They should have asked if you were interested in the other role.

      Reply
    2. Anon for this

      That’s very odd. I’ve been approached by HR and hiring managers before asking me if I’d be interested in interviewing for a significantly lower position than what I applied for (and the answer is always no, if i wanted to apply for the position that is three positions below mine I would have), and I’ve been given very rigid interview slots. But, I’ve never encountered both at the same time. It’s probably a dodged bullet in your case.

      Reply
  34. Marzipan

    I’ve had plantar fasciitis for ages and last week it was horrendous and I was just hobbling everywhere and in desperation bought some of that KT Tape stuff, thinking it was nonsense and wouldn’t do anything… and it’s AMAZING. It’s like actual magic. I can walk! In a not-lopsided way!

    Reply
    1. Roly Poly Little Bat Faced Girl

      Hurray! Do you wear one of those braces that flexes your foot at night? That ‘s what I use to keep my PF under control. Though if it flares up, I’m going to use the KT Tape. Thanks for sharing.

      Reply
    2. Bowserkitty

      That’s great to hear!! :)
      I’ve got a few friends who absolutely swear by it. I wonder if it would help my knees.

      Reply
    3. MsChandandlerBong

      I’m going to have to try that! My PF has been so bad that it constantly feels like I am stepping on glass. I had a cortisone shot that worked for about three months, but then the pain came back with a vengeance. The 1/4-inch-thick shoe inserts that the podiatrist charged $675 for don’t help much, either.

      Reply
    4. Jessica (tc)

      I’m in the same boat with the plantar fasciitis (coming up on nine years of it in both feet), but I’m really lucky that my first PT showed me how to use the KT Tape for the days when it’s really bad. Nothing I’ve tried has ever made it go away completely, but that stuff definitely provides support until I am better able to walk without it. I try to tell everyone that I know has PF about it!

      Reply
  35. Elizabeth West

    We have today off, so I’m at home. No snow though there was a bit of freezing rain yesterday. I’m glad to finally have a job where I can telecommute when the weather is bad, or I have a repair person coming, or I just feel yucky (and they don’t want us in the office anyway if we’re feeling ill). The only butt-in-chair thing I have to do is cover the receptionist’s lunch once a week. I have gone in during bad weather to do that–if it’s not too bad but expected to get worse, then I do so and leave afterward and then work from home the rest of the day/into the next day. Our weather is so wonky, however, that it’s entirely possible to prepare to WFH and then the next day is totally dry. :P

    Reply
  36. CPALady

    For those of you who are managers – what do you do with the information that someone on your team is beginning their job search? This person came to me directly, and I responded to her that I’d hate to lose her, she is a valuable part of the team, what could we do to keep her, etc. but also wished her luck if she truly thought she’d be happier elsewhere. I am not one of those managers that takes things like this personally, but I’m wondering if I should notify *my* superior of this information (who may be the real impetus for this employee to leave) or take any other steps.

    Reply
    1. saro

      Would your superior take the information well? I was the employee in this situation once and really appreciated that my immediate supervisor did not tell the ‘big boss’, who would not take it well.

      Reply
      1. CPALady

        I doubt that he would. My position was created (partly) out of a need for a buffer between the employee and my boss. I think it’s best not to tell him, but if she does leave, I wonder how he’ll take it if he knows I knew it was in the works.

        I’m doing all the procedural things I think are necessary – procedures up-to-date, etc. – so I think I’m okay as far as coverage if it actually does happen.

        Reply
        1. BRR

          Can you set it up as a you were brought on so he didn’t have to deal with this type of thing and you handled it so he could focus on his works situation? I would try and not tell him if he won’t take it well and I am so happy to hear you handled it the way it should be handled.

          Reply
    2. Virginian

      I supervise part-time staff and in my field, it’s normal for part-time staff to move into full-time positions. I just acknowledge it and if they’ve been a good employee, I offer to serve as a reference for them. I haven’t mentioned anything to my supervisor, but I will if the person gets an offer.

      Reply
    3. Graciosa

      I genuinely want people to do well in their careers and find jobs where they will be happy and successful. So far, in all the cases where this has happened, it has been apparent to me that the job search was probably a good choice on their part. There are times when people would be happier in a different job or a different environment. We talked about it openly, and I expressed my support.

      To answer your question, I have always kept my bosses informed so we can start thinking about potential replacements (even though no action can be taken until we actually receive notice). I’ve never had a problem with a boss handling the news badly – this is a normal part of business and we just deal with it.

      Reply
    4. Newbie

      If you haven’t already, begin to consider what is needed should the employee leave. Are others cross-trained to assist with getting her work done, are there training materials that need to be created or revised for a replacement, etc.? Even if she decides not to leave, it can be usually be helpful to always have these types of things in place anyway. You never know what could happen – illness, family emergencies, resignations, etc.

      I once managed an office where we had plan that outlined each person’s vital functions and which staff members were responsible for back-up coverage. Going through the process of creating the plan allowed us to ensure every vital function had at least one (preferably two) other staff member that knew how to complete that function. For extremely vital functions that could impact compliance with federal regulations, we made sure that those staff that were trained in the function performed it on a regular basis to stay current.

      As for telling your boss, if you know he wouldn’t take it well and the reason you were hired was to be a buffer, I wouldn’t tell him until/unless the staff member actually does give notice. Do what you can to ensure you are fully prepared to handle the vacancy should it occur, but no sense having your boss react or worry needlessly. The exception would be if there are things you need from your boss to ensure planning for a smooth transition. If you need things from your boss in order to be prepared should the employee give notice, then you don’t want to not do your job.

      Reply
  37. saro

    For some reason, I’m having a hard time with phrasing: I applied for a position that I believe I’m qualified for and just realized that I know the VP of the company (not well, but enough to send her an email). How should I phrase it?

    Reply
  38. super anon

    Wow this is timely & I’m glad it’s secret-open so I can vent a bit!

    Yesterday my mother was complaining to me about her work and their stance wrt to snow days/coming in late due to weather. My mother isn’t exactly the paragon of professionalism anyway – she has no higher education and has spent the last 17 years working in call centres, and she has never moved up to any kind of supervisory or managerial roles due to her unprofessional behaviour. She came to work an hour late the other day as she couldn’t get out of her driveway due to snow and had to wait for the plow. Because of this they took away her preferred shift because, according to her, (caveat: she most likely has borderline personality disorder and I don’t trust her retelling of situations after I’ve caught her blatantly lying about me to other people for dramatic effect) she was untrustworthy and unreliable. I doubt she called in to tell them she would be late- so they would be correct in their assessment of her reliability. Based on my knowledge of her personality and her inability to manage her time, I bet this was a pattern of lateness, etc that caused them to take her shift away.

    I wanted dearly to link her to AAM and tell her to read through the archives for work advice, but I know she wouldn’t take anything here seriously and she would see it as me criticizing her, which she absolutely cannot handle. It’s too bad though, because this thread would be perfect for her to take a gander through to learn more about how to approach snow days and inclement weather.

    Ugh – those of you with difficult parents, I feel you. Navigating child-parent relationships get harder the older you get.

    Reply
    1. Bowserkitty

      What if you brought it up casually? Just mention that it’s been giving you great career advice or something and makes for interesting reading? :/

      Reply
    2. Mando Diao

      Parents can be weird about that sort of thing. My mom is of a generation that was still raised to believe that women would stay home with the kids. Alas, after my parents were divorced, she had to enter the workforce for the first time in her 40s. 20 years later she doesn’t understand that she’s not entitled to Don Draper levels of clout and money.

      I wouldn’t generalize all women of a certain age that way, but is there an element of this going on with your mother? People react to working very oddly if they never expected that they’d have to work for a living.

      Reply
    3. LouLouBee

      Ugh no advice just sympathy. My mother has bordeline personality disorder. Well she’s been diagnosed by 3 different mental health professionals but according to her they’re all wrong……

      I actually feel like my relationship with my mother got better as I’ve gotten older. I think that’s due to a lot of distance, learning she is mentally ill helps too. Its taken a long time but I’ve learned to try my best not to involve myself in her drama. I’ll listen, for a bit, and offer non-commital “support” For example if she was complaining about a coworker I’ll say something like “wow that must be hard” or “sounds like work has been rough, I hope tomorrow is better”. I find that by not commenting on the actual person or situation it cuts the drama down.

      As an aside not everyone who has worked in calls centers without moving into a manger position lacks professionalism ;-) 3/4 of the call center reps in my office have more than 15 years in the company. A promotion for us would mean loss of job security, more hours, paying more for benefits, loss of some benefits and the pay increase isn’t that much, something like 5 hours over time but the rep pay on par with the supervisors. So very few people look to move up.

      Reply
      1. super anon

        Ah, I should have been more clear – I don’t think all people who work in Call Centres & don’t move up are unprofessional, more that I know 100% for her that’s the reason why she’s never moved up( and I can’t recall it ever being offered to her). If I were to list every wildly unprofessional thing she’s told me that she’s done it would probably fill a novel. Most of it has to do with her inability to regulate her emotions (which I assume is part of her mental illness) – she takes everything incredibly personally and cannot handle any negative feedback or criticism. She also has pretty poor impulse control, she doesn’t really have the kind of level headed personality you’d want someone in a management role having.

        Reply
        1. LouLouBee

          I think you were clear that it was specificyly about your mum not all center workers. I found no offense.

          My comment was more of a call center rep FYI I was very surprised when I learn the pay difference from rep to suprv

          Reply
    4. Temperance

      That’s rough. My mother is also BPD, and has managed to destroy my relationships with the rest of the family with her lies. I don’t really talk to her.

      I honestly thought at first that you could be my sister, but our mom works in factories off and on. She never wanted to work, so she does things to get fired.

      Reply
  39. Gwen

    Any advice on potential career trajectories for someone in the copywriting/content marketing space? I want to be able to move up and have more responsibilities (and let’s face it, make more money) but it seems like every potential advancement involves a lot less writing/creating and lot more of the marketing project management stuff that I’m not really interested in making a larger part of my life :\ (For reference, I have a degree in writing, not in marketing.)

