I can’t get back to my desk if I forget my access card, my boss is upset with my new employer, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. I can’t get back to my desk after using the bathroom if I forget my access card

My workplace handles sensitive information and, as such, must keep the place locked up. The area with work desks is behind locked glass doors that require an access card to get to. I appreciate this, but the bathrooms are in the lobby, which is not locked and is available to the public. My problem is, I’ve been told that if I forget my access card at home, I will not be able to get back from the restroom and it is not admissible to borrow a coworker’s card. HR has stated that all employees must drive to their home on their own time to retrieve their access card if forgotten.

I live an hour away from my workplace and it would be absurd to drive there and back, just to get my card so I can access the restrooms throughout the day. Is this scenario even legal? I don’t forget my card often, but when I do, I cannot use the restrooms for fear of not being able to get back into my cubicle.

Yes, it’s legal. They’re not preventing you from accessing the bathroom; they’re preventing you from re-entering your work area afterwards if you don’t have your access card. It’s awfully strict, but it’s legal.

You can probably understand where they’re coming from though — they’ve presumably had people be lax about remembering their cards and relying on coworkers to let them in, and if you have enough of that going on, it can end up really undermining the security system. The easiest way to handle this would be to come up with a system to remember your card — for example, keep it in your car rather than bringing it inside your house at night.

But it would also be reasonable to ask for some slack if you forget your card very occasionally — I’m talking a couple of times a year. If you’re forgetting it more than that, though, I do think it’s on you to come up with a better system for remembering to bring it with you.

2. My boss is upset because my new employer didn’t let her know they were hiring me

I was recently offered a position I’m very excited about. Great benefits, better pay, and a fun environment. I’m leaving a rather toxic company and boss and couldn’t be happier.

I found out via another coworker that my current boss is upset with my new supervisor because my new supervisor did not call her to let her know she would be offering me the job. This sounds absolutely ridiculous to me. These two know each other professionally, but they’re not friends, and it’s actually speculated that my new supervisor isn’t my current boss’ biggest fan.

Is it ever appropriate for a potential employer to call your current employer and let them know about a pending job offer? What if I couldn’t accept the offer for some reason, and then ended up stuck at my current job, with my boss knowing I was interviewing elsewhere? My new supervisor had mentioned something offhand about wanting to call my boss to clear the air, but I’m guessing she never got around to it — and, frankly, I don’t think there was really any reason for that phone call. People switch jobs all the time. Just because they know each other professionally and have done business together doesn’t mean my boss deserves a courtesy call. She doesn’t own me!

Well, relationships do matter, and it’s pretty normal to touch base with a someone you know professionally if you hire away one of their employees. Not before hiring them — because, as you point out, that could jeopardize the person’s current job — but after the offer has been accepted and after the person has resigned. Typically it’s just something like, “You probably know by now that Jane is coming to work for us. We’re thrilled to have her, but I realize our gain is your loss blah blah blah.” It’s not because anyone owns you; it’s just an acknowledgement of the relationship and that it sucks to lose a good employee, and usually it would feel weird to say nothing at all.

But if your boss is pouting about that not happening, she’s being silly. It’s a nicety, not an obligation. And if she’s upset that she didn’t hear about it before they made you the offer, then she’s very, very off-base.

3. Can ask for extra time off in exchange for doing a weekend event?

My company was invited to a five-hour training event last Saturday, and I volunteered to go both to help my program (I’m a program director, been working here six months) and show my commitment to the organization. My normal schedule is 9-5, but I’m also in a three-hour night class (once a week for eight weeks) that my boss asked me to take.

At 12:30 Friday, my boss asked me to take her place at an awards brunch the next morning, 9:30-12:30. I’m fine with going, but I wanted to ask if I could trade a few hours next week to take care of personal items I would normally do on the weekend. I didn’t ask, because my gut told me it would not go over well. Should I be able to ask for a trade like that? I feel like I’m scratching my company/boss’ back, but they’re not scratching mine, if you get what I mean.

We do have generous benefits, 20 days vacation/personal and five sick days, but strict policies on how to use it (two-week notice, signed approval, no more than five consecutive, etc.). I think they expect this to compensate for the after-hours commitments we’re asked for, but I feel kind of disrespected as though my personal life and time don’t matter if I can’t schedule flexibly, but they can at almost a moment’s notice.

Am I being unprofessional, immature, or overly sensitive? This is my first job outside academia so I’m very used to flexibility.

No. It’s reasonable to expect flexibility from your employer if they expect you to be flexible with them.

But you should try asking for comp time next time. In many jobs, it’s really normal to negotiate comp time or informal time off when you’re asked to do an evening or weekend event. It tends to go over better if you don’t present it as tit-for-tat, but rather as something like, “I could make that work if I’m able to take a few hours of comp time early next week to make up for it, so that I have time to take care of the things I was planning to do during that time. Would that work on your end?”

4. My coworkers stomp loudly when they walk

I recently started a new position, and there’s a peculiar habit of my female coworkers have that I’ve never seen before in 15 years at other jobs. Many of them stomp everywhere. It’s not a weight issue — even the ladies who are noticeably underweight make a ton of noise everywhere they walk. Oddly, none of the men make anywhere near as much noise, even though a few could take up amateur Sumo wrestling.

I’m trying to think of a diplomatic way to ask them to stomp less, because it’s distracting. I was on the phone with a client yesterday when several woman came back from lunch, and he asked what that clatter was. But I also know that anything that hints that a woman is too heavy could cause much unhappiness. I’ve been trying to think of a diplomatic way to ask people to walk more softly, but am at a loss. Do you have any ideas?

I don’t think you can — especially as a new employee.

It’s probably a combination of their shoes and the floors, although who knows. But you can’t really ask someone to walk differently, unless they’re deliberately walking like Frankenstein’s monster for the sheer pleasure of it, but they’re probably not.

I know it’s not easy to tune out annoying noises, but there are a bunch of them in offices, and I’d just put this in the same category as other types of background noises that people often have to deal with at work.

5. Time off for school breaks when working in college

I am a high school senior and was planning on working while I am in college. When I have to go home over winter break, what do I tell my employer? Can I still remain in my position after I come back from break or would I have to re-apply? I would work on campus and they take into consideration students leaving over break, but those positions are often difficult to come by and have limited hours. What would you suggest would be the best plan for working part-time in college?

If you’re a student working on campus, they’ll already know that they can’t count on you being there over break; that’s just a normal part of campus jobs.

If you’re working off-campus, they likely assume it too, but in that case it’s good to spell it out before accepting the job offer. You’d just say something like, “I’ll be out of town (dates) and (dates) for school breaks. Will that work on your end?”

You shouldn’t need to re-apply after returning from break. You definitely won’t with off-campus jobs (it’ll just be like taking a vacation), and you probably won’t with on-campus jobs either, although some of them are explicitly just for the duration of a semester or a school year. (And you can ask before accepting the job how that will work.)

{ 749 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Jerry Vandesic

    Re #2: ““You probably know by now that Jane is coming to work for us …”

    I’m going to disagree with Alison on this one. “Probably” is not a word that can be used in this situation. Certainty is required. A resignation is not a message that the new manager has the right to tell the old manager, and if the new manager gets the timing wrong it would be a major screw up. The new manager might not know the circumstances around the employee leaving the current employer. For example, if the current employer walks out resigning employees, the resigning employee might not be providing any notice. In that case any message from the new manager would mess things up.

    Reply
    1. Edith

      I don’t think you’re disagreeing with Alison here. In the sentence immediately before the one you quoted she says that this conversation should only happen after the person has resigned.

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    2. KiwiLib

      No, there isn’t certainty; the Boss knows s/he has resigned, but might know or might not who has lured them away, hence “you probably know…”

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    3. Mephyle

      The script says “You probably know;” in other words, the “probably” isn’t about whether Jane is coming to work for us, it’s about whether you already know or not. Actually it’s a bit of social grease that says “I’m not making the assumption that you’re out of the loop and don’t have a clue about this; I’m just making sure you do know.”

      Reply
  2. Biff

    Re #5: I think Allison might be a little off on her answer here. College towns probably do function like that because they go ‘dead’ in the breaks. But in a town with other industries, depending on the position you find, you may find that they expect you to work full time during school breaks. I’ve encountered this often because I went to school in a town that had other industries. School breaks are often ‘prime time’ vacation slots, and so the low man on the totem pole is expected to work the bad shifts.

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    1. Engineer Girl

      I agree. I always had to work over the holidays even though I was off from school. I usually was able to get extra hours so it was a chance to earn more money.

      Reply
      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        This was true for me as well. On campus jobs gave you a break if the campus was closed (I.e., you had winter break off but not spring break), but off-campus jobs often expected you to go full-time over the holidays. So I think this varies with your employer. That said, I only had to “reapply” for campus jobs at the end of each academic year, which meant affirmatively requesting to come back in fall. But I didn’t have to do this between terms or after each break.

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        1. Al Lo

          I worked at Starbucks throughout grad school, which technically had a Thanksgiving-to-Christmas blackout period, but I was always able to take 2-3 weeks off at Christmas. It was just a conversation I had to have with my manager. Not that every manager can accommodate that, or that every retail boss will care, but it doesn’t hurt to ask, and ask early enough that they can plan for scheduling.

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      2. SophieChotek

        I agree with AAM that while it is a conversation to have with a manager, if its not a college-town or even if it is, but everyone but the manager are college-students, it’s not safe to assume one can get time off at holidays/breaks.

        But I do agree also with Biff – I think it depends on the business for the off-campus job. For instance, when I worked at Big Box Retail in grad school (in different state than where I grew up) I was told I absolutely could not request time-off during our winter break because I did not have seniority, etc. I was told if I wanted to spend winter holidays at home I would have to resign and the re-apply to the retailer.

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    2. Not the office dementor

      I live in a city with two major universities. Firstly, it’s not always the case that college towns go dead in breaks. Mine doesn’t. Quieter in some areas but far from dead.

      Secondly, it depends a bit on the type of job – in retail it’s common for students to work in term time and then go home and work at their home branch during vacation. I’d say the really key thing is it’s okay to discuss it and ask how it’ll work. An employer who’s not okay with that might be tricksy when, say, you need time off around exams.

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      1. Not the office dementor

        And I’m talking off-campus retail. In my experience retail is great for finding employers who get that students can’t work year round. At least in the UK anyway.

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      2. Oryx

        Yes to your second point: I had multiple college friends who worked at restaurants, they’d work at the one in their hometown during breaks and the one near campus during school. This had all been arranged by managers at all locations.

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    3. AcademiaNut

      I agree.

      For a campus job, I would ask at the beginning what the schedule is, because even though you get the vacation off, there might be expectations on when you start and stop that don’t line up with your exams and classes (ie, don’t book plane flights without checking first). As a TA in grad school, I had to work my holidays so that I could mark exams and get the results to the professor in time for the submission deadline, with the requirement that the exams couldn’t leave the department.

      For a non-campus job, I’d ask right at the beginning if will be possible to get time off over the Christmas break, rather than assuming it. If it’s not possible, then you would have to quit the job and look for a new one the next semester, as most employers aren’t going to be keen on rehiring someone who takes vacation by quitting.

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    4. Artemesia

      Exactly. Workers don’t get spring break. You MIGHT be able to negotiate holiday and spring break, but don’t count on it. In the world of work people don’t get academic schedules.

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      1. Not the office dementor

        Sometimes they do. Can we please avoid all or nothing statements because that’s going to misinform OP.

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      2. Mookie

        Sure, they do. Academics, obviously, but sometimes on-campus support staff, departmental staff, faculty and visiting scholars and lecturers and TAs, on-campus retail and service workers, reprographics, library staff, groundskeepers and cleaners and landscape folk, employees of on-campus farms and museums and botanical gardens, lab workers, transportation, a great deal of security — basically anyone whose productivity would be greatly diminished by a mostly empty campus. And even when some of them stay on, their numbers are usually diminished, and this goes doubly for college towns and more rural universities. People working outside of academia often request time off during school holidays to enjoy time with or otherwise accommodate their children and spouses.

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        1. Tuckerman

          It really depends. I work in an academic library. If OP is work-study funded, she won’t be allowed to work winter or summer break, unless she has a work study allotment specifically for those terms (i.e., she is in classes those terms and the grant is part of her financial aid package). I wouldn’t expect a library intern to work between xmas and New Years, but I wouldn’t expect her to be out during the entire winter break month.

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            1. mskyle

              Sure, the library is staffed year-round, but in most libraries the staffing level is lower and/or the opening hours are shorter when classes are not in session (this is my experience as a librarian and circulation desk supervisor who hired/fired/scheduled student workers). We always had some shifts available for work-study students during summer/winter/spring break, but we never expected most of our student workers to work during those periods.

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          1. Anna

            Yep. I worked in the campus bookstore. Sure, the breaks were pretty dead, but there still needed to be minimum coverage.

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        2. Robbenmel

          My son is a manager for a large university in an IT department. His work doubles during breaks, because that is the ideal time for updates and other work that can’t easily be done when classes are in session and departments are fully working.

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      3. kb

        I don’t mean to quibble, but I think the OP was referring more to winter and summer break than spring break. It doesn’t sound like they’re worried about having time off for time off’s sake; rather, it appears the OP will not have a place to live near their university/ job for those longer breaks when the dorms close and therefore cannot work. I think they’re going to uni far from home.

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        1. That Would Be a Good Band Name

          That was my first thought. I know our dorms closed and home was 3 hours away, so staying over winter and summer break wasn’t possible. However, my off campus job expected it. I think they brought it up before I did. I can’t really imagine that an employer that hires someone living in the dorms in a college town won’t be prepared for this scenario.

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          1. Turtle Candle

            Yes, this is part of why it’s wise to have a conversation early on about it. I was in a similar situation: dorms closed over both winter and summer breaks, no one was allowed to stay, and my parents’ home was almost a thousand miles from my school. (There was some housing available over the breaks, for an additional fee, but since space was very limited they were by-application-only and prioritized based on how badly you actually needed it. “I can’t afford to fly back to Korea for every break” or “I have no family to stay with” was prioritized over “I need to stay because of this job,” and often the housing would fill up quickly.) It was less a matter of wanting to have a no-work vacation (actually, I would have really appreciated the money) and more an issue of just plain not having anywhere to go. Fortunately, most of the jobs available on or near campus understood that.

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        2. Gurl

          The dorms at my school close over the winter break, too. They don’t close for reading week, but that three weeks of winter break is a problem for anyone else who doesn’t live off-campus.

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      4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        My understanding is that this varies significantly by campus and town, so it’s worth asking about. When I was a student worker, we usually got to pick a holiday—e.g., if you worked Thanksgiving, you got Spring Break off, etc., etc. But I had different responsibilities when I was a (grad) TA. So I think there’s also material differences in expectations depending on if you’re an undergrad or grad student.

        Which is all to say it’s ok to ask and negotiate, and you won’t look wildly out-of-touch if you ask about how your job accommodates your finals schedule and academic holidays.

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      5. MacAilbert

        At the very least, you need some level of seniority to swing it, typically. I worked full time through two holiday seasons and last Spring Break, so I was able to swing taking off this Spring Break, but I really only got away with it because I’ve been here over a year and promised my boss lots of Summer availability. I certainly wouldn’t have been able to do it my first year.

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    5. Chaordic One

      I also agree with Biff. Where I worked in college (off campus) they offered me extra hours and really wanted me to work more since I didn’t have class during the breaks.

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    6. kb

      I think all employers vary on this. The best method is to be upfront about being a student and ask about breaks before you accept the job offer. Some employers may be turned off that you need to leave for weeks at a time and others will be neutral because it’s par for the course, especially for college students who live somewhere else. If you’re worried about not being able to find a job once you go to school, you could start working at a chain of some sort this summer and transfer to a location close to school for the fall. Then you could also work while you’re at home for break without having to go through the hassle of applying and interviewing for relatively short-term gigs.

      This is a bit of a tangent, but remember to ask about flexibility with scheduling during exams and finals! Exam dates sometimes fall outside your normal class schedule and you are probably going to want a few days to study, so remember to ask off for those dates as soon as you get your syllabi.

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      1. Xarcady

        I agree with all of this. Be honest from the start about when you can and can’t work. And finals–every college I know of has an exam schedule that has no relationship to the usual class schedule. But most colleges publish this information early, so you should be able to find out at the beginning of the semester when all your finals will be, and can make plans accordingly.

        When I supervised students at a university library, we deliberately hired a few students each semester who would be able to work over winter and summer breaks, usually commuter students, but sometimes international or grad students who wouldn’t be going home every break. They were paid with regular student employment money, not work/study money like the rest of the student staff. So even with on-campus jobs, it is worth it to check and find out what expectations there are for working over breaks.

        My niece works at a department store near her home. She goes to college in a neighboring state. She comes home every other weekend to work one or two shifts at the store. This keeps her as an active employee, so that when she is home on breaks, they let her pick up as many shifts as she wants. So some retailers are flexible enough for students to be able to keep a job there year round. It’s something you should ask about in your interview. (I also suspect that if you would like this kind of flexibility in a job, it helps to be a good employee who managers want to keep around.)

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    7. jordanjay29

      I’ll agree with Biff here, I went to college in a town that otherwise had a thriving tourist industry year-round (moreso in summer). My other option was closer to my hometown, a suburb of a large metro area which definitely didn’t have any dead time any parts of the year.

      In addition, this definitely depends on the employer. If you work for a franchise or small business, the owner/manager generally has more leeway in this respect. If you find work at a corporate or big box retailer, your options are generally pretty limited, none of them that I know let you take 2-3 week vacations, and especially wouldn’t let you drop work for an entire summer. The one I worked for had one manager who was highly inflexible and wouldn’t let me scale back my work during December to focus on my studies, suffice it to say I did poorly on exams that year.

      OP5 might have to decide between working or going home for winter break, especially if they live beyond the distance of a day trip or weekend jaunt.

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    8. PatPat

      I worked at a restaurant all through college and it would have not gone over well to ask not to work during breaks. Asking for a few days off would have worked but not working all the days of every break wouldn’t have. The students that asked for the whole breaks off every time didn’t work there too long.

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    9. Red Reader

      Every retail job I’ve worked at, “I’m gonna be gone home on break from the second week of December to the second week of January” would have gotten you, “sorry, we’re only hiring people with consistent availability between Thanksgiving and New Years.” Goes over about as well as an accountant who doesn’t want to work in March or April.

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        1. kb

          Mine, actually. I left for winter break because I was from far away and wouldn’t have a place to live, but there were other people on break from their universities who were coming back home and trying to work as much as possible. I know it’s not the case for all retailers and some won’t want to hire OP because they can’t accomodate, but I’ve been in this situation and had enough friends in it to know it can work.

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        2. OhNo

          Ones that let you transfer between branches. A lot of people I went to college with had that set up – they worked in the store nearest our college during the term, then worked at the store closest to home during breaks.

          Given the number of college students that came home to the college town every winter, it ended up basically being an even swap between employees leaving for break and employees either coming in for break or being temp hires for the holiday season.

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        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          Actually a lot. I worked retail, and they frequently hired temp workers to cover gaps in coverage over holidays.

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        4. Whats In A Name

          Mine was, actually – similar to kb & OhNo….I lived/worked in the same area as my college but each long-term winter and summer break we had an influx of workers leave who left to go home for break and an influx of works come in who were home on break for the month(s).

          I am sure it varies by experience but most employers in a town with a college will have run into this before and likely have a system in place to support the needs of the students.

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      1. Lissa

        This is so variable, and also I find it can really depend on the size of the business. When I worked at a small cafe with like, 8 employees, it really wouldn’t have worked to have someone take a month off like that in most cases, but at a bigger place, no problem really — it usually worked out between people who wanted extra time off, and people who wanted extra hours. When I was job transitioning I kept my old food service job while working in a university on the academic schedule, and they were always happy to give me shifts during the Christmas and summer breaks. (Honestly, they probably still would!)

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    10. Sans

      I think that’s the key – are you in a college town or are you in an area with other industries where the college is not the central focus of activity and jobs? I went to school in a college town. It was assumed that any student working downtown would have most if not all breaks off. The bar I worked at asked who wanted to work during break and they had no trouble filling up their shifts with students who wanted some extra money. But it was never mandatory.

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      1. Becky

        My final year at university, I wasn’t going out of town at the end of the year and so I picked up a three week temp position on-campus covering for people who left town between semesters.

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    11. Anonygoose

      I definitely recommend getting an on-campus job if possible. There are jobs you wouldn’t even think of at university campuses. During uni, I worked manning the info kiosk at the entrance to the school, giving parking tickets on campus, and assisting with the study abroad program in the International Office. Other friends taught fitness classes, were teaching assistants, or worked as dispatchers for campus police. It’s not all food service and retail (which, inexplicably, were the most popular and competitive jobs on campus). There are a TON of benefits to working on campus – in addition to winter, summer, and spring breaks off, I got weekends off, and a lot of flexibility when I had exams or assignments due. You also get a bit more free time because when you live, study, and work in the same place, you don’t have to spend any travel time between each.

      But start looking early for jobs – like, now. On campus jobs will hire for the next academic year around March/April/May.

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      1. Libervermis

        You’re right about the sheer variety of on-campus jobs available – in undergrad I worked at various time as a parking attendant, writing center tutor, teaching assistant, audio-visual tech, data entry person, and campus event greeter/hospitality. And that was at a tiny college! Those jobs all assumed I would not be working over breaks, but other jobs both off and on campus had different expectations.

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        1. Natalie

          Depending on your major and your job interests, they can provide genuinely good work experience, too. A couple of my friends who were interested in librarianship worked at our college library and were able to progress to tasks beyond the usual circ desk stuff. Both of them work in libraries now and one, in an academic library, supervises a bunch of student workers, too.

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        2. SJ

          The smaller universities I both attended and worked at reserved on-campus jobs for work-study students first and only handed out actual paying jobs when all the work-study students had maintained positions. I hired a work-study student one year, loved her, but couldn’t hire her back the next year because she had lost work-study status. Just something for the OP to keep in mind.

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      2. OhNo

        Exactly. And most campuses nowadays have coffee shops or even restaurants, so if you have (or want) experience in those areas, you’ll have on-campus options as well as off-campus options. It’s definitely worth a look!

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      3. Pam

        Plus, on-campus jobs understand that your underlying purpose is to be a student and eventually graduate. They will usually limit the number of hours you may work- on my campus, it’s 20 hours/week in term-time/40 hours max in breaks, and won’t be the manager calling and asking you to skip class and work extra shifts. Also, at my campus, at least, student jobs pay above minimum wage.

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      4. Kore

        Yeah, I worked on campus in the University call center (asking for donations mostly, though we occasionally called for other stuff). The job was really flexible around class schedules, was flexible for going home over the summer or taking a semester off work (I studied abroad and didn’t need to re-interview coming back). It also was a really useful job for applying for work after college – the communication aspect of the job felt relevant to a lot of my post-college positions, moreso than the retail job I worked immediately post college.

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      5. Becky

        At university I had, at various times, 3 different custodial jobs, a night building check and lock up position, an assistant position at the library and a IT support position.

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    12. Anomnomnomymous

      Agreed. My best friend is an RA while she finishes her PhD, and she almost never gets winter or spring break off. Additionally, it’s worth pointing out that sometimes you DO have to reapply after the longer breaks – I had to reapply at my lab job after summer (though admittedly not after winter break.) I’d advise OP to check with their supervisor on both points.

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      1. Laura (Needs To Change Her Name)

        Expectations for grad students are really different than those for undergraduates, though, especially when your employer is the academic institution at which you are a student. I think most college/university jobs that hire undergraduate students expect the students may not be available during academic breaks and will usually address this explicitly (e.g., will specify at the outset if working breaks is expected or possible, working over breaks may actually require being hired specifically for this).

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        1. another person

          Yeah, as Ph.D student, I really think that what I’m doing is much more similar to a job than school in a lot of ways. (Although way more flexible, but that’s partially because of my advisor). A lot of the time people think it is just like undergrad but harder classes, but actually I haven’t taken classes since my first year and spend the rest of the time working in lab/teaching. I get similar amounts of time of as an employee (like a week at Christmas instead of that one glorious long break we got). I don’t even know when Spring break is unless I am teaching that quarter.

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          1. Astor

            Yup, I work on a campus, and graduate students get less holidays than I do. That is, we’re all off whenever the school itself is closed, but all staff positions start at 3 weeks of vacation per year while all graduate students receive 2 weeks of vacation per year. We don’t have spring break or summer breaks, although the school is closed between Christmas and New Years.

            In practice, the flexibility and expectations with their time that the graduate students have varies a lot between faculties, departments within the faculty, and supervisors within each department, in addition to other responsibilities research work, teaching, and assistant positions.

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    13. Princess Carolyn

      I grew up in a college town and found that it very much depends on the job itself. Some chain stores will transfer you to a location near your hometown over break. Some businesses will require you to commit to working over the break (especially if the holidays are a busy time for them). Businesses that rely heavily on student customers (certain bars, for example) will have lower staffing needs during breaks so leaving is probably fine. Some businesses will even close over breaks because their customer base is almost exclusively students.

      That said, it’s not all that common for upperclassmen to spend their entire winter and summer break back at home. In a town where it’s common/affordable to live off campus, most seniors and juniors will stick around to work through the breaks, and a lot of the higher-paying gigs will go to them. (It’s probably different at east coast schools or urban campuses like University of Washington; I’m talking about a 50,000-150,000-person town that’s at least 45 minutes from the nearest big city).

      Side note: It’s also nearly impossible for a high schooler to get a non-fast food job in these towns. Meh.

      Reply
    14. Allison

      You are right in that managers in some areas are more accommodating than managers in other areas. Even somewhere like Boston, which is a college town but also gets a lot of tourists and visitors over school breaks, some managers have so many students that they can’t give all of them time off for school breaks, or they may not have enough staff to handle holiday crowds; whereas other stores and restaurants may have enough non-students to make that work. It never hurts to ask though! The movie theater I worked at placed a huge limit on how much time off you could request over holiday periods, but I told the scheduler “I’m going home for break, I won’t be around to work” and I didn’t have to work a single holiday shift. It probably helped that I was a relatively good employee, didn’t have performance issues, and wasn’t constantly asking for weekends off, so he was willing to accommodate me. If I was a “problem kid,” he might have been less sympathetic. But I asked!

      Reply
    15. Pup Seal

      Op 5, look for a job in your college. Then it’ll be easier to get time off for breaks.

      When I was in college, my jobs always revolved around the university’s schedule. My first college job was working at a cafeteria at one of the dorms. They automatically gave us time off for breaks since they’re part of the university. During the summer they would be closed, and you just had to let them know if you were going to work there again the next school year.

      For my second college job I was a swimming instructor. Most of the teachers were college students, with a few high school students. My former boss also followed the university’s schedule and didn’t offer lessons during Thanksgiving break, winter break, and spring break. He was also very flexible with our classes and exams.

      Reply
    16. Pommette

      Agreed.
      I attended college in two towns. One was what you might call a college town: the college was the town’s largest employer, municipal transit schedules reflected school schedules, some neighbourhoods were visibly depopulated during summer, etc.
      In neither case was it common for employers to grant employees leave over school holidays. Since Christmas and thanksgiving are heavily-coveted times for a vacation, it was typical for longer-term (usually non-student) employees to be given (and to take) precedence when granting holidays at those times. This was particularly true in fields that involved customer service of some kind.
      As a student, you basically had two options: quit your job in December/April, or to stay in town and continue working. Employers were unlikely to rehire or recommend someone who quit in December. Summers were another story (since many students seek summer-only work/quit once the school year begins).

      Opportunities for holiday leave time was one of the many perks that make (some) on-campus jobs so desirable.

