New Year’s free-for-all – December 31, 2017 – January 1, 2018

It’s the New Year’s open thread free-for-all!

The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything that you want to talk about — work-related, not work-related, doesn’t matter.

Happy new year!

{ 803 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Augusta Sugarbean

    Happy New Year everyone. May we all get what we want and need, whether it be a new job, bosses who keep their affairs out of the office, no fish in the microwave or a fish friendly workplace, or dogs/no dogs allowed as appropriate.

    Reply
    1. Sherm

      And may there be no norovirus, non-consensual St. Patrick’s Day pinching, and bird phobia run amok. Also, here’s to romantic ghosting being limited to awkward first dates that everyone would prefer to forget.

      Reply
  2. anon24

    Happy New Year’s all!

    2017 was the first year in a very long time that I felt hope for my future. I had some opportunities I never dreamed of that fell into my lap this past summer. It was a very hard and depressing year in some ways, but most days I cry with gratitude for this forward motion. Hoping this continues in 2018. May we all have a great year!

    Reply
  3. Steve

    I fell in love with a woman in thailand. I dont think she will be allowed to come to usa and i can’t afford to stay here. I wish America was freer. She wants to work if she can come. $10 an hour and she thinks that would be big money. But people dont want freedom for others. They want only for themselves. Immigration pushes up the overall standard of living for communities. I have always been for freer inigration policies. In the past i have worked with a lot of mexicans, some illegally here . For most part, they were great people. I wish more people valued letting others choose how and where to live.

    Reply
          1. SeekingBetter

            Yes, he would have to get a job there and possibly be on that employer’s work visa. Otherwise, he isn’t really allowed to stay there.

            Reply
      1. Mephyle

        There are plenty of people who move to countries where they can’t get a viable job on the ground (language barrier and/or low wages) but they work at online jobs, which can be enough for a sustainable living in a country with a low cost of living.

        Reply
    1. AcademiaNut

      It’s probably not much consolation, but this isn’t just a US thing. If you want to move to another country, and you don’t have a job that will sponsor you on a work visa, or enrollment in a program of study, a spouse who will sponsor you, or a lot of money, it varies from merely difficult to nearly impossible, depending on the country and your personal situation.

      Reply
      1. SeekingBetter

        I agree. Immigration laws are mostly similar to US laws. First of all, it’s never easy to try to enter another country as a permanent resident legally. In any case, it’s very expensive and the process has to be done right. As other posters here have said it is best to consult or work with an immigration lawyer.

        Reply
    2. CorruptedbyCoffee

      I may be mistaken, but I believe you’re a US citizen or green card holder, you can marry her and she can get a green card that way. She would then be eligible to come over/work while waiting for the green card under a K-3 visa, and then get permenent status once everything gets processed. I realize you might not be at that step in the relationship yet, but it might be helpful in the future.

      Reply
      1. Starryemma

        My understanding is that K is a fiance visa- you apply for that, and then come to the US and get married within 90 days (like that TLC show 90 Day Fiance), and after you’re married, you apply for the green card/permanent residency.

        If you get married abroad, the process is slightly different, but you’d also eventually apply for a green card.

        The main thing is to not have her travel to the US using a tourist visa if you’re planning to get married or are already married, if you’re a US citizen and she’s not. That’s a big no-no.

        I hope it works out for you, Steve!

        Reply
      2. Temperance

        You’re not incorrect, although it’s a bit more complex than that. He needs to be able to prove that he can financially support her in the US while she’s not legally able to work.

        Reply
        1. Anon anon anon

          Exactly. There are a lot of requirements for marriage visas. You can’t just marry anyone. There’s a screening process for both parties and both people have to meet certain criteria. It’s also expensive.

          Reply
    3. Not So NewReader

      I hope you and your lady find a path, Steve.

      And as far as the bigger picture, most of us here in The States are descended from families who immigrated. I don’t know why this point escapes some folks.

      Reply
    4. neverjaunty

      Steve, you may be able to bring her to the US if that’s what she wants – talk to an immigration attorney in your area. You can ask your local or county bar association for a referral – often you can get to talk to a lawyer for 1/2 hour or an hour for very cheap (in my state I believe it’s $35). Immigration is a nightmare but it can be done. Good luck!

      Reply
      1. Ruffingit

        Yes, absolutely talk to an immigration lawyer! My husband and I went through the Green Card process and though it’s not cheap and is an incredible hassle, it can be done. Neither of us had a ton of money either for what that’s worth. Talk to a lawyer!

        Reply
    5. Ultraviolet

      I’m a U.S. citizen in the process of sponsoring my spouse for a green card. I really strongly recommend that you consult an immigration lawyer. It’s pretty hard to get a grasp on all the options and requirements for sponsoring a fiance or spouse for immigration in various circumstances without talking to a lawyer, so there may be a way forward that you haven’t found yet.

      You can arrange an initial consultation with an immigration attorney without any obligation to hire them to help you through the whole process. We consulted an attorney for one 60-minute session, and she walked us through the process. She told us that there were no complicating factors in our situation and we were probably in a good position to go through the process without a lawyer, which we are doing.

      Good luck, Steve.

      Reply
  4. Daria Grace

    How do you politely tell a manager to stop micromanaging? Mostly my manager is too hands off and misses her responsibilities, but goes through periods of baffling micromanaging. Recently she’s been telling us off multiple times in a day for not having completed not especially urgent tasks we’ve only had assigned to us for a few hours.

    Reply
        1. Steve

          What did she not understand? That you were only recently assigned the task? Or did she not understand the question about urgency?

          Either one i woukd just keep repeating until she understood.

          Reply
          1. Daria Grace

            I think she both did not understand both that it had only recently been assigned (the timestamping on the digital logs is confusing) and that there may be legit reasons to not process a task straight away (she has never done much task processing)

            Reply
            1. tigerStripes

              When I deal with people who try to micromanage, I usually try to give them all the information they need and more (it seems to calm people). In this case, I’d probably explain the process in which you prioritize tasks and why this took time. You’ll probably want to use a tone or words that basically indicate “I want to work the way you want me to; this is what I’m doing – how should I change it?” I know that might not be how you feel about it, but I’ve found people are most willing to listen if you show that you’re willing to listen to them.

              Reply
        1. Your Weird Uncle

          I think this is a good idea. My last boss was a micromanager (it sounds like she was a lot like your boss, as she was usually hands-off but sometimes swoop in and micromanage us – it would come and go at unpredictable times!) and I think she was at her worst when she didn’t have a good sense of what we were doing. Keeping her in the loop more than I’m used to (I value my autonomy, so this was hard!) was valuable, as she got to throw in her two cents at those times she needed it, and she eventually learned to trust me. Good luck! That’s a hard one.

          Reply
    1. Stellaaaaa

      I find that when managers resort to criticizing stuff that mostly doesn’t matter, it’s because they feel they need to prove their usefulness THEIR supervisors. For example, my manager can be snippy about personality stuff. Every so often she’ll tell my team that we need to be less jokey or adopt more of X quality. And yeah, my team can be a bit immature at times, and there’s value in maintaining a professional office culture, but ours is never off-center enough to justify her manner of correcting us. So we mostly adjust what we can to appease her while feeling secure in knowing that she’s not going to fire talented employees for making too many stupid jokes.

      Can you do something similar? Is there a way for you to feel confident in your job security due to knowing that her demands don’t really matter? Or are the deadlines actually significant?

      Reply
      1. Anon anon anon

        Exactly. Her supervisor might be telling her to do what she’s doing. “I need that stuff now. Could you get on your team’s case about it?”

        If so, it’s her responsibility to balance that with what’s realistic and push back as needed. But maybe that’s not an option for some reason. Can you give her more data to help her and the people above her understand the situation and your workflow? Like even a log of what you do when and why. And maybe include some screenshots so they can see when things are being done and have some visual cues to help envision it all.

        Reply
      2. Daria Grace

        I think you might be onto something there about needing to impress her own supervisor.

        It’s better for the customers if we get the work done sooner rather than later, but it’s unusual there would be serious problems for anyone involved if the work takes an extra day.

        Reply
    2. Dan

      Depends on the bigger picture. With your boss, it can be difficult, if not impossible. Although, I had a boss with the opposite problem — she wouldn’t manage. I once told her, “you know, if we had 360 degree reviews here, I’d suggest that you could be more assertive.” There’s s a continuum of “hands-on” — from the micro-manager to the laizze faire — and she was the furthest thing from a micromanager that you could get. That had its own problems.

      I once had a client who was a micro manager — he would call every hour or so “checking on things” which was totally overkill. At the time, I was new, and knew I had to prove myself, so I put up with a little bit. But after a holiday weekend, where I really covered his ass, I waited to see him in person. When he showed up, I casually went to up to him, and asked, “Hey, how did last weekend go for you?” His reply: “Awesome. Thank you so much.” I looked at him straight in the eye and said, “Look, I got your back, you can get off mine.” He got the message, and for the three years I worked with/for him, I covered his ass and he left me the hell alone.

      And this guy had a reputation for being a difficult client.

      Reply
    3. All Hail Queen Sally

      I worked for a micromanager once. Once I figured out that was what was going on, I just started bombarding him with information and status updates and he got all frazzled and stopped bugging me. Micromanagers are always afraid they are going to miss something.

      Reply
    4. Not So NewReader

      The two habits go hand-in-hand. She neglects her responsibilities with her crew and then when she returns she over compensates because she has to catch up.

      It might help to keep in mind that this is a person who privately feels they cannot manage people. They think they are in over their heads. See, a confident person knows that spot checks and just being available is what is required, therefore they know they are doing their job.

      Burying her with info will work. It also helps to don a very serious professional demeanor. Act concerned and act involved. Not that you don’t already but make sure you are obvious about it. The goal of this technique is to get her off of YOUR back, it is not to make her stop micromanaging. She will just go bother other people not you. It’ up to them to handle that when it happens.

      Sometimes the easiest, quickest way out of a situation is to just match what you see coming at you. Don’t try to fix it, just match the concern and the level of detail.

      Reply
    5. lalalindz22

      I get this a bit at my job. We have a very crazy busy season, then the workload decreases significantly, and we’re just ending the busy season. I actually had a sit down conversation with my boss and flat-out told her, “you’re micromanaging me, and I’ve been trying to save you time by going ahead and doing things, which you then insist on checking, and I worry that it’s wasting both of our time.”

      You probably can’t be as blunt as I was, but sometimes it needs to be said. A friend told me, either tough it out, talk to her, or find a new job. With my boss, it helped, and she became much more hands off on items she knew I was handling. I agree with another commenter, who said her boss may have come to her and said, “I need this now,” because that happens all the time with my boss. I’ll be working on something that’s urgent to me, and she’ll ask me to drop it momentarily to check something for her. For me, it helped to keep to do lists, so I don’t forget everything I was just working on!

      Reply
      1. tigerStripes

        If you have to drop something urgent, most managers like to know this. I usually say something like “Sure. I’ve been working on project X. Should that wait for now or be reassigned, or is project X more urgent than project New?” Most managers appreciate this, as long as you sound sincere and concerned. It might be that project X is more important.

        Reply
  5. I'm A Little TeaPot

    Work clothing. For women. That isn’t overly sexualized, appropriate for a professional or business casual office, reasonably priced and fits shorter thin women. Help?

    Right now, I mostly need tops. I like the thin sweaters that I can wear under jackets, but the store where I’ve gotten them in the past lengthened the sleeves and added holes for the thumb. I can’t wear that to the office! But I’ve also been having trouble with pants.

    New York & Company and Express used to be my go to, but their stuff is now too sexualized and/or trendy for me. Banana Republic has some, but they’re pricier and a lot of their clothes are a little more trendy than I’m comfortable with. I tend to dress very conservatively in cut and style, but I love to wear actual colors.

    Reply
    1. Your Weird Uncle

      If you can find a Banana Republic outlet store, maybe try that? We have one a short drive away and I used to find good work clothes there (I also tend to dress conservatively). Although I have to say I was disappointed last time I shopped there, but I might have caught them on an off night….

      Reply
    2. HannahS

      If you’re finding Banana Republic too steep (and I don’t blame you, as I do too!) try Old Navy and H&M. I lean more towards Old Navy, as they tend to have more natural fibres reasonably priced, but H&M has some really great basic cotton cardigans that I wear for business-y situations all the time. I find the online shop great for petites, as brick-and-mortar often don’t have everything available in petite. As for Banana Republic, I’d recommend picking out which cut and size of pant fits you, and then watch for those occasional 50% off sales. Then you can snap it up online without needing to make time for shopping.

      Reply
      1. I'm A Little TeaPot

        For suits and pants, I’m willing to pay more because they last longer. I went in Banana Republic today, but was frustrated and cranky by that point so it was not successful! I haven’t taken the time to really try their styles and figure out what works, but I need to. and if something is on sale so it’s a reasonable price, that’s good too! I just looked at old navy’s website, they’ve got a few possibilities.

        Reply
      1. I'm A Little TeaPot

        have you been to their store lately? I was in there yesterday, and really was not impressed. They used to have good button down shirts and a decent selection of jackets, plus sweaters/cardigans. I found 1 jacket.

        Reply
    3. Anon anon anon

      I keep doing more shopping at thrift stores. Clothes seem to be becoming more gender-specific and sexualized. For work, I just want plain old shirts and pants.

      Reply
      1. Competent Commenter

        I get ALL my work clothes and thrift stores. Huge variety, eclectic and unusual options, not stuck with “fall fashion” just as it warms up here, etc. When I started an office job about two years ago after many years of self employment I created my whole wardrobe from scratch this way and have continued evolving it. It’s been cheap and fun and I get a lot of compliments on my clothes. I like the “Goodwill boutique” shop near my house, which has a lot of designer clothes and weeds out the old pulled sweaters and stained tshirts.

        Reply
      2. I'm A Little TeaPot

        I get pants from thrift stores a lot, and if there are specific brands/styles I can buy off ebay or whatever. I’ve never had luck with tops. Have found some dresses, but very hit or miss, and never found suits. It really depends on where you go. I heard about a consignment store that sounded very promising, but haven’t found it yet.

        Reply
      3. Life is Good

        When I went back to work after having been a SAHM for 9 years, I did most of my work wardrobe shopping at thrift stores. You can find really nice, conservative (I was in banking) clothes that are gently used for just a few dollars. A couple of our thrift stores here got shipments of donations from exclusive areas (like Lake Tahoe, Sun Valley, etc.) and I could find really nice designer things. There are a few things I wouldn’t consider (shoes, hosiery, undergarments) because of the ick factor for me, but you can build an expensive looking wardrobe for not much money.

        Reply
    4. Catarina

      The Limited used to be my work clothing go-to, and though the stores are closed, they are now back as an online-only company. The stuff isn’t as high quality as it used to be (my old dress pants from the early aughts are fully lined) but they still have a few good pieces.

      Reply
    5. QualitativeOverQuantitative

      Land’s End is my go-to for work clothes. They have good sales and there is always a coupon floating around online.

      Reply
    6. A Good Jess

      I have been finding good work tops at Dress Barn. They have some styles that are too trendy (hello cold shoulder), but they have a good selection of work-appropriate tops. I work in a federal government office in the Midwest, in a more conservative agency and the tops work there. The tops are a good length (no midriff risk), have appropriate necklines, and I can wear just the tops without having to layer tanks/camis underneath, which seems pretty damn rare nowadays. You’ll probably want to focus on their Jones Studio or Roz & Ali lines. They often have sales and you’ll get more promo codes if you sign up for their emails.

      Reply
      1. Kuododi

        A second for Dress Barn! I also have good luck at Kohl’s and sometimes I can pull off Lane Bryant.(mainly for pants). I’m petite length and plus size so I have problems in both directions. Lane Bryant has turned into overpriced party clothes for the most part but on the days when I am up for shopping… I have been able to find some treasures.

        Reply
        1. On Fire

          Re: Lane Bryant & overpriced party clothes – ugh, this is too true. I went in recently looking for some nice work tops. Everything was either workout-type Ts, or slinky, cold-shouldery party gear. Neither of which is appropriate for my job. (They do have different/better things online sometimes, but I have to try things on to make sure the bustline fits right.)

          Reply
      2. I'm A Little TeaPot

        I have a love-hate thing with Dress Barn. I walk in there and see a number of things I like, but it doesn’t fit! The only thing I’ve every been able to get has been dresses, because it’s less of a problem if they’re too big.

        Reply
        1. Kuododi

          DH and I were invited to a Make a Wish foundation party last year and I was able to find very classy party dress for the occasion. I’ve also gotten some good casual tops and dresses but I find their pants tend to be cut too narrow for my body shape. Grrr!!!

          Reply
      3. TardyTardis

        One of my favorite shirts came from Dress Barn! Everyone loves it on me, which doesn’t hurt my feelings either. But you can get reasonably priced slacks from Bonworth. And yes, the age skews high, but that just means they have a *very* nice petites selection.

        Reply
    7. Victoria, Please

      You sound like a perfect thrift store candidate, if it doesn’t make you feel creepy. I do 95% of my work clothes shopping at thrift stores. I was so looking forward to going to the one in Beverly Hills (yes, there is a Goodwill in Beverly Hills! Unbelievable stuff) (I’m in SoCal) over the holiday, but couldn’t make it happen….next weekend maybe.

      Reply
      1. Pollygrammer

        I’m a huge huge fan of ThredUp. (I know people mention it here all the time). You can narrow your search by size, brand, style, color–pretty much everything. There’s a still a little digging and there are definitely misses, but one of the nice things is that you can find some older stuff from brands that have since gone downhill.

        Reply
        1. Teach

          Poshmark and Swap have all yielded great scores for me and my daughter! Especially if I know a brand and style that works for us. (Old Navy Pixie pants all day, every day.)

          Reply
        2. nep

          thredUP and thrift stores all the way. You will find like-new or new things there for great prices — and this way you’ve got a lot of brands and styles all in one place from which to choose.

          Reply
      2. I'm A Little TeaPot

        I do some thrift store shopping, but it’s very hit or miss. The ones where I am now don’t have the type of things I need for work, so I need to drive further to the better ones. Makes it harder for me.

        Reply
    8. Sarah G

      I’m petite too, and I find a lot of nice tops at stores like TJ Maxx, Marshall’s and Ross. Also, I don’t know if there is a Hilfiger outlet near you, but I have one near me and have gotten a lot of really cute sweaters, and some shirts, there on amazing sales (even cheaper if you get on their email list for coupons). Their normal outlet prices aren’t cheap, but their sales are awesome. I wouldn’t have expected Hilfiger to be my taste, but I love some of their stuff.
      I also second the thrift store recommendation, but that takes even more patience than TJ Maxx — I prefer thrifting when I’m not looking for something specific and can just see what I happen to find. I also agree with the JC Penney’s recommendation — they have a good petites section.
      Good luck!

