my boss goes overboard for Halloween, hiring manager called me seven times in two hours, and more

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

1. My boss goes overboard for Halloween

I’ve worked six years for a man who goes way over the top with Halloween. Our office becomes a haunted dungeon with spooky lighting, a disturbing soundtrack, gothic pictures and dust covers, and toys that use sensors to jump out at people and make loud noises. For reasons I don’t understand, my boss loves this.

I hate it. I have PTSD from a bad childhood and the whole thing increases my anxiety. Especially the soundtrack can make me spin out. If I didn’t have an office with a door, I wouldn’t be able to work here.

My boss is also a workaholic who seems to have been spinning out the last few years, but has been better lately. Last year he didn’t do the Halloween decor because he was too busy. I hoped he had realized not everyone likes it and wouldn’t do it again. But no… As I write the decorations and lighting are going up. It used to be the whole month, at least now it’s only one and a half weeks. Meanwhile people are waiting for his input on time-sensitive matters.

I’ve thought of asking him not to do it. He probably would stop if I asked — but then he would resent me for years. Maybe forever. I don’t want the damage to my career. I’ve heard several people say they don’t like it, or are afraid of the toys, so I’m not the only one. But no one wants to burst his bubble, and there are a handful who enjoy it. I have some earplugs I bought for a music show I ended up not going to and I think I’ll bring them in so I won’t have to hear the soundtrack when I leave my office. Thank God for my door.

When you have legitimate grounds to worry that you’ll be penalized in some way for asking your boss or employer to change a policy or practice (and “penalized” includes just having a more tense, less positive relationship with your boss), and when you’re not the only one who would like that change, it’s often best to speak up as a group. Why not speak up with a few of your coworkers, and at least address the music and the motion-activated toys? You could all explain that it’s distracting and even unsettling, and ask him to retire them. He’d have to be special kind of jerk to hear that and still insist on forcing a “celebration” on people that they’ve told him outright they find disturbing.

2. Hiring manager called me seven times in two hours

I had an interview recently that seemed to go well. The hiring manager said he would call me within two weeks with his decision. I just graduated school and I’m not working yet, but I have a side job, which I was working at this afternoon. I saw the manager calling me at 12:31, but I couldn’t pick up as I was at work. He left a voicemail asking to call him back. He then proceeded to call me six more times in the next two hours: 12:47, 1:10, 1:22, 1:35, 2:00, and 2:33. Seriously.

I called him back after the 2:33 missed call, saying I was happy to hear from him but I wasn’t able to talk right then, and if it would be okay to give him a call at another time. It was a bit awkward, but he said sure, and that he wanted to offer me the position. I thanked him and said I look forward to talking with him more soon.

We’re in different time zones, but that still wouldn’t explain the need to call me literally seven times. Even if he were to be heading out of the office early that day and trying to catch me beforehand, surely it could have waited till the following morning. I’m trying to decide if this is simply a personality quirk or a red flag. He’s not somebody that I would be working with at all, he’s only involved in hiring and also said he attends the occasional meeting with the rest of us, but that’s it. The industry is notoriously difficult to break into, so I’m not in a position to be choosy. Scale of 1-10, how weird?

Hmmm. Four?

I mean, it’s weird, don’t get me wrong. But I wouldn’t turn down the job over it, assuming you’ve done your due diligence and have reason to believe that he’d be good to work for. Who knows — maybe he had a really tight schedule that day and was trying to reach you in between other stuff, knowing that he’d be harder to reach later. Maybe he was going to be out tomorrow and wanted to get the offer process rolling before he left. It’s still weird behavior, particularly in the age of Caller ID, where he should know you were going to see how often he was calling. But it’s not “run away!” level weird.

So maybe it’s like a six on the weirdness scale, but more like a one or a two on the red flag scale. Sometimes those scales converge, but not always. (Of course, if you go to work for him and he turns out to be someone who constantly nudges you about work that isn’t due for three more days, you’re going to kick yourself for not identifying this as a warning sign. But that’s where the rest of your due diligence comes in.)

3. My employees leave every two hours to move their cars

I am a manager of a public library circulation desk. Through a pilot program, the city I work in recently changed the parking to some metered parking mixed with the two-hour free spaces that were there previously. This has dramatically impacted my staff’s ability to cover the desk adequately, as they often have to leave their desk shifts to move their cars every two hours. While this wasn’t so much a problem before, the patrolled parking hours were extended and it takes them much longer to find free spaces. I find it completely ineffective and would like to nudge them towards locating all-day spots.

The problem is, they are quite attached to the two-hour shuffle, and the breaks they tend to attach to it. When I first started, I noticed this, but it is an ingrained office culture fixture that has not been needed to be tackled until now (there were much bigger hills to die on at that point). I know they’ll have to start parking further away to avoid the meters if this becomes permanent (and I am fairly confident it will be). How would you address this issue?

Explain that having people leave every two hours throughout the day is causing people to be away from work too often, and that by X date, you’re going to need people to move to all-day spots that don’t require constant tending. Have X be a month away, so that people have enough warning that they don’t feel like you’re springing it on them out of nowhere and so they have time to find other spaces and adjust to the change in their routines. Then if people keep doing it after X passes, talk with them individually, tell them that you can’t let them continue to leave every two hours, and ask them to make alternate arrangements.

Also, give people a list of all-day parking areas so that they can’t claim they don’t know of alternatives.

4. My manager told me to stop bringing in Starbucks because people will be jealous

I work for one of the five big banks. I have always brought in Starbucks coffee as my morning ritual to work. I have worked there for 10 years and I have had various supervisors and managers throughout this time. Today I was told by the bank manager I was not to bring in Starbucks coffee anymore because it offends some of my coworkers because they can’t afford to drink Starbucks. Really??? I know that other people also bring in Starbucks from time to time. They have not been singled out. Only me.

I can understand if they want to ban coffee completely, but I don’t think the manager has any right to ban my favorite coffee. Thoughts on how to handle this so-called new policy that Starbucks coffee is not allowed?

That’s ridiculous. Are you also banned from wearing expensive shoes or carrying a particularly nice bag because someone might be upset they can’t afford the same thing? And it’s just Starbucks coffee. It’s not like you’re bringing in cappuccinos with gold flakes in them (this is a real thing).

Anyway, not that you should have to do this, but you can circumvent the whole thing by just pouring your coffee into your own container.

5. My manager didn’t say anything about my five-year work anniversary

A major milestone work anniversary for me (my five-year work anniversary) came and went, and there was no recognition or acknowledgement from anyone in my chain of command. The HR system generated an automated email with a $25(!) gift card with my boss in copy, so I know they know. Am I right to be peeved, or should I forget and forgive?

This is not a major offense. Lots of employers don’t do anything for work anniversaries, or only do something for really big ones (like 20 years). And lots do the automated acknowledgment thing that yours did and nothing beyond that. And of course, plenty do celebrate them, and plenty of managers do acknowledge them — but it’s not a slap in the face that yours didn’t.

That said, if your manager has a history of acknowledging other people’s five-year anniversaries, then I can see why you’re disappointed. But I’d write that off to an oversight, not to a deliberate slight, especially if the relationship is otherwise good.

Your letter was well-timed, since there was actually a long discussion of how people’s workplaces observe (or don’t observe) work anniversaries in the open thread last Friday.

{ 638 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    OP#1, is there any chance you work someplace big enough for an HR department? Because having your PTSD constantly triggered (or your anxiety ramped up) might fall under the kinds of problems that require ADA accommodation. But if your office is small or your boss is the end-all-be-all, then I agree with Alison that a group intervention is probably the only self-protective way forward. I’m really sorry you’ve had to face this every year.

    Reply
    1. bumblebee

      This was my thought too. PTSD definitely falls under the ADA and all those things could also be triggering for someone with chronic migraines or epilepsy or … like also it’s just really terrible for anybody. There’s so many fun ways to do Halloween in the office without ruining everyone’s month. Bring in pumpkin cupcakes and sure, put up some fake cobwebs. Have an (optional) costume contest. But spooky music and jumpy things are for amusement parks and homes, not work. Maybe part of the group intervention can be offering an alternative that’s still halloween’y and fun but more work appropriate? Like, hey we think you have good intentions about making a fun time happen but the current execution isn’t working for everyone and it’s hurting productivity and causing distress. Can we do x and y and z instead?

      My advisor in college was really into this stuff and she had this animatronic witch with a candy bag by the door of the shop that would cackle and talk to you if you reached into the candy bag. Even after four years it made me jump, especially because it got glitchy and started reacting if you just got too close to it. It was the worst if you had to go in after hours and had forgotten it was there… But fortunately it was not in the main work area. Our shop manager did have to start hiding all the noisemaking and automatic singing devices, which made it a bit more of a joke and reduced the nuisance. But I’m sure there was some relief when my advisor retired. I hope for your sake that the issue can be handled more swiftly!

      Reply
      1. Julia

        OP#1 here. Thanks both of you! :)
        Totally understand why the candy witch still made you jump! It seems bothersome even when it’s not causing a severe emotional reaction. :p

        Reply
    1. Lady Phoenix

      definitely. The cups only get super expensive if you buy the special coffees with a ton of add-ons (like syrups, milks, etc).

      If you buy just a plain cup of coffee, chances are you are probably spending $3-5.

      Reply
      1. CJ Record

        Don’t they also, at least used to, give a discount if you brought your own mug? (I don’t know if they still do, for I am safely nestled in the Land of Dunk’s, and the nearest Starbucks is ~45 minutes away.)

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        1. Kali

          In the UK, we get some money off. We also get money off at Greggs and on campus at my uni. I just have to remember to carry my cup with me; it’s a great deal!

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        2. Say what, now?

          They do, it’s only the cost of the cup here (10 cents) but over time that adds up: 50 cents for five days a week! Still, it’s better than nothing and better for the environment. Double win.

          What I’d add here is that if you go this route, and it seems like the path of least resistance to me, you should probably get a generic travel mug. If you get one from Starbucks they invariably have the Starbucks logo on them in some fashion and it won’t help you disguise your coffee’s origin. Not that I think you should have to.

          I sympathize because I’m one who gets coffee three times a week on my way to work. It’s been commented on directly to me by coworkers, but I shut it down by saying that I know that the coffee can be expensive but I budget the treat into my budget because I know that I like it and have few vices beyond this. I shouldn’t have to explain this to them, but it mitigated the bad will.

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          1. Turquoisecow

            My mother has smoked for as long as I’ve been alive, and once when she bugged me about drinking Starbucks (and I don’t just drink plain coffee), I mentioned that there are other, more expensive addictions one could have. She stopped bothering me after that.

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            1. Health Insurance Nerd

              My mom was also a smoker, and would also comment on money that I spent on “frivolous” things. At that point cigarettes were up to almost $10 a pack (I don’t know what they are now) and she was a pack a day smoker. 10*7*52=$3640 a year just to do something that ended up literally killing her.

              I may be slightly bitter about the whole smoking thing, I dunno.

              Reply
                1. Not The Droid You Are Looking For

                  Wow! It’s been a long time since I have purchased a pack of cigarettes — I knew they were getting expensive, but that’s close to what a carton used to cost.

            1. Anastasia Beaverhausen

              Aren’t they though?? It’s so weird. I figure if I don’t owe you any money, you really don’t have any say in how I’m spending mine!

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            2. Tiny Soprano

              Exactly! Like, are they going to start mandating people can only drink cut-price instant from the staff kitchen because they’re too judgy about how staff spend *their own money*?

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          2. Rusty Shackelford

            If you get one from Starbucks they invariably have the Starbucks logo on them in some fashion and it won’t help you disguise your coffee’s origin.

            I’d get one just for that reason. “Oh, this isn’t Starbucks coffee. It’s just my old Starbucks mug.” And when he told me people might get jealous of my Starbucks mug, I’d slap some duct tape over the logo. (In fact, I might do this with my Starbucks disposable cup…)

            Reply
          3. Coffee is important!

            For everyone suggesting a travel mug, I don’t use them because I can’t find one in a 20oz size. The largest ones I’ve ever seen at Starbucks are 16oz. Some of the cold-beverage mugs are larger but those don’t work for hot beverages. I specifically go to Starbucks or Peets because they offer the 20oz size of beverage — other places don’t offer anything larger than 16oz.

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        3. blackcat

          Yes, at least the one near me does (I also live in the land of Dunkins, but I still have one Starbucks near my house).

          They also use the hot water steam on my mug to clean it out before pouring coffee in, and only charge me for a small beverage, even if they fill up my entire mug (which is closer to their medium/large).

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        4. CES

          There’s places without Starbucks? I’m almost jealous, I feel like they’ve been ubiquitous everywhere I’ve lived.

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          1. Liz

            Melbourne is the only place in the world where Starbucks almost failed, and had to dramatically downsize. Ten years later, they’ve just started reopening stores — mostly for tourists.

            (No hate, though, nothing says “nice treat for a warm spring day” for me like an iced pumpkin spice latte.)

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            1. Cherith Ponsonby

              Not just Melbourne – all of Australia! Sydney loves our local baristas too :) Starbucks went from around 80 stores to 22, and now there are 27 across the whole country.

              I’ve only tried their coffee once (plain cappuccino – it was nothing special). Might have to try an iced coffee now that the weather’s warming up.

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            2. Jiya

              In Israel it failed completely, I believe. But in fairness, Israel had plenty of its own well-established coffee places before Starbucks came along.

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            3. Specialk9

              Did it fail in Australia because y’all (lumping AU and NZ together here) invented the flat white? Because, as an aside, THANK YOU FOR THE FLAT WHITE!!

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          2. Verdana

            I live in Germany and the nearest Starbucks is a 2 hour drive away. In European dimensions that’s like driving through 2 states to get coffee.

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        5. JamieS

          You live in a place that’s at least urban-ish and Starbucks is 45 minutes away?! If you’re American I’m going to chalk that up to a miracle.

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        1. Anononon

          It is expensive, but I think more importantly, if the person buying it can actually afford it, it’s nobody’s business. (And even if they couldn’t really afford it, it’s nobody’s business except the people directly affected by that money being spent.)

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          1. Starbuck

            Yeah, “expensive” is completely relative, and means different things to different people. No point in judging other’s spending habits or trying to come up with a consensus on what is or isn’t a reasonable coffee budget.

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        2. aebhel

          Sure, and it’s not something I generally spend my money on, but if OP enjoys the indulgence and can afford it, why should she be hassled about it?

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        3. Lorelai Gilmore

          I spend $100/mo on things that matter less. I mean really, who cares. It’s coffee. Of all the things people get offended by, coffee? Shaking my head.

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      2. HRish Dude

        And when we get down to it, even getting a venti specialty drink is only going to be $6. If someone goes to McDonalds everyday and gets an Egg McMuffin and a coffee, it’s going to cost about that much.

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    2. Steph

      It’s also pretty crap coffee.
      Maybe OP should get a better quality cup of coffee, and the other people in the office won’t have heard of it and hence won’t be jealous?

      Reply
        1. SoCalHR

          I’m totally stealing this line – for food related things and just things in general that people trash when someone else likes them. +1!

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          1. Fake Eleanor

            I can’t claim ownership! I first heard “don’t yuck my/their yum” from a niece, who had heard it at school, and my own kids learned it at their schools — so apparently it’s a known bit of wisdom now.

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        1. LNZ

          I always find comments about Starbucks quality so weird. It’s like commenting on taco bell not being real Mexican food. Do they think people somehow aren’t aware of this? People buy it cause that’s what they want.

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          1. Mallory Janis Ian

            Right? Was it Jim Gaffigan who said, “there’s fresh, authentic Mexican food, and then there’s the cheesy, greasy stuff that we love” or something like that. Nobody thinks that Taco Bell is authentic Mexican food.

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            1. seejay

              We used to have Chevy’s (a Tex Mex chain) here in San Francisco. My partner and I liked to go there occasionally for refried beans, enchiladas and fajitas and margaritas big enough to drown in. We have authentic Mexican food here and we prefer that usually but sometimes you want Tex Mex even though you know it’s not the real stuff.

              Same with cheeze whiz.

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    3. Princess Cimorene

      Working in a bank, some of the tellers only make $10-12/hr. Starbucks every day can be prohibitively expensive for some, however, it isn’t theirs or the bosses job to count this employee’s pockets or regulate how they spend the money they earn. This was crazy weird and I would think it could end up being something I’d talk to someone above me about, however, as Alison suggested, just get it in your own travel mug to prevent the weirdness. Even tho this employee really shouldn’t have to do this.

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      1. babblemouth

        I don’t go around asking people to drive shitty cars because I can’t afford the Tesla of my dreams… It’s so odd to single out coffee for this.

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      2. Ego Chamber

        Anyone else consider it a huge red flag that the manager either a) took another employee’s complaint about this seriously instead of telling them other people are allowed to spend their own money on whatever stupid shit they want, or b) has this concern and is projecting it to the point that they feel it needs to be addressed?

        I’ve worked for a lot of places where the managers didn’t understand the difference between “fair” and “treat everyone exactly the same” and all of those places were terrible to work for.

        LW’s been there for a long time, so I wouldn’t immediately bail, but this isn’t a great situation if it’s a sign of things to come. Any chance the manager is new and just incredibly off-base about what’s normal to expect co-workers to accommodate for other coworkers? Or is there a lot of this weird, shallow, petty bullshit under the surface that’s never affected LW personally before and now s/he’s starting to notice it?

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        1. MoinMoin

          I was thinking management received some complaints about pay or the divide between entry level and higher ups or something that could be otherwise valid and one of the examples given was the coffee, so instead of addressing the actual issue management is addressing the stupid example, which the complainer probably doesn’t care about and just threw out when pressed for examples.
          I’ve worked some places with pretty bad management and this seems like a very real possibility at those places.
          Side note that is admittedly not necessarily what’s happening here- it’s very frustrating to complain about something and get harangued for examples, which are then either defended to invalidate your entire argument or fixed in what feels like a deliberately obtuse way to miss your bigger point. Obviously not all complaints are valid, not all complaints can’t be fixed in this way, asking for examples isn’t always some ploy, but it does seem to happen for the more nebulous stuff like sexual harassment, favoritism, and passive aggression.

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          1. Samata

            I agree with comments getting too much or too little leeway here. I know at times I’ve panicked or been at a loss when pressed for numerous examples and said something even I know seems petty once its pops out – but then I am either blown off or the wrong concern gets inflated. Then you have what happened to OP and the real problem goes unaddressed.

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          2. Ego Chamber

            “it’s very frustrating to complain about something and get harangued for examples, which are then either defended to invalidate your entire argument or fixed in what feels like a deliberately obtuse way to miss your bigger point.”

            I am right there with you. “We need more coverage!” is rebutted with “When have you had issues with coverage?” and you say “Last week when Andrea was out, I was the only one here for 3 hours at a time and we need at least 2 people here at all times [for business reasons],” … and then manager is like “Andrea had to stay home to take care of her toddler who had [gross kid sickness]! What should she have done, just brought him into the office?! (You monster!)” and nothing gets solved. :(

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        2. Sadsack

          Yeah, but I wonder about the part where only OP was told about it. Does he know that for sure? That makes it all extra weird, if so.

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        3. Jennifer

          Reminds me of my work. I get in trouble for things other people do too, but it’s only offensive if *I* do it.
          Sounds like a similar situation here.

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          1. Property Manager

            Oooh that reminds me also of a time when I worked at a bank … I was new, and Coworker had been there for years. We both happened to own and wear the exact same shirt. Only when I wore it, I was told it did not meet dress code and to “cover up” (it had small slits on the shoulders). She was able to continue wearing hers without comment.

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          1. Anononon

            That’s what I was thinking. I don’t know that the boss actually got a complaint; it read to me more like the boss has constructed an imaginary scenari0 in their head where another less well-off employee feels jealous about OP’s Starbucks everyday.

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      3. AthenaC

        Cynical, used-to-be-very-poor me wants to point out that coffee has some appetite supressant qualities, so if you drink enough coffee (and make friends with the gnawing in your stomach), Starbucks can possibly be one of the most affordable things to live on.

        Not that I would suggest that in real life, of course. Then again, I also wouldn’t suggest worrying about how other people manage their money, but unfortunately it’s not those busybody tellers who wrote in.

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      1. Miso

        Yeah, the couple of times I met with people there I always thought “Well, I can just get the smallest size of the cheapest drink they have” and every time I ended up with “Woah, no, I am NOT paying that much for a frikkin coffee with milk”…

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        1. Sarah G

          Even just a plain cup of coffee? Even in expensive areas it’s under $2 including tax. That’s what I always get! The cappucinos and lattes are more.

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          1. TBoT

            You can get an entire bag of coffee beans for like $5 at the grocery store. For people trying to live frugally, $2 for a cup of coffee at Starbucks is a pretty frivolous and unnecessary expense. I’m fond of Starbucks now, but I definitely remember when it was an enormous luxury for me.

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            1. Bow Ties Are Cool

              All valid points, but it doesn’t seem to be busting the LW’s budget, and even if it is, it’s nobody else’s business.

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              1. Sarah

                Yeah, I mean honestly, whether anyone in a workplace is financing their coffee habit through their own salary, their spouse’s salary, an inheritance, lottery winnings, or running up massive credit card debit is ZERO business of their boss/coworkers! Yes, this seems to be in the LW’s budget, but regardless, it’s really not on anyone to comment, any more than they should be examining whether her shoes were bought full price or on sale, or whether she bought fancy cheese to put on her sandwich at lunch.

                When I read the title for this question, I was assuming that perhaps the LW was a manager treating some but not all of her employees to free Starbucks, and those who weren’t recipients were getting jealous (which I do think would be a real concern, depending on the circumstances). But if it’s your personal food/beverage for your personal consumption, I don’t think it’s okay for your boss to try and micromanage that.

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              2. TBoT

                I was responding to the apparent disbelief at the idea that a cup of coffee from Starbucks is expensive, not to the LW’s budget.

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                1. Really Rosie

                  I would hazard that most people don’t feel Starbucks is “economical” vs finding it affordable for themselves.

            2. Artemesia

              I agree. Back in the day I just dripped a cup at home and heated the milk in the microwave for a better and much cheaper cup of coffee. I would never pay that huge amount every morning for my morning latte. (which I have been drinking since long before Starbucks existed) BUT this is not ME writing in and everyone gets to make their own choices about small indulgences (and large) and how they spend their own money. This manager is WAY out of line. Whether the OP wants to push back or just use a travel mug if up to her sense of danger in her workplace. But I’d be sorely tempted to push back in the vein of ‘since when does co-worker jealousy determine what I drink or wear or drive?’

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            3. matcha123

              The first time I went to a Starbucks, I thought they only served frappuccinos. Those were just too expensive and I vowed to never go back. After I found cafe misto, which I love, I go more often. And it’s the only thing I ever order.
              With that said, and as a pretty poor person myself, I’m not going to fault a friend or coworker for drinking it around me. As long as they aren’t forcing me to spend my money. Plus, I do make coffee pretty often at home, but it’s not enough hot coffee to last me a whole day!

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            4. Stranger than fiction

              Well yeah, but everything costs more when you eat/drink out and have someone make it for you, serve it to you etc. Restaurants also typically charge per glass of wine what it cost them to buy the bottle for example.

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      2. Fake old Converse shoes

        Yes, in mine it could cost as much as an average lunch. Weirdly enough, where I work everything is so overpriced (because tourists) that it’s one of the best quality/price options available.
        And yes, it’s seen as a rich kid/ hipster thing. I prefer instant or tea bag coffee for the office.