      Reply
    17. Heather Harrell

      If you can work through the holidays- do. If you can’t ( Say, you don’t have housing because the dorm shuts down during major holiday breaks.) then don’t. either way, make sure that these are conversations that you’re having with your managers year round. One thing that working and going to school will teach you to do is communicate re your needs and availability to your bosses. You may need to adjust your work around your class schedule for example.

      Reply
    18. Gurl

      I have a friend who got a job and then quit because they wouldn’t allow her to take the time off to go home over reading week. She’s kind of homesick and needed the breaks, so she decided it was best to just quit and look for another job.

      Reply
    19. Gurl

      I feel like the OP is mainly asking because it sounds like they go to school far from home and if they live in dorms that close over the holidays, they physically can’t stay unless they sleep in their car for those weeks or something.

      Reply
  3. BuildMeUp

    OP1 – I used to work in a secure office, and the receptionist would have a few unassigned access cards that you could check out if you forgot yours. The cards were numbered and logged when signed out, so they could be traced for security purposes, and the log would ensure that people weren’t abusing the system and forgetting their own cards all the time. Is that something that might work at your company?

    I’m also a little confused – if you forget your card, how are you getting into the building in the morning? Are you able to just walk in behind a co-worker who uses their pass?

    Reply
    1. Halpful

      That sounds sensible, but if the company isn’t interested in sensible… OP1, physically attach the card to your purse/pants/something so that you *can’t* forget it. Where I live the dollar store has nice little retractable-cord card-holder thingies, and they’re great for this. :)

      Reply
      1. Aunt Margie at Work

        This is what I do. It’s on my work bag. Our cards are cool, too because they are not “slide through” cards, they are “place against” cards. They work without taking them out of a wallet. Since we don’t have to wear them, just hold your wallet or purse against the reader and we’re good.

        Reply
        1. Michelle

          We also have those, too, and I keep mine clipped inside the outer pocket of my purse so I just swing my purse by the reader and viola!

          Reply
        2. OhNo

          If you have one of those touch cards, the possibilities are endless. I know people who have sewn access cards inside their gloves (just press your hand to the pad, and voila!), or sewn them to the inside of their wallet or purse.

          I had a friend in college who put her access card into the back pocket of her pants for the next day, every single night. She never forgot her card once in four years. Plus, it was really amusing to watch her when her hands were full – she did a little booty dance at the card reader to get it to scan, and it cracked us up every time.

          Reply
          1. Sarianna

            Hah, when I lived in DC I did that with my touch-access MetroCard. Popped it in the back pocket of my jeans, and when I took the Metro home with my arms full of grocery bags, just booty-tapped the reader to get through! It was great.

            Reply
          2. Anja

            I usually have mine clipped to my collar. I usually cut through a non-secure hallway to get my coffee and water. So when I come back if no one is around I end up spreading my arms (a beverage in each hand) out to the side like wings and chest-bump the reader. If someone is around I just look at them helplessly and they let me in. :D

            Reply
      2. caryatis

        Good suggestion. Always carry the same purse to work, and keep the card there. Check for the card before leaving home, just as you would check for keys. And whenever you use the card, put it back in the purse–don’t just throw it on your desk where it will be forgotten. I am in a similar situation and have forgotten the card zero times.

        Reply
        1. (another) b

          I keep my card holder in the inside pocket of my bag with my train pass and building ID. I just pull it out whenever I need it and always put it back immediately.

          Reply
      3. Michelle

        OP could also invest in a steel-wire retractable badge holder. I got one on the internet for about $9 and have had it about 5 years. I used to buy the ones from the dollar store but I was using them so much the cord shredded. All of our doors entrance, exit, inside doors, etc have electronic locks on them.

        Reply
        1. madge

          This is what I have. I clip it to my key ring so I never forget to put it on. If OP doesn’t drive or have house keys, she could clip it to whatever she *does* use every day (purse, wallet, lunchbag, etc.). When I accidentally still have it on in the evening (bedroom is upstairs, keys/front door are downstairs), I clip it to my toothbrush so I’ll put it on the next morning.

          Maybe it’s because I’ve worked in secure buildings for so long, but this is entirely on her. The company isn’t being unreasonable since there are so many ways to make sure she has the card. Many people do it every day.

          Reply
      4. MashaKasha

        I used to keep mine in my car for this exact reason (since OP mentions driving home and back to retrieve the card, thought it might work for her too).

        Reply
        1. AshleyH

          Yup. I’ve worked in an airport (TSA badge required) and at a company where we had to have a pass to get into our parking garage (it was a tourist area). It was just something you had to remember or face the consequences. Being able to work but not pee seems like a pretty reasonable consequence.

          Reply
            1. Gurl

              For those cases I’m sure accommodations can be made, but I imagine they’d have to be discussed ahead of time. Because what if you forgot your access card at your desk?

              Reply
        2. Mpls

          +1. Leave it in the car you drive to work. Take it off when you get in the car. This way you CAN’T leave it at home.

          Reply
          1. Danielle

            YUP! My badge lived in my car cup holder. In the cup holder as soon as I got in the car at the end of the day; last thing I picked up before I got out to walk to the building in the morning.

            Reply
          2. Engineering Manager

            This is what I do. Works great except when I drop the car off to get serviced and forget to get my badge out first. But our company has loaner badges to use if you forget yours that you just need to sign out and return when you remember your badge.

            Reply
          3. theangryguppy

            I’m pretty sure our office security people would frown mightily on the suggestion of leaving the access badge in our cars. One smashed window and now an unauthorized person has access to the secure areas of your building?

            Reply
            1. myswtghst

              Probably depends on where you park, where you leave your card, and if the card is obviously marked / branded. At my last job, the branding wasn’t too obvious, the card looked like an ID badge (terrible picture and all), and I parked in my attached garage at night, so I was comfortable putting it in a compartment that closed in my car each night.

              Now that I sometimes drive and sometimes take the train (depending on which office I’m in) and my card is much more obviously branded with a company logo, I keep it zipped up in my backpack with my work laptop and other necessities, so it’s pretty hard to forget it. :)

              Reply
            2. turquoisecow

              I think it depends on a) what sort of industry you’re working in and b) what sort of area you are living in. Is it government, where there are serious security issues, or is it just corporate secrets? I get that my company wanted to keep the building secure and not have non-employees walking around unescorted, but I don’t think any one would have smashed a window to get that information. And if someone did smash my window? There’s probably something far more valuable to steal than my access card.

              Reply
      5. Lemon Zinger

        I have a card holder on my phone. I simply take my phone with me every time I leave the office and just press it against the card reader to go back in. I don’t even have to take the card out!

        Reply
        1. myswtghst

          A lot of people at my current job do this, and it works really well if you’re the type of person who is never without their phone!

          Reply
        2. Venus Supreme

          This was the perfect solution for me when I kept forgetting my Oyster Card when I lived in London. A life-saver! I’d always remember to bring my phone, not so much my ID/money…

          Reply
      6. Emmie

        I always kept mine in my car cup holder or ash tray. It was my after work routine that signaled “I’m off!” If I ever forgot it, it was in my car!

        Reply
      7. Elizabeth West

        Yep. You can get those at Walmart. I had one that said, “I don’t know; I just work here.” LOL. The rest of the time I wore either a cute Cath Kidston lanyard or an Avengers one with my card clipped to it.

        Reply
      8. Meg

        If OP1 is a woman, leave your keycard in your purse or physically attach it to your purse. If OP1 is a man, put your key card in your wallet and just leave it there. This will decrease your chances of leaving the keycard at home.

        Reply
      9. Honeybee

        This is what I do. When I take it off at night after changing my clothes, I always put it in the same pocket in my work bag. I have a little ritual – drop work bag in the same place by the door, take off badge, put it in pocket. On my way out the door, I clip it onto my pants. On the rare day I wear a dress, I have a lanyard to attach it to.

        Reply
    2. Edith

      That’s exactly what confused me. I know they won’t let you borrow a coworker’s card, but if they’re okay with people walking in behind somebody else they might also be okay with you calling a coworker to come let you in.

      But, you know, only a couple of times a year. You still need to work out a system for not forgetting it at home. I’ve found keeping mine in a specific spot in my car works like a charm.

      Reply
        1. Purple People Eater

          My assumption was that OP does bring her card to get inside in the morning, but forgets it upstairs when she leaves to go to the bathroom and then is stuck.

          Reply
          1. Lablizard

            I had a period of doing that when we switched to a system where we needed to put our access cards in the computer to log in. I had to call security to verify my identity and escort me back to my desk to reverify with my access card. It only happened a few times because it made me feel like an idiot.

            Reply
          2. Myrin

            I thought so at first, too, but she actually talks about going to the bathroom and then follows up with I’ve been told that if I forget my access card at home. Might as well be that, like someone mused down thread, these are actually two separate issues and OP just kind of threw them in together in the letter to Alison but as it stands, she doesn’t actually talk about forgetting her card at her desk but specifically about leaving it at home.

            Reply
          3. That Would Be a Good Band Name

            But then she wouldn’t have to go home to get the card. Which I’m also confused about because if she has to go home, I’d assume she’d need things at her desk (purse/keys/etc).

            Reply
            1. OhNo

              That’s a really good point. If she forgot her card at home, how is she supposed to go get it if she put her keys/wallet/purse/coat at her desk? That might be a flaw in the plan worth mentioning to management, particularly if you combine it with a suggestion like BuildMeUp’s.

              Reply
          4. esra

            I’d just text/call my coworker in that case to bring it down. It might be worth connecting with a few people.

            Reply
      1. Blue

        In addition to the room with glass walls being what is the secured zone, two more immediate issues come to mind that might have led to the policy: People rather routinely counting on their coworkers behind the secured glass walled room seeing them and the disruption of someone getting up Every. Single. Time. to let them in. And there’s also an underlying current too of this being a secured area where sensitive work is done but an employee can’t keep the pass itself secured.

        Reply
        1. madge

          “People rather routinely counting on their coworkers behind the secured glass walled room seeing them and the disruption of someone getting up Every. Single. Time. to let them in.”

          Yes, I believe Alison had a post about this several years back. I can’t find it now but the OP was pretty frustrated with being interrupted by people who wouldn’t remember their badges.

          Reply
          1. One of the Sarahs

            Yes, there have been a couple like this over the years, and I’m always on the side of the interrupted staff, having worked in many pass-controlled offices over the years.

            Reply
      2. Helena

        Keeping it in the car is very convenient, but not all organizations allow it. We have to keep our cards on our person at all times, because someone could easily break into a car or locker and steal it. Also, the heat in a locked car can damage the magnetic bits or sensitive electronics in the card.

        Reply
        1. INFJ

          Yeah, even if the company doesn’t have that specific rule, there may be a general “keep badge in a secure place”, which does not include an unattended (even if locked) car.

          Reply
      3. Kyoki

        I’m also confused as to what happens when your card is in your purse or work bag at work? No one takes that to the bathroom, so they have to let you back in the work area regardless. Also, even if the card is forgotten at home, they have to let you back in the work area to get car keys etc to drive home. Or does someone grab your stuff and give it to you while you wait in the lobby?

        Reply
    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      I worked at a medium-security job with lots of confidential material, and we had two options if you forgot your card. Either you went home to get it (usually an hour RT for most employees), or you had to be escorted by an authorized coworker, the same way we’d escort a member of the public. So although I don’t think you should plan on relying on coworkers, I suspect this might be a solution in rare circumstances.

      But it’s definitely legal, and imo, a reasonable expectation/requirement.

      Reply
      1. Avid reader first time commenter

        Completely agree with your last comment. I work at an airline, in corporate HDQ. Wearing your ID on your person at all times is required by the Department of Transportation, and if they were to show up one day, fines could be incurred for any employee not complying. I must admit, this letter baffles me, but I AM trying to put myself in OP’s shoes and understand not everyone is used to this. :)

        Reply
    4. Chaordic One

      Maybe you could get some kind of lanyard thing and wear it around your neck. Or maybe some sort of little pin that you could pin it to whatever you were wearing.

      Reply
      1. PatPat

        Yep, a lanyard is what I use and I have a routine for putting it on so I don’t forget. When I get out my car keys to drive to work I put my lanyard on.

        Reply
        1. krysb

          This is me, too. I work in a secured facility with sensitive information. I keep my lanyard with my keys so I grab them both at the same time. OP’s company is probably similar to mine in that the security protocols are part of everyone’s job description. I have to use my keycard to get into the building after 3pm, to use the elevator after 5pm, and to get into the office itself. We can get temporary cards (but they hate it when we have to) that will give us access to the office doors, but not the building or the elevator. Our security is also audited by outside firms on a yearly basis and our clients are attracted to us because of our high levels of security.

          Reply
      2. blackcat

        I have a really fantastic clip ID holder, that lets me extend the ID away from my body. So I get to clip an ID to my belt loop, bottom of my shirt, or pocket, and I’m good to go. I find this easier than keeping my ID in a pocket. (My ID is also my keycard–I have no physical key for my office).

        Reply
        1. blackcat

          Oh, and I don’t have a suggestion for where to get that magical, extendable ID holder. It was swag at a conference…

          Reply
          1. Angela Acosta

            Search online for I.D. card holders with extender cords. Also leave your card in your purse/wallet.

            Reply
        2. Karo

          Amazon or Staples have them – my husband bought a bag of like 50 for $10 bucks so when they break he always has a replacement.

          Reply
          1. I Herd the Cats

            Yep, office supply stores. I have a variety of different types (breakaway lanyard, extendable-cord thingie, wrist bracelet, keyring) and you get to choose one when assigned a card, if you want one.

            Reply
      3. Karo

        This helps getting around the office during the day, but not first thing in the morning. My badge hooks on my belt loop; if I wear different pants and don’t think to put it on my purse the day before, there’s no way I’m remembering it the next morning. My best bet has been to remove it from my pants every evening and put it on my purse, or leave it in my car. Or to wear the same pants the whole week.

        Reply
        1. I Herd the Cats

          Yep, everyone needs a system. I kept forgetting my phone, which isn’t a crisis but it’s irritating. So every workday before I leave the house I have a four-item checklist I recite to myself (wallet, subway farecard, office keycard, phone.) It works 99% of the time.

          Reply
          1. krysb

            I do this. I recite everything I need before leaving the house for work, then before leaving work for home. When I take off my keycard, I keep it with my keys.

            Reply
            1. anonderella

              “I lost my keys.”
              “What do I keep telling you? Phone, keys, wallet – PKW! PKW, Illana.”
              -Broad City

              Reply
              1. TootsNYC

                In the one-woman play “Shirley Valentine,” the character is going to run off to Greece with a friend and pauses in the monologue every now and then to pat her pockets and say, “Passport, tickets, money.”

                There’s a “tickets money passport” scene in AbFab, and I’ve seen that phrase pop up as a toss-off phrase in some British newspapers.

                Invent your own!

                (When we set the table as kids, my mom made us start audibly reciting, “bread and butter, salt and pepper, napkins.” I still do it, even though I don’t put anything but napkins on the table anymore.)

                Reply
              2. Julie B.

                In our house the acronym is KTM, which is the manufacturer as husbands dirt bike, so it makes it even easier for him to remember: Keys, Telephone, Money.

                Reply
          2. Thumper

            Back in art school I had a friend who had a bad habit of forgetting her dorm keys, so she painted a cute little sign saying “Do you have your keys?” and hung it on the doorknob.

            Reply
            1. Julie B.

              Ha! I’ve done this as well! Although I had to tape it to the door right at eye level so I saw it on the way out.

              Reply
          3. not really a lurker anymore

            I’ve left my key card on my desk enough that I do this on the way out the door – “keycard, phone, tablet and keys” out loud.

            My key card is on a lanyard, with my work door key attached too. When I leave, it goes into a specific spot in my purse. I usually wear it all day but lately it’s been coming off when I eat lunch so the check has saved me a couple of times.

            Reply
            1. SpaceySteph

              We have to use our badges to log into our workstations. My husband forgot his in the card reader enough times that he wrote a little VB script to show a pop-up every time he logged out of his workstation that said “remove card!”
              I laugh that he’s smart enough to write a script but not smart enough to remember his badge.

              Another coworker has a sign on the wall across from his desk that says “Joe! Badge!” Gets him every time.

              Reply
        2. The Cosmic Avenger

          Yes, the system needs to become a habit, as in you always take off your badge at about the same time and place, and do the same thing with it. (Doesn’t have to be exact, but still, if you normally put it in your briefcase before you leave the office and one day you forget, I *have* to avoid the instinct to stuff it in a pocket, and instead make myself put it in the [theoretical] briefcase.)

          The times when I vary from my normal routine and, say to continue the analogy, know I won’t be taking my briefcase with me the next day for some reason, I hang it on the inside doorknob of the front door, so I literally can’t miss it when I leave the next morning, at which point I hang it around my neck. I think I’ve also placed it on top of my wallet or keys on my nightstand, so that when I pick those things up in the morning I have to pick the badge up, too.

          Reply
          1. TootsNYC

            And if you balk at the rigidity of such a routine, tell yourself, “this is MY rule, not someone else’s. I’ve created this rule, I could change it if I wanted to, but it’s MY rule, for ME, and it’s OK to follow it.”

            Oh, and: “It’s going to make my life easier later today.”

            I also recommend the creation of “launch pad”–somewhere near the door that you -always- check before you leave.

            Reply
          2. SJ

            I do the hanging-on-doorknob thing with my lunchbox. I hang it on my doorknob with all the non-refrigerated stuff in it the night before, so when I see it in the morning I remember to grab the refrigerated stuff out of the fridge and pack it and take it all with me.

            Reply
        3. LBK

          Same. I am chronic forgetter of items – unless it’s being attached to a body piercing, having it on a lanyard or belt clip isn’t helping me remember to pick it up off my dresser before I leave in the morning.

          Reply
    5. Workaholic

      My office has a secure entrance like this. After leaving my card at home too often i found a purse with a zippered outer pocket exactly the size for my key and nothing else. But i don’t always remember my purse so i now have a small zipper pouch on my key ring. It’s large enough for my key card and my drivers license totally eliminating most risk. Though my company has numbered blank keys people can sign out for at the front desk if they forgot their key card.

      Reply
      1. Batshua

        This is basically what I do. I don’t *have* to wear my lanyard at work, because I need my card to use secure stuff on my computer, but I keep the card IN the lanyard when not in use so I don’t lose it, and I keep the lanyard IN a zippered pocked in my work purse when I’m going to and from work. My work purse is also my primary bag, so the chance of not taking it to work is extremely low.

        Reply
    6. Susan

      I’m also a little confused – if you forget your card, how are you getting into the building in the morning? Are you able to just walk in behind a co-worker who uses their pass?

      I was wondering about that, too… If there is a way to get into the building in the morning without an access card, the smart thing to do would be to leave the access card at your desk instead of taking it home, but that would be a really weird security policy.

      Reply
      1. in a secure building

        I know it sounds unreasonable but…
        an employee forgetting their key card might seem like not a big deal but in a secure environment, not having one impedes ones own and others productivity as well as being a security issue. It IS a secure environment for a reason.
        We did have a sign out one and when I accidentally took it home, I got a call to come in the next day at 6:00 am to bring it in on my day off, an hour and half, each way. Lesson learned. Never forgot mine again.

        Reply
      2. Chocolate lover

        Doesn’t seem that strange to me. The building itself is open, for example so guests and visitors can enter, but you need a security card or someone to buzz you in to the restricted areas. Especially if it’s a building with multiple companies in it.

        Reply
        1. Alton

          But how would the OP get into the secure area to begin with if they don’t have their ID? It sounds like the problem is that they work in the secure area and can’t get back in if they leave, so the question is what system is in place that allows employees to enter that area at the start of their workday without ID, but doesn’t allow them to get back in if they leave the area temporarily.

          Reply
          1. Natalie

            Maybe the main entrance area and the bathroom area are separated? So there’s some kind of buzz-in system or security guard at the main entrance, but when you need to use the restroom you go to a different section of the building without that? That’s the only thing that makes sense.

            Reply
            1. MegaMoose, Esq

              This makes sense to me. When I worked at our state appellate court, there was a receptionist to buzz you into the secure area in the morning, then you used a badge to get in and out of the courtrooms and storage areas and so forth. You had to display it at all times – the receptionist would call you on it if she didn’t see it in the morning – but you could also check out a loaner if you left yours at home. That would seem like the reasonable solution here.

              Reply
              1. Natalie

                Although to Mike C’s point down thread, if that’s the case then making you go back home for your card does seem to be more about punishment than security, as they could easily give you a temporary card when they vet you at the main entrance.

                Reply
          2. Honeybee

            In my workplace, if you forget your access card you can tell the receptionist in the public area your employee ID. They will give you a temporary badge on a sticker (it doesn’t work to buzz you in and out – it just identifies you as an employee) and buzz you into the main building. However, our buildings have lots of back doors and secured areas – if I’m running some tests for the day, for example, I might have to swipe in and out of extra-security areas a dozen times or more, and the receptionist can’t buzz me into those areas.

            Reply
    7. Clewgarnet

      At my office, if you forget your access card, your manager has to come and sign you in, and is then allowed to swipe you through the (many!) secure doors. However, only your manager is allowed to swipe you through, which means timing your lunch/toilet/coffee breaks to coincide! (As with OP, our toilets are on the other side of a secure door.)

      I just keep my access card in my car’s glovebox.

      Reply
      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

        Same here. Mine has its own special pocket in my purse — if it’s not on my person, it’s in that pocket. I only had to go through the drama of forgetting it once before I build a system! Waaaaaaay too much drama.

        Reply
    8. SomeoneLikeAnon

      I agree with the others about finding a new way to remember your card. I’ve worked in a secure facility for 10+ years and have only forgotten my card maybe three or four times. Lanyards work, keeping it in your car (like someone else suggested), there are also keychain card pouches, so you could keep it on your keys.

      Reply
      1. VioletEMT

        My friend who works in the secure portion of our building uses the lanyard/car combo: at the end of the day, she takes the lanyard off and puts it in her car’s center console compartment a small he’s putting her seat belt on when she gets in the car to drive home. In the morning, she puts it in as she’s getting out of the car. The thing never goes in her house, so she never has to worry about forgetting it there.

        Reply
    9. Liane

      I worked at a job where your options if you forgot your badge were
      1-Go home and get it, taking the 1/2 occurrence for being <4 hours late
      2-Going in the reception entrance and paying $15 on the spot for a replacement badge
      These were low-pay positions mostly, too.

      Reply
      1. cercis

        At my one job that had that requirement, many of my coworkers opted to pay the $15 and then left that card at their desk at all times. In my case, the ID was also our bus pass and I commuted via the bus, so I never got all the way into work without it. There was one time, though, that it fell off while I was rushing between buildings and I didn’t notice it. In that case, I paid for the extra badge (and bus pass) and just reminded myself to be more careful. Then someone found the badge and turned it in a week later, so I had two.

        In situations like the OP’s, you end up with people lying about having lost their badge so they can have a spare. I don’t know that that’s more secure than making arrangements for people to be escorted (okay, I DO know that’s less secure than arranging escorts for rare occasions).

        Reply
        1. Natalie

          I think your system was kind of unusual, actually – in most systems a lost or stolen card will be deactivated, so you can’t have two. Or you can, I suppose, but one of them won’t work.

          Reply
    10. I Herd the Cats

      I find this conversation thread fascinating; the things you learn about other people’s workplaces on AAM! Our office suite door (like many) is locked for general security purposes, with the restrooms down the hall outside the suite, and they require the keycard to access as well. I’m the person who assigns keycards and loaner cards. I cannot express how irritating it is to replace cards for the same, small number of folks who can’t seem to hold onto theirs. I always want to ask them, do you lose your credit card and driver’s license this often? The cards are not cheap, either. Fun fact: many of the men who work here keep the cards in their wallets (back pocket.) The readers are at hip-height so they all have these individual dances where they sidle up to the reader and stick their behinds out. If you don’t know what they’re doing it’s hilarious. Other popular place for card: those adhesive pocket things for the back of your mobile phone (you don’t have to take the card out of those, either, just hold your phone to the reader.)

      Reply
      1. I Herd the Cats

        Oh, and: I keep mine on a lanyard since I often don’t have pockets, but it’s not the end of the world if I forget it; someone else will buzz me in and I’ll grab the loaner for the day. In your situation I’d try to think of something you HAVE to take with you, based on your commute, and attach it there. It sounds like you drive; put it on the keyring. Public transportation? Attach it to your farecard.

        Reply
      2. Myrin

        That is fantastic. I am now imagine the guys at your work doing this little butt wiggle thing some insects (bees?) do and it’s hilarious.

        Reply
        1. I Herd the Cats

          Also we have a creeper-cam (my name for it) aimed at the front door, and I have the video monitor at my desk at the back of the office so I can buzz people in if I recognize them, because we don’t have a receptionist in our suite. So I get to watch the dance on silent video which makes it even funnier.

          Reply
        2. Phyllis B

          Yep. When I worked for the phone company the men who worked in that building did the same thing. Our office was downtown and a lot of traffic passed. We would see curious looks from passers-by when the guys were doing their little entry dance. We said they were showing their good side.

          Reply
        3. Michelle

          Our card readers are higher up and I love to watch the guys that keep them in their front pock “chest bump” the card readers. Even better is when the chest bump doesn’t work they sort of “rub” their shirt across the reader.

          Reply
      3. Wanna-Alp

        But credit cards and drivers’ licenses get used in different ways from access cards, so you’d expect different usage patterns. If a credit card needed to be used as swipe access, you wouldn’t keep it buried inside a wallet inside a handbag, you’d keep it more accessible for swiping, like in a jacket pocket. And that accessibility leads to it being more easily forgettable (oops, wore the wrong jacket today).

        Also, for some people it is a lot harder to keep something 100% perfectly, if the penalty of failure is small (your disdain). Literally, if an object can potentially give rise to more stress, then there are more stimulant chemicals going around the brain that help to prevent the object getting forgotten.

        I’m not defending the forgetters: they need to take responsibility, and try hard to avoid inconveniencing other people by their mistakes. But I am pushing back against the idea that the ability to hang onto one particular card implies that someone must have the same ability to hang onto a different particular card.

        I’d recommend either accepting that having everyone be 100% perfect just ain’t gonna happen, and practising being calm when people inevitably screw up, or pushing your powers-that-be to up the penalty when they do screw up, to reduce the number of such incidences. But the first option is nicer.

        Reply
        1. I Herd the Cats

          Well alrighty. First off, I was referring to people who *lose* their keycards repeatedly. I’m not talking about forgetting them at home; these folks show up at my desk probably once a month having lost their card, and then I have to drop everything and go through the rigmarole of logging onto the security system, deactivating their lost card, activating another, blah blah. The security system keeps the cards in there as history, so you can see who’s been through, say, 15 cards in the last year. And regarding the credit/drivers license, that was just speculation on my part; I didn’t ask and I don’t know. I do know that one of the major card-losers also loses her Metro farecard regularly, as well as leaving random things on the train. The Metro card thing also impacts me because we offer that as a benefit, and for senior staff I get the pleasure of dealing with Metro’s system to deactivate and reactivate, get the balance transferred, and get all that recorded with accounting. And yeah, all that is a part of my job, and I’m nice about it. But that doesn’t mean it’s not an inconvenient time and money suck for the company.

          Reply
          1. miki

            You need to change the way to get replacement card: charge them money! I have a friend who loses actual keys (and one is $25 replacement fee) from work and her own house keys and that was the only thing it worked: being charged (a lot of money) to get a replacement key(s).

            Reply
          2. Michelle

            We charge for lost badges. First time is $10 and then it goes up $5 for each time thereafter. People amazingly stop losing them when it costs them. Of course we also have the badges you can sign out for the day.