    Reply
    1. MsChandandlerBong

      If you’re not interested in the marketing side, how about partnering with marketing companies and just doing the copywriting piece? That’s what I’m doing right now; the marketing company finds the clients and does all the website design/SEO/videography, etc. I just do the copywriting for each client’s site.

      Reply
      1. The Sugar Plum Fairy

        If you don’t mind me asking, how did you get involved with your current company? Are you a contractor or full-time employee? I’m in communications role now with a lot of writing and would like to get more into content marketing.

        Reply
      1. MsChandandlerBong

        I don’t find it as much fun, either, but I am finding that clients pay a lot better if you can do some of the content marketing stuff.

        Reply
    1. Jessica (tc)

      So many errors! He also didn’t take the advice to have someone proofread his resume. The sad part is that this isn’t even a unique resume, because I’ve seen similar things posted elsewhere. Why is there so much bad advice out there to show flash without substance in a job search?

      Reply
      1. Pokebunny

        Desperation. I admit, I fell hard for these before AAM. I was looking back at some of my old resumes…. cringe. One particular one had nothing but keywords (you know those “action verbs lists”? I had one section where it was just random action verbs cobbled together. And then under skills it was just a bunch of adjectives.

        Reply
    1. AMD

      To quote our lady of management, “Assume you didn’t get it and move on as if you knew you didn’t. Then if you do get the call it will be a nice surprise.”

      Reply
      1. TootsNYC

        Go ahead and cry. I think I read somewhere that when you try to not cry, toxins build up in your body. And you should cry to burn them off.

        It may not be true, but I think it’s probably good advice anyway. Go ahead and cry.

        Then later you can look at the idea that “a very close second” has some good things there. You can tell this employer, “Don’t forget me when the next opening comes up!” And this person who beat you out is now out of the running on the next job.

        Reply
        1. Not So NewReader

          Yes, crying causes a natural chemical reaction in our brains that keep our brains healthy.
          And a healthy mind is better able to work through the tough stuff in life.

          Reply
      2. Granite

        That bites.

        It’s ok to cry, just don’t forget to move on once you get it out of your system. Everything in moderation.

        Reply
      3. Penny

        Go find the horrible reviews about this company on Glassdoor (every company has some) so you can feel glad you didn’t get the job because of the horrible work environment. ;)

        Reply
      4. K.

        Cry. I’m a believer in the cathartic cry. Not getting something you want is upsetting, and there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that. Crying can help push you forward.

        Reply
        1. Not So NewReader

          It’s funny/odd. Sometimes I sit down and have a good cry and the next day I have an unexpectedly good day. Nothing has changed, the sad stuff is still there. But I am okay to go about my day.

          Reply
  40. Pokebunny

    Today I got a phone call from a local number. So nervous, maybe it was one of the companies finally calling for a phone interview!!

    ….turns out it was my vet using a personal number calling to see how my cat is doing.

    I have excess adrenaline now.

    Reply
    1. Camellia

      Take advantage of it and run up and down some stairs, if you have some. Or make a quick loop round your work space. Or jumping jacks in a bathroom stall if you can get away with it.

      Reply
    2. Kristine

      Ugh I hate it when that happens! I’ve been getting so many political polling calls recently but my heart still jumps every time my phone rings because ~what if it’s an interview request?!?!?!~

      Reply
    3. LizB

      I answered so many robocalls from our local Red Cross while I was job-searching. I have the number memorized now (they call SO MUCH asking me to donate blood!), but before I knew it by heart I answered a lot on the off chance it might be an employer.

      Reply
      1. Overeducated and underemployed

        Same here! It was so annoying because I couldn’t even donate blood – they called all the time when I was either working (part time, non-exempt) or caring for an infant, and I kept saying “look, unless you offer childcare I cannot donate blood during business hours because I can’t afford to take time off work or get a babysitter for it, I told your rep that last week too.” They asked if i knew when my situation might change and I said I was job hunting and couldn’t say for sure. Finally they put a note on my account saying they would stop calling me for a year. Can’t wait for them to start up again this summer!

        Reply
      1. Pokebunny

        He’s fine! He got his steroid shot, which calms his tummy for 6 months, and he’s running around knocking things over.

        Reply
        1. Hlyssande

          That’s good news! I’m glad that he’s doing better. Yay, kitty!

          (mine’s pointedly ignoring me right now because I’m not giving him more treats)

          Reply
  41. Laura

    Question on tracking hours!

    My small org is looking for a simple, web-based system to track our hours. We have 3 part-time staff and two full-time staff that need to track hours. Several of us work remotely so web-based is best. All we need to track is when we clock in and out, and maybe vacation time/PTO. Most of the online programs I’ve seen are much more complicated with all sorts of job codes and minute tracking. Can anyone recommend an easy way to do this? We’ve each been using separate spreadsheets and it’s become a nightmare.

    Reply
    1. Gandalf the Nude

      What do you mean by separate spreadsheets? Like completely different layouts/formulas/what-have-you? Or they’re all the same just in different files and it’s a hassle to consolidate? I’ve actually been dealing with the former for some time, and finally started getting everyone on identical workbooks late last year (but now we’re upgrading payroll systems, including timekeeping, so all that’s about to be for nothing).

      Would you be open to using a master spreadsheet on, say, Google Docs, where each employee has their own sheet that they would fill in? With only 5 employees, that might be feasible.

      Reply
    2. Jillociraptor

      Two options I can think of:

      One, you could use Google Sheets as TCO recommends above. You can actually set up a form in Google Drive that will automatically populate the spreadsheet if that sounds like it might make it easier.

      Two, you could create a shared Google calendar where everyone creates an event each day for the time they spent in the office. If people have generally consistent schedules, you could even pre-populate it by creating recurring “meetings,” and then let them adjust the times appropriately. You can then download the calendar as a spreadsheet where you can do whatever analyses you might want to do. This might require a little more up-front planning (like setting up some conventions so that your employees input their info in a way that makes the output useful), but assuming folks are using calendars anyway, it’s a fairly easy way to do it!

      Reply
    3. Noah

      One place I worked at used a program called eTimesheets. I know we paid by employee each month because they would end up deleting inactive employees and then you had to contact HR to add them back if they came back after months of not working. All web-based. We really only had three different charges: Regular, PTO, and Holiday. Employees filled out their timesheets for the pay period and signed it electronically, then a manager went in and approved it. Originally payroll just printed them all to a PDF and hand-keyed them into the payroll software, but later on they figured out how to export it to a CSV file and import it to payroll. We liked it because it was inexpensive and focused only on the timesheet part.

      Reply
    4. Rookie Biz Chick

      Harvest! It’s a few more bucks than a spreadsheet – maybe $5 per person per month – but soooo awesome. I’ll link to it separately. It’s flexible for what it sounds like you need, but can be more robust if you do need additional functionality, like reporting or expenses or job estimating. Super easy to learn and navigate, and also has a app, if needed.

      Reply
    5. KR

      We use Easy Clocking. It’s very easy to use and is a fair price. You can buy just the web based model or a time clock that communicates with the cloud. They also have an app so you can clock in on your smartphone.

      Reply
  42. fposte

    Did anybody else read that fascinating David Axelrod piece about Scalia? He says that when Souter retired, Scalia said that Obama should appoint somebody smart and recommended Elena Kagan (he appointed Sotomayor that time, but Kagan the next time). And apparently once on the bench Kagan was clueless about hunting and figured she should understand it better, so she and Scalia would go hunting together.

    Such a fascinating little group of people, the Supremes.

    Reply
    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      When I first saw the Scalia news, the first thing I thought of was how close he and RBG were and how sad it must be for her, losing her husband and then her dear friend. I have a lot of problems with Scalia’s politics and his decisions (as I’m sure many do), but I have a ton of respect for any people who can put philosophical differences aside and appreciate colleagues as people. I ought to read that Axelrod piece, I think!

      Reply
      1. So Very Anonymous

        Totally agree. I’m not a fan of Scalia’s politics/decisions, but the grave-dancing that I saw on my social media bothered me. I was glad when a friend posted about RBG’s friendship with him.

        Reply
        1. LisaLee

          Yeah. The problem with Scalia (and a lot of politicians/people with power) is that they would be totally inoffensive human beings if they were just Joe Schmo down the road, but when their personal views start deciding policy for millions of other humans they’re no longer harmless.

          Reply
      2. Shelby Drink the Juice

        I think it shows how adults are supposed to be. I read so many people who think the other side of the political aisle is evil/stupid/awful it’s tiresome. I have a lot of really good friends that disagree with me politically, but they’re not evil/stupid/awful, we just disagree.

        If everyone agreed with me 100% life would be boring.

        Reply
        1. Sue Wilson

          I don’t think it’s crazy to think badly of people who call your race too stupid to get into good schools. But I think the majority of people aren’t affected or don’t think they’re affected by political decisions, and then are shocked when the people who are think badly of the the people who implemented ones which denied their humanity.

          Reply
  43. Angelica

    I need a bit of career reassurance, because I think the long weekend is causing me to think too much about everything.

    Did anybody here have a career that didn’t really flourish until their 30s? I’m in my late 20s right now and my career is pretty meh. I made some “dumb” educational choices (because I never had a solid career goal. My job right now is okay, but I don’t make very much money (at all). I’d like to somehow switch careers in the next few years, but I’m just so afraid that nothing will work out. Because I was an idiot in my 20s and chose the wrong field, I’ll be doomed to work this “okay” but low-paying job forever. There’s hope, right? Not everyone has a career that sets the world on fire in their 20s, do they?

    Reply
    1. Former Diet Coke Addict

      I sure hope not. Otherwise me and 99% of my friends are screwed, because while I do have a few friends in their 20s doing great work at “dream jobs,” the vast majority of us are doing our best in whatever jobs we can get and trying to scrabble together a career and a life.

      Reply
    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      I was 30 before I became a Total Rock Star at my old company. I’d been in that job for 4 years at that point, but it took a while for me to get my footing and find my way. I worked there for another 5 years and got much better as I got more sure of myself. I know very few people who hit their strides in their 20s, and most of them were very much in the right place at the right time.