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    4. HannahS

      I mean, daily Starbucks is not in my budget–heck, daily Tim Hortons isn’t–but that’s not the point. Even if the boss said, “Jane, stop talking about how you pop over to Europe every time you have a long weekend” or “Jane, stop driving a different Lamborghini in each day; pick a colour and stick with it” the boss would still be out of line. If they talk about money and how great it is to be rich and everyone could be like me if they saved more, yeah, it’s a problem, but if Jane has ten massively expensive designer purses and she carries one in each day, and says stuff like, “Thanks, I love this purse.” when you say, “Cool purse, Jane” what’s the problem? Even if daily Starbucks is out of my budget, it’d be pretty hard for someone to be offensive about it. “What’d you get?” “Apple caramal lattechino” “Cool.” Honestly, even, “I love Starbucks! It’s a nice daily luxury that I budget for” is pretty benign.

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      1. Elizabeth the Ginger

        “Stop talking about how you [do thing that costs lots of money] could be maybe, potentially, a valid thing for the boss to say. Or at least “People perceive you as snobby when you talk about X.” But the OP isn’t drinking coffee AT her coworkers. She’s doing it for herself.

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        1. Colette

          Yeah, I wonder if this is coming from one person who resents that she can’t afford a daily coffee.

          On the other hand, if the OP is bringing in coffee but complaining about being broke or borrowing from her coworkers, I can see how it’d be annoying. But in that case, the manager should be addressing the problem, not complaining about the coffee. (I doubt that’s the case,just trying to figure out where this could have come from.)

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          1. Former Hoosier

            Yes. I think this is far more about the co-workers than the OP. There could be some exceptions but how can anyone justify telling an employee she can’t get Starbucks because other employees feel bad? This is totally bizarre and would make me very concerned about that supervisor. We all spend our money in different ways

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        2. Gen

          I used to work at a government department that had special contracts designed for mothers where they only worked term time so they didn’t have childcare costs, except once you were on that contract you had to choose to stop. We had a lot of women who were in their 50s and still refused to go back on to their normal contracts. They’d talk loudly about their long vacations in their second homes in France that the special contract allowed, often to the women who were paying £££ because they refused to give up one of the limited term time spots. Now that’s a disparity that a manager should be raising, someone buying Starbucks harms no one other than generating a bit of envy

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        3. SC

          “Stop talking about how you [do thing that costs lots of money]” could easily be “Stop talking about your kids.” I spend enough on diapers alone to afford Starbucks every single day, and I have 4 pictures of him ni my office. I’m not having kids AT my coworkers, just like OP isn’t having coffee at hers. People make all sorts of choices about their money, and it isn’t appropriate for bosses to demand that OP’s choice be invisible to her co-workers.

          Reply
      2. Lars the Real Girl

        Agreed. It’s a thing that may be out of some people’s daily budgets (or they choose not to spend money that way) but it certainly isn’t out of the norm in a way that should even register on people’s radar. I’d equate it to saying “Jane, please switch to flip-phone because your iPhone is making people jealous.” Is an iPhone expensive? Yes. Is it expensive enough to even be noticed by most people? No.

        If she were coming in with 50 carats of Cartier jewelry on a daily basis, she boss *might* be able to say something, if it was really really that distracting or audacious.

        Reply
        1. Lora

          I’m imagining that conversation: Jane, please go easy on the bling, the PowerPoint is hard to see when there’s a human disco ball in the room.

          Anyway I thought the cool thing these days was DIY cold brew with homemade artisanal flavored syrup or something. I got some at the hipster farmers market Saturday and it was actually really good.

          Reply
          1. LNZ

            fun flip phone story:
            One of my coworkers has a flip phone and while we were in Point Hope, a super remote Arctic Village, for work the weather took a turn and our flights were canceled. The weather also killed all cell service in the village. Except her flip phone, that still got enough service for text but not calls. Her flip phone more or less saved the day.

            Reply
            1. Emily, admin extraordinaire

              Apparently John Stockton and Karl Malone (old-school NBA players for the Utah Jazz) met up at the LSU/Auburn game this weekend, and they both had flip phones.

              Reply
      3. London Calling

        “Jane, stop driving a different Lamborghini in each day; pick a colour and stick with it”

        That is officially the best comment ever on this site.

        Reply
      4. Mike C.

        Having multiple colors of a car is incredibly gauche, just pick the manufacturer’s racing livery color and stick with it.

        Reply
        1. Rusty Shackelford

          I prefer to buy multiple cars in the same color. Should I drive the black Mercedes today, or the black Ferrari?

          Reply
        1. HannahS

          Funny! My friend insisted when we were in high school that when she became a cardiac surgeon she’d buy herself a pair of Loboutins and a yellow Lamborghini to celebrate. I almost bought her a Hot Wheels when we graduated but I didn’t. I wish I had!

          Reply
    5. Zip Silver

      You’d be surprised, if it’s a daily thing, then my normal Starbucks drink (black coffee with 2 shots of espresso) would be just over $1k a year, which is as pricey a a smoking habit. Thankfully, I bought a stove top moka pot years ago in college and buying the coffee grounds to make Cafe Cubano is more like $80 a year.

      Reply
      1. Birch

        Even so, it’s kind of weird how people hone in on certain things and says a lot more about their issues than about OP. I’m willing to bet most people making above-poverty-level money spend 1k a year on things others would find frivolous. I mean, my favorite lunch costs 12 euros, which is pretty standard for soup, sandwich and cappuccino around here. With 1k, I could have it less than twice a week, and I know people who buy their lunch every single day. I find that frivolous, but then I spend a lot of money on high quality knitting supplies. The point is, people have different priorities and as long as OP isn’t going LOOK AT MY EXPENSIVE COFFEE every day, it’s weird that their coworkers are obsessing about it.

        Reply
        1. Hc600

          This. I had a coworker who was judge about my spending habits but she spent so much money on really ugly purses! They made her happy so I wouldn’t have thought to question it until she got on my case.

          Reply
          1. Artemesia

            We used to travel to Europe for 3 weeks every spring and I had a co-worker who always ‘must be niced’ about that. But she had gorgeous furniture, incredibly expensive window treatments and they drove a 2 or 3 year old car; we didn’t spend money on such things because we liked to travel. (we also knew how to travel cheaply; we had started renting apartments before the internet when you have to use catalogues and living in Paris or Florence was not more expensive than being at home once we got there and paid the rent) Different strokes.

            Reply
            1. Lora

              You ain’t kidding! I just learned this about 5 years ago – doesn’t work in San Francisco or Zurich, but in Paris, Milan, Oslo, Madrid, Amsterdam, Reykjavik, you can wait for cheap tickets to come around when the app/airline of your choice alerts you, rent a little apartment (sublet or whatever) for a week and pick up food at the local market and eat street food for a week, see all the museums and whatnot. Most airlines have some kind of service now where you enter the airport(s) you would normally leave from and you put in where you’d like to go and it will send you price alerts when cheap tickets come up (by which I mean ~50% discounted).

              It kinda only works if you’re into ..ehhh not sure how to describe it…cultural immersion, I guess? I know lots of people who spend $$$$ for travel because they don’t want to stay anywhere not a chain hotel of some sort, can’t deal with no air conditioning, don’t want to eat anything they aren’t familiar with / don’t like the local cuisine, don’t bother to learn the local language and get overcharged for everything, take taxis instead of perfectly good public transit, that type of travel. If you are willing to do home stays and try new foods and know how to read a transit map, and know enough of the local language to count money properly and say “that’s pretty expensive, nevermind” then it costs like…half or less. My mother who speaks no languages other than American English and complains about weird food even when it’s from PF Chang’s would not be interested in a trip to El Calafate to hike through the Glacier Park.

              Reply
              1. Elizabeth West

                That would be perfect for me. I’d much rather do that than stay at a hotel, unless I were only going to be there for a short time or wanted to be pampered for some reason. But it’s like anything–you spend your money on what’s important to YOU. It really isn’t anyone else’s business.

                Reply
        2. Lissa

          I think Starbucks especially gets judged this way because there have been a lot of articles saying things like “oh, millennials aren’t really broke, they just need to give up their 6$ daily latte!” Starbucks and going out for lunch/dinner are my vices, but it’s worth it to me to have that comfort that I enjoy. I think other people certainly spend similar amounts on travelling, or alcohol, or video games, but Starbucks is particularly “visible” as you walk around carrying the obvious cup. (“The Obvious Cup”, the coffee shop I shall own one day . . .)

          Reply
          1. tigerlily

            My dad likes to send me articles with lists of “10 Ways to Prioritize Your Budget!” and always, ALWAYS the first thing on the list is “cut out your daily Starbucks.”

            Reply
            1. Property Manager

              I had to laugh at this.

              Maybe OP should go to Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf for a while instead. This should comply with the request.

              Reply
            2. whingedrinking

              Hands down the most ridiculous “money-saving” tip I’ve heard is “Do your nails/skincare at home”.
              At 31, I have never had a professional manicure or a facial. Ever. Admittedly, I’m not really into that kind of thing (I find it extremely uncomfortable to be touched by strangers) but even the people I know who love the spa go as a special treat, not as part of their routine grooming. If you *are* the kind of person who has both the time and money to go often enough that it’s a line in your budget, you’d probably be better served by tips like “buy a condo in Marseilles instead of Paris” or “skip that second Ferrari”.

              Reply
              1. Amy

                I go to the nail salon every week and get my hair cut and colored at a salon once a month. I’m also a single mom of 5 that lives on alimony and child support alone. I drive a vehicle that is 10+ years old, live in a modest house and live for the thrift store. As long as my kids and I have a roof over our head, food to eat, and clothes to wear I’m free to spend my money on whatever I want. I don’t drink coffee so I don’t do Starbucks but my nails and hair are the one thing I spend money on for myself and I’m not going to feel guilty about it. I also send all my kids to private school, am I supposed to feel bad because other parents can’t afford that? Should I feel guilty because I had a good lawyer and I got a good divorce settlement that enables me not to work right now while I have small children? My point is you can judge people about just about anything but that doesn’t mean you’re living their life and understand their choices or sacrifices.

                Reply
          2. Thorgi

            The only thing I ever really get at Starbucks is a $3 iced tea. I only get it a couple times a week. Even if I got it every day, it would still only cost $780 annually. If I stopped buying my iced tea and saved that money, I could afford a $30,000 down payment on an NYC apartment in just 38 years! No thanks, I’d rather have the iced tea.

            Reply
            1. Gazebo Slayer

              Haha, this absolutely nails it. Housing has become so expensive in many areas that saving up money for it by cutting out small “unnecessary” things is absurd.

              Reply
      2. Some Sort of Management Consultant

        But if someone can afford that, and are fine with spending that much, I don’t see why they shouldn’t be allowed to. Their life, their choices.

        I do a lot of things that probably are the best economically but they are my bad choices to make, in that case.

        Reply
      3. designbot

        Right, so would it okay for the boss to tell someone that they couldn’t take smoke breaks anymore because smoking is an expensive habit and other employees were resentful? No!

        Reply
        1. Zip Silver

          I don’t think that has any bearing on what I said. Mes said Starbucks is cheap, and I said it adds up if you’ve got a coffee habit (and I do).

          Reply
          1. Starbuck

            Saying “it adds up” is still relative. Adds up to what? “Cheap” and “expensive” are also relative to what’s affordable for the person using the word. It doesn’t make sense to pretend like there’s some kind of universal standard for what is an affordable cup of coffee.

            Reply
            1. Zip Silver

              Comparatively, the $0.30 I spend making espresso at home is cheaper than the $4 I spend when I’m out and about.

              Reply
      4. Former Hoosier

        But the thing is, it is the OP’s right to decide if she wants to spend $1k or whatever amount on coffee each year. It doesn’t matter what the rest of us think

        Reply
        1. Samata

          Right?! I spend $1.50 on coffee every morning. My co-worker goes to the vending machine and gets a soda and a bag of pretzels every day – why do either of us care where the other is spending the $1.50?? Or that we are spending $1.50 at all?????

          Reply
    6. kittymommy

      It can certainly be expensive to sintering who is only earning 25k a year and has a family to support, but that’s not really the point. Just like the letter writer awhile ago who was given a hard time about wearing higher end clothing/accessories to work, any employer banning something like this, while possibly legal, is ridiculous and doesn’t seem to be particularly good for employee morale.

      Reply
      1. Marillenbaum

        Precisely! I have a friend from my grad program whose grandparents basically underwrite her Starbucks budget by sending her a massive gift card there every month–she’s their only granddaughter, and the first one to get her Masters, so they’re really proud/figure she probably needs a lot of coffee.

        Reply
        1. Anne Shirley

          This was my experience in college as well! Starbucks lets you add money to gift cards remotely, and as the first-gen college student it was an easy, fun way for my parents and relatives to slip me a few bucks and know it would be spent on something fun, not bills.

          OP4, I agree, this is bunk. Maybe this is a symptom of another issue in your workplace (in other words, they’re peeved about something else but picked coffee as the issue)?

          Reply
          1. JessaB

            This – when my sister was working and semi broke, I would give her money for her bills but I’d also subsidise her Panera habit with a 50 buck gift card once in awhile. She could get something going into work and not feel guilty she wasn’t paying bills with the money. It was pretty much her only treat. And if someone at her job had snarked about “how expensive Panera is,” I’d belted em.

            Reply
          2. Anion

            Yes. When we want to send my beloved stepdaughter (Masters student) money to help her out, we send money. When we want to send her a *gift* to enjoy, we send gift cards, because we want her to specifically have FUN and get something frivolous or special or whatever.

            Reply
        2. Falling Diphthong

          I have a college student, and Starbucks gift cards will always be welcome.

          They’re also nice for her grandparents, who would like to send her stuff that she will really appreciate and use.

          Reply
      2. Someone else

        Absolutely. I know so many people who either through work or their parents’ work or some other thing find themselves in possession of more Starbucks gift cards than they know what to do with. Some of these people aren’t even especially fond of Starbucks, but if they’re out and decide to buy coffee, they get it there simply because they have so many gift cards it never costs them anything. Now, it doesn’t sound like that’s the case for OP, and if OP doesn’t happen to be among those with excess Starbucks gift cards she may not want to use that as a fake excuse…but person who gets Starbucks frequently and person who spends money at Starbucks are not always giant overlaps in my experience, which makes the boss’s request even more ridiculous. The easiest way out here is reusable cup with no logo, for sure.

        Reply
        1. GreyjoyGardens

          This! I know someone in a line of work who is only allowed gifts under a certain monetary value, so, every holiday season, he’s absolutely *inundated* with Starbucks gift cards (which can be purchased in small values). I don’t think he’s had to pay for coffee, pastries, or sandwiches in years.

          Reply
            1. JessaB

              Or door person/front desk at an apartment or maybe sanitation workers. We live in an apartment now, but when we lived where there was house to house pick up you got the garbage people at Christmas too.

              Reply
        2. PizzaDog

          My mom does morning daycare at a school and picks up a Tim Hortons before work – so come Christmas or end of term, parents know exactly what to get her as a “thank you” gift. Those last her a good few months before she has to pay for her own coffee again.

          Reply
        3. Arjay

          Our wellness program has a feature that occasionally rewards you with $5 Starbucks gift cards. I never go there, so I’ve got a $50 balance currently. I’m planning to pick up some holiday goodies for folks who are fans.

          Reply
      3. Blue_eyes

        This! I have a points credit card where there aren’t many good options for redeeming the points, so I just always use the points to get Starbucks gift cards. I haven’t actually paid for Starbucks in about 6 years. (The credit card points alone would not be enough to support a daily habit however).

        Reply
      4. MG

        My mom was a teacher and used to get tons of Starbucks cards from students around the holidays, etc. She doesn’t like coffee, so she might use them for the occasional tea or hot chocolate, but mostly sent them to me. Since Starbucks wasn’t my main coffee spot near work or home, I just held onto them and those times I ended up at Starbucks with friends or while traveling, I almost always had it covered

        Now she’s retired so my gift cards dried up. So sad.

        Reply
    7. Lady Blerd

      If one has a two mocha a day habit, that is a luxury. But a regular coffee is barely more expensive than a regular coffee elsewhere (except maybe McDonalds). Also, as they say in my neck of the woods, who asked him to be the coffee police?

      Reply
    8. Tuxedo Cat

      It is, depending the salaries and how much people value coffee. I’m not trying to be snide, because I drink expensive coffee myself. However, some people would balk at my whole bean cost because they don’t see the difference between that and something cheap at the store.

      But Alice is right that where is the line drawn? Lots of modern day life things can be considered expensive, from phones to taking a cab to going on holiday to haircuts/hair coloring…

      Reply
      1. Kyrielle

        Yep. I drink a lot of tea, mostly the cheap grocery-store bagged kind. (I don’t taste the difference between that and high-end fancy ones *enough* to justify the increased price, nor to justify the extra time dealing with loose-leaf…I do sometimes for a particular flavor, tho.)

        I know people who only drink loose-leaf tea and, at that, fairly expensive tea. I don’t understand the appeal – it’s less convenient, costs more, and I don’t taste the difference. But I understand that *they* see it as preferable (some perceive a taste difference and the good stuff tastes better; at least one I know finds the brewing ritual pleasant and soothing). And they’re not spending my money on it. So I’m glad they enjoy it!

        My husband loves Starbucks. I don’t drink coffee at all, but I know that he really enjoys getting a mocha or other fancy drink there when he does. That actually *is* coming from the bank account I also use, but guess what? We’re both adults and we both have a part of the budget to spend on our indulgences. I spent a lot of mine on books and/or kitchen gadgets. He spends on books, computer games, and Starbucks. This seems reasonable to me. That budget is there for things that make us happy. So I probably shouldn’t buy myself Starbucks from mine, because that doesn’t make me happy. ;) But it doesn’t harm me that he does, and loves it.

        I can’t imagine worrying about a coworker doing something expensive that I don’t, or even that I couldn’t. I had a coworker at some point who traveled to Europe frequently (once a year, sometimes twice). I was kind of envious, because it sounded awesome – but the truth is, if I valued it enough, I could shift my budget and start saving and do likewise. It didn’t sound awesome *enough* to shift my budget that far. That doesn’t call for jealousy or for trying to interfere with his ability to do it, or even to talk about it some. (He was never gloating, but how do you take a 3-week vacation in Europe and not talk about it a little? Especially since his coworkers were, y’know, curious.)

        Reply
        1. Tuxedo Cat

          I’m envious of some of my coworkers because they have been able do more things than I have. Some of them have affluent spouses, some of them come from money.

          However, I can’t see myself telling them to not do x or y. It’s not like it puts money in my pocket, and none of them are excessive in how they talk about these things.

          Reply
          1. Mallory Janis Ian

            Yeah, I’m kind of envious of my coworker’s “sugar parents”, but good for her. Her husband’s parents take them on vacations several times a year, and pay for most of their way. Other people in her family are jealous, too, because the parents spend money on things for their kids instead of on vacations for them. My coworker and her husband are child free, so the parental money gets spent directly on them.

            Reply
      2. many bells down

        I dropped $300 on a fancy multicolored dye job once. But if I didn’t tell people, they might just think I did it at home with some Manic Panic. In fact, I’d like to do it again but I’m job hunting so purple and green hair needs to wait.

        Reply
    9. NotAnotherManager!

      Whether or not it is actually expensive (which is entirely relative), it’s a super-weird thing for the boss to ask for. I would probably feel obligated to follow and and let them know that I feel very uncomfortable that my morning coffee purchase is being singled out for scrutiny and ask what was up with that, but I can see where this might not be a hill to die on for many. What a weird thing for a manager to take the time to address – it makes him/her look petty.

      I get a Starbucks drink (in the plastic cup) on Mondays, drink it, and then rise the cup out and use it for the rest of the week. It probably looks like I have a daily Starbucks habit when I don’t. (I also have a few reusable tumblers that really need to be toted home and put through the dishwasher, but I’ve been too lazy to take them home to wash yet. Metro travel has a number of downsides, and toting things back and forth is one of them.)

      Reply
    10. Teapot project manager

      What else would be deemed as “too expensive and make others feel bad”?

      No manicures?
      No hair color or eyebrow wax
      How about no smoking as that’s ridiculously expensive?

      Ironically I am remembering back when I first started working and there were employees who bought lunch every day, went to Starbucks and smoked who were file clerks and often complained about not having any money

      Reply
  2. kas

    4. I would’ve said something to the manager after that ridiculous request. There has to be another reason behind it because I don’t see how anyone could be offended, it’s only a drink … To be honest, if this happened to me, I would ignore the manager and continue to bring it in. If he/she brought it up again, I’d probably mention something about it being my morning ritual and it helps me get through the day or some excuse. I’d have a hard time backing down.

    Reply
    1. Ramona Flowers

      You might want to ‘say something’ to the manager or ignore the request, but this isn’t particularly wise advice – simply ignoring a direct request from your boss is the sort of thing that can get people written up or fired. What is it you’d envisage saying?

      I’m curious – is this a new manager? Is it possible they’ve come from somewhere where this would have been more of a faux pas due to the individual culture there?

      Reply
          1. babblemouth

            If this isn’t the hill OP wants to die on, a good work-around type could be to get the coffee, but carry a keep-cup that doesn’t have a Starbucks logo on it.

            OP should *have* to do that, but we must all pick our battles sometimes.

            Reply
            1. Pomona Sprout

              Yes. This is exactly the kind of situation for which the expression “Is this hill worth dying on?” was coined!

              Reply
              1. Jennifer Thneed

                Ah, brains. I read it correctly, probably because context. I had to go back to see what you’d corrected, when I read your correction.

                Reply
            2. Been there

              I’d love to see that write up… I agree with Mike C. this is ridiculous. Sometimes you do have to pick your battles and sometimes it’s best to start with the boundary setting ones.

              So this request/edict is about the coffee. Is the next one going to be about designer clothes or accessories, how about cars, vacations, kids activities, OPs activities… “Umm Jane, I see you have a very nice diamond ring, yeah, that’s making the other people here feel like you have more than them. I’m going need you to not wear that”

              I say the OP should push back now and send the message that her finances and non-related work choices are not the business of the boss or the other employees.

              Reply
              1. Mike C.

                This isn’t something I had originally considered but I really agree with it. The longer you let it go, the more difficult it’s going to be to shut it down when it becomes really important.

                Reply
              2. Statler von Waldorf

                And I’m going to push back on the idea of pushing back. It’s easy to tell someone else to push back when you are not the one who will bear the consequences of that action. The manager (and I agree this is stupid instruction, but that’s irrelevant) gave a simple instruction to their employee. Not following that instruction is insubordination, and in my experience, a trademark of crappy managers is wildly overreacting to insubordination.

                This is not a hill worth dying on. Keep your mouth shut and start using a travel mug with your Starbucks in it. Easy solution, better for the planet, and no workplace drama.

                Reply
                1. Mike C.

                  No one has ever said that taking a stand is easy, especially those of us who are saying to do so. The fact that it’s sometimes difficult is a given, which is part of the reason people like me are encouraging it in the first place.

                  The fact that the instruction is stupid is completely relevant – it has nothing to do with following the law or running the business and thus shouldn’t have been given in the first place. Employees aren’t slaves to every whim of a manager and should push back against unreasonable garbage like this.

                  It’s not about dying on a hill, it’s about nipping unreasonable behavior in the bud. If you stop it the first time it happens, it doesn’t spread. If you wait for a situation that is “a hill to die on”, you can’t say anything because you’ve let so much other unreasonable behavior go without any challenge what so ever. Telling people that they should just shut up and accept unreasonable behavior isn’t going to fix anything. There will always be more and it will always be worse.