      Reply
      1. Anon Accountant

        I second the hilfiger suggestion – I really like their v-necks, and usually just buy a couple of different colors for about $30 each on Amazon!

        Reply
    9. BatteryB

      I’m going to sound like a LuLaRoe zealout but they have provided 95% of my current work attire. You might try a Lynnae ( https://www.lularoe.com/lynnae-shirt ). I’ve bought several solid colored ones to pair with skirts.

      Target and Kohl’s also have long sleeved shirts that I’ve used under a jacket. Belk and Dillard’s also have basic shirts that can be worn under jackets. I got several Kim Rogers (Belk) and Lauren Ralph Lauren solid tops for layering.

      Since I live in the US SE, I seldom need anything heavier than a thicker fabric shirt, so I’m not an expert on sweaters. Right now though is an entirely different story.

      Reply
    10. Christy

      I’m not sure how thin and how petite you are, but extrapetite dot com has inspiration for very thin, very petite women. You might find some outfit ideas there.

      Reply
      1. I'm A Little TeaPot

        5’4″, 115. So not extraordinarily short or thin, but I have a very hard time finding work clothing that’s small enough.

        Reply
      1. Jax

        Seconding this, and also LOFT and LOFT Outlet. Slightly more casual but still very office/work appropriate and often less expensive.

        Reply
      1. I'm A Little TeaPot

        Did they change their buyer again? I used to get a lot of stuff from them, then they changed their buyer and it got weird. And they redesigned their pants and none of them fit right. That’s when I found Express had a pant that worked.

        Reply
    11. lalalindz22

      I love Joe Fresh, which in Canada is part of the Loblaws brand. Not sure if it’s available in the US though.

      Reply
    12. Middle School Teacher

      I think you can sign up for emails from Banana Republic that tell you when things go on sale. Family and Friends, maybe? I also like it but it’s pretty pricey so now I only go when I know they’re having a big sale. The last sale I saw was 40% off, which was pretty good.

      Reply
    13. Ktelzbeth

      I’ve recently found some things at Christopher and Banks, though the pants style that I liked the best does not exist anymore. They have a mix of conservative and not so conservative, are at a middle price point, and have sales. Looking at your height and weight, I hope they go small enough for you. I’m taller (5’6″) and heavier (150 lbs) and am between small and medium or 4 and 6.

      Reply
    14. neverjaunty

      Lands End. Also check over at Corporette, which while is a little twee for my taste, has a lot of great guides on building work wardrobes and links to sales.

      Reply
    15. The first Thursday Next (now there's another I guess)

      I’ve found good tops at Land’s End, although they run bigger than most of the mall brands. (i.e. I wear a medium at H&M but wear a small at Land’s End).

      If you’re looking for basic cotton/spandex blend t-shirts I’ve gotten those at H&M, Lands End and Target. I haven’t bought any yet but Target has a new basics clothing line (A New Day) and I’ll probably get some crew neck long sleeve t-shirts from them soon.

      I get cardigans from J. Crew Factory and they also have good wool pencil skirts. Nordstroms Rack is hit or miss but their clearance section is items from Nordstroms stores so you can find good blazers, tops pants and skirts for cheap(ish).

      Reply
    16. NaoNao

      J. Crew cuts their clothing very narrow/short/fitted in general, as well as Tory Burch and other “preppy” designers; they also tend to be pretty covered up. It depends on if you consider a very snug fit too sexualized, but you might be able to go up a size in slacks if that’s an issue.
      J. Crew is pricey, but they run sales and the factory outlet store is a great resource.
      Nordstrom has a pretty nice petites department, and may I also put in a plug for:
      Vintage!
      Vintage clothing is cut *very* small compared to today’s stuff; it’s anything but trendy, it’s often very conservatively cut, and very well made. It’s good for the environment, was likely union made in the USA, and the materials, finishings, notions, and thread are usually of amazing quality, especially compared to what’s available today.

      Other:
      J. Jill, Chico’s, Sundance, and Soft Surroundings all cater to “grown women” who don’t want to look trendy but don’t want to be “frumpy”.
      If you have money to burn (ha ha!) Eileen Fisher is very modest, extremely well made, and classic clothing.
      Good luck!

      Reply
      1. Former Employee

        I second the rec of J Jill. The specific line I’m thinking of is called Wearever. A lot of things come in petites and most items are stretchy so you can wear them if you lose/gain some weight. A lot of black pants, skirts, jackets and white or multi colored tops. Some dresses, too. Very modest and professional.

        Reply
    17. J.B.

      Check department stores, especially with post christmas stuff you can get better prices on nice stuff, and most have a petites section. I just saw some express (stores closed but now belk carries the line) and it was nice looking and decently made.

      Reply
      1. Teacher Gal

        Try Stitch Fix. You can set your price point and style and they send you a box as frequently or as infrequently as you want. They sent me a few things I would have never tried at the store, but looked great. Shipping is free both ways.

        Reply
  6. Ramona Flowers

    Happy new year everyone! We have been re-watching West Wing and I have a question about something that happens in series 1 (in episode 7 but you don’t need to be familiar with the show to answer this).

    A character called Toby makes a snarky comment in the presence of an interpreter, who starts to translate it. Toby stops him and says: don’t translate that. And he doesn’t. (This is the scene where they have a chain of people translating between Batak, Portuguese and English.)

    I think this would be a violation of professional ethics and he should translate everything Toby says, including “Don’t translate that.” My husband thinks that, because the White House hired the interpreter, they can tell him not to translate some of what they say. Who is right?

    Reply
    1. ellen

      Im reminded of the Babel Fish, the creature rumored for having provoked more, longer, and bloodier wars by translating perfectly everything that anyone said. I have no idea what SHOULD Happen, I’m not even sure about the legalities, but I am certain that there are times when judicious editing could be called for.

      Reply
    2. Detective Amy Santiago

      You are correct based on my experience with interpreters. However, given that particular situation and the way it’s being played for comic effect, I don’t think it’s a horrible violation.

      Reply
      1. Ramona Flowers

        It was reading threads on here about interpreting that made me realise they had this rule. I would love to hear from any who might be around.

        Reply
        1. Detective Amy Santiago

          I worked for an interpreting organization, but am not an interpreter, so I can’t really provide too much info.

          I can, however, talk at length about the West Wing :)

          Reply
          1. Ramona Flowers

            Whoops, I didn’t mean to sound like I was dissing your insight!

            I love the WW. And Designated Survivor for that matter.

            Reply
            1. Detective Amy Santiago

              Oh, no, I didn’t take it that way at all :)

              I really liked the first season of Designated Survivor, but I have not kept up with the current season. I’ve been working my way through The West Wing Weekly podcast though. It’s a lot of fun.

              Reply
              1. Ramona Flowers

                Thanks, I would check that out but podcasts are difficult for me – I have auditory processing issues and find it hard to follow recorded speech, and they don’t seem to have transcripts.

                Reply
    3. Casca

      I think here in Australia it would be a breach, from my understanding of the role of interpreters, and being taught that in a sign interpreting course.

      Reply
      1. the raven

        I think this also hits the nail on the head as to the heart of the question. If it had been official interpreters then most likely, yes, they should translate everything. But seeing as how one is actually from the kitchen staff I think that removes a lot of the ethical questions that are being presented by your question.

        Also, glad to see a fellow West Wing fan on here. Best of luck getting through the show, to anyone watching it. Despite starting the series over numerous times I never seem to get through season 6. Not overly sure why. Perhaps I shall make a new attempt this new year.

        Reply
        1. Dear liza dear liza

          I love West Wing and rewatch Seasons 1-4 every year. I pretend the post-Sorkin seasons don’t exist. (I also really enjoy The WW Weekly podcast and it’s already up to Season 4. Will I still enjoy it when it gets to Season 5? I don’t know!)

          Reply
        2. BunnyWatsonToo

          Try skipping most of season 6 except for the convention episode. I love West Wing, but the 6th season is my least favorite because there’s less interaction among the main characters. 7 is much better.

          Reply
    4. JamieS

      In most cases I think your husband is. Unless Toby said something that would be wrong for the other party to not know I’m not sure what ethics would be violated. To the best of my knowledge the purpose of having a translator is to enable someone to communicate what they want communicated, or what is important to communicate, with another when they don’t speak the same language. The purpose of interpreters isn’t to communicate literally everything a person says as it was said.

      I’m not sure where I read it but I remember reading something several years ago that was saying that a major part of being an interpreter is knowing what to interpret (diplomacy) and phrasing it in a way that makes sense. IIRC the article was about idioms but I don’t see why it wouldn’t apply to less than polite comments as well.

      Reply
      1. Ramona Flowers

        I read on an AAM open thread that interpreters have to translate everything whether they like it or not and some people find that really hard to cope with.

        Reply
        1. JamieS

          Hmm, wonder if they know that’s illogical. Not everything has a perfect translation and interpreting literally everything all the time can defeat the purpose of having an interpreter in the first place.

          Also was that political interpreting or just interpreting in general like medical interpreting? Seems like there’d be different rules when diplomacy is part of the nature of the job.

          Reply
          1. Nom De Plume

            No, you’re conflating two very different things: translating idiomatically so that words make sense in another language and not translating all that’s said. Those are completely different. The job of an interpreter is to relay what’s being said in a way that makes sense in the given language, not to pick and choose amongst sentences that the other party’s saying! It’s illogical to suggest that’s illogical.

            There most definitely aren’t different rules for “political interpreting” (that’s not a thing) or medical interpretation – what varies between interpreters for these fields is the technical expertise (knowledge of the field, issues, and vocabulary).

            Reply
            1. JamieS

              If you change the translation to something you feel makes sense are you not either leaving things, adding things, or changing things based on your judgment and thus not translating literally absolutely 100% everything? For example if someone said “it’s raining cats and dogs” and that saying made no sense in the translation would an interpreter say (in the other language) “it’s raining cats and dogs” or “it’s raining hard”. I assume latter since the former would be nonsensical which goes back to my point about translating everything defeating the purpose of having an interpreter.

              My point wasn’t that interpreters have the freedom to purposely leave out sentences but that there is some judgment involved because they don’t actually translate literally everything so there is some wiggle room. If there’s wiggle room then you can’t say they have to translate everything so if that’s true why can’t an interpreter make the judgment to change something that was impolite or leave it out if it doesn’t contribute to the overall message?

              Also I know political interpreting isn’t the actual job title. I was using that to indicate the nature of the interpreting. I find it hard to believe there is literally zero difference in the nuances between translating between let’s say 2 potentially combative heads of state and translating a doctor’s instructions to a patient fluent in another language but I’ll just trust you on that since you seem to be an expert and I don’t feel like researching it myself.

              Reply
              1. Ramona Flowers

                This was purposefully leaving out a sentence though!

                And I don’t think it’s their job to hide that the other person was rude.

                Reply
                1. Cruciatus

                  Last summer The Daily Show with Trevor Noah had one of the correspondents talk to translators from many different countries. This was in regard to 45 and translating him specifically, but the guy from Mexico said he does not include stuff about Mexico paying for the wall. And “Grab ’em by the you-know-what” was also difficult to translate in many countries so they often didn’t. Those are both different issues and they obviously were going for a humorous slant in the piece–but I did believe the Spanish translator that he does not translate anti-Mexican stuff. Forty-five is way toned down in non-English speaking countries, I fear. The clip is about 7 minutes and you can find it by “Daily Show The Translators”. It won’t really answer a lot of your questions, but you may find it interesting in spots anyway.

              2. Nom De Plume

                But if the interpreter says :”it’s raining hard” (which they would), they are still translating the sentence – not leaving it out. So that’s now wiggle room per se, just a judicious use of language.

                There were some recent articles about interpreters having to deal with Trump’s rambling, incoherent non-sequiturs in order to render them into semi-rational thought processes, and the linguistic and cultural margin within which interpreters operate in such contexts. You might research those if you’d like; they’re quite fascinating (suffice it to say that non English speakers in Japan operate under the fallacy that Trump speaks in full sentences with a point to them).

                Reply
          2. Ramona Flowers

            I didn’t mean literally. Just that they aren’t there to censor – the person they are interpreting for should not miss out on the meaning of parts of the conversation.

            Reply
    5. Kuododi

      I never watched West Wing but speaking from my experience in medical interpretation we interpret what is put out there. As interpreters, we are neutral and not supposed to impose our bias on the dialogue being processed. One of the things that does happen however is the issue of differences in dialect, slang expressions etc. For example, Mexican Spanish is different than Venezuelan Spanish is different than Chilean Spanish. From time to time I would have to ask clarification from the client regarding meaning of different expressions. There is the same problem trying to interpret English to Spanish because of the regional slang and idioms. For example “I changed my mind” word for word in Spanish has the implication of someone getting a brain transplant. A better choice would be “I changed my plans.”. A good rule of thumb, if you see something portrayed in a movie or series television…chances are it’s been distorted for dramatic effect.

      Reply
      1. Kuododi

        As a follow-up… I saw someone else post about how inappropriate it is to use kitchen staff as interpreters…wanted to post a hearty Amen!!! Even worse on the scale of badness is using bilingual children to interpret. Not only are you pretty much guaranteed a bad interpretation….the emotional baggage that is put on the child is unconscionable!!!!

        Reply
      2. Former Employee

        For example “I changed my mind” word for word in Spanish has the implication of someone getting a brain transplant.

        I literally laughed out loud. Good thing no food or drink was involved or an innocent computer screen would have taken the brunt.

        Having said that, while I watched West Wing numerous times, I do not recall that specific scene. However, if this was an off the cuff situation, as described (kitchen staff pulled in to assist), I don’t know what professional rules/codes of conduct could have been violated. What are the rules for a kitchen worker doing an impromptu translating gig? (Not to mention that a snarky remark made in English may not be translatable into another language.)

        Reply
        1. Kuododi

          I’m glad your electronics survived! As I SD earlier, I never watched West Wing so I can’t comment on anything that happened in that show. As far as the question of untrained interpreters, I am unaware of legal ramifications not being an attorney… I can say every clinic and hospital I have worked at for the past thirty years have been guilty to some degree of using kitchen/custodial staff as last minute interpreters. Then the staff gets bewildered when they don’t get the info needed for an accurate evaluation but tend to refuse to look at the system problem around providing language specific healthcare. What’s worse is when clinics rely on bilingual children to interpret. That is a recipe for a disaster both regarding the actual interpretation as well as the inappropriate.emotional baggage put on the child. I had a client tell me about her Ob-Gyn allowing her 9yr old son to interpret her annual lady check up. Wrong wrong wrong!!!!

          Reply
    6. Anon anon anon

      I think you get some poetic license here. Even if he’s hired by the White House, he doesn’t necessarily adhere to professional ethics 100% of the time. What kind of person is he? Knowing him, what would he do?

      Reply
    7. Catarina

      There was a bilingual poster on another site (forget where) who talked about having jury duty. She said that she was asked if she could ignore her own ability to understand witness testimony, because she would be required to only consider the interpreter’s version of events. That blew me away.

      Reply
      1. nep

        Wow that is nuts. The interpreter’s “version”? No.
        What the interpreter says should reflect precisely to the last syllable what the witness is saying — that is the role of the interpreter. You start creating your own “version,” you’re no longer doing your job.

        Reply
      2. Language Student

        I’ve only briefly learned about the very basics of professional ethics for interpreting (it was a chapter in a general language studies class), but that seems really strange. One of the difficulties of legal interpreting is that the way we speak affects how people perceive us, which has huge repercussions in court, so they need to translate the meaning in a way that doesn’t make the witness sound any more or less eloquent or articulate in the target language (which seems incredibly difficult). Presumably if that’s happening, then the jury’s knowledge of the source language doesn’t matter? I really hope a professional interpreter can give us more info.

        Reply
      3. Not So NewReader

        Interpreters for courts have standards they must follow. Court interpreters can add background to explain cultural or regional differences. They can also tell someone that what they just said would be insulting to the other person for cultural/social reasons.
        Court interpreters have to go through special training, certification and adhere to certain rules.
        If done correctly that poster should not have had too much problem with what was going on. IF done correctly. sigh. People will be people.

        Reply
        1. Kuododi

          Back in the Dark Ages, I was called to testify in a local Family Court hearing regarding an immigrant single mother’s mental competency to maintain custody of her special needs daughter. I was a witness for the prosecution so I was not there as an interpreter. I was able to overhear from my seat in the gallery the dialogue between the mother and the interpreter for the hearing. It was quickly obvious that the interpreter was “editing” the dialogue in the mother’s favor. Unfortunately I was not able to do anything except notify the prosecution after the hearing. (The mother was found competent in large part because of the bad interpretation). We later found out that the interpreter was an untrained volunteer from a local church who felt sorry for the mother and believed family court was out to get this poor lady.

          Reply
            1. Kuododi

              Yes, I agree a great many things “should” happen…interpreters should all be trained and credentialed, health care providers should have the language skills to provide medical and mental health care in a patient primary language…. chocolate should also be free and available on demand! The court case I delt with took place a good twenty years ago, fortunately there have been changes where the court now has an organized team of trained, certified court interpreters and will not make use of Joe Blow off the street.

              Reply
    8. QualitativeOverQuantitative

      You should check out the West Wing Weekly podcast’s episode that corresponds with this episodes. It sounds like something they may discuss. Even if they don’t, it’s still fun to listen to as you’re re-watching the greatest tv show in history!!

      Reply
      1. JamieS

        Not to be a nitpicker but the greatest non-animated TV show of all time is I Love Lucy. Some people have the opinion it’s Seinfeld but this is the one exception where an opinion is factually wrong. It’s I Love Lucy.

        Reply
        1. Former Employee

          Sorry, I have to disagree. I would choose West Wing over almost any other show, though I loved Hill Street Blues and later NYPD Blue, plus LA Law. I’m a big fan of Jimmy Smits and he had great parts on LA Law where I first saw him as Victor Sifuentes, and then on NYPD Blue as Bobby Simone (his death being one of the saddest things I ever saw on TV).

          If we’re going for comedy, I’d probably choose The Carol Burnett show or The Mary Tyler Moore show.

          Reply
          1. JamieS

            I firmly stand behind my assertion it’s I Love Lucy. I Love Lucy has stood the test of time, broke barriers both on screen and behind the scenes (pregnancy story-line – yes I know not the first but the most important, multi-ethnic marriage, Desi & Lucy having control over production, etc.), and arguably invented syndication and the re-run. IMO no show in history has done more for the television industry and I’ll even go so far as to say that if there hadn’t been Lucy there wouldn’t have been a Carol or a Mary.