      No one tells you this, so I will. :) Turning 30 is amazing for many people. For me, I suddenly (as in, I woke up one day and realized this had happened in about a week) gained an ability to go with the flow. I became much more confident and, therefore, less bombastic and tightly wound. And that was a big help to me, career-wise. My focus switched to my life rather than my job, and while it sounds counterintuitive, out of that came a real career, where I felt confident enough to handle missteps, manage people, train people, etc. So yeah, I think there’s hope.

      Reply
      1. Manders

        I hope this happens as I move into my 30s! I’m 26 now and every career choice I make feels dangerously risky (possibly because I’ve seen a fair number of my friends get fired or laid off).

        Reply
    3. Accountant

      I started being an accountant at age 28. I did feel behind the people who had started straight out of college at age 22. But then I remind myself that I’ll probably working til I’m 65 or 70, which is another 40 years. A lot can happen in 40 years. There is hope.

      Go back to school if necessary (don’t go into a ton of debt though), do well, network your @$$ off, and you will be fine. You’ve got 40 years.

      Reply
    4. Me2

      I worked a series of temp jobs for years and then became a SAHM for almost 20 years. I didn’t find my passion until I started a job two weeks after my 50th birthday. It’s been five years and I still love my job. I never thought I would find something that didn’t become boring after the first week (I learn new stuff really quickly), but every day is a new and fun challenge. Don’t despair, lots of people are in your boat, just continue to put yourself out there for new challenges, maybe even in your current job if there are opportunities there.

      Reply
    5. Not So NewReader

      Let’s say you are 29 and you will work to age 65. You have 36 more years to get where you want to be. Try this: Goggle people who did not flourish until they were 40 or 50 years old. Somewhere there is a list of people who suddenly bloomed at middle age, the list is lengthy and it’s amazing.

      Reply
    6. Vulcan social worker

      Three months before my 30th birthday, I was sitting on the floor of my divorcing friend’s new apartment, helping her put together cheap furniture, lamenting how much I hated my crappy job and how I had taken the wrong path and that no one would hire me into what I thought was the field I wanted to be in. Literally one month later, I got recruited out of nowhere. A friend suggested that I would be a great fit at her organization and had me send my resume. I didn’t even have an updated one as I wasn’t searching. I had to create it that day. I didn’t apply to any other jobs, because I still wasn’t ready to start a search despite my unhappiness where I was. (It was the toxic job thing where I thought I wasn’t capable of doing anything else, so I wasn’t even trying to get out, though I did send the resume as my friend asked.) Three months after my 30th birthday, I was a program manager in a non-profit doing exactly the kind of work I wanted to be doing. So yes, it is possible. My life has not worked out perfectly at all — post 2007, things took a bit of a dive. But I went back to school for the MSW and though I’m on a different path now, it’s all ok. I’m on my third career I guess, but all of my experience has been helpful in some way. Your thirties are a great time for career change.

      Reply
    7. NicoleK

      In my 20s, I wasn’t earning much despite having a bachelors degree (low paying positions in a low paying field). In my early 30s, I went back to school and got a masters degree. Still wasn’t making anywhere near what I thought I should have been. It wasn’t till my late 30s, that I finally felt like I was starting to make the kind of pay that a person with a master degree should (I still feel like I’m on the low end but it’s progress).

      Reply
    8. Overeducated and underemployed

      Loving these answers and hoping people keep adding even though it’s late. I’m 30 and really thought I’d be “there,” wherever that is, by now! (The decisions I made in my 20s were personally fulfilling and financially responsible at the time, but that path has kind of ended for me and I need a new one now.)

      Reply
  44. Gene

    Off today, but it’s my turn to feed the semi-feral cats living under the trailer, so I’m here for a little while. I just finished setting up the cat traps (4 of them) so they can get used to them before we trap them in a week or so for TNR.

    Reply
    1. TootsNYC

      so glad you’re all making this effort on those cats’ behalf!

      There’s a colony of cats at my church, and a lady in the neighborhood watches over them, and got them all neutered.

      Reply
    2. Natalie

      I was at my local humane society this week and learned they have a “working cat” program, where they adopt feral cats out to construction sites, farms, etc to give them safe homes and help with pest control. It sounded like a really cool program.

      Reply
  45. J.B.

    SQL design ideas – I am trying to get a better understanding of when and how to use different types of joins. I’m not really thrilled about the references out there. Any sources that explain theory and give different examples? I’m thinking a textbook would be good – most of the documentation I’ve seen out there jumps quickly into specific questions without giving me context.

    Reply
    1. SRB

      As a visual person, my default reference is the Venn diagram set (Google: visual SQL joins).
      I’ve never had a SQL textbook so I don’t have any recommendations there, but I’ve head very good things about the Coursera database class.

      Reply
      1. Noah

        Agree with this. I keep a visual representation in my reference binder so I can look at it if I get stuck. Also, I tend to default to Left Outer because it generally works with my datasets and Crystal Reports.

        Reply
  46. Camellia

    Secret open thread! I can’t resist sharing my daughter’s FB post:

    “Grandson1 (7 yrs.) and Grandson2 (5 yrs.) are playing “save the princess”. They have toy swords and are fighting the evil Coco (large dog) dragon. Once they defeated her they ran in to save Granddaughter (4 yrs.) Granddaughter called them both buttheads and told them to leave her alone because she loves Coco. Then they knocked over her Lego building and she screamed and proceeded to beat the crap out of Grandson1. I have to go and break it up. As soon as I stop laughing.”

    Reply
  47. AvonLady Barksdale

    I keep getting LinkedIn requests from in-house recruiters. This has been happening more often lately. I used to get messages from similar recruiters, and that was cool, but never straight up requests to connect. I often hem and haw about whether to accept these requests, but today I got one from a guy who works for a company I find interesting, so I accepted. I’m not actively job-searching (I’ve only been at my current job for a year, and was at my previous job for only 16 months), but I like to keep my eyes open at all times.

    Anybody else have this happen? Has the connection lead to anything?

    Reply
  48. OwnedByTheCat

    OH. EM. GEE. I am glad there is an open thread.

    I just got an unsolicited email to our jobs@ email. Not applying to a specific job. Resume titled “awesome resume.” Send to 12 different emails (not BCCed) with a generic email. I’ve never seen that – someone just blasting an email out to dozens of organizations at a time.

    There’s my afternoon laugh.

    Reply
      1. OwnedByTheCat

        Hahaha. I’ve been told I’m a bit too critical when I’m hiring so I’m trying to soften up but I wasn’t impressed.

        Reply
        1. Pokebunny

          Can I send you mine? It isn’t very good, I don’t think you’ll be too impressed by it, but there’s bullet points and it might not be up to your standard HOLY MACARONI WHAT A GLORIOUS RESUME

          Reply
  49. Gold Star

    My employer implemented a “healthy program” at work a few years ago. You don’t have to participate but if you do, you get lower insurance premiums. Of course, you also have to do a metabolic or lipid panel test every year and although the info is “confidential” and the company doesn’t know your results, they still apparently know if you are in a the high, low or no risk category. This year they decided to assign each risk category a certain number of requirements to complete and you get a point for each thing. It doesn’t say what happens if you don’t get the required number of points for your category. To top it off, the healthy coach you are supposed to meet with to complete these requirements is a self-described “bored housewife who is doing this for fun!”. Granted the lady is in great shape, but her reality is so much different than our reality. I’m not sure how much longer I can refrain from throttling her. If she says “just do it” one. more. time. I may go to prison.
    P.S. If the company really wants to help me get healthy, they could go in half on a tread climber for my house. Then when I have insomnia, I can “just do it!” and work out.

    Reply
    1. katamia

      Ick. Do you get the chance to give her feedback at any point about her mannerisms? I would bet a lot of money that you’re not the only one who doesn’t like her.

      Reply
    2. MsChandandlerBong

      My husband’s previous employer did this, and it was a pain in the butt. The first year they did it, only my husband had to participate. If he didn’t do it, they were going to charge him $600 per year more for his insurance. The second year, we both had to do it, and they were going to charge $1,200 per year if we didn’t. I have serious health problems, so I ended up scoring a 39/100 on their health assessment. Then I was hounded by health coaches on the phone and via email. Their advice would have been great for someone who’d never heard of a calorie and ate buckets of KFC every day, but it was useless for someone who already follows a medical diet and has trouble losing weight due to serious medical issues.

      Reply
      1. Vulcan social worker

        I’m curious about this, as I’m in an interview process with an employer that I have a pretty good idea has this kind of program. What happens if you participate and you put up with the nonsense, but you are unable to meet their benchmarks because of a health issue? I’m not asking for your personal information, just if you can tell in general what their policies are. Do you get the discount just for participating, or do you have to meet certain criteria for the discount?

        Reply
        1. Gold Star

          For my company (before the points system) as long as you participated, even if you didn’t loose weight, lower your cholesterol, etc, you still get the discount. This is the first year of points and the company has not said what might happen if you don’t get enough points.

          Reply
  50. Mary in Texas

    I posted this late yesterday, but just got two responses. Does anyone have any recommendations on anti-frizz products that work in high humidity? I live in the south and my hair looks like crap. Yes, even today, it’s in the 70s and very humid (sorry for those of you in frigid temps). There has to be something that works! I’ve tried expensive stuff, to drugstore stuff, and nothing seem to work Help!!

    Reply
    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      My hair is coarse, curly, and dry– very frizz-prone– and I live in a Southern city with a good amount of humidity (though not Florida). I use Ouidad’s Heat and Humidity Gel. I only wash my hair twice a week but I wet it every day– and when I do wash it, I use DevaCurl products, which are sulfate-free. I do a perfunctory towel dry (microfiber towel), run some of the Ouidad through my hair, and let it air dry for a while. Before I leave the house, I put in some DevaCurl coconut styling cream. Note: this only works if you don’t blow out your hair. If you blow out your hair or want it to be straight, you might be SOL.

      Reply
      1. Camellia

        Living Proof Perfect Hair Day. I have curly hair and if I want straight hair that stays straight, this is what I use. It works so well that I have to cleanse my hair a couple of times to get it back to being curly again.

        Otherwise I use Wen products. Curly hair is dry hair and this stuff is amazing.