            Reply
        2. MsCHX

          Daily badge needer. I don’t understand how badges are routinely forgotten. That is what it sounds like with OP, like it’s a regular thing. I do liken it to your DL or CC. You take your wallet with you everyday, no? Keep it with in wallet! You take your car keys/lunch bag/purse or tote or other bag…

          Reply
          1. squishycat

            I need a keycard to access the floor my laboratory is on (I’m a graduate student). I also have ADD, which is reasonably well-controlled but does mean I am more prone to forgetting/misplacing things. Most often what happens is that I place my keycard in a pocket during the day, so I don’t have to haul my wallet around when I move around the building/campus, and then forget it in that pocket and wear different pants the next day. I also do sometimes forget my wallet, having placed it in a different bag over the weekend. (Usually I will notice if I don’t have my wallet, because I take the bus and that’s where my pass is, but if my husband drops me off in the morning, I wouldn’t notice until I was on campus, and then I have neither keycard or bus pass, or money.) I don’t forget it regularly but I forget it more often than most.

            Reply
        3. Whats In A Name

          Yes, but if you are using your access code daily you’d think someone would come up with a system for that as well. I think that is what I Herd Cats is saying…not that he expects everyone to be perfect 100% of the time.

          We have to not only use our access card but have it visible on our person at all time (not in pocket). I actually use my swipe card way more often than my CC or my drivers license. If we forget it we can pay $10 for a new one or go home and get ours. Or be escorted to our desk and never leave our office. There are no temp cards floating around because they end up getting “lost” as well.

          Reply
      4. Bartlet for President

        Oh man, I remember that dance when I had an office like that. Many of us had those extendable badge holders, but there were always a few dudes that kept them in their wallets. One manager would butt-bump the keypad holder. He would turn around and just bang his butt against the keypad reader. We couldn’t have clients back in our offices, so only internal people could see him do it, luckily.

        Reply
      5. LBK

        Ha, my boss does that and it always cracks me up, especially since he’s on the shorter side so he has to go up on his toes and then do the wiggle.

        Reply
      6. clarie

        I have a “wallet” style case for my phone (a hard shell case with a little pocket on the back that fits about 3 cards) and I keep my access card in there. I just have to hold the phone up to the reader to get in, so I hardly ever take my card out of the phone case, and I almost always have my phone with me to listen to podcasts on my commute, so it’s very hard to forget. This has worked much better for me than having it in my wallet – I always used to take the card out and then leave it in one of my pockets and forget about it.

        Before getting the phone case, I did actually lose my card completely, and had to pay to get it replaced. When I came back to my office from getting the new card, I had an email from a very kind person who had found my lost card at a train station….if only I had checked my email that morning!

        Reply
      7. Dankar

        *Raises hand* I’ve lost three debit cards in just under two years. It’s a real issue…

        I think I misplace those more regularly because I’m constantly using them. I’ve never lost office keys or my staff ID because I’m not pulling those out four or five times a day like I would with my debit cards.

        Reply
      8. Trig

        I clip my badge to my pants pocket at the hip. I do the hip-wiggle dance when my hands are full (usually with my lunch, water bottle, and cup of tea). I’m sure it’d be fairly comedic if anyone saw!

        (For the record, my office is quite reasonable about forgotten cards: if you forgot it at your desk, the receptionist will just let you in. If you forgot it at home, she cheerfully assigns a temporary loaner badge to you and temporarily deactivates your original badge. I thankfully don’t know the policy for a lost badge; never happened to me!)

        Reply
        1. Whats In A Name

          I clip mine to my shoulder and I do the lean and touch. It basically looks like I am rubbing my boobs on the touchpad and gets some laughs – but it works!

          Reply
          1. Chinook

            When I wear a dress with no pockets and tall boots, I just clip it to the top of my boots and do a knee lift to the card reader. It is a move that always gets a comment from someone if it is seen.

            Reply
      9. Turtle Candle

        My workplace has a system where if you forget your card, you can get a loaner card the first two times. The third time, you have to either go home and get the card or pay a fee (I think on the order of $15?) to have a replacement made. (The ‘strikes’ eventually expire, so in effect, you can forget your card about two times a year without penalty; it’s just if you forget more often than that the consequences start to hit. Also, if you lose a card outright and report it right away, a replacement is free, to encourage people to report missing or stolen cards quickly–although I think if you lose the card repeatedly you start getting the fee.) Loaner cards can work for some limited period of time (I want to say 2-3 days?) before they deactivate themselves, because otherwise people would get a loaner card and then just keep using that rather than finding their own card or getting a replacement.

        Originally there was no restriction on loaner cards and replacement cards were free, but that ended up wasting a lot of time and resources, and some small group of people forgot so often–and then would forget to return the loaner card, and etc.–that it was sucking up a lot of admin time and also we kept running out of loaners and the same admin would have to send an email basically begging people to please return the damn things. It seems to work pretty well: there’s no penalty for normal human forgetfulness, but there’s enough of a penalty to shrink that small group of people who just keep losing/forgetting/etc. their cards over and over.

        Reply
      10. Becky

        At OldJob the key card reader was about hip height for me so I would just clip my card to my belt or something and do a hip bump to unlock the doors. At CurrentJob the key card readers are a little higher so I can’t do the hip bump but I have a clip with a retractable reel with my card on it.

        Reply
    11. Surrogate Tongue Pop

      Agree that it is a secure environment for a reason. And if that is the case at your work, tailgating is probably a big no-no. I’d ask to sign in as a visitor, get a sticker and you’ll have to be escorted in and out of secure areas that day (but only a couple times a year, not as a well-used contingency plan). As a matter of habit, I put my badge in my laptop bag, that way, if I forget it, I’m screwed all kinds of ways (can’t get in, can’t work anyway). I recommend doing the same…keeping it in your car console, or wallet, or daily use bag of some sort.

      Reply
    12. Bad Candidate

      This is how it works in my office. If you forget your card you have to go to security and sign out a temporary one. I can’t even get into the parking garage without one. Then I have to badge in to the building and then badge in to the work area. We can also use them to pay for food at the cafeteria, so forgetting it is a real PITA. I just keep mine in my car. I’m more likely to forget it at my desk and then walk out of the secured area for the bathroom or to get food than I am to leave it at home. Knock on wood.

      Reply
      1. Electric Hedgehog

        OP might not forget her card at her desk if she had to swipe in and out of her secure area, so maybe that’s a way forward on the in office thing…

        As for leaving it at home: I’ve got an access badge, and I always make sure that it finds its way into my purse so I don’t forget it. My dad, who is every bit as forgetful as me, has a sign up over the deadbolt on his front door that says BADGE??? and h generally doesn’t forget his with that extra visual reminder. Other good options are in the glove compartment of your car (if you don’t use public transport), in your laptop bag, and hanging off your front door knob on a lanyard.

        Reply
    13. TG

      Where I work, you can get into the building on a temporary pass if you forget your ID card, but you won’t be able to access your computer at all without it. I got into the habit of keeping my work ID card in an ID badge holder along with my bus pass. Drivers could store theirs where they keep their car keys. If your company allows it, your co-workers can let you in the door, but it’s a pain to keep making co-workers get up to let you in because you are always forgetting your card. It’s your responsibility to bring it with you.

      Reply
    14. Ann Furthermore

      My last company was very strict about this too. There was even a rule that you had to remove your badge for team pictures and stuff like that, so no one could use the photo to fabricate a phony badge. I always left my badge in the console of my car, and took it off before getting out when I got home. That way it was always in my car, and if I did forget to grab it, I only had to walk to my car to get it instead of go all the way home.

      Most of the time stuff like this seems excessive and annoying, but it’s there for a reason. If you work for a government defense contractor, or a credit card company, you’re working with highly sensitive information that hackers would love to get their hands on, and will go to great lengths to obtain. They keep coming up with more and more evilly ingenious ways to get it, so companies have to respond in kind to protect their data.

      Reply
      1. Alice

        Not to you in particular, Ann, but to everyone who leaves badges in cars – isn’t that a security risk itself? Someone could break in and get a keycard and the real holder wouldn’t even notice until the next morning, or Monday.

        Reply
        1. Natalie

          Eh, I’m sure it’s plausible but that doesn’t mean it’s likely. “Leave it in your car” doesn’t mean leave it in plain sight on the dashboard, it could be tucked away any number of places that your average car-burglar isn’t going to stumble across. And many badges are just blank white plastic pieces, with no way to determine which building they work on.

          Reply
          1. Ann Furthermore

            Yeah, that’s pretty much what I thought. Yes, it’s a risk, but given that most of the time my car is parked either at the office or in the garage at home, I could live with it. And like Natalie said, I didn’t leave it in plain sight. Now, the fact that I myself never had access to any restricted areas in my building contributed to that decision too. If I worked somewhere like that, then I probably wouldn’t leave my badge in my car. They also wanted everyone to take precautions with their laptops too, and never leave them in your car. I never leave mine in the car overnight, but I will leave it, out of plain sight, in the car if I have to make a stop on the way home. I’ll put it on the floor in the back seat. The windows are slightly tinted, so you don’t see it unless you’re really looking for it. Again, it was a risk I could live with. I didn’t have anything sensitive on my hard drive, so even if someone stole it, they’d have to figure out my laptop login/password, my network login/password, and my ERP login/password.

            Reply
          2. TootsNYC

            In our area the “average car burgler” doesn’t consider it at all difficult to rummage through things that aren’t in plain sight.

            we took to just leaving the ashtry and the console and the glove compartment open (we actually unscrewed the glove-compartment lightbulb so it couldn’t use up the battery if the car was parked for a couple of days)

            Reply
            1. Natalie

              Of course, I’m not saying a car burglar won’t rummage. Just that there are places you could keep an access card that a car burglar wouldn’t come across in their rummaging. Unless you live in a video game where useful items glow, it’s perfectly possible to make your access card hard to stumble across in your car.

              Reply
        2. Arjay

          Yeah, I work in a secured area, but it’s not very interesting to burglars or hackers. My company name is on the badge, but we have offices in various locations all at least 40 minutes away from where I live. I feel pretty comfortable leaving my badge in my car, out of sight.

          Reply
        3. Elizabeth West

          This was a concern at our company, so when they re-designed the badges, they took the company name off them. Unless you worked there or knew someone who did, you couldn’t tell where it was from if you just found a random badge lying around.

          Reply
      2. Noah

        I keep mine in my car too. It goes in the center console so it is not readily visible. Also, even if they get the card, we have to enter a PIN (something you have plus something you know).

        I work for an airline, and we have two (or more) badges. One company badge that allows us access to company buildings and one or more airport badges for each airport we might need to work in. If we forget the company badge, and work at corporate HQ, we can sign out a loaner badge. The airport badges you either have to drive home for or pay to replace and hope the badging office is open.

        Reply
    15. Hlyssande

      Yeah, I was going to chime in with this. My company has temporary access cards for visitors and people who forget theirs. They’re eye-searingly bright and state ‘ESCORT REQUIRED’ so while they do let you through the necessary doors, you’re also going to get hella teased about having one when you actually work there.

      To keep myself from forgetting my card (which I used to do constantly), I make sure to always put it in the exact same pocket of my purse when I leave.

      Reply
      1. Fishsticks

        In our case, the badges to get into the building are the same badges required to log into our computers, so the more likely scenario is leaving the badge at work in the computer when you leave. Our unofficial policy has become that if you have to call a coworker to bring your badge out to you, you owe the office a box of donuts the next morning.

        Reply
      2. rubyrose

        I worked somewhere once with very strict access, with the glaring temporary access cards as you describe.
        A co-worker was celebrating his ten year anniversary and left his regular badge at home (not normal for him). They took the picture of him, several owners, and his manager with that badge in plain site in the picture.

        Reply
      3. Natalie

        Since it seems like the LW’s policy is partially as a deterrent, I like this “Badge of Shame” concept better. It hopefully would provide the same level of discouragement without causing such a huge loss of work time.

        Reply
    16. Beancounter Eric

      Lanyard around your neck….I worked for a company which had very tight security – leave your card at your desk when you took a restroom break, and you could generally get a co-worker to let you back in, but you might get some good-natured abuse. Having your access cards on a lanyard helped prevent that problem.

      Reply
    17. ThatGirl

      I was wondering how they got in in the morning too — my last job was badge-access, and if we forgot our badge we had to go to office services and get a temporary one before we could even get to our floor.

      Reply
      1. MegaMoose, Esq

        Both of the places I worked with badges had a manned secure entrance that you didn’t technically “need” the badge to get through – although in one case they were very strict about not letting you in without a visible badge.

        Reply
      2. Elizabeth West

        Same at Exjob. If you forgot your badge, you had to get a temporary one from the front desk. You had to sign it in and sign it out when you got yours. This was a thing even if you left it on your desk when you went to lunch. One day I ended up giving TWO badges to somebody who forgot it twice!

        We had a hell of a time enforcing the no-piggyback rule, because the damn elevator opened right onto the lobby and people would always hold it while their badgeless coworker would hop on. We couldn’t really stop them. People don’t listen.

        Reply
    18. another person

      My card is attached to my keys at all times. I can’t leave the house without it because I won’t be able to lock the front door without it (and I’ve finally managed to get into that habit).

      (And actually I hang it around my neck on a lanyard most of the time, because I have locked myself out of the room too many times at 4 in the morning, and had to sit in the hallway–couldn’t go home because my keys to the apartment were on my desk–until the cleaning staff got there at 7. I do jingle a little when I walk, though.)

      Reply
    19. Lady Blerd

      I was wondering if the office didn’t have any unassigned security cards. If I forget mine, not only can’t I get to our elevators, I can’t even get on the site itself via our gate, I have to go around to the security guard but once in, I will have a temporary card for the day in exchange of an ID card. We even have a card for our food cantine operator so that he can step outside for a smoke. So LW1, if it is possible, you should make that suggestion to your employer.

      And like many others, I leave my security card in my bag when it’s not on me. If I don’t do that, it’s almost certain that I will forget it wherever I put it down.

      Reply
    20. Sadsack

      I have carried my card in from the car in my pocket or purse and forgotten to clip it to my pocket, so when I stepped away from my desk, I didn’t have it in me. This is probably how OP ends up at the bathroom without her card. OP, you have to make it part of your routine to keep the card in your car and clip it to yourself at your desk before doing anything else. Also, keep it clipped on until you reach your car after work, then take it off and put it in the car before doing anything else. This is how I overcame not having my card at work, by making it part if my routine.

      Reply
    21. Cath in Canada

      Yep, we have two or three “guest passes of shame” at reception that you can use for a toonie if you forget your own. You have to sign them out and back in, so there’s a record of who has which cards at which time.

      I keep my door access card on a clip; others in my office use a lanyard. That way it’s always with you. At home, I keep the card in either my bike jacket or my helmet, so it’s there the next morning. I’ve forgotten it a couple of times on days when I don’t ride in, but for the most part, checking that I have my card has just become part of my usual routine, along with the usual wallet-phone-keys “systems check”.

      Reply
  4. Elizabeth H.

    Re. letter #4, it just seems vanishingly unlikely it is a “peculiar habit.” That would be so incredibly weird, it has to be something about the floors, or more of a perception issue. You will probably just get used to it over time.
    I’m kind of a heavy walker despite being a smallish person but it’s really not the kind of thing you can pick up as a habit. I can’t even think of how it would happen. You just are or you’re not.

    Reply
    1. BuildMeUp

      I’m guessing it has something to do with the difference between most men’s and women’s shoes; maybe the women’s shoes sound louder because of the material they’re made of. I’ve definitely known heels to click more loudly than a lot of other shoes, but I don’t know about stomping.

      Reply
      1. Arduino

        I was going to post the same. My clogs are loud. In part the material but also the mild heel/incline causes me to have to walk a bit differently then say tennis shoes or flats.

        Reply
      2. really

        If women are in high heels there would be more force applied to the floor then with a flat sole. That with the type of material and sub-flooring can make the women’s footsteps louder.

        Reply
        1. LBK

          Yeah, smaller surface area = less distribution of weight, hence more proclivity towards stomping-esque steps and sounds.

          Reply
          1. the gold digger

            My ninth-grade physical science teacher used this as an example to teach us about – something. Hmm.

            Anyhow, he did the math for a 120-lb woman wearing spike heels and yeah, that is a lot of force!

            Reply
        2. AMG

          That’s me and my heels. Depending on the floor and the subfloor underneath, you may not be able to hear me, or I may sound like a Clydesdale. Since out building is old, the same floor makes 12 different types of noises even though it’s all the same carpet and looks the same throughout.

          Reply
      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        Agreed. Often women’s boots, pumps, and wedge heels are doled with different materials and/or hit the ground differently because they alter your gait. At my office, my wedges are super loud, but my flats/boots are fine.

        It’s almost certainly a materials issue, though, so I wouldn’t ask my female coworkers to “stop stomping.” It wouldn’t be reasonable to ask them all to wear different shoes, and telling them they stomp probably won’t go over well. If it’s appropriate at OP’s workplace, I’d recommend headphones.

        Reply
        1. JustaTech

          My mom used to work in a big old university building with super high ceilings and marble floors. The one time I wore shoes with a heel there (not snow boots or sneakers) I felt like the entire percussion section of the symphony. I seriously considered taking my shoes off in the middle of the hallway just to not be so conspicuous.

          Since the LW says’s it just women who are loud I’m going to guess the office isn’t carpeted and it’s just an issue of the shape and material of the shoes.
          Now there’s a marketing opportunity: silent heels!

          Reply
      4. heatherskib

        this- women’s shoes tend to have less padding for flats, and are not as tightly tethered to the foot as mens shoes.

        Reply
    2. HannahS

      Yeah. It’s got to be the floors or their shoes or something in a new combination that you’ll just have to get used to.

      Similar story:
      When I switched from high school to university I felt like I was distracted by the noise when women walked by me. I realized it was because in university, many women were wearing heeled shoes and boots, as opposed to just the teachers in high school. I was “trained” to immediately look up when I heard that click-click-click noise to see who it was and what they wanted me for. After a while? I got used to it and now I don’t notice it.

      Reply
      1. HannahS

        Also!
        To consider:
        If a coworker told me I should walk more quietly, I’d indeed be very unhappy with them. Not because they’d implied I was fat, but because they’d implied that I should change the way I walk–you know, my main method of locomotion, which I’ve been using for 24 years. Doubly compounded if the coworker was new (no one’s had a problem before), and triply if it was a man (new guy has weird opinions about my body and feels entitled to make requests).

        Reply
        1. Mookie

          Exactly. Once somebody complains about this out loud, even if they’re not singling out anyone in particular, some people are going to become distractingly self-conscious even if they’re not the offenders. It’s just too presumptuous. There are other options the LW can do to help themselves and that’s the probably the better strategy.

          Reply
        2. Nic

          I had a roommate who made this request of me once; either to walk more quietly or get different shoes.. This was after she had mentioned several times that her abusive ex told her to chew more quietly and change what she ate so it never crunched around him.

          She never seemed to pick up on the irony.

          Reply
          1. Important Moi

            Let me add:

            I’ve had people tell me, they didn’t like to sit next to me because my computer (the keys when I type) make noise. I need to type for work.

            I don’t travel with certain people because they can only sleep in complete darkness and silence (i.e. I get up to go the restroom overnight, I’m disturbing them.)

            Really I’m not a “noisy” person.

            Reply
          2. Rat Racer

            This happens to me on every conference call when I forget to mute my phone. Someone says “Could the person who is typing LOUDLY please for the love of all that’s holy mute your phone!!” I blame my loud typing of the 15 years of piano lessons. I type fortissimo.

            Reply
            1. GigglyPuff

              That’s actually really interesting, cause my dad totally pounds the keyboard. I don’t know how he does it, uses proper keyboard typing style (not hunt and peck), but seriously just slams the keys. But now I wonder if it has to do with him being a musician and playing the piano his entire life.

              Reply
              1. Rat Racer

                Well, my husband is also a former pianist, and he doesn’t type nearly as loudly as I do (or says he doesn’t – I haven’t paid close attention) so it may just be that I am loud. But the piano is a convenient excuse.

                Reply
              2. calonkat

                People who learned to type on mechanical typewriters must make an effort to retrain themselves to type more gently. My mother broke multiple computer keyboards before achieving this :)

                Remember those old keyboards with the little springs? She broke so many of those, I got expert at pulling them out of the keys she didn’t use (such as the tilde) to replace the ones she broke just to extend the life of the keyboards.

                Reply
                1. the gold digger

                  We have an extra keyboard (dead because coffee) that we keep for parts because Shirley, Cat #2, likes to sit on the keyboard. Her sharp nails (which she keeps long for when she plays the piano) dislodge the tops of the keys. I never did find the “4.”

                2. LBK

                  @the gold digger – This whole comment had me in stitches. Shirley sounds like quite the virtuoso.

              3. LCL

                It stems from learning how to type on a manual typewriter, in my case. I was up to 40 wpm without errors, back in the day. One has to hit the keys with a quick snap, not a soft press like modern keyboards, and proper hand position is with the wrists and fingers arched not flattened. Learning how to use a touch screen was really frustrating for me.

                Reply
              4. silence

                Anyone who learned on a mechanical typewriter tends to hi the keys with more force then people who first learned to type on electric keyboards.

                Reply
              5. Chinook

                Speaking as a loud typer, I suspect that your dad is like me and may have had to use manual typewriter in the past. For some reason, I never got over the habit of using force when typing after that. I have heard that you can get little rings to stick under your keys to dampen the sound but I go through a keyboard every two years (it would be sooner but I touch type and don’t mind the letters disappearing from the keys) and that would be too much work to take apart and reassemble an entire keyboard.

                Then again, maybe I am just someone without a light tough. At times I have been told I walk too heavy and even I have noticed myself accidentally slamming a cupboard door when I am in a rush. There is an art to keeping your weight to yourself and I have yet to master it 100% of the tine

                Reply
            2. endbafflegab

              Another former long-time piano student chiming in. I’m now a writer by profession, and Hubs says he can immediately gauge what I’m feeling by the forcefulness of my typing. The piano theory makes sense. For years, I practiced how to convey emotion using my fingers/hands/arms on a piano keyboard; though a computer keyboard is different, the motion and outcome are similar – my fingers strike keys to tell stories. Interesting.

              Reply
              1. SimonTheGreyWarden

                My husband was/is a hobby musician and a computer gamer. Sometimes, I can hear him get started typing something and I look over and ask, “is somebody wrong on the Internet?” I can tell how passionate (or irked) he is about something by how hard he strikes the keys.

                Reply
          3. Cath in Canada

            I once had to ask a roommate to put her very loud high-heeled shoes on right before leaving the house, rather than putting them on while she was getting ready and then running around (literally – she was a big stress monkey, always in a mad frantic rush) directly above my bedroom on her hardwood floor at 7 am. It sounded like I was underneath the stage at a Riverdance show. She didn’t believe it was that loud, so I had her sit in my room while I put her shoes on and ran around her bedroom. Problem solved :)

            Reply
        3. blackcat

          Eh, this can be a reasonable request in some context. I used to live below four women. I never heard 3 of the 4. But the 4th (the smallest of them all!) thudded around in loud heals constantly late at night, waking me up. I spoke to the landlord repeatedly. It was easier to address because it was obviously something she was doing, rather than a problem with the apartment. When my landlord renewed their lease, he specified no wearing shoes indoors between 11pm and 6am in their new lease.

          (As a side note, I am glad I have never lived above someone while I have owned my cat. I have a 2 story house right now, and my cat has the loudest run imaginable. I am happy to have not inflicted that on anyone.)

          Sometimes, it *is* fair to ask someone to walk more quietly or to wear different shoes. I don’t think it’s totally reasonable in an office, unless you need quiet and the culprit is clearly a pair of shoes, rather than how a person walks.

          Reply
          1. Zoe Karvounopsina

            We used to have a cat also known as “Thunderpaws.” Occasionally, my mother would mistake the noise of her coming downstairs for me or my sister.

            Reply
            1. Bartlet for President

              I’d oddly jealous of this Thunderpaws! My dog is like a ninja that moves noiselessly, and has scared the beeejeebees out of me more than once by just…appearing.

              Reply
              1. Dankar

                Same. I normally make my pup wear her jingly collar indoors so I don’t shut her in a room or wind up being so startled by ninja-dog that I scream.

                Reply
                1. SimonTheGreyWarden

                  The cat I had for a long time, we called him the Thundering Wildebeast because of his run (it didn’t help that he was like 18lbs, but he had no sneak). My two current cats who are not much smaller than that wear collars with bells because even in our creaky old house, they can suddenly appear behind you and startle you — they make almost no noise when they move.

              1. JustaTech

                I used to have neighbor with a pair of whippets (miniature greyhounds) and those dogs sounded like a herd of elephants going up and down the stairs. I was very grateful the only wall we shared with them was the stairwell.

                Reply
            2. Agnodike

              I have a stompy cat too! She scares the daylights out of me sometimes when I’m working from home because it sounds like there’s a full-grown adult human tromping down the stairs.

              Reply
              1. Your Weird Uncle

                We have two five-month old kittens….this weekend we were in the basement and were seriously (slightly) concerned because they sounded suspiciously like someone got into our house without our knowledge! How do cats *do* this?!?

                Reply
                1. Anna

                  I think it’s the same “talent” that allows them to be a nine pound animal that feels like a 20 pound weight when standing on you. We call it focusing their chi.

            3. MegaMoose, Esq

              Our largish cats (12 and 15 lbs) combined with old, creaky floors means they sound like a herd of elephants, especially when they’re doing that bat-out-of-hell dash cats do. I have also mistaken the bigger one for my husband.

              Reply
          2. Parenthetically

            The class above mine in our building is full of very slight little elementary kids, but their feet are SO LOUD it is actually comical. We joke that it’s hippos doing ballet like in Fantasia.

            Reply
          3. Anonygoose

            The girl who lived below me in university used to complain about me to my landlord when I walked in slippered feet at 10:00 PM at night… and when I would watch TV shows at night on the lowest volume on my laptop…. and when we would wash our dishes in the kitchen at night because she could “hear the water move through the pipes”. At one point, I messaged her to tell her that earplugs might be a good solution to her problem.

            Reply
          4. HannahS

            Well yeah, that’s different because you’re acknowledging that the combination of the shoes and their floor and the fact that they’re walking on your ceiling was the cause. Noisy upstairs neighbours is such a common situation. That’s totally different from saying, “The women tread too heavily when they walk by my office”

            Reply
          5. Mrs. Fenris

            My 200 pound teenage son, strangely, moves from place to place like a cat. I barely hear him coming at all. I don’t know how he does it. Except that he finds this hilarious and he sometimes sneaks up on me on purpose. It’s going to kill me one day.

            Reply
        4. Imaginary Number

          I second (third/fourth?) this. It would just come across as incredibly aggressive, even as a suggestion. I understand how something like this could actually be very distracting, but it’s going to be seen as ridiculously nitpick no matter how you phrase it.

          Reply
      2. Al Lo

        I had a friend who, in her senior year of high school, used to love wearing dress shoes and startling the younger students when she walked up behind them because they only ever expected it to be teachers.

        Reply
        1. Chaordic One

          I used to do that, too. (Actually I still do, although not on purpose.) It’s surprising to me how people never seem to hear me coming. I almost always wear low-heeled shoes, usually sensible, but dressy, pumps.

          Reply
    3. kb

      I’m guessing it’s a perfect storm of noisy floors and loud shoes. Heels can alter the wearer’s stride in a way that makes walking louder. I’ve also noticed that a lot of women’s flat shoes have thin, hard soles while most men’s dress shoes have a thicker, softer sole (rubber or lined with rubber).
      If you ask around and find that other coworkers are disgruntled by the noise, you could recommend Sound Booties, Foot Foam, or Hush Heels. Those are used by sound mixers and people who work on movie sets to keep their walk quiet. If your colleagues aren’t as bothered by the noise as you are, it may seem a bit nutty to recommend, though. You could also hope the building is remodeled soon so then you could advocate for carpeting.