                2. Statler von Waldorf

                  Oh, I’ve definitely gotten the vibe from the comments section here that taking a stand is very easy, and will not have negative consequences. We agree that this false, so there’s something we agree on.

                  Now, about the stuff we don’t agree on. Nipping unreasonable behavior in the bud only works if the manager is reasonable in the first place. I have serious doubts how reasonable a manager is if they are banning Starbucks. I disagree with your third paragraph entirely. Political capital is a thing, and should be saved for the hills worth dying on, not wasted on anything you feel is unreasonable.

                  So, near as I can tell, you want the letter-writer to make a big deal and threaten their employment over their right to bring their favorite hot beverage to work in a disposable cup. I can’t disagree strongly enough with that idea.

          2. Mike C.

            I have a difficult time believing someone is actually going to be punished for drinking Starbucks.

            Heck, most of my to-go cups have Starbucks logos on them to begin with.

            Reply
            1. Statler von Waldorf

              No one is getting punished for drinking Starbucks. They might get punished for deliberately ignoring a manager’s instruction. I have known manager’s petty enough to fire over that issue. I can’t see me ever telling this to one of my employees, but if I did for some reason, and they ignored me, that’s a write-up for insubordination.

              Reply
              1. Mike C.

                And I’ve known unreasonable managers that shut up because it was finally pointed out to them that what they were doing was unproductive and had nothing to do with the running of the business.

                The fact that you’d write someone up for insubordination in this sort of situation is nuts. The authority of a manager is not unlimited.

                Reply
                1. Statler von Waldorf

                  The law disagrees with you on how much authority a manager has. Restricting the items than an employee can bring into the workplace doesn’t require unlimited power, just the power they legally have already.

                  And yes, I would write-up an employee who clearly and willfully failed to follow a simple one sentence request, and I don’t think I’m in a minority on that one.

                2. Mike C.

                  That’s simply a ridiculous stance to take.

                  The fact that the “request” is simple or can be spoken in a single, complete sentence doesn’t make it reasonable not legal nor something an adult should ever take seriously. A lot of women clearly and willfully failed to follow simple, one sentence requests from Harvey Weinstein, and I hope you don’t believe that they should be written up for insubordination as well.

                  Employment is a mutual business relationship between the employer and the employee. The foundation of that relationship must be based in mutual respect between the two parties or it will end in ruin. If you’re going to be the disrespectful manager that punishes your employees for not following ridiculous “requests” like this then there is only one outcome and you’re the one to blame.

        1. INTP

          Sure, but to the employee dying on that hill, it generally should at least be something that makes a big impact in their life. OP is under no obligation to waste professional capital on this situation when it’s so easy to have Starbucks put her coffee in a reusable mug. It’s weird and silly and there’s probably something deeper than coffee going on with whoever complained but the best resolution for OP is probably to agree and get a reusable mug.

          Reply
          1. Been there

            So what happens when the OP agrees to the reusable mug and someone complains that she’s showing off with her fancy Yeti cup?

            Honestly this shouldn’t cost any professional capital. She should have asked her boss what the problem really was, because it certainly can’t be about her beverage habit.

            Reply
            1. AnonNurse

              So much this! Almost every reusable cup I carry is either one I got on sale at Starbucks or is a Yeti my husband and I both received last Christmas. What happens when the next complaint is my reusable cup is too pricey? It’s unreasonable and I think it’s something that should be called out. I would absolutely push back on this, as what I spend my money on is no ones business unless it’s actually somehow affecting how I do my job.

              Reply
      1. Lars the Real Girl

        Yea, I don’t think ignoring the request is the best course, but I do think there’s a lot she could say, even now:

        -Hey, I know you brought up my Starbucks habit – but it’s just the place I stop for coffee in the morning. Can you help me understand how it’s impacting this office or my work?

        -I think how people spend money – especially working for a bank like we do – is a pretty private thing. I’m concerned that there’s been discussion about my personal finances by the other tellers.

        -I can put my coffee in a different mug, if that’s necessary, but I’m going to keep getting coffee where I choose. (And then get a Starbucks coffee tumbler or mug. Maybe not the straight up white-with-the-logo one, but something that def says Starbucks on it in a deliberate way. Why? Because I would want to be petty about this because THEY’RE being petty about this.)

        Reply
        1. Sheworkshardforthemoney

          So the manager will start doing tests on your coffee in the Starbucks look-a-like cup to ensure that it’s not the real deal? *snicker* I’d pay money to watch this go down.
          At one workplace we were only allowed to have water bottles at our work station. Most people just quietly filled them with coffee/tea.

          Reply
        2. Ego Chamber

          “And then get a Starbucks coffee tumbler or mug. … Why? Because I would want to be petty about this because THEY’RE being petty about this.”

          Lars the Real Girl, you are a girl after my own heart. I was thinking exactly the same thing, and I would also fill that tumbler with soda, water, etc—basically everything I drank—just to make sure it was constantly on display. “Oh, I stopped drinking Starbucks coffee like you said. This is a bespoke juice blend from that trendy little natural cafe next to the Starbucks. It costs 3 times as much but it is so worth it.”

          Disclaimer: Not real advice (maybe real advice).

          Reply
          1. Lars the Real Girl

            Hahaha yes:

            Disclaimer: Not real advice (maybe real advice).

            Should be how my advice is taken as well :)

            Reply
          2. Lynne879

            ” I was thinking exactly the same thing, and I would also fill that tumbler with soda, water, etc—basically everything I drank—just to make sure it was constantly on display. “Oh, I stopped drinking Starbucks coffee like you said. This is a bespoke juice blend from that trendy little natural cafe next to the Starbucks. It costs 3 times as much but it is so worth it.”

            LOL that is hilarious XD

            Reply
        3. Detective Amy Santiago

          I drink my tea out of a Starbucks travel mug every day because my best friend works at Starbucks and gifted me one a couple of years ago that I love.

          The path of least resistance for LW would be to start getting their coffee in a travel mug of some sort.

          Reply
      2. TL -

        Eh, there are some bosses that say things that you just lay low for a while and then ignore completely. Especially if they have a habit of popping out whatever unreasonable thought happens to be passing through their mind at the moment.

        You very much have to know your boss, of course, but I’ve definitely known bosses where the standing advice is “Oh, yea, just ignore unless she brings it up at least 2 more times.”

        Reply
        1. MicroManagered

          This exists. I had a boss that would regularly get Big Ideas on Friday afternoon that she’d completely forget by Monday. As in, I’d let her know I was beginning her Big Idea on Monday and she didn’t know what I was talking about… I think some managers process things outloud and you have to learn to tell that apart from something they are actually asking you to do…

          Reply
          1. Been there

            haha… I got busted by a boss for this. He was notorious for asking for things and then either not remembering, not needing it, or changing his mind. After awhile I stopped acting on anything he said unless it made sense to do or was obviously urgent. All the other stuff I would wait until the 3rd time he asked. (Even 2 times asking wasn’t safe with this guy).

            One day he asked me for the Teapot Report for the magical 3rd time and said “Why don’t you ever do anything the first time I ask?” I replied, “umm because you normally forget about it so it’s obviously not that important to you. By the time you get to 3 requests I know it’s something you really do want”

            He got mad for about 1/2 a second and then said “Yeah, that’s probably best you do that. I ask for a lot of stuff”

            *I don’t suggest this tactic with every boss*, but with him it was obvious (found out by me when in a fit of despair I showed him my open items and he crossed off 3/4 of the list after asking why I was doing them. When I replied, you asked for them he gave me a look that said he had no memory of it.

            Reply
            1. Starbuck

              Hopefully it’s a bit of a relief that he’s self-aware enough to acknowledge the reasonableness of your strategy for dealing with requests from him… I’m very amused by it.

              Reply
          2. I_am_RADAR

            This. My boss constantly thinks out loud, and about twice a year, he’ll go off on a tangent about this or that. Over the years (10, actually), I’ve learned that some of what he says out loud is literally stream of conciousness, and other things are actually tasks he wants me to complete. Sometimes “ignoring” the requests for a time really does make them just go away. I will even ask, “Are you just thinking out loud, or is this something you’d like me to work on?”

            Reply
          3. Jennifer Thneed

            > I think some managers process things outloud

            This. I used to get really frustrated with my sister, with what I perceived as her inconsistency. When I finally viewed it as “thinking ideas through aloud” instead of “telling me what she was actually going to do going forward” she got a lot more reasonable! :)

            Reply
        2. The Cosmic Avenger

          What I’ve found more common is bosses who give an edict, and then forget two weeks later. So you follow it for about a week, or at least keep it out of their sight, and eventually they will forget that they ever said it. It’s a corollary of the “Why are you doing that thing [that I specifically instructed you to do]?!?!” problem.

          Reply
      3. Soon to be former fed

        Anyplace that would fire me over the coffee I drink is not a place I would want to work at. That’s beyond ridiculous.

        Remember the LW who followed her bosses’ direction to put a note on a grave? Bosses can be crazy and sometimes, albeit rarely, one must not comply with their silliness.

        LW, don’t change a thing. I would be tempted to start nitpicking my coworkers, Jane talks about her husband, I’m not married but I want to be, tell her to stop.
        Do you work with preschoolers or adults? Shaking my head.

        Reply
        1. Antilles

          The “note on a grave” isn’t a relevant analogy here. Leaving a note on a grave for a grieving co-worker is so far beyond the realm of reasonable requests that anybody who hears about it is going to respond with “what the????” and think you were completely sane and in the right to refuse such an absurd request – even if you get fired, they’re going to shrug it off.
          But coffee preferences aren’t remotely at the same level. If you’re fired over this and explaining the “why I left my last job” as coffee differences? Well, an interviewer is still going to think the boss is strange for caring about this, but they’re also likely to think that you were being a bit ridiculous and inflexible about making such a big deal over your coffee brand preferences.

          Reply
          1. Lindsay J

            And any boss who agreed with my crazy boss about this would not be someone who I wanted to work for.

            I’ve always measured my behaviors at work with bad bosses or ridiculous rules with “How would I feel about explaining this to a hiring manager?”

            And this coffee thing I would be pretty okay with explaining. Coffee preferences are not universal. But for a workplace to try and regulate the coffee I was drinking because the expense of it was offending my coworkers is so beyond the pale that I cannot imagine any reasonable hiring manager feeling that this was an okay thing to do. If anyone chooses not to hire me because they think I was being ridiculous and inflexible in the face of a request that was ridiculous in the first place I would consider that a bullet dodged.

            Reply
          2. Anastasia Beaverhausen

            Even picturing how the employer would answer the unemployment office when they inquired as to why the employee was terminated.

            Reply
            1. Statler von Waldorf

              “The employee repeatedly brought in a forbidden object into the workplace. After being notified that this item was not allowed in the workplace and that they needed to stop bringing it in, the employee refused to do so. After several warnings and escalating discipline with no change in behavior, we had no choice but to terminate their employment.”

              – Some hypothetical manager in a hypothetical unemployment hearing

              Reply
              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                And then the employee would explain it was about their brand of snack item, and an awful lot of unemployment adjudicators would rule in their favor.

                I think you’re taking this to an illogical extreme that doesn’t reflect how this stuff goes in practice.

                Reply
                1. AnonNurse

                  Thank you so much for pointing that out. The extreme is just too much.

                  Unless this manager is completely and totally beyond the pale, I think having another conversation with them is something to try. Going back and explaining you have thought about the conversation and would like the manager to consider that personal financial decisions are not the business of our co-workers and how we spend our money on food or drinks should not be something to be regulated in the workplace might actually help the manager see the unreasonableness of the request to begin with. I absolutely would do this myself and again, unless the manager is absolutely off the deep end, this might just snap them out of how they were previously seeing the situation.

                2. Statler von Waldorf

                  I’m basing my opinion from a story from a woman in my WoW guild, who was fired and denied unemployment for possessing a tube of lipstick while working in the warehouse for Amazon. While it’s possible she lied or misunderstood her situation, I have no reason to believe that she did. I actually hope you are right and that they would usually rule in the employee’s favor, but I’m both skeptical and a cynic.

                3. Ask a Manager Post author

                  What were the facts of that case? I could imagine them not wanting you bringing in your own stuff there because of the nature of that specific work (where lipstick might be one of the things you’re packing up).

                4. Julia

                  OP#1 here, though my comment isn’t about that…
                  I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect anyone to not have lipstick or lip balm on them at all times. I use my balm several times a day. My lips would be horrendously chapped without it!

  3. Mike C.

    With parking, there’s a whole lot of context involved. On the one hand, that two hour parking should be for patrons or others who will only be there for two hours. On the other hand, just how far away are the other spots? Are you in an urban location with lots of transit or more suburban where you really have to drive? Is the existence of staff parking out of the question?

    Also, you could just start scheduling hour long meetings 1.5 hours into their parking. Once they rack up enough tickets behavior should change…

    Reply
    1. Borne

      Perhaps there is also the issue of safety if the all day lots are blocks away. Especially as it gets dark earlier in late fall/winter.

      Reply
    2. Lexicat

      And what’s the cost for the all day spots?
      Parking has been a problem in my town’s CBD for years, because all day parking a. costs money and b. tends to be further from offices etc. I’m familiar with the parking shuffle the OP describes, and it’s a problem for workers, businesses and customers, none of whom are wrong to be unhappy.

      Reply
      1. Lindsay J

        Yeah, I used to play what I called parking roulette when I worked downtown in a touristy district.

        The enforcement wasn’t that strict, but the parking prices were like $10 a day on the metered parking. I only made $8.50 an hour at the time so spending over an hour of work time just to pay for parking felt really unfair.

        The tickets themselves were $25. So if I could make it more than 3 days without getting a ticket, it was worth it.

        I didn’t pay for parking the entire off-season, and got a few tickets – maybe 3 or 4? I wasn’t happy to have to pay them, but it was less expensive to pay like $100 total than it was to pay $50 a week for for 6 months.

        During the peak season I paid the $50 a week because the enforcement was a lot stricter, and also because being busier meant more customers and more chance to make tips that we even told customers went to help us afford parking.

        In situations where there are not public transportation options for employees, I think towns and businesses need to figure out parking accommodations, even if that means eating the cost of parking themselves. Especially when the employees are paid low wages and may not be able to work the cost into their budgets.

        Reply
        1. tigerlily

          I work in a downtown touresty district and parking is over 30 dollars a day. And wouldn’t you know it, only the three highest paid/salaried employees are allotted a parking stipend.

          Reply
    3. Ellen

      You know, around here, we full time employee’s hey a break roughly every 2 hours- two 15s and a 30. Scheduling these breaks means we always have someone on register. Couldn’t you similarly schedule their breaks, and make it clear that moving the car is an on break thing?

      Reply
      1. Candy

        Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. Don’t micromanage where people park, just make sure they know that along with coffee runs and smoke breaks, car moves are to be done during a scheduled break.

        I work at a public library. For an 8-hour shift I get one hour long lunch break and two 20 minute breaks. So my schedule would look something like this, with a break pretty much every two hours too:
        10-12
        break
        12:20-1
        break
        2-4
        break
        4:20-6

        Reply
      2. A

        As someone who hates driving in congested areas and is terrible at parking, if someone told me I had to spend every “break” moving my car and looking for a spot, I would lose my mind. That defeats the whole point of a break in my mind, since it’s something that employees essentially have to do to be able to work there. I see it more as a cost of doing business for the library which it makes up for in having prime downtown real estate. However, I totally agree that staggering the schedule of when people move makes sense to ensure there is always coverage.

        Reply
        1. NotAnotherManager!

          I would see it more as the employee’s responsibility to find a way to work and find a parking situation that can either be managed on their breaks or doesn’t require them running out of work every 2 hours to move their car. I work in a congested city where garage parking is about $15/day or $250/month and meters aren’t cheap either (I spend probably the same taking public transit from the ‘burbs but don’t have to deal with traffic into the city), but it’s part of the calculus of taking a job.

          Honestly, I think that the library should find a way to make at least a certain number of spaces available to employees for full-shift parking, but the idea that an employer eat car-shuffling time on top of scheduled breaks seems like a bit much to me. It sounds like the library has been fairly accommodating but the constant running out to move cars sounds maddening from a scheduling/managing perspective, particularly when it takes people longer to find a new spot than expected.

          Reply
        1. Rana

          But they don’t have to do it. They can use all-day parking if they don’t want to spend their breaks moving cars. The rule is not “during break you must move your car” but “if you need to move your car you should time it for break time.”

          Reply
        2. NotAnotherManager!

          That’s not what’s happening here. They’re saying that if you’re scheduled to be working (and not on a break), then you need to be in the building and working.

          Reply
        3. Starbuck

          I think the mandate is “these are your scheduled break times” and “re-parking can only be done during scheduled break times” so they’re not requiring people to re-park their cars on break times, just requiring that IF it’s something employees choose to do, they can’t do it on the clock.

          Reply
        4. Perse's Mom

          Imo, it’s similar to saying that ideally, you reserve anything that’s not a work related task for your breaks. That’s calling your mom, texting your spouse, using the restroom, having a smoke, and yes, moving your car.

          (Ideally! Obviously there are situations that arise, but an every day, every two hours situation is a pattern you can plan for, not an emergency.)

          Reply
      3. ella

        At my library, everyone arrives to work at roughly the same time (say, 9am). If that’s true of OP’s library, the problem is that basically everyone needs to leave at the same time to move their cars, leaving…the one person who takes the bus in to cover the desk by themselves, I guess?

        The downtown library in my district has a disclaimer that they put in literally every job posting: “This job is for XX location at YY address. There are NO FREE PARKING OPTIONS within [whatever distance]. Given this, are you available to work at this location? Y/N.” Most people bike or bus to work. I’m sure a few pay for parking. But there’s not a supervisor in the building who would let an employee leave every two hours, day after day, to move their car. I’m confused that the opposite became SOP for this library.

        Reply
    4. Gala apple

      My city just recently made the same change as LW’s. There’s a downtown area and the street parking around the downtown area changed mostly from free 2-hr to metered. There are a couple parking garages, which get pricy, and non-metered spots, which are further out from the main downtown strip and the library just off it. In fact I’m not even sure which blocks are metered now and which aren’t, but I tend to avoid going downtown because it can be frustrating to find a spot (it’s a very small city and we have lots of other areas in town with parking lots).

      Some of the other businesses in the downtown area are working with the parking garages for employee parking, but the parking garages are also involved in some political brouhaha right now so I doubt the public library would get employee spots.

      Reply
      1. Sheworkshardforthemoney

        Wow, that sounds just like my city’s downtown. If I didn’t get free parking with my job, I could never accept a job in the core. $15 a day to park is way too much for me.

        Reply
        1. TheOperaGhost

          I endure a 2 hour commute each way every day to take a bus into work. The permanent spots at my parking garage are all full, and cost $200/month, and the next available lot is a 15- 20 minute walk from my office, which also involves walking over a bridge across a large river. No thanks.

          Reply
          1. DDJ

            Even if I did drive (I don’t), I wouldn’t park downtown by my office. $30/day for parking just isn’t in the budget! There are a couple lots that I think offer $450/month, but still. Dang. Plus then you have to deal with the nonsense of driving downtown. Yikes. Although I’m only commuting an hour each way, so it’s not quite as bad. Public transit 4 lyfe.

            There are a couple lots on the outskirts of downtown that run between $8-$10/day, but then you’ve also got a half hour walk, so it’s not like it really saves any time. As frustrating as public transit can be at times, it’s the lesser of all evils. Until they decide to let us work from home…

            Reply
        2. blackcat

          My dad used to pay $500 a month for parking (San Francisco). But it was also his designated spot, which was worth a lot to him–no fighting, no shuffling.

          Reply
    5. Principal of the Thing

      They might be able to get reduced parking rates or free parking if they carpool – we have paid parking ($12/day) where I work, but if you go to another parking area a ten minute walk away, they have a ‘three for free’ option, where if there are three occupants of the car, parking is free. Closer to the city, you can get half price parking for two or more passengers. If that’s an option, it could help!

      Reply
    6. Ego Chamber

      “On the one hand, that two hour parking should be for patrons or others who will only be there for two hours.”

      This is the part about it that seemed weird to me. I’d be really surprised if any of the downtown businesses in my small town let their staff park in the 1- or 2-hour parking out front and take a space away from potential customers/ patrons who might keep driving if there was nowhere to park.

      It wouldn’t be out of line for the LW to tell staff the timed spots are for patrons only and they’re not to park there anymore, so they need to find a better solution. Citing the daily disruptions and excessive break times to move their cars is reasonable (and the breaks matter because coverage is being affected).

      Reply
        1. blackcat

          In my town (note: my down, not Boston, which is nearby), businesses can pay the town for X number of employee spots (generally in a city lot a few blocks away) or a loading zone (right in front). X is not high, and those businesses are specifically not allowed to use this parking for customers. They implemented this at the same time as meters in commercial areas (and parking dominated the local political discussions for ~1 year prior to installation and ~6 months after).

          Seems like a great compromise. Small business owners I’ve talked to really like it–they used to have employees/all day parkers in front of their businesses, and the meters have made it easier for customers to find mid-day parking.

          Reply
        2. Zathras

          The business doesn’t have the authority to have you towed or whatever, but they can tell their employees not to park in those spots and discipline/fire anyone they catch doing it.

          Reply
        3. Ego Chamber

          “If it’s public parking, the businesses couldn’t ban it.”

          I don’t think it’s anything official like “we’re going to have your car impounded,” but they definitely do it around here, and one of my friends got written up twice for parking in the supposed “client section” of the available on-street parking near her job (she moved to a farther spot after the first time, but not far enough). I dunno. It’s never seemed really right to me, but it’s so common I didn’t ever stop to question the legality.

          Reply
    7. Mishi

      Or the OP could just let them move their cars. I’m a bit confused on why it is a problem for the employees to take their breaks every 2 hours. Morning break, lunch, afternoon break. It allows for the car moving and allows for the required breaks. Seems like a win/win to me. Or is it more because we don’t routinely allow breaks in a professional type job?

      Reply
      1. Infinity Anon

        It sounds like the breaks are not built into their hours and that the amount of time to find parking has become excessive. Also, if they are using the time to move their car, they are not using that time to eat or go to the bathroom, which then takes additional time.

        Reply
        1. Mona Lisa

          Yes, I could easily see during peak hours that the employees might spend upwards of 20-30 minutes walking to their cars, driving around in circles looking for one of the rarer free spots, walking back to the library, and getting their things put away to get set up and start working again. I used to do this parking shuffle in grad school, and there were a couple of times that I got frustrated because I could have walked to the building in the time that I spent driving around looking for a free space. (It took a while to break my ingrained car culture of needing to drive anything over a mile!)

          Reply
        2. justsomeone

          My read of it was that it takes so long for people to find parking that they’re exceeding their break allotment regularly.

          Reply
        3. One of the Sarahs

          Plus the current system also means people who drive to work get more paid breaks than people who use public transport, for example.

          Reply
    8. Professor Marvel

      The clerks in our county court house do this and it is not good PR. There is a free, safe, parking lot two blocks away. They are so entrenched in the moving their cars habit that it has impacted service, public perception of employees, and people being late because all the metered parking is used by employees.
      I would underscore that non-work errands must be on break time. There is also nothing that requires that the employee’s break be at the exact same time every day. Passive aggressive I know, but sometimes stating the obvious doesn’t always get through.

      Reply
  4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    Is #3 normal? I can think of few things I hate more than having to move my car throughout the day to re-park, but OP’s employees like the constant “breaks”? I imagine this eats up hours per employee per week.

    I’m sorry this post offers no advice, but my gob is smacked.