        Reply
      2. Lady Bug

        I also use the ouidad heat and humidity gel and definitely recommend it. I live in the NE and use it year round. In the summer I keep my hair curly, and in the winter I straighten it and the gel works great for both. I also usually add in a bit of biosilk. I rarely have frizz issues.

        Reply
      1. AP

        Seconding DevaCurl. I use the Angel and I do a leave-in conditioner before I style (whatever is on sale at CVS). I’ve also found the Marc Amthony Strictly Curls to be a really good product for the price.

        Reply
    2. Felix

      Don’t use shampoo! It’s called the “no-Poo” method and seriously works. My life and curls have forever been changed. (I haven’t used the ‘poo for over 12 years now)! I also like using bumble and bumble curl cream with tresseme anti humidity mousse.

      Reply
  51. QA Lady

    I return to work tomorrow after having been on maternity leave for a year. I’m so anxious about it! I don’t even know why I’m anxious. I know everyone is looking forward to my return because I’ve heard from a bunch of them. And my replacement is staying on from a bit after I get back because honestly the role is too much for one person and she’s behind on things, so it should be easy to just kind of slide into things. But I’m anxious anyway.

    Reply
    1. Milly

      I was also anxious returning from a year of maternity leave but I found that the year that I have had since I returned has been the best at work yet. It is also really good to have “adult time” away from baby.
      You will be fine

      Reply
  52. Coffee Ninja

    This thread is great timing! I had an interview on Friday for a position I’m really excited about and I can’t get it out of my head. It would be a step up for me, career wise, and provide an opportunity to gain experience in certain areas that I think held me back from some dream-ish jobs I interviewed for in the fall. I went to the interview thinking, ok I’ll see how it goes, and I left feeling like I LOVE YOU PICK ME PICK ME! I really liked the people I would be working with, and what more I learned of the job responsibilities. Of course I spent the weekend rethinking my answers and deciding I blew the interview.

    I’m an exceptionally impatient person (I’m working on it, really) and this is a government position so I’m caught in a special kind of hell. It took a month for them to call me for the interview and then I had to wait two weeks for the interview, so who knows how long until I hear something.

    Reply
    1. Marketeer

      “I went to the interview thinking, ok I’ll see how it goes, and I left feeling like I LOVE YOU PICK ME PICK ME! I really liked the people I would be working with, and what more I learned of the job responsibilities. Of course I spent the weekend rethinking my answers and deciding I blew the interview.”

      So much this. I went to an interview about a week and half ago which I loved everything about: the manager, the role, and the commute. She said some really positive things but I’ve basically picked apart every question, answer, and comment. Ugh, I hate the waiting.

      Reply
      1. Overeducated and underemployed

        Me too on the “me too!” Had a second interview for the job I have been most excited about in the past 8 months of searching and it just keeps sounding better and better. Have to wait until next week to find out whether I’ll make it to a third and final interview. I know I should put it out of my mind but for once I can’t stop imagining getting this job.

        Good luck with both of you!

        Reply
  53. Dr. Johnny Fever

    I missed the weekend open thread.

    I posted in the work threads that my husband was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer.

    I’m adjusting better now that I have the data and the doctor’s recommendations. It’s wait and see right now. We’re letting family know now, and he wants to go public for other friends and family who wish to be tested.

    We told our son on Friday night. It was a hard conversation but he seems to be OK. I’m thinking of talking to his school nurse to find someone he can to, besides us, for his concerns. I’m also contacting EAP for that help, my own help, and other thoughts for work coverage.

    Thank you for kind words, support, and shared experience. You’ve helped set my mind at ease greatly. There’s light that’s brighter than I thought and makes for immediate adjustment. I just wish the diagnostics hadn’t taken so long to get to the state of panic we had before finding out all the details.

    Reply
    1. Tara R.

      If your son is in high school, I definitely recommend talking to the school counsellor or someone else relevant, and ask them to share the info with his teachers (after consulting him about that, of course). There’s definitely a good chance he’ll have some academic or behavioural issues, even if he seems to be dealing okay. When you’re trying hard to be strong for your family at home, school can be the place where things slip or you start to act out. It’s something worthwhile for teachers to know. I never told my teachers about what was going on for me in my senior year, but I really, really wish I would have. Even if I never asked for an extension or an excused absence, it would have been worth it just to know that they understood what I was going through.

      Best wishes to you and your family.

      Reply
    2. Kate M

      I’m so sorry. That really sucks.
      Speaking as someone who’s parents had cancer when I was in high school (mom had breast cancer, did the chemo and radiation, and then a couple of weeks after that dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer), it won’t be easy. Definitely line up people for your son to speak to if he needs. But also, it’s ok if he doesn’t need it. Some kids (like myself) are ok not talking about it – and sometimes they just want to do anything BUT talk about cancer. Every kid will be different, and it’s always good to have someone lined up in case they do want to talk. But there isn’t one way to expect your son (or you, or your husband) to react, and that’s totally fine. And how you react will keep changing – some days you’ll be ready to take on the world, some days you’ll just want to stare at the tv and not think about any of this. And it’s all ok.

      Speaking as someone who’s dad experienced prostate cancer (and at a relatively young age), he did surgery, and a few years later had to do radiation, but now (going on like 10 years) is totally fine and healthy. I don’t know what your husband’s diagnosis is like, but many, many men recover from this really well. Cancer is always scary and not something to ever take lightly, but things have come so far in recent years. Best wishes to your family, and my thoughts are definitely with you.

      Reply
    3. Jean

      >I missed the weekend open thread.
      One misses a lot of things when Cancer shows up and demands a seat in one’s life. I’m writing in late to offer support from another mid-life person with a spouse with cancer and a child in high school.
      Good wishes to you and your family. I’m glad that you have cause for calm and optimism.

      Reply
  54. ACA

    For anyone who is tired of the same old boring lorem ipsum as filler text, I have recently been introduced to bacon ipsum, space ipsum, and cupcake ipsum! That little bit of entertainment goes a long way sometimes to making a boring job more enjoyable.

    Reply
  55. Nervous Accountant

    yay!!! I don’t know if this thread (and my post) is work related or not but a short conversation had me contemplating yesterday. My husband said I do everything with such confidence and I was gobsmacked. One of the examples he mentioned was that I have a steady job from which I’ve gotten good performance reviews and raise. After struggling in dysfunctional and low wage places for 5 years, its a relief to be in a reasonably functional place and getting a life-changing wage. He said “You must be doing something right that they’ve kept you on and gave you a raise” but I keep chalking it up to 85% luck and circumstance (company needs people, I’m not a rock star or as knowledgeable as others here etc).

    When I was struggling I used to be one of those people who wondered “how can a professional/educated person be like this?” and now I kind of realize why. I just never considered myself to be one of those people who looked like she had her shit together from the outside.

    Work wise, I look like I’m super productive (top 2 in most returns completed), but when I think about all the details (they were super easy returns, the ones below me had a lot more work etc) it doesn’t feel like something I should be too proud of. (Hopefully I’m making sense and not jinxing this!!!!!)

    Reply
    1. Emily

      Go you! Sometimes other people are better at recognizing our successes than we are. It sounds like you’re doing a good job.

      Reply
    2. Not So NewReader

      Good workers know not to rely on just luck.
      Good workers also understand the mechanics of the situation and realize that things can change suddenly. So they keep trying to maintain the same level of diligence every day.

      Sometimes have a crappy job or two under our belts makes the so-called real jobs feel very easy to us.

      Reply
  56. LizB

    A non-work-related question: what are your best tips for staying hydrated? I’m making a serious effort to stay more hydrated — I live in MN, and things get so dry in the winter that it’s a constant battle to get enough water into my system. I downloaded the Plant Nanny app and I’m drinking quite a bit more water than I was, but it just seems to go right through me; I’m visiting the bathroom way more often, but my lips are still chapped and my throat still feels dry. It seems like I’m not absorbing most of the water I’m drinking. Any tips?

    Reply
    1. Permanent Temp

      A lot of chapstick can actually dry lips out because of the chemicals in them, so if you’re using chapstick a lot, you might want to try switching to an organic brand (I switched from Blistex and ChapStick to Eco Lips, and it works a lot better for me).

      My throat is dry and uncomfortable at work and I cough a lot, even though I drink a lot too. (I’ve been having to buy a big bag of cough drops every week just to get through the work days.) Some of my coworkers have the same problem. One of them noticed it gets worse whenever the air conditioner/heater goes on and they think it might be dust. Maybe dust is a problem for you too?

      Reply
      1. Bookie85

        You need to make the water “wetter.” Look up trace minerals, you can add them to the water to make them stick to your system better, it will make it so your body can actually absorb the water and not just have it rush through you.

        Reply
    2. Soupspoon McGee

      You’re absorbing water, but it’s also evaporating from your skin. Drink water, green tea, and other decaffinated beverages. Also consider getting a humidifier. The air is drier in cold temperatures, which dries out your skin. If you breathe through your mouth, your mouth and throat will get dry, so try to use your nose (and if it’s stuffy, then tackle potential allergies and, again, humidity).

      Reply
    3. Former Diet Coke Addict

      Can you get a humidifier for your home? That can make a huge difference in terms of hair and skin–I know that I can drink enough water to float a battleship, but spending a lot of time in a very dry environment like my office still takes a toll on my skin and dries it out.

      Reply
    4. LouLouBee

      For the dry lips try using a lip scrub to get the dry bits off before a lip balm. That helps my dry lips a lot.

      I find that I have “sweet spot” for water, I have the same problem as you when I’m drinking too much. I do frequently drink too little too….it’s hard to get it right. I find that having soup for a meal a few times a week, or more, helps with my hydration. Drinking with meals too. I think having something in my stomach to slow the absorption helps

      Reply
    5. Not So NewReader

      Also check your oil in take, your skin could be low on oils also. Make sure you are eating raw veggies and fruits.

      As another poster said, move away from soaps and other things that contain petroleum products. This would include dish liquids, bath soaps, lip balm and anything else than comes in contact with your skin. You don’t have to do it all, and you do not have to do it all the time. Some effort will give you some benefit.

      Sugar is hygroscopic, it draws water just like salt. This means sugar takes water out of your system. If you are doing good with diet, then ignore this part. But if you think you could cut back some, then go for it.