      Reply
      1. Newby

        Advocating for carpeting is really the only thing that wouldn’t offend people. Asking women to walk quieter or buy new shoes would not be reasonable, especially since the majority of dress shoes for women are loud on certain types of floors. I don’t think telling women that they need to alter their shoes or wear booties on them to muffle the sound is a good idea. I specifically buy my shoes based on how well the sole can grip the floor because I have a tendency to slip. Adding foam to the bottom of my shoes would make me very uncomfortable. They also don’t look like they last that long, so you would basically be asking people to re-muffle their shoes every day.

        Reply
        1. kb

          Right, you couldn’t recommend they buy new shoes, that would come across terribly. And I was saying this situation doesnt seem like one where someone could alter their walking style to be quieter– the floor-shoe combo is just inherently loud. And by recommending the shoe foam/ booties, I meant trying to work it in to a casual conversation as a suggestion if the women themselves say they’re bothered by the noise. I know I hate making noise when I walk and hate loud floors. Approaching it by saying, “Everyone buy these now!” would go terribly, you’re right, but a casual mention may not be terrible. I actually got the foot foam for a particular pair of shoes after a friend recommended them to me when I said I was frustrated by how loud they were. (The foam has actually worked pretty well for about a year. It did lose professional-grade silence shortly, but that’s not necessary for life.) I guess I was thinking of the rec in the context of being a woman with loud shoes offering my fellow loud-shoed coworkers a suggestion if they also dislike the noise. If the OP is a man and doesn’t also use the foot foam, it probably wouldn’t go over very well.

          Reply
        2. MegaMoose, Esq

          I strongly agree – if everyone in the office is irritated by the sound the solution needs to be carpeting or acoustic paneling or something. I’ve become something of a shoe-horse by necessity as a quirk with my gait absolutely destroys the soles of my right shoes. The only way to make my shoes last is by rotating between several pairs, so I’ve gradually build a collection of work shoes that I’m rather proud of. I would not be happy to be asked to replace a dozen pairs of shoes, and I know women who have far larger collections than that.

          Reply
          1. kb

            I want to clarify that I wasn’t saying women in the office should buy new shoes, I was just providing an explanation to the OP for why it seems like all the women are stomping and not the men. I really hate making noise when I walk (just a quirk of my own, I’m actually pretty deaf to noticing other people’s sounds), so I was just giving observations I’ve made about what kind of shoes are susceptible to noise because I’m picky when I shop. The best solution is carpeting, but I could see the employer not caring enough to undergo the time and expense of renovation.

            Reply
            1. MegaMoose, Esq

              I was being a super slow poster and didn’t see your 11:25 before clicking post. I definitely get your clarification. I’m not a fan of making noise either, and I’m a super aggressive walker so it’s a real risk. I’ve got a couple of pairs of shoes that might benefit from one of your suggestions.

              Reply
          2. Perse's Mom

            And some of us have a hell of a time finding nice shoes that fit, so replacing even a small collection might not really be possible, particularly if there’s a requirement for a certain material.

            Reply
    4. Not Australian

      Yes, I was thinking it might be useful to bring it up as an acoustic issue … especially if people at the other end of a phone line are noticing it. It needn’t be an expensive fix, either; there are acoustic baffle panels that can be hung on the wall like a picture, and these absorb distracting/echoey sounds. (Take a look around in a cafe sometime; they often have them on walls or ceilings.) It may be worth bringing this up to management as an efficiency issue, i.e. “The noise from [location] is sometimes so loud I can’t concentrate on what I’m doing.” If you can present a potential solution at the same time as you present the problem, you’re more likely to be listened to sympathetically.

      Reply
    5. Mookie

      Also, some ground floors just don’t cooperate with me, largely those without a slab foundation or insulation. I end up looking conspicuous in these situations, like I’m a newborn calf with knock knees and unsteady joints, but I’m probably not the only one.

      That the LW is new to this environment might mean they just need to and probably gradually will become deaf to these particular sounds.

      Reply
    6. MK

      If it was one person, yes, it might have been a case of them having a heavy walk, but all the women in a workplace? It’s almost certainly the floors.

      Also, OP, your request is not only inappropriate, it’s impossible to comply with. I have a forceful walk and have been advised repeatedly by orthopedic doctors I need to change that because the combination with high heels is bad for my knees and back. I simply can’t do it,not for more thana day at a time. It’s like being asked to change your way of breathing.

      Reply
      1. blackcat

        +1 to it being the floors in this case.

        And, FWIW, I also find changing the way I move difficult, though not impossible. As a result of extensive dance training as a young child, by default, I point my toes and bounce on the balls of my feet when I run. It’s really hard for me not to, and life got so exciting when “barefoot” style running shoes came into fashion. It is nearly impossible for me to run in shoes that don’t give me the full range of motion in my foot.

        Oddly, I found it easier to change the way I breathe in response to developing asthma relatively late than to change the way I run.

        Reply
        1. Falling Diphthong

          Can I ask how you changed your breathing? (I also have a dance background, and the exact same issue with full-range-of-motion shoes.)

          Reply
      2. Sparrow

        I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when I was in college, and I side effect was that I started walking heavily on my heels and rolling through the outside edge of my foot to avoid putting weight on the ball of my foot, where the joint problems were worst. Walking like that quickly ruins every pair of shoes but I can’t train myself into switching back, even though the arthritis has been asymptomatic for a while.

        Reply
    7. jordanjay29

      It’s probably the floors, sure. But I’m kind of with LW that this thing can be extremely distracting. It’s not always something you can ‘get used to’ or block out. Sometimes it’s just that loud or piercing.

      I worked in an office once with wooden floors. It was an old building, so there was no getting away from that. One woman wore heels every day, which wouldn’t have been a problem except that she got up from her desk at least 4 or 5 times an hour to visit the cabinet that was 20 feet away. During which time she crossed the space where my desk was, and I couldn’t help but get distracted by the clacking of her shoes. I couldn’t say anything because the office was shared by two different companies, and she worked for the other one.

      Honestly, I hope people reading this will consider how they walk or what they wear in an office. We can’t always determine what the floors are like, but there can be other solutions for shoes or minding how you walk (I get not everyone can change their shoes or their gait, but if you can, err towards the side of quiet, cushioned shoes and a light walk).

      Or better yet, put the file cabinet by your desk so you don’t have to stomp across the whole office.

      Reply
      1. Observer

        Most people don’t ge to choose where the file cabinet is. As for changing the way you walk, you apparently didn’t read what all of the other posters mentioned – it’s just hugely impractical for most people.

        Changing the way you dress is POSSIBLY a bit more practical. But, considering the expectations that many women STILL face about how they are “supposed” to look, complaining about the way their high heels sound is just not reasonable. It’s highly likely that if this woman had NOT worn heels, her boss would have dinged her for her “unprofessional appearance” – or not said anything and just thought less of her.

        Reply
        1. jordanjay29

          I get that people still have backwards ideas about what professional dress is, but with the trend towards open offices and increased auditory noise, my productivity is going to suffer dramatically if I’m ever in a scenario again like the one I described. Any employer worth their salt should be considering that if I bring it to their attention, it’s not about me having issues with the way people dress, it’s about me having a way to get my work done without constant interruptions.

          If ‘flats only’ is part of the dress code for everyone, it’s no more a commentary on how women dress as ‘no jeans’ would be.

          Reply
          1. Observer

            Sure, if flats make a difference and the boss enacts a broad “flats with soft soles only” rule for everyone, then that should be ok. Unless the boss STILL look down at the women who “dress down”. And, that happens.

            The point is not that you don’t have a genuine problem. But, pointing at what individuals do is definitely not fair most of the time. (So, don’t blame people for the placement of their furniture or the dress code expected of them, for instance.) And even apparent systemic change is not necessarily so simple. In your case, for instance, a boss would have to be willing to enact the dress code rule AND be willing to REALLY not penalize women for abiding by it.

            Reply
    8. I Herd the Cats

      Question for others: what if your shoes are squeaky? My office suite is carpeted and fairly quiet. I have one pair of new shoes I stopped wearing halfway through the day because they squeak! So I can’t return them. (I keep other shoes in my office drawer.) Nobody said anything, I was just self-conscious. My job requires a lot of time spent roaming the halls and I didn’t want to be annoying. Any advice?

      Reply
      1. Parenthetically

        Apparently cornstarch sprinkled into the location of the squeak (usually where the sole meets the upper, underneath the lining of the show) will provide a little slip to stop the noise. I saw a recommendation for WD-40 but that seems a bit risky — might dissolve synthetics?

        Reply
      2. GigglyPuff

        I actually bought a pair of workout shoes that had the same problem, creaked when the toe part bent. I did a little research and apparently like someone else suggested, cornstarch or baby powder underneath the insert where the primary noise is coming from is supposed to stop it. For me I just was lazy and never got around to it and it eventually stopped, for a while anyway.

        Reply
    9. Elephant

      Oh my gosh we juse had a new person start in my office. We’re a small group of employees (6) in a HUGE, mostly empty building (our regular office space is being remodeled) and she STOMPS. I don’t know what it is- she wears ballet flats, which is what I wear, and I don’t make even a quarter of the noise. It’s kind of nice because I can hear her coming but at the same time I’m like “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” It’s so weird because she’s the same petite build as me, we work with some heavy set people, taller people, etc and she makes significantly more noise than anyone else.

      Reply
      1. AndersonDarling

        I also had a stomping co-worker. She would also slam the doors in the bathroom, slam the stall door so hard that all the other doors would open. But it was a good combination because if you were in the bathroom and heard stomping, it signaled that you should secure your door!

        Reply
    10. Anomanom

      So, I admit to being one of these people as well. Its a combination of the floors, boots in the winter time (flat though), a long stride, and the fact I walk heel – toe. The military ingrained in me a way of walking that I cannot seem to stop. I basically stopped wearing heels because of it.

      Reply
    11. a big fish in a very small pond

      +1

      I also noticed that OP4’s letter was quite judgmental about the coworkers, which can only lead to problems.

      Reply
    12. Morning Glory

      Also agreeing it’s the floors. I walk around in heels silently for most of the office, but for some reason the flooring in the bathroom makes it sounds like I’m wearing tap shoes, it is so loud.

      If you do bring it up in the hopes of getting carpeting, or a less-trafficked workspace etc. I recommend not bringing up the gender distinction – just say that people walking by are making enough noise that it’s disrupting your calls.

      Reply
    13. AndersonDarling

      It’s possible that the issue will go away when spring time arrives. The boots will be replaced by lighter shoes.

      Reply
    14. Ashie

      A lot of people are blaming floor/shoe combination, which is possible, but personally I’m a heavy walker when I’m on a mission. My husband gets up later than me and he can always tell whether I’m going into the office on a particular morning by whether I’m striding purposefully with heels down or just shuffling around. It’s just how I operate. I don’t mind hearing complaints about it from my husband, but from some random coworker?? No way, I would be tempted to double down just for the sheer f-you of it.

      Reply
      1. Newby

        Most people are thinking floor/shoe combination because he said it is all the women and none of the men. That makes it more likely the differences in shoe types is at fault. Some people do walk loudly, but it seems unlikely that a large number of his coworkers do. If it were one or two of the women or some of the men and some of the women, I would think it is the way that they walk.

        Reply
    15. Quinalla

      I agree that is is likely the floors combined with shoes women are more likely to wear (clacky heels). Part of the floor in our office is this really cool wood old school floor and anytime I wear heels on it (not often as I often have to climb ladders and whatnot at jobsites without much notice) or the men wear a dress shoe with a harder heel, you can hear us coming a mile away on the floor. No one is stomping on it, the floor is just REALLY LOUD when someone is wearing a clacky shoe and it has nothing to do with the weight of the person. Try dropping something on the floor (like a stapler or a fork) and see if it sounds unreasonably loud.

      Reply
    16. TootsNYC

      I have seen people sort of “rev one another up” in terms of stomping.

      These were guys, and I think it was a bit of a territorial thing (a visitor to our house walked very heavily, and suddenly I realized my husband was stomping a bit too), but I’d think it could work the same way. Is there any sense of competition in this workplace?

      Walking w/ heavy sounds means you “register”–you establish your existence to everyone around you. So if there’s any competitive feeling behind the scenes, then other people will start to walk more heavily in order to establish THEIR presence.

      I think our OP could say, after a bit, “Did you realize how heavily you walk? That’s the sort of thing people get immune to noticing. It’s actually kind of loud.”

      Reply
      1. MegaMoose, Esq

        Somewhat related, one’s posture can effect how loud their footsteps are, too. I used to walk kind of hunched with short strides and a lot of shuffling. When I started focusing on how my posture was influencing my confidence (and people’s perceptions of me), I definitely started making more noise.

        Reply
    17. Elizabeth West

      I had this problem. My cube was near the end of the row, and I guess the floor was hollow there–we were on the third floor, and it probably had cables and stuff for the floor below. Every time certain people would walk by my cube, my monitor would shake. There wasn’t really anything I could do about it.

      Reply
      1. Cath in Canada

        One of our favourite brunch places has this one really bouncy spot in their floor. I’ve actually had to ask to be moved from the table right next to it because I was starting to feel sea-sick!

        Reply
    18. Us, Too

      I suspect it’s the footwear that women wear vs. men.

      In our apartment if I’m wearing tennis shoes, ballet flats, or I am barefoot, my walk is close to silent. If I put on any type of “fancy” shoes – like a pair of heels or a boot with any heel at all, I’m suddenly a super loud walker. Even if I literally tiptoe, my footsteps are still audible in those types of footwear.

      I suspect LW has a similar situation going on.

      Reply
    19. Cath in Canada

      The main level of the building I used to work in had a tiled floor, and anything with even a 2 cm heel sounded super loud in that area. I once wore my loudest boots (which hardly made any noise anywhere else) with some new cords, and realised I was making a very loud “SWOOSH-CLICK” noise with every step. People were turning around to look at me. I thought “man, I have a hard enough time coordinating my clothes visually – now I have to worry about acoustics too?!’

      Reply
    20. Turtle Candle

      Yes, floors can make a surprising amount of difference. I walk fairly heavily (it has to do with my lower legs/ankles/feet having an unusual conformation–it’s hard to describe in words–which means that I am much more likely than someone with ‘normal’ feet to heel strike very hard), and mostly it isn’t that obvious, but one year in college I was in a dorm where something about the acoustics of the floors really emphasized my step volume. I did make a special effort to tiptoe if I was, say, going to the restroom at 4am or something, but the rest of the time there really wasn’t much to be done about it.

      Reply
    21. Arlene

      I wonder if it’s some new trend, because over the past month I’ve noticed my female coworkers have started walking incredibly heavily. STOMP STOMP STOMP is what I hear now whenever they go to and fro when they did not do it before.

      I hope it’s not a new ‘power tip’ kind of thing because I agree it’s very annoying.

      Reply
  5. Chris B

    Re #1 – it’s called “being responsible and remembering to take your badge with you”. Put it on a lanyard around your neck or something so you don’t forget it. The purpose of a secure area is to restrict access to those who have clearance, and requiring that you have your credentials on you in order to re-enter the area is hardly asking too much.

    Reply
    1. Arduino

      Oh come on. Forgetting your badge when you are new and overwhmed with learning a new office culture and role is not a sign of an irresponsible adult.

      Reply
      1. Chris B

        There’s nothing in the article about it being a “new employee”.

        “I don’t forget my card often, but when I do, I cannot use the restrooms for fear of not being able to get back into my cubicle.”

        Based on this, it sounds like this is an employee who has been there for a while, and has encountered this on more than one occasion. Rather than asking “Is this legal?” as though the employee thinks the company should change its rules, the question should be “What can I do to make sure I don’t forget my badge again?”

        Reply
        1. Mike C.

          The company should change its policies, because the current policy is absolutely nuts for the reasons I state below.

          Reply
          1. Not the office dementor

            But they have sensitive info and need to know who’s been in and accessed it, as well as keeping it safe.

            Reply
            1. Mike C.

              The policy I’m suggesting a change is from a policy where people drive home to a policy where security verifies your identity and assigns you a temp badge for the day. You’re still keeping track of who goes where and who sees what, but you avoid the massive stupidity of having to go home.

              The current policy assumes you can make it home (what if you take a commuter train into work?) and it fails if you brought your card but it’s worn out, the chip/rfid stops working and so on. Because you need a way to deal with the latter folks, and because any secure solution to deal with the broken cards folks will also solve the occasional forgetful card problem, and the costs to productivity, there’s really rational basis for simply making people drive back home.

              Reply
              1. Not the office dementor

                OP didn’t say this happens if your card stops working. Only if you forget it. All of this seems to me to just be a motivation to not forget it in the first place!

                Reply
                1. Mike C.

                  The non-working card is a situation that requires a solution, and any solution that replaces a non-working card also takes care of a forgotten card. I go into more detail about the issue of deterrance in another response below, but at some point either a company needs to treat their employees like adults when they make a small mistake or fire them.

                  I don’t believe this sort of policy actually motivates any sort of improved workplace compliance, it has a significant productivity cost and it likely lowers morale. I don’t think this is worth those costs when there are plenty of industry standard practices to address these issues.

                2. Oryx

                  But the difference between a non-working card and a forgotten card is that with the non-working card you at least *have the card.* So, yes, there is a solution in place for that because, as you pointed out, it could be worn out, the chip stops working, etc. But at least you are in possession of your card and while you need a temporary one, it’s through no fault of your own.

                  A forgotten card is something else entirely.

                3. Observer

                  Sure, any solution that takes care of the non-working card takes care of the forgotten card – but generally at a real cost. Why should the company bear that cost? It’s one thing if your card stops working – that’s on the company. It’s another thing if you forgot your card.

                  If, as it seems from the letter (although I admit that this is speculation), this is a not uncommon occurrence across the board, then I can see why the company would push back against this.

              2. Susan

                I work in a secure area, and there is absolutely no borrowing someone else’s access card or asking someone else to let you in. That would not only be a fireable offense for both people, but it would be considered a huge security breach that could result in the company being fined. We are all expected to remember our access cards, since we can’t even get into the facility without them. People do occasionally forget, and, yeah, they have to drive all the way home (and it actually seems to be a pretty good deterrent, because once you have to waste an hour or two going back for your access card, you’re lot more careful to remember it in the future) . There is such a thing as a visitor pass, but if you have a visitor pass, you must be accompanied by a badged employee at all times, and this is not really practical for the whole day.

                If one’s access card stops working or gets lost, it is possible for security to issue a new one, but it’s not easy. There is paperwork that needs to be completed, and somebody from security has to drop his or her regular work to process the paperwork and make a new access card (our access cards have our photos on them and are individually programmed for the specific areas we need to access). This isn’t so bad for them to do on the very rare occasion that an access card is damaged or lost, but it would be pretty disruptive if they had to do this multiple times per day because people would rather get a temporary access card than drive back home.

                Reply
                1. Colette

                  It’s actually pretty common to have loaner badges, though. At a previous workplace, your access information would be transferred to the badge of shame, and your current card deactivated. When you returned the loaner card at the end of the day, your access info would be transferred back.

                  It comes down to whether the employer prioritizes work or punishment.

                2. Observer

                  In many systems that kind of transfer is a non-trivial task. Definitely doable, but fiddly and sometimes time consuming. Needing to have someone who has that level of access regularly spend the time and effort to handle forgotten badges could be a productivity hit all on its own.

              3. Duck Duck Møøse

                You can get a temp badge where I work, but many, many people prefer to drive home to get their actual badges, rather than walk around all day with the Badge ‘O Shame ;)

                Reply
                1. Electric Hedgehog

                  You can get a temp badge at my work, but if you do it more than three times in a certain timeframe, it counts a security infraction and may result in firing.

                2. MegaMoose, Esq

                  There was so much stink-eye associated with having to ask for a temp badge at my old job that it was very unusual for it to happen more than once. Minnesotans can be BRUTAL with the silent judgement.

              4. shep

                Yes, this. My office has key card access, with restrooms outside. If I forget my card (which has only happened probably twice in the past few years), security in the main lobby checks me in and gives me a temporary employee badge (which isn’t an access card, but designates me as someone who’s allowed to have access to the office suites), and our receptionist can buzz me in once I’m on our floor/need to go in and out. It’s still a hassle, but a MUCH smaller one than OP’s office has created.

                Reply
              5. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

                This is exactly what my organization, with the same bathrooms-outside-the-secure-zone setup as the OP’s, does.

                Reply
              6. Sadsack

                Yeah, my company will issue a visitor badge if I forget mine. It isn’t a big deal, but it is an inconvenience that has made me much better about remembering my badge as part of my morning routine.

                Reply
            2. Liane

              But just how secure is the security if the OP can forget her badge at home, get to her desk upon arrival without issue, and it is only a problem if she leaves her desk later in the workday?
              If she is walking in behind another employee to get to work, permitted or not, or everyone uses a separate entrance in the morning that doesn’t require a badge, those are big security holes that need to be addressed. Or if those things aren’t considered as risky as not having a badge in the middle of the shift, then this policy is out of proportion.

              Reply
                1. Us, Too

                  I suspect tailgating/shoulder surfing which would get me fired at my job. Or, worse, security “lets her in” and then she’s stranded.

        2. KR

          I don’t think it’s really helpful to reprimand the OP for not asking the right question. I’ve forgotten my work laptop at home multiple times and had to go home on my own time and get it. People forget stuff and there’s a lot of good advice here for OP which is what they came here for.

          Reply
        3. Lablizard

          To me it sounds like the security system is new, not the employee. I sympathize because when we went from a system where you needed to badge in and out to one where you needed to badge in and out and needed your security card to log onto your computer, I had a period of forgetting my card in the computer when I went to the bathroom and getting locked in the hall. New habits take some time to form.

          LW1, I keep my badge on my house keyring and have a retractable clip so I can keep it attached to me when it is in the computer. It works for the most part, barring the times I occasionally try to go to the bathroom or a meeting with my computer attached to me. Luckily it is easy to notice.

          Reply
      2. Engineer Girl

        Actually no. A secure area is a secure area. If you forget too many times you’ll be written up. That’s how these things go. I always put my access cards on my lanyard which I wore around my neck. After work they went into a special pocket of my tote. If you forgot it you had to get an authorized manager to sign you in for the day.

        I think a lot of people don’t understand what it means to work in a secure area. It is absolutely necessary to have records of who is accessing the doors. That means no borrowing badges. Screw up too many times and you WILL be fired.

        Reply
        1. Mike C.

          I work and have access to secure areas and simply insisting that people be more responsible under pain of being written up isn’t an effective way to deal with the issue that at some point people with forget, lose or have a non-working card. Work still has to get done and making someone drive home isn’t going to accomplish that. It’s bad business.

          I mean yes if it becomes a habit then deal with as a management issue but the complete lack of a process to deal with an occasional problem is really silly. I’m all for proper processes and procedures but at some point you have to get to work.

          Reply
          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            I agree with Engineer Girl. The policy isn’t unreasonable, and it seems to work fine for others. People are grown ups, and it’s reasonable to expect that they exercise a baseline level of personal responsibility.

            These are standard protocols when you’re working with sensitive information or in a secure facility. I can count on one hand the number of times I or my coworkers at SecureOldJob forgot our IDs during a three-year period—it’s similar to remembering to carry your wallet. If OP’s having trouble, then I think it’s more effective for OP to consider strategies/methods for not forgetting their pass than to force the employer to adopt a less secure protocol simply to accommodate someone’s forgetfulness.

            Reply
            1. Mike C.

              Sure, and that’s about the rate I would expect. But given that it’s going to happen to even the most responsible of us from time to time (or maybe the card fails!) it seems like a really high cost to productivity to not have a process for occasional use.

              Maybe it’s not appropriate in the most secure of places, but those places tend to have a working bathroom within the secured area to begin with. I think that may be a more fundamental root cause.

              Reply
              1. hbc

                Maybe the cost to productivity for the backup plan is higher than the cost of a person not being quite so effective because they’re trying to find a bathroom buddy for the day. Plus, the productivity doesn’t take an overall hit if you send the person back on their own time.

                Not saying I’m in favor of going draconian, but the business case isn’t so clear that it’s a win to accommodate the forgetful.

                Reply
              2. Colette

                Yeah, the one time I forgot my badge at my last job was when my car died unexpectedly on the way to work. I forgot to grab it out of the car.

                If they’d sent me to the garage to get it, I probably wouldn’t have come back to work until the car was fixed.

                Reply
              3. Purest Green

                I once worked in a classified facility with government clearance for each employee. During normal operational hours, you could badge into the building and into specific areas. But if you needed in the building outside normal operational hours or if you forgot your badge or it otherwise malfunctioned, you had to use the secure phone outside one of the entrances to confirm your identity. But they still let you in. And they certainly had restrooms both inside and outside the secure areas.

                Reply
                1. rubyrose

                  One place I was at, they took a palm print on your first day. If you needed in or out outside of normal hours, you had to have been previously authorized for those hours and at the door you put your palm on a special reader to get in.

              4. Trig

                Yeah, I think the problem here isn’t ‘policy’, the problem is ‘features implemented in the security system’.

                I somewhat agree with MikeC; if the technology is there to support easily transferring access privileges to a loaner badge and temporarily deactivating the original badge, then it’s silly that the company wouldn’t take advantage of that. But from reading this thread, it sounds like some companies just don’t have that capability in their security system , whether it be because of outdated systems, or intentional extra security measures (actual physical paperwork though?!).

                (At my work it takes the receptionist about 10 seconds to do the transfer, then a few minute wait while it promulgates through the system. Easy as pie.)

                Reply
          2. littleandsmall

            “I mean yes if it becomes a habit then deal with as a management issue but the complete lack of a process to deal with an occasional problem is really silly. I’m all for proper processes and procedures but at some point you have to get to work.”

            Agreed with this. Years ago I worked for a couple of federal agencies, one that was especially secure (processing payments so armed guards, metal detectors, x-ray machines to check your bags when coming and going, etc.) and I know for a fact that I forgot or lost my access card at least once at both jobs and there was a system in place at both for checking out a temp badge for the day.

            Reply
          3. MK

            To begin with, no one said the policy applies to losing your card or when it stops working.

            Secondly, what is an effective way to deal with the fact that people forget their cards is to enforce consequences when it happens, like having to go back and get it or lose work time. While having a system that allows the workers to bypass the rule on occasion guarantees that they will see it as no big deal and will be more likely to forget it.

            Thirdly, you suggest that the company must create a way to bypass the set security system, and then another way to monitor who is using the bypass and how often, and then deal with a person who has already formed the habit of forgetting the card. Instead of simply expecting their employees to remember to bring their cards. Why?

            Reply
            1. Mike C.

              If someone keeps forgetting their card, it’s a management issue and should be treated as such. Making them drive home “as punishment” is patronizing in the face of the costs to the business.

              Look, we’re all adults here – if I occasionally forget my card then my employer should treat it as the simple mistake that it is rather than some middle school “teachable moment” with arbitrary consequences.

              Reply
              1. Lablizard

                Is being sent home to get an essential work item really an arbitrary punishment, though? It seems pretty reasonable to me. You need $thing to work and you forget $thing. You go home to get $thing and kick yourself in the ass for forgetting. A badge is no different than a work phone, work laptop, or any other essential piece of business equipment

                Reply
                1. LBK

                  It’s different because it’s extremely easy to provide someone a temporary backup ID. There’s no reason not to do it other than being punitive.

                2. Lablizard

                  @LBK I disagree but perhaps that is because going home to get your ID at the places I have worked is far less onerous than having to get recleared by security to get access?

                3. LBK

                  Only if your security system isn’t set up to do. At my office it takes roughly 15 seconds – everyone’s picture is on file with security so you just give them your name, they look you up and verify that you look like your photo, you sign out a badge and you’re done. Don’t have to waste hours of anyone’s time.

                4. TootsNYC

                  “There’s no reason not to do it other than being punitive.”

                  But is it really so horrible to punish someone for creating unnecessary extra work for someone?

                  And maybe it’s less “punishment” and more “consequences.”