            Reply
    9. Not So NewReader

      My guess would be that since the interpreter is being paid, the interpreter has a code of ethics he must follow.
      There is that gray area because the interpreter is there to facilitate conversation, not to cause meltdowns. In real life there are probably many times where both the person who bought the service and the person benefiting from the interpretation service have told an interpreter not to repeat something. I suppose the interpreter could leave if she was told too many times not to repeat something. I mean, what would be the point of her being there? It’s cutting off her ability to do her job.

      From what I have read and what I am seeing interpreting is not a straight forward job at all. It also sometimes requires peace-keeping skills and requires explaining cultural and language differences.

      Reply
  7. DanaScully

    Happy New Year from Liverpool, UK! It’s also my 25th birthday today. We’ve spent our evening eating Chinese food, drinking champagne and watching Bridesmaids. It’s been a perfect NYE. <3

    Wishing all of you a happy and healthy 2018.

    Reply
    1. Confused Publisher

      I’ve just seen the news about the car park fire in Liverpool. I hope you and yours weren’t affected by this terrible accident.

      Reply
      1. DanaScully

        Thanks for asking. They think that around 1600 cars were destroyed! I don’t think anyone I know was there, thankfully.

        I’m just glad the visitors and the horses were all unharmed. I

        Reply
    2. Grumpy

      Oooh! I’m thinking of traveling there this spring.
      What would you recommend seeing / doing / eating?
      And, of course, Happy Birthday! ATB for 2018!

      Reply
      1. DanaScully

        Thank you for the good wishes – all the best to you also for 2018.

        Liverpool is a beautiful city – although I’m probably more than a little biased! Most tourists tend to come for The Beatles and want to see the likes of Strawberry Fields, Mendips, The Cavern Club, etc. If that’s your thing, there’s the Magical Mystery Tour or also the Fab Four Taxi Tour which I’ve heard good things about.

        My favourite thing to do is stroll around the Albert Dock on a sunny afternoon. I like to visit the Tate Art Gallery (free) and mooch around in the independent shops that are there. There’s also the Merseyside Maritime Museum and the International Slavery Museum which I believe are free also. We always try to sit down for a drink at one of the bars overlooking the river – the atmosphere always tends to be great.

        Depending on your budget, Panoramic 34 would be a great place to visit to eat. I’ve been a couple of times for Afternoon Tea and it’s so lovely. There are wonderful views across the city and some great photo opportunities of The Three Graces. I’m a creature of habit and I tend to eat at the same restaurants all the time, so I’m not that well versed in that aspect! We often go to a lovely Italian restaurant on Stanley Street called Casa Italia – but be prepared to queue on weekends! You can also stop off and see Eleanor Rigby as her statue is just facing.

        Liverpool One and the Metquarter are great for shopping if that interests you. Alternatively, why not see if you can book in for a performance at somewhere like the Liverpool Philharmonic or the Royal Court? I hope that helps, and I hope you enjoy your visit if you do end up travelling here.

        Reply
      2. Sprechen Sie Talk?

        Just chipping in that of all the “secondary” UK cities after London, Bristol and Liverpool are my favorites. I spent three days up there in 2014 and had a great time – went to the Museum of Liverpool for a show, saw the Cunard buildings on the seafront, the Wigwam, the downtown shopping, the bombed out cathedral, the university area. Lots of cool things around every corner. Was with some British guy friends and we ended up on some Beatles type of pub crawl with every pub related in some way (Ye Cracke, The Phil). Hot tip – the one in the city center (Mathew St) is a serious rip off (with the seat with the plaque where they used to pick up their pay checks), but it is close to the Cavern Club where they started (sorry, we were there gawping at the Eric’s across the street).

        The Georgian Quarter was great and there are a ton of fantastic places to eat around town. Imperial War Museum has a location up there now and I think their art museum is quite decent too. I do recall that we ate at The Italian Club and it was just the coziest little dinner. I do remember that overall it was seriously windy and rainy in November but we had a great time.

        Reply
  8. Mimmy

    What are you most looking forward to in 2018? Can be work/career or personal.

    As for me: I have a couple of trips this summer with my husband and family, though I’m a little leery of flying at the moment. I am also thinking of attending a national conference in Pittsburgh in June. It’ll be a big step because I’ll probably be going by myself and probably won’t know very many people Knowing me, though, I’ll chicken out LOL.

    Reply
    1. Effie, who is wondering

      My Feb dance competition! It’s rough and in the last few days is starting to come together. :) I’m excited that I’m looking forward to it and not just stressing!

      Reply
    2. Ms. Mad Scientist

      I am most likely going to a conference in Honolulu. I’ll know for sure next week. Hoping to stop in San Francisco for a couple days on the way back!

      Reply
    3. Detective Amy Santiago

      Pittsburgh is a fun city! I don’t know what kind of conference you’re looking to attend, but I can give you some suggestions on other things to do/see if you’ll have any downtime.

      Reply
      1. Mimmy

        Thanks! It’s at the Wyndham Grand Hotel, and the conference is centered on the Americans with Disabilities Act. It sounds niche, but from what I’ve read, attendance is usually well into the hundreds with a ton of workshops to choose from. I’ve only been to one other large-scale conference, and that was 10 years ago. It’ll be ripe with networking opportunities – it feels so right and so wrong at the same time haha…I don’t drive and I don’t travel alone much, if at all. Registration opens on Friday, so I’ll have an idea then what I want to do.

        I have some family history in Pittsburgh, so maybe I can get my husband to come with me on the first day and look around.

        Reply
    4. Casca

      I don’t have a big milestone coming. I’m hoping that I’ll settle into my new role and feel like I fit there. So if I was convinced that would happen, that’s what I’d be looking forward to, but since I’m not convinced… ?

      Reply
    5. Mrs. Kate

      I’m looking forward to making it to 2019 in one piece. I’m having a baby in 2018 and it will be my 3rd, and I’ll have 3 under 5. But in 2018 one goes to kindergarten and the baby will go to daycare and the middle will be in preschool and definitely potty trained. Light at the end of the tunnel!!!

      Reply
    6. KR

      Husband and I have made some big steps getting out of debt so I’m excited to go from throwing $1300+ a month into just high interest debt (not even counting my car loan and motorcycle loan) and funneling all of that into paying off the motorcycle and saving. Husband needs a newer truck very soon.

      Reply
    7. Overeducated

      I’m not exactly looking forward to anything because so much is unknown that I can’t even plan vacation days…but I’m really, really hoping this is the year long term jobs in the same area will work out for my spouse and I, and we can start to settle down. It’s possible as well that that won’t happen, which is a little scary.

      Little things: so many good books to read! And I am looking forward to next time a family member visits – they gave my spouse a “date night” for Christmas and will babysit for us so we can go to a nice restaurant in the city, which sounds great. I am also looking forward to seeing Black Panther.

      Reply
    8. Dan

      Statements I’ve made in Saturday’s open thread aside, I have about $9k in consumer debt that I’m expecting to pay off by the end the of the year. (Those statements said “I’m not in any hurry.” I’m not, but I’m still looking forward to this year being the year. I will have had it for 5 years by the time it’s gone.)

      I’m looking forward to the 2018 elections. It’s going to be a wave.

      Reply
    9. Sorgatani

      I’m looking forward to seeing P!nk live in Melbourne in July with my sister and sister in law!

      I’m also looking forward to adding an extra fitness class to my routine – at least for this summer I’m switching out basketball for a full-body workout.

      I feel like I spent a lot of 2017 in a negative headspace, so I want to realign myself this year.
      I don’t know how to do that yet, and change is scary. So a declaration of intent is how I am beginning.

      Reply
    10. Elouise

      I am going to GRADUATE MEDICAL SCHOOL and then I am going to breathe out so hard.

      2017 has been the hardest year of my life but it ended hopefully and I am grateful and excited about 2018.

      Reply
    11. periwinkle

      Work/career: I will have a new role after our re-organization but am not sure what it will be. I’m actually excited about this! I have not been shy about talking with my manager (and her manager and some other managers) about possible roles. Being passive doesn’t work around here.

      Otherwise: Off to an academic conference in February which will feature a lot of researchers whose work I’ve cited, and I’m trying to not feel intimidated by this! I’ve been so embarrassed about my twisted teeth for decades; my HSA balance is now enough to cover orthodontic work so yeah, it’s time for braces (not sure I’m looking forward to it short-term so maybe this should go on the “what I’m looking forward to in 2020” list). And I really, really need a vacation since I haven’t taken one for 15 months (vacation days were used to finish papers for grad school but that’s all done). Maybe follow the hobbits to New Zealand?

      Reply
    12. Isobel

      I’m going to a conference in Copenhagen and have a couple of days for sightseeing afterwards. It’s somewhere I’ve never visited and I’m really looking forward to it.

      Reply
    13. Perpetua

      I’m going to London to see Hamilton in February – so excited!

      Then maybe New York in the spring, although I still haven’t decided! I live in the Balkans, it’s a lot of money and my career situation is unpredictable at the moment. But, it’s been a dream of mine for a long time and my career might stay unpredictable for a while, so this might be a good time as any to go! :D

      Reply
      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?

        You guys are going to love it – the theatre is tiny but totally refurbished and the stage is immense. Such an enjoyable show and excellent celeb spotting. For all the documentation they require to get in, the line actually moves pretty fast!

        Reply
    14. nep

      Hope you’ll go to the conference in Pittsburgh. You can do it. (And Pittsburgh is coooool.) I think the fact that you think you’d tend to chicken out — all the more reason to go.

      Reply
    15. Damn it, Hardison!

      Paying off my student loans (Feb. 28th!) and in general being more fiscally responsible (ie saving more). Also getting rid of stuff.

      Reply
    16. Language Student

      I’m on track for a distinction in one of my modules, so fingers crossed for that.
      I’m going to Portugal, and I have a few weekend camping trips planned too.
      I might have a summer job lined up already.
      Our household income has increased by 20%, which isn’t really an event but it’s definitely exciting.
      Oh, and I’ll be turning 21, which won’t actually affect my life in any meaningful way but it’s a milestone, so yeah.

      Reply
    17. Incantanto

      I have laser eye surgery booked. If I don’t chicken out not wearing glases for the first time in 14 years is on the horizon.

      Reply
      1. Middle School Teacher

        I got laser eye surgery in 2006 and it was hands down the best decision I made for myself. Enjoy freedom from glasses, it’s the best!!

        Reply
    18. Jessi

      2017 was a very settled year for me.

      I feel like I finally nailed my financial stuff including paying off my student loans and sticking to my budget 95% of the time (so much its become a habit).

      I think I would like 2018 to be a bit less settled. I am going to work on some personal stuff – eating better, and losing 50lbs, and hopefully attending a conference and focusing on skills to help me be more employable when my current position finishes.

      Reply
    19. C Average

      My divorce will be final—I’m looking forward to having that chapter in the rearview.

      I hope to finish the revision of my novel and maybe start figuring out next steps for that project.

      I’ve designed a few really fun apparel items for myself, and get lots of compliments when I wear them. So I’m teaching myself to pattern-grade so I can make size runs and sell a few things online.

      Reply
    20. Snow or sun?

      Hopefully this year my mother will sell the property she has in the Caribbean which will mean getting a nice lump sum of money so that I can move to New York City. I feel really depressed and alienated where I am living now, I need a really big change in my life. Where I live is not cutting it.

      Reply
    21. Middle School Teacher

      I’m going back to Europe in March! It’s with 34 teenagers, but we’re going to a part of Europe where I lived for a year, so I’m super excited to go back and see everything again!

      Reply
      1. Tretinoin Newbie

        For fun: My husband and I may go back to Europe again. In 2017, we were in Ennis,Ireland and there was a huge festival taking place; it was lovely. We may go to a Nordic country this year, but everything is contingent upon my brother-in-law still being in Yet Another Country in 2018. If he is, we will most likely visit him there, because my husband hasn’t seen him in a while.

        More fun: taking a family beach trip in the spring for my sister’s birthday.

        Quasi-work: my husband and I will take a trip to my home state this summer; hubby will renovate my mom’s bathroom. We’ll be there a week, and even though it’s work, we’ll get to spend some time with extended family.

        My work: I am looking forward to putting into practice everything I’ve learned on this site! I don’t want to be a manager, but I would like to advance more and become indispensable. I need to find a need and solve it!

        Hubby’s work: he has developed a couple of games for Iphones, so hopefully he will parlay this skill into something incredible and lucratively prosperous!

        Reply
    22. Fenchurch

      I have an exciting year ahead!
      I am getting married in May.
      My sister will give birth to my first niece or nephew in April.
      A 2 week trip to Europe as our honeymoon (I’ve never been across an ocean before!)
      We are getting a dog soon after the honeymoon.
      Lots of work on the house we bought this year.
      So much joy, so much to look forward to!

      Reply
  9. Nervous Accountant

    Guys,
    I need help fulfilling my New Years resolutions-

    It’s mostly to Have less crap. Be lower maintenance. I have way too much stuff. Makeup shoes clothes etc. it’s never out of real need…just… greed? I’ve already unfollowed makeup brands since that makes me more likely to buy makeup. I’ve stopped short of giving my husband complete control of my finances to get over this addiction.

    Any more advice, tips etc. TIA!

    Reply
    1. Effie, who is wondering

      Have you heard of workthatwardrobe? It’s a blog, not the hashtag. Her blog inspired me to “shop in my closet” for 6 months. You could definitely commit to a year or whatever amount of time you’d like.

      Basically you only pick out outfits/makeup from stuff you already own. I had too many accessories that I never wore so I made a pact with a friend that once a week (and then gradually we increased in frequency to 3x/week) we’d each put together an outfit of stuff we didn’t normally use/wear. We’d text each other outfit descriptions (this was before pic texting was normal) every Thursday.

      The most important way to keep this going is through accountability. The blogger posted on her blog an outfit every single day. My friend and I had each other. You could post here every weekend! I actually would be happy to join in since I’ve been buying a bunch of stuff since I stopped buying new stuff for about 3 years.

      I think we agreed that we could buy new stuff only if we donated stuff. It might have been 1-3 items donated for every new item bought.

      Hope this helps!

      Reply
    2. I'm A Little TeaPot

      Acquiring something can give you a “high”. Are you getting that? If so, why?

      In terms of decluttering, take a look at Marie Kondo, her method helps a lot of people.

      Reply
      1. karou

        I second the recommendation for Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Some of her practices are a little out there, but I liked a lot of her advice for paring down possessions into what you really like. I started the process this year (it’s ongoing, particular since I have a family) and was amazed with what I was able to get rid of.

        Reply
      2. Damn it, Hardison!

        I got this for Christmas and am really looking forward to reading it and putting it in to practice!

        Reply
      3. C Average

        Third this.

        Although I didn’t go full KonMari (my sock drawer was fine already, thanks), I did find some of her philosophy life-changing.

        I love evaluating material objects (and experiences and relationships, actually) by asking, “Does this spark joy?” For me, anyway, that phrase really cuts to the heart of things, and helped me let go of a lot of objects.

        I also love her advice to take pictures of sentimental items and then cut ‘em loose. That’s worked really well for me.

        Good luck!

        Reply
        1. Windchime

          Yeah she kind of lost me when she talked about how I shouldn’t fold my socks together at the top because they need to “rest” in the drawer. But I definitely need help in decluttering so I might get back to that.

          Also, the sparking joy thing–I get it, but my potato peeler doesn’t spark joy. It’s a tool and I need it, but it does not spark joy.

          Reply
    3. Ramona Flowers

      It would help if you could say a bit about when you shop (such as at night, or when you’re stressed, or bored), if you do it alone or as a social activity, and if you mostly shop online or in-store. Also how much of the stuff do you actually use?

      I would advise removing your payment information from anything that makes it easy to buy. No saved credit cards. No auto login to PayPal. No Apple Pay.

      Try to work out what need you are meeting when you buy. Could you do something else? Pin the item? Add it to a wishlist? Do something distracting instead?

      I made a list of things I needed. If it wasn’t on the list I couldn’t browse/look let alone buy. No shopping online – I made a rule that I could only buy in-store. I only went at the busiest times. You’d be amazed how quickly that feeling of ‘I need this’ passes if you realise you have to stand in a queue for ages to get it.

      In time the habit of always needing that fix of getting new stuff has left me. I went to a bunch of sales with visiting friends on Saturday as they wanted to shop – and I bought nothing. I have browsed a bunch of online sales for stuff I actually need and nothing. The urges aren’t the same any more.

      I had a series of ruthless clearouts and it was a relief. I was a shopaholic and now it’s a relief to hardly buy anything. You can do this!

      Reply
    4. PhyllisB

      I read advice that every time you buy a new item (clothes, shoes, ect.) you had to get rid of an old one. This has helped me a lot. I don’t shop a lot, but when you get to be my age you have a lot of stuff. So if I want a new____, I have to think if I have an old one to donate. Helps keep things sane.

      Reply
      1. Reba

        Yes, I also have a one-in, one-out policy. It’s firm on things I would tend to buy a lot of (shoes, sweaters) but more flexible when I’m filling in a gap (e.g. had small and large handbags, needed a medium). It helps me a lot to think, when I’m looking at new thing I want, what am I going to give up to make room for this? I have no extra hangers in the closet. :)

        I also have learned to be quick when it comes to cleaning out my drawers. If I feel any inkling at all towards getting rid of it, it goes.

        Finally, I did a wardrobe strategizing exercise. I don’t do the capsule wardrobe thing but I used some of the questions in this method: http://www.un-fancy.com/capsule-wardrobe-101/free-wardrobe-planner/

        I enjoy thinking about what I wear so it was actually fun to set goals of how to shape my appearance intentionally, not just with random new things I pick up at the shops.

        Reply
    5. Your Weird Uncle

      This one is brutal, but I used it once when I had to clear out to move overseas and it’s effective. I forget what it’s called, but I’m sure a clever google search will get you to the website/plan…it’s basically on Day 1, you throw out (or recycle or donate) one thing. One Day Two, you throw out/recycle/donate two things. Three things on Day 3.
      And so on. It won’t necessarily stop you bringing in new things, unfortunately, but it will make you think a lot about what you value having in your life! Definitely recommend.

      Reply
      1. Saga

        We’ve done a variant of this for a couple of months now – we play as a bingo though so it doesn’t have to be one on the first, two on the second etc. but rather, over the course of the month we have to throw out between 1 and 30 things every day. Works really well and of course smaller things count too – doesn’t have to be the sofa table on day one, and so forth. Good luck!