      Reply
    6. VGN

      I bought a large water bottle that I really like and watch the clock. My goal is two bottles per day, with the first one done by 1:30pm and the second by 9pm or sooner. I found having the midday goal helped keep me on track. I take it everywhere. Between that and a medication change I’ve lost about 10-12 pounds (a healthy change). I have not noticed that my skin is any less dry, though.

      Reply
    7. super anon

      If you don’t mind spending $$ on lip balm, the Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment changed my life. It’s the most amazing lip balm I’ve ever used and I refuse to use anything else. I went on a business trip to a place where there was no Sephora and I forgot it. I bought Carmex to use for the 3 days and it absolutely trashed my lips – they were peeling and cracking and so painful. It took me 2 days and nearly 1/4 of a tube of the Fresh balm but I got them back to normal. Since then I refuse to ever be without it, regardless of the cost.

      Reply
  57. Tara R.

    READING BREAK!!!

    I’m seriously over the moon. I’ve been struggling so much the last few weeks– failed a math quiz, had an unfortunate incident with a club I’m involved in that ended up necessitating dealing with media and police and getting a midterm deferred, my therapy appointment getting cancelled and rescheduled a month later– that this literally could not have come at a better time. I have so much catching up to do, and I’m stressed about getting it all done in the space of a week! I know I should probably come up with a plan, but I genuinely don’t know what the time frame is for most of what I need to do, so I’m just sort of throwing myself in. Putting clothes on would probably be a good step one, but instead I’m putting my lecture and reading notes together for Canadian government and starting to work on flashcards. I am determined to ace this midterm, and my Psych one as well– the prof was nice enough to let me defer (“dealing with a hate crime” is a pretty magic phrase as it turns out), and I want to prove I’m worth that gesture!

    I am very determined that I’m not going to let myself go back to being grumpy and snappish just because I’m at home. I like who I am away at university so much better! My mom and brother’s constant bickering is a lot to handle, but I’m trying strategies of retreating to my room with headphones rather than getting myself involved. Wish me luck.

    Reply
    1. TootsNYC

      ” I like who I am away at university so much better! ”

      This is interesting to hear. I have a college-age daughter, and I don’t think she enjoys being at home. I keep trying to be sure I’m leaving room for her to be “the new her,” but this makes me think it’s even more important than I’ve thought.

      Reply
      1. Tara R.

        I think there’s a few different things at play. The most common (and probably what’s going on for your daughter!) is just the normal “outgrowing” process. When you’re starting to feel like a grown-up, it’s weird and uncomfortable in some ways to be back where you’re considered/feel like you’re considered/still think of yourself as a child. There’s a bit of an internal war between wanting to assert your independence and maturity and also wanting to enjoy not being completely responsible for everything for a while, and it brings out some frustration regardless of how awesome and understanding and non-hovery your parent is. Even if you completely ignore your college-aged kid when they’re home and treat them like you would an adult roommate, they’re still going to have moments of “Why did you give me an eyebrow when I said I was spending the night out, I am an adult and I will not have you eyebrowing at me!” They might feel torn about you paying for things like dinner out, because a) they’re broke as hell and can’t really afford to pay and won’t get to go out with the family if they’re paying but b) now they feel financially dependent and under your sphere of authority again. This is completely 100% normal and completely unavoidable, imo, and it says nothing about your relationship with your kid. There’s also that sense of finding new habits and new ways of being, and then feeling like everyone back home still sees you as the same old you.

        Then, in my case, there’s the fact that home triggers so much anxiety stuff for me! There’s conflict all the time! People bickering and arguing, my dad existing, life just happening. Lots of love too, but just so much volatility. At university, no one raises their voice at me or is even a little bit snappish with me– that was really disconcerting the first time I came home, and I randomly burst into tears a few times. If there are things in your home environment that stress you out or cause you grief, going away for extended periods of time really highlights them when you come back. It’s hard when you’ve learned this whole new way of life and you feel so much more settled in yourself, and going home just brings you right back into the same things that frustrated you about yourself and your family. Personally, I had a lot of self-hatred about the way I dealt with family conflict– mainly by yelling– and I felt really helpless when I came home for Christmas and ended up trapped in the same patterns. My thoughts went right back to the same place– I’m an awful person, I’m going to turn out to be just like my dad, yadda yadda yadda. I feel a lot more confident in my ability to change my own behaviours now, but it would be a hundred times easier with some cooperation and understanding from my mom– or even just an acknowledgment that I’m not crazy to be upset about the way we interact with each other a lot of the time.

        Aaaand I have to deal with my dad, which is just a whole ‘nother story unto itself. Suffice it to say I’ve been back for 24 hours and I’ve already loaned him money, listened to him complain about his sex life, and walked him through All Of His Emotions about the woman he’s sharing a place with right now. So that doesn’t help anything.

        Reply
        1. Not So NewReader

          You’re on a good track, though. Through it all you have a good process and you have stuck to it. You’re going to be great, I can see that now.

          Reply
      2. Jillociraptor

        You know, I’m almost 30 and have a great relationship with my parents, and I still pretty much without fail have some kind of emotional breakdown whenever I’m home for more than a few days because it’s just weird to try to reconcile Who I Am Most of the Time with who I am with my parents. There’s no trauma and minimal issues, nothing like Tara R. has experienced AT ALL, just the very normal and healthy amount of distance between who my parents most want me to be and who I most want me to be. For my part, what I most want and need is just to hear that my parents are glad that I’m there.

        Reply
    2. Emily

      Good luck with studying and keeping yourself sane while at home! I’m sorry that your the last few weeks have been hard, and hope that the next few weeks are better.

      Reply
  58. Permanent Temp

    I finally got a job offer after searching for two years. Yay! Had a quick question that is probably obvious, but this is my first “real” job so I’m nervous, and nervousness makes me stupid.

    I accepted a written offer letter on Feb. 4th (I signed it and emailed it that night). They told me to wait to give my two weeks notice at my current job until the background check and reference check was completed. I haven’t heard anything about if everything checked out okay and I can give my two weeks notice yet. Should I e-mail them to ask, or would this be nagging and I should just wait until I hear from them again?

    Reply
    1. Soupspoon McGee

      Follow up with a gentle nudge–something like this:

      Seraphina,

      I’m so excited to join the Teapot Lid Testing Corps. Can you update me on your timeline for completing reference and background checks? As we discussed, I’m waiting to give notice with my current employer until those are finalized. You’d mentioned that you’d like me to start in early March. Is that still feasible?

      PT

      Reply
    2. Champagne_Dreams

      Background checks can take forever. Some counties require that somebody show up in person during the 3 hours per week that the clerk is working, and fill out a paper form. So, yeah. It just depends. It can take forever. But you’re smart to wait — all it takes is one case of identity mix-up to mess up everything.

      Reply
      1. Permanent Temp

        I checked the status of the background check report on Friday, and it said “completed.” I’m not sure if they’ve read it yet through, and I guess they might still be waiting on references. (I wasn’t expecting to get a job offer anytime soon and haven’t been in contact with my references in over a year. I e-mailed three to let them know to expect to be contacted, and only two responded, so I don’t know if the third might be holding things up.)

        Reply
  59. MadameLibrarian

    Food staaaaaaamps

    I’ve been trying to apply for food stamls in my state since the beginning of January. Finally, finally, I got my application done and all my documents in, and all that’s left is the phone interview.

    Except no one will answer the phone (I call them, they don’t call me). I’ve left at least two messages and even called the supervisor once (got voicemail). I was unemployed for a month and a half (not long in the gand scheme of things but my savings sucked) and only have a part-time gig now, I could really use the help.

    Ugh.

    Reply
      1. MadameLibrarian

        No, no time has been set up, which is why I’m so frustrated. It seems like I’m supposed to call and just hope I get someone. I’ve been to the office once already, but if I can’t get someone on Thursday (my next day off) I’m going up on Friday and figuring out exactly what’s happening.

        Reply
    1. alice

      That’s the government for you. I’m pretty underemployed, and dealing with any kind of benefits like that is a total nightmare. No advice, but I feel your frustration!

      Reply
  60. Soupspoon McGee

    Last week, in one evening, I dealt with barf, yelling, and death. It was a rough night, and yet it was still better than the last year of my toxic job.

    It’s nights like those, and memories of my patients on their good days, that keep me moving forward to PA school.

    Reply
    1. TootsNYC

      I’m sure that was hard for you. But since someone had to deal with those things, I bet your patients are glad it was you.

      Thanks for your service to our world.

      Reply
  61. Vulcan social worker

    Two things: This is so far down that I don’t know if you’ll see it, but I was hoping to get it in Sunday’s open thread but I didn’t get online over the weekend.

    1) I made AnotherAlison and Allison (with two Ls, not AAM-Alison) cringe about a week ago when I used the term “must be nice.” You’ve both probably forgotten it by now, but it was bugging me. I don’t think I’ve ever said that to anyone myself. I was imagining the boss who couldn’t fathom the lives of his employees: ones who couldn’t afford to live near work, who needed to live near a spouse or partner’s job, or who had kids in school. I own my choices, and I actually have always been pretty fortunate and have been able to choose to live close to work, and I recognize the privilege in being able to afford that choice. (That was my mention of six subway stops.) The over an hour was a choice to attend grad school an hour away, which meant my internship was also an hour away, but it was nine months of three days a week and it would have been silly to uproot myself from a good housing situation from that. I shouldn’t care what two strangers think, but there it is.

    2) I am applying for a job, and I left one seven years ago under not the best circumstances. I didn’t leave without notice or anything like that, but I am concerned about what my former manager will say if she is called. Fortunately I have several great references since then who are happy to talk about how spectacular I am in work that is much more relevant to the position I am seeking, but there’s still a reasonable chance that someone might want to speak to a supervisor from two jobs ago. I have composed an email asking her to call me. I kind of don’t want to cold call her at work and say, “Hey, what are you going to say about me?” but rather give her time to remember me and call me at her leisure before I ask. Anyway, I’ve composed a brief email (though from this post you might not think brevity is one of my skills) but I’m having trouble with the subject. “Hello” seems too informal. “Hoping to talk to you” is accurate but doesn’t seem quite right to have pop up in her inbox first. Any thoughts?