                  It’s your responsibility to bring your badge.
                  You think it’s easy to provide someone a temporary backup, but someone has to stop and create that (someone upstream is the person who does it at their company, and it’s really disruptive).

                5. Natalie

                  @ TootsNYC, is “punishment” really an appropriate workplace goal, though? Every time we discuss firings or demerit-type systems here the general consensus seems to be that it’s not. And anyway, Mike C has clearly stated he thinks anyone who is forgetting their card regularly should be handled like any other performance issue, so it’s not a false dilemma between “send them home to get their card” and “do nothing”.

                  In nearly all access or security schemes, some kind of temporary card is going to be the most efficient way to handle a person who doesn’t have a card no matter what the reason is. And if the reason is something that shouldn’t be happening, their manager can address that separately.

                6. LBK

                  @TootsNYC – Well, yeah, it is actually weird to punish someone in an adult workplace. We don’t give workers detention for not responding to an email or being late to a meeting. You might get a stern talking to if there ends up being serious fallout from an error, or you might get fired if it’s truly egregious, but in general, punishment isn’t a thing in an office. It’s usually more important to just make sure the problem is fixed in a timely manner, and sending people home when there could be much more efficient workarounds like issuing temporary badges is petty.

                7. Detective Amy Santiago

                  @LBK @Natalie

                  If the security is in place because of industry regulations and could cause punitive action against your company for not being followed, then I think it’s reasonable to have punitive actions against employees who don’t follow the rules.

                8. LBK

                  But is that actually carried out for any other form of breach? If you accidentally leave out some documents with SSNs on them, what does your manager do? Fine you?

                  There’s a weird mental inconsistency around this where if a form of punishment is naturally built into a possible solution to a problem, people somehow become convinced that punishment is a normal thing that happens in offices, when it just plain isn’t. In any other situation where an error was made it wouldn’t even occur to people to do anything but have a conversation about it.

                9. Natalie

                  Detective Amy Santiago, I don’t think anyone disagrees with that, but that isn’t what this discussion is about. The best way to handle someone with a badge, for any reason, is a separate issue from how to handle someone who has circumvented the security system, for any reason.

              2. LBK

                I totally agree with you – this feels petty and patronizing, like a middle schooler being sent home to change due to a dress code violation. Not having backup badges that can be signed out is asinine; it’s not any less secure and it would save a ton of time for something that is not even close to an egregious offense. Please save the personal responsibility righteousness for things that are actually important; being forgetful doesn’t strike me as one of them.

                Reply
          4. Czhorat

            So put the card on a lanyard. Put it in your wallet. You remember your wallet every day, right? Your car keys? Your train ticket? Why is remembering an access card so much bigger an issue?

            From a security standpoint, the problem is that you’re creating an exception to the badge rule. Security procedures are only as good as adherence to them. What happens, for example, if a badge is revoked and you piggy-back in behind a co-worker?

            Looking from a different point of view, you don’t want to stand out at work for the wrong reasons. Being “the person who always forgets their badge” is a poor way to set yourself aside and can begin to give you a reputation for being disorganized.

            Reply
            1. Colette

              I don’t think anyone is suggesting that always forgetting your badge is ok. What we are saying is that most people forget things (including badges) very infrequently, and frankly it is in the employer’s best interests to let them work when it happens.

              Reply
            2. Mike C.

              Colette nailed it.

              I’m not creating an exception to the rules at all. It’s a very, very common practice to allow for an ad hoc security screening and verification process for those times when a badge is not present or not functional.

              And again, if someone can’t comply on a regular basis, then it’s time for a manager to step in, not to make someone drive home or run laps or whatever untested “deterrent” the business comes up with.

              Reply
              1. Czhorat

                That the OP is posting here makes it feel like more than a once in a blue moon situation.

                I agree that if, say, once over the course of the year I change wallets and somehow forget to put my ID badge in the new one that should be handled with some flexibility. If it happens more often that that, to be honest, it shows a lack of focus and preparation on my part.

                Reply
                1. Ultraviolet

                  I disagree that it sounds like it’s happening “more than once in a blue moon.” OP’s clearly never forgotten their card, and they don’t describe a lot of their coworkers forgetting theirs. They’re only talking about what they’ve been told would happen if someone forgot it.

                2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                  Yeah, I may have been reading into OP’s letter, but this was my interpretation, too. I have the impression that OP thinks this shouldn’t be a requirement, period, not that OP thinks there should be a better system for the rare occasions during which a person does not bring their badge. So perhaps that’s coloring what I think of as reasonable/unreasonable.

                3. Natalie

                  Now that you mention it, Ultraviolet… a couple of logistical questions – namely, how does the LW get into the secured office in the first place if they left their card at home, and once locked out of the secured office how do they get home to get their access card. If this was a hypothetical given by the LW’s manager, that would explain why it doesn’t actually make logistical sense.

                4. Ultraviolet

                  @Natalie – That could explain it! The only alternative I’ve been able to come up with is that somehow everyone is admitted together at the start of the shift without swiping badges.

                  The question of what you’re supposed to do if you go to the bathroom but leave your access card in your secured office has really been bothering me. The fact that they can accommodate that scenario really makes me think they could be a bit more lenient when someone forgets their card at home for, say, the first time that calendar year.

                5. Beaded Librarian

                  @Natalie the only problem with the idea of it being hypothetical is that unless it is a brand new system (Which some have speculated on) the OP mentions at the end of their letter that “I don’t forget my card often, but when I do, I cannot use the restrooms for fear of not being able to get back into my cubicle.” Which means that they still have to be getting into the building in the first place somehow.

                6. Ultraviolet

                  @Beaded Librarian – I had overlooked that part of the letter. Maybe OP already has forgotten their card? I’m not really clear on this. I’m confusing myself because the issue that really sticks in my mind is “What happens if you leave your card at your desk when you go to the bathroom?” and so I keep thinking that that must have been OP’s question. But it wasn’t. I’m getting on board with the theory that this is a new system, or OP didn’t spend much time in the secured area until recently and forgetting their card had been a minor issue until now.

                  (Though I still disagree with Czhorat’s statement that it must be happening “more than once in a blue moon” or else OP wouldn’t have written in. I think it’s totally reasonable to want to check about the legality even if it’s happened only once, or never.)

                  At the risk of putting words in Natalie’s mouth, I believe her point was that because OP is in fact getting into the building in the first place, it doesn’t really make sense that they could get to the secured area and then realize their card was at home. Therefore, Natalie suggested that maybe this isn’t a thing that has actually happened, and just a situation OP’s manager or HR speculated about without thinking it through.

            3. Marcela

              I am from a country where I have to carry an ID every time I’m outside my home, so I am always very paranoid about my wallet. Even so, last week I forgot my wallet and I had to drive back without license, money or credit cards. The fact that I am a responsible adult does not mean I won’t forget things, and it’s very irresponsible make systems that work using this premise.

              Reply
      3. Artemesia

        More than once is a sign of an irresponsible employee. Does she forget her driver’s license? Well, put the thing next to the driver’s license, or otherwise with something that will be going to work. If she has to have a little routine of laying out the purse for the next day or having a neck lanyard or whatever — that is what she needs to do.

        Reply
        1. MegaMoose, Esq

          People keep bringing up the drivers’ license comparison – am I really the ONLY person to ever forget my drivers’ license? It happens very infrequently, but it does happen.

          Reply
          1. Halpful

            Technically I don’t have one – I have an ID card instead, not having learnt to drive – but I need it to buy alcohol, so it’s always in my wallet. The only time I risk forgetting it is when I leave my wallet behind – which has actually happened once. I didn’t even remember it until I was typing this comment. :) I was thinking “oh, dad will pay, no need to pack all my things” and forgot we were going to a *pub* for lunch (they often don’t let you in at all here without ID, even if you weren’t planning to drink).

            My bus pass, on the other hand… well, I haven’t completely lost it in a while, but it managed to escape its card-holder a few months ago as the bus pulled up, and I just barely spotted it in time to hop off the bus, grab it and get back on. :) I’d probably have lost it several times over if it wasn’t in that card holder. I keep a spare card somewhere in my standard backpack things – it has several advantages over a spare cash fare. :)

            Reply
      4. NoMoreMrFixit

        In past jobs my access card got me into the parking lot, my office and a couple of secure data centres. I’ve gone back to school and guess how us students get into our classrooms? Yup, same technology. Also doubles as our student card. Very common these days and it’s like wearing pants. Don’t go out the door without them!

        Reply
    2. really

      Agree – My husband had a badge for the parking garage – it stayed in the car. No badge and he would have had to have gone home. For work he had a different badge to access the elevator to get to his floor. Without it he could only get to one floor. He wore this one around his neck on a lanyard.

      Reply
    3. Mike C.

      A simple disruption in a well worn habit is all it takes to forget your card and everyone does it at some point.

      Even then, cards are physical objects that wear out or otherwise stop working after a time. No amount of driving home will fix that issues and any solution to that problem will also solve the problem of forgetting your card.

      Reply
      1. Not the office dementor

        Sorry, but no, not everyone does it. Some people, myself included, have actually never forgotten a work pass or fob or whatever – in my case in over 15 years of working. (I have ‘forgotten’ my house keys exactly twice in my life but both times it’s because people borrowed them and then left them somewhere other than the place I said they should leave them.)

        I’m not saying that to sound smug, or prove you wrong, but to emphasise that it’s not inevitable that people will sometimes forget, it’s not unreasonable to expect them to remember – and it’s not really a process for something occasional as if you have 100 employees who each do these twice a year then that’s more than once a day. I think telling people they have to drive home isn’t meant to be a circuitous solution – it’s meant to be a deterrent to forgetting it.

        Reply
        1. Not the office dementor

          Sorry I meant more than every other day!

          Can remember keys. Not so good at counting first thing in the morning…

          Reply
        2. Mike C.

          Look at what I wrote though – “a simple disruption of a well worn habit”.

          Those folks borrowing your keys and not putting them back certainly fits that description. If that were your card instead, how would being required to drive back home be an effective deterrent? You already know what you need to do and the process failure was out of your hands to begin with, but you’d still be counted among those who weren’t acting responsibly. At that point it becomes something akin to apathetic spite.

          People are human beings and they are flawed and they sometimes have to deal with situations that are unexpected and out of their control. Look, I don’t forget my card either but it’s nice to know that if my number comes up, I’m not going to be subjected to a giant waste of time. Most places, even legally regulated places, allow for a security verification and temporary badge. If it’s more than occasional then don’t make up a rule that saps workplace productivity, have a manager deal with it like any other repeated performance issue.

          Reply
          1. xx

            Yep. I keep mine in the car which worked 99% of the time. Until I got in a wreck and was so upset afterwards I forgot to remove it from the vehicle.

            Reply
          2. MK

            I also question your insistence that it happens to everyone; it has happened to precisely no one of my co-workers in the ten years I have worked in areas with security. Yes, people are flawed, but that doesn’t mean there should never be any consequences when someone drops the ball. These people aren’t being disciplined after one instance of forgetting their card or fired, they are subjected to a loss of time to go get it. It doesn’t seem disproportionate to me.

            Reply
              1. Susan

                I don’t think it’s patronizing and arbitrary. The natural consequence of forgetting something is having to go back and get it. They’re not making employees write “I will not forget my access card” 100 times, or wear a dunce cap when they forget their access cards. They are simply declining to expend resources on making replacement or temporary access cards readily available for people who forget them. It may be common for some employers to have such a system, but for whatever reason, OP #1’s employer doesn’t offer this. OP #1 knows this and should take it into account by putting some effort into ensuring she remembers her access card.

                Reply
                1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                  I’m with Susan. I don’t think this is punitive, patronizing, or arbitrary. It might not be the most efficient policy, but it could be reasonable or sensible depending on factors that OP hasn’t provided.

                  I understand that almost everyone will forget their card at least once. That said, having to make one trip home during a multi-year career (or even once/year) is a burden-shifting move. It shifts the impact/burden of the employee’s forgetfulness to the employee instead of to the employer. I think there are lots of non-nefarious, non-punitive explanations for why an employer would make that burden shift, and in the context of secure facilities, I think that’s a fair/ok requirement.

              2. AD

                Patronizing or arbitrary?
                I think the onus is on the employee if their being forgetful is happening with any degree of frequency, for access to a secure facility. One thing I’m not seeing pop up in this discussion is that all secure facilities/work areas are not created equal – there’s very much the possibility that some industries will have more rigid controls in place than for others.

                Reply
              3. Electric Hedgehog

                The correct answer is to build a system where if you fail to remember your badge, you can’t leave your house. For instance, connecting your house and car keys to your badge lanyard. Annoyingly jingly, perhaps, but you know that if you’re not at home, your access card is physically with you.

                Fixing broken cards is another issue, which I’d bet is already resolved in OP’s facility.

                Reply
            1. LBK

              I find it insanely hard to believe that you worked with such a perfect set of coworkers that literally no one forgot their ID badge a single day in 10 years. It’s just not feasible when you work with humans.

              Reply
              1. Anna

                Maybe…maybe they WEREN’T humans! Maybe the robot workforce has fully arrived!

                Seriously though, it’s likely there was forgetting happening. Just because they didn’t know about it doesn’t mean it never happened.

                Reply
                1. LBK

                  Right – unless one of my coworkers had to call me to let them in, I’d have no reason to know whether they forgot their badge today or not.

          3. Lablizard

            I have always worked at places with secure areas and yes, driving home for a forgotten card was the norm, not the exception

            Reply
          4. MegaMoose, Esq

            I think this disruption framework is a really good way of putting it. The last time I left the house without my wallet was after the dogs dug their way out of the backyard and we had to spend a half hour tracking them down. Good times.

            Reply
        3. Mookie

          If it’s about functioning as a deterrent-through-inconvenience then it is not about keeping things secure, though.

          Reply
          1. Mike C.

            That’s not true at all. I’m not sure why people keep saying this, but a card is tied to a person.

            Either you have your permanent card assigned to you from the company or you go to security who verifies your identity and and then gives you your credentials in a different and temporary form. Both sets of credentials are still tied to the same person.

            Reply
            1. fposte

              I think Mookie is agreeing you–that this policy seems to be more about punishing people than keeping the space secure.

              Reply
            2. Lablizard

              Our security verification process is a mega pain in the ass. Necessary and logical, given what we do, but it is going to take at least half the day. Going home is way easier.

              Reply
          2. TootsNYC

            True–it’s now about inconvenience and expense and lack of productivity.

            And what the company is saying is this:
            Forgetting your card is going to cause inconvenience and expense and lack of productivity.
            We want that to impact you more than it impacts us or your coworkers.
            So while we will lose your productivity while you have to go home and get your card, we don’t have to pay you for it, and we don’t lose the productivity of your colleagues while they help you with your card issue.

            And it’s also saying, If we make this inconvenient and expensive for you, maybe you will remember your card, and it will eliminate the problem for everybody.

            And of course most colleagues will remember their card most days. But if there is truly no negative consequence to the employee, how many more will forget a little more often?

            Reply
            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

              Yes, this is exactly how I understand the policy, and I think each of the reasons you’ve explained is reasonable/legitimate. We can debate about whether the employee should have to bear the consequences of failing to bring his/her ID, but I don’t think it’s an inherently bad, unfair, or punitive policy.

              Reply
            2. drashizu

              “We want that to impact you more than it impacts us or your coworkers.”

              Except that it doesn’t. Because the productivity of the person who forgot their card is the company’s productivity, and always will be. Which is why I think Mike C. has been advocating treating frequent card-forgetting as a management issue while ensuring that everyone in the company gets back to work as quickly and efficiently as possible.

              Reply
              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                But would you rather lose one worker’s productivity that day, or the productivity of several workers who have to redirect energy to deal with the person who lost their pass? The decision isn’t “lost productivity” v. “no lost productivity”—it’s the amount and allocation of lost productivity.

                Reply
                1. BuildMeUp

                  When I worked in a secure building, it was a matter of a minute or two for me alone (as the receptionist) to assign someone a temporary pass. That, versus someone driving home and back? There’s no question to me that a temp pass is still going to be more efficient.

                2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                  @BuildMeUp, but the system at your organization is not the case for other secure facilities. Where I worked, having someone else try to assign a temporary pass, etc., would have taken over an hour and up to four hours. There are dozens of other comments from folks explaining the complexity of issuing a temporary pass or the inability of that option for their workplace. We don’t know what OP’s workplace is like, but there’s certainly a universe in which dealing with an employee who left their ID/pass is a much more massive waste of resources than making them go home to get it.

              2. TootsNYC

                True–but maybe one big “unproductivity” is easier to cope with than lots of little ones that impact several people.

                Especially if that “one big unproductivity” results in the person not doing it again.

                Reply
      2. Meredith

        Agreed. I accidentally left my wallet in the car my spouse drives earlier this week. It’s my habit to leave it there during exercise classes, and I had never forgotten it before. But we had the first snow in a long time, so I was carrying my street shoes like I don’t normally do, and I just left it and didn’t discover it was gone till after my husband had driven across town for work the next morning. First time that’s happened in over a year. No system is 100% perfect. I agree with Mike that it’s probably a better business decision to do some sort of loaner badge for the day and treat repeat forgetfuls as a management issue. For whatever reason this workplace isn’t doing that.

        Reply
        1. TootsNYC

          but having to treat the repeat forgetfulness as a management issue distracts managers for non-essential managing. It adds a layer of difficulty to their job that they maybe shouldn’t have.

          They already have to manage things like skills, procedures, personal conflicts, etc.

          Why add “badge forgetfulness” to their workload, when you can make it be a self-managed thing by insisting on a natural consequence (you forgot it, you go get it at your own cost)?

          Reply
          1. MegaMoose, Esq

            Well, are you losing more business time having a manager manage a chronically forgetful employee, or are you losing my time having employees missing work to drive home? Not to mention whatever productiveness you might be losing because of morale issues due to some people seeing this as a patronizing and unnecessarily punitive policy.

            Reply
            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

              I mean, if you have to manage a chronically forgetful employee in this specific context, I think it’s reasonable to consider letting that person go. And it’s certainly cheaper to let a forgetful employee go than to dedicate time/resources to making it ok for them to be forgetful.

              Reply
            2. drashizu

              Right. It only takes, say, 10 minutes to check out a loaner card to someone, so 2 people are out of commission for 10 minutes – 20 total.

              Even if you live close to work, the only way it’s in the company’s interest productivity-wise to send someone home is if they live less than the card-checkout time from work, so their round trip costs the same (20 minutes or so).

              For a company that draws commuters from farther away, as OP’s does, sending someone home and wasting multiple work hours on these sorts of errands goes directly against the company’s interest. The only way it still makes sense is if there’s a technical reason there can never be secondary cards, which would be astonishingly unlikely, or if sending people to fetch their cards is being used for “deterrent” purposes. Which is petty, because it’s always petty when employers do unproductive and self-sabotaging things for deterrent purposes.

              Reply
              1. drashizu

                Also, forgot to mention – it’s not at all unlikely that a company like OP’s would otherwise consider the time of a person working in such a secured area more valuable per hour than the time of an admin or security person whose job it was to manage the issuance of new cards. If OP doesn’t work for the time it takes her to get home & back, how likely is it her employer loses substantially more productivity than if they assign her a new card?

                Reply
              2. TootsNYC

                Except that productivity may not be the only goal here, or the most important one.

                Another important goal may be integrity and follow-through. Security is a big deal–having an attitude that “we can always find a workaround” is a way to dilute the fierce dedication to integrity.

                Reply
                1. MegaMoose, Esq.

                  I totally get security is a big deal, I just don’t see how having temporary badges available for emergencies dilutes anyone’s integrity. Especially if there are consequences for repeat offenders.

    4. Gaia

      I work in a secure building with products that are very dangerous to the public if handled improperly (but perfectly safe when handled with care and when taking appropriate precautions). You do not enter the building if you forget your key card. It doesn’t matter if I work next to Wakeen every day for 10 years and I know it is Wakeen standing there, I cannot allow him access. Both he and I would be immediately fired.

      Now, if Wakeen’s key card stops working there is a procedure to have security verify the error, verify his identity and current employment and issue him a new card (all of which takes place outside the secure area) which Wakeen then uses to enter the building. None of that is an option if Wakeen forgets his card because we have an obligation to ensure that Wakeen isn’t trying to get around some restriction by “forgetting” the card where the restriction is coded and getting a new card without the coding.

      Reply
      1. Gaia

        All this to say in nearly 3 years no one has forgotten their card either at the start of the day or at lunch. We know the consequences and so we take the responsibility seriously.

        Reply
      2. kb

        What happens if the card is lost or stolen? Does security have a way to tell the difference between a card forgotten at home and one that was stolen?

        There’s no snark or anything here, I’m genuinely curious about the protocol at your workplace. If ours are forgotten, lost, or stolen, they’re deactivated remotely and we’re issued a new one that day. We get one free each year, but after that there’s a charge.

        Reply
        1. Gaia

          A lost or stolen card that isn’t immediately reported would result in a fired employee. These things are treated like free passes to a room full of free gold. Security would then follow the normal procedure as they would if forgotten: verify several aspects of employment, verify identity and issue a new card outside of the secure zone.

          Last year a girl who left her card in her car had her car stolen. Her first call was to security, and then the police.

          Reply
          1. I'm that unreasonable manager

            ” a lost or stolen card that isn’t reported immediately would result in a fired employee” This would happen where I work. And I would be the person who documented, investigated, and fired the employee for not securing their key card and reporting it missing and replacing it immediately. And there is $25 fee to replace.

            Reply
            1. Lablizard

              That is what happens at my work as well, or at least that is what the policy says. We get the security protocols drilled into our heads so much that no one has ever been fired for this

              Reply
      3. Mike C.

        Why would the temporary card allow someone access to areas they aren’t normally allowed in anyway? That doesn’t make any sense.

        Reply
        1. Browser

          Often temporary cards are generic and not individually coded to each person’s access level. So it’s possible a temp card could provide access to an area some workers aren’t allowed in.

          Not every workplace has the ability to make customized temp/replacement cards in a few minutes.

          Reply
          1. Cath in Canada

            Our temp cards are the opposite – they are generic, but very restrictive. So, for example, they don’t give access to the server room, bike room, locker rooms, and other “optional” areas.

            Reply
        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          My ID card has biometric information stored on a smart chip, and replacements come from our administrative headquarters (which is in another state—this is a minimum 5-10 day turnaround). It’s not easy to reprogram or recreate through a temporary card for the reasons Browser described, and it’s really burdensome for the employer.

          Reply
    5. Gen

      Lanyards are a great way to keep your card with you but wearing it visibly outside the office was a write up offence at two of my past employers. One was a multinational bank and an employee was hospitalised when someone tried to take his access card, the other was a government agency with regular instances of violence against staff. But neither of them would allow you into the building at all without your card, so it seems really odd that someone could be in a secure area without using the security system to get in. I’ve never worked any where that would let someone off for forgetting it, it’d either be go home to fetch it, forfeit a holiday day or pay to replace it if it was lost (since all security access would have to be revoked and reissued), and that applied to all levels of staff. It’s just basic office rules that you have your card with you at all times.

      Reply
      1. Bonky

        I wear mine on a lanyard (fortunately we don’t have that rule). But a lot of my colleagues just keep theirs in their wallet, and use the wallet to buzz in; I bet OP doesn’t have problems remembering to bring a wallet to work.

        Reply
    6. Former Computer Professional

      Well, I generally agree but I feel that your tone is coming across a little harsh.

      OP #1 might talk to her company (the HR department, maybe?) about providing sleeves with clip-ons or lanyards for the badges. The sleeves often come with a use-either-way hanger, and if the ocmpany wanted they could even put their name or logo on the lanyard! They’re fairly cheap, too.

      Reply
      1. fposte

        And plus there is the weird element that apparently this wasn’t a problem when the OP came into work in the morning, just when she left for the bathroom. That points to a workplace whose security hygiene isn’t as intense as some are describing.

        Reply
        1. Arjay

          I’m interested too in the scenario where someone leaves their access card on their desk. I commented way up there somewhere that my area is “secure” yet pretty boring to bother breaking into. I’ve worn my badge clipped to my sweater, gotten hot and taken the sweater off, and then left the badge-access area to go to the bathroom. There are phones in the lobby I can use to call someone to let me in, and that seems pretty normal for a circumstance that happens infrequently.

          Reply
          1. fposte

            Yeah, I was initially reading the question assuming the issue would be that she was sent home for a card that was on her desk the whole time. Though it turns out that isn’t her question, what does happen when that is the situation?

            Reply
      2. Bonky

        Putting the company logo on the badge or lanyard’s a bad idea. In our office, security is run by an outside company that does the whole building. If a card is lost, they don’t have any way to deactivate it – and if that card has “Wakeen’s Teapots Limited” written on it, or the dinky teapot logo on the lanyard, anybody finding it will have instant access to the office and know exactly what the card is for.

        Reply
        1. Chinook

          “and if that card has “Wakeen’s Teapots Limited” written on it, or the dinky teapot logo on the lanyard, anybody finding it will have instant access to the office and know exactly what the card is for.”

          I have had this drilled in to me as well, to the point that you were actually encouraged to wear lanyards from other organizations or even competitors. :)

          Seriously, though, the only ones that I have ever seen with a logo or company name on them also required some type of PIN or biometric to be used so some random person couldn’t pick it up off the floor and use it. I swear all of downtown Calgary uses the same supplier of passcards because they all look the same. If you are lucky, they may numbers stamped on them in small print, but not always.

          Reply
    7. Gadget Hackwrench

      Ok firstly, starting advice with “it’s called” is always going to rub people the wrong way, and secondly, you seem to be discounting the very real chance that not everyone in the world is actually CAPABLE of remembering their lanyard every single day. OP didn’t mention any disorder, but a lot of people who have ADHD, ASD, or well controlled Bipolar don’t routinely disclose that while asking for advice. A large percentage of the adult ASD and ADHD population isn’t even aware they have it. Any of those can disrupt a person’s executive functioning and make remembering to bring everything out the door with you in the morning EVERY day, outside the realm of possibility. With effort and practice, getting it down to forgetting very infrequently yes, but not at all? Forget it.

      For this reason, the “Badge-o-Shame” really should be the way to go. Temp badges that are a pain to get and embarrassing to wear affect all employees who forget their badges equally, and don’t disrupt office workflow. Don’t underestimate the power of embarrassment. Meanwhile “Drive home and get it” policies disproportionately affect people with long commutes. There are people in my office who work 5 minutes away for which it would be no hardship. Then there are people like me who live 45 minutes away who would suffer hardcore. And the people who take the bus would be SCREWED.

      Reply
    8. Bonky

      My office has the same policy, for the same reason. I *did* forget mine on a couple of occasions right at the beginning, but it’s really, really easy to form new habits if you make an effort – it’s just a matter of making a little ritual of it.

      Put it on a lanyard you really like (this makes a surprising difference). Mentally associate leaving for the day with putting the card and lanyard either in a designated spot in your bag, or in a designated spot in your car, where nothing else ever gets put. Make part of your leaving process a mental trigger that reminds you to do this. (You’ll need to think hard about this every time you leave for a week or thereabouts: I use pressing the big green button to exit the building at the end of the day as my trigger to move card and lanyard to a pocket of my handbag that’s kept empty for the purpose.) I promise that after you’ve done it mindfully for a week or so, you’ll never forget again.

      Reply
  6. Arduino

    #1 Try leaving it in your car or keep it in your purse/laptop bag or any other thing that comes with you to work. Once you get into the habit of taking the security badge off it sticks and is also oddly satisfying. Like a symbol the work day is passed.

    Reply
    1. kb

      If you drive to work, put it on your keyring! That way, if you make it to work, you won’t have forgotten your security badge. The only time you’d have to make a conscious effort to remember is if someone else drives you/ you take different car/ etc.