    Reply
    1. Ramona Flowers

      It sounds like their time isn’t being docked?

      I can picture someone in a customer facing role appreciating the breather either way.

      Reply
      1. One of the Sarahs

        Sure, but their colleagues who don’t drive to work then end up covering for them more, and so get less chance for breathers.

        Reply
      2. Alienor

        When I worked in retail many years ago, we all leapt at any chance to get away from the front for a few minutes. People would fight over opportunities to dust shelves in another part of the store or collect carts from the parking lot in the rain. I can totally see employees being happy to move their cars every two hours, especially because it would mean going outside and escaping customers completely.

        Reply
    2. Lioness

      The break might be paid? So if it is, they probably wouldn’t be thinking about it eating up their hours, but instead it’s their excuse from getting out of their duties.

      Depending on the state, only the lunch break could be unpaid and moving their cars gives them unplanned breaks that they otherwise wouldn’t have.

      Reply
      1. Susan K

        I’m pretty sure that’s why PCBH is gobsmacked — how are they getting their work done when they’re wasting hours moving their cars around?

        Reply
    3. JamieS

      Yeah i wasn’t sure if OP meant the employees considered the car moving to be breaks or if the employees actually took a break every two hours after moving their cars. If it’s the latter I can see why they wouldn’t want to change to all day parking.

      Reply
      1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter

        I didn’t think about that possibility at all, that they would take a break after moving the car. I thought the car moving was the break and in that case I don’t see every two hours being a lot. I think it’s a normal interval for smaller breaks and in many kinds of jobs it can actually help the employee to get more things done than not taking the breaks. What people do in their reasonable break time is their own business and if someone wants to go drive their car for five to ten minutes they should be allowed to do it even if it seems like a silly way to use a break. But if the employees go move the car and after it take a coffee break, then the time it takes is probably too long.

        Reply
        1. Not Tom, just Petty

          I agree. it’s not that they are taking a break to move the car as much as the break taken to move the car requires from 15 minutes to an hour. Every two hours. Walk out to the car, 10 minutes. Drive around looking for a spot (if you’ve ever come in late to work after an appointment, you know spots are at a premium) can take 10-30 (yes, seriously) minutes. And then the time to walk back from the new spot.
          What people should do is trade with each other (!), but I’m sure someone is already waiting for their spot when they go to move.

          Reply
    4. a1

      I work in a downtown zone and no one plays this parking shuffle. It’s just accepted that you pay for parking, take public transportation or park blocks away. It’s just what you do when you work in this zone.

      Reply
      1. Ann O'Nemity

        This. Though my area doesn’t have any free parking downtown, full stop. So there’s no temptation to play parking shuffle. You can pay $2 hourly, $6 daily, or $50+ monthly.

        Reply
      2. Arjay

        I’m a little confused about enforcement too. If I can just move my car to a vacant space in the same lot and get another two hours, that seems to defeat the whole purpose. They really enforce the two hours by specific parking spot, and not by the lot in general?

        Reply
        1. e271828

          If the parking enforcement is similar to that in big cities I’ve lived in:

          -Tire chalking may or may not happen.
          -The parking enforcement may be via a camera plate reader.
          -Moving one’s car a considerable distance away from where it was previously parked is necessary, as shifting it around the block or a street away is not considered a move.

          My feeling is that the library has to take official notice of the absences. It’s a performance problem, not a parking problem. Are they punching out or signing out for breaks, so that it’s clear that they are spending more time than they should away from work? Are they penalized for overstaying on breaks, if they are hourly is their pay docked for the time not worked?

          Reply
        2. Downtown Parker

          It is street parking, and the 2 hour restriction is per block, not per spot or per lot or per zone. I can park on Elm Street between 1st and 2nd for two hours, and then need to move my car to a different block.

          Reply
        3. No Parking or Waiting

          My brother got a ticket at a two hour spot on a street in Oakland by Pitt after just an hour, because the officer said his car had been there awhile and he figured he’d already been there for two hours and was trying to go for four.

          The new digital parking machines eliminate that. Along with getting someone’s left over time. I miss that!

          Reply
  5. Lady Phoenix

    #3 will definitely require homework. Find some more permanent spots that are in range and may not eat up expenses.

    Reply
    1. Emma

      Eheh. One of the big public service centres near me has its own multistorey car park for service users, which staff used to be able to park in for free. For some unknown goddamn reason, some bright spark decided that staff should no longer get free parking: parking for a whole working day in this car park costs £6, and the type of work that the staff are doing often turns into unplanned overtime in the evenings, which can lead to tickets.

      The organisation’s policy on travel expenses is that they’ll cover mileage, public transport and taxis, but not parking. So a significant percentage of the staff have started taking expensed taxis to and from work every day.

      Of course, OP’s library probably doesn’t have its own car park, but I like this story as an example of why organisations shouldn’t leave employees entirely on their own when it comes to finding affordable parking.

      Reply
      1. Grapey

        I disagree, many larger cities make their employees pay for their own parking if public transportation is available (while also subsidizing that public transportation). I think it’s the more ethical decision with growing cities – too much pollution and congestion if everyone drives. I also especially think city employees like LW’s public library employees shouldn’t be exempt from the city’s parking rules.

        Parking near where I am is $20 per day at the cheapest, and that’s at Shmoe’s Rundown Parking Lot where he has to keep your keys and play tetris to get your car at the end of the day. Lots of cities are getting bigger, and as someone that lives in a congested city I think it would behoove citizens of growing cities to anticipate changes around commutes. (And petition their governments to provide public transportation if it’s not an option.) Working in growing cities has its benefits but parking has never been one of them.

        Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Yeah, definitely not uncommon for employees to have to deal with their own parking in large cities where public transportation is available. I had one job where a coworker used to keep a spreadsheet of where each of us had received parking tickets, so that he could find patterns in the parking enforcement and tell us where we could safely park for more than two hours.

          Reply
          1. Samiratou

            That coworker is Good People.

            For the OP, though, Before getting too specific about parking rules, I would investigate what parking costs compared to what people are earning and see what instituting an all-day parking rule would cost people. If it’s cost prohibitive for a lot of people, brainstorm with the folks higher up to see what might be done to subsidize parking or work something out with the city (or whoever owns nearby lots).

            I get the frustration by management, but if it costs people an hour or two of pay per day to park, most people aren’t going to be able to swallow that easily.

            Reply
            1. Anna

              To what end? It’s not like they can necessarily across the board give a raise to every employee to cover parking costs. It’s really on the employees to find a system that works and isn’t requiring them to move their cars every two hours.

              Reply
        2. Mabel

          My company has a plan that allows you to use pre-tax money (so it’s your money, not a subsidy) for a transit pass and/or for parking. So in that case, the program is available equally for both. Seems like subsidizing public transportation but not parking could be a financial decision or a policy decision (wanting to encourage taking mass transit instead of driving).

          Reply
        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          This was my experience, as well. And I don’t disagree with the underlying policy rationale—I think it’s fair/reasonable to promote public transit (or biking to work, or whatnot) and decline to cover parking, particularly in large cities with traffic congestion issues. The exception to this is probably accommodation for folks with physical mobility issues.

          Reply
    2. Agent Diane

      Does the town have any park&ride services? So you park on the edge of town then pay a bus fare that covers a there and back trip and the parking for the day? We have that, complete with season tickets (so you can use it for five days for the price of four).

      If so, just point them at that rather than do mountains of research. Their transport choices are their problem, not yours.

      Reply
  6. Susan K

    #2 – I wouldn’t read that much into all those calls. A lot of people feel that an incomplete call (i.e., a call that the recipient doesn’t answer and the caller doesn’t leave a message) doesn’t “count.” I bet that in the hiring manager’s mind, he really only called you once, at 12:31, when he left the voice mail. And it’s quite possible that he had a reason for really wanting to reach you that day, and it actually couldn’t wait until the next morning.

    This reminds me of when I was an intern and embarrassed myself. I had a question about a project I was doing for a senior employee, so I called him, but he didn’t answer. I couldn’t proceed until I got an answer, and I didn’t have anything else to do, so I called several times. We didn’t have caller ID, so I never thought he’d know how many times I called, but it turned out the stupid voice mail system left an empty message (with the name of the caller if it was an internal call) if you hung up without first pressing 3 to cancel the message, so he came to my desk later asking why I left him 6 empty voice mails. Oops!

    Reply
    1. Janelle

      The last guy I dated thought if my phone went to voicemail that it meant he should call back until I answered because “I must just not have heard it”. This is what I call insane behavior. Considering LW doesn’t have to work with this person I wouldn’t think too much more about it but if I saw that on my phone I’d be deeply disturbed. The only reason to call me 7 times in a row is if you are dying and I can somehow prevent it.

      Reply
      1. Sabine the Very Mean

        I just deleted a comment about a possessive ex who would call over and over and not think it was odd. It would take me longer with each call for me to call the boss back. I too think it’s insane.

        Reply
      2. Soon to be former fed

        I have muted my phone and forgot to unmute it. I have a friend who leaves their phone in the car sometimes. It’s not always totally crazy to make multiple calls.

        Reply
          1. nonegiven

            My mother will call and leave the same message every time, no matter why she called. “Hi, it’s just me, give me a call.”

            The same message whether she (usually) just wants to catch me up or once, needed to be driven to the er.

            Reply
        1. MCMonkeyBean

          I always call my husband at least twice in a row if he doesn’t answer the first time because when we were in college he would always have his phone on vibrate and if he was walking when I called he often didn’t feel it, so it became habit to call more than once.

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          1. Anonygoose

            I always have my phone set on do-not-disturb, because I am never on call, rarely get personal phone calls, and have at least one call a day from collections companies that come for the girl who had my number previously (who also refuse to believe me that I am not that girl). In an emergency, most people will call twice in a row anyways, and then the call will come through. My family is all on my ‘safe list’ so their calls come through. All other calls go straight to voicemail – and if it’s important, they’ll leave a voicemail. It works well.

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            1. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian

              This is me as well. While I’m not specifically on DND all the time (my ringtone is fun!), I don’t answer calls I don’t know. My voicemail says to leave a message or I won’t respond.

              I hate talking on the phone and my important people all know that and generally will text me instead if they just want to let me know something. If they need to have a proper conversation, I get a text that says something like “Hey, call me when you have some time” or if it’s important “Call me as soon as you can”.

              Reply
        2. Breda

          But if your phone’s on mute or in your car, multiple calls won’t make a difference? It’s not like the sixth call will magically unmute the phone – you still won’t see it until you look at your phone, in which case the first call would suffice.

          Reply
          1. Falling Diphthong

            I know there’s an optional setting where if you call twice in quick succession it goes through. (Designed to let a few key people get you messages that distinguish between the urgency of “Are you working late tonight?” and “Mom’s condition changed, I need to talk to you NOW.”) Some people might generalize that to “If you call enough times, the phone gives up and puts your call through.”

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            1. a1

              Just because a call is on mute or vibrate doesn’t mean the call isn’t going through. The calls go through, you just don’t hear them. If the phone is left in the car or at home, no amount of calling is going to get someone to hear or notice it. So, this still doesn’t make sense to me. Call once, leave a message if needed.

              Reply
        3. aebhel

          Yeah, I often have my phone on vibrate AND not on me, so it’s pretty SOP for anybody who knows me to call multiple times if it’s important.

          Reply
    2. Ramona Flowers

      I don’t know a lot of people who feel that way.

      I do know a lot of people who would side-eye someone calling seven times in a row. And he did leave a message!

      Reply
        1. nonegiven

          If she’d called him that many times in that amount of time, it might have gotten her onto the never hire list

          Reply
          1. Sara

            It’s strange, why the urgency, why call so many times in a short period? We had the opposite discussion awhile back, where in the comments the candidate called and didn’t leave a message but tried again later (rather than play phone tag), and the discussion spun out to how the candidates actions are harassment and overboard. A hiring manager calling 4 times in 2 hours? I can’t think of a reason why I would ring someone 4 times unless there was an emergency. I had a hiring manager call me twice in one hour after her first call where she left a voicemail, and I found that behaviour odd. Give me a chance to ring you back! This person went overboard, and at the very least should acknowledge they called many times because (insert urgent reason).

            Reply
    3. Chocolate lover

      Calling repeatedly is inconsiderate, message or not. To me, it suggests you have little thought for other people and that they have their own things to do.

      Reply
        1. Lora

          Oh wow, very true. Put phone in back pocket more than once, and between sniffing dogs, sheer clumsiness and bumping into people on the subway, I can butt-dial my most recent contact a few times before I realize it’s happening. I have a fancy cover for my phone now so it doesn’t happen anymore, but when I first got my new phone I was sadly a little slow to realize what was happening.

          Reply
              1. Elizabeth West

                Mine did too–that’s why it kept happening. It took me a while to figure that out. And if you butt-call 911 and don’t respond to the dispatcher or your phone hangs up, they WILL call you back to see if you’re dead. Mega embarrassing!

                Reply
      1. Mabel

        The thing is, if someone calls repeatedly and doesn’t leave a message, I don’t see how that’s inconsiderate to me. I don’t have to do anything with a missed call if the person hasn’t left a message. If someone calls and doesn’t leave a message, I ignore it. I figure if it was important, they’d leave a message or text me, and I’d get back to them as soon as I can.

        I know that a lot of people are just the opposite: If someone calls them, they feel that they HAVE to call the person back whether they left a message or not. I’ve had this happen – when I call someone and don’t get them, I figure I’ll call back later or text, but then they call me and ask what’s going on, as though it must be something urgent because I called them. I’ve also had people get upset because they called and didn’t leave a message, and I didn’t call them back. I don’t understand this mindset, but I try to keep track of which friends are going to expect me to call back when I notice that they have called, even if they haven’t left a message.

        If someone called me repeatedly, it wouldn’t bother me at all. If I noticed that they called a bunch of times, I’d wonder why, and I might think – wow, that was a waste of their time – because I’m going to call back when I’m able to listen to their message and call back.

        Reply
        1. nonegiven

          I don’t get notified for missed calls until I check the phone, I get notified by text when there’s a voicemail left.

          Reply
    4. JKP

      I have occasionally been the person who called too many times. I will call once and leave a message. Then sometimes my phone would accidentally get bumped and repeatedly redial the last called number until I noticed. If he didn’t leave a message each time, maybe he didn’t mean to keep redialing.

      Reply
  7. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life

    Number five reminds me of a recent work anniversary of my own. It was kind of a big deal milestone and because I’m notorious for forgetting other important dates like birthdays and our wedding anniversary I made it a point to remember my work anniversary at least this one time. It turns out I still missed the day and my boss completely forgot it too. But I congratulated myself in the public work thread anyway because I was within ten days of it.

    It’s nice to have it remembered for you, but as a manager I confess to not being awesome at it. At a certain point, I just run out of the grey matter required to remember significant dates when I have to remember all the answers to everyone’s questions as an ongoing part of my job (involves lots of training and policy development).

    Reply
  8. WhiteBear

    3. Is there any employee parking? Can you/the city not create a slip or ticket staff can hang in their cars so they can use a free 2 hour space without having to relocate every 2 hours? It seems really shady for a workplace to not have anywhere for employees to park at work, or to make employees pay for parking at work (though, I’ve never had to pay for parking at any of my workplaces so maybe I just don’t know any better).

    4. Please, please, please, PLEASE be obnoxious and start pouring your daily Starbucks coffee into a reusable ceramic Starbucks branded mug, and tell the manager its from some other coffee place (but their cups are too flimsy and you want to help the environment and this is the only container you have/a dear friend gave it to you for helping them through difficult personal circumstances). I’m sorry, sometimes fire just gotta meet gasoline :)

    Reply
    1. Drew

      #3 is a great suggestion if the city is willing to compromise. A hanging tag showing that the car is owned by library staff should be inexpensive. Just work out a deal where people hanging the staff placard can park in the 2h parking without risking tickets, leaving the metered spaces for people with shorter errands. Of course, if the motivation is “we need more money from parking fees,” this may not fly, but at that point you can push back on the safety angle (“My staff will have to walk half a mile to get to the closest free parking lot, and in inclement weather or after dark, that’s an unreasonable risk to ask them to take”).

      Reply
      1. Elizabeth H.

        This would be so complicated everywhere I’ve lived. I doubt it would be a feasible option unfortunately. No free employee parking is pretty common in my experience.

        Reply
          1. Lars the Real Girl

            Echo the “why?”: If I go somewhere (store, show, event, mall, airport) with paid parking, I assume the people that work there don’t have to pay the parking, or have some other arrangement. (Congested cities being the exception, but even then I feel like employees often have a garage or public transport pass that’s somehow subsidized.)

            Reply
            1. TBoT

              If I may, this isn’t a good assumption. If you google “airport employee parking cost,” you’ll find a bunch of different airports detailing how much it costs for employees to park there. Just as a random example, employee parking at the Port of Seattle is $76 a month. Even when an employer is paying for or subsidizing parking, employees often have to park in lots that are farther away from the facility so the customers can have the closest ones.

              In general having employees pay for parking is more common than you’d think. The business I work for got acquired once and it caused huge internal drama that our parking was being paid for by the company, while the employees of our new parent company were having to pay something like $50/month to park.

              Even when I was working at a mall that had free parking, employees were only allowed to park in the deck, and only on levels 3 or higher. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s we were only allowed to park on level 4 or 5. When I worked at a hotel, on particularly busy weekends we had to park offsite and be shuttled to the property. Having employees park father away in less convenient spots to leave room for customers is completley normal.

              Reply
              1. Canadian Tuxedo

                I used to work in a mall and they decided employees could only park on the top, uncovered level of a far-off parking garage. I parked there exactly once and then we had an ice storm. My car was coated in two inches of ice. It took me 40 minutes to unlock my car and open the door, and another 40 minutes for the car to warm up enough for me to get the ice of all the windows. I parked in front of the store forever after that, and only got caught by mall security once. Worth it.

                Reply
              2. Arielle

                Parking where I work (Boston) is $140 a month and people are happy to pay it. We’ve got a 1-2 year waiting list for employee parking at the moment.

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                1. Health Insurance Nerd

                  $140 a month to park in Boston is a bargain! I have a friend who works at one of the colleges and if she chose to drive it would cost her more than twice that to park.

                2. peggy

                  my building monthly parking was over $600/month, with a 2 year waiting list. Boston, financial district. (my company recently moved just outside of the city so i fortunately no longer have to pay to park.)

                3. Starbuck

                  Boston seems to have quite the reputation for terrible parking… I’ve never been there, but my dad will often tell the story of his college friend whose car was parked on the street and got ticketed, booted, impounded, crushed, and a bill left in his mailbox all over the course of a 2.5 week vacation. Love that story. Now it’s a thing apparently to pay someone to move your car every couple days while you’re away.

                4. Gazebo Slayer

                  Oh yeah, Boston parking is dooooom. I can’t afford a car, but I wouldn’t get one here even if I could. It’s just not worth the trouble.

                5. Quickstepping Matilda

                  @Starbuck

                  I remember from when I was a student at MIT the story of a philosophy grad student whose car was reported as abandoned by an asshole neighbor who didn’t like a cheap car parked in the neighborhood – it was tagged in the morning, towed in the afternoon, and crushed before he got home from school that day.

              3. Lars the Real Girl

                Oh I know that it’s common (I pay plenty for my own parking), but I’m noting that there are usually some sort of arrangements (when space is available) where employees don’t pay market rates – like the Seattle Airport example.

                I guess in this case I was reacting to Colette saying she’d be annoyed that someone who works there got a free spot. I don’t think annoyed would ever be my go-to.

                This scenario is also different because it sounds like they’re parking on public streets, not the property of the library. So I’m not saying designate the front 5 spots for employees, but giving them free or discounted parking near the building they have to be in everyday wouldn’t “annoy” me.

                Reply
                1. Colette

                  To be clear, I’d be annoyed if they took the spots that are clearly intended for free parking for clients and let the employees park in them for free. If there was a separate, employee-only lot, that would be different.

              4. Talvi

                Mychildhood home was located near a hospital, and the road leading into my neighbourhood was always full of parking – the cars of the nurses who worked at the hospital. Because while the doctors who worked there didn’t have to pay for parking, but the nurses did. Eventually the city passed a bylaw that they could only park on one side of the street because in winter with the snowbanks it became too narrow for the busses to get through. To this day, it’s a long row of nurses cars parked all down the side of that road.

                Reply
            2. LAI

              I don’t know why you would assume that. Every job I have ever had, my parking arrangement was the same as the customers. If it was free for them, it was free for me. If they paid, I paid.

              Reply
          2. Temperance

            Because as a customer, you’re effectively punished and paying for the privilege of shopping or using s business.

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              1. Colette

                Does it? I can buy from Amazon without having to deal with parking. So the harder and more expensive it is for me to go to the store, the less likely I am to go there.

                And if enough people decide not to go, the employees will have all of the parking, but they’ll be unemployed and won’t need it.

                Reply
            1. MacAilbert

              I resent calling it a punishment. Somebody’s paying for the parking. It’s going to be you, the government, or the store. Where I live, no small business could afford it, neither could a library, and the government’s not going to pony up, and that’s fine be me. In one of the most congested cities in America, and one that actually does have reliable transit, you can you can pay the costs of setting aside land for parking yourself if you choose to drive a private automobile and further contribute to congestion.

              Granted, if the library were where I live, I wouldn’t exactly sympathize with the employees, either. I see no reason it is in the best interests of the city to subsidize automobiles irregardless of who’s driving them.

              Reply
          3. Colette

            Because the 2 hour spots are obviously intended for customers?

            Because the point of a library is to serve the public?

            I mean, I have no issue with a free staff lot, but I do have issue with reserving the free spots for staff. They won’t be staff long if the library closes since people no longer go there.

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        1. Ego Chamber

          This is why retail workers have to park in the poorly-lit back lot, like animals, and during the holidays some stores make the poorly-lit back lot off-limits to employees too (then you have to park in the back lot of some other store and hope to all the gods you know that the owners/managers don’t know each other/no one recognizes your car). There’s probably a better way to handle this, but I’ve never seen it irl.

          You definitely don’t hand out “unlimited parking in 2-hour spaces” passes for employees, that only works without pissing people off if there’s designated employee parking spaces that those passes match up to.

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          1. Colette

            It all comes down to why the business exists – which is because customers support it. Yes, employees should park farther away (assuming they don’t have mobility issues) for the convenience of the customers, because if the customers stop showing up, the employees will be unemployed and parking will no longer be an issue.

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              1. Oryx

                A public library is not a for-profit business but it is still a business that serves the public.

                I’ve worked in multiple libraries over the past 15+ years. Some have had lots big enough for staff and patrons, although staff were always told to park in the spots furthest from the building. One building did not have enough spots for patrons and employees and were were absolutely NOT allowed to park in that parking lot.

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            1. serenity

              Isn’t the thinking a little different for a public library? I don’t think of public libraries as “businesses” and I don’t have any illusions about the salaries made by library staff.

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                1. Infinity Anon

                  Also, it sounds like the spots are not specifically for the library. They are run by the city and in most cities I have lived, the library is very far down their list of priorities. The odds that they would be willing to give parking perks to library employees (either by allowing them to park longer in the free spaces or designating spots for them) are slim to none.

            1. Starbuck

              I too was amused by the implication that it’s apparently possible to “park like an animal.” My type of humor.

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              1. Ego Chamber

                So it’s not just me who routinely adds “like an animal” or “you monster” to otherwise innocuous phrases and then thinks that qualifies as joke? Spectacular.