    Reply
    1. Not So NewReader

      “please call me”
      “need to touch base with you”
      “want to set up a telephone appointment with you”

      Reply
      1. Vulcan social worker

        Thanks. It seems like such a little thing, but I felt so blocked about it because I’m dreading this necessary conversation so much. I think I’m going with “would like to touch base with you,” which is pretty close to your second suggestion but not quite so demanding.

        Reply
  62. videogamePrincess

    Hello fellow AAM readers,
    I am applying for jobs, and I need a way to represent how good I am at writing. However, there aren’t any recent examples where I demonstrated my ability to write. I know I can–I got a 750 in critical reading and an 730 in writing on the SATs, for what it’s worth–and in my creative writing and journalism courses in high school, I got a lot of praise for my writing. I also did a large amount of writing in my economics courses in college. However, aside from writing readme documents at my last job, I haven’t gotten many chances of demonstrating my writing skills since.

    I graduated from college in May, so perhaps some of that college writing is still valid to use, but is that the best way to demonstrate my writing ability? If not, what is?

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

    Reply
    1. TootsNYC

      I think anything you’ve written in the last year is totally valid. Your skills aren’t going to vanish in that time period.

      Reply
    2. Shell

      You may want to consider what type of writing you’re good at, or want to be good at. Strength at one type doesn’t necessarily translate to another type!

      Using myself as an example: I can write well creatively in certain areas, because I’ve practiced it on and off since I was about 12. I’m good at some business writing (emails and the like). Persuasive writing I’m decent at, depending on the subject (I rock at fandom meta, not so much at other stuff), but they’re often long and unwieldy, which weakens readability–I tend to preemptively shoot down possible rebuttals, which lengthens my argument even as it makes it more thorough. I find technical writing (FAQs, scholastic articles) extremely difficult and dry. I can’t blog worth crap, mostly because I don’t think my life is very interesting, and it comes out in any blog entries I try to write–in other words, I’m crap at marketing.

      Back to you. Saying you’ve good SAT results doesn’t tell me much. It tells me you probably have a solid grasp on grammar and spelling, but not much beyond that–what type of writing would you do well in? What type wouldn’t you do well in? You have to decide that–and don’t get me wrong, one can absolutely improve in a style of writing you don’t naturally do well in, but if you’re trying to “prove” to people you can write well, you should probably do so with a style you already write well in.

      How you present your writing skills will likely depend on what style you excel at. If you are great at marketing and blogging, you can start a blog that you can show to employers. If you’re good at technical writing, perhaps help with website documentation of some stripe (though I do think that many people misunderstand technical writing and what it takes to be good at documenting FAQs, manuals, or other technical subjects).

      Graduating from May means you’re a pretty recent college grad, so maybe you’d get some leeway on the writing samples from there, but eh…I don’t find college writing translating over to other types of writing very well, unless the type of writing you’re aiming for is scholastic (published journals and such), in which case ignore me. I’m thinking back to my college English classes and write an essay on ABC book we just read, and I can confidently say that none of that type of writing has helped me one whit post-graduation despite the grades I got on them. Maybe other posters have different experiences on that though.

      (See, told you I’m longwinded. :) )

      Reply
    3. videogamePrincess

      Thanks guys! To @AAM’s question, no, they didn’t ask for writing samples; the application just asks for excellent oral, written and communication skills. This is for a Python Report/Developer job.

      I’m pretty sure I’m qualified. I just lack specific examples, aside from the readme docs (documentation about how to use particular pieces of code), and all that academic stuff. I can consider contributing to some documentation for open source projects, but I don’t think I can spend two weeks doing so and still expect this position to be open. Also, since I have been laid off, I can’t make a portfolio of the documentation I have done.

      Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Ah, okay. I wouldn’t send unsolicited writing samples for a developer job at all — it’s going to seem out of touch with the work of the position. (“Why is this developer candidate sending me a college paper on Keynesian economics?”)

        Just write a great cover letter — that’s the best way to demonstrate writing skills at this stage.

        Reply
        1. Shell

          Seconding AAM. Your awesome cover letter would cover the “be capable of communicating to a general audience” part, and your readme documentation would cover the more technical aspects of writing that’s directly related to the job. I don’t think entry-level jobs would require more breadth than that for writing samples.

          Reply
    4. Jen

      If you aren’t being asked for writing samples, write a powerful cover letter and ensure all your email communications are well written.

      Reply
      1. videogamePrincess

        Except it turns out there is NO OPTION for a cover letter, not even a little box where you can write 100 characters. The good news is you can edit the application so I guess I will look through it again and make sure I didn’t miss that, and I also emailed my contact there asking if she knew anything. *Sigh*. It was along my skills but still a long shot anyway. Guess I’ll just move on.

        Reply
        1. penny

          If you’re able to attach a resume doc include the cover letter there. This really is the best way to show those skills at this stage.

          Reply
  63. Rye-Ann

    Hi all! I’m the one who posted in this weekend’s open thread about testing positive for a serious illness. A couple people wanted an update after my appointment. Basically, the doctor said the chances were slim to none that anything was wrong, and the test was most likely a false positive. He still referred me to a specialist for some follow-up tests, just to confirm this, so I’ll get to make that appointment once I get a call from the specialist’s office. But – sounds like I most likely am fine. It’ll be good to get that testing done!

    Reply
  64. Katie Pi

    Not only do I not have today off for Presidents’ Day, but roommate does and we live in CA. She posted a pic at the beach. I am consoling myself with the Open Thread read.

    Reply
  65. Thanks for the Open Thread!

    Online dating – yay or nay? I’m debating it. One of my friends is into it, and she says she’s been on a few dates with some different guys. I’m just not having the luck with meeting people in real life. I work a lot, and the couple of activities I do there aren’t many people at all, let alone guys age appropriate enough (some guys are 20+ years older; that’s not my thing to have that much of a gap but I’m willing to go 10). So with not meeting anyone at the Bus Stop (think Hollies), I’m just wondering if online dating is worth looking into and trying. I have read up on the dos and don’ts for safety. I’m curious and hesitant. And another question: How do you explain it to people, like my parents, who are old school when it comes to meeting people? (I ask because I come from a parent who had forbidden chat rooms and consistently warns against Facebook.).

    Reply
    1. Pokebunny

      It’s hit and miss. Largely depends on your geographical location, your “cover letter”, pictures (probably the most important) and your target “audience”. It wouldn’t hurt to try, but if you want quality results, you’ll have to spend some time on it. If you’re a woman, you’ll likely get lots of messages you don’t care for, so it’s up to you to weed them out. Just like job search, even when you do respond to the thoughtful messages, a lot of them are going to end up ghosting you.

      Go for it, take precautions to protect yourself, but in the end don’t expect much.

      Reply
    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      Do it! It’s a way to significantly broaden the circle of people you come in contact with. My advice on explaining it to your parents is just be really matter of fact and maybe even to say something like, “Yeah, since there’s no stigma about it anymore…” in the hopes that simply asserting that will make them think, “oh, I guess there’s no stigma about it anymore.” (I find you can employ that to great effect sometimes.)

      Reply
    3. katamia

      I do it on and off. Planning to be on again soon, actually, since I work from home and so I basically never meet anybody, lol. I haven’t had any tremendous successes, but I haven’t had any stalkers or catastrophes, either. It’s definitely a way to widen your circle of potential romantic partners. There’s no surefire way to ensure that you’ll meet someone online who will fulfill your romantic goals, whatever they may be, but there’s no guarantee for any other way, either. It will probably not hurt to try it.

      I think explaining the reasonable precautions you’re taking (meeting in public places, leaving a note saying who you’re meeting with, etc.) is a good way to potentially help assuage their fear, although it probably won’t completely get rid of it. Depending on how good they are at maintaining boundaries (as in, don’t do this if they’re bad about overstepping them), it might help to tell them about your first few dates and give them a little bit more information just to help them see that meeting people online doesn’t always end in disaster.

      Reply
    4. Former Diet Coke Addict

      I did a ton of online dating and met my husband that way. As long as you’re safe about it (don’t go on dates to deserted cabins in the woods, etc.) I don’t see any reason why not as long as you look at it like any other method of meeting people. The most important thing is that you really have to actually meet the people in real life; it’s so easy to get sucked into a trap of endless emailing or texting, only to find out that the person in real life is a mess or picks their nose or looks nothing like their picture or something like that. But I found that it was a great tool to meet people as long as I focused on meeting them as soon as possible.

      As for explaining it to people, I mostly just didn’t care. My parents spent most of my childhood warning me against the Internet, but I told them I met such-and-such guy online and whatever. There wasn’t exactly anything they could do about it afterwards, and if they wanted to warn me against it, they could certainly do so as much as they liked. Or you could take the slightly-less-honest-but-easier tack of “Friend of a friend.” Really, who needs to know?

      Reply
    5. Soupspoon McGee

      I met my now-fiance through OK Cupid, so I’m all for it. I like that particular site because I could play with different criteria (without other people seeing) and get a sense of how compatible people were with things I valued most.

      I went on dates with several people, usually after writing back and forth quite a bit, then a phone call or two. Some were great first and second dates, then meh. My fella now was the opposite. I liked his profile and his writing. I liked him well enough, but wasn’t floating home thinking I was in love. We kept sort-of in touch while we dated other people, and then he reached out just as I was wondering what had happened to that nice guy. He seemed to really like me without being an unbalanced nutjob, hung up on an ex, or emotionally unavailable (my three kryptonites). We gave it another shot and just celebrated six years together, from our second first date.

      Nobody freaked out that we met online. And actually, we met in person in a coffee shop, so if someone was going to be all weird and judgemental, I guess we could have said that.

      For safety, I always wrote back and forth a bit, then talked on the phone, googled them, and then met in person in a public place. I always told a friend where I was and when to expect a text or call, and if she didn’t hear from me by then, she’d call me. It was a great way to grab the phone and make an excuse to leave if necessary (I did that once with a guy who complained nonstop about everything).

      Reply
    6. K.