      Reply
        1. kb

          Good point! There are also little pouch keychains for badges if OP’s card can’t/doesn’t have a hole through it. It make bulk up the car keys a little bit, but in my experience also makes them harder to lose track of.

          Reply
      1. Lablizard

        I have mine on my house keyring. If I forget those then I have to go home anyway because my door is unlocked

        Reply
      2. Natalie

        And if they take public transportation, they have to pay somehow. Keep the access card with that method of payment. At a minimum, it keeps you from getting all the way to work before you realize you forgot your access card.

        Reply
    2. Mookie

      I think that’s a sound idea, leaving it in the car, provided the employer doesn’t require employees to safely secure it when not in use.

      Reply
    3. Emi.

      I take my badge off on the way home and put it in my workbag before I even get into the house, so I don’t have a chance to accidentally leave it on the kitchen table.

      Reply
  7. A Bug!

    Re #1: Nothing to add to Alison’s workplace advice, but for practical advice, how do you make sure you don’t forget your driver’s license every day, or your house keys? Can you keep your key card in the same place?

    Reply
    1. Silver Cormorant

      I keep a list of things taped to the front door so I can go down the list when I leave in the morning. Do I have my wallet? My phone? My sunglasses? An umbrella if it looks like it’s going to rain? Too many days forgetting something important and then cursing myself later.

      Reply
    2. Morning Glory

      I find setting an alarm on my phone is a good backup for things I typically forget. Every morning, 10 min before the OP leaves her house, an alarm that says “find your key card” could be effective.

      Reply
  8. Silver Cormorant

    #1: Every place I’ve ever worked that needs access cards to get into the office, you could always ask a coworker to let you in if you forgot your badge somewhere. I mean, your coworkers know that you work there, the badges are mainly just to make sure random strangers couldn’t get into the office. Asking you to drive all the way home to get your badge (when this would take an hour or two for most people) seems overly punishing and wasteful to me when you could just ask someone you know to open the door for you and be working productively within a few minutes.

    Reply
    1. Punkin

      But there is the possibility that a recently separated employee could piggy back into the office. Irate former employees have no place in the workplace.

      I keep my access card on a lanyard in my car.

      Reply
    2. Mike C.

      I would strongly caution against this approach. Not only is it vector for social engineering, depending on the specific reason for security controls it could expose you and your company to massive fines and loss of contracts. You don’t mess around with export controls.

      Reply
    3. Engineer Girl

      Piggybacking would get you a written reprimand the first time it happened. Three strikes and you’re out. As Mike C said – there is social engineering involved with gaining access correctly.
      I will add that in some places yiu will find yourself face first in the dirt with a gun pointed at your back if you are without your access card. They’re playing for keeps.

      Reply
      1. Gaia

        Piggy backing (with an immediate hit of the security notification at the door by the first person in) would result in immediately firing both people at my workplace. Security is no joke around this place!

        Reply
    4. New Bee

      I wonder if part of it is making sure people haven’t lost their badges? If someone regularly relies on being let in, it may take awhile to realize they lost the badge someplace public, whereas going home means they find it right away.

      Reply
    5. Nic

      Piggy backing would get you fired where I work. Our security system is such that the badge readers register where you are and which other readers you can access. If you badged open a door and it shut before you went through, you had to call security because your badge wouldn’t work. The system has you on the other side of the door.

      I’ve worked at other places where folks have gone for a week with a missing badge and no one noticed. Some places have different and more stringent security needs than others.

      Reply
    6. Sheworkshardforthemoney

      An old job required new access codes every time someone left or was fired. Telling someone else the codes or allowing them in with you was a fire-able offence.

      Reply
      1. krysb

        My job used to have a keycode system before we went to badges. It was great for office gossip. We always knew when someone was fired because the code had been changed. (Also, for the longest time our keycode was 80085. Think about it.)

        Reply
    7. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      That’s not been permitted anywhere I’ve worked behind badge access. Piggybacking at OldJob was explicitly a disciplinable offense, and here, you actually go through a manned security desk on the way in, and they won’t permit it.

      The base reason is that there may be a good reason you can’t get in — your coworker doesn’t necessarily know if you were fired at the end of the day yesterday, for example! And places that have badges tend to also be placed where a disgruntled former employee can do a lot of damage.

      Reply
    8. Paranoid Engineer

      I’m curious here about an old office job where it was key card in and push button out. It was perfectly possible to leave the badge in the office on a desk when going to the toilets and then not being able to get back in again. How do other secure offices deal with this? The badge is not at home and can’t be retrieved.

      Reply
      1. Tim

        If someone at my workplace leaves their badge in a secure area, they have to call a coworker in the secure area to bring their badge back out to them. So it would be pretty disruptive if people did that regularly.

        Reply
      2. another person

        My husband once got locked in a stairwell on the 50th floor because of this and had to walk all the way down to the 1st floor (the only floor that didn’t require badge access to enter from the stairwell) and then get someone in his office to buzz him back up the elevator. I don’t think he forgot to bring his card when running up or down a story since then.

        Reply
      3. Perse's Mom

        If I’d stepped out of the office area to take a phone call or something, I could text my boss to bring my card out to me.
        If I didn’t have my phone, I’d have to sign out a temp badge from reception, beep in, get my card, go return the temp badge to reception, beep myself back in with my card, and then get to work.

        Reply
    9. LBK

      I’m confused by people referring to the situation described in this comment as “piggybacking” – I was always under the impression that piggybacking referred to someone you don’t know getting in, either because you hold the door for them or because they slip in behind you without you realizing.

      It seems completely ludicrous to me to suggest that if I open the door for my boss and make sure it closes behind him with no one else entering, that represents a security breach, unless this is Orphan Black and we’re concerned about clones.

      Reply
      1. Natalie

        I think you’re ascribing an intent to the term “piggybacking” that isn’t there – it’s simply the act of two people going in one one swipe, as though you were carrying the other person on your back.

        As to why it’s a potential issue, it obviously depends on your workplace. But in some places where security needs are astronomical, they don’t want you to be in the habit of letting anyone in lest someone use that in the future when they’re fired or revealed as a spy or whatever.

        Reply
          1. Turtle Candle

            That was my thought. I used to work at a place that had a secure area where it was important not only that unauthorized people stay out, but also that there was a log of who had had access to what and when. The security was multifactor (card, thumbprint, individual PIN, I believe) so you couldn’t impersonate someone just by stealing their badge, but they wanted to make sure that Person 1 didn’t swipe/thumbprint/PIN and then let Persons 2 and 3 in after without doing the same, because then their logs of who had been in the secure area and at what time would be incomplete. (You also had to swipe yourself out, for the same reason.)

            Reply
        1. Trig

          Security things aside, my office also uses the swipe-ins to generate reports about who is actually using their (expensive to rent) cubes and offices and who isn’t. If you were routinely piggy-backing, someone on high might think you’re never in the office, so don’t need your cube, so it’s time for you to be a full remote worker and you no longer have sole use of your cube or office. (Not that space is tight right now, but it conceivably could be.)

          Reply
      2. Danae

        At the tech company I was at for a bunch of years, they really emphasized that everyone needed to tap their card on every single entry. This was partially for security reasons, and partially so in an emergency, they would have a decent idea of who was in what building (the company’s main campus is 50-odd buildings spread over a pretty large area) and when.

        If something went wrong with a building and had to be evacuated, the only people they’d need to track down were the people who had badged in and hadn’t shown up at the designated evacuation areas.

        Reply
      3. Lablizard

        If we are coming in as a group we need to 1 by 1 badge, pin, and fingerprint in, so yes, I shut the door in co-workers faces and they shut it in mine. There is some nasty stuff behind those doors, so they are very strict about making sure they know exactly who is inside

        Reply
    10. TootsNYC

      Ha! I used to work for Martha Stewart, and we got a scoldy email from her telling us that we were not to let our colleagues through the door–they were supposed to use their own cards.

      Then I was coming up in the elevator, and she got on at the business floor w/ the company lawyer to come to the editorial floor. She looked at him and said, “I hope you have your badge,” and he said, “No, I thought you had yours” and gestured to her purse.

      She looked at me and said, “Oh well, you’ll let us in.”

      “I don’t know,” I said. “we just got an email from our CEO telling us that we’re not to let other employees piggyback on our IDs. I don’t want to get in trouble.”

      Reply
      1. Renee

        How did she react to that? I love Martha Stewart but I can’t tell if she really does have a great dry sense of humor or she just takes revenge later. That’s one of the reasons I love her though. She’s so gracious that I can’t tell if she’s a big meanie or not — she’s like the living embodiment of “bless your heart.” I’d like to think she took your comment well.

        Reply
        1. TootsNYC

          She thought it was funny, in a dry way.

          I think she said something about the CEO being the one to give the orders, or something.

          She really does have a great dry sense of humor–she is QUICK, and she has a great memory and a good-humored basic attitude, and she doesn’t take revenge later. I wouldn’t call her the most un-self-centered person in the world, but she’s not a big meanie.

          Reply
          1. Chinook

            “She thought it was funny, in a dry way.

            I think she said something about the CEO being the one to give the orders, or something. ”

            I think I have told the story before about General Hillier (Canada’s then Chief of Defense) forgetting his passcard twice. Once, when he went out for a run one lunch hour, he came back in, dressed in his ratty workout gear and the security guard (who told me this story) refused to let him in because he didn’t have his card. Her boss came running over and swiped him and apologized for her not recognizing him (his picture was literally behind her). He later called her and her boss in for a meeting and thanked her for doing her job because she wasn’t suppose to let people in without their cards.

            The second time, DH spotted the General in full dress uniform, looking rather haggard. It was later in the day and there had been heavy losses overseas and the poor guy was patting his pockets, looking for his card. DH (the a corporal) just saluted and swiped him in. He said the poor guy looked grateful for the kindness.

            Reply
      2. Turtle Candle

        That is delightful, and I am impressed with your ability to think on your feet! I probably would have been totally at a loss for how to respond…

        Reply
    11. Lia

      I used to work for a hospital, in a secure area where we swiped badges and then entered our access codes (unique to each) to enter. If you did not have your badge, you weren’t getting in. Period. If you forgot it, you went home to get it, and after the first time, it was a write-up and after the third time, termination. That was throughout your entire tenure, not annually. This was brought up to me on my first day as part of my orientation.

      If it malfunctioned, yes, there was a security protocol to provide a new one. If it was lost or stolen, you were expected to contact security immediately to report it, but again, if this happened more than once (especially if you didn’t have a police report for say, having your purse stolen) it would be a write-up.

      In my entire time there, I saw/heard of ONE person forgetting their badge. Shoulder surfing/badging others in was 100% forbidden. Security did monitor swipes/access, so they could tell if it occurred. Over the top? Not my call. We dealt with highly secured and sensitive information, and this was Just The Way It Was.

      Reply
  9. Ophelia Bumblesmoop

    OP#5: If you are getting an on-campus job, they will be explicitly clear if they expect you to work breaks. There are very few offices that require this, so they will be very upfront about it. If you go off-campus, you would want to mention that to the employer. Let them know you are not local and travel home for the specific breaks. They may tell you they can’t give you that time off or would need to hire someone to take your place while you’re gone so can’t guarantee your job when you return.

    Reply
  10. Kc89

    Extreme stompers are bizarre, there’s a woman I work with who shakes the whole office. It’s not a weight thing she just stomps with every step.

    Reply
      1. Mookie

        We had an intermittent department-wide Soul Train entrance / exit once in a while at an old job (which ran like clockwork, so we all came and left simultaneously). So much smizing, so much vogueing, an occasional dap. Good times.

        Reply
        1. Manders

          Hah!

          My boss is known for her loud walk, and she’s a tiny woman. I think it’s a combination of the shoes she wears and the way she walks.

          My husband and I both practiced a sport that gets you in the habit of putting your weight on the balls of your foot, and now we’re both very quiet walkers. I have to consciously remember to slam my heel down if I want to get a good intimidating stride going.

          Reply
        2. MegaMoose, Esq

          I love it. I’m a super aggressive walker. It’s a self-confidence trick and I refuse to be embarrassed by it. That said, I do generally try and avoid especially loud shoes.

          Reply
    1. The Optimizer

      My husband is pretty light and he’s a stomper. When we lived in a 3rd floor walk up, it was amusing that I always knew when he was coming home. When our basement bedroom was below the kitchen and he got up very early, not so much…

      Reply
    2. Sheworkshardforthemoney

      I worked with a small woman who stomped liked an elephant. Someone told her early in her career that it made her more authoritative. She slams her heels down so hard I’m surprised she doesn’t have leg issues.

      Reply
      1. TootsNYC

        I think stomping can often be a power thing. Add in some territory issues, and you can end up with lots of people stomping.

        Reply
    3. Recruit-o-rama

      My tiny, scrawny pre-teen walks like an elephant. Sometimes my husband and I will just stare slack jawed at each other as we sit in the living room listening to him boom around upstairs. I will never understand how such a tiny person can make so much noise when he walks. When I watch him walk, he looks normal. It’s a conundrum.

      I don’t think that’s the case with these women though, since it’s all of them. I would say a shoe type/flooring material issue.

      Reply
      1. Sans

        My 13 pound cat sounds like a 200 pound person coming down the stairs. I’ve freaked out a few times, thinking someone was in the house, when it was just the stupid cat.

        Reply
    4. KathyGeiss

      I’m a woman who stomps. My sister stops, my dad stomps, we all stomp. I’ve tried to stop or tone it down but it takes way too much energy to think about walking differently so I’ve just accepted it.

      I used to be a bit self conscious when people made comments or jokes but I’ve grown to just accept it as part of who I am.

      Reply
    5. Spoonie

      I work with some of stompers, and being on an upper floor, it is highly disturbing. But it’s also helped me identify people by their walk far in advance of seeing them.

      Reply
    6. GigglyPuff

      Thank you, it is totally not a weight thing!!
      I’m big, always been big and I have always been friggin quiet. Never thought about it but I am. People in my family, like my mom, tall and lithe, stomps sooo bad. My bedroom at her house was right over the kitchen that has hardwoods and when I would come back from college, drove me bonkers and I could hear her coming down the hallway on the carpet.

      So it is totally a floor, shoe and individual thing, not a weight thing.

      Reply
    7. Turtle Candle

      I’m a stomper, and have been forever, even when I was a tiny little adolescent. It took me years to figure out that it’s related to some issues with the structure of my lower leg, ankle, and foot. (Orthopedic shoes and leg exercises have helped with the associated leg pain, but I still walk heavy and probably always will; the only thing that ameliorates it at all is a fairly exaggerated tiptoe, and while I’m perfectly willing to do that when, say, walking around late at night, it’s not tenable to do all day long. And would look pretty bizarre at work.)

      Reply
  11. Mike C.

    Op1:
    How are you getting into the secured area without your card in the first place, even before you need to worry about leaving to use the restroom and getting back in again? Thats a rather strange security system.

    So I work in a place with security cards and am around ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) data and frankly the policy outlined by the OP seems really out of the norm. Maybe I’m the weird one here, but you just go to the security folks, they verify who you are with your ID and give you a temp badge. Keeping it in your car is great advice though, the only time I’ve ever forgotten mine is when I have to drive my wife’s car into work for some reason.

    I mean yeah, it’s legal to make people drive back and forth, but it’s terrible for productivity. That and having something like the bathroom outside the secure area just feels like asking for trouble. Perhaps this is something that can be changed and improved upon from within?

    Reply
    1. Engineer Girl

      Just one comment about leaving badges in autos. If you live in a hot area the interior of a parked car can get so hot that the badge starts to melt and warp. Especially if you just throw the badge onto the dashboard.

      Reply
        1. ThursdaysGeek

          Obviously you’re in that narrow band of the PNW where it rains, instead of over here in the desert where anything left in a car in the summer will get cooked.

          Reply
      1. eplawyer

        I wonder about people leaving their badges in their cars — my area has had a number of car break ins lately. What if your card gets stolen because you leave it in the car overnight? Now who knows who has access to a secure area.

        I keep my courthouse security pass in my purse (yeah could get stolen then too but my purse is always with me). I never change purses so I ALWAYS have it.

        Reply
    2. Ultraviolet

      Your first paragraph is a really good question. I’m also wondering how people are supposed to drive home if they didn’t take their car keys (or maybe house keys) to the bathroom with them. I’d love to find out more about this security policy!

      Is there any chance some kind of exception can be made if you realize before leaving the work area for the bathroom that you don’t have your card? (I can’t tell from OP’s letter whether this has been covered, or if what HR said only covers the case where you don’t realize until you’re outside the secure area that you don’t have your card.) Maybe you could be escorted down by someone, or have a temporary day pass or something? As everyone has said, doing that more than a couple times a year is too much, but having to drive home on your own time is just so harsh.

      Keeping the card in your car seems like a good move, if you can. Or can you attach it to your car keys?

      Reply
      1. Parenthetically

        “how people are supposed to drive home if they didn’t take their car keys (or maybe house keys) to the bathroom with them”

        I did not even think about this! Now I’m imagining OP tapping forlornly on the glass, asking a coworker to put bring them the dang car keys.

        Reply
    3. KAZ2Y5

      I work in a hospital and while I can get into the hospital without my badge (although I would have to go through ER if it was late enough that all the other doors were locked), I can’t get into the pharmacy without a badge. We don’t have a bathroom in our pharmacy, so if I need to go I am at the mercy of whoever is in the pharmacy to let me back in. And since I work the night shift and the only other person working with me has her own duties away from the pharmacy…. I need to remember my badge!
      OP#1 I would encourage you to keep your badge in your car (but not on the dashboard says the girl who lives with 100 degree summers!). Of if you have a purse/totebag/lunch bag that you take every day leave it in there. Or attach it to your keys if you can. And if all else fails put a sign by the door you leave that says “Where is my badge?”
      I need my badge to get into the parking garage, to get into my work area (pharmacy), to be able to send medications to the different stations, to access certain areas, and to identify me if someone has questions. And since I am by myself a large amount of the time I don’t have anyone to let me in to places, etc. I would just encourage you to determine this is very important and figure out a plan to be sure you have your badge any time you go to work. Good luck!

      Reply
    4. The Anonymous One

      I agree with you Mike C. – that is a strange security system. I know quite a few people who work for the courts where badges are required, but if you forget your badge, they’re not going to send you home and hold up court while you go retrieve it.

      I also know some workplaces where a badge stored in the car is considered unsecured and therefore, not allowed. But again, these places have contingency plans for when a badge is forgotten/not working.

      Reply
      1. AndersonDarling

        We have a lax policy with temp badges, but I think we are at our breaking point with it. When executives forget their badges, they take the temp badges and use them for weeks. The receptionist is in charge of the temp badges and doesn’t have the power to demand their return.
        I also sit by a secure door and people knock to be let back in when they forget their badges. I either have to stop my work to let them in, or when I’ve had enough, I pretend not to hear it. And it’s not just me, it happens at every secure door in the facility.
        I can see us putting in place a “go home to get your badge” policy because people are abusing the current system. But we would probably keep temp badges available and just send people home after multiple failures to comply.

        Reply
        1. Turtle Candle

          We had that first problem at my workplace; people took the loaners and then just used them for weeks, and the admin in charge didn’t always feel that she had the authority to make someone give them back–and when they were used for so long, the chance of the person who forgot their card then forgetting the loaner and needing a loaner for the loaner went up. It got bad enough that we actually started running out of loaner cards, and the poor admin spent a lot of time chasing people down and trying to get them to remember their own cards the next day so they could return the loaner, etc. Ultimately the system had to be updated to provide a technical solution to the problem: the badge deactivated itself after a couple of days unless it was returned, at which point you did have to either go home or get a permanent replacement. Didn’t solve the problem entirely, but it certainly seemed to help.

          Reply
      2. MegaMoose, Esq

        The courthouses I’ve worked in have all had staffed entrances so technically you could get in without a badge, except the staff checks that you’re displaying your badge when you show up. They will also give you a loaner if needed. And judge you as only Midwesterners can.

        Reply
    5. Jessie the First (or second)

      At OldJob, we had access badges. If you forgot it, you could go to the front desk in the lobby, verify your identity, and get a pass for the day – but that pass would be a paper, temp thing that would not open the locked doors – it was simply a badge that identified you as having the right to be within the secured areas; you could then call someone to please come open the door for you, and they could see the proof that you were allowed in. So, the one or two times I forgot mine, I could get in first thing in the morning. But unless I wanted to bother my coworkers to keep letting me in, I couldn’t leave the secured area once there. So maybe OP has a similar system, with an added rule that once you’re in, you can’t keep asking coworkers to unlock the door for you.

      Reply
    6. Rat in the Sugar

      I’m wondering why there isn’t a single door that operates off a code instead of a badge during the day. That’s the way it is in my secured facility–the more convenient rear and side doors are always badge-only, but during the day, the outer front doors can be pushed open, and the inner doors open with a code, so if you forget your badge you’re just inconvenienced with having to walk all the way around front to the visitor’s entrance and punch in the code (plus the receptionist gets to chuckle at you). After hours, the outer doors lock themselves and can’t be opened without a badge. That way, you can still get in during regular hours by just knowing the code, but after hours the whole place is locked down and requires a badge. Maybe we just do that because we have visitors all the time? They get issued temp badges, but they don’t have the chip inside that opens the doors, it’s just for identification as a visitor (ESCORT NEEDED).

      Of course, we don’t have any kind of hazardous materials on site, though we do handle government info. Maybe a facility with more dangerous work feels the need to be locked down more tightly?

      Reply
    7. Observer

      Sometimes you don’t really have much choice about where the bathrooms are. Our bathrooms are outside of the secure area.

      The good news for us is that we are not as highly secure as some of the others (don’t need to be.) We also don’t use cards – instead we use individual pin codes. The second someone leaves the organization, the first that that happens is that their access is revoked. That means you can’t “lose” your pin.

      Reply
  12. LoV

    #OP1: Put it in your wallet. That’s what I did. If not, consider leaving it in your car when you’re not at work.

    Reply
    1. KR

      I did this with a door badge at an old office. It worked through my purse and wallet so I could just wave my purse over the sensor and get in and out! (And no, it didn’t make my credit cards stop working and vice versa)

      Reply
    2. TootsNYC

      That works if you’re a person who carries their wallet in a pocket always (the way many men do).

      But for women, lots of our clothes don’t have pockets (or don’t have pockets that will hold a wallet, and the point of keeping it in your wallet is that it’s w/ money & ID, which hopefully you’re in the habit of always carrying).

      So if I kept my ID card in my wallet, I’d have to get it out of my purse and carry it around to the bathroom.

      (Note that there are two problems–one that frequently affects our OP (forgetting the ID for bathroom trips and not being able to get back in) and one that doesn’t often apparently, or not often (employees who forgot their ID can’t get into the office at all, and have to drive home to get it).

      I do the cell-phone case/pocket thing, so I always take it w/ me to the bathroom (and yes, I sneak in a round of Angry Birds, so I never forget it)

      Reply
  13. Maxwell Edison

    “But you can’t really ask someone to walk differently”

    Tell that to my manager back at ToxicJob, who as part of the criteria for putting me on a PIP included the way I walked.

    Reply
    1. Engineer Girl

      I was reprimanded for he same thing on toxic program. My shoes were 1/2 size too big. I gave them away.

      Reply
    2. Damn it, Hardison!

      I’m both heartened and saddened that I’m not the only one. Apparently my walk is “too aggressive.”

      Reply
  14. jamlady

    OP1 – I wear mine on a lanyard and I don’t take the lanyard off all day. I leave the house with the mantra “phone keys wallet glasses badge” every morning and I put the badge next to my wallet when I get home. I’ve been using badges for years and I’ve never forgotten it once. It helps to have a routine.

    Reply
    1. Not the office dementor

      My dad did this. His was: comb wallet watch keys. When he had hair to comb!

      I put things in my work bag or in the place I look where I’m getting dressed eg next to my deodorant. It can be really helpful to keep things in the places where you will use them or will look for them. Although my work fob is either on my belt loop or in my bag, nowhere else.

      Reply
      1. Al Lo

        I put stuff I absolutely have to remember to take in the fridge with my car keys. (I’m the worst at remembering to take a lunch to work, and the only way I remember to grab it is to put my keys in the fridge.)

        Reply
        1. Karen K

          I use this system! If there’s anything I have to take with me, I put my car keys with it so I don’t forget.

          I need my badge to get into the parking garage, but not to actually get into the hospital. We also badge out to get into the employee parking garage. Piggybacking is not a huge deal here. There are other areas on the hospital where you absolutely need your badge, and if you’re clinical, you can’t work without it, as you need it to log into the computer system.

          My badge goes into a zippered pocket in the only purse I take to work.

          Reply
    2. Xarcady

      That’s what I did when I worked in an office very much like the OP’s. You needed your badge to get back into the work area from the restroom area.

      I bought a clip that held the badge and clipped on to my clothes. When I left work at night, I’d remove the clip and badge and put them in a specific pocket in my work bag. It was part of my ritual of getting in the car to drive home–sit in car, remove clip and put in bag, fasten seat belt, turn key, etc.

      Over the 5 years I worked there, I always had my badge. It didn’t always work, because we had a very faulty system, but I always had the badge.

      (We were allowed to let someone we knew back into the office. Because my desk was the closest to the door, I was the one who always had to get up and let people in. And my boss was one of the biggest offenders!)

      Reply
  15. Gadfly

    On the stomping–I would actually be surprised if it was the heavier people. As one who actually belongs to many fat groups on different platforms, it is something that has come up a lot. Most of us get accused of being very good at sneaking up on people. The favorite theory is we tend to be aware enough of the stigma that we tend to try to walk softly.

    I wonder if the women were told to “walk like a man” to be taken seriously. I have heard that before.

    Reply
    1. kb

      Barring a peculiar circumstance that we and OP are unaware of, I’m guessing the issue isn’t how all his/her female coworkers are walking. I suspect the floors are that type with a hard surface with hollow space right beneath. I dread them because they produce and absurd amount of sound. Combine that flooring with heels or hard-soled shoes and you’ve got a recipe for noise. This would make sense of the fact that it’s mostly women the OP finds to be loud, because most men’s dress shoes have nearly flat, rubber-lined soles.

      Reply
      1. Gadfly

        All of which is true. I’m commenting more on all of the comments, including the OP, who quickly point out the people are not fat or not all fat.

        Reply
        1. kb

          Sorry, I meant to format the comment by +1-ing your first paragraph, because I agree 100% but late night commenting makes my brain weird and things come out differently than intended. The comment as written was supposed to be coming off your last line and the OP’s perception that the women must be actively stomping/ doing something wrong vs. women’s professional footwear sometimes making it difficult to walk quietly in.

          Reply
    2. Mookie

      This is true about people with a lot of bodyweight in my experience, kind of an offshoot of the conditioning for women to be quiet and take up less space.

      Reply
    3. Oryx

      Agree with being aware of the stigma. Feeling as though we take up too much space as it is, so we don’t want to draw more attention to ourselves and our presence than necessary.

      (I’m trying to work on that: the feeling like I’m not allowed to take up space and just BE because of my size. Always a work in progress.)

      Reply
    4. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      Whoa, it’s not just me? I’ve joked before that I’m actually three ninja in a muumuu, because of how often I surprise people.

      Reply
    5. GigglyPuff

      Thank you, commented a little further up that it is totally not a weight thing. Also in the been heavy all my life group. Course it’s not actually something I’ve ever consciously thought about, but I’m also able to sneak up on people without trying.

      Reply
    6. Darrow

      In regard to the ‘walk like a man’ comment- I was curious about this as well! Is there some part of the office culture that makes the women feel they need to act more assertive? Perhaps this feeling of needing to be more assertive is partially resulting in the louder walking?

      I realize this thought is not supported by anything in the OP’s letter at all; it is just something I find very interesting to think about!