        Reply
        1. Triplestep

          I’ve never heard of this but I’m going to try it. Think I just found my New Year’s Resolution – thanks you two!

          Reply
    6. HannahS

      Don’t go for a walk in retail spaces. No mall-walking. I tend to overspend on my hobbies, personally, so I made a rule that I only go to those shops when I’m ok with spending about 50$. It stops me from convincing myself that I’m just going to window shop. I’m not ready to spend 50$? Guess I can’t go, then. Over time though, I found that it became less of a problem. So know that you’re suffering from a habit, not a terrible personality flaw, and if you break the habit you’ll be more able to window shop and admire things without feeling a need to own them.

      Other suggestions: change your language. “I need to stop by ____ to buy that ____” becomes “I want to buy _____.” You could also try, I dunno how to phrase it, using the compulsion differently? Like when you feel you want to buy clothes or makeup, instead of resisting the urge and just stewing in it, go to your closet and put together a few outfits you haven’t worn for a while and admire yourself in the mirror, or look up a youtube tutorial for a makeup look and try to master new look with what you have. Also, maybe you need more hobbies! I know sometimes I want to shop because I’m bored. I grew up in a gray, boring suburb in a part of Canada that gets about three weeks of great weather a year. If I wanted to leave my house and go somewhere, there was pretty much just the mall. I never solved this problem entirely (well, I moved away), but taking up a hobby or finding some other default activity for when you’re bored might help.

      Reply
      1. TL -

        oh my goodness, this is me and books – I only go into bookstores if I’m okay buying a book or three.

        The other thing that helps is that I have to think about buying things before I actually buy them (this is just my personality.) I tend to wander around stores for a little bit if I’m browse-shopping, holding things, and then after a while, I put them back because I don’t really want them as much as I thought. Online stuff tends to stay in my cart for a day or so before I order. Gives me time to think about if it’s really worth the price.

        Reply
    7. JamieS

      This won’t help with decluttering but what I’ve found helps me limit my spending on things I don’t need is to have a set amount of “play” money every month. I opened a checking account, only deposited that exact amount, and then used it for anything that wasn’t a necessity (I mostly use it for coffee and eating out). Once the money’s gone I left the card at home so I wouldn’t use it again.

      It takes a bit of self control not just using another card when the money ran out but once I got into the mindset of “this is my only card” (required me hiding my other cards) it became pretty easy and I started being less fast and loose with my money.

      Reply
    8. Temperance

      Have you read “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and “Spark Joy”? I didn’t get as much out of the first book as I did the second, but they both helped me to change my take on “stuff”.

      Reply
    9. Tuna Casserole

      I found a consignment shop where I can sell my older items (clothes, shoes, bags, housewares) for some extra money, and clean out my closets at the same time. Handbags and shoes are my kryptonite. I try to buy only when something I already have wears out.

      Reply
    10. MilkMoon (UK)

      Good for you! I actually love getting rid of stuff so much I’ve basically run out of things I don’t need or actually want to keep :|

      I don’t know if it will resonate with you, but I’m into Slow Living, living with intention and gratitude practice etc. The more I’ve paid attention to all the wonderful things in my life, the less stuff I’ve wanted because I feel fulfilled and abundant already. Having ‘too much’ stuff (whatever that means to you, or me, will be different) actually annoys me now.

      I used to shop a lot, but as others have touched upon, I realised I was doing it when I felt unhappy in life. That’s still there – if I find myself wanting to Buy All The Things now, I know I need to look at what’s bubbling under the surface if there’s no practical reason for it. My only exceptions are books and homeware, as I’ve always been a bookworm, and having a beautiful sanctuary makes me happy – I have established that those things are genuinely important and beneficial parts of who I am, and what makes me happy. But even with homeware, I have limits on the number of a ‘thing’ I want to store.

      A few methods to get your declutteting started:

      1. It’s January 1st! Turn all your hangars the wrong way, and every time you wear something put it back the right way. You’ll soon discover what you actually wear.
      2. Go through things as a collection (clothes, makeup, whatever), go through the whole lot, get it all out and start making piles in a way that makes sense to you, eg; love, need, never worn, no longer fits, needs repair etc. If you don’t love it or need it but you feel too anxious to donate it straight away, put it away in a box or bag somewhere and after [however long your comfortable with] then donate it.
      3. Make lists of what you actually need and want, and how many of each thing you need (eg; shirts or work trousers or pairs of socks) then sort through your stuff against that list. Say you decided that you only really need ten pairs of socks, you then get all your socks out and whittle it down to ten pairs (by favouritism or quality or whatever) and get rid of the rest.

      I hope this helps! Good luck! You’ll feel amazing :D

      There are a number of FB pages you could follow too – Becoming Minimalist, Becoming Unbusy, Life Simplified, No Sidebar.

      Reply
    11. All Hail Queen Sally

      Have you tried inventorying what you do have? Looking in your closet is one thing, but realizing you have 14 white blouses and 6 pairs of gray slacks might make you sit up and notice. I found that helps me out.

      Reply
    12. Caledonia

      A friend of mine does project 333 (google it) with clothes.

      “minimalist fashion challenge that invites you to dress with 33 items or less for 3 months”

      Reply
    13. Veronica

      When I declutter, I often ask myself, “Would I pay $5 for this item right now?” If the answer is no, out it goes.

      Reply
    14. Damn it, Hardison!

      So many good suggestions! I’ll add one – impose a wait period on “want” purchases. Often if I just wait a couple of days, I can’t even remember what I wanted to buy that seemed so important at the moment. This is really helping me with Amazon purchases.

      Reply
    15. Not So NewReader

      Excellent suggestions here, I recommend using several of them combined so you have a very strong, workable approach.

      Some people have a one year rule. I am a conservative person and cautious. I stretch it to two years. The rule is if I have not used it in two years then I am not using it and out it goes.

      Another rule I worked with and this one is tough, for everything one thing I buy I need to get rid of two things. I did not do this rigidly. There were times where I bought a packet of shoelaces and got rid of two pieces of furniture. It just fell that way, it was nothing I “made” myself do. I had decided to get rid of those pieces earlier and the shoelaces made me follow through. Then there were times where I went the opposite way, I got a substantial item and got rid of two little things. See, it was more important to keep trying that it was to do this in some rigid manner.

      This next idea is actually fun. I sold some stuff. Either at action or yard sales. I took the proceeds and plowed that into repairing something that I really wanted to keep but it was broken. While letting go of this other stuff was not always fun/easy, once I had the cash in hand that was a game changer. I got excited about getting my favorite set of shelves repaired or whatever.

      Selling stuff came in very handy for what to do with things I felt obliged to keep but I actually disliked or worse, felt like a negative in my life. Take the things that cause a negative emotion and turn them into cash in your pocket. It’s not worth hanging on to these anchors. Put the money into something special.

      It’s also helpful to remember that we go through stages of life. Things that I had at 20, I no longer need at 57. My best guess is that our needs change significantly every 7 to 10 years. This lead me to my next thought which I realized that I as progressed through life I would need to dump some things off periodically. So cleaning out is just a good life habit.

      Reply
    16. ShoeRuiner

      Lots of good suggestions.
      It helps me to think of what I am keeping vs. what I am getting rid of. What things are so important that I want to keep them? It’s really fun to look around your house, in your closets, and just see things you love and chose purposefully.

      I also loved Mari Kondo’s method. Some people say “how can a can opener spark joy?” Well clearly you have never needed a can opener and not had one!
      If you do this method, I recommend following her order of categories, starting with clothes first. That order helped me build my confidence as I got rid of things.

      Reply
    17. NaoNao

      I am doing something very similar! I am overwhelmed by mostly clothing, and decided to do a one year “clothing fast” where I don’t buy any new clothing, and just only wear what I have.
      There’s a really great website called Be More With Less that has tons of tips and ideas. I did her 333 project (33 items of clothing for three months) and I loved it!

      Reply
    18. Jackie

      I have started to get rid of old family photos by mailing then out to the people who are in them. I have a container of pictures from my mom and dad and don’t want to move them again. The people who get these pictures enjoy getting a “blast from the past”.

      Reply
  10. Detective Amy Santiago

    Happy New Year! I am so grateful for Alison’s blog and the community of commenters here. Here’s hoping I have the opportunity to utilize more of the advice in 2018 :)

    Reply
    1. PhyllisB

      +++1 to that. Happy New Year, Alison!! Thank you for all your advice and here’s hoping you, hubby, and kitties all have a wonderful year. Also Thank you for this community. I am closing in on my working years, but I have learned so much that I share with my adult children. Happy New Year, everyone!!

      Reply
  11. Your Weird Uncle

    Any skiers out there? I just picked it up last year and am so, so wobbly and not very good, but we got season passes this year from our in-laws (who are both avid skiers and very keen for the whole family to pick it up) and I’m having a blast! It’s nice to go after work if we want, and I don’t have to feel bad or like I wasted a bunch of money if we only end up doing a few slopes.

    Unfortunately I threw out my back in a completely unrelated mishap ( *cough* feeding the cat *cough*) and am stuck at home while my husband takes my stepsons out for the night. Feeling only a little sorry for myself as it’s frigid out there and I’m tucked in nice and warm, but it looks like they’re having so much fun!

    Reply
    1. Aurion

      I used to ski (several years and a torn knee ligament ago). I still miss it, but my skiing days are long behind me. :D For one thing, I hate driving, and it’s hard to make myself drive up the snowy hills!

      Skiing is wonderful. There’s a special quiet up on the mountain with no sounds except the sound of falling snow. I’m an urban dweller, and it’s really hard to get that kind of silence in the city.

      Hopefully your back heals soon so you can hit the slopes!

      Reply
      1. Your Weird Uncle

        Thank you! I hope I can go some time this week. My back is almost better, but still twinges in some bendy/twisty positions and I can just see myself taking a spill and making it worse.

        I know exactly what you mean about the special kind of quiet up there. I grew up in the country and it’s really lovely to have that sort of silence. Our hill is quite busy (we live in the Midwest, so there aren’t too many places for people to go) but the other night we were out and there were hardly any other people on the slopes….it was so, so wonderful!

        Reply
    2. Not a Galway Girl

      I love to ski, and am heading to the mountains with my family on Tuesday! Can’t wait to finish off this vacation with some quality outdoor time.

      Reply
    3. Elf

      I love skiing, both downhill and cross-country, but I’ve been really frustrated by conditions the last few years. I don’t think there are any skiiers left who don’t believe in climate change!

      Reply
  12. Casca

    A bit nervous about posting this following on from the most popular posts of 2017 since there’s no context anymore.

    But this is something I see in the comments here that I find odd. Some people people here take the view that the -isms necessarily include an element of power. I understand that those particular definitions exist and are useful for certain discussions, but they are not even the first option when you look up the definitions of racism, sexism, etc. It’s weird to me when people act as if they’re universal definitions- they’re definitely not. The ‘prejudice plus power’ definition is a later concept than the terms racism and sexism, and I think it’s disingenuous to act as if it’s the one true definition.

    Related but separate thought: I’m not American or white or male, but I understand that as a group, white people are the most powerful (or more specifically, rich white men) in America. However, that doesn’t make an individual white person powerful in their own environment. Even if we were to use the prejudice plus power definition, the word is filled with microcosms and there are situations where the general American societal power structure is different to the microcosm power structure.

    Reply
    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      The thing about -isms is that they’re societal issues. Sure, there are some individual [women/POC/LGBT/insert whatever minority] that have power within their own lives, but that doesn’t change the fact that on a systematic level, those people are disadvantaged. There was a video going around Facebook a while ago that showed how privilege works. It was a bunch of people standing at the starting line for a race and then they called out various qualities and told those people to take a step forward. By the end, there were people staggered all across the field and it was a powerful visual demonstration that some people, by nature of these qualities that they have no control over, automatically have an advantage over other people.

      Reply
      1. Casca

        I definitely agree, re: privilege and systemic or institutional -isms. But from my perspective, that’s the societal or system level -isms. It’s not -isms in totality.

        On a personal level, an individual may experience/perpetrate, say, racism. There are other power and societal dynamics going on that add layers/context, but an individual being beaten up for their skin colour looks to me like a racist act, regardless of respective skin colour and country they’re in.

        Reply
          1. Casca

            That definition of racism is comparatively new. If you look up racism in the dictionary, does the first entry or (all the entries) include that caveat?

            Reply
          2. Ann O.

            No, institutional racism must carry institutional power. At some point in the fairly recent past, a segment of the Internet developed the belief that the true meaning of “racism” is institutional racism. I’ve never tried to track the origin, but my guess is that someone misunderstood something they learned in a sociology class about institutional/systemic racism, wrote a Tumblr or blog, and the belief spread from there. But words are defined through a combination of the dictionary and shared understanding. This whole racism must equal institutional power does not fit either characteristic.

            IMHO, it leads to a lot of unnecessary confusion for no real gain. Honestly, many of the times I’ve seen people bring up the claim that racism = institutional power, it’s in a way that I think detracts from better understanding of the issues at hand.

            Reply
            1. oranges & lemons

              One of my goals for the year is to be more engaged with current events, particularly internationally–can anyone recommend any good podcasts? I much prefer hearing the news to reading it.

              Reply
          3. Elspeth McGillicuddy

            Racial discrimination against white people, and against other groups with power too, can totally happen. There may be less of it, but, as far as I can see, the underlying moral principle is exactly the same. And it can also hurt people who are vulnerable.

            I used to wait tables at a Mexican restaurant. The Mexican servers got better tables than the white ones. It was pretty obvious. I lost income because of it. Now, because I do, in fact, have the privilege of a great support system, I was fine financially. But a young coworker, pregnant with number two and in the process of divorcing her druggy husband? Its wrong that her livelihood was hurt because of her race, even though that race was white. This person is not a theoretical strawman either. She’s an actual person. I’ll probably run into her some day at the grocery store. And even my coworker who was just there for some spending money deserved fairness.

            So yeah, if you want to talk about institutional racism, call it that. Cause it does you no favors to pretend it is the only kind. I know firsthand that you are wrong. How much trust should I put in the rest of what you say?

            Reply
            1. Elf

              I absolutely don’t think institutional racism is the only kind, but I think it does do damage on a different scale than other racism, and that it is the type of racism for which mass societal actions and legislative solutions are appropriate.

              I’ve been running into this problem from the other direction. I have a coworker, conservative white guy but he married a refugee from Africa and has black daughters. He absolutely believes in personal, small scale racism because he has seen it happen to his wife, but he DOES NOT believe institutional racism exists. I son’t want to get in to the types of problems this causes, mostly because they have to do with my inability to keep my mouth shut in a room full of people talking nonsense, but it is really important to make the distinction and to make sure people understand that institutional racism is there and causes major problems.

              Reply
      2. Casca

        And also, going back to the microcosm thought and the privilege video, I’ve seen something similar and it was more closely related to experiences rather than attributes. For example, have you ever been the only person of your ethnicity or gender in a large social or business gathering? Have you ever felt like you have to represent your entire ethnic group or gender to the people in the room? etc. These experiences indicates that you may experience system disadvantage or bias.
        People of different backgrounds, ethnicities, etc, could have these experiences, depending on the microcosm they’re in.

        Reply
        1. TL -

          Yeah, I’ve definitely been in situations where I was the only white person and treated differently because of it- not necessarily a bad or a good thing and it did mean that I thought of white as a specific identity since I was a child (which is unusual for a majority trait.) But it is possible to be very aware of a majority identity in an uncomfortable/feeling representative way.

          Reply
    2. Stellaaaaa

      It’s a really hard thing to parse. I definitely agree with you that individuals are often shouted down when their narratives diverge from the group discourse…even though we’re also not supposed to generalize either, so I’m not sure where progressive folk are even positioning their point of view. In general, I don’t think it’s helpful to frame people’s lives in the context of how they’re NOT suffering, and I think that there’s too much in-fighting in leftist politics. Very often, joining up with liberal social activists (especially online) means subjecting yourself to hazing and declarations of how you might have been a terrible person up until now. I get why that’s important for the politics involved, but in reality…I’m not codependent enough to beg for inclusion in groups that have written think pieces about how my demographic is the devil or whatever. The things you’re articulating here are great ways to lose allies, and that’s what’s happening. It’s a shame, because it’s the correct side of the fence and people are being pushed away by leaders who are telling the potential allies that their stories don’t matter.

      tldr – Liberal social politics have been a mess for a long time. We can’t come to any kind of common ground even when the stakes are beyond dire.

      Reply
      1. Delphine

        Honestly, the bigger shame is allies who’ve begun to feel that their allyship is something that marginalized communities must grovel for and be profusely grateful for—whereas true allyship isn’t about the ally, but about the marginalized people. The good thing is, the process of learning how to quiet your own voice so that marginalized voices can be raised really does weed out the sorts of folks who are looking for cookies instead of trying to support the fight against oppression. They just can’t manage it.

        Reply
        1. Stellaaaaa

          It goes back to the issue of the individual experience vs the group advancement. Not feeling that you can handle being the object of the sorts of things that are said in liberal circles, does not automatically mean that you’re a white person looking for a cookie from a POC. It does not mean that the privileged person is asking the oppressed group to grovel. It only means that the left wingers need to knock it off with the purity tests and virtue signalling because we’re wasting time and losing elections. Honestly, I vote liberal because it’s the moral and ethical thing to do, but maybe everyone should be nice to each other anyway? If I were on the fence regarding an issue, the online writings from the far left would not make me vote in their favor. It’s just as exclusionary as anything else from the other side of the spectrum. If I’m told that I’m not wanted, I’m going to believe that and stop begging to be accepted into that group. It’s absolutely, definitely a problem that this brand of codependency (I’m using this word purposefully) is so ingrained in the discourse of liberalism, as it’s keeping away people who refuse to be treated like crap by people who need their support. When social activists set it up like “You’re not a worthy participant until you meet A, B, and C requirements and have self-flagellated enough to meet our standards,” a mentally/emotionally healthy person is not going to accept those terms. No other realm of human interaction considers this to be a reasonable or healthy way of treating each other, and it needs to stop if we’re claiming to be the better side of the coin.

          Reply
            1. Stellaaaaa

              There’s also the gaslighting aspect of “We expect you to apologize for things that you did not actually do” that is ingrained in liberalism. It’s not lost on me that it seems to be liberal women who are putting each other through these paces. We wouldn’t accept gaslighting and coerced codependency (you’re a bad person if you don’t put up with our verbal abuse!) from men, but we’ll accept from each other? And we’ll call that the road to positive progress?