      I vote yay. I’m not dating right now because I’m getting over someone – but I met that guy online, and he was wonderful. And every guy I met online, I never would have met otherwise. It’s great for that. I expect to get back online when I’m ready to date again.

      I know at least half a dozen people who met their spouses online (I’ve been a bridesmaid in two Match weddings). A lot of my parents’ contemporaries who are divorced or widowed are turning to the Internet, so I feel like there’s not as much of a stigma, at least where i am. So I don’t know that I’d bother explaining or defending it, frankly.

      Reply
    7. Margaret

      Definitely do it! I met my now-husband through Ok Cupid (three years ago). My parents (mom, particularly) were nervous about it, but after me and other kids of people they know doing it, they’ve come around to it. I didn’t meet anyone but my now-husband in person, though had some conversations online (I agree you shouldn’t let online conversations drag on too long without meeting in person and see what they’re really like, but I’m particular enough that conversations didn’t really go that long without me deciding it wasn’t worth going any further.) Just be safe – meet in a public place, preferrably with some kind of appointment for later so you have a way to end it without being awkward, whether it’s going well or not. Give contact information (including their username on the site – I assume worst case scenario the police can get the website to track down IP address or whatnot) to multiple people along with your meeting time and place.

      Obviously you have to trust what the person is telling you about themself, but you’re online anyway – google and do whatever searches you can to verify. Once I had a full name, I was able to verify a lot because he was on his employer’s website with a little bio – it not only confirmed things like his occupation, but the play he said he’d been in last summer was even in that bio! So either it was a really deep con, someone posing to be this real person, or actually the real person he said he was. And you have to trust them even if you meet them randomly in life or through friends – they could still be lying to you or mutual friends. This way, at least you have things to fact check before meeting in person and investing much.

      I think it’s beneficial both in that you get to expand your pool of potential people, who you’d never cross paths with in real life, and also in that you get to filter and learn so much about a person before investing much in it. Thing like whether you want to have kids and other lifestyle factors (for me, being or open to being vegetarian) are super important, and you can just not even bother with people if they don’t meet your criteria. (Though, don’t be too picky – being super short I set my criteria for guys under 6′, after you all you need to narrow it down somehow, right? Yeah, fortunately I showed up on his searches, because he’s 6’4″.)

      Reply
    8. Gandalf the Nude

      I’m stuck on hold with our insurance carrier, so I’ll chime in (a day late) as another success story. I met my partner on OKCupid, and we’ve been together four years now. I sincerely doubt we would have met without it. And I had a a lot of fun with the other guys I met.

      I will say, though, you might have to experiment with a couple different sites. OKC was great in my city but terrible in my hometown. Then my cousin met her husband on Match.com in that same town but my friends have had awful experiences with Match in my current town.

      Best tip I can offer is to make first contact a lot, as opposed to just responding to messages. Some folks, like my partner, don’t bother to message someone if they think they’re out of their league, and they’re often wildly wrong about what their league is. It’s a numbers game. The more people you interact with, the more likely you’ll meet someone awesome, so you don’t want to limit that number by not being proactive.

      Reply
  66. Emily

    I passed my “return to run” test (I’m about four months post-ACL reconstruction surgery) today with flying colors! I’m allowed to (slowly, incrementally) start jogging again!

    Reply
    1. Tilly W

      Fellow ACL person recovering from surgery here – CONGRATS! I’m only two weeks out and frustrated with all the limitations but I’m trying to focus on the big picture.

      Reply
  67. Zoe

    I have a question about netiquette, AAM readers. A few months ago I interviewed for a job, which I didn’t get. I felt that the interview went really well, they had lots of really qualified candidates (in fact, they held up the process a bit to fit me in as a last-minute applicant), and ended up not hiring me. They never responded to my “thanks for the interview, any feedback if you’re comfortable giving it?” email, but that’s fine, I get why employers don’t.

    The question is, I now have a new job only somewhat related to the one I applied for there, but my company often partners with theirs. Given how well we talked during the interview, I’m tempted to add the hiring manager to LinkedIn (and she comes up a bunch in suggestions, since we work with a lot of common people.) Would that be weird?

    Reply
    1. Soupspoon McGee

      Only do it if you customize your request to her. Give her some context: you enjoyed the interview and the company, you have a new role you’re really excited about, and because your new role intersects with hers in x ways, you’d like to connect.

      Reply
  68. Liz T

    Just got offered a second interview!!! Really exciting because during the first interview I flat-out fell in love with the job, and the person who’d be managing me. (I actually feel I was a little inarticulate because I was so happy to be there. Fortunately I now have a chance to make that up!) Anyway, I asked a question that I really liked, and to which I got an informative answer, and I just realized it’s kind of a version of Alison’s Golden Question.

    The person who filled this position previously moved back to her hometown, so I asked, “What do you miss most about her, professionally?” I got an immediate and specific answer that gave me some good insight into what their working relationship had been like.

    Meanwhile, if anyone has advice on second interviews, please let me know! It’s been awhile since I’ve done two in-person interviews. (Usually it’s been a phone screen first.) Also, I don’t think I’ll be meeting with anyone different the second time.

    Reply
  69. liz

    Coming in late (time zones!) to say that I’m mostly a lurker, but this community has been a major support for me in my year and a half at an incredibly toxic job, and the advice of Alison and the commentariat really helped me line up a better role. So, thank you, Team AAM! May your bosses be sane and your workplaces free of duck clubs.

    Reply
    1. Not So NewReader

      “May your bosses be sane and your workplaces free of duck clubs.”

      Move over Garrison Kiellor, we have liz.

      Reply
  70. Cruciatus

    Just heard The Lumineers’ “Ophelia” and I’m now obsessed and have listened to it…a great number of times in a row. I only know a few of their songs but realized I should probably get their albums from the library as the ones I know I really like.

    A few weeks ago my obsession was Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats “SOB.” Just checked my library account and they did indeed buy their latest album based on my request! Oh, the power!

    What are you all listening to? Excuse me, I have to go listen to “Ophelia” again…

    Reply
  71. CryloRen

    Perfect timing! I just had a question come up that probably couldn’t wait until the Friday open thread…has anyone here ever had their job description drastically change between interviews?

    I interviewed on Friday and the hiring manager candidly stated that while they liked me, there was another candidate they were courting that had more experience in the field that they were hiring for…BUT they thought I might be a great fit for another open position on the team and they were going to work on “building out a new job description”.
    Well, they just sent it over and…it’s a lot of things that I have little to no experience in. In fact if this had been the job description from the beginning, I would never have applied because it’s so far out of my current wheelhouse.

    So, I guess my question is…does anyone have any tips for how to handle this? While I was confident that I could do the original job that was posted, I’m now pretty confident that I *can’t* do this new job that they want to potentially bring me on for. Is it possible to bring this up to the recruiter without torpedoing my chances?

    Reply
      1. CryloRen

        Yes, because I’m still interested in the original role but not in this new one. This is a huge, well-known company as well so I’m hesitant to do anything that might blacklist me from their hiring teams if other, relevant roles do open up in the future.

        Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Would you want to do the job if it weren’t for the experience issue? If so: “I’d be really interested in moving in this direction, but I want to make sure that you know that I don’t have experience with A, B, or C. Is that likely to be prohibitive?”

      Even if they say no, it’s fine, keep asking yourself that question throughout the process — you don’t want to end up in a role where you can’t excel, so get a really good sense of what the training plan would be / how quickly you could realistically get up to speed.

      If you wouldn’t want the job regardless, it’s okay to just say, “Thanks so much for thinking of me, but I think the focus on ABC means it’s probably not the right fit for me.”

      Reply
      1. CryloRen

        That’s a great question. I can see my career moving in this direction…in a minimum of 5-7 years. It’s definitely NOT a role I could see myself truly excelling in within a year or even 2 years. This is also a contract-to-hire position, so I think that would amp up the expectations somewhat on the employer’s side.

        Thank you so much for the advice and the scripts. I’m going to reach out to the recruiter again today with your wording. :)

        Reply
  72. Natalie

    I’m super happy we’re closed for the holiday because we got a dog yesterday! A little over a year old, officially “large” size but in the low end of that spectrum, and 95% house trained. And he didn’t know the name they gave him at the shelter anyway, so we gave him a new one.

    The cat seems to be adjusting well. There’s a gate on the stairs so she has the whole top level safe, but today while he was napping she came down by herself and sniffed around, and then went to the basement so she could spy on him through the cat door. (It’s taped open or she can’t figure out how to get through. He can’t even get his giant head through.) He finally noticed hours later and seems more nervous than anything. Hasn’t tried to chase yet, hopefully a good sign.

    Reply
  73. Ruffingit

    This is the official I’M SICK OF PEOPLE’S SH*T THREAD!

    Things I’m sick of:

    Friends who disappoint you. My husband planned a surprise 40th birthday party for me. He invited 20 people and got all the food, etc. 4 showed up. 4 people. 2 on the guest list emailed and said “We’re just super tired and can’t make it.” You know what? I’ve made it to all of your events even when I was super tired. And this was a SURPRISE party and you’re going to beg off? FU*K YOU. It’s been two weeks and I’m seriously still disappointed by this and I think it’s going to take awhile for me to get over.

    Employers who refuse to pay a decent wage or offer benefits and do a bait and switch on you with pay and then have at least two illegal rules in their employee handbook. FU*K YOU GUYS.

    Ok, thanks. I really needed to get that off my chest. Feel free to add your own anger. :)

    Reply
    1. Former Diet Coke Addict

      That’s completely understandable. (Both of them, actually, but the first one in particular!) I had arranged for an old friend to come and spend Christmas Day with my family, since she had been saying she was lonely and had nowhere to go, and I was having a pretty quiet Christmas with my husband and parents and a couple of other friends. She said she was excited to come, asked for directions, and then Christmas day she messaged me with “Oh, I’m just really tired and busy….can’t make it, sorry!” and she moved across the country a couple of weeks later. This was literally the last chance we’d have to see each other indefinitely, and my parents were excited to see her too (for the first time in years, also) and just…nothing. This was extremely, extremely disappointing to me! If I tell someone I’m going to be there, I’ll be there, unless I am really incapacitated or in the hospital or something. “I’m tired” or “I had something better to do” is a terrible excuse to bail on anything.