      Reply
  16. KR

    OP1: While I haven’t worked with sensitive information, I did work a position that required a supervisor card. I needed this card to do basic parts of my job. If I forgot it I could borrow a card but it looked bad for me. It also was bad for my coworkers because their individual “code” was recorded when they used their card and if I made a mistake it would initially involve them because it was their code. Let’s just say I didn’t do $1000+ drops with a card that wasn’t mine.
    Long story short, yes your work place is strict but I would recommend keeping it in your glovebox when you’re not at work. Have a dedicated spot where you keep it so you know it’s always there or keep it in your wallet. That’s what I did. Eventually I realized I couldn’t even trust myself to keep it in my car (sometimes it slipped in between the seats) so I kept it in the cash drawer at work and would retrieve it whenever I worked and put it back whenever I went home, but I realize that might not be feasible for you.

    OP2: I agree with Alison’s advice here. Your previous boss is the one being silly. Either way, it’s nothing that’s your fault or something you have to deal with. It’s between your new supervisor and your old boss.

    OP3: Could you also phrase it like, “With the night class and the weekend event the other week, I’m finding my weekends a little rushed. I’d like to take some comp time during the week to make up for New Weekend Event. Does that work?”

    OP5: Former supervisor of HS and College aged employees here: I agree with Alison’s advice – they’ll be expecting it just like any job you have at home is expecting that you’ll be leaving for college. The smart employers are willing to work around your school schedule and then schedule you in for your school breaks with a week or two’s notice. They’ll just be happy you’re coming to give them an extra hand for a few weeks. Just be up front about when you can and can’t work and give them as much notice as possible (as soon as you know when your breaks are and when you’re available).
    One thing I can recommend is to find a business with multiple locations – we had an employee who worked in our store during the summer, winter break, long weekends, and spring break. When she wasn’t in our store, she worked in the store local to her college. She could keep her current pay rate, earn and keep her benefits job to job (we offered good part time benefits), and got enough experience that she could move up in the ranks making her more indispensable to both of us.

    Reply
    1. FindingBalance

      OP3 here! Thanks for the suggestion. My current boss (the CEO) has the type of ethic where work is her one and only, and expects that from us too. Next month we’re getting a new CEO so I plan to test the waters and will take Alison & your advice to heart, and try to find a way to phrase it so that it’s not tit-for-tat but an expression of balance.

      Reply
  17. Not the office dementor

    #1 I get that this feels frustrating but it’s completely reasonable to be told you have to remember to bring your access card to work. Instead of seeing this as a reason to be anxious about going to the toilet, try to see this as a reason to remember your card. It sounds like it’s not just about letting you into the building but also about having a record of who’s been in and out so they know who’s handled the information in your workplace.

    I must confess I don’t quite understand how you’re forgetting it. I have a key ring for work with my entry fob and another thingie I use to access the printers. It lives in two places: either it’s on my belt loop or it’s in my work bag. That’s it. I don’t leave it anywhere else. Where are you putting your entry pass that enables you to forget it? Can you make a rule for yourself about where you keep it?

    Reply
  18. The Optimizer

    Op1, try attaching it to your keys at the end of the day – this has worked for me in the past. A coworker kept hers on a lanyard and habitually hung it on her rear view mirror when she left work each day.

    Reply
  19. Not the office dementor

    #2 Maybe this is field specific or a geographical thing but I have never, ever heard of it being a thing to touch base with someone if you hire away one of their employees, except perhaps if they’re at C-level. Maybe it’s a particular thing in recruitment? But actively reaching out to the current employer of someone you’ve hired, even after they’ve resigned, feels tone-deaf to me. It’s a bit like ringing someone’s ex to say you’re dating them now. It’s also not your news to share but the employee’s.

    Reply
      1. Not the office dementor

        Nope, it would be weird over here even if you know each other. You wouldn’t say anything at all until they’ve actually started the job.

        Reply
    1. Sparkly Librarian

      It’s a bit like ringing someone’s ex to say you’re dating them now. It’s also not your news to share but the employee’s.

      Awkward even if the “employee” does it (in the dating situation), but thanks for the earworm and mental image of Sarah Silverman as the new employer alerting Ben Affleck, “I’ve hired Matt Damon!”

      Reply
    2. mreasy

      It’s an industry standard where I work, mostly because it’s a small world and we all tend to know each other. But again – this is after the employee has accepted the new position and given notice.

      Reply
    3. UnCivil Engineer

      I had a boss loose it when I left my first job to work at another consulting firm. He phrased it as, “There’s a gentleman’s agreement between the higher ups around here that you’re supposed to let each other know that you’re looking at someone else’s employees.” My response, “Sounds like a regional thing” and let him know that wasn’t reasonable nor normal. (context I was a northern midwesterner living in the south) to which he freaked out and said, “Don’t call me regional!” To be fair he was from West Virginia and had a bit of a chip on his shoulder about that. The whole thing reeked of weird ownership and sexist benevolence. I left my new boss know that the old boss was likely call and chew him out. New boss thought it was hilarious as old boss was known as a screaming hothead in the industry. (Old boss from WV was descended from one of the families in that state’s famous feud.)

      Reply
      1. Important Moi

        “The whole thing reeked of weird ownership and sexist benevolence.”

        Not always sexist, depending on the parties involved, but definitely ownership. It’s like you can never get away from you old job.

        Reply
    4. TootsNYC

      I’m in publishing in the U.S., and also in a small subset, where lots of us know one another.

      I would only call another company’s manager if we were kind of close. Like we’d worked together in the past and were still sort of friendly (Facebook, maybe), or we emailed several times a year, or something.

      And I might not at all. I wouldn’t think it necessary.

      Reply
    5. Viktoria

      Oh boy. This reminds me of when I left a job for another position in the same industry, doing the same work. I was the second of, eventually, 4 people (out of a team of maybe a dozen) to leave Company A and get hired by Company B. Apparently, my old boss called up my new boss’s boss, furious that Company B “poaching” his employees. I would have loved to tell him the truth: “No, there was no poaching involved. No one reached out to us in any way. We all navigated to the company website, filled out the online application, and left one by one for a 40% pay raise and 200% improvement in working conditions. Byeeeee.”

      Reply
      1. Viktoria

        And yes, we were all in touch and once the first person left we heard all about how much better it was and followed suit. I was #2.

        Reply
  20. Rogue

    #5 – One year in college I lived in campus, but in order to stay during winter break, we were required to pay an additional cost to the school, which I couldn’t afford, so I’d planned to go home (2 hours away) for winter break and come back when I could get back into the dorms, which was about 1 month. The psycho I was working for at the time (my only source of income) didn’t approve and demanded that at least 3 days a week, I make the 4 hour round trip to come to work in order to keep my job or she would fire me. This was after I explained everything to her too. I was blown away at the ridiculousness, but couldn’t afford to not have a job. So, I did it. It was so expensive to do that I basically paying to keep my job. I worked for that crazy person, in that horribly toxic environment for almost 3 years. I still have work place PTSD.

    Reply
    1. Damn it, Hardison!

      Right; not all colleges are even open during the breaks. Mine was closed for almost a month for the winter holidays with no option to stay on campus. Ugh at your crazy manager.

      Reply
  21. Not the office dementor

    #3 What’s in your contract? And is there a workplace policy? I had to suck up unpaid overtime for years (unpaid overtime as needed for the needs of the business, ugh, gotta love media jobs). I am now happily working somewhere that gives me time off in lieu (as we call it in england) when I go over my 35-hour week (that’s a full-time week – we are lucky as it’s often 37.5 but 40 hours isn’t really a thing here). We have to book it as leave to get a half or whole day rather than just leaving an hour early but there’s a separate category for TOIL so it doesn’t eat into other time off.

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Most people don’t have contracts in the U.S.; it would generally come down to whether she’s exempt or non-exempt. I’m assuming she’s exempt, but if she’s not, they’re required to pay for that overtime.

      Reply
      1. Not the office dementor

        Sorry, did not know that. Though I guess I partly meant staff handbook, if you have those.

        Reply
      1. LilyPearl

        If you’re a doctor (guessing from your username) then your hours would likely be the same (possibly more) over here…

        Reply
    2. FindingBalance

      OP3 here- The policy unofficially is you do what you need to do to get the job done. We’re small (7 full time, 6 part time) so lack a lot of “official” policies. As a program director, I’ve learned there’s an expectation that I will step up whenever necessary, which again I am happy to do but sometimes need to reschedule things from my personal life. My current boss/CEO mostly expects we don’t ask for time aside from our benefits, but we’re getting a new CEO soon and I hope to be able to explore this a little bit then. Thanks for your input!

      Reply
  22. Alex

    OP1 – Maybe it’s because I work in the public sector, but the situation you’re describing sounds perfectly normal to me. At my current office, I have a collection of IDs and pulleys that get pulled out to get into my floor (yes, including after I go to the bathroom in the lobby), select a floor on the elevator, get into my building, get into the other building our organisation works from, and make the printer work. Plus the photo ID is technically always supposed to be out and visible!

    I have them all connected together in a series, which I keep in my work laptop bag when I’m not in the office, clip to my belt loop when I’m in the office wearing trousers and hang around my neck when I’m in the office with dress or skirt on. I just have a strict routine for myself, because there’s no way I could just shadow colleagues all day and still get to where I need to be.

    Reply
    1. Ultraviolet

      What happens at your workplace if someone goes down to the lobby to use the bathroom and realizes they left their access card in the office? (I realize that must be uncommon, since your ID is always supposed to be worn, but is there a policy?)

      Also, is it common for workplaces with high security to not have a bathroom within the secure area? That just seems like such a problem to me!

      Reply
      1. Nic

        I have a strict security workplace, too. There’s a lobby in the phone (you can get out of secure spots without the badge, just not into them) with security’s number on it. You call them, and they’ll come get you and bring you back to the secure area. Or if you have your cell (which we nearly always do) you can call from wherever you are.

        Reply
      2. Alex

        I’ve never noticed it happening, though admittedly I’m not paying too much attention there. I’d assume they’d either try to get the attention of someone inside to let them through or lurk casually by the bathroom until they spot someone about to go in that they can dart behind. The bathrooms are on the same floor, so it wouldn’t be so difficult a wait, just out in the elevator area.

        Reply
      3. ANewbie

        Yes – if there is a bathroom or kitchen, you then have to let cleaners into the secure area pretty regularly!

        Reply
        1. The Cosmic Avenger

          Yes, I believe that’s why. Our office has one floor with the bathrooms in the hallway near the elevators, outside of the secure area, and the other floor has them inside the secure doors. We are not the only tenant in this building, so on some floors there are other businesses, but I know on the two I’m talking about we are the only tenants. I think it’s because we receive deliveries on the former floor, so it’s set up with that public access in mind.

          Reply
        2. Natalie

          I used to have a couple of federal law enforcement agencies as tenants. Behind their unassuming office doors, they had jail cells, gun rooms (with reinforced floors), evidence lockers, etc. Since they’re leases still had the usual GSA cleaning requirements they had to escort the cleaners when it was time to dust in gun storage.

          Reply
      4. Kyrielle

        For most of us it’s really not an issue most of the time. Here, we have to pass security to move beyond the building lobby. The building lobby has restrooms for visitors who are waiting, but because the entire multi-story building is secure, we do have restrooms inside the secured zone, in the lobby of each floor. You can also get to the conference rooms and elevators there.

        But the hallways beyond that – where the offices/cubes are – are secured outside of normal business hours (and ones for groups working with specific data may be secured at all hours; I’m not sure). It’s really not a big deal; I come in before “standard” start of day because of my schedule, and when I need to go to the bathroom, I get up, walk through the door, and when I come back I just grab the ID/security card clipped to my pants and touch it to the sensor, and I’m through.

        If I forget my id in the morning, I can’t get into the building in the first place; so I ought to have it with me, and at that point it’s pretty trivial to pass back and forth.

        Unless, of course, I had it in my purse, swiped my purse to get in, and then forgot to take it out and put it on. I did that exactly *once* and had to wait 15 minutes until I got the attention of another early-bird coworker to get back into my office. (This is not a policy violation here, unlike for the OP, though.)

        Which just meant I added a new habit: have the badge on before getting in the elevator to my floor. (I wait until then because when I arrive it’s still dark. I feel pretty safe here, but I feel even safer digging in my purse when inside the secured building. Plus the light’s better inside.)

        Reply
  23. Chocolate Teapot

    1. I keep my work access card on a lanyard with a set of keys. If it isn’t round my neck or on my desk, it will be in the pocket of my handbag.

    Slightly off topic, but does anyone else find the plastic casings for access cards have a tendency to break easily?

    Reply
    1. Katz

      Yep. We had some pretty flimsy ones at my old work. The main problem was the hole where the casing attaches to the lanyard via a ring or clip – easily kaput.

      Reply
  24. Matt

    #1: I wonder what people do when cards get defective? We have a similar system (but not as strict – the receptionist can let people in by manually releasing the lock – visitors as well as employees), and yes, sometimes employees forget there cards, but just as often cards have to be replaced because they just don’t work anymore. What if one uses the bathroom and the card gets defective – no chance to return to the office whatsoever? (I can’t help but think of car keys, winter clothing, … being in the office with the employer not even able to retrieve them for the ride home …)

    Reply
    1. Gaia

      In my office, if your card were to suddenly stop working outside of the secure area you would

      1. call security and inform them of your location and several other secure items.
      2. They would call the designated person (which changes regularly) to verify a number of things
      3. Once verified they would head to you and verify your ID in person
      4. Once fully vetted you would be issued a new card on the spot – outside of the secure area – which you would then use to re enter.

      Reply
      1. Gaia

        Luckily our cards are proactively replaced regularly so I’ve only seen this happen 2 times in 3 years out of about 60 people at our site.

        Reply
          1. Katie the Fed

            You can re-issue if it stops working, or if someone loses it. But they’re not going to just reissue a new one every time someone forgets theirs.

            Reply
    2. Michele

      Our cards last for years (and I take mine with me when I run during lunch, so it has been exposed to a lot of sweat and rain). I have only had to replace mine once several years ago when mine snapped in half, and it was a bureaucratic comedy of errors. I couldn’t access the location where the office to get a replacement was located because I didn’t have a badge. The people who issued the badges were too lazy to send someone to get me and kept telling me to take the elevator, but you can’t operate the elevator or even exit it without a badge, which of course I didn’t have.

      Reply
    3. EvilQueenRegina

      The only time that ever happened to me I was actually in the Facilities office where they make them, so someone just issued me a new one – the way it works in my building it’s possible to get out of the area just by pushing a button but you then couldn’t get back in again without a working card. I can see how it could be a problem in other buildings though.

      Reply
    4. TootsNYC

      cards being defective is a known company risk. So they replace them. But that doesn’t happen terribly often, certainly not nearly as often as employees’ forgetting their cards could happen.

      I don’t see any parallel between them.

      You’d hold up your defective card and say through the glass, “I don’t know why it doesn’t work!” and then you’d go to the badge office, wherever that is, and say, “My card stopped working,” and they’d do the needful.

      Reply
    5. Turtle Candle

      At my workplace, cards that stop working or get glitchy or etc. (as opposed to lost or forgotten) are reissued without any penalty. If it’s during business hours, you go to the reception desk and she notifies the team that handles cards to get you a new one; if it’s after normal business hours and you need to get into the office urgently, you send a message to the on-call person. (If it’s not urgent, you’re expected to just wait until normal business hours, because someone’s going to have to come in to issue the card, which is a pain.) Penalties, when they happen (which for us is after you’ve forgotten your card a number of times–you get the first few goofs ‘free’) do not apply to when the card itself starts to fail.

      Reply
  25. YL

    I also have the same question previously asked about how OP1 gets to their desk. There does seem to be something inconsistent here. If they can start work without the card then surely piggybacking or manual admittance or a temporary card should do for toilet trips.
    In my office, which is also card-protected and the toilets are outside, you can’t open the door freely to leave either, which helps. I find that since I’m conditioned to use my card to get out I know I have it and to maintain the habit I swipe my card even if the receptionist lets me in/out or the door was already opened by someone else. Result : it’s unlikely I’ll leave the office and the card will stay inside there.

    For those for whom it’s practical the following system works for me – since we have RF cards which don’t need to be displayed all the time and my card is credit-card sized, I keep my card in my wallet which is thin (and always in my trouser pocket – I’m unlikely to forget it) and I can just swipe my whole wallet to open the door. Granted – I don’t have any contactless payment cards which might make me want to have a shielded wallet.

    Reply
    1. TootsNYC

      I think the OP is describing two different consequences or situations that result from the strict policy/mind-set.

      1. The OP often forgets the card at their desk (after having arrived with the card in their possession) when they have to go to the bathroom, and can’t get back IN to the work area.

      2. And, if anybody should happen to forget their card at the beginning of the workday, they have to go home and get it before they can get in for the day.

      Not that both things happen in the same dayto the same person.

      Reply
  26. Erin

    #1 I am in a similar position, except I couldn’t even get to my desk in the morning if I forgot my card. I am the type to do that, but it would be completely unacceptable here, so I have it on a string to wear around my neck if I have to leave my floor during the day and I simply leave it in the bag I take to work every day. Or maybe some other thing you never forget, wallet or your phone case (maybe like a mini phone-wallet, those come with additional space, really practical), next to your car keys, etc. I’ve been here for a year, still haven’t come to work without my card.

    Reply
  27. MommyMD

    I need my ID badge to log into our computers encrypted computer and to put electronic prescriptions through. My keys and my badge are left together every night. Keep your keys with your badge.

    Reply
  28. Ruth (UK)

    1. We have the exact sane set up. You need an access card to enter the building, then floor, then room etc of your office. You can go outward but not back inward without one (so you can get to the loos but not back again if you forget).

    I wear mine on a lanyard. At the end of the day, I put it in the top pocket of my rucksack (which I never not bring). I have a ‘rule’ for myself of can never be put down – it can only be worn or put immediately in the pocket of the rucksack. It would be quite hard to forget my entire rucksack so, so far I have never forgotten it in 2 and a half years.

    (incidentally, I have tried to query whether the access doors disable in the event of a fire. See, you can get out towards the main entrance without one but if the main way is blocked you might have to go back (and need one eg. to re enter your floor from the stairwell). Some fire exits lead out from offices so you’d need access that office… I’m entry level in a company in a building with multiple companies so so far no one seems to know or care enough to do anything…)

    Reply
    1. Observer

      In the US door locks need to “fail safe” in the case of a fire or the like. In fact, we needed to have the fire department test to verify this before we put our security system in place.

      Reply
      1. Chinook

        And because if this fail safe where secure doors become unlocked when the alarms go off, part of my job as floor warden is to remind people to lock their computers before they leave because otherwise anyone is now free to walk up and use them.

        Reply
    2. rubyrose

      I worked one place where you had to badge to get in and out of the building.

      For fire drills (had them 3 times a year) they would turn off the security system at the very start of the drill and leave it off until everyone was back in the building. And they had some method of leaving it turned off for the rest of the day only for people leaving.

      Reply
    3. Turtle Candle

      I used the “never put it down” rule with my student ID in college, which served as a dorm door key too, because the room doors locked automatically upon closing–so it was really, really easy to lock yourself out of your room, and if your roommate wasn’t around you had to either wait for them to come back and let you in, or call campus security. (This was especially bad if you had left your room to go to the showers, because then you’d potentially be hanging around in your towel.) It didn’t completely eliminate lockouts, but it helped a great deal.

      Reply
  29. Sheworkshardforthemoney

    OP1. Keep your card in a secure location in your car. This works for other things as well, I started keeping my gym bag in my car and now I go more often because I don’t have the excuse of no gear hand when I have a free hour.

    Reply
    1. Callalily

      I would caution about leaving anything in your car – particularly something as sensitive as a security pass.

      In my town it is not uncommon to find out that someone has broken into your car – it isn’t smashing windows or people leaving them unlocked, the thiefs now have high tech ways to unlock ‘keyless’ cars.

      It is to the point where the community now blames the victim for leaving stuff inside their car that was worth stealing.

      So I would NEVER leave something like a security pass inside of a vehicle that could be vulnerable.

      Reply
      1. Project Manager

        Was scrolling down to say this. We aren’t supposed to wear our badges outside of work (remember in National Treasure where Nicolas Cage photographs the guy’s badge from across the street? That’s why), and we definitely aren’t supposed to leave them in our cars. I put mine on between dropping Kid #2 at daycare and arriving at the gate (we drive on/off site) and take it off and tuck it in my purse between leaving work and picking up Kid #2 from daycare. Then it doesn’t leave my purse until the next morning (unless I need to turn on my laptop, but it goes right back in my purse after). Not sure what I would do if I didn’t carry a purse. Tuck it inside my wallet?

        I think a routine is key here. I have a routine with my badge and have never forgotten it; my husband brings his work laptop home only occasionally and has frequently forgotten it.

        Reply
        1. Erin

          Yeah, same for us, even between the buildings (we have a few buildings all on the same block) it’s not supposed to be visible. Not strictly enforced, but technically a no-no.

          Reply
  30. Lon

    OP1 – Definitely for security’s sake, keep it with your keys. Check with sec. office before you leave it in your car (May be a security offense), and if okay keep it out of sight, not on your rearview mirror.

    OP 4 – Heel to toe walkers always sound louder than toe to heel walkers. If a person wears heels it forces them to be a heel to toe walker. A tip might be when you hear them coming, to mute the phone so the person on the other end can’t hear the extra bit of noise. Unless, you are doing the talking of course. It is very hard for me to have external noise when I am in the phone as well, but, since you are new it’s probably a noise you will adjust to in time. Good Luck.

    Reply
  31. Rebecca

    OP#1 – lanyard or a belt clip with a retractable line – simply because you don’t want to be “that employee” who forgets their badge. I realize the policy to go home and get the badge seems extreme, but as you said, you live an hour away, so all the more reason to be vigilant. That being said, we all forget things from time to time, and it would be nice if your company gave you a chance if you forget once to get a temporary card for the day. If you keep forgetting, that’s a totally different situation to address.

    Reply
  32. Katie the Fed

    #1 – put your card in your wallet or purse the second you get up from your desk at the end of the day. Make it a habit. I have two different access cards/badges I need throughout the day and I’ve only forgotten them a single time in my career. Make it a habit.

    Reply
    1. Oryx

      Your last line is really the key — this has to be a habit that gets built up and habits take time to get the grooves in place. But you have to make it a priority to practice the habit in order for it to stick.

      Reply
    2. Detective Amy Santiago

      For probably six solid months after I left my job where I was required to have an ID badge at all times, I would STILL check for it every time I walked out my front door.

      Reply
      1. Lablizard

        I attempt to pull my card out of my home computer all the time and get a moment of WTF??? when it isn’t there, because I obviously don’t have that kind of security on my home computer. Ingrained habit is ingrained.

        Reply
      2. LBK

        I haven’t lived in DC in 6.5 years and I still occasionally find myself reaching for my train pass to exit the subway, despite Boston not having exit fare.

        Reply
          1. Detective Amy Santiago

            DC Metro rates vary depending on how far you’re going so you pay as you exit, but you have to use your pass on both ends so they know how to calculate the fare.

            Reply
          2. LBK

            Instead of just having a ticket reader on the entry side of the turnstile, there’s readers on both sides, and you have to tap your card to unlock the gate when you exit the same way you do when you enter.

            Reply
    3. Emi.

      You could even make yourself a sign! Lots of the doors at my workplace have stickers on the inside reminding you to take your badge.

      Reply
  33. Sunberry

    OP#1 – We had this type of rule for security reasons (secure areas) at an old job. If we forgot our pass or left it at our desk we had to go via reception and get issued a temporary pass. If you had too many temporary passes logged in the book then you were written up. I think it was 3 per month but can’t remember. Worth asking if such a system could be implemented if they’re going to be really rigid about it, and much better than an hour commute.

    Reply
  34. Channel Z

    OP4: If you, a new and junior employee, were to approach people to ask them to walk quietly, you would most likely offend your coworkers. It has more to do with the type of shoes, not weight or walking style per se. If you were to bring it up, it would best be suggested as a facilities improvement to a manager, like putting down a carpet runner, and how it bothers clients on the phone, not just you.

    Reply
    1. Michele

      It probably is the type of shoes. A few years ago when wooden heels were in style, it could get pretty loud around here. Now that rubber heels are more popular, it has quieted down significantly. I also agree that you don’t want to start off the job by being the person who complains about things that other people probably don’t notice.

      Reply
      1. fposte

        And if the OP has been in the workforce for 15 years and it hasn’t happened to her before this, it has less to do with the type of shoes than the structure of this particular building. It isn’t likely that the women in this office all wear special shoes or walk a special way that’s different from the people OP has worked with before.

        Reply
        1. Michele

          But the women’s shoes make noise and the men’s don’t, so to me that indicates a fashion difference. And people definitely do dress like their coworkers. You would never confuse someone from HR with someone from one of the labs or someone from sales where I work for example.

          Reply
    2. Venus Supreme

      My next door apartment neighbor walks SO loudly. I can tell when he gets up from the couch to go to the bathroom… I can also hear him walking (more like stampeding) up and down the stairs. I think it has to do with the fact we have hardwood floors, he may not have adequate carpeting, and he emphasizes walking heel first. Yes, it is annoying when I’m focused on a quiet movie or doing work, but I’ve managed to make it blend in to background noise. Perhaps thinking of the stomping as temporary noise will help lessen the issue, OP4? If not, I agree with Channel Z to suggest putting down carpet runners and framing it as accommodating your conversations with clients.

      Reply
      1. Venus Supreme

        HA! I just remembered the situation at my internship. Our office shared a wall with a theatre company. They specialized in physical theatre where everyone did the same, repeated actions. Mainly stomping. To weird horn songs. First time I heard it I was terrified that the building was collapsing — think of the scene in The Lion King where Mufasa gets trampled to death. That’s what it sounded like… and yup! Turned into background noise there too.

        Reply
  35. Michele

    I agree with Alison on the first letter. These work environments are fairly common. For example, where I work, if you don’t have your badge you can’t get through the security gate without security contacting your boss (or the person you are there to visit). Once you get on the property, you can get into the lobby but not the rest of the building without an escort. They do have some visitor badges that can be programmed to give access to a specific area, though, and you might be able to talk your company into doing something like that.
    However, I just keep my badge in my car. It is the easiest solution. I just had to get into the habit of taking it off when I left the building so it would be in my hand and I would set it down when I got to the car. Some people also keep theirs in their wallets or purses, so that might work for you instead.

    Reply
  36. Darcy

    OP #5: I work for an employer who employs lots of college students. We place them on “school leave” when they head home over break so they don’t have to reapply when they return. In some industries that’s very common, so I would agree to ask about it when you’re interviewing. Good luck!

    Reply
  37. AdAgencyChick

    #2, your boss can suck an egg. Unless they’re very close, in which case it would probably not have been a good idea for you to apply for the job (because friendship might have trumped professional courtesy and the hiring manager could have ratted you out to your boss), I can’t picture a new boss giving an old boss a heads-up. After you’ve resigned, what’s the point? Your boss knows! And before you’ve resigned, it’s a serious breach of confidentiality. But I’m not bitter about having been outed to my manager once or anything. :P

    #3, you can ask, although at least if your industry is like mine, awards dinners and brunches wouldn’t be considered work in the same sense that being in the office over the weekend working on a project would be. If you’re an introvert like me, both of those things FEEL like work, but your boss may even think of this as doing something nice for you by letting you take her place, rather than making you work on a Saturday morning.

    Know your industry. In mine, the occasional weekend day is expected, although if you have more than one weekend to work in a month you might be able to ask for comp time (although you won’t get it at a 1:1 ratio). I would imagine in other fields, weekend work might be unusual enough that it always triggers comp time.