              Reply
              1. Ann O.

                Yeah, I see a lot of reproducing of oppressive structures. It’s depressing and has pushed me away from a lot of feminist blogs I used to read. I believe strongly in the need for being self-critical and deferring to other’s experiences when it’s more relevant. But when I see women reproducing the language of patriarchy to minimize and dismiss other women’s oppression/silence their voices about their own experiences, I’m just done. That is not what I believe the feminist movement should be.

                Reply
        2. anon for now

          I’m going anon for this because it’s relevant to a letter I’m trying to write to Alison, but as a queer individual, I’ve started becoming wary of LGBTQA allies for the reason you mention. I’ve encountered a lot of really off-putting behavior from allies and I’m honestly tired of some – not all – acting like they deserve a pat on the back for wanting queer individuals to have the same rights as everyone else. Or worse, speaking about issues as if they know them better than I do. Not to mention some of the gross appropriation that’s been increasing over the past few years.

          Reply
          1. Anon for this

            This reminds me that my work’s feminist network is currently being led my a man who, while saying all the right things in that role, had a colleague put on a PIP for what boiled down to him disliking her very socially-feminine communication style. (He employed a fair degree of gaslighting on her too.)
            It was very jarring to see his appointment, and I can’t bring myself to engage with the network (totally my thing otherwise) while he is leading it.

            Reply
      2. Talia

        Ah, ye gods, narratives diverging from group discourse. I actually had someone say to me, about a politics-adjacent issue, “If you were neurodivergent you would agree with me!” When I pointed out that I am in fact neurodivergent, she stopped engaging with me altogether. I don’t go near liberal social groups online, in the same way I’m extremely wary of the queer community despite being biromantic and demisexual.

        Reply
        1. Tau

          Ohhh yeah, the dominant narrative thing. I used to be semi-active in online disability rights discourse, and I remember this… pressure to feel/act OK with my disabilities in order to fit into this image of a happy disabled person who wouldn’t accept a cure if one was available. Which is sort of accurate for me but there are still complexities there. I remember writing a post that dug into some of those once, and I had all sorts of people come out of the woodwork commenting that they were disabled and felt alienated by the dominant discourse and unwelcome in the movement because of it.

          I don’t do online social justice anymore although I did for a long time, and I still have super-complicated thorny feelings about it. I think a lot of it is really valuable, and a lot of it is really toxic, and I don’t know how to separate the two and I don’t like the person I become when I spend too much time in those spaces.

          Reply
          1. Ramona Flowers

            I hear you on that. I am not handicapable and I do not want to be told I have diversability – there is some stuff I CANNOT DO and I’m sick of people trying to spin this as just different.

            Reply
            1. Casca

              With you both 100%.
              Ableism is very close to my heart and I’m glad people with disabilities are finally getting their voices heard more publicly, but the voices do tend towards people who are comparatively privileged.

              The social model of disability is great up to a point, but it’s not all things to all people

              I find that especially intellectual disability is not well represented by disability activism (maybe because that’s my area)

              Reply
    3. Anon anon anon

      Many books have been written on this subject. I’m sure there will be some great replies here, but I think it’s also worth reading up on. I don’t know which ones to recommend, but a lot of books that are about one or more -isms address it.

      Reply
      1. Casca

        I actually have read about this, and probably will do some more reading.

        However, I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect the general populace to have an academic understanding of different academic definitions of -isms before they can discuss it or say that they have experienced it. Racism has had a meaning in general use for a long time and there’s this move from some people to use a narrower definition (institutional racism).

        For example, if you are an X being discriminated against by a Y because they believe X are inferior, do you have to consider whether it’s you or Y historically that has benefited from power structures? In this case, I think most people would label it as racism because that’s the most common understanding of racism. And I think telling people that they’re using the wrong definition of racism is disingenuous. It would be fair to have a theoretical discussion about the context/broader situation, etc, but X is still in a crap situation here.

        Reply
        1. Observer

          In many cases it is a deliberate attempt to de-legitimize the issues of others. Aside from the other (important) issues that people mentioned, it’s a stupid tactic because it fails to take advantage of real teachable moments.

          Personal example: My husband was recently at a doctor and he was frustrated by how the doctor treated him – polite, but just not taking his problem seriously. After we left I told him that he’d just experienced something that women routinely go through. That sympathetic 5 minute conversation did more than a lifetime of complaints to get through to him what women go through.

          According to the purist orthodoxy, I did the wrong thing. I should never have sympathized with his complaints, instead telling him that as a white male he’s always had it good and the only reason he was upset was because his privilege had slipped for a moment. But, it’s not a problem because the doctor wasn’t being “ist”.

          Which reaction is more useful?

          Reply
          1. Tau

            This is actually something that bugs me quite a bit about the way we talk about -isms.

            After I got involved in online social justice, I discovered I was a minority in a way I hadn’t realised on two separate occasions (disability and trans*ness). My actual lived experience didn’t change at all, but the way I interacted with the community in question changed massively and I lost a lot of reactions and behaviours typical to privileged people. The #1 thing that made that happen? Was that I began automatically identifying with the relevant minority group over the relevant majority group.

            Empathy is a huge and powerful thing. Putting yourself into someone else’s shoes, drawing parallels between their experiences and your own, that can work wonders for how you interact with and understand people. Some of the biggest problems and prejudices can arise when you stop doing that. But it feels like the dialogue of privilege can actively discourage this. It’s really focused on the things $minoritygroup experience that you never will, how you’re unable and will always be unable to understand what their life is like. And on the one hand, I see how it’s necessary to explain this, that (forex) you cannot understand what life is like for someone with chronic pain by going “oh yeah, I get headaches sometimes too”. But on the other hand, it can start implying that you’re not allowed to empathise with someone with chronic pain in any way, not allowed to identify with them, because they are Disabled and you will Never Know What That Is Like. And I think that’s really, really dangerous.

            Reply
            1. Anon anon anon

              It is complicated. And I also get annoyed when people are expected to have an academic understanding of it because that obviously comes from a certain kind of privilege – going to certain kinds of schools or just being around more educated people. Obviously not always, but often.

              What I meant in my initial comment was just that it’s really complicated. Both definitions (with and without the rules about power dynamics) are real. Some would argue that one is more valid than the other or that it depends on the context. I’m staying neutral here. But this is basically a politics/theory/ideology discussion that can get really long and nuanced.

              Reply
        2. Soon to be former fed

          I’m black, and racism, (individual, organizational, or institutional), is very much alive and well. It’s not useful to parse the meaning of the word to death. A racist person is usually pretty damn prejudiced too. There aren’t little neat boxes for this ugliness and it isn’t useful to try to compartmentalize terms.

          Reply
    4. Delphine

      You’re missing an important word: institutional. Racism, for example, is racial prejudice plus institutional power. Individual power has nothing to do with it.

      Reply
      1. Casca

        This is exactly my issue. When did that become the only definition of racism? Systemic racism and institutional racism are existing terms. They are types of racism, but they are not all racism.

        I think it’s weird (and unrealistic) to expect everyone to now agree that the word racism, which historically was not defined as linked with power, actually always refers to institutional racism. People have been using the term racism for longer than the ‘prejudice plus power’ concept.

        Reply
        1. Stellaaaaa

          You’re correct on this point. It’s just another purity test. People like to insist that the word “racism,” in a vacuum, means something that it simply does not mean, and then they use this as a way to make the “mistaken” people feel stupid instead of welcome.

          Reply
        2. Soon to be former fed

          Nope. I’m black and no way has usage or understanding of the word racism changed. An individual, organization, or institution can be racist.

          Reply
          1. TL -

            I don’t think people are arguing that racism doesn’t exist in certain structures or that it is less something if it’s systemic versus individual. But it is actually incredibly helpful in some situations to parse out what type of racism is at place – you would deal with a systemically racist application system very differently than a boss who calls employees racial slurs, even though they can happen in the same office. And it can be really helpful to tease out why something that isn’t rooted in racial slurs/overtly aggressive behavior can still end up being a systemically racist decision.

            But what people are saying is that, if I, as a white child, got laughed at for speaking Spanish, called a cracker, and told that gringas can’t speak Spanish*, that cannot be an inherently racist act because I’m white. Whereas another definition would say, no, they were judging you based solely on race, so that is an act of racism.

            *thing that actually happened, although not in any way maliciously, even the cracker bit.

            Reply
          2. Casca

            Not sure if you’re agreeing or disagreeing :)
            Agreed that racism (and co-isms) exists at different levels and in different structures.

            I think usage has changed in some parts of the internet (and some real world spaces, I’m sure), as I see in aam comments, but I don’t think there’s been a universal change. I do think some people act as if it is a universal change… but I don’t think that helps the discourse.

            Reply
          3. Observer

            That’s correct. What Casca is trying to get at is that racism doesn’t only apply to people, organizations or institutions that are powerful and dominant.

            Reply
    5. Dan

      What you’re talking about in your last paragraph is what’s known in statistics as the “fallacy of averages” in statistics. That is, averages may be appropriate for comparing groups to each other, but cannot be used to make any claims about an individual data point in that group.

      As you say, while it may be true that as a bloc, white American males are more powerful than any other demographic, we cannot make any claims about the “power” of any particular individual in any group.

      Reply
    6. Not So NewReader

      “I understand that those particular definitions exist and are useful for certain discussions, but they are not even the first option when you look up the definitions of racism, sexism, etc.”

      My suggestion would be to look up other words in the dictionary and look at those definitions. Just my opinion but I think that dictionaries lag waaay behind in describing the way a word is actually used in society.
      If we stick to the dictionary meaning of words, we would find ourselves falling all over the place.

      Language is not a static thing. It changes and grows to fill our needs.

      There is a process on how it is decided to define a word. I am sure folks here can explain it. I know that botanical names change constantly and there is a process that is used for those changes. I have to assume general words have a similar process.

      In short the definition does not seem to match the way the word is used because society needs the word in different ways. The dictionary folks have not caught up yet. I have sat and read pages at a time in a dictionary and find it puzzling that the definitions do not seem to match the general use I see in real life.

      This is not to side step the larger concerns here, this is to say if we rely on dictionaries too closely we will miss some major serious points going on elsewhere.

      Reply
      1. Casca

        That’s a fair criticism of dictionary reliance.

        However, I think in this case, parts of society have added a meaning but speak like that meaning replaces others.

        I mean, I learned about -isms in school. Institutional and systemic racism were taught as types of racism. We didn’t skip these concepts, but we labelled them so we could identify them.

        And we learned about racism. The new definitions being used in places re-label this as bias or prejudice if the victim is from a statistically privileged group. (Similar for other -isms). I’m not sure how that helps the discourse and I also think it’s unrealistic to expect the whole society to replace definitions. Yet people can get pretty firm that it’s already been done

        Reply
  13. PhyllisB

    I already said Happy New Year, but I’ll say it again. This is the year I need to decide if I’m ready to quit working. I draw Social Security and a small pension from the phone company, but I’ve worked so many years it’s hard to stop completely. I’m afraid I’ll turn into a slug if I don’t have somewhere I have to be every day. Also I have a grand-child living with me now (middle school age) and I wonder if I need to be home more for him. I’m not asking y’all to make my decision for me though input is certainly welcome, I’m just asking you to keep your fingers crossed, (or if you are praying people to say a prayer for me) to make the right decision.

    Reply
      1. the raven

        I second this!!! If you love animals find a local rescue (or several) and volunteer some time with them. They can always use people to feed, take care of, and socialize with the animals they have up for adoption. Plus, volunteering can allow you to work with your schedule, so if you need to be home at certain times or days you can work around that.

        And if you aren’t an animal lover, there are plenty of other ways one can volunteer your time.

        Best of luck to you either way with the decision you make. :)

        Reply
        1. Liane

          Again, only if volunteering is something you are up for–a lot of organizations allow teen volunteers, so maybe you can find a place where you can both volunteer. This would get you something out of the house to do, as well as spend more time with your grandson.
          And you have my prayers, whatever you decide.

          Reply
    1. Mallory

      Is the grandchildnlovong with you permanent? As a parent, I think you can make that a part time (or more) job for several years :-). Coach a team (or assist). Volunteer. Retire, but do a nominal part time job to keep you busy.

      Reply
    2. Enough

      I think that kids need their parents home more during middle and high school. I didn’t work when my kids were teenagers. It always seemed I knew more than the other parents about what the kids were up to.
      If you can find something part time or volunteer where the summer hours are limited would be good.

      Reply
    3. Not So NewReader

      Definitely make a plan of how you will use your time. The problem with retirement is that it is one day we stop working. Then nothing happens unless we create something for ourselves. Someone pointed out a pattern they saw to me, younger people retire with no plan for their time and suddenly they find themselves getting sick. It could be coincidence or it could be the absence of a goal or a purpose in life. No way to separate the two to really know for sure.

      Reply
    4. Kuododi

      How’s your granddarling doing over all? Are they functioning well in school/activities as a whole. How are they doing as far as connecting with family and friends? Those are the questions I’d encourage you to look at while making your decisions. I wish you and your sweet grandchild blessings and peace in the new year.

      Reply
      1. PhyllisB

        Kuododi, I love that term, granddarling. Think I’ll call him that when he comes back in the house. Eleven year-old boy, you KNOW he’ll love that. :-) He lives with us full-time, but sees his dad usually one day on the week-ends, and his mother when she is in town.

        I shared quite a while back about her (his mother) she was addicted to meth and we had to take her kids away from her. In fact it got so bad that I had to ban contact for almost a year. She’s two years sober now and working doing marketing for a re-hab center in another state and working on certification to be a counselor. She just doesn’t get to see him but about once a month because of this.

        He is Mr. Social Butterfly never home on the week-ends. School grades…….meh. That’s one reason I’m thinking I need to be home more to make sure things get done.

        Reply
        1. PhyllisB

          Also want to thank those of you kind enough to be encouraging and make suggestions. I do appreciate it. Yes, I will probably do some volunteer work; my church is eagerly awaiting my retirement so they can put me to good use!! :-) I hope to be able to fade out by April at the latest, but that’s what I said last year, too and here I am still at it. I will give an update as soon as I have one to give. Once again, thanks to all of you. And keep the ideas coming!!

          Reply
          1. Kuododi

            Sugar you are doing the best thing of all…you are giving that precious child a loving, stable safe place to call home. He has people he can turn to who he knows will cherish and keep him safe. That is the best gift of all. Y’all are in my heart!!!

            Reply
        1. Peggy

          Oh man I find it so boring. I’ve played it so many times that no combination of cards shocks me or makes me laugh anymore! It feels so contrived. If I were going to have fun playing it would have to be all expansion packs that are new to me and no original cards that I’ve seen 1000 times!

          Reply
      1. C Average

        CAH’s website has a “lab” section where you can help them select new cards by basically playing solo. It’s one of my favorite time-wasters.

        Reply
    1. Your Weird Uncle

      Ugh, I’m sorry! I have a good friend whose birthday is NYE and she *loooooves* cards and games (I hate them, mostly!) and it’s a challenge every year to extricate myself from her birthday parties. There, I said it. I’m a horrible friend. At least you’re a good friend! :)

      Reply
    2. Dainty Lady

      I looooved games and cards…when I was ten. I would be dying of get-me-out-of-here playing cards at a party now. –I see you switched to CAH, which I have never played because I’m pretty sure that would make me want to die for a different reason! Hope you’re enjoying that more ;-) .

      Reply
      1. Temperance

        Judging by your username, I am very comfortable asserting that CAH is absolutely, 100%, without question NOT the game for you. ;)

        Reply
        1. PhyllisB

          Ha!! Ha!! I learned about CAH from this site. I asked my adult son if he had ever played it, and he looked so horrified!! I reassured him I wasn’t asking to play, I just wanted to know if he was familiar with it or had played it. With a big sigh of relief, he said yes to both, but told me in no uncertain terms it was not the game for me, that I should stick to Apples to Apples.

          Reply
      2. Elizabeth West

        Once we switched games, it was more fun. Then we watched The Hitman’s Bodyguard, which was really funny. I liked it. Now I’m home but wide awake because I was stupid enough to drink a whole cup of Death Wish Coffee, LOL.

        Reply
  14. Someone

    I have question about working holidays. I’m a new supervisor and I didn’t handle our holiday schedule very well this year. I had an employee who was able to get some to cover all her holidays and she did so without switching with them (the other person wanted to work every holiday and we were ok staffing wise so I didn’t require her to work). I didn’t think it was a problem until now. Someone covered for her xmas and was expecting her to switch with them New Year’s Day but she is refusing to work. She has told me and the other workers that she doesn’t care that she’s scheduled, she will not come in. I’ve alerted my manager and documented our discussion. My question is how to handle this going forward. I’m thinking about requiring everyone to work 3 holidays a year and if they want to switch they can (if the person they switch with still wants to work to pick up more hours then that would not affect the switch). If she does not show up (or anyone else for that matter) then I will assign her to work the next holiday which would have been her off holiday so to make it fair. Does this make sense?

    Reply
    1. Stellaaaaa

      Don’t let employees trade shifts among themselves. That kind of thing always ends up being popularity-based, meaning that some people will consistently be able to find shift coverage and others won’t. That’s not a reliable way to reward your best employees, who may or may not be popular among the other staffers. It’s your job to organize these things yourself.

      It sounds like you’re in retail or a restaurant? I can understand your reluctance to fire this employee, since it’s not easy to find new employees who are willing to work the required holidays. You should give her a serious warning though, and don’t put pressure on the others to cover for her if they’ve already made plans on the rare holiday they have off from work.

      Reply
      1. Someone

        As a supervisor I am not able to handle any of the discliplinary stuff. I give verbal warnings but my manager handles the write ups. I never pressure anyone to cover for her but she does have more friends than the others so I agree that it’s unfair that she was able to find someone willing to cover for every holiday but others weren’t. Thank you for pointing that part out to me.

        Reply
    2. Dan

      I’m trying to think… my shift work days are pretty far back in the rear view mirror.

      Job 1 allowed “shift trades” but required a form to be filled out. IIRC, holidays were no diffierent than any other day. If you ask me, the form thing worked out pretty well — it alleviated issues about who was on the hook for a no call/no show. If your signature was on the paper work, your ass was toast. If not? Then the guy whose shift it was was in big trouble.

      Job 2 had a “must work X of Y holidays” policy. It was a much smaller staff (like 30 all said and done for a 24/7 operation) and I remember that working out fine.

      Job 3 I worked midnights, and whatever the rules were, the midnight guys broke them all. Big boss either never knew or didn’t care; I don’t know which. In the 3 years I worked there, the four of us on the midnight shift just worked things out amongst each other.