                Reply
      2. Doreen

        The city is almost certainly not going to go for this. The reason for parking spaces with a time limit is to encourage the spaces to turn over, so that customers/patrons can find spaces rather than employees of nearby businesses taking up the spaces for the whole day. If it were just a matter of getting money from parking fess, the city could simply meter the spaces with a longer time limit – the city can get as much in fees from one car parked for twelve hours as it can for six cars parked for two hours each.

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    2. Agatha_31

      No staff parking is relatively common in my town and it’s not even that big a population. What it is, is really really badly designed. At least the downtownn area. Most businesses don’t even have customer parking. There’s very limited (always full) street parking, with a lot of businesses, and of course the parking companies bought up a ton of the empty lots and turned them into pay parking lots… And those not owned by them, the owners figure they can make a quick buck renting out for slightly less… and do so. So yeah, if you work downtown, you either walk, use the (shitty) transit system, or you budget for a monthly parking pass. It sucks, either as an employee or a customer, to have to find a parking space. The city has responded to the problem by… making more of their street parking into pay parking and jacking up the cost regularly. :/

      Reply
      1. Colette

        Outside of small towns (<5000 people), I’ve never seen a downtown core with free parking. Sometimes businesses can validate parking, but otherwise you have to pay to take transit. And transit to downtown is usually reasonably good.

        Reply
        1. blackcat

          In the US, I’d say it’s common. Up until 3 years ago, my town (>40,000, Boston suburb) had almost exclusively free parking.

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        2. Talvi

          My hometown of ~65000 has entirely free parking downtown (actually, I don’t think there are meters anywhere in the city!)

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        3. Elizabeth West

          Mine has free street parking, but competition for it is fierce. You do end up walking a bit to get wherever you’re going. I’ve actually gone home and skipped stuff a couple of times because I could not find anywhere to park where I didn’t have to pay. If you put your car in lots attached to businesses, you risk getting towed.

          There are a couple of lots and multi-story car parks near the core downtown area that are free, so it’s better than it used to be. If there’s an activity going on downtown, it’s hard to find a place.

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        4. Witty Nickname

          I live in a town of just over 100,000 people, just outside of one of the biggest cities in the U.S. My town still has free public parking everywhere, including downtown. Only privately owned lots/garages here charge for parking, and this is in an area where paying to park everywhere you go is the norm (and as far as I’ve found, the only city in the area that doesn’t charge for public parking).

          I love it, but my city is facing a huge budget shortfall due to a court ruling that is prohibiting them from using funds they were planning on and they are talking about eliminating essential services, like crossing guards and after school programs. :( I’d be happy for them to start charging for parking instead, but as far as I know, that idea hasn’t even been proposed by the city council.

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      2. some follow up necessary

        As a transportation planner, that’s what the city should be doing. It may seem counterintuitive, but it’s better to have paid parking that is priced appropriately that people don’t want to stay there all day, which encourages people to come downtown to run errands because they can easily find a spot, than to have free parking which encourages employees of local businesses to store their cars all day long, leaving none for customers. Parking turnover is good for businesses, and although meters might seem expensive they are still usually cheaper than private lots/garages, at least for a short term. Where I live you might pay as much as $6/hour for metered parking, but you’d be lucky to get out of a parking garage for less than $20 even if you’re only there for an hour or two.

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        1. Agatha_31

          Actually the parking garages are less here – that’s part of the annoyance. That and the city has ‘raised’ the rates in two ways – first by directly upping the cost, but secondly and most annoyingly to anyone trying to run business errands downtown (which is a lot – there’s several banks, professional offices, and the courts are down there), they keep upping the minimum amount you can pay. It’s irritating to have to keep buying a half hour here and there when you need 5-10 minutes at any given stop (the minimum time used to be 12 minutes, which was pretty much perfect).

          Reply
    3. Annie Mouse

      I don’t think not having a dedicated parking area for employees is shady. It’s fairly common here, particularly in cities. My old jobs in the city centre had no specific parking although at one you could get a permit which marginally reduced parking costs.
      My current one provides parking but in some places it’s a bit limited as the size of the workforce at that location has increased beyond the original. And my headquarters has some parking, but good luck with getting a space anywhere near!

      Reply
    4. TL -

      It’s not shady in a big city with limited space – or even in just a completely developed part of the city. I interned for a company where their Houston campus you paid for parking (I think I paid $30/month?) but on their campus in a small town (where I worked later) parking was free.

      One place I worked in Boston was in a suburb that only allowed you to provide parking for 20% of your employees. Parking in campus parking lots was over $1000/year and on a lottery basis. Parking in a garage was $35/day. There was one street with free parking but finding parking there was a minor miracle.

      Similar rates when I worked inside Boston city limits, except that I worked in the medical center and they really prioritized parking for the patients, so fewer employees drove in anyways.

      For what it’s worth, there are plenty of places where parking is pricey or unavailable, and it’s reasonable to expect the employees to work something else out – people do.

      Reply
      1. peggy

        My office just moved out of downtown Boston but for the last 3 years, I paid between $26-39 PER DAY to park at work. ($26 was the early bird rate, in before 9 am.) for

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      2. Zathras

        The place I used to work at in Boston charged several hundred dollars a month to park in their garages, and you were not guaranteed to get a spot – I didn’t drive to work but I heard people jokingly refer to the parking passes as hunting licenses.

        I’ve been expected to cover my own parking at all of my jobs in Boston/Cambridge. But all of my employers there have also had pretty generous subsidies for MBTA passes and bike commuting, to incentivize not bringing your car into this mess in the first place.

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        1. Jules the 3rd

          I would rather not drive in Boston (worst drivers on three continents, in my experience) but you have semi-decent transit. But how does bike commuting work in winter?

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          1. TL -

            Warm gloves :)
            Generally the roads in Boston are well salted and plowed so some of it is preference – I can bundle up enough that the cold doesn’t bother me (not everyone can).
            You can also buy better tires and take public transit if needed.

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            1. Zathras

              I have waterproof down gloves for this purpose. :-). I can take the T when the road conditions are too bad for my bike, but that’s usually only during or immediately after a storm. One of these days I will get an old rigid frame mountain bike and outfit it as a winter commuter with studded tires.

              Reply
            2. notfunny

              Yes, this comment is spot on. Warm gloves, hiking boots with warm socks and lots of layers! There have been times where our semi-decent MBTA and/or bus system did not work but riding in got me to work or school roughly on time.

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          2. nonegiven

            I remember my son spending the night at work on the sofa in one of the offices because the snow was waist high and made his normal 10 minute walk impossible.

            The metro station was a 20 minute walk from his apartment, in the opposite direction of his work. I think he pretty much only took the metro when he went to Logan.

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        2. Arielle

          I mentioned this above but I’m in Boston/Cambridge, staff parking is $140/month, and there’s a 1-2 year wait list. It’s a lot to pay but I live in a suburb so if I couldn’t drive it would be a two-hour commute by bus, T, and then bus again.

          Reply
      3. Guacamole Bob

        Ha, I think I know which street of free parking you’re talking about. The city would love to meter it, but it’s owned and maintained by the state and the state won’t go for it.

        I’ve always worked in big cities and taken transit, walked, or biked to work, and I’m always kind of amazed at attitudes towards parking elsewhere. I get that it’s annoying and expensive, but so is having appropriate clothing for a business context, or taking the train to work, or other things that aren’t the employer’s problem. And building more parking in already built-up areas is crazy expensive, especially when you consider what else you could do with that land.

        I’ve seen more places proposing “parking cash out” programs, where if an employer provides free parking to employees they will also just give employees extra cash if they don’t use the parking. It costs employers (and municipalities that don’t charge) a ton to provide free parking, and some number of people will find other ways to get to work when the realize their employer will give them an extra $500 or $1000 a year if they take the bus, or if they park a few blocks away and walk.

        Reply
    5. SchoolStarts!

      I work in a government town. The government offices for the various ministries are scattered all over the city. If you work at a downtown location, it’s pretty much a given that the staff take the bus. There are other locations where it is less bus accessible and there are recommended nearby parking lots (rented from churches quite often). Not even federal employees have guaranteed parking. There’s a government office nearby and the employees will fill up the limited visitors’ spots to avoid paying for parking – and they are decently paid!

      My concern is that library employees are not that well paid sometimes and I think it would be better for the employer to make arrangements somewhere, possibly even paying for a part of the fee for staff. If the staff like their “move their car” breaks, maybe there’s also something AT work they don’t like. Make the staff feel appreciated by making an arrangement and subsidizing it a little, it might go a long way to keeping staff .

      Reply
      1. Colette

        It sounds like these employees aren’t willing to pay at all, since they take the free spots.

        I think there are a lot of variables we don’t know. Is the library readily accessible on transit? How expensive is paid parking, how close is it, and is it available on demand? Does moving their car take longer than their break time? How disruptive is it to their work?

        Reply
        1. downtown parker

          tell them to park at the park and ride on Avon St. and take the bus the rest of the way. or, find out from the city if they can qualify for reduced rate parking like other city employees who pay the monthly fee for their parking in the garage.

          Reply
    6. JanMA

      Cups aside, Starbucks has such a distinctive aroma that I’m sure the boss will smell it (I can always smell when Starbucks is in the office). Then what? I would say I received a $100 gift card for my birthday. Could they really bar you from using it?

      Reply
      1. Infinity Anon

        A lot of people can’t distinguish Starbucks from any other coffee. Without the visual confirmation, he would sound even more crazy if he complained about her having coffee but no one else.

        Reply
    7. Jules the 3rd

      YES, this. It’s what I came to say – it’s a *public library*, even if you’re a county entity inside city limits, the employer needs to make parking available. The library director should have standing to bring this to people in admin to make it so, and a library manager should be able to bring it to the attention of the director.

      So, start with a discussion with your boss, because ‘we’ve got parking so you don’t have to move your cars every 2 hrs’ is much better than ‘you can’t do it, we have no better solution, good luck with that.’

      Reply
      1. Infinity Anon

        I don’t think that the library director does necessarily have standing to make parking available to the staff if the library does not have a parking lot. How are they going to force the city to change their parking rules?

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    8. Grapey

      I work very close to Boston and it’s a given that there will never be free parking for any jobs downtown. As cities get bigger I think the responsible thing is to encourage employees to take public transportation via pass subsidies if they’re available.

      Reply
    9. Mike C.

      Those two hour spots are specifically made to be two hour spots to ensure turnover. Allowing staff to park there not only defeats the purpose of those spots, it hinders the development of the area in general.

      Reply
    10. Kaybee

      I work in a downtown metropolitan area, and it’s extremely common for employees to have to pay for their own parking. I pay $200/mo, and am grateful I have monthly parking; the waiting list is hundreds of people long and daily parking rates would cost me a lot more than that. There is subsidized parking for folks making around minimum wage, but it doesn’t take much above minimum wage to not qualify. Unfortunately, the few businesses that cover parking costs for the employees tend to reserve those spots for their VIPs, not their lowest paid employees.

      If the public library were to start covering the cost of parking, that money would have to come from taxpayers. Good luck with that.

      Reply
      1. Infinity Anon

        Libraries have notoriously tight budgets. I don’t think that they would be able to pay for parking if they want to unless they cut salaries or positions.

        Reply
      2. One of the Sarahs

        Plus if they pay for employee’s parking, will they then have to pay the public transport costs for people who don’t drive too? Why should Fergus get his parking subsided when Wakeen has to shoulder the complete cost of coming in by bus/train?

        Reply
    11. Epsilon Delta

      #4 – when you order you can just hand the barista your own mug (starbucks-branded or not) and they will make your beverage directly in the mug. And usually give you a 10-cent discount too.

      Reply
    12. LCL

      If real or perceived parking issues have reached the point of turning non metered spaces into metered, the municipality will just laugh when you ask for employee parking, even if it is for another municipal branch. We have had our company (municipal) vehicles towed by the city, these were clearly specialty rigs with large door banners.

      Reply
  9. HannahS

    OP 1, I’m shocked that no one else has complained! I can’t believe he’s trying to turn your workplace into a haunted house. It’s just so strange and unprofessional. I think that Alison is right, that speaking as a group is best. Since you’re worried about his feelings (and in a perfect world you wouldn’t have to be, but here we are), I wonder if there’s a way to phrase it that focuses on productivity.

    “Boss, we love that you get in to the holiday spirit, but the music and motion toys are really distracting and make it hard to focus on work. We were thinking that it would be better to just have the quiet decor.”

    “Boss, it’s so nice that you want to celebrate with us, but we find it distracting and depressing to be surrounded by all this spooky and gory stuff. We were thinking that it would be nice to have more cheerful symbols of the holiday in the office instead, so we were thinking we could focus the decor on things like pumpkins and candy this year.”

    “You know, boss, we’ve been wondering if we could forego the haunted-house type stuff this year. Having the soundtrack is making us feel tense all day, and we don’t like being startled by the toys. Having that around all day is making us keyed-up, and we’re finding it hard to focus.”

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth the Ginger

      I think there is potential fruitful ground in suggesting how to decorate enthusiastically in ways that don’t distract/unsettle people. More pumpkins and candy and fake cobwebs, fewer strobe lights and laughing skulls?

      Reply
      1. Teacher

        Or possibly suggesting restricting the noisy and/or flashing decor to Halloween itself, not the ten days leading up to it.

        Reply
    2. kittymommy

      While I like Halloween and dressing up, candy, trick or treating, etc., there is quite a few people who don’t celebrate due to religious reasons. For that reason as well, it seems that the over-the-topness of the boss may need tempering??

      Reply
      1. HannahS

        Yeah, totally. I’d be a bit eh on it for religious reasons myself (especially over the death-themed stuff), but I’d personally phrase my complaint along distraction lines. But I could definitely see someone who is, I dunno, very evangelical Christian, or Jehovah’s Witness or something, being incredibly uncomfortable. If they don’t speak up though, I don’t know if OP can bring it up.

        Reply
    3. SpiderLadyCEO

      I am too! I love Halloween and all it entails, but I think I would go crazy with a spooky soundtrack on all day, and motion activated decorations!

      I’m surprised anyone at all can focus. Definitely talk to others in your office, and go to your boss! HannahS has some great phrasing.

      Reply
      1. Julia

        OP #1 here: Thanks! I saved Hannah’s phrasing. :)
        It is distracting. I’ve had two colleagues already tell me I startled them when I was just walking through the hall.

        Reply
    4. Jennifer

      It’s fine to decorate, but how are you supposed to have work phone calls with banshees screaming in the background? Seriously, anything that noisy isn’t appropriate in the general office space. (Maaaaaybe his own office, though then nobody’s gonna want to go in there.)

      Reply
    5. Kyrielle

      Yeah. I mean, my last office celebrated Halloween vigorously – in my opinion – for an office. But all years but one that involved no noisemakers. (One year, there as a bowl of candy with ominous sounds and a grabby hand. That got turned off after being set up for one day, because everyone was tired of hearing it. The candy remained, just not the noises and grabbing.)

      There were cobwebs. There were bloody footprints and handprints (protip, the cheap stick-on sorts will stain acoustical ceiling tile…). There were tombstones. (That were put on the lab computers that were the slowest, and the two that wouldn’t boot…lol.) There were creepy eyeballs (chocolate with some tasty filling, wrapped in foil) staring up at you from the keyboards on the lab computers. The most enthusiastic person had a skeleton sitting in their office for the duration.

      But no always-on creepy music. No animated things popping out at you from unexpected corners (the hand on the bowl that one year was very obvious, not unexpected at all). No spooky lighting. No decorations in anyone’s cubicle/office that they didn’t agree to in advance. Nothing that interfered with walking down hallways or into offices/the lab. We still needed to be able to get our jobs done.

      Reply
      1. Falling Diphthong

        This is an important point–any repetitive electronic noise is going to drive the people sitting near it batty after about an hour.

        Reply
        1. Jennifer Thneed

          I worked in a cube-farmy place once where our boss got a clock that had electronic renditions of birdsong for chiming the hour, and different bird for each. (It was okay from 20 feet away, like I was… It *might* have been okay for the people sitting right under it if the recordings had been good ones, and they were birders, but it was just tinny chip reproductions.)

          Anyway, it stopped making sounds. The battery ran out? Replacing it didn’t help. The battery fell out? But it was right there! I was buddies with the guy sitting right under that puppy, and he told me the ancient secret of “putting the battery in backwards”.

          Reply
    6. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend

      I like these options for phrasing. As much as I adore Halloween, I’m also aware that other people have good reasons for not being into it. This year, I decorated our front lobby with pumpkins and put out candy, but I’m saving the good stuff for my house.

      Reply
    7. Elizabeth West

      Yeah, exactly. I wouldn’t have a problem with the lights and decorations, but the toys and the soundtrack would bug me to no end. Maybe everybody could get together as Alison suggested and ask if he could eliminate those two things, as they’re a distraction. Then he could still have the festive decor. Unless it’s really gory or frightening, like bloody zombies, which can upset people. Maybe confine it to a smiling skeleton with a pirate hat or something like that.

      A noisy display can be fun, in a haunted house or a party situation. But it isn’t really appropriate for an office setting. He should be doing the distracting scary stuff at home.

      Reply
      1. HannahS

        Yeah. No reasonable person is going to object to the Boss putting a stuffed animal in a witches hat in his own office. For all that I yammer on about secularity in the workplace, I don’t actually care if someone puts tinsel on their chair or a Santa figuring on their desk or something. But this all-encompassing decoration with lights! noise! disturbing visuals! is just so not professional.

        Reply
  10. Drew

    I’m sure the letter writer would prefer some constructive commentary. This post (and the one above about “their coffee isn’t even that good”) are not really helpful, IMO. If the boss had mentioned the waste issue, that would be different, but this seems very much to be a case of “someone doesn’t like how LW chooses to spend my money.”

    Alison’s suggestion of a (presumably unbranded) travel mug is a good one to at least make them work for that criticism. If her coworkers are still taking undue interest in her coffee after that, they can be told that where LW gets her coffee is her business, not theirs, and let them grumble in peace. And, TBH, I’d still grab Starbucks in the (recyclable and/or compostable, btw) cup just so no one feels as though they’ve “won.” I’m sometimes petty that way.

    Reply
  11. Rose

    For 3:

    Can you talk to the city and see if they can set up some sort of employee parking for your library? The library where I work is on a street with (I think) two hour parking, but we have a staff lot and permits so we don’t have to use those spaces – and other businesses on the street that don’t have lots can get staff permits to ignore the meters, as can local residents. I believe the town does charge for these (especially for residents), but your library should cover that cost.

    Safety is definitely a concern, especially once it’s dark earlier, as another commenter said. Also, if you live in a snowy area, depending on how well the streets are cleaned, that can be dangerous too. I’d try and find a solution with the city, honestly.

    I do see the other side of this – I once had a job where we all got up and moved our cars at 10 am, when we were allowed to park in free spots, and just used meters until then – but that was a once a day move, and it wasn’t a public service job so staffing desks wasn’t an issue. It sounds like, if your staff are working 8 hours, they’re moving three times a day, which is excessive. If they’re working 4 hours, I’d count the one parking move as their 15 minute break (assuming your library works under similar rules to mine) and if they keep taking longer, start counting them as not working. What are their mandated breaks? Every time they move the cars outside those, dock it from their pay (i.e. they take 30 minutes to park three times a day but their contracts give them 45 minutes total of breaks, so dock their pay the other 45). Because this is excessive.

    Reply
    1. One of the Sarahs

      Re safety concerns – I think it’s reaching to suggest automatically that parking a few more blocks away is always more dangerous. There’s nothing in OP’s letter to suggest it, it seems it’s about the staff habits.

      Reply
  12. a fake name

    #5 Where I work people get a nice certificate in a frame, a gift card and a handshake from the big boss. When it was my turn, I just got a crappy sheet of paper with the company logo, my name and “5 Years” printed on it. It was on my desk. It wasn’t even printed in colour. My coworker who started the same day as me got the same thing. Needless to say, it went straight into the recycle bin. The next batch of employees got the nice things again.

    I don’t like this place

    Reply
    1. Smiling

      I used to get stuff on occasion. Then I got to 20 years and didn’t even get so much as someone wishing me happy anniversary. Further, the bosses see the date every 2 weeks, because it’s printed on one of the payroll reports.

      I think what happened is that the one person who knew (a manager in a different department) left the company and was no longer there to remind everyone.

      I know how much it meant to me (or would have if someone had taken notice), so I make sure to celebrate for anyone celebrating 5 years or more.

      Reply
    2. Elizabeth West

      That stinks. :(

      At OldExjob, they gave out really nice burgundy jackets with the company logo at five years of service. By the time I got to five years, they had downgraded to a very ugly grey windbreaker. I never wore it, not one time. It went in a pile of donations. Money or a few more days of PTO would have been better.

      Reply
  13. MadGrad

    I think #2 specifically mentioned that she would NOT be working with the over-caller. Am I reading that correctly? Would that change things in terms of how this represents the company culture on a wider scale?

    Reply
    1. Runner

      Correct — “He’s not someone I would be working with at all” but in hiring in a field difficult to break into.

      OP 2, don’t throw away this opportunity just because of this person who you won’t be working with. He might just wanted to reach you in person to make the offer, rather than do it in a voice mail, who knows. The flags should go down almost entirely and the weirdness factor? I don’t know, he’s in hiring. But the fact he won’t be part of your work experience pretty much should make this a nonissue.

      Reply
      1. Ramona Flowers

        I kind of think it’s a separate red flag if the person making the hiring decision isn’t going to be involved in the LW’s work, but there we are.

        I am glad I didn’t judge my current job on the first impression given by our unbelievably disorganised HR dept.

        Reply
        1. Elizabeth the Ginger

          Is he the person who made the decision, or the person in charge of extending the offer? Those aren’t necessarily the same, and if the latter, that’s less of a red flag.

          Reply
        2. Lars the Real Girl

          Yea I kind of read this as the HR Manager/Admin who is extending the offer, not the person who hired her/she would be working for. I think people use the term “Hiring Manager” a little loosely, when they often mean the recruiter/HR manager.

          Reply
  14. OrganizedHRChaos

    My company celebrates 5, 10 and 15 years by giving awards and a bonus check of $1000, $3000 and $5000 respectively. Once a year we have a cake celebration for the yearly anniversaries giving the awards and the owners take those employees out to a nice lunch but they get their bonus check on the actual anniversary date.

    Reply
  15. Tendell

    LW #4, can you go to your manager and earnestly ask for more clarification about this new rule? Like what the exact dollar limit is on drinks you’re allowed to bring to work, or if a non-Starbucks coffee is permissible even if it costs the same or more, or if it’s okay if you just cover up the logo on the cup, maybe with a Sharpie…? And does this prohibition on ‘expensive’ consumables extend to lunches as well? Do you need to be careful about any food you might bring in from nice cafes or leftovers from fancy restaurants?

    And maybe make a point of using ‘we’ instead of ‘I.’ “So I was thinking about how you said the other day that WE can’t bring Starbucks into work anymore, and I just wanted to get some clarification on that so I can share it with the others and make sure WE’RE all on the same page.” Then, if she only wants the rule to apply to you, she has to explicitly say that out loud. (This might have the side effect of actually getting the rule to apply to everyone, though, which… well, maybe then there’ll be enough upset people to legitimately push back?)

    Idk, it might be a little too passive-aggressive, but if you can pull off some concerned sincerity then it might work.

    (I’m trying to figure out how I’d react to this, and I think I would have just been genuinely flabbergasted when she first brought it up. “Jealous? Of my coffee? I… this was four dollars.” Then just stared at her in mute bewilderment until the silence got awkward.)