      That’s super frustrating and I think you’re within your rights to be disappointed. Or, if not, we can be in the Bitter Corner together.

      Reply
      1. Ruffingit

        Sounds like you really get it Former Diet Coke Addict! I’m sorry your friend did the no show act on you too. It’s just so sad especially when it’s a big occasion. Some Saturday night party or whatever, still not cool, but it’s way less worse than skipping out on a milestone birthday or Christmas. Damn. WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE??

        Reply
    2. NicoleK

      I’m sick of a specific friend who ask for advice but never takes the advice given. This is the gist of the conversation I’ve had with her for the past 10 years.

      Friend: I’m having x, y, z problems at my job
      Me: Then find a new job
      Friend: I don’t have a degree and I’m only qualified to do admin jobs
      Me: Then go back to school and get a degree
      Friend: But I can’t go back to school because of a, b, and c
      Me: Then make it work at your job
      Friend: Admin jobs is not a good fit for my strengths
      Me: Then get a new job
      Friend: I don’t have a degree…..

      She’s started and stopped school so many times. If she would have started 5 years ago, she’d be done now. SMH.

      Reply
      1. Mando Diao

        Ugh, I know this one well. Sometimes I have to get sharp with people like this and tell them that I only want to hear about a problem once and that they can either take my thoughts into account or not, but please don’t come back to me with stressful stories unless there’s some kind of update.

        Reply
    3. mondegreen

      I showed up for a study session this weekend in very nasty weather, with a cold and having mostly lost my voice, to find nobody there. Eventually I found out that they’d decided the reading was too tedious and had absconded to a distant and trendy bar that I absolutely couldn’t get into.

      More generally, I’m sick of people who cite work-life balance as justification for skipping out on commitments. While you’re being fun and spontaneous, everyone else is waiting for you.

      Reply
    4. Overeducated and underemployed

      Oh man, I’m sorry. I had a birthday party like that a couple years ago – was trying to keep it low cost and avoid restaurants or bars for friends with financial and digestive limitations, so I just invited people to a potluck at my place where I was cooking the main dish (obviously something everyone could eat), and only one couple came. After a whole afternoon of cooking to make it easy and cheap for people to come, I was so disappointed. I actually didn’t want to plan anything for my 30th because I was afraid of that happening again. It hurts a lot.

      Reply
      1. Ruffingit

        I’m really sorry this happened to you too. It’s such a disappointment and it does hurt a lot. Thank you for the empathy, that is very much appreciated!

        Reply
    5. Mallory Janis Ian

      That sucks. They didn’t just disappoint you; they also disappointed your husband, who was trying to make a nice birthday for you. They hurt you by not showing up, and they hurt him by turning his efforts into a disappointment for you. Boo on them!

      My aunt and uncle left a voicemail the day before my wedding saying that they couldn’t come because they were too fat to find anything to wear. Which is funny now, but it wasn’t back then.

      Reply
      1. Ruffingit

        EXACTLY! They disappointed us both and it’s just amazing to me how some people are so cavalier about these things like it’s no big deal. And get this…one of the friends who emailed me to say she was too tired to come sent me a message the next day and was all “So sorry we missed it, but we’ll see you soon because baby’s birthday is coming up!” WHAT THE FU*K???? You couldn’t be bothered to show up to my party, which my husband put so much effort into, and yet you think it’s completely appropriate to expect me to show up to your kid’s party??? GAH!

        Reply
  74. Mimmy

    Reminiscing about college and trying to write discussion board posts do not make for a productive evening!! Blame it on one of my FB friends who tagged a bunch of classmates in posting an article about college life in the ’90s!!

    Reply
  75. M.

    I’m a longtime reader from the Philippines, and I recently had an interview where the interviewer questioned my being single, discouraged me from pursuing a potential PhD in women’s or genders studies (she said I was being too ambitious), and dismissed my introversion by saying that I simply didn’t like people. Fun fact: the organization specialized in pranic healing. I was still polite and smiling, but on the inside, I was seething/cringing and trying to find a reason to escape.

    I remember there was a post here about ending an interview early, but it never occured to me at the time that I could do that, or that I could also ask the interviewer some questions (perhaps it’s a cultural thing?). But this blog has taught me a lot, and I’m incredibly grateful that I found it.

    Reply
    1. Ruffingit

      Wow, that is a candidate for worst interview ever. Sorry you had to deal with that kind of an idiot. If you want to pursue a PhD, do that! And introversion is not simply not liking people. Although given the example of her as a person, who could blame you if you didn’t like people? UGH.

      Reply
  76. So Very Anonymous

    Season 3 of The Americans is streaming on Amazon Prime! Finally! Off and running with Felicity beating the crap out of John-Boy…

    Reply
  77. DragonHeart

    I would like to ask managers out there, what do you mean when your employee has good or bad communication skills? Can we define what is good communication skills? It has been said that it means you can convey your thoughts clearly into words, both orally or written. But is there more to this?

    I have been in places where I was told I had good communication, and places where I was told otherwise.

    Reply
    1. Soupspoon McGee

      Good communication also involves knowing
      *when to provide information, updates, or requests for clarification
      *who should be included (and who should not)
      *how much detail to provide
      *what tone to use (friendly, informal, academic, obsequious, stern etc.) given the the individual and the culture.

      For example, bad communication routinely hitting reply-all when emailing one individual is more appropriate, talking down to someone, or proving one-word answers when more information is needed. It’s easier to think of examples of bad communication, but good communicators I’ve worked with knew when and how to frame a quick update or question vs a butt-covering explanation, for example.

      Reply
    2. NicoleK

      Exactly what Soupspoon said. Good communicators know how to tailor their message to the audience and the situation. Good communicators can break down technical language into regular speak for the average person. And good communicators are skilled at adjusting their communication if they’re not connecting with the audience.

      Reply
    3. Glasskey

      Agree with everything said above and would like to emphasize: Good communicators loop people in when there are discussions that affect those people. They also LISTEN really well.

      Reply
  78. DragonHeart

    Another interesting question for me. What if someone like Justine Sacco or Adria Richards were to apply to your company, would you hire them?

    Reply
    1. Ruffingit

      I would hire Justine Sacco. Her tweet was obviously in very poor taste, but I think she’s an example of public shaming gone really bad. She said something stupid as so many of us have. Unfortunately, she said it in a forum where it could be shared internationally. Public shaming has gotten out of control in my view and people seem to gleefully participate in it as though they could never be a target themselves. We’ve all said stupid things we regretted, it’s just fortunate for most of us that it wasn’t in a public forum or shared around the world. How long does one have to pay for such a mistake? Is being an idiot when you’re 30 (Sacco’s age at the time) something that should haunt you forever? I sure hope not because some of what I did and said at that age causes deep shame.

      Reply
    2. Ruffingit

      Adria Richards I would not hire because she has a pattern of being offended and not talking to the person(s) directly, but rather making things into a production. That would not be something I’d want to deal with in an employee.

      Reply
      1. mondegreen

        Agreed on both, and I’d probably make the same call when deciding whether to take a position where I’d work for either. I’d consider whether the person was tactless or deliberately offensive/incendiary, and whether they brought other people (through names/pictures) into the dispute.

        I’m pretty strongly opposed to public shaming because a good friend of mine was vilified in the news a few years back. The coverage of his exoneration shortly thereafter was minimal, and he still has two kids and trouble finding a job.

        Reply
    3. NicoleK

      Justine-it would depend on how the interview went. If she made questionable comments during the interview, I would have to say no.

      Adria-I would not hire her or interview her.

      Reply
  79. Smoodle

    Hi everyone. Decided to come out of lurkerdom to ask a question: how do you sign off your emails? My workplace is pretty casual, and sign offs range from ‘kind regards’ to just a name. I’ve been using ‘kind regards’ but it feels a bit… stuffy? Don’t want to use ‘thanks’ as I’m usually providing something to someone, so a thanks from me would be weird. Any ideas? I have debated just signing off with my name, but don’t want to come off as rude!

    Reply
    1. Mallory Janis Ian

      I’ve adjusted my email signature to mimic what people in my new job currently do.

      At OldJob, it was “Best regards” for people outside the company; “Thanks” internally, even if “Thanks” was a stretch, since I was providing them with something; “Best”, because even though it is irritating to some people, it was a thing there, so I used it; and just my initials for people with whom I’d fallen into a mutual initials-only sign-off habit.

      At NewJob, it’s “Best wishes” for people inside and outside the company; shortened to the dubious “Best” on subsequent communications in the same thread; I still use “Thanks” liberally whether I really need to thank anyone or not; and no one here ever signs off with even just their name, much less only their initials, so I’ve dropped that from my repertoire.

      Basically, I just notice the level of formality of the communications I receive, and mirror that in my own emails.

      Reply
    2. Random Citizen

      Everyone here signs off with “Thanks, FirstName” or “Thanks. FullName (email sig) even if there is nobody really needs to be thanked – acknowledging that the recipient took the time to read their email maybe? If we’re feeling particularly happy when we’re writing the email, we’ll say “Thanks! FirstName”

      Reply
      1. Random Citizen

        And if it’s more of an FYI and thanks would sound especially weird, we’ll just leave it with the email signature (full name). First names are more for internal email replies – initial emails almost always have the full name. If we were feeling particularly friendly in the early days of required email sigs, we would do “Thanks, FirstName” followed by the full email signature.

        Reply
  80. Mallory Janis Ian

    I know the ‘secret open thread’ was for yesterday, but I needed a place for a quick, petty vent, and this is it. I’m irritated that one of the mail delivery guys stops in here every day and makes a good 10 – 15 minutes of small talk before he moves on. He doesn’t even deliver mail here; he just stops in specifically to chat. My predecessor, who cultivated the relationship with him over a mutual interest in golf and sports, still works here in a different position, so he still stops in to chat mainly to her. However, he pitches his voice to include me and another coworker in the conversation, whether we indicate interest or not. I’ve been on a deadline for the past two days for an annual thing that is due tomorrow, and it has been very irritating that he doesn’t pick up on my ‘busy’ signals and pitch his voice to include only those who are interested in hearing about his damn golf game.

    Reply

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