      I’m trying to figure out exactly what your problem is, but treat her no shows as call ins (if she’s giving you warning, she’s not no-calling.) If she otherwise stays out of attendance hot water, you have to decide whether you just want to put up with it or if you are willing to fire her over it. Those are the games we play/risks we take as front line staff. I mean, if I’ve got perfect attendance throughout the year and I’m otherwise a good employee, but I treat holidays as sacred, I just may very well roll the dice and figure my boss will suck it up on the holidays. We might go through the song and dance of a “verbal warning”, but if I only get one verbal warning a year, then so be it.

      In terms of coverage without any “payback”, I was a bit of an OT ho back in those days. I’d happily cover someone’s shift for the overtime, with no expectation that they’d pay me back.

      Not sure if any of this helps/provides perspective, but I think you have to figure out how far you’re willing to push this, but if your boss doesn’t have your back, you’re probably screwed.

      Reply
    3. Runner

      If she’s scheduled and doesn’t come in, I would think that is a disciplinary issue that should be addressed in its own right, and immediately (up to and possibly including firing). Seriously. Also, for now I would consider this an issue specific to this employee and really consider whether it is something that you’d be basically punishing everyone else for if you tried to change everything just because one person abused the system. (Maybe you will decide it should be changed. But AAM actually often advises not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Focus first on the individual here.)

      Reply
    4. Nacho

      If workers want to swap holidays, they need to make it official, go through their supervisor and get their schedule changed to reflect that they’ve agreed to work X day. And if they then don’t show up on that day, it should be treated like anyone else who doesn’t show up to work on a holiday. Punishments for not showing up to a holiday you were scheduled to work should probably start off with a warning and being scheduled to work another holiday, and escalate to suspension or even firing if it becomes a pattern. You can’t have a worker who doesn’t show up to shifts they’re scheduled on, holiday or not.

      Reply
      1. Liane

        Most jobs I have had–including retail–had a policy that you did not get your holiday pay if you didn’t work both your last scheduled shift before holiday and your first scheduled shift after. This applied whether or not you worked the holiday. If Someone is in a position to alter policy this might be an idea going forward, if her employer does have holiday pay.

        Reply
    5. QualitativeOverQuantitative

      My mom works in healthcare, so she always needs to have enough staff 24/7. In October she posts sign up sheets for the holiday season (Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, NYE, NYD) everyone can sign up for the holidays they are willing to work. Once she has that information, she fills in with other staff. This way, people can sign up to work days/shifts that they are happy to work and have a good chance of not working when they don’t want to.

      Reply
    6. RTR

      I really don’t think the holiday stuff is related. Tell her she needs to find someone to cover if she’s not planning to come in. If she doesn’t find someone and doesn’t come in, treat it as a no show and follow whatever disciplinary procedures there are for that and address the unprofessional/rude way she’s handled this as well. Leave the holiday stuff out of it. It sounds like her getting others to cover those holidays worked out fine (the people took her shift willingly and you had the coverage you needed) except for this one time, which isn’t even really about the holiday but about her backing out of an agreement with a coworker. So factoring all of the past holidays in when you haven’t had any real issues with her not being there on those days, and haven’t given her any previous indication that she did something wrong by letting others take her shifts, seems unnecessary. She’s on the schedule for tomorrow, you’ve told her she must come in, she’s refused and done so in a disrespectful way. That’s the issue.

      Tell her she needs to work a holiday next year if you want to, but making a rule that requires 3 days of holiday work for everyone just because of this one person refusing to come in on New Year’s doesn’t make a lot of sense and isn’t going to go over well or really have a benefit for anyone. It’s punishing everyone for one person’s behavior and doing so in a way that’s only mildly related to the actual problem. Some people don’t mind working holidays because they don’t celebrate, don’t have family nearby, etc. I’d prefer to have off but don’t mind too much when I’m scheduled for one. More importantly, when I do have off, I certainly don’t mind being asked by a coworker to take their shift. Asking doesn’t mean it’s a requirement. I will try to say yes if possible, but if I want to say no, it’s not like it’s hard to claim you have other plans on a holiday. The people who took her shift weren’t forced to and I’m not sure you’re doing them any favors by getting offended on their behalf. They might be just as negatively impacted by the 3 holiday rule as she is, and so will the workers who had nothing to do with any of this.

      The coworker who wants off New Year’s because he took her Christmas shift wouldn’t be upset if she weren’t backing out of her end of the deal. He’s not complaining that she didn’t work any holidays, he’s upset that he made a trade that benefited him (he wanted off New Year’s more than he didn’t want to work on Christmas) and then she took away that benefit after he had already worked her shift which made it a lose/lose for him rather than a win/win. This isn’t about the holidays or whether she worked enough of them. It’s about her refusal to work when she promised she would and the fact that she seemingly doesn’t care about putting others in a bind or appreciate the favor this coworker did when he traded with her. I wouldn’t care if a coworker worked zero holidays. I don’t keep track of other people’s schedules, and if they manage that then good for them honestly; they’re not the ones keeping the place open that day so why hold it against them if they manage to have a nice work-free holiday? But I would be upset if I traded a shift to help them out and they tried to stick me with both anyway – and that’s true all year round.

      Reply
    7. Not So NewReader

      So one person wanted to work all the holidays.
      But someone (not the same person?) wanted New Year’s off and just expected her to switch AFTER she said no holidays?
      hmmmm.

      The best handling of holidays I have ever seen went this way:
      Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years days were posted on the wall.
      Each day was on a sheet of paper by itself. Running down the left side were the times for each shift. The times were done in four hour blocks. There were enough blank lines for names to match the number of people needed at that time.
      Ex:
      8 am to 12 pm name
      3 people name
      name

      12 pm to 4 pm name
      2 people name

      Next the boss said working the holidays was mandatory. No one wants to work holidays, this is normal, he said. So everyone must take a turn. He put the sheets up and asked people to volunteer for a time slot by filling in their names.
      He said he would check the charts on (set date). Any blank lines would be assigned to people who had not signed the charts first. Then he would fill in with other people if he needed to.
      I signed up for a double on Christmas. Eh, no kids, why not, it did not bother me. I was surprised/pleased when my boss informed me that I would not be working any other times on the two remaining holidays. He felt I had taking a load off of everyone. So the side lesson I saw here was to reward people who shoulder the brunt of the load.
      In general, if some people are allowed to have all holidays off, that usually causes problems in the long run.

      Reply
  15. regular commenter, too old for this

    Coming out to my parents via text at midnight as my first resolution. They totally already know and they’re cool with it, I just find it impossible to get the words out of my mouth with them. I’m doing this because I love them, I trust them, and I want to be honest and open up.

    Will report back later. Sending the text in 1 hour 20 mins.

    Reply
    1. Be the Change

      Sounds like a really terrific way to start the new year! Coolness, love, trust, honesty, and acceptance. What could be better?

      Update please when you can!! :-)

      Reply
    2. regular commenter, too old for this

      I just sent the text! I can’t believe I did it!

      I know it will be fine, though. My parents are wonderful people.

      I think they might be asleep. If they are asleep then waiting for a response until morning is going to be nerve-wracking. Even though I know the response will be good.

      Oh God what did I just do.

      Reply
      1. regular commenter, too old for this

        It did! I have a very good reply from my dad, basically that it is no big deal and he loves me. He is great. He signed off by saying that he had to do some dishes now and then sent a bunch of emojis, including the pride flag one. I expect about the same from my mom in the morning.

        Reply
        1. Always science-ing

          Got a few happy tears in my eyes reading your update. Hope the rest of 2018 is equally as wonderful for you!

          Reply
        2. Foreign Octopus

          Well done, and I’m so glad that your parents are great people :)

          I hope 2018 is a wonderful year for you now that you’re officially out.

          Reply
  16. WTF with Ipods

    Am I alone in this?

    What’s with Ipods today? Are they a phone or an audio player or a vid recorder or a camera or some ridiculous hybrid of all the aforementioned devices?

    Seriously, WTF are they supposed to be? Why can I not just get a straightforward audio player these days? I’m only 28, but tech is really starting to confuse me and/or demand more time and investment from me. No I don’t do selfies, duck face is not my thing. No I don’t take exciting videos of my commute to work and back (or currently no work, more like wailing sad face into champagne glasses while applying to jobs).

    I grabbed an Ipod 160Gb from FB marketplace for $120 this morning as I don’t want to sign up to paid spotify (can you sign up paid and download songs onto an Ipod?). I just want to listen to music while I jog, is that sooo hard? Why would I want to take photos while gasping for air, snap a video of, joy, my exciting pavement slogging complete with red faced gasping, or call someone to guilt trip them into doing exercise while, well, doing exercise????

    I DON’T UNDERSTAND THE POINT OF THESE NEW FANDANGLED IPHONES!!!

    Why does tech have to just get ahead of itself and make itself wholly more cumbersome and time consuming than need be? Kinda wishing for the early 2000s these days, a lot less bullshit tech around and more stuff you might actually find useful. Really had to vent. Sorry guys. Been a tough end of 2017.

    Reply
    1. Music

      Not what you’re asking but don’t run with that old iPod you bought off marketplace. Their hard drives weren’t built to take repetitive bouncing, and I ruined two of them on easy five-mile runs.

      So I guess one thing the newer ones are is built for multi use, like, say, exercise.

      Reply
      1. Beaded Librarian

        Huh I have a second generation iPod Touch that I’ve run with and dropped a ton and it still works great.

        Reply
        1. Red Reader

          Touch has solid state memory, like a flash drive. It’s better suited to jarring. The older Classics, like the poster probably has if they got a 160 gig version, have a drive style that has more moving parts and won’t stand up to shaking very well. (Platter drive? I forget the terminology. Similar to the style of drive you’d find in a regular desktop computer.)

          Reply
          1. music

            yup. that.

            I also don’t think this person bought a touch, as it’s clear that wifi functionality and cameras are things they object to, for some reason.

            Reply
            1. Beaded Librarian

              Wasn’t sure with that. The price threw me although I was wondering because of the size mentioned. They must have put a different drive in the original nanos as well as I did some jogging with one with no problem.

              Reply
            2. WTF with Ipods

              I don’t object to them I just don’t need them when out exercising.

              I don’t need a cameraon my audio player and i don’t want to be tempted to use mobile data for spotify as i use it enough in the car and don’t want to accidently go over my limit

              Reply
              1. Observer

                You don’t have to have a sim in there. I t will work just fine. If you do use your phone for this, you can set it to monitor your data use, at least with android. In android you can actually have your phone stop using data at a certain point. I would imagine that you could do something similar in ios.

                In any case, if you always only play the music you have on the device, you won’t use data or wifi.

                Reply
          2. Observer

            Yes, the only version that went up to 160 was Classic. And, yes, that has a standard HD, not solid state, which means that jogging with it is a good way to shorten its life significantly.

            Reply
      2. WTF with Ipods

        that is news to me. I’ve been using my old ipod classic for jogging for over 2 years and it’s fine. The nano plays up and skips all the time but the classic has been very dependable. Guess I’ll use the dependable one for jogs and the new one for kayaking.

        Reply
        1. Observer

          You’re lucky. Be aware though, that it’s an extremely common problem. It simply wasn’t designed for this. Which means that you may be lucky again, but you may not.

          Reply
    2. nep

      For exercising, I’ve never really gotten how people can stand having wires hanging down — that would drive me nuts. The only thing I’ll use is the Sony wrap-around mp3 headphones. I don’t get why I don’t see more people with these — instead people are waving the wire out of the way as they jog… (Plus, it’s. just. music. No screens, no calls, nothing else.)
      (Unfortunately Sony discontinued this thing; I think I still have one new in package because I once ordered a few of them when I knew they were discontinued.)

      Reply
    3. Tau

      It does seem as if all electronic devices are beginning to morph into some phonecomputerbrowserereaderaudioplayer monstrosity these days. I don’t think I like the trend either!

      Reply
      1. music

        I much prefer it to carrying around a music device, a camera, a phone, an appointment calendar all separately.

        Reply
          1. sugar cookies are the worst

            I do not like that feature AT ALL. I’ll be running, in the groove, and some telemarketer will call me and interrupt my music; I can’t reach my phone (I have Samsung but it’s all sort of the same) to deny the call so I just have to listen to the ringtone until it goes to voicemail. Or I guess I could just stop running, take off my gloves, fish out my phone, deny the call, put everything back, and then get back into it.

            So happy that Do Not Disturb gives me options now.

            Reply
            1. Observer

              Well, that’s a perfect use case for DND. Set that on, and your music won’t be interrupted for stupid telemarketers. But, if you set a timer or one emergency number that is allowed to disturb even when DND is on, it’s nice to know that you will hear it even with your music in your ears.

              Reply
      2. WTF with Ipods

        THANK YOU! This is what I mean. I have enough anxiety from constant interconnectivity 24/7 with calls, msgs, fb msgs, social media msgs, whatsapp, viber etc. I just want a whole day to pass without having to look at my phone.

        I hate it so much.wish people would just call and get to the point. Instead they all seem to love message trains when a 2min convo can get it sorted

        Reply
    4. Dainty Lady

      I like my ipod shuffle very well for the purpose of music while exercizing. …with you on being annoyed at the Red Queen aspects of technology.

      Reply
    5. D.W.

      I still have my classic iPod, 250gb. I will never part with it. People have actually tried to buy it off of me for more than what I paid for it ($250!)

      Reply
    6. Observer

      You actually can get standalone MP3 players. And I discovered that if you are willing to pay, you can even find ones with pretty decent capacity, if you need it.

      I’m not impressed with the user interfaces I’ve seen so far, but that’s something of an individual thing.

      Reply
    7. Red Reader

      I’m not super clear on how it’s “more cumbersome” to have one device that covers a multitude of needs, nor why you seem to think that everyone with a smartphone is out to share duckface selfies constantly, but hey, you do you.

      If you go to amazon and search “MP3 player”, there’s over 4,000 results of plain garden-variety MP3 players, the entire first page of which is less than half of what you paid for the one you bought this morning that’s unsuited for jogging, as someone else pointed out.

      Reply
      1. WTF with Ipods

        Calm down, no need to take personal offence or get smarmy. I was being sarcastic about duckface. I have a smartphone too but if I lose it or damage it while exercising its much worse than damaging or losing an ipod.

        And my other classic ipod has lasted a long time jogging.

        Reply
    8. Sam Foster

      You are looking for an MP3 player. The iPod Touch includes an MP3 player which one can load one’s own library too or use the iTunes, Pandora, Spotify or equivalent to listen to music. Amazon has over 170 pages of options when one searches for “MP3 Player.”

      Reply
    9. BananaPants

      Yes, you are alone. Most of us recognize that it’s far simpler (and possibly cheaper) to carry one device that’s capable of making phone calls, playing music, serving as your GPS while driving, etc. than to have separate single-purpose devices.

      Reply
      1. WTF with Ipods

        That’s great but I hate Apple products. Especially iPhones which Itouch seems to basically be another version of. The only ones I like are ipods.

        Android all the way

        Reply
    10. CheeryO

      I don’t love running with a phone either, but come on, there are plenty of legitimate uses for a phone during exercise. How about for personal safety (either for a regular 911 call or for a personal beacon-type thing)? What about if you’re running in a new place and get turned around and need a map? And what’s wrong with taking a picture of something cool you see (or even – gasp – a selfie) or being available for texts/calls?

      Reply
    11. NaoNao

      Well, first of all, an iPhone and iPod are two different things, so if you bought an iPhone, yes, it’s an audio player, phone, and video recorder plus camera all in one.

      If you bought an iPod, in my experience, it only comes with audio and video player, no camera.
      The thing is, most people really like having their audio player, camera, phone, etc etc all in one. Most people I know do not take “duck face” selfies or snap videos of themselves running or whatever. Generally people enjoy the option to document their life as it happens either for themselves or their friends/family, or for business reasons.

      I’m not really sure where Spotify comes into this as iPods come with iTunes, the Apple version of Spotify already installed and you shouldn’t have to install or pay for Spotify to use it. It sounds like based on what you’re saying that you actually may have bought an iPhone rather than an iPod, but I’m not current on what the latest iPods are capable of.

      It seems like based on this comment, that you might be a bit confused as to what you actually bought/got. Might want to double check and then go online to Apple and check out the specs and capabilities of your item. You can create settings on devices so that you can just listen to music while you jog without a camera, video, phone, etc.

      Reply
  17. BatteryB

    I saw this on Facebook this weekend and was curious about what other people though.

    As I sat in a cafe drinking my coffee and eating my sandwich 2 paramedics (who were obviously taking a chance to grab A quick bite between jobs) came in and joined the queue waiting to get their breakfast and cuppa.

    Just as they got to the till they got a message on the radio. They had to go at once.

    They both laughed and said “that always happens to us!” Then they both rushed out to help someone.

    Paramedics have one of the most important jobs in the world. Everyone else in the queue was just after a quick snack and a drink whilst shopping etc.

    Why don’t we all we use this social media to get people (and companies) to allow paramedics and all other emergency services to jump the queue and get served as soon as they come in? That way they have a better chance of getting a drink and perhaps some food before they go on their day helping people.

    Reply
    1. Stellaaaaa

      I’m not a fan of ranking people’s value in that way. Lots of people have important things going on in their lives. There might have been a caretaker or special ed teacher or person with cancer in that line. Are they less important than paramedics? How can you know who else might get called to someone else’s bedside in one minute?

      Reply
      1. copy run start

        Exactly. And it’s hard to know where to draw the line. Should the hospital sysadmin get to jump the line in case a server goes down? Plus then you’re getting in to validating someone is who they say they are and that they’re working at the time. What’s to stop me from buying a fake police badge and cutting lines everywhere I go?

        Reply
    2. kas

      My first thought was that I agree with the comment, I wouldn’t care and it may not be such a big deal. My second thought was, what if they were actually able to skip the line but started abusing it? What if they were on a break (not sure how paramedic breaks work) and decided to skip the line just because they can? There could be others in line that have important things to deal with/who are in a rush.

      Reply
      1. Soon to be former fed

        Important =/= urgent medical matters. I don’t get impuning the character if paramedics by assuming they would abuse the privilege. Hope you never need one. I honestly don’t get some of these replies.

        Reply
        1. Triplestep

          This assumption does not surprise me. I’ve never seen paramedics abuse the privilege, but I’ve seen police officers take an entitled view of the world, usually with parking and not always even with their cruisers. One used to take up three spaces in front of the pre-school where we both had kids during pick-up hours. With his personal, unmarked car. Seriously?