    Reply
    1. Drew

      Ooh, I really like the “we” formulation. Obviously, this can’t be a rule applying only to one employee’s coffee choices, because that would be invasive and inappropriate and bonkers. I might even go so far as to ask why the bank policy is now that Starbucks is not permitted. I mean, it’s a rule, there MUST be a reason for it.

      Reply
      1. Agatha_31

        “I mean, it’s a rule, there MUST be a reason for it.”

        Hi, yes, I would like to purchase a ticket to this world, please. What’s that? No, no return ticket needed, thank you.

        Reply
        1. Drew

          Oh, there’s a reason, even if the reason is “I’m tired of listening to Jane’s coworkers complain about her coffee and I’d rather tell Jane to switch to Folger’s than tell all of them to mind their own business and get back to work.”

          I never said it was a GOOD reason — but he made the request, so asking why is a valid response.

          Reply
    2. Tau

      I like this idea, especially if you do it by e-mail. If she follows up verbally, you can then send an e-mail confirming – “I just want to check I understood you correctly…” See if she back-pedals when faced with a paper trail.

      It’s definitely more aggressive than Alison’s solution, mind.

      Reply
    3. A Person

      I mean, I love passive aggression as it’s often the only outlet I and many other people have in the face of unnuanced management antics and stick in the mud co-workers (ask me how I know) but I think the LW has a perfectly reasonable line to ask for clarification here, preferably with e-mail follow up before scouting positions for a new cold war.

      (I think your point about ‘we’ is very good. I swear I get so much better cooperation with we statements compared to I/you because I’m making it clear that the issue applies to everyone)

      Reply
      1. nonegiven

        Copy it to everyone and say you want to clarify the policy before you buy an expensive coffee maker to bring coffee from home and a travel mug, if you can get coffee from some other coffee shop, instead. Then get a travel mug and have Starbucks fill it with whatever you want.

        Reply
    4. AKchic

      YES!
      “To follow up on the conversation on X Date, we all would like to be on the same page, since many of us bring in coffee from various coffee shops. We want to understand if this is just a blanket ban on Starbucks, or if there are other coffee shops that we are to avoid, and what the specific reasons are, so we can ensure that everyone is aware and doesn’t accidentally hurt someone’s feelings. We would hate to spend our own money on something for our personal consumption and make someone upset by our own personal financial choices.”

      And get it all in writing. Perhaps copying a grandboss? I am snarky enough to think that a grandboss would love to know that they may not be allowed their coffee choices because someone’s fee-fees are being hurt.

      Reply
      1. Janelle

        This. Also. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed someone’s coffee, with the rare exception of me dying for some and thinking “oh good idea I should get somw coffee”. Or maybe if they had a cool mug.

        Reply
        1. Drew

          I have, on occasion, noticed when a coworker has brought in Starbucks, but it’s always in the “oh, man, I wish I’d known so I could have put in an order and spotted you a fiver when you got here” context.

          Fortunately, my office has both a Keurig (OH THE WASTE) and decent brewed coffee, because we’re a bunch of coffee-loving folks here.

          Reply
          1. Al Lo

            We don’t do it when we’re on the way into work, but it’s definitely common practice at my workplace to let people know if you’re going to Starbucks during the day so they can place a mobile order and you can pick up everyone’s orders while you’re getting your own.

            (Mobile ordering makes it so much easier to be nice and do the coffee run without having to chase down the money or worry about keeping track of change!)

            Reply
            1. Witty Nickname

              I puffy heart mobile ordering. Actually, having Starbucks put my daily iced fancy latte drink into a reusable cup would be hugely disruptive to my morning routine because the mobile ordering saves me so much time. And Starbucks coffee has a higher concentration of caffeine, so switching to another brand/shop would also not work for me. And making it at home wouldn’t work, because I am a fantastic cook and baker but can’t make a decent iced latte to save my life. I rely on my daily Starbucks to get through my day – it’s important to me, so I budget for it. It would be a hill to die on if my boss tried to tell me I couldn’t bring Starbucks in any more for any reason.

              Reply
      1. whingedrinking

        Sweet holy Jesus it’s $400 CDN!
        * ahem * Sorry, the voice of my grandfather who lived through the Great Depression just took over my body. Good thing he’s already dead because if he ever found out that existed it’d kill him.

        Reply
    1. Janelle

      I jokingly told my boss “oh it’s my one year anniversary today”. We were looking at our calendars scheduling some meetings. He looked at me like I was bonkers. I reminded him that the only reason I realized it was due to knowing I started the day after a holiday. I wouldn’t have even remembered the date otherwise.

      Reply
      1. TiffIf

        Yeah, I only remember when I started in the year because it was the Monday after the July product release–so I get in on Monday morning and they’re all talking about how last Saturday’s production release went.

        Reply
    2. Just employed here

      Yup, it seems a bit … relationship-y to me. In a weird way.

      (Then again, I recently brought cake to my job (from where I am on maternity leave at the moment) because of my anniversary of being a *customer* there (I started working there after having been a customer for a couple of years). But that was mainly just a reason to bring cake. :-)

      Reply
      1. Me Duck

        In my experience, employee reviews are all done at the same time as dictated by the company, rather than based on when each individual employee started. It might be different in smaller companies, but everywhere I’ve worked there’s a period (usually about a month) during which reviews must be conducted. For employees who have just started, there’s a “new in post” rating, and they can just set their targets etc. for the next review.

        Reply
    3. Her Grace

      They’re a thing in Australia, but only certain ones.

      After working at a place so many years (7-10, depending on the place) you get Long Service Leave. My work place gives you three months off or six months at half pay.

      Reply
    4. SchoolStarts!

      It’s a thing…thing is, I have never to day worked anywhere long enough to get one! LOL. It really varies from place to place if they do anything for it.

      Reply
    5. Basically Useless

      They do it for major milestones at my job-for my ten year anniversary I got to pick a gift certificate out. $50, so it made me happy. I chose Amazon.

      Reply
    6. Not a thing here

      Same here. I just looked at my boss to let her know my four year anniversary was coming up and I might as well have announced the moon is, in fact, made of green cheese. She gave me a weird look and asked wth I’m talking about. We’re a pretty laid back environment, particularly for a government department.

      Reply
    7. Starbuck

      Maybe not as a celebration, but a lot of places have different benefits based on tenure so it can be important to keep track of years worked so you know when you get those 5 extra vacation days/year, for example.

      Reply
  16. Robin Gottlieb

    I’d ask the manager why the OP is being singled out about Starbucks. If the manager is stupid enough to ban all employees from bringing in Starbucks, push back as a group, as AAM always says.

    Reply
    1. Uyulala

      It sounds like it is because OP does it daily and the other Starbucks drinkers only bring it “from time to time” (in OP’s words).

      Reply
    2. a Gen X manager

      The whole thing is ridiculous, but OP works in a BANK. You know, where they want you dressed to the 9’s, only gold jewelry (not a rule, but an expectation), etc. It’s ridiculous no matter what, but MAYBE if OP worked in some kind of clinic or food pantry or other social services organization you could at least understand where the boss was coming from on this (still not okay though).

      Reply
    3. ginger ale for all

      I wonder if the local Starbucks franchisee’s have their bank accounts at their bank? It would seem like a good PR move to drink the drink that your customers sell.

      Reply
  17. Kerr

    #1 is honestly my nightmare – to work at a place that does scare or gore for Halloween. I’m sorry, OP!

    It does sound like it’s time for a group effort. If you speak up by yourself, perhaps you could pinpoint the worst aspects (toys, music?) and ask if those could be toned down, or limited to the day of Halloween. And then take a PTO day for Halloween. Also, you know your boss better than we do, but consider that his holding a grudge “forever” might be the anxiety talking. Is he the type of person who would actively sabotage your career over something like this, or just grump about it but not actually do anything? I’d be willing to put up with the latter for a while in exchange for peace, but the former is more problematic.

    I realize there are probably extenuating circumstances, but maybe it’s time to look for a better boss? One who won’t hold a grudge against you for not wanting to work in a haunted house.

    And it would be a crying shame if some of those batteries went bad, or someone put an upbeat song in the playlist. (Removing batteries is obvious. Swap them for drained batteries of the same type.) Not actually a suggestion if he’s as bad as he sounds, but…

    #4 – What? Time for a reusable travel cup, I guess, and claim you made it at home. Starbucks makes travel mugs that don’t look too Starbucks-y. I get that people could be jealous (heck, I occasionally am myself!), but it’s very much not anyone else’s business how you spend your money.

    Reply
    1. Lars the Real Girl

      but it’s very much not anyone else’s business how you spend your money

      That’s basically the long and short of it. +100

      Reply
      1. Allypopx

        Seriously. I budget for my dunks coffee, and if I was a starbucks drinker I’d do that too. Even when I had less money. Who the heck is scrutinizing your habits that much.

        Reply
  18. Carpe Librarium

    #4 “you can circumvent the whole thing by just pouring your coffee into your own container.”
    Did anyone else half-expect this sentence to go tongue-in-cheekily in another direction?

    Reply
    1. Jemima Bond

      “You can circumvent this whole thing by pouring your coffee down the front of his trousers every time he mentions it. This will make him stop.”

      Reply
  19. Stellaaaaa

    OP4: I would want to tell your manager that the solution to “This company’s employees cannot afford a $4 cup of coffee” is to give everyone a raise, that it’s maybe a larger company problem if multiple employees are complaining that their current pay doesn’t allow for small daily expenditures…but I can’t realistically suggest that you say that.

    On that note, is it possible that some employees tried to lobby for a pay raise and you got pulled into it somehow? Like, “We know OP is being paid more than us because she has nice purses and drinks Starbucks every day!” This sort of thing is pretty common, where employees feel more comfortable asking for a raise if they feel they have evidence that someone else is already making more. I can’t think of another scenario where a manager would take it seriously if someone were bitter about your Starbucks habit. He might have denied that you’re being paid more than them but wants to avoid future salary discussions so he’s trying to get you to stop looking like you’re buying pricey stuff. Of course, this only applies if other people really did complain. Maybe your manager owns stock in Folger’s, who knows.

    Reply
    1. Drew

      Not to mention that OP4 may have a partner or spouse who makes decent money and her Starbucks habit comes out of that shared budget. Or maybe a relative owns a Starbucks franchise and lets her stop for a drip coffee for free each morning. Or maybe she has budgeted for that morning cup and is making lots of spaghetti dinners and sandwich lunches.

      Or something else — and it’s STILL not her coworkers’ business, even if this is the merest extravagance in a secret Rothschild heir’s lifestyle.

      Reply
      1. Lora

        Thank you for saying this.

        I have a relative who blows through money for luxury items (seriously, last year she sold four fur coats she found in the back of her closet, never worn, tags on, via consignment) and often finds she can’t get a good price on the Real Real or whatever because there’s a piece of hardware missing off a purse but it’s still functional, there’s a tag she pulled off because it was itchy but now you can’t tell the exact year it was made, a tiny barely noticeable stain by the hem that comes out with a bit of peroxide and a smushed aspirin or it’ll be fine if you dye the whole thing black or whatever. She doesn’t want it anymore so it ends up with whichever lucky cousin has the right shoe size, sort of thing. Thus, I have a Coach purse, my cousins who wear larger shoe size than me have Prada shoes, and there’s some seriously lucky thrift store shoppers wearing Eskandar cashmere pants.

        Also have a friend who is the undisputed thrift store queen. She finds absolutely unbelievable stuff there – the two favorite outfits in my closet, she found at a thrift store and didn’t fit her quite right so she gave them to me. I paid her by buying the next round of drinks. Have also known people good at sewing who can put together a lovely knockoff of a designer whatever, beading and everything, and tailor it to themselves, and without looking at the tag you’d never know they spent about $50 on fabric and thread and a long weekend sewing, rather than $5000 on a designer dress.

        My own hobby is knitting, I make really nice shawls and wrap skirts and sweaters and whatnot. I buy hand-dyed yarn at a big fiber festival, the resulting item of clothing looks fancy but probably cost me $20-30. I did a bunch of fingerless gloves and head wraps last winter, and mittens and slippers made of upcycled sweaters and all that. My new thing is felting – the project after the current one is a Nuno felted dress with some needle-felted decoration. If you had to pay money it would cost at least $200, but it’s about $50 of materials for me.

        Reply
      1. Stellaaaaa

        I thought of that too. If employers don’t want us to say we only work for the money (not love if the job) they have to stop penalizing people who might not need the money.

        Reply
      2. Former Hoosier

        I was reminded of this as well. There can be situations in which I think it would be appropriate to ask someone to keep comments etc that made wealth clear to themselves but I am thinking like a non profit where the purpose is to help people get off welfare or something, not a bank and certainly not with Starbucks.

        Reply
  20. Snorks

    #3 I know where I am (Western Australia) if the area is for 2 hour parking then that’s all you get, it’s not limited to 2 hours that one spot, it’s 2 hours for this parking area. It’s a local law so each town / city is slightly different but from what i’ve seen they are mostly like this:
    Where the parking of vehicles in a parking facility is permitted for a limited time, a person shall not move a vehicle within the parking facility so that the total time of parking exceeds the maximum time allowed unless the vehicle has first been removed from the parking facility for at least two hours.

    Obviously your local laws will vary.

    Reply
    1. Lexicat

      In my time-limited public library car park, I’ve told people to drive around the block…

      (Queensland, for the record. I’m a librarian)

      Reply
    2. TL -

      In the USA, the general understanding is that it’s 2 hours in that spot. I have no idea what the actual rules say, though.
      I have had cops ticket me 2 times in 15 minutes for not moving my car…

      Reply
      1. Cheesesteak in Paradise

        I am in the US and it’s not just a particulr spot. It’s an area which is often defined as a block (both sides). Depending on how aggressive your local enforcers are, I have seen people get tickets for just moving down a couple spots (meter readers will note your car, sometimes chalk your tires). Parking on a different block is usually safe though.

        Reply
        1. Teacher

          I’ve been wondering about this with the pay by cell phone parking. I’ve moved my car from one spot t another in the same zone (I.e., with the same zone number that I am punching into my phone to pay), and have wondered if that is going to get me in trouble, which I suspect it probably could. Or conversely, have also wondered if I am safe on the same block when the zone number changes (the zones probably cover about ten spaces or so before changing numbers, so some streets have multiple zones.).

          Reply
    3. Apollo Warbucks

      When I lived in Melbourne there were two hour bays out side the factory I worked in and I used to get send out to rub the chalk off the tires so people wouldn’t get tickets and that stopped anyone getting a ticket.

      Reply
    4. Betty (the other betty)

      I’m in the US. Timed parking is sometimes by zone: you have to move to another zone when time is up. Source: I got a ticket for moving my car across the street (in the same zone, apparently).

      Reply
  21. Lars the Real Girl

    #5 – I get that this may be a big milestone to you (and 5 years is a great commitment!) but in a lot of (most?) offices, 5 years isn’t considered a “milestone” – (20 is, or 25 is). It would have been nice for your boss to notice it, but I don’t think it raises to the level of something that needs forgiving.

    Also, just to throw it out there, because it seems like you were upset at the gift card amount – $25 is the IRS limit for “gifts” that your employer can give you without them being considered compensation (and therefore subject to taxes).

    Reply
    1. Canadian Tuxedo

      My office start recognizing people at THREE years which just seemed nice at first but then I realized it’s because a lot of people don’t make it to three years…

      Reply
      1. Sled Dog Mama

        I was totally shocked that my current company recognizes 1 year, but it turns out people either don’t stay a year or they are here for like 20, plus you are still considered new for the first year and that 1-year pin on your badge is a signal to others that “Hey I’ve been here long enough to know where most everything is” or so HR said in orientation.

        Reply
    2. NotAnotherManager!

      Yes, and that someone in the organization recognized it should mean something.

      I have 35 employees, about 1/4 of which turn over every 18-32 months. I do not keep up with all their anniversary dates (or birthdays or anniversaries). It doesn’t mean I don’t value their service, but I try to do that with raises/bonuses and public thank-yous for a job well-done or above-and-beyond effort.

      I also just spent several years unwinding a system where compensation was based almost exclusively on years of experience, which doesn’t reward strong performance or exceptional people. I prefer to acknowledge other performance aspects over longevity.

      Reply
  22. Jemima Bond

    I’m flabbergasted at #1. When I started reading I thought, if it were me I’d just take the day off and have a nice little one day staycation with no stupid toys. But then I read further and saw he has the secs up over a week and in the past a whole month!! That’s mental. I agree, approach him in a group and if you feel able consider mentioning the PTSD – that sort of thing should be taken seriously. I know it’s up to you what medical info you share but the argument might have a bit more clout if he knows there is a serious issue.
    #4 – the manager’s a buffoon, but you save money in Starbucks if you take your own thermo-mug or insulated beaker so get a really nice one you love using (I have one designed so you can put a photo between the inner and outer (transparent) walls, and I put in patterned paper, glitter, stickers, my name and how I take my coffee) and put the extra coins in a jar to save up for a treat at the end of the year.

    Reply
  23. Corvid

    #4: This could also be a case of the manager trying to protect the OP because the manager noticed other reports talking about OP’s preference for Starbucks. I agree that it’s utterly ridiculous either way, but maybe there are some well intentions at play here.

    Reply
    1. Boy oh boy

      In that case the manager should talk to the other employees to stop being rude and obsessing about the coffee, as it’s a waste of work time and creates an unpleasant atmosphere. Not blame the coffee-drinker for someone else’s hangups.

      Reply
    2. Catherine

      I don’t think I can buy “good intentions” if the manager chooses to demand that the object of gossip change a perfectly reasonable behavior, rather than reprimand the people gossiping.

      Reply
    3. Lora

      Naah, my vote is “manager is a wuss without the spinal fortitude to tell Nosy Nellie to knock it off and go back to work”. It’s the manager buying trouble, for sure. You don’t shut that crap down right quick and find out who the pot-stirrer is and tell them that if anything so petty ever rises to your attention again it will reflect poorly on them, you’re pretty much guaranteeing that it will continue and escalate.

      Honestly, more and more I see it as a socioeconomic class thing. Different approaches in how to get results, taken to extremes or applied in the wrong situation.

      Reply
      1. HRM

        This is exactly right and exactly the way it would be handled in my organization. The complaining employee(s) would be instantly shut down. The manager is spineless and on a fool’s errand. God how I detest managers like this.

        Reply
      1. Lora

        Here’s the thinking process of a Wuss Manager. I had to have it explained to me, repeatedly, broken down into tiny words I could understand and it still sounded like a syntax error problem to me, but this is the thought process:

        1. In these modern times, people get jobs and whatnot via networking and teamwork and who you know. None of us is as smart as All Of Us! No I in Team! Synergy! Everyone must get along! MUST! GET! ALONG! I have a SMART goal of Fostering Teamwork and Communications therefore everyone must get along!

        2. Nosy Nellie is scary, likes to yell, and people sorta go along with what she says because it’s easier to acquiesce to dumb crap like “bring your coffee in a travel mug” than “tell Nosy Nellie to mind her own business / die in a fire / delete her account”. Many people have found it easier to acquiesce to Nosy Nellie (AKA a bully) than to stand up to her, and fear her wrath; ergo, the overall feeling in the office is to Missing Stair Nosy Nellie.

        3. The office is working OK, maybe not great, but a blowup with the Missing Stair would definitely be noticed by higher-ups who would want to know what the heck all the fuss was about, and then I have to explain to the grandboss that this is about a branded disposable coffee cup, and it sounds stupid. Nosy Nellie isn’t actually a bad performer (she doesn’t have to be great or even good, just passably competent) when it comes to teapot spout slip-casting, and explaining that “Nosy Nellie has a Regina George personality” isn’t something you can quantitate and demonstrate in a PowerBI report. Let’s say I fire Nosy Nellie and replace her with Wakeen who is also competent – the net cost of firing/hiring is now on my yearly review, which is the effective cost of “keeping OP4 and unnamed others whom I may or may not care about happy” and I still don’t have any more teapot spouts. And now my Grandboss thinks I’m an idiot who can’t manage simple office politics because I let the situation rise to the level of his awareness. Nellie’s contribution to employee turnover may not be any more significant than that of another department or a competitor, who have varying levels of their own Nellies. There’s a significant risk with a quantifiable down side and not a lot of quantifiable upsides such as “if we hire someone way better than Nellie then we will be in a much better place in the long run” because you don’t know that you can get someone better than Nellie in the hiring market du jour and besides the “long run” can’t be longer than a few months or it screws up the quarterly metrics.
        4. So let’s tell OP4 to jump over the Missing Stair and bring her coffee in a travel mug for 5 minutes and then go do something else. The equilibrium, such as it is, is maintained and Boss can get to work on the TPS reports.

        I am not kidding, this is the thought process. You and I, like reasonable people, think, “tell Nellie to suck it up and not make her personal insecurities other people’s problems, what’s the big deal?” We know that Nellie will be grumpy for a bit and then get over it, or find a new thing to be fussy about and then we can keep telling her that her feelings are her personal problem not to be brought to work, please refer to this brochure about the EAP thankshaveaniceday.

        Reply
  24. Lars the Real Girl

    #3 – This may not work in your city/town but sometimes when there is a “pilot program”, they hold a town-hall or some other opportunity for the community to write in/comment about changes. Could the Library send a letter/representative to comment on the effect on the library workers and propose a solution? (Like the employee stickers mentioned, or designated employee spots?) In a case like this, a public institution can have a lot of sway before changes are finalized.

    Reply
    1. Allypopx

      Seconding this. The library should be a pretty important voice to the city and have some room to make accommodation requests. Employee parking permits aren’t outrageous in that sense.

      Reply
    2. Dust Bunny

      OMG please do this. Library employees get paid little enough as it is without having to deal with expensive and inconvenient parking.

      Reply
  25. Name (Required)

    OP1, I don’t know if this will work for you, but I was recovering from being involved (as a victim :) in an armed hold up a few years ago and twitchy doesn’t even start to describe my anxiety levels at the time. One of my colleagues (who didn’t mean to) did a practical joke thing where a life sized human doll/crash test dummy thing popped out and I totally lost my shit. According to my colleagues I ‘ninja’d the shit out of it’ (including kicking dummy in the balls when it was lying on the ground.) I completely ruined / killed his $200+ dummy and then copped him a serve that would make a grunt blush.

    At the time I was mortified and embarrassed but he was so much more mortified (when he found out why I was twitchy) he turned himself into HR after apologising sincerely to me. HR offered various options but I was comfortable this was unintended and asked for no further action. They got in a psych professional to explain to the whole workplace why these kind of practical jokes (and other behaviours) weren’t very funny and we all moved on. The huge takeaway for me was how genuinely upset this chap was. I was honestly thinking I might get fired for overreacting at the same time he was talking to HR offering to sign a statement saying he wouldn’t take legal action if they felt they had to sack him.

    Unless you have other indicators that your boss is an unfeeling $%^*, it might be worth a quick word in his ear to sound him out and ask him to tone it down a bit. Most people are horrified if their fun causes other people pain etc (although there are obvious exceptions). If you bring it up gently, you may well get an indication that he had no idea what his fun was doing to you. Or it might become apparent that he doesn’t care either way (at least you’ll know and can work out how to proceed and what you are prepared to put up with from there on in.)

    Reply
  26. Her Grace

    #1, if the other solutions of talking to your boss don’t work, remember that all the noisy, spooky toys require batteries…

    …batteries that can be removed…

    Reply
    1. Cercis

      A piece of tape on the battery also works and is less obvious than removing the battery. I had to do this when one place I worked put up a scent dispenser that made me very ill and the boss was too much of a wuss to tell the coworkers to take it down.