    Reply
    1. FindingBalance

      OP3 here- I think this is very insightful and I *am* introverted so you’re spot on that I really need my down time! I don’t know if it’s the industry so much as it is my boss’ expectations but I think you are really right on the money with this. The Monday after the awards I had a performance review which was “exceeds expectations” so I think that pitching in with extra/unusual hours is probably expected, as you said, on occasion, but maybe more than once a month is exceptional.

      Reply
  38. August

    OP #5: How amenable employers are to students taking off during school breaks tends to vary. If you’re really worried about finding a job that will let you have breaks off, I’d look into applying to university/university-affiliated places (campus catering, campus coffee shops, campus computer labs, campus libraries, etc.). Obviously, those places are the most understanding about accommodating class schedules, giving time off during exam season, and giving time off during breaks. The campus shop that I work doesn’t even ask if I’ll be working during university holidays; they just assume that I’ll be gone.

    Reply
  39. Adlib

    Oh #4, I am living this situation right now. On the second floor of our building where my office is, the floors are especially sensitive and/or creaky when anyone walks on them. Most of us have learned how to just walk a bit more softly so as not to bother the people working downstairs. The lady in the office next to mine constantly stomps everywhere, and it’s so loud I sometimes just shut my door. Maybe once you’ve been there a while and get to know some of the others better, it might be something you can bring up in casual conversation maybe to the effect of “can you believe how loud it is when people walk around here?”

    Reply
  40. Andy

    OP#1: this was my paranoia the first few months of working in my current workplace. Been there close to 8 years now and no longer an issue. Fortunately, my place is a little less strict, and security will happily issue a temp pass if you forget, but I’ve also been able to eliminate forgetting altogether after a coworker showed me the passes work inside your wallet. So I just have to wave my wallet in front of the lock and it opens, and I don’t forget my pass when I leave home!
    Not sure if your setup allows for that, but just putting it out there.

    OP4: I feel your pain. There’s a newish woman in my department, and she is super small but STOMPS. Everywhere! We have carpet and it’s still ridiculously loud. And then she wears really jangly jewellery too, stomping and jingling everywhere she goes. So. Freaking. Annoying.
    Sorry, just had to vent. :p

    Reply
  41. Countess Boochie Flagrante

    OP1: This seems normal to me. At my job, I have to badge in twice — once at the front door, at a manned security post, and once to get onto my floor of the building. If we forget our badges or the badges don’t work, we have to wait for our manager to be contactable (which is a pain if you’re an early arriver) and for them to enter you in security’s record of “badgeless people we should expect today.” Then they check your ID, register you as a guest, and give you a paper visitor badge. Your manager then badges you in and out of your floor as needed, all day — and given our culture, they’ll probably tease you for the next three weeks about it.

    Or… you can go home and get your flippin badge and skip the drama.

    It’s an annoying system, but I don’t know anyone here who has forgotten their badge more than once.

    (Industry note: investment arm of a major bank)

    Reply
  42. Jules

    #1 There are compliance issue that might require you to have that tag. I’ve heard from previous companies how their license/special privileges were revoked due to failing random spot check. We were told to make sure that our tags are always visible and our picture had to face outwards.

    #4 It could be the floor especially when women wear high heels.

    Reply
  43. Imaginary Number

    It seems like there’s two parts to OP #1’s complaint: dealing with for getting their badge at home and dealing with forgetting their badge in the secure area when going to the bathroom in the lobby. It makes total sense (to me) to be strict about people forgetting their badge completely. As others pointed out, in those cases you need a record of who entered the secure area.

    But there shouldn’t be a huge issue of someone forgetting their badge inside when they go outside to use the bathroom. Eventually someone is going to have to retrieve that badge for the OP anyway. Is the issue just that it’s a pain to call someone to go find your badge and bring it out of the secure area? I’m not sure I understand OP’s complaint about the bathroom.

    Reply
  44. a big fish in a very small pond

    OP1 – how are you getting into the secure office area in the morning if you don’t have your pass?

    Reply
  45. a big fish in a very small pond

    #2 oh noooo. I had no idea that this was a thing. I’ve never contacted a peer (at other companies, but who I know professionally) when we’ve hired one of their staff members. Egads! Despite Alison stating that it isn’t an obligation, I literally had no idea that this was something people did and that I’ve committed this faux pas on a few occasions.

    Reply
    1. peanutbutter

      Based on what I’m reading, it’s seems to be if the managers know each other or specific industries. I work in a large city where some connection overlap. I’ve only seen the hiring managers contact other managers if they knew each other (and also after the new employee gave notice).

      Reply
  46. East of Nowhere South of Lost

    If I forget my prox card it’s one thing, if I forget my bridge card I can’t work for the day. No loaners on the bridge system since it’s tied to my fingerprints etc. OP 1 needs to grow up and be responsible. It’s not impossible to remember a prox card!

    Reply
  47. OP #2

    OP #2 here! Since sending Alison this email, my new boss has sent my old boss a little gift basket that seems to have smoothed things over. I found out that my boss was salty because my final interview for the position was on the same morning she had a meeting with my new boss, and my new boss said nothing to her. I think my (old) boss probably knows this is irrational and she’s being a baby – as the coworker in the middle of all this pointed out to me, they had not even settled on their candidate yet and my reference checks wouldn’t be completed until the following day. It’s all quite silly, but nothing surprises me anymore with this boss and this company. Glad to be leaving!

    Reply
  48. Applesauced

    I’ve had things similar to #1 at my current and past job –
    Past job – physical keys, I kept them on a quick release key ring with my house keys all week, and put them in my pocket (or boot, because women’s clothes don’t always have pockets) as soon as I got to the office
    Current job – key card, but same idea, it’s on a retractable keychain with my house key;, I grab everything as I leave in the morning, them clip the keycard to myself (or in my pocket) once at the office

    Reply
  49. Liz T

    “The easiest way to handle this would be to come up with a system to remember your card — for example, keep it in your car rather than bringing it inside your house at night.”

    This is one of the few things that makes me jealous of car people. I might switch my bag day to day and lose tracks of things, but most of people don’t change their car every day–even if it REALLY clashes with their shoes.

    Reply
    1. Temperance

      I take public transportation, and what works for me is having a work tote. I never switch it, even if I switch out my purse. It’s the only way I remember my water bottle and badge.

      Reply
    2. Dust Bunny

      I never leave mine in my car because it’s also a photo ID with my place of employment on it and if somebody broke into the car, I wouldn’t want them to get ahold of it. But I also do not ever leave the house without my lanyard around my neck.

      Reply
    3. Transportation Worker

      Yeah, this. I work for the transit agency in my city and my work ID is also my transit pass. I need to have it displayed when I’m in the building, so it’s in a plastic retractable holder, but that means it can’t fit in my wallet. But I also have to pull it out several times on my round-trip commute, so it has to be easily accessible. I usually clip it to my belt loop after I get to my desk in the winter since I tend to wear longer coats in cold weather that make it a pain to pull out the badge, so it lives in my bag or my coat pocket. I’ve been here a year and only had a problem once – when I had it in my coat pocket when I got to work and forgot to transfer it to my belt, worked at my desk all morning so I didn’t notice I didn’t have it, then walked out of the building to an out-of-office meeting without my coat since it had warmed up a lot. Security took my driver’s license as collateral and gave me a loaner card so I could get inside to my desk to get my badge.

      I agree that OP1 needs a routine so this isn’t coming up all the time, but work IDs have different patterns of use than other cards and so the routine has to be different. And, as Mike C. has said in a couple of places, it only takes small variations in the routine to make you forget it every once in a while.

      Reply
    4. Gracie

      I ride the bus every day and the only thing that ever stays consistent with what I carry to work is my phone. Bags, lunch, jackets, everything changes. I’ve found that by putting the badge either in my shoes (to them clip to my clothes or in my pocket) or clipping it to my phone case prevents me from forgetting it. If I do forget it sucks because I get to the office earlier than the lobby opens and have to wait in the cold and dark. And one of the reasons for all our security is we are in a bad neighborhood.

      Reply
    5. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      When I was in college and needed my ID to get into my dorm, I kept it clipped to my belt and tucked into a back pocket — every time I left, before I let the door close, I’d pat the pocket to be sure it was in there. Took me months after I left to stop patting my own butt every time I left home :)

      Reply
      1. Liz T

        But unless you’re wearing the same pair of pants every day that’s not much different than keeping it in your bag.

        Reply
        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

          The point was that I checked every time I left my dorm, so that even if I didn’t have it, I noticed before I closed the auto-locking door. It was built into my morning routine.

          Reply
      1. Parenthetically

        Unless you change your phone case regularly, in which case, I salute your commitment to coordinating ensembles!

        Reply
          1. Halpful

            Plus it’s fun to share helpful tips. :) For backpacks, I keep most of my things in a set of pencil cases, so it’s quicker and easier to switch bags. …Actually, I do that for my purse too now.

            Reply
  50. caryatis

    Re OP4: “even the ladies who are noticeably underweight”

    What? Either you have a very unusual number of underweight people or you’re using “underweight” to mean thin or not overweight. Those are not the same things.

    Reply
      1. MegaMoose, Esq

        Ironically nitpicking in response to your comment about not nitpicking, I think you forgot a “1” in that first commenting rule.

        Reply
  51. A Nonny Mouse

    I’m trying to read #4 in a way that isn’t bodyshaming (noticeably underweight, Sumo wrestlers, hinting that a woman is heavy) for those involved and I just can’t.

    Reply
      1. Observer

        That’s not entirely true. Notice that the first thing that the OP jumps to is people’s weight. And then brings it up again in noting that she can’t say anything because implications about people’s weight might upset them.

        The thing is that it’s not about weight, and although bringing it up is inappropriate in any case, if anything were to be said about it, it should not be implying things about people’s weight anyway.

        Reply
  52. That Would Be a Good Band Name

    OP1 – Someone has probably suggested this, but I don’t have time to read through all the comments this morning. How about switching to one of those ID holder/key rings that are popular on college campuses? Or at least were popular at the one I attended. That way your ID is always with your keys and I would assume you wouldn’t leave without it in the morning.

    Reply
  53. Old Admin

    OP#1: My company mandates access cards and locked doors, too. The however issued lanyards to everybody, and we have to werar the lanyard *all the time* at work, even when sitting down. That reduced forgotten cards to a minimum.

    OP#4: That is probably an unfortunate shoe/floor combination.
    We have a staircase in the company that sort of stands free in the assembly hall – when a certain lady with (very moderate) heels walks down that, the racket of an entire herd of horses shakes surrounding offices! No fault of hers.

    Reply
  54. MsCHX

    I also don’t think OP #1’s employer is being strict. I don’t see it unreasonable to require employees to remember their badges daily!

    I’m not a person that changes purses but understand many women do. However, my work tote bag is the same. When I leave in the evening, my keycard goes in the pocket of my bag. Everyday. Never in my pants/dress/jacket pocket. Never in my coat pocket. Never in my purse. Always in the same pocket in my bag.

    Another alternative is to keep it in your wallet because presumably, that comes with you everyday (license/ID, credit/debit cards, etc).

    Reply
  55. Dust Bunny

    1) I can’t quite believe you needed to write to somebody about this. Lanyard. Stat. My job isn’t high-security but we have to have keycard/ID’s to go in any of the non-public areas, and one of those areas access-restricted basically to my department and a scant handful of other individuals (and security does keep track of who goes in). If I forget my ID, my coworkers not only are not supposed to let me in, they actually cannot because their cards won’t work on that lock. If you need your card to access things, then it’s on you to make sure you have it with you. I don’t leave the house in the morning without mine around my neck so I *know* I have it.

    4) I always forget that the art museum in my town has hollow wood floors and if I wear shoes with hard soles it sounds like the entire Budweiser Clydesdale team coming through, even though I’m only one not-particularly-large woman. If the small women are also making that much noise and the men are not, it’s almost certainly shoes + floor. Let this one go.

    5) Do you have friends who live off campus? Could you stay with them/housesit for them if they’re traveling so you wouldn’t have to leave your job?

    Reply
    1. Liz T

      OP #5 plans to go home over break. It’s not about local housing. (Most places keep dorms open over break anyway.)

      Reply
      1. fposte

        I think most places keep something open over break, but it’s not necessarily the dorm you’re living in the rest of the time.

        Reply
      2. AnotherLibrarian

        Actually, most colleges I have worked at/attended don’t keep the dorms open over breaks. They might keep them open over Spring Break and Thanksgiving, but many colleges (including the ones I have worked for) literally shut down for a week over Christmas and some shut the dorms for a month over that period.

        Reply
          1. Gurl

            Except it does, because if the OP is in a dorm and it is closing, they kind of have to go home over break, so obviously that’s what their plan would be.

            Reply
  56. Blizzard

    #5: My university shut down for six weeks for Winter break – Thanksgiving through New Year’s. That’s a hell of a “vacation” from an off-campus job. Most kids I knew who went home either didn’t work or were able to pick up odd jobs to fill in the time. It was a very awkward amount of time to be out of school.

    Reply
  57. Stellar

    For OP5: Employers who hire students should be familiar with this senario. In many cases, the loss of workers over summer and winter breaks is made up for thanks to other students who are returning to their hometowns for the same reason. There may also be other student workers who suddenly have a lot of free time and want the extra hours. If it’s on campus, they may not even be open (depends very much on the job and location).

    Just mention that you’ll be traveling home for such and such dates before they hire you. It will either work for them or not, the same as scheduling around your classes.

    Reply
  58. Allison

    1. I worked for a security company not long ago, and they were strict about access cards in some ways: you had to badge in even if someone was holding the door open for you, and you couldn’t open the door for someone you didn’t recognize, unless there was an email saying maintenance people were coming in and they were supposed to be there. However, we knew people were human and sometimes forgot their badges. You could borrow a temporary one for the day if you left yours at home, and if you left yours at your desk, someone who knew who you were would let you in no problem.

    However, if someone told me their coworkers didn’t even make an effort to bring their badges to work, because there was supposedly no consequence to leaving it at home, I’d believe it, and I wouldn’t blame them for wanting to crack down and give people a harder time for leaving theirs at home. It does make it harder for people who do occasionally forget, but it ensures people make an effort to bring them in.

    #4 I know how annoying it is when someone makes a ton of noise and shakes the floor when they walk. It could be their shoes are heavy, or the floor isn’t very solid, or maybe they want to walk with authority and they’re overdoing it. Sometimes I wonder that when I take my hourly walks around the office (it’s a Fitbit thing), my shoes might be making too much noise even though I’m not a stomper. There’s nothing you can really say to someone about this, even if you manage someone it can come across as nitpicky and, if it’s aimed at mostly women, it can sound like you want the women in the office to walk more “like ladies” – it won’t sound good.

    Reply
  59. the gold digger

    We do have generous benefits, 20 days vacation/personal and five sick days, but strict policies on how to use it (two-week notice, signed approval, no more than five consecutive, etc.)

    Actually, that does not sound generous to me at all! You have to go through a ton of bureaucracy and you can’t take more than five days in a row off? So much for a two-week vacation.

    PS Yes, absolutely ask for comp time. I am still bitter about having to spend 2012 Thanksgiving Friday flying to Dubai and then having to work as soon as I got there (the work week starts on Sunday) and having my boss refuse comp time. At least ask. If your boss says no, then you know that you might be dealing with a jerk.

    Reply
    1. The Data Don't Lie

      Yeah, that’s not generous. I have more vacation days and 3 times as many sick days and very open policies about when and how I use it. My brother has unlimited sick days and about the same vacation I do. I’m not trying to brag but I just want you to be more aware of what work in the “real world” (i.e. outside academia) is like. Don’t let employers convince you that their benefits are generous when they aren’t.

      Reply
      1. Blizzard

        They sound very generous to me! I have 13 vacation/personal days and 6 sick days. My first year, I had only 9 vacation/personal days. I do not work in academia.

        Reply
        1. Parenthetically

          It’s the “strict policies” that are getting me. Either give the days or don’t, but treat people like adults either way.

          Reply
    2. Jessesgirl72

      Yeah, my husband has 20 vacation days with no limits or signed approval requirement, 12 paid holidays, and no set limit to paid sick/personal days.

      The OP’s benefits are in no way generous.

      Reply
    3. Parenthetically

      I had the same thought. Has OP been continuously told, “Your benefits and time off are very generous! So don’t take advantage of them! Be grateful, workers!” or something? Because having a two-week notice requirement for personal days and no more than five (!!!) consecutive days off sounds pretty ungenerous to me, too. Dream trip to Europe? Sorry, you’re limited to exactly one week. Best of luck with jet lag and seeing everything you want. Combine your vacation with a trip to your niece’s destination wedding in Costa Rica? Not if you want to see anything outside the resort! Ugh.

      Reply
      1. FindingBalance

        OP3 here…. I have been told pretty much exactly that, on multiple occasions. It’s very eye-opening to see such different perspectives!

        Reply
    4. Anon for This

      I’d love to see a survey of AAM readers about benefits around vacay/personal/sick days. 20 days absolutely sounds generous to me, and is the kind of thing that you’d only get at my current job if you’d been here for at least five years (if not longer, depending on whether you started with 10 or 15 days of vacay).

      Reply
      1. Adlib

        15 days PTO total here (more or less depending on tenure with company), counts for sick too. We don’t get separate sick time. Boo.

        Reply
      2. Natalie

        It’s not the amount of days, it’s the apparently bananas process for using them and the fact that you can’t take more than one work week at a time. You can give someone hundreds of days of PTO a year – it’s still not generous it they don’t use them due to the PITA.

        Reply
      3. MsCHX

        15 days of PTO here (20 at 5 years, 25 at 10 years) (my last job I had 18 and would’ve been bumped to 23 after 5 years)
        No sick days
        11 paid holidays
        closed during the week between Christmas and New Years

        I didn’t find OPs time off to be that generous either.

        My husband gets 18 PTO days , 10 sick days and 3 personal days at the START of employment. I think THAT is generous!

        Reply
      4. Casper Lives

        15 combined sick/vacation days, 6-8 paid holidays (depending on whether they fall on a weekend – they’re stingy like that), no office closings so I don’t know if they would pay or make you take it unpaid

        The time for using the days is somewhat flexible, like you can say the day before you made a doctor appointment for the next day, but they want 2-3 weeks of notice for vacation. I don’t want to derail, but it doesn’t make up for not having healthcare, so I rate the benefits as very poor.

        Reply
      5. FindingBalance

        OP3 here- I think it seems to matter (A LOT) where you live. In my greater-metropolitan area, it’s common regardless of industry to start out with a week of PTO and accrue. In my current job, everybody gets 20 days from the start, which did seem very generous to me. I think a survey based on industry, # days, and geographic location, and maybe years at the job, would be VERY interesting!

        Reply
      6. LeafToad

        UK resident here, so things are a bit different. Still on nearly the most junior grade (darn you, career change).

        I have 27 days annual paid leave, plus 3 fixed closure days, plus 8 bank holidays. This is above the legal minimum of 5.6 weeks as my employer doesn’t include bank holidays in the total, which they could. I can also ‘buy’ up to 2 weeks’ additional unpaid leave through salary return. More senior grades get more leave.

        Limits on using my leave are:
        – approval by my manager to ensure minimum staffing as we are customer-facing
        – essentially impossible during the peak season for my specific role (2 months)
        – there’s no actual rule on notice, and I’ve taken afternoons/next days off on same-day notice before. I wouldn’t pull that with longer periods unless there was an emergency though, I normally give a month or more.
        – I’ve caused slight confusion but no problems by burning 20 days of leave at once before for long-distance holidays (boo, jetlag).
        – there is no hard limit on sick leave, only on sick pay (13 weeks full, 13 weeks half). Periods of 7+ days need a doctor’s note.

        I am broadly horrified at everyone else’s meagre entitlements!

        Reply
    5. Systems Lady

      Yes, yuck to that vacation policy.

      I’m lucky to have a manager who all but introduced us to the wonderful concept of comp time, after our old manager only gave OT bonuses, left out anything that wasn’t charged to a customer as OT (that could include a full day’s worth of travel!), and aggressively subtracted any non-PTO that wasn’t billable. Sure, it makes sense to subtract some of that, but not just about all of it…

      Even Oldboss gave us at least a day during the week if we worked the weekend, though.

      Reply
    6. FindingBalance

      OP3 here- Thank you all for your insights!! Like I said, this is my first job outside academia so I don’t really know what to expect. I live and work in a known workaholic greater-metropolitan area in the USA, one other job I had right after college (before grad school) gave 7 days vacation, 3 sick days and you earned 1 extra of each for every year you were there. My mom worked at her company for 12 years, eventually accruing 6 weeks PTO, and when she was laid off her new company wouldn’t negotiate and started her back at 1 week. 1 week PTO for 1st year employees seems to be relatively normal in this area, regardless of industry. I *do* personally hate the procedures, though. It definitely doesn’t feel like being an “adult” (obviously I will do the work that needs doing!). Perhaps some of it stems from us being very small (6 FT, 7 PT staff, or something like that) so if one person is gone for more than a week it can really impact their program area.

      You’ve all given me food for thought and when our new CEO begins I might think of ways to suggest some changes to policies. (Or not… I’m a little nervous about it!)

      Reply
    7. Robin Sparkles

      Reading AAM is eye-opening on what others consider generous. I work in the health field and I have had between lumped vacation and sick days that come out to about 25-28 days + 6 holidays a year (so about 31-34 days off including holidays). It’s left to us to use how we want to manage it. So while I have about the same amount as OP does – I am allowed to decide if I am taking vacation, sick-day, etc. Sick days you don’t have to give advance notice for obvious reasons and vacation days you give what your manager considers reasonable (every area has a different expectation – my area doesn’t require coverage so I can give as late as a day before if I wanted to). And if I come in early one day, it’s understood I can manage my time and come in late or leave early another day. I am not sure what industry you are in FindingBalance, but the way your organization is run doesn’t seem generous at all. They aren’t providing you the flexibility to manage your own time.

      Reply
      1. FindingBalance

        It’s the flexibility I would most appreciate, too. Lately I’ve been carving it out a little, testing to see about coming in 5-10 minutes late, and then I work late. But I don’t think any official request for “traded time” would go over well at all. It might be my #1 issue with this workplace.

        Reply
  60. Laura (Needs To Change Her Name)

    OP5, I’m guessing a lot of the kinds of jobs you might apply for will have applications that ask for your availability – this gives you an opportunity to mention that you are a student and would be available during the academic term. There are jobs where this won’t work out, but there are plenty of places that will accommodate your class/break schedule. It often works out that you will need leave during the same period of time that someone else will be back in the area short-term and is hoping to get on the schedule while they are home for break. (This has been my experience in fast food and retail.) The best thing to do is be up front about it, and also don’t assume that your manager will remember this on their own – remind them as you get closer to breaks so that they can remember to take it into account when scheduling.

    Reply
  61. Adam

    Re: #1, I keep my access card in an insert in my wallet. I can’t go anywhere without it, which means there’s no risk of forgetting it. If you can attach the card to something you need to go out and about, the problem disappears.

    Reply
  62. LVeen

    #2 – At my previous job, I was very open with my manager about my job hunt (I was there for a series of short-term contracts and it was never certain whether they would extend my contract or not). When I gave my 2 weeks’ notice, she said, “If I had known [new job] wanted to hire you, I would have asked them to delay your start date.” I didn’t know how to react to that – it seemed like crossing a line and she had given me a glowing reference, so I don’t know why she was so surprised they made me an offer.

    (Old Job wasn’t short-staffed at the time that I quit, and in fact one of the main reasons I wanted to leave was that I was bored out of my mind due to not having enough to do, so my leaving didn’t have a negative impact in terms of other people’s workloads or anything.)

    Reply
  63. Anon for This

    #2 — The OP’s original manager getting upset about not being told seems to be part and parcel of being a toxic boss. When a friend of mine left a job with a Toxic Boss (TB), her New Boss (NB) reached out to TB because this is a small industry and they’d overlapped together at a previous workplace. They got together for lunch just after my friend started at the new job, and TB spent the whole time telling NB how horrible my friend was, what a bad hire she was, how NB was going to regret it, etc. Well, NB couldn’t have been happier with my friend and eventually cut TB out of her life because she was so appalled by what she said.

    Reply
  64. AnotherLibrarian

    #5 You asked what the best plan for working on college is. I supervise between four and seven students a semester, so here are a few thoughts on that:

    1. Campus jobs are limited to the hours they can give you, but what you lose in hours you gain in flexibility. Students in those jobs, as far as I am concerned and as far as the school is concerned, are students first and a worker second. That means I am expected (and do) give them a level of flexibility I would never provide to a regular employee. Have a midterm tomorrow? Sure, take the day off and make up the hours later in the week. Not all departments can be as flexible as I am, but all of them provide a high level of flexibility for school obligations.

    2. Don’t just look for jobs that are advertised. Those students I supervise? Most of them get hired by word of mouth. So, go to departments, bring a resume and cover letter, and ask if they have any thing. This works especially well if you have Work Study money. At my school, Work Study students don’t come out of my general student budget. So, hiring you costs me nothing.

    3. Bare in mind most student jobs are minimum wage for your state. I wish I could pay my students as much as I think they are worth, but I can’t.

    4. It might not be the best idea to get a job your first semester as a freshmen. College is a huge change. Most first semester Freshmen I hire don’t end up keeping the job, or end up being no shows and I have to let them go. I would strongly urge you to get a feel for college before working, if you can. I know it is not an option for everyone, but I have seen a lot of first semester freshmen give up their positions or end up having to be fired, because they got so stressed out they just stopped showing up.

    Reply
  65. Barbie

    #5 – I’m surprised to see that people are claiming that in non campus jobs, college students generally WOULD be required to work over breaks. That was not my experience at all. I worked for a grocery store in college (usually 10-20 hours a week), and it was well understood by management that the large majority of college students would not be available over breaks, because they would be going home to another city and/or state. For the types of jobs most college students have (restaurants, retail, grocery, etc.), you WILL have the flexibility to go home over break and not be expected to work, particularly since it’s going to be a part time position.

    Reply
    1. fposte

      I think people’s experiences have varied enough that a reasonable takeaway is “It depends.” I think it would be bad for the OP to count on this kind of understanding if she’s in a place where it’s not granted.

      Reply
  66. Another Lawyer

    #2, I think this is more common in relationship-centric fields. I work in politics and made an internal move a few yeas ago, which my boss knew I applied for. Before I got an offer, my now-boss called my then-boss to ask if he would be upset if he poached me. My then-boss, the most gracious man on Earth, told my now boss that he wouldn’t because “when you’re ready for varsity, the coach can’t keep you on JV”

    #4, You can’t say anything but it’s constant in my office too. Our floors are marble or cheap carpet and both are deafening with stilettos.I switched to wedges and flats because I hate making that much noise, but it is what it is.

    Reply
  67. Al who is that Al

    The article about the security card – I understand what people are saying about simply remembering your card, but isn’t the bigger issue the fact that the toilets are outside the secure area ? You are creating a situation where you have a secure area but then you are making people go in and out of that area all day making it much less secure. If you have an office with say 50 people in it, chances are the door will be opened every 10 minutes or so during the day. It does beg the question what the security is trying to prevent. If it’s theft from the office then the constant to’ing and fro’ing creates a big issue. If it’s sensitive data (as the OP says) then surely auto screen locking, biometric locks on cabinets and logins is the way forward, not a locked door.

    Reply
    1. Jessesgirl72

      Having the restrooms outside the secured area allows access to them by visitors and other workers who don’t have clearance to move within the secured areas. Giving outsiders access to the secure area to use the restroom is considerably less secure than having people with clearance come and go.

      Reply
    2. Isla Nublar Scientist

      I’m not sure how that’s helpful to the OP, though. They don’t seem to be in a position to change the security protocols. They just need to figure out how to work effectively within those limits.

      Reply
    1. LBK

      I didn’t think forgetfulness was something people would comment on with such disdain, either. Lot of people commenting as though leaving a badge at home is the sign of an inept worker (in which case I must be the worst employee this company’s ever had).

      Reply