          I routinely let other people ahead of me in the grocery line if I’m not in a hurry and they have fewer things, or are shopping with small children. I’ve been that person stuck behind someone when my kid was about to lose it, or I only had one or two things to buy. I think scenarios like this would work better if people were just more aware and decided to be considerate; maybe this thing going around on Facebook will make people more aware the next time they see uniformed people in line with them.

          That said, there is nothing stopping people who work on rigs from bringing a lunch bag and thermos like many, many others (with unpredictable schedules) do. I have a a sales rep who does this because he practically lives out of his car – no life or death scenarios; just doesn’t want to get cranky or eat take-out all day.

          Reply
          1. Not So NewReader

            This is true, a police officer was bragging that he could do whatever speed he wanted even in his own person car. He said he routinely got up to 145 mph.
            Two problems here. One is doing it and two is bragging about it.

            Reply
        2. kas

          I don’t put it past anyone to abuse their power/privilege, regardless of their profession. I don’t have any friends in the field but I’ve been around cops etc who were quite open about how they abuse their power.

          I hope I never need one as well.

          Reply
    3. listens to 'I hate my Boss' podcast

      Have you considered getting a promotion for yourself by apllying to a higher position in another company?

      Reply
    4. Soon to be former fed

      I like the idea. Most if us may be busy but we aren’t missing any meals because we may need to save a life. Come on folks, have a heart.

      Reply
    5. Annie Mouse

      Ok, so I work in EMS in the UK and I’ve seen this floating around for a while.
      I would never ask if I could jump the queue for the till at all, and I’m pretty sure I go red any time someone offers. But I am really grateful when they do. Because going in a shop to grab something is the equivalent of boiling the kettle or going to the loo. It is almost guaranteed to get you a call!!
      As for the potential abuse of it, I don’t know how breaks work in other countries, in my area we get 30 minutes ‘undisturbable’ break. Except for the occasions where someone isn’t breathing nearby, in which case we can be disturbed. So even on our break we’re still having to listen out for the radio.
      And the post isn’t about the ambulance crew (or police etc) asking to jump the queue, it’s suggesting that you offer to let them. There’s nothing wrong if you don’t, it’s just a nice thing if you do. And from the vast majority of people in the job, it will be gratefully received but not abused. It can seem a thankless job at times (several of my colleagues have been assaulted recently) and it really is the little things that make a difference.

      Reply
    6. RTR

      I mean it’s a nice thought but letting people in front of you in line when they’re in a hurry is not a revolutionary concept the way it seems to be presented here. It’s just politeness and basic courtesy. The fact that, in this case, a uniform and radio is what’s telling you they’re in a hurry rather than any number of other factors doesn’t mean people should turn it into a Big Thing where they feel they’re making a profound statement of gratitude by being sort of nice to someone who seems like they’re having a busy day.

      To be honest the tone of the OP (of the FB post obviously, not you Battery) puts me off even if there’s nothing wrong with the concept, because either they’re just posting for the likes/shares or they have never seen anyone be vaguely friendly. “Share this so companies will see it” is such a weird sentiment in this context since she’s not really offering an idea for them. And if she just means they should put up signs inviting paramedics to the front, why not contact actual businesses and pitch the idea rather than trying to go viral and hope they get the hint?

      Anyway aside from that aspect, I don’t see why this would be a controversial suggestion. I hope people won’t get too overbearing towards the paramedic if they choose to make the offer but otherwise it’s a nice (but not obligatory) thing to do. It’s like letting someone with only a few items go ahead of you when you have a large order at the grocery store – you’re not in the wrong if you don’t but if you can, it’s considerate and appreciated.

      Reply
    7. Jen in Oregon

      Respectfully, there are apps that will let them do just that (line jump). If this is a problem they frequently have, they should use the apps.

      Reply
      1. Jen in Oregon

        Obviously the apps aren’t everywhere, yet, but I know the Starbucks app works quite well. It would really irritate me if I were in a hurry, gave up my spot in line, and then had to rush even more to get where I’m needed, past all those folks that line jumped and are now leisurely enjoying their coffee break because no, they don’t get a call every time.

        Reply
    8. Goya de la Mancha

      I have two siblings who are Firefighters/Paramedics. It’s a known job “hazard” – you probably won’t get to eat/sleep/drink on a regular schedule. I’m with others though, I don’t like assigning priority to someone based on something “important” (as it is such a subjective term) that might pop up in their lives. That being said, if they were behind me, I would let them jump in front of me/trade places with them – because I know how it can be for my siblings. If you want to and depending on the city or station, you can show your appreciation for them in other ways. Gift certificates for delivery foods, dropping off food/sweets (things that don’t have to be enjoyed hot/cold are best).

      Reply
  18. Anne

    Some end-of-year reflection has made me realise that I’m probably not going to reach my career goals. 10 years into my career, I’ve made almost no progress beyond entry level, despite significant qualification and experience increases. A little graph I drew myself says that to reach the management level I wanted won’t happen until I’m 75 or older. I’ve come to the conclusion I’m not as good at my work as I think/thought I am (I’m not bad, and generally get good feedback, but for a number of known and unknown reasons this hasn’t translated to career progression). Does anyone have any advice on re-adjusting life goals when it becomes clear they are no longer realistic? How do I deal with letting go of something I want, but won’t happen?

    Reply
    1. Tassie Tiger

      Wow, I really relate to that in some ways.
      Can you tell us more about the graph? I wonder if, rather than extrapolating where you’d be at your present “rate,” however you track it, we could help you brainstorm out of the box ideas to reach some goals?

      Reply
      1. Anne

        It’s nice to know I’m not the only one.
        The graph involved a bit of judgment call on my behalf, but my current organisation gives position levels actual numbers, so that helps. I’m currently at a Level 3, and my previous jobs would all be within a Level 2-3 (5 jobs in 10 years, with one being a temporary short-term contract). The job I’d eventually like is considered a level 9 or 10.
        The organisation isn’t known for fast-tracking anyone through the ranks, and time-served in the current or related organisations is highly important (other organisations in the industry are the same), so it really is getting to the point that my goal isn’t realistic. I do like the industry and organisation though, so I’m not particularly keen to move.
        I’m certainly at fault with some of my job choices early on. I was more focused on a job than a career, and just sort of assumed working hard and well with some extra qualifications on the side would result in progression.

        Reply
    2. BatteryB

      It can still happen. I’ve been working for 33 years, and I’ve progressed in my career as an individual contributor. I actually thought that management wasn’t right for me, since I tend to characterize myself as not a people person. An over his head manager caused two team leads to leave this year, and I was asked to take the lead of one team and act as acting co-lead of the other team. To my surprise and thanks to reading a lot of AAM, I’m good at managing. My direct reports know that I have their backs and will insulate them from my over his head manager. I’ve worked with him on and off for over 20 years and I’ve learned how to manage him as well.

      We just completed a major review and my team had contributed a very significant portion of the material being to be presented. My manager was worried about my less experienced team members presenting their work. I successfully advocated that they should present their own work at the review. I brought in one of our corporate trainers to coach them, and I also coached them. It was one of the most successful reviews we’ve had and it allowed us us to proceed to the next program phase. We received praise from management several levels over us, and I made sure that those people knew exactly what my team members contributed. Not too bad for someone who never even wanted to be in management and thought that she wouldn’t be good at it lol.

      This is probably too long, but you never know when an opportunity will come along.

      Reply
      1. Anne

        I suppose it could happen, and I’d love that, but I feel it’s getting to the point that it’s no longer realistic to have it as a goal.
        If I suddenly jump up a bit and it becomes realistic again, I can reassess and loop it back into my goals.
        I guess I’m asking how to be ok with lowering my goals, so I’m not feeling like I’m not going to achieve them. If an opportunity comes up that allows me to surpass these “new goals”, then, of course, I’m going to jump at it.

        Reply
        1. BatteryB

          The question then becomes how would lowering your career goals impact your quality of life. Would you truly be able to let go of them? Would you set a new set of goals that you feel that you can achieve and be content with that? What changes in your life would you foresee happening if you lower your goals?

          I’ve made choices that I now regret. I wonder what would be different if I’d finished my Master’s. I’ve seen lower level co-workers leapfrog me 4-5 levels and I’m not sure how that happened. Right now, I wouldn’t want their life where they are at the beck and call of the company 24/7.

          Earlier this year, I wanted to rage quit my job so many times. I was talking to HR on a regular basis and most of those sessions ended up with me in tears. Circumstances changed and I’m probably the most content I’ve been with my job in years. If anyone would have told me that then, I would have laughed in their face.

          It’s good to have goals and plans, but we have to be willing to adjust. One of my favorite quotes is from Jon Bon Jovi: map out your life, but do it in pencil.

          Reply
    3. listens to 'I hate my Boss' podcast

      Have you considered getting a promotion for yourself by apllying to a higher position in another company?

      Reply
      1. Anne

        Yes, for sure. The rest of the industry operates in a similar way though unfortunately, and I do like the industry in other ways. To be honest, I probably broke into the industry too late and at too low of a level for it to ever have been a realistic goal.

        Reply
    4. Nacho

      Learn to live with what you’ve got. I had to downgrade a lot of my plans after I pretty much flunked out of college for the second time. You might never reach management., or anywhere else. You may spend the rest of your life without ever getting a raise or a promotion. But people get by with a lot less than you or me, and I’ve never heard them complain. Your life may never be as good as you’d like, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy it. You’ve just got to lower your expectations a little bit.

      Reply
      1. Anne

        I don’t disagree. Any tips on how to do that?
        Logically I know and agree with all of that, but in the back of my mind is a constant “is this all you’re going to achieve with your career? What was the point of the effort if this is it?”

        Reply
        1. BatteryB

          I look at the bigger picture. How does what I’m doing impact the project that I’m working on? How am I contributing to that? I’ve worked on the same project for over 25 years now and I can look back and feel proud of what I’ve contributed to its success. The project had its ups and downs and in the early years was definitely in danger of being cancelled. Now, it’s been in the news a fair bit this year for its success. I think my most proud moment this year was when my son told me “Mom, I have no idea what you do, but I’m proud of you.”

          Reply
        2. Nacho

          For me, it’s a combination of finding things to like about where I’m at, finding things to dislike about higher positions, and remembering that there are a lot of people a lot older than me making less money than I do but still living fulfilling lives.

          Like for me, I work in customer service. The pay’s not great, but there’s basically no stress, and I spend a lot of time talking with my coworkers and browsing the internet since at my level there aren’t many calls. If I was promoted, I’d earn more money, but there would be a lot more work. Probably enough more work that I’d actually be making less per hour than I am right now, or at least less per hour actually spent working instead of goofing off.

          I know I’m rationalizing, but I’m reasonably happy, so I consider it successful.

          Reply
          1. Anne

            I really like the idea of highlighting the negatives of what I want. I think that might really help me, thank you.

            Reply
            1. Nacho

              Just remember: When you reach for the stars, they’re too far away, so it’s hopeless. And even if you did manage to touch one, that’d just burn your hand clean off.

              Reply
    5. Fabulous

      Right there with you too… I’m in my 30’s and recently told a co-worker how much I get paid (or rather the fact that I still don’t make $20/hr) and she balked at me. It’s like, I know I’m underpaid but I don’t know what I’m doing wrong! I even negotiated this role but they only increased $1.18 from their offer and I couldn’t afford to walk away :(

      Reply
    6. Lauren R

      I think it can help to remember that your career is not who you are. I have thought a lot about that lately, because my great uncle passed away last week. He was in his 90s and had so many people who clearly loved him and admired him. He was a manager at the same department store for his whole career. I don’t know how he felt about that or anything but I do know that the main reason they mentioned it in his obituary was because in his role he did a lot to help others, and everyone in the community came to know him and how kind and welcoming he was to everyone he met. He was happy with his life right to the end. He was married to his wife for 75 years(!!) and they were such a great couple and a true example of healthy, respectful partnership. He had kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids who all loved him so much; he got to be a special part of their lives and they’ll remember him always as a wonderful father and grandfather. Both he and his wife sadly developed dementia towards the end but always had lots of visitors and were surrounded by family who did all they could to make them as comfortable and happy as possible. When my dad was little and his mom was sick (breast cancer), my great uncle was so kind and along with his wife (my grandmother’s sister) would come stay at their home to help out and you can just tell even all these years later what it meant to my dad to have his aunt and uncle around during that hard time. My dad drove 12 whole hours to be at the funeral to honor him and comfort my great aunt, and I seriously considered buying a $650 plane ticket to be able to make it myself.

      I know this got off on a tangent but I’ve struggled a lot with feeling like I haven’t done enough with my life so far and this past week has reminded me that not all achievements are easy to measure. I know this sounds very cheesy but your graph can’t possibly show where you’ll be at 75 because you can’t calculate right now what you will mean to those you love or how many people will be touched by your kindness over the years. If you never get promoted and stay at this same level forever (which probably won’t be the case!) that wouldn’t mean that you as a person will have been stuck standing still all that time. There will be chances to make a difference in people’s lives and to feel fulfilled and happy that don’t involve your work. Even having read it in the obituary very recently, I actually had to rack my brain just now to think of what my great uncle did for a living – because when I think of him I think of all his amazing personal accomplishments and what he meant to me and my family. I think that’s probably the case for most people – at the end of the day, what you do for a living will always be secondary to the way you choose to live your life. Good luck and happy new year!

      Reply
    7. Not So NewReader

      I am a firm believer in working two ends against the middle.

      On the job front, if you want that advancement then keep seeking it. Never stop. Look for ways to grow yourself. You sound like you may feel stagnated. Think about the things you can control and seek ways to add to your knowledge pool. Keep building positive relationships with as many people as you can. Be willing to help them even if you see there is little or nothing in it for you.

      On the personal front, focus on learning to be content with what is. This involves being grateful for what you do have and what has gone right in your life. This can also involve helping others randomly or doing volunteer work on a regular basis. You can also teach yourself a new skill that is not work related. Replace the idea of letting go of a dream with the idea of feeling satisfied with what you have so far. (Current time vs future time.)

      See promotions are only one aspect of life. Would you like to travel? Would you like to get a pet? What does rounding out your life look like to you? There are advantages to work being the same old thing. That continuity gives us an opportunity to look at other parts of our lives.

      Reply
  19. Nacho

    Currently fighting with work about overtime, so let me ask you guys what you think:

    Work on a holiday: get 1.5x base pay
    Work overtime: get 1.5x base pay
    Work overtime on a holiday (48 hours in a week, the last 16 where on holidays): get ?x base pay

    What should ? be? I say I should be paid 2x minimum, base +.5x for the holiday +.5x for the overtime, if not 1.5*1.5 since I’m working the overtime on a day I’m normally getting 1.5 base pay. My boss and payroll are both telling me it’s 1.5x, and that overtime overrides the holiday pay. What do you guys think?

    Reply
    1. periwinkle

      It is whatever the company says it is.

      Assuming you are in the U.S., federal law regulates when overtime is to be paid and the minimum rate (1.5x base rate). The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does *not* require extra pay for working on holidays, weekends, or the night shift. Legally your employer is under no obligation to pay more for OT hours that fall on holidays than they would normally pay as OT.

      You can base your argument on the business need for incentives to get people to work OT on holidays, but as far as I know there’s no legal argument (not even in worker-friendly California).

      Reply
    2. Caro in the UK

      Ethically, I would have expected 1.5*1.5. Because the 1.5 holiday base pay is a recognition of the fact that it’s a holiday, and the 1.5 overtime on a regular day is recognition of the fact that you’re working longer than your scheduled hours. Neither of those is cancelled out by working overtime on a holiday; the day doesn’t stop being a holiday the moment you have to work extra hours. In fact, working longer on a holiday is even worse than regular overtime, because you’re having to work even longer on a day when most people don’t want to!

      I would be annoyed in the EXTREME if they tried to tell me that I only got the regular 1.5 for overtime on a holiday! If you have a HR, I’d certainly consider taking it up with them, if you want to take it further.

      Reply
      1. Caro in the UK

        But I think periwinkle is right, legally they can pay what they’ve offered you, so it’s going to be an argument about morale rather than the law.

        Reply
    3. The Cosmic Avenger

      It’s not much of an incentive to offer you 50% more of your normal pay to work than to not work. If you normally get 100% of your pay as holiday pay, and 100% of your pay for a normal workday, to work a holiday as an hourly/shift worker I’d say 2x pay would be the minimum. I used to get 2.5x for holidays, as holidays were automatic overtime (regardless of how long you worked that week), and they didn’t have much trouble finding people who wanted to work. I took every holiday shift I could because I was young, childless, and had seniority.

      Reply
    4. LCL

      So to restate this, because you would have been getting paid 1.5 the regular rate as your pay on the holiday, you should get 1.5 Times the holiday rate for OT? No. If you can sell that more power to ya. Boss and payroll are explaining it in a confusing way, they are obligated to pay 1.5 for all hours over 40.

      Here, scheduled holidays are 1.5. Overtime is 2.0. Plus everyone gets 8 hours holiday pay.

      Reply
      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        An additional 8 hours pay is an additional 100% of your wages. When I say we got double and a half, we got time and a half for overtime plus our regular holiday pay, which we got whether we worked or not.

        By the way, Nacho, 1.5*1.5=2.25. I think you mean 1.5+1.5, but I think that’s a bit high. Overtime and holiday aren’t necessarily cumulative, but as I said, we got 100% of our pay if we didn’t work a holiday, so offering another 100% isn’t much of an incentive to come in on a holiday, IMO. But we got an additional 150% to actually work the holiday, totaling 250%. That felt fair to me.

        Reply
    5. Goya de la Mancha

      Basically it’s whatever the company decides to pay…
      Hope it works for you, we have a hard enough time getting paid for hours worked let alone over time.

      Reply
  20. Free Meerkats

    Stopped in to pick something up yesterday and paid with my phone. The cashier commended me for knowing how to do that – “at your age.” Having watched people be unclear on the concept (lay your phone on the icon), I understood the basic reason for his comment. I chose to laugh.

    Reply
    1. fposte

      Heh. I just deleted credit cards from my Apple Wallet because the vending machine at my office started taking Apple Pay and I lost all self-control.

      Reply
      1. Book Lover

        We can have cafeteria food directly paid for out of paycheck. I am looking very suspiciously at that. On the one hand, easier (maybe?), on the other hand, I think I prefer seeing how many times a month I go to the cafeteria reflected on my credit card.

        Reply
        1. periwinkle

          We have that. I can see on my paycheck stub how much I spent at the cafeteria during the last pay period, although it’s not broken out by date or cafeteria location. It beats carrying cash or credit cards around.