      Reply
  27. Cheesesteak in Paradise

    Re: Starbucks

    Since 2008 Starbucks has given a 10 cent discount for bringing in reusable drinkware. OP could just bring a travel mug to hand to the barista. Similar to Alison’s suggestion but less messy than pouring it yourself plus the discount and environmental factors.

    Reply
    1. McWhadden

      And, in my experience, they do so regardless of where the travel mug is from. So, you don’t need a Starbucks specific mug. And there are ice coffee travel mugs out too.

      Although having a Starbucks one would be a fun subtle FU to people. Nobody can prove that it’s Starbucks coffee in there rather than something brewed at home regardless of the logo.

      Reply
  28. Eve

    Are the all day parking solutions free? In my city they had 2 hour spots (paid still) a limited amount of free ones (8 blocks away and fill up by 6am) and then paid garages. Our company just put up with people moving their cars every two hours because you could still get a ticket if you just fed the meter all day.

    Paid spots were a minimum of $250 a month and if a company won’t pay for it that is quite a lot to ask an employee to pay. Some companies did pay for it that I’ve worked and some didn’t.

    Reply
  29. Traffic_Spiral

    #1: while no one wants to be labeled a holiday grinch, I’d say it’s very fair to not want distractions in the office. “Hey, so the blinking lights and constant cackling make it difficult to focus on work – can we tone the decorations down a bit?” is pretty fair.

    #3: I think that you’re going to have to provide some alternatives if you want this to stop. If you’re basically saying “so, everyone, I’ve decided that you all have to pay $10-$20 in order to get to work every day,” you’re going to get a lot of resentment.

    #4: Ahahahhaa… blow me. My caffeine intake is my business and if you know what’s good for you you’ll stay out of it. I’d send it in writing. “Just wanted to follow up on our conversation today and make sure I’ve got this clear – you are telling me I cannot have starbucks coffee in the office because it offends others. I confess that I’m a little taken back by this, as I didn’t realize my choice of coffee in the morning was up for general approval. Still, I agree that it is important to be sensitive to the feelings of others in the office. Could I please have a list of which of the following coffee brands I am allowed to have in the office? I wouldn’t want to make this mistake again and have my coffee offend someone else. [insert list of all the coffee stores in town]. Thanks.”

    Reply
  30. WeevilWobble

    OP 3 There are lots of places without employee parking where employees have to pay or take public transit (I don’t have parking) BUT you should he prepared for massive pushback on this. The alternative lots will almost certainly cost money. Employees get pretty riled up when their boss gives them an added expense with no corresponding pay bump. Even if it isn’t a huge expense. And it doesn’t matter that many employers don’t provide free parking. What matters to them is that they used to and now they don’t.

    There is no solution for it. They need to be at their desks. You are in the right. But please be prepared for how unpleasant this will be. It will be very unpleasant.

    Reply
    1. Triplestep

      Agree. Not only will it cost more, it will change the amount of time it takes them to get to/from work. This is especially serious for employees who have family obligations (child care or other) which are directly tied to their current commute times.

      Reply
    2. e271828

      OP 3 is writing not from any employer, but from a public library. The rules of engagement are different for public employees. A lot of commenters here don’t seem to be aware of the challenges facing a public library in terms of funding, relations with other city departments, relations with the city council/managers, and so on. There is no spare money available to pay for employee parking passes or similar benefits and if OP 3 started trying to do so, life would be complicated fast.

      The only way out of it that I see is, if other city agencies and departments do provide a parking benefit for downtown center employees, there might be a way to negotiate for that in the next funding cycle.

      I agree with you, WeevilWobble, the only real solution here is to crack down like a toughie and require them to be working when they are supposed to be there.

      Now, if there’s a union involved, it may be more complicated, but unless union contracts have included “paid time off during the day to move car from short-term parking…” the union probably can’t fuss much about management requiring employees to do their jobs.

      Reply
  31. Triplestep

    OP#4: You mention working for “one of the five big banks” so I take this to mean you are in Canada, where the term “Big Five” is commonly used; until Friday I worked in the HQ of a top US Bank; I am not a Financial Services professional, but here’s what I would guess is going on if you were in the US:

    You’ve been there 10 years, so you are probably not a Teller, but something like a Licensed Banker. So you know that Teller jobs are woefully underpaid and underappreciated; they are like a revolving door, costing banks a lot of money to keep filled and trained. Retail Bank Manager jobs are often filled by people who have degrees, but very little actual banking and/or management experience. So your manager may be green all around.

    I agree that your manager’s direction to nix the Starbucks is dumb, but is it possible that he is just trying to keep peace among the ranks? Maybe he overheard the Tellers talking about you and your Starbucks in an unflattering way and he’s just trying to help everyone get along. One of the ways he is judged – and one of the ways his salary is decided – is on his particular branch’s profitability. Happy Tellers translate to happy customers. Happy Tellers probably also refer customs to Licensed Bankers they like more often, so there’s something in it for you, too. I agree that your manager is over the top here, but in your shoes, I would look at the bigger picture and transfer your coffee to a travel mug as Alison suggests.

    Reply
  32. M is for Mulder

    LW #4 pouring your branded coffee into another mug may not be a hill to die on, but I can see the concept spiraling into one of those hills if that attitude continues. How far is the manager going to take this? Stop wearing your engagement ring, it’s bigger than Jane’s and she’s offended? Pretend you took a staycation, Jane’s feelings will be hurt if she finds out you went to Fiji?

    This may be a one-off or an excuse, or it may not. Maybe Jane is hiding an early pregnancy and the smell of Starbucks makes her nauseated, and she complained to cover her tracks. I’d find a good workaround (as others have suggested) and keep my eyes and ears peeled for escalation of this attitude. If you see more of the same, I’d start polishing my resume.

    Reply
    1. Allypopx

      Yeah that’s the larger issue. If it’s a weird one off quirk at your office – annoying, yes, but maybe not worth the hassle when you can just bring a travel mug.

      But if all your habits and preferences get nit picked, that’s not cool. It’s your money, spend it how you want. No one needs that level of scrutiny.

      Reply
  33. Julia

    OP #1 Here. Thanks everyone!
    Hmmm, Ain’t Got No Home by Clarence Henry or Something’s Going on in Room by “Daddy Cleanhead” – still creepy and we’d be dancing in the halls… :D
    He’s a good boss in many ways – he appreciates our work and bends over backward to be supportive with time off, medical, etc… and his one big flaw is passive-aggressiveness. He doesn’t express feelings like annoyance straightforwardly. He suppresses them and gets passive-aggressive.
    I think he could resent me forever, but he would never admit that to himself or anyone else.
    I’ll keep in mind the idea of approaching him as a group… I don’t want to initiate that but if it happens naturally I could help it along… I wish I could be sure he’d get over it, but I’ve seen way too many people, including bosses, not get over things and I was the one who lost out.

    Reply
      1. Julia

        Because I know him well enough to be almost positive he would resent me, and it’s not worth the damage to my job. I was lucky enough to get a huge break after a lifetime of dead-end, low-paying jobs and I’m hoping to stay with this organization the rest of my life. Damaging my relationship with him would do significant damage to those prospects. I’m a staff person – If the professionals I help support initiated it, he would be less likely to resent them. And they can more easily get another good job.

        Reply
        1. Statler von Waldorf

          I’m going to disagree with Alison on this one and back your instincts on this. I’ve known a couple hardcore halloween types over the years, and telling them to tone down the halloween stuff goes over as well as telling the fundamentalist Christians to tone down the Jesus stuff around Christmas. You may legally have the right to do so, but you will pay dearly if you exercise that right.

          It sounds like you are willing to just let this go once a year while silently shaking your head, and I would recommend doing so. I don’t think nudging the professionals to support you on this would be wise, there is too big a chance it could blow up in your face. I’d also recommend a good set of noise cancelling headphones, a bottle of ibuprofin, and the maybe a “stomach flu” sick day or two if needed for your mental health.

          Reply
          1. Julia

            Thank you! I keep my door closed and this year brought in earplugs.
            I’m not planning to nudge one of the professionals. If one of them initiated, I would support them. Back them all the way! :)

            Reply
  34. OP#3

    OP#3 here! The all day spots are free, but farther away. My staff do not make much, so I am definitely cognizant of how paying for the 2 hr metered spots will affect them if this pilot parking program becomes permanent. It wasn’t as much an issue prior to this, but they’ve unfortunately extended the time the free 2 hrs spaces are patrolled, which means they will get tickets if they do not move in a timely fashion. While they will get a co-worker to cover the desk for them while they move generally, and I am sympathetic to them having to walk a bit, to me there is no good solution here other than the all day spaces. They park in the Library loading dock when working a night, and all leave together, so walking in the dark is not an issue.

    Reply
    1. Morning Glory

      How long of a walk is it from the all-day lots? Are there sidewalks? As far as you know, are all of your staff mobile and able to walk easily?

      If the all-day lots are free, I have a hard time wrapping my head around the logic behind your staff; I’d assumed they were pay-only.

      Reply
      1. Risha

        My job reimburses me for my $125 monthly parking, which is about a third of a mile up the road. The only time I have a problem with this arrangement is when it snows more than a couple of inches, because for half of the distance Providence owns the sidewalk, and they have never shoveled it. Walking that stretch is genuinely dangerous and, when the snow is deep enough, sometimes impossible, and all of the reasonable ways of looping around it are a much longer distance and are also only mostly shoveled. A lot of our employees end up walking in the road instead.

        Reply
    2. That Would Be a Good Band Name

      Now I’m completely baffled. I’m way to lazy to go out to my car every couple of hours, especially when all-day free parking is available.

      Depending on the size of your staff and how far away these spots really are, maybe allow 1 person to do the 2-hour shuffle and then that person can drive the rest to their cars at the end of the night. I’d suggest rotating out who that person is so everyone gets to do the shuffle since they seem to enjoy it.

      Reply
      1. Yorick

        Have one person bring the car when there’s less than 2 hours left to the shift, and then they can drive everyone else to their cars.

        Reply
      2. Gazebo Slayer

        I know. I haaaate interrupting whatever I’m doing at regular intervals and hate looking for parking etc and this would drive me nuts. I’d *much* rather park in the all day space or take public transit. Ugh.

        Reply
    3. SMT

      When you enact the ‘you cannot leave every 2 hours to move your car’ policy, you can add that you won’t penalize anyone for being X minutes late for the first week or two while they adjust to using the free parking so they aren’t penalized for being late before realizing how long the walk may take (and keep this in mind for bad weather).

      There will still probably be some grumpiness about changes, but they’ll get over it and get used to it (like almost all changes in the workplace ever).

      Reply
    4. e271828

      If all day parking is in fact available and they don’t want to walk, then IMO you should lower the boom. The city is not paying them the pittance they get to move their cars every two hours.

      Reply
  35. Kirsty

    No 4 buy one of the Starbucks reusable containers and get them to make it in that, then if he says anything just say its not Starbucks its coffee from home. He has no grounds then to say you cant bring it in (not that he does anyway!)

    Reply
  36. SandrineSmiles (France) At Work

    #4 I will say, this kind of thing just baffles me. Asking people to refrain from speaking/bragging about their expensive-as-heck stuff all the time, okay, sure. Because work time should not be interrupted by such conversations.

    But today it’s a Starbucks cup. Next thing, what ? Prevent people from having Iphones ? Bar people from using their Vuitton bags ? Snatch the Bose headphones off people’s heads ? Appraise fingers where a ring appears to make sure the ring ain’t over 1k ? It’s not like having a Starbucks cups means anything other than… having a Starbucks cup. The item is there and just not hurting anybody. It’s not like you’re going around the office, waving the cup around being all “Heyyyyyyyyyyyy loooooooooooooooooook it’s my coffeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee” (and if you’re doing that, stop, please :P ? ) .

    I know these examples are silly, but… I don’t know how else to make the point. (Yes, I’m being silly, too, but I’m too energetic at the moment soooo ^^;; )

    Reply
  37. Grey

    …you can circumvent the whole thing by just pouring your coffee into your own container.

    Yes. Get a mug with a crappy gas station logo on it. Then, when your coworkers come in with cups from McDonald’s or 7-11, look at them and say, “Mmmm, must be nice”.

    Reply
    1. Been there

      Lol! I think this is the best suggestion yet!

      Actually I was going to suggest that the OP tell her boss that he should use her starbucks as a motivational technique.

      Guac Obsessed Auditor: grumble grumble Starbucks grumble grumble
      OP’s Boss: Hey GOA, work harder and perform better and one day you too can afford to fling money around at coffee chains, here start with alphabetizing these 5 years of TPS reports.

      Reply
  38. Dawson

    This one is mostly for Allison, but other professionals can chime in with their thoughts.

    When I was reading LW1, it struck me that we seems to always hear the advice leaning heavily toward fixing things that one or some employees don’t like, i.e. the Halloween decorations. If the PTSD/anxiety were taken out of the equation, would the recommendation still be “ask the boss to take it down?”

    I’m not advocating one way or the other, I was just curious. It seems like those that like something harmless hardly ever get advocated for.

    Personally, my advice would be to ask the boss “could we tone it down a bit?” and then ask for the most offensive items to be removed.

    Reply
    1. The Cosmic Avenger

      I think it’s because work is a shared space and people have little choice about being there, so you try to make it very neutral. Not every office does, of course, but you have to be careful about changes or customizations in the environment because it’s not easy for one person to object to something that everyone else wants. And I think there should be a strong bias against changes that could interfere with work, like noise or other distractions.

      Basically, I think it makes sense to err on the side of blandness or neutrality, and to get one-on-one input from everyone affected if you want to make a change that could be disruptive, like noise or movement in the sightline of peoples’ workstations. And of course, when you’re the boss it’s even more fraught, for the very reasons the OP stated: disagreeing with the boss can endanger your livelihood. So it’s important for supervisors to be extra careful.

      Reply
    2. Allypopx

      Yes. If someone was writing in, that would mean there was a reason they wanted it taken down. Maybe not anxiety, but maybe it’s distracting from work or just really annoying. Especially given other people have expressed displeasure as well, it would still be worth pushing back as a group.

      You’re a captive audience in your workplace, you deserve to be as comfortable as possible, and it’s not an absurd request. Especially if it’s just the sound-producing or jumping stuff.

      Reply
    3. caryatis

      It would be really bizarre for me to hear an adult complain that she is “disturbed” by some spooky music. So much so that I would have a hard time keeping a straight face. Of course, the right thing to do is take the decorations down if they really do bother most people–but LW#1 should consider therapy. It’s not okay to be incapacitated by the sort of Halloween decorations that most kids are fine with.

      Reply
      1. Allypopx

        That’s really unempathetic. It’s also not okay to incapacitate your employees just to have a little fun. A lot of people don’t enjoy this kind of thing, and shouldn’t have to deal with it in a professional setting. Some people are also just jumpy without any kind of underlying disorder and having to work around something that puts you constantly on edge is unpleasant.

        Also, even with therapy, something like PTSD can be triggered. Many combat veterans have a *really* hard time with fireworks, which is as you say something small children often enjoy. ADA accommodations are there for people like OP who struggle with this. Because it is absolutely “okay” to struggle. She’s taking care of herself just fine, she’s just asking if it’s out of line to want the stimulus taken out of her work environment.

        Reply
      2. Julia

        OP#1 here again. It’s more than just music, it has sound effects that suggest nasty evil monsters hurting people or animals. Evil laughs, crunching noises, screams. Just music wouldn’t bother me.
        I am getting therapy. EMDR has been very helpful! And my boss made a mistake with me years ago which triggered my PTSD and made me sick for two years, and he knows this. Which is why I had to go to therapy.
        When I came in this morning the soundtrack wasn’t on – it’s still plugged in, maybe something is wrong with the device. Maybe someone turned it off? The toys haven’t made any noise so far either, except for the annoying spider by the door. It’s much less disturbing with only the decor and no music or jumpy toys. Only mildly annoying. I wonder how long this will last… Also I misread the calendar – it’s 2 1/2 more weeks, not 1 1/2…

        Reply
        1. Danger: Gumption Ahead

          Is there any way you could say that you find that the noises are really distracting and make it harder to work? It seems like a reasonable request to not want a bunch of extra noise happening if you need to concentrate.

          Reply
          1. Infinity Anon

            I don’t think I could work in that environment, and I don’t have any specific problem with spooky Halloween stuff. It would just be too distracting with the sounds.

            Reply
        2. Health Insurance Nerd

          Me and the hubby were in the Halloween section at Target the other day and there was light up skeleton thing that talked and said “I see you” in a super scary voice that immediately creeped me out, and I don’t have PTSD! Some of the Halloween stuff out now is over the top scary, so I don’t blame you at all for not wanting to sit in an office surrounded by it all day!

          Reply
        3. KellyK

          Wow. That’s a pretty ridiculous environment to expect you to work in, PTSD or not. I mean, it’s not like you signed up for a job at a haunted house. I’m glad to hear someone turned it off, and I hope it stays off!

          Reply
          1. Julia

            Thanks! Me too!
            Technology and Halloween are not a good mix! When I was a child the only moving toys were played by actors in haunted houses.

            Reply
      3. Trout 'Waver

        I don’t care what music it is, if I have to hear it more than 3 times in a working day, I’m either shutting it off or finding a work environment without it.

        Reply
        1. Dankar

          I cringe the first time I hear the Xmas music play in the stores because I know that’s the start of the retail worker nightmare. I honestly think it’s criminal to expect your employees to listen to the Little Drummer Boy, et al on repeat for nearly 2 months…

          Reply
          1. Elizabeth West

            I used to work in a mall years ago and yeah, it sucks. Also, when I skated, people picked their Christmas show music SUPER early, right around this time of year, so they could get what they wanted before someone else did.

            Reply
      4. Danger: Gumption Ahead

        It would disturb me in the, “Jeez that is really getting on my nerves” sense. I’m in an open plan office. The last thing we need are more noises and distractions. Silent decorations would be no big deal, but noisy ones? No way.

        Reply
        1. Anonymous Poster

          In my office we can’t have any latex balloons period–because I am deathly allergic to them (anaphylaxis to latex). I have had to straight up tell people “you can’t bring balloons in here”. I once wrote a very unhappy email to HR about the balloons they put up around the entire building–then I saw them running around retrieving them all. The seem to keep forgetting they can’t have balloons!

          Reply
          1. Julia

            Wow Anonymous Poster, that’s awful! I know how you feel. I go through the same thing with my cigarette allergy. I almost got in trouble once for trying to stop people from smoking in areas they’re not supposed to.

            Reply
      5. Hmm

        I don’t need therapy but am creeped out by Halloween decorations, especially the super-bloody/undead/etc. I certainly wouldn’t want to work around it every October.

        Reply
      6. KellyK

        I’m pretty sure that someone with a diagnosis of PTSD is already in therapy. It’s not a magic bullet that instantly makes all triggers disappear. It also seems weird to say it’s “not okay” to be incapacitated by something. Of course it’s not okay. It’s the result of an chronic illness caused by a traumatic event. But it’s not some kind of moral failing, or something they’re doing *at* you.

        Reply
      7. Elizabeth West

        “Disturbed” doesn’t necessarily mean “I am freaking out and triggered by this.” If you’ve been around those toys and motion sensor things for five minutes, it could mean “OMG that repetitive cryptkeeper screech is so annoying and distracting I am about to go over there and pound Mr. Spooky into the ground with my chair.”

        Reply
    4. Falling Diphthong

      Regardless of the holiday, I think it’s reasonable that the decor not have a soundtrack, and not jump at you.

      Reply
    5. Tuxedo Cat

      I think the audio component is reasonable to complain about, regardless of whether one has a medical condition. In this story, the music would be at least somewhat unsettling to most people. Horror movies use it for that reason. Having to talk over unnecessary noise is challenging. If they have to make phone calls, I wonder if the soundtrack can be heard in the background and what the other person on the other line thinks. I’ve called customer service lines, and while I find the call center chatter in the background annoying, I understand it’s because other people are getting helped. There’s no need to have this other music in the background.

      Reply
    6. Lora

      Boss isn’t getting his real work done because of this. So, yes.

      At OldJob, I had a support department whose manager was REALLY into holiday decorating for every holiday. And getting shirts made for the company sportsball teams. And organizing after-parties for the company sportsball teams. And anything which was not her actual job, i.e. running her department to produce documentation for components sold to clients in a timely fashion. She had an 18-month backlog entirely of her own making. Not kidding, 18 months. She had not done a single blessed lick of work from the day she set foot in the door. She’d had three managers in a row who were utterly useless, which didn’t help. But oh boy, when we saw her putting up decorations and running around with a clipboard for t-shirt signups, the rest of us were SO MAD.

      If you’re gonna do that sort of thing, you better be caught up to the very minute on all your work. Boss isn’t.

      Reply
  39. Hiring Mgr

    Starbucks every single day? I’m sorry but who do you think you are? Get off of your high horse and come down to where the rest of us are just trying to make it through the day. If your co-workers wanted to surround themselves with wealth and opulence they would work at Buckingham palace, not your office. You might want to reconsider some of the choices you are making..

    Reply
    1. Apollo Warbucks

      Alison has asked you many many times to either stop making joke comments or mark them clearly as a joke. Why are you ignoring her?

      It causes a lot of confusion and it is pretty rude and obnoxious to so blatantly ignore the request.

      Reply
      1. Hiring Mgr

        Why am I ignoring her? I’m not intentionally doing that so I don’t know the answer. I will try to do better, but please read the commenting rules. Apologies for any confusion.

        Reply
        1. Apollo Warbucks

          You know exactly what you are doing, it obviously amuses you but when you’ve been asked to stop I don’t understand why you won’t.

          Reply
  40. Jubilance

    #5 – I could have written this. My coworker who hit 15yrs had a card circulated for him, but I got nothing when I hit my 5yr last month. My manager didn’t know know/care/remember. But I did see I got a little bonus in my paycheck, which is all I care about anyway. It sucked but oh well.

    Reply
  41. Rachel Green

    #4, If you bring in a travel mug or thermos, I think Starbucks will make your order and put it into the container you provide them. That way, you don’t have to waste paper cups transferring it to a different container.

    Reply
    1. Tuxedo Cat

      Pretty much every comparable coffee shop does. Many of them will give the customer a small discount (like 10 cents) for using their own cup.

      I prefer using my own cup because of environmental reasons and because I can toss it in my bag without worrying about it spilling. The OP shouldn’t have to because of a strange complaint, but it’s not a terrible choice.

      Reply
  42. Jubilance

    #4 – I’d be annoyed too if I was singled out over my coffee. Does this manager just not like you?

    Also I went to Abu Dhabi and Dubai two years ago, and had that cappucino with gold flakes as part of the afternoon tea at Emirates Palace. Both the drink, and the overall tea, was amazing. They also have a vending machine in the Palace where you can buy a gold bar, which I thought was really cool.

    Reply
      1. Zoe Karvounopsina

        I just checked, and it would cost £12, which…I’ve had more expensive cocktails.

        (Okay, okay, I don’t drink coffee, but if I DID.)

        Reply
  43. Adam

    #4 In the past several years some of my co-workers have come in and talked about buying houses, which I am as about as far away from being able to do as win Mr. Olympia (a LONG way to be sure).

    I was genuinely happy for them and got on with life. I can’t imagine getting worked up over coffee.

    Reply
  44. Recruit-o-rama

    The calling over and over thing happens to me at least once or twice a day. I call applicants for our entry level positions to schedule interviews and if they miss the call, some of them just keep dialing over and over and over. It drives me absolutely crazy. I think it’s a function of our instant gratification culture.

    Reply
    1. Allypopx

      Eh, or just job hunting anxiety. Them calling you I can understand. For entry level jobs they might feel like if they don’t make contact you’ll move on, they might not have enough experience to understand norms, etc.

      You calling them like that on the other hand, especially when it’s a routine part of your day, might seem a little weird and desperate.

      Reply
      1. Recruit-o-rama

        I know why they do it, it’s just incredibly disruptive and so annoying when it happens over and over again.

        Reply
      1. Recruit-o-rama

        Our culture wants everything right now. I find that our culture has absolutely no patience for anything, ever, YMMV.

        Reply
        1. Hiring Mgr

          It’s because everyone is coddled and gets a trophy from their helicopter parents who are on their smarphones using Instagram.

          Reply
          1. Recruit-o-rama

            Well I think technology plays a part in it, but I don’t think it’s a parent thing necessarily. It’s just that everything is 24 hours 365 all the time and we CAN mostly get everything right now, it’s like we expect it with everything. I am not exempting myself, it’s just a thing that has evolved over the last decade I think.

            It’s like when people honk their horn at you if you don’t floor it the second the light turns green, or can’t wait their turn at a four way stop. I went to get blood work done last week. I made an appointment and when I checked in, the receptionist apologized and said they were running behind because one of their techs called in sick. The waiting room was full of people just being so freaking grumpy about waiting an extra 15 minutes. I was at the grocery store yesterday waiting in line and there were two people in front of me- the person at the checkout was writing a check and the way the woman after her was huffing and puffing and carrying on, you would have thought the check writing was taking 6 hours, instead of an extra few minutes.

            And every single work day, I have several people who dial over and over – sometimes as many as 10 plus times in a matter of minutes, as if my entire job is waiting for them to call me back. The lack of patience with small daily annoyances is near constant, I can think of dozens of examples. It spans generations, it’s not an age thing as far as I can see, I think it’s cultural.

            Reply
  45. SheLooksFamiliar

    I’m a Dunkin’ Donuts fan and also famous for losing travel mugs. I reckon I can afford $2.63 for a large black hot coffee, in whatever cup they choose to give me, when I need my morning fix on the way to work. Which, as near as I can tell, is in the same ballpark as Starbuck’s plain coffee. If anyone told me to stop publicly drinking either brand, I’d have to take a long moment before I could respond politely. It’s no one’s business what I drink or where I buy it, and it’s none of my business what others drink. Live and let live, right?

    Reply
  46. Dust Bunny

    Public library: Your employees need a real solution.

    I once applied for a job at the children’s museum in my city. The pay was $6.75 an hour (a little above minimum at the time) and I could either pay full price ($12 for the amount of time I’d have needed for a shift) to park in the garage or–and the interviewer actually tried to sell this as a benefit, since there were no actual benefits–find a place on the street for free. In an urban area with lots of houses and several museums nearby (so, lots of competition for spaces). Right. They seemed genuinely astonished when I didn’t take the job.

    If the options your employees have are either the two-hour shuffle, paying full load for metered spaces every day on library wages, or parking blocks away and walking in in the rain/dark/95-degree heat, then this situation sucks and your organization, if it cares about its employees, needs to negotiate an actual solution instead of dumping the problem in the laps of staff who don’t have any clout.

    Reply
    1. Dust Bunny

      In retrospect, I wish it had occurred to me to ask him point-blank if he thought it was reasonable to pay them back almost two hours of my wage just to park. It wouldn’t have made a difference but I would have liked to see the look on his face.

      Reply
    2. serenity

      Thank you for making this point. While the periodic break-taking isn’t good for OP, it’s nice to see someone acknowledge the fact that library staff are rarely well-paid and there may be few options for them outside of engaging in this parking musical chairs (there are variable we don’t know – is there reliable public transit? Are there nearby and affordable parking options).

      Reply
      1. Dust Bunny

        Even public transit may not help. If the nearest parking is four blocks away, a bus stop may not be any closer, and they still have to walk . . . four blocks is not that far, but it is when it’s pouring or summer heat and you’re supposed to be presentable when you get there.

        I would guess a lot of these staff, except for core librarians, are part-time, too, which means they can afford it even less. A city or county organization should have an actual plan, though.

        Reply
        1. some follow up necessary

          I mean, local governments regularly take flack for providing excessive benefits and wages to employees who are generally characterized as shiftless and greedy. I feel like there would be a guaranteed uproar if it was found out that library employees were being given free parking when patrons have to pay to use the same spaces.

          Reply
          1. Gazebo Slayer

            Local (and state) governments get flack from trash rags like the Boston Herald and their dim-witted readers pretty much no matter how little they pay their workers. I remember the Herald having a shrieking front page story about how appalling it was that the MBTA (local public transit agency) provided free transit passes to… its low-paid transit workers. Gasp!

            Those people have it in their heads tbat all government employees are worthless, useless, and deserve nothing. (Of course, how they would scream if those city services disappeared!)

            Reply
            1. whingedrinking

              In my province, the teacher’s union sued the government for failing to uphold the contract that had been signed by both parties. The whole thing went all the way to the provincial Supreme Court, which ruled in the union’s favour, and the government *still* wouldn’t uphold the contract, so the teachers went on strike. The lawsuit cost millions of dollars – a significant chunk of which could have gone to giving the union what they were actually asking for (like smaller class sizes) – and the government tried to spin the whole thing in the media as the teachers wasting government money.
              When that party was finally, FINALLY booted out of power this year, the new government immediately got to hiring more teachers on the grounds that, you know, it’s probably good for students. Meanwhile, the opposition is still howling about the waste, the WASTE! Because as we all know, no one is more money-guzzling and shiftless than people who dedicate their lives to educating children.
              Also the now-former Premier used to be the Minister of Education and her kids go to private school. She’s pretty special, all right.

              Reply
  47. Matilda Jefferies

    Alison, do you have a tag for “Holidays” or “Celebrations?” (If there is something similar in the list, I didn’t see it.) Seems to me you get a lot of letters about Halloween, Christmas, birthdays, office anniversaries, and so on; I wonder if some of your readers might like to have a way to see them all in one place.

    /end unsolicited advice :)

    Reply
    1. Apollo Warbucks

      Maybe you could send an email or use the link my the comment box to report an issue as Alison doesn’t always see all of the comments.

      Reply
  48. Anonymous for This One

    I actually had a similar issue with the Halloween decorations some years ago. After multiple requests to turn down the volume or move the thing, all of which were mocked by the people decorating, my solution was to “kidnap” the dancing skeleton, take pictures of him in various locations around town, and hold him for ransom (two boxes of food for the local food pantry). We actually wound up getting about four boxes of food, the skeleton was returned safely a week after he was kidnapped, and after intervention from the County Board of Supervisors (really), the skeleton’s volume was reduced.

    Reply
    1. Delta Delta

      I love this. It’s a clever solution to the problem. I can see how something similar could end up happening around lots of holidays – kidnapped Santa, kidnapped Valentine cherub, kidnapped Easter Bunny, etc. and your department sneakily being kick-butt contributors to the local food pantry or other similar worthy organization. A good way to make it fun, do good, and turn down the volume.

      Reply
    2. Anonymous for This One

      I should note here though that my Halloween decoration problem was just that it was loud and annoying and driving me to distraction, not actually causing a medical problem for me. So while this worked for me (and my colleagues, and everyone else in the building except the decorators–the thing was *really* loud), it wouldn’t help the OP.

      Reply
  49. I'm A Little TeaPot

    #3 – I work in a major city. Commutes 1-2 hours each way are the norm. A 1 hour one way commute is considered really good. If you take transit, then you’re paying min $140 a month for the transit alone, and can go as high as $400 depending on where you live. That doesn’t include parking on the suburb side, and it doesn’t include any additional transit on the city side. If you drive downtown, monthly parking is $250+, plus the stress of driving in rush hour traffic. My company provides pretax programs to help offset costs, but doesn’t pay for it entirely. Some companies do specifically reimburse for transit costs, that’s typically a perk.

    Why do people put up with it? Pay premiums. If I were to get the exact same job but closer to where I live, I’d make 20-30% less than downtown.

    The point is – go tell the city that you’ll have to increase pay rates in order to account for increased parking costs for employees. And that money will need to come from the city (I’m assuming you receive property/income tax funding).

    Reply
  50. Minister of Snark

    #4 get one of those reusable coffee to go cup things and pour your morning coffee in there. And if your coworkers ask if you brewed it at home, tell them it’s none of their %&$#-ing business, because this is the most ridiculous complaints I’ve ever seen taken seriously by a manager. LW, just because someone is upset doesn’t mean that you’ve done anything wrong.

    Reply
    1. Gazebo Slayer

      “Just because someone is upset doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong” should be on a goddamn billboard.

      Reply
  51. Dankar

    My entire department was told we couldn’t have Starbucks any longer because another department complained that it looked like we were getting “special perks.” We all just happened to get coffee by ourselves most days of the week, though we did have a shared coffee fund for days when we worked more than the standard 8 office hours.

    Because my partner worked at Sbux at the time, my coffee was even free! We just started coming in through a back door with our coffee so our nosy neighbors wouldn’t see the offending cups.

    Reply
    1. Witty Nickname

      In a former job, we weren’t supposed to leave the campus for breaks, but my manager didn’t care if we ran across the street to the Starbucks, or if it took us 20 minutes instead of the 15 we were supposed to get (most of the time we only had time to take one of our two breaks each day anyway, so she figured an extra 5 minutes on that break was no big deal). A couple of us would take orders and collect money, and then hand the coffee out when we got back. The other managers complained that we were taking too much of their people’s time away from their work by asking them if they wanted coffee. And also, how dare we take 20 minutes. So we moved the coffee orders to email and everyone wandered over to our desks to get their drinks (which probably took them away from their work longer but was less obvious). And our manager told the other managers to mind their own business about how long our breaks were.

      Reply
  52. Library Life

    OP #3, can your library director negotiate something for you with your municipality? I also work at a public library. We have lots of three-hour parking around us. Our director worked with the village to provide village parking permits for us. As long as we stay in certain parking lots and hang the permit from our rear view mirror, we are free to remain in our parking spots for our entire shift. Hope you can find a satisfying solution.

    Reply
  53. SaaSyPaaS

    #4: This is ridiculous. If I was told I couldn’t buy coffee from Starbucks, as much as I hate buying things with blatant advertising, I would purchase the most obnoxious Starbucks travel mug and use that.

    Reply
  54. Kat M.

    OP #3, you’re going to have to come up with a solution to the parking issue. Just stating that everyone now has to pay for parking is the same thing as everyone getting a pay cut. When this exact same thing happened at my workplace, the entire staff banded together on the issue, and as a result everyone got a 25 cent per hour raise to mitigate the cost of daily parking. Also, two employees were allowed to take a break at around 4:30 to walk to their cars, drive them to the close free spots, so that at 6:30 they could drive the rest of the closing employees to their vehicles, rather than risk walking through a sketchy area after dark. The company also started subsidizing public transportation passes to encourage people to take the bus and free up parking spaces for others.

    Reply
    1. Rusty Shackelford

      OP #3, you’re going to have to come up with a solution to the parking issue.

      The OP is the manager of the circulation department, and the parking change was instituted by the city. It sucks for the employees, but it’s not the OP’s responsibility to solve it for them.

      Reply
    2. Yorick

      Parking your vehicle is your own responsibility. Your boss has the right to tell you that you can’t leave work so frequently that it disrupts your job performance.

      Reply
  55. Dawn

    I had the opposite of the Starbucks issue at one of my jobs. I worked in a crazy busy sports bar for years, I was the only employee that would close a Saturday night (3am), and open a Sunday morning (8am), the owner would get me Starbucks every Sunday morning. My coworkers would complain special treatment, he told them that when they can show up for work sober on a Sunday morning shift, he’ll get them Starbucks too.

    Reply
    1. NotAnotherManager!

      I will never understand people complaining that someone taking on the undesirable work shouldn’t be recognized or get some sort of thank-you for it. I have people complain to me on occasion about stuff like this, and I’m all too happy to offer to put them on the insane floor where at least one or two people work every evening, weekend, and holiday (we try to staff so it’s not the same someones and everyone gets a break) or to add them to the shitty, thankless, interminable project. No one has ever taken me up on the offer, though, so I guess the company-provided meal/second monitor/laptop/thank-you bonus wasn’t enough incentive for them.

      Reply
    2. M is for Mulder

      I was also a Sat/Sun clopener at a restaurant, and BOY HOWDY are you not kidding about it being hard to find a reliable person who shows up on time and not hung over! I was the only server over 25 years old, and seeing the college kids crawl into the place half an hour late every Sunday when I struggled to open alone was infuriating. You deserved every drop of that free Starbucks.

      Reply
      1. Dawn

        It’s funny cause I was only 21, but I used Friday nights to get wrecked cause Saturday shift didn’t start till 3pm. I also had a desk job, but the owner of that place was a regular at the bar I worked nights at. Both my bosses would drink together and coordinate my schedule.

        Reply
    3. Tuxedo Cat

      Even if your manager got you the most opulent, expensive, largest drink at Starbucks, that seems incredibly petty of your coworkers. It couldn’t be more than like $10.

      Reply
  56. Game of Scones

    Maybe I have my priorities in the wrong place but I’d be so dang happy with an unexpected $25 gift card for my anniversary, without giving a rats butt what my boss has to say about it.

    Reply
  57. nnn

    Not useful as advice, but my first thought was that OP#4’s immediate reaction should have been “OMG, you’re paying people so little they can’t even afford Starbucks???? That’s awful! Is our company in dire financial straits or something?”

    Reply
  58. cheluzal

    4: I’m more concerned that someone in the office actually complained about this. No way I’d go quietly.

    5: I’m a teacher….in my 17th year…I’ve received nothing! Par for the education course, I suppose…

    Reply
  59. overcaffeinatedandqueer

    The Starbucks thing is awful. I drink fancy coffee maybe twice a week at my normal rate of pay, nearly every day when I get higher paid contract work that requires my foreign language skills. I’m sensitive to not being able to afford even small luxuries (I was used to Starbucks or similar once or twice a week since age 12 or so). My dad would take me every Tuesday before school, and my church group met at the shop Friday mornings. Then in law school I didn’t spend much money elsewhere and still got it.

    But after that, we had N.O. money for about a year. I mean the cheapest everything, and my sometimes skipping meals to feed my employed spouse and pets. When I finally got my first lawyer gig, I bought a coffee with my first paycheck and legit cried in my car, I was so happy to have a luxury again.

    Now, I try to only have once a week or stick to only coffee and milk drinks; I have cavities and want to lose weight. But seriously, if someone told me to stop drinking Starbucks, I might throw the dregs of coffee in their face (after I drink it. Waste not, want not!)

    Then again if a coworker could never afford Starbucks and expressed they would like some, I would probably give them a small gift card if we were friendly, or bring them something from there if they were helpful to me at work or some day we both had to work long hours.

    Reply
  60. Grey

    Halloween decorations!? According to most every store I’ve been in recently, we should be thinking about decorating for Christmas.

    Reply
  61. Chaotic Good

    It’s weird how many commenters here (not all, but more than I expected) got sort of judgey about a stranger’s coffee choices, and felt necessary to point out how much less they spent on their choices, and then got defensive when other commenters pointed out that had little to do with OP’s issue. “Never read the comments” I guess. :(

    Reply
    1. Rusty Shackelford

      Any discussion about people spending money on things (coffee, phone, etc.) tends to drift into a “thriftier than thou” humblebrag fest.

      Reply
  62. AngelicGamer

    OP5 – you also save money if you bring in a personal cup for them to put your drink in. You just order your drink and say “in a personal cup” and hand it over. It’s just 10 cents but saved money is saved money. :)

    Reply
  63. Erin

    I feel for you #1, but also, I sort of wish he was my boss. I would totally love that whole set up. Ha.

    But seriously, is there some kind of compromise here? If you are going to broach this with him I’d suggest maybe nixing the spooky soundtrack and the decorations that jump out at you. There must be a way to strike a balance between being festive and totally going overboard.

    Reply
    1. Yorick

      You could say something like “the X and Y decorations are really fun, but we’re finding the music and jumping-out-at-you decorations pretty distracting”

      Reply
  64. soupmonger

    #5 is a five-year work anniversary really a ‘major milestone’? I run my own business and have about twenty things being juggled at any own time, and only my own brain to cope with them. Should I really add guilt at not remembering my employees anniversaries into that? No, of course not. Your own anniversaries are important to you but to your boss, and your work, they’re not, really.

    Reply
  65. Just another Manager

    In regards to the Starbucks issue I feel like a lot of the advise is to be passive aggressive. I would meet with my manager and ask why the Starbucks is an issue, and explain to them that I live well within my means and my morning drink is my daily treat whilst I save money in other areas and what we can do so I’m not being restricted in how I spend my hard earned money. Whether that is bringing a travel mug or just dismissing this as a silly issue.
    Ive worked for many companies and we have all been avid Starbucks drinkers, our bosses even had $5 gift cards to give employees as a form of praise, birthday gift, incentive,etc. I think if the bank could invest even 50 bucks towards 5 dollar gift cards to hand out it might make everyone stop feeling so jealous.

    Reply
  66. The _artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

    #4 – yeah, in my earlier days in my career – when I wasn’t making too much money, my management attempted to rake me over the coals.

    Over taking vacations to Florida (from Massachusetts). I was acting too “uppity”. Actually, I was going to visit family, so the ONLY cost to me was transportation.

    Unfortunately, I worked with a couple of guys who, because of family obligations, couldn’t do anything but take day trips or stay at home. I guess there was some resentment there… but you can’t hold yourself back because others insist you’re moving ahead with life and it might bother some people and hurt their feelings.

    SO.. if you can afford it, enjoy your Starbucks coffee. I’m a Dunkin’ Donuts/Tim Horton’s guy myself , but that’s me!!!!

    Reply
  67. AnonNurse

    This comment is late but I wanted to share it. Regarding the daily Starbucks habit, I would definitely go back and talk to the manager. I do NOT think you should have to change your habit in any way. I would go and simply say “we all spend money on the things we want to spend money on. I am not comfortable changing my eating/drinking habits and feel it’s overstepping to be asked to do so. I do not question what my coworkers eat and drink and I don’t think they should be doing it of me either. I would appreciate if you would back me up on this, as I deserve the same respect as anyone else in the office.”

    I say that coming from someone who has been judged for their daily coffee habit at multiple different times. One example was a coworker that would give myself and another coworker a hard time about our afternoon Starbucks runs. We would take turns treating eachother and offer to pick some up for anyone else as well. This coworker used to comment all the time regarding the cost, as well as the cost of a nice pair of shoes or handbag. This was done while also drinking 3-4 20 oz. bottles of soda a day, which I did not comment on. Finally, while discussing what coffee we were going to be getting one afternoon, and having her comment on the cost, this coworker changed the subject to something along the lines of “the lady that cleans my house every week was sick this week and couldn’t do it”. That’s when I said “hold the phone, did you just say you have someone clean your house every week?” She said that she did and asked if I was judging her for that. I told her that of course I wasn’t judging her but I wanted to make sure she had realized what she just said. I made the point that I clean my own house but choose to spend my money on coffee while she spends hers on daily soda and a someone to clean her house. She never brought up my coffee habit again and never commented on my spending habits in the future. So that’s a long way to say, pointing things like this out do help people see sometimes that it’s all in the perspective. I hope you’re able to keep your desired habit without the judgment!

    Reply
    1. Bea

      BINGO!

      It’s not about the “expense” to most people, it’s about what value they place on the item/service.

      If anyone ever stops at a convenience store instead of going out of their way to find a market with bargain prices, they’re in my place to ever turn up their nose or get jealous that someone budgets for X amount of money in coffee or whatever else they want each day.

      I don’t drink much alcohol, I don’t smoke, I don’t go on vacations and I shop at bargain stores 85% of the time. So yes, I can afford Starbucks every day if I wanted to and still would have savings. Other’s spend their money on soda, smokes and a nice bottle of wine on the weekends or going out with friends to the cinema every weekend or a once a month fancy date-night with the spouse. IT DOESNT MATTER and isn’t anyone’s business to value everyone else’s recreational spending!!!!!!!!

      Unless you are one of those “extreme cheapskates” and have no splurges, get off your high horses to everyone who comments on other people’s purchases like you are our mother trying to “teach” adults the value of a dollar.

      Reply
      1. AnonNurse

        Yes, exactly!! I don’t wear makeup, I buy generic groceries half the time, I don’t smoke, I don’t drink alcohol, and we rarely take big vacations. If someone has a problem with my Starbucks habit, they should look at what in themselves is causing the jealousy and work on that. Otherwise, I am happy to discuss anything but not happy to be judged at work.

        Reply
  68. Been There, Done That

    LW4: Tell me where you are and I’ll dress like a shabby down-and-outer, come into your bank with a wilted, ragged $5 bill and ask for change in pennies and nickels, while I sip my ginormous Starbucks loudly and with relish. That’s just seriously the best laugh I’ve heard all day, but I sympathize. It stinks when some nimnum pulls whatever out of a hat to chew you up about.

    Reply
  69. Allison

    1) I looooove Halloween, and decorations, and if money was no issue I would go ALL OUT on my front yard, my cubicle, even the inside of the house, it would be off. The. Hook. Although some things would be on hooks.

    That said – you need to know your audience, you need to be considerate of your audience, and you need to be tasteful most of the time. I can be a twisted sumbish when it comes to decorations and my dad has vetoed many yard decorations I’ve pointed out at the party store in my youth, and only in adulthood do I realize that not everyone likes to be scared, even in October, and you have to decorate with that in mind. When it comes to the office, things that make noise, or move as someone comes close, are huge no-nos, playing music is annoying, and turning the whole office into a spooky dungeon is just distracting. Your boss has definitely crossed a line and it is worth reminding him that not everyone loves the holiday as much as he does, and he needs to dial it back for the sake of productivity and morale.

    3) I’m no stranger to parking drama, but I do agree that you can’t shuffle through temporary spaces for a full-time job. Yes, paying to park sucks, meters suck, but not only is the shuffle disruptive, but those two-hour spaces are there to help ensure that people who are in the area temporarily for errands, shopping, lunch, etc. can find a place to park.

    4) There’ve been plenty of comments on this already, but it steams my beans when people snark on how other people spend money. When I was young, my mom explained to me that different people choose to spend their money in different ways, and it doesn’t always mean someone has more money or isn’t being responsible with the money they have. It’s best to assume they just have different priorities and they’re budgeting to make it work.

    When it comes to coffee, it only makes sense to complain if someone is constantly strutting in late with coffee in hand, sighing about how long the line was and how crazy the parking lot was (implying that’s why they’re late), or making frequent coffee runs and not doing their work, or *they* are loudly complaining about how gross the coffee is at work and the snobbery is really obnoxious.

    Reply
  70. TruthBeTold

    #4…
    My former (exempt) boyfriend would drop me at work, then come back w/coffee (Dunkin’ Donuts) for me (non-exempt) almost daily.
    We were told more than once that it “didn’t look good.”
    He wasn’t my supervisor/boss/manager.
    People can be a$$holes.

    Reply
  71. nnn

    There’s a homeless guy in my neighbourhood who is far more unkempt looking than the other homeless people. His hair is matted and unkempt, often with leaves in it. There’s often literal dirt – like mud – on his face. His shoes have holes that his toes stick out of, like a cartoon. He is often walking around wrapped in a dirty blanket with bare legs protruding, and may or may not own pants.

    And today I saw him walking around holding a Starbucks cup.

    Reply

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