          Luckily our cafeteria food is so mediocre that I rarely go unless it’s taco salad day. Mmm, taco salad.

          Reply
    2. BatteryB

      I can relate to this hahaha. Some of my much younger co-workers are shocked that I actually listen to some of the same music and are amazed at my wanting to go to DragonCon.

      Reply
  21. Friday

    I think I pissed off allllll my coworkers by having my baby three weeks early. I would’ve been in the office this past week, helping to finish up a huge project, finally being able to train someone on reports that I do, and helping with a year-end task. But baby decided otherwise. I did text my boss on Xmas and received warm wishes and to not worry about work.

    I logged into my work email on Friday to update my OOO and peek on how they all fared this week. There were a lot of “FYI Friday is on maternity leave” emails that I was cc’d on. But not a SINGLE email to congratulate me, except for from the HR rep that I had to connect with about leave logistics. Radio silence from everyone on my team and in the company (I’m in a very visible role these days as I work with managers and execs in all other departments on the aforementioned huge project.) I feel a bit silly for even caring so much but… is that weird? I always congratulate coworkers on new babies, promotions, weddings, etc.

    Reply
    1. zyx

      Have you announced to your office that you had a baby? If you haven’t, they may be waiting to hear from you that everything went well. One of my coworkers went on maternity leave early, but that’s because there were complications. At work we waited to hear from her before sending congratulations in case there was bad news. (But it all turned out fine! Her kid is now an adorable toddler, and there’s another baby on the way.)

      It’s too bad that your coworkers didn’t think to wish you well before now, but maybe they’ll be more thoughtful now that the huge project and end-of-year task are done.

      And congratulations! I hope you get some sleep.

      Reply
    2. Emac

      First, congratulations!!

      It does seem a little strange, but maybe they’re hesitant because the baby was early? I could see maybe waiting for an official announcement that all was well before rushing in with happy wishes. My sister’s baby was about 4 weeks early and ended up in NICU for almost a month. Even though her coworkers obviously knew that she was on maternity leave, she waited until they took baby home from the hospital to send an email to her office introducing baby with a picture.

      Reply
      1. Friday

        Thank you! And yes, I did make sure my boss and boss’ boss knew everything was fine with my babe and sent a pic and stats, but my office is notoriously bad at communication. Word is definitely out all around that I had him though. No official gift of flowers or whatever from the office.

        I think I’m mainly extra sensitive because the company I was at before this one really nailed the celebrations for personal milestones, and was also exceptionally kind and wonderful to me and my family when we suffered a loss. That’s not so much the culture at my current job.

        Reply
    3. BatteryB

      If a co-worker was on maternity leave, I wouldn’t have thought of emailing their work email to congratulate them. I wouldn’t have expected them to log in to their work email. Our team always sends a card and a gift card.

      Reply
      1. kas

        Agreed, I wouldn’t have thought of that either. If I had your number I would text congratulations, otherwise I would just wait until you returned from maternity leave.

        Reply
    4. Starryemma

      If you’re on maternity leave, they probably assume you’re not checking your email. When various colleagues have gone on maternity/paternity leave, I’ve always just congratulated them in person.

      Reply
    5. Overeducated

      Congratulations! Hopd you and baby are well.

      In my workplace, once you’re on maternity leave the assumption is that you won’t be checking work email, at least not for a while if you come back part time on telework. So I wouldn’t hurry to send congratulations on a work email, but I’d certainly contribute to cards, flowers, etc (which usually take around a week to pull together). I don’t know the culture at your workplace but the omission could be harmless, not a result of annoyance or neglect.

      Reply
      1. Ron McDon

        Spot on. One of my colleagues recently had a baby and I mentioned that I was going to send her a congratulatory email; another colleague said ‘I wouldn’t bother, she won’t be checking her work emails, will she!’

        I wouldn’t take it personally that no-one has emailed you, they probably think you won’t be checking work emails.

        Congratulations! Glad everything is ok after such an early arrival.

        Reply
    6. Nerfmobile

      Congratulations! In my office the protocol is not to send a note until a general email announcement is circulated, either by the new parent or their manager. If your manager hasn’t circulated the news and photo, then either ask them to do so or send it around yourself. But I also don’t expect people on parental leave to be checking their email while out, so people in your office may also be expecting the same and not presuming you would even see an email right away.

      Reply
    7. Friday

      Thank you all! You’re most likely right that they figure I’m just not checking emails so why send one. I’ll stop giving this headspace and get back to my baby now. :)

      Reply
  22. Blink

    I’d like some advice on moving to another department within a large company. I like the work I do in my current role, but the team that I’m part of is exceedingly toxic and any growth opportunities that present themselves are immediately squashed by my manager/executive leadership.

    There are a few directors I frequently work with who appreciate what I produce and go out of their way to recognize me for my efforts (which I’m incredibly thankful for, because I don’t have that support from my team). I’ve tried to drop hints that I really enjoy working with them and their teams, that they can reach out to me at any time for assistance on projects, and that I have skills beyond what I’m currently using in my role. I’m not making any headway, so I realize that I need to actually engage someone in a conversation about switching roles. How do I go about asking one of my contacts if they have any roles available that would be a good match for my skills, or if they would consider opening a position for me to work on their team? Another issue that I can foresee is that my current team will always be within reach (metaphorically due to regular cross-collaboration and literally because of close physical proximity, unfortunately). If I am lucky enough to be considered for a new position, is there a polite way to ask if my exposure to my hopefully soon-to-be-former-team be limited?

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

    Reply
    1. BatteryB

      Does your company have a job board where you can look for openings on teams that you’d like to transfer to?

      Reply
    2. periwinkle

      Talk to those directors! Don’t hint – schedule a meeting with one of the directors and tell her what you told us. You might find it less intimidating to approach it as a consultation rather than a direct request to be considered for a role in her group.

      “I wanted to get your advice on my next career step. I enjoy my current role but would like to grow beyond the opportunities available in my current department. This is a great company and I’d love to stay, so I’m hoping you have some ideas on where I might fit it. While I like what I’m doing with A, B, and C, I’m also really strong in X and Y and want to enhance my skills in Z.”

      (my whole function is in the middle of a re-organization so I’ve recently reached out to directors with a similar message – scary, but they responded positively)

      Reply
    3. On Fire

      You can do it any time, but I did this when my target department had a departure and reorganization. I mentioned to one of the bosses, “if there are any vacancies during the re-org, I would like to be considered. I like my work, but I think I have other skills that aren’t being utilized that would make me a good fit for this department.” I had an interview within a couple of weeks.

      Good luck! Be direct, be clear about the skills and goals you are bringing, and best wishes.

      Reply
  23. Talia

    Things that are rude to say at parties: if someone kisses her partner at midnight at the New Year’s Party, you do not then afterwards say to her something like “You didn’t bring enough of that smooching to go around.”

    *sigh* I glared, and he was like “I deserve that look.” And someone else chimed in with “Yes. You do.” I mean, if you know you’re being rude, maybe don’t?

    Reply
      1. Liane

        Ugh, what a thing to say. Yes he was being a jerk/arse. I was surprised that he didn’t respond with that Modern (Gross) Classic, “Was a joke! What, you can’t take a joke? No sense of humor, huh?”
        But yeah, it would have been much better if he’d stuck with a classier Classic like, “Happy New Year, Talia!”

        Reply
    1. Jessen

      No, no, see, it’s the “cute” sort of creepy, not the “creepy” sort of creepy…

      (Yes, I’m being sarcastic.)

      Reply
  24. Merci Dee

    Goodness gracious. Glad I didn’t decide to go to sleep before midnight. I would’ve been in danger of having heart palpitations if I had — midnight rolled around, and it suddenly sounded like I was in a war zone. People set off tons of fireworks all around us, and I’m not just talking fire crackers and bottle rockets. These were massive mortar-type things with lots of noise and percussion. The house closest to us is on the end near my bedroom, and they set off a chain of =something= that rattled the windows at that end of the house. I feared they were trying to shoot down enemy aircraft or some such!! Can you imagine waking up to that commotion from a sound sleep?

    Happy 2018 from the New Year’s battle ground!

    Reply
    1. Foreign Octopus

      I had this problem as well.

      The second midnight struck the people in the flat opposite me starting setting off fireworks that sounded like a cannon. My poor cat was terrified.

      Reply
      1. Merci Dee

        My cat typically lays on the back of my sofa so that he can watch the world pass outside our picture window. He was napping away while I was reading and waiting for the new year….. right until midnight. When those fireworks started, he jumped straight into the air and landed in a quivering heap beside me. He was =not= pleased with the noise and flashing lights.

        Reply
    2. nep

      I am amazed I didn’t hear anything at midnight — must have been sleeping pretty deeply. I even had a window cracked. When I turned in at around 10, I fully expected to be roused by the noise at midnight. Didn’t hear a thing.

      Reply
    3. Mimmy

      At about 10:30 last night, we heard a couple of very loud bangs and saw bright flashes of light – we were like “WTF??”. When my husband opened the shades to see what was going on, he saw a couple of people running away. Why do people shoot off fireworks where it is probably not legal and perhaps even unsafe??

      Reply
    4. Tris Prior

      This is pretty common in my city too, but last night I didn’t hear a thing – I guess the 10-bazillion-degree-below-zero temps were a deterrent? First time ever that I can remember not feeling like I was living in a warzone. I’m sorry you had to deal with that.

      Reply
    5. CAA

      Last night I was having a dream and suddenly there was a drummer in it. It was only when I awoke and the drumming continued that I realized it was the midnight fireworks (the professional kind, not the neighbors).

      Reply
  25. Lucy

    I have a manager at work who is having problems with our department. Sally manages ten full time employees and several are looking for new jobs. This is a library where the majority of the full time paraprofessional staffers are ‘lifers’. One person arranged a departmental transfer and a group of four employees went to the managers supervisor, Charlie, to complain and that had no results because Charlie was in the process of quitting. His job has a new person in charge and I am debating making an appointment to talk to the new supervisor, Lucy. I have a laundry list of complaints but I really only have one that I want dealt with immediately – the fact that Sally goes through our employee files of past and current employees and gossips about the dings on people’s records. Sally has gone back through 20 years of files and comments on employees that she has never met but who we all were friends with and still communicate with. I don’t want to know what is in someone’s private personnel file and who is being disciplined, etc. When she talks about how awful other employees are, I say that I don’t want to hear it but she continues. She talks poorly about most of us to the rest of the library departments as well.

    My question is, should I keep to the one complaint that just makes me burn with fury or should I mention the other unprofessional stuff as well? The other stuff is her rudeness, ignoring emails, playing favorites, and things like that. In an office filled with adults, Sally is still stuck in junior high. I don’t know what the group of four spoke about with their meeting with Charlie so the rudeness, etc, might have already been documented. I don’t want to ask the four because I also don’t want to know what might be in Sally’s file either.

    I just want to work in an office without unnecessary drama.

    Reply
    1. Ramona Flowers

      “Sally goes through our employee files of past and current employees”

      Sally should be fired. I’m not understanding whether you are more or less senior than her?

      Reply
          1. Music

            There isn’t much that is certain in life but I feel ok saying this with certainty: if a grown woman has it in her to look at employee files and gossip about them, she absolutely does not have it in her to be a good manager. You can’t just teach ethics and morals to someone who has none.

            The sooner you learn this, the better your experience at work will be.

            Reply
          2. SC Anonibrarian

            Earlier you said she acted like she was in junior high. Even as a pre-teen, most people know it’s not acceptable to go through someone’s private personal records and mine them for gossip and leverage. Sally is unfit to manage, and should be fired, but as someone from a library I know how unlikely that is. Try to get yourself moved to a different manager if possible.

            Reply
          3. Temperance

            That’s doubtful. You can’t get someone that awful to “shape up”. I mean, I feel like my 5-year-old niece would know that’s wrong, and I’m not entirely sure she understands office politics.

            Reply
    2. Observer

      Bring up the stuff that directly affects work as well. You want it to be clear that this is a matter of her being utterly unprofessional. Also find out if there are any applicable policies or regulations that she’s breaking.

      Reply
  26. Ramona Flowers

    What professional development courses have you found really helpful? Whether super specific to your role or on more general competencies like public speaking or time management.

    If you had a modest budget that would cover an external course or workshop of your choice, what would you most like to use it for? (My departmental budget pays for conferences relating to our field and we have some in-house training but I can pick something extra.)

    I’m looking for ideas but also just really curious about what other people have found useful for their own professional development so please do share your own experiences even if they’re super specific to your field.

    Reply
    1. NeverNicky

      I found the media training offered by the Media Trust really useful, really honed my presentation skills to speak on radio and TV. And it’s useful stuff to remember when talking to people “off air” too.

      Reply
    2. Casca

      Writing courses by the Plain Englush foundation. I wish they made everyone take them!
      Looking forward to hearing other answers

      My favourite professional development opportunities have always been secondments, but they’re not do easy to come by

      Reply
    3. NoMoreMrFixit

      There are three that stood out for me. Business communications, which included both writing and presentations. It definitely helped me up my game at sharing information with people outside my department and level. Supervisory studies was great at learning to deal with people. I found a lot of the skills helped with customer service too. And the last one was project management. I am not very organized at the best of times and this helped me to get my act together.

      Reply
  27. Jessen

    So I had a somewhat work-related thought.
    I’ve been wanting to experiment with a sort of “modern plain” dress, for a combination of religious and feminist reasons. That’s kind of a varied category, but what I’m looking at is a fairly basic, repetitive clothing set, generally solid color. Probably something like black pants and a set of the same top in different colors (thank God for Land’s End!). With appropriate seasonal variations, obviously.

    My concern is how this would come off at work, especially if I change jobs. My current job I guarantee wouldn’t care, mostly due to low expectations. We’re technically business casual, but that’s widely ignored. But I’m not sure how wearing the same pants and a same-cut solid shirt would go over in other business casual offices. And I’m never sure how much “it’s a religious thing” helps with people or just makes it weird.

    Any ideas/suggestions?

    Reply
    1. Kate in Scotland

      This style of dress wouldn’t be a problem in my workplace. We used to be business formal (full suit every day) but have relaxed a bit in the last few years. I wear black pants and a solid colour top every day, though the tops have some style variation. I keep a jacket (currently a grey check suit jacket) in my office for client meetings. A few others are similar, e.g. my secretary only wears black and grey.
      If it was my office, I think people would be slightly bemused if you mentioned religious reasons. They wouldn’t see a need for an explanation.

      Reply
      1. Jessen

        Fair enough – my coworkers are a bit nosy anyway. And oversharing (I don’t need religious reasons to not want to know about your FWB situation). My religious tradition does encourage the idea of personal devotions that aren’t for everyone, or even for one person forever, but just something to help you where you’re at. Like for me, encouraging me not to focus too much on how I look beyond whether I’m appropriate for the situation.

        Reply
        1. SC Anonibrarian

          With this context I’d lean away from invoking religion at all. Not many religious traditions that encourage clothing rules are ALSO ok with those rules being temporary or situational, and it sounds like this is more like a focus point or a meditation for you where it very well might be both temporary and situational.

          If you really want to explain (I’m with everyone else that between male office wear, capsule wardrobes, and general New Years sorts of resolutions and practices, you really don’t need to) then perhaps contextualise it as a more philosophical (rather than religious) personal choice?

          Reply
          1. Jessen

            Fair enough. Honestly the religious aspect is as much “I want to focus on disconnecting my value as a person from my physical appearance.” I think that’s a pretty ok thing to say for a lot of people, especially women – even many nonreligious women I know struggle with that.

            I’d probably be easing into the idea. I’m not going to get rid of or stop wearing anything I currently have that fits and is in good shape (I think that would defeat the purpose). So it’s less likely to be a right away thing people see.

            Reply
    2. Red Reader

      I don’t think people are super likely to notice, especially if you’re talking different colored tops. The same black pants and red shirt every day might get odd, but if you have (say) two pair of black pants and one khaki-colored or charcoal, all in the same style, and 6-7 of the same shirt in different colors, that’s still 12-14 different outfits you could potentially make.

      I mean, what you’re describing is basically what guys do in a lot of business casual offices. (Which I’m guessing is the point?)

      Reply
      1. Jessen

        Yeah, the “what guys do” is part of the point. If men aren’t expected to worry about what they’re wearing beyond that they’re presentable, why should I have to fuss? I can put on black pants and a solid button-down and be perfectly appropriate. Add or substitute sweater as appropriate. Got my hair in a short wash-and-go style too. The idea would be that I can pretty much grab a shirt and pants, put them on, and walk out the door.

        Reply
        1. Red Reader

          Seems perfectly reasonable to me.

          As others have said not a lot of explanation is needed – “Eh, just keeping it simple, now how about those TPS reports?”

          Reply
        2. Overeducated

          Yeah, khakis and a plaid shirt are what most men wear every day at my work, so I was going to say why not as well. I think it would not be weird at all to do something similar, and if asked, just say “it’s my work uniform.” I think discussing religious reasons would probably get people to notice more and ask more questions than if it just sounded…very boring.

          Reply
    3. The German Chick

      Since I wanted to look polished every day without putting any thought in my outfit, I started wearing a uniform 1.5 years ago. It consists of a white shirt with a simple collar, black pants and a black blazer. No one has ever commented on it in my business casual office.
      If asked, I would probably not spend much time discussing my outfit, if only to encourage others to do likewise.

      Reply
    4. MissDissplaced

      Actually, this kind of thing isn’t new so much. I’ve heard it called Uniform Dressing or Capsule Dressing, whereby you stick to a limited number of clothing pieces in a related neutral color. Think Steve Jobs and his mock turtleneck! Think Hillary in her pant suits!
      You can always say you’ve created a work “uniform” because you don’t want to think about clothes and/or want to save money and so you’re sticking to your uniform.
      I think as long as what you pick looks clean and professional no one should have a problem.

      Reply
      1. Jessen

        Honestly, “don’t want to think about clothes” is entirely true, it just has overtones of “I feel like I’m spending too much energy on what I wear in a bad way and I want to remind myself that how I look doesn’t affect my value as a human being.”

        Reply
    5. Tris Prior

      No one would even notice this at my company. It sounds neat and put together. What you’re describing sounds basically like how a lot of men dress for work.

      Reply
    6. Temperance

      The only plain dress I know is Amish/Mennonite variations, and that would stand out in an office. What you’re describing sounds completely fine, and what most women I know do for work.

      FWIW, I wouldn’t bring up the religious angle unless it’s relevant. I think you’d end up having to explain your motivations, since most women’s religious dress doesn’t include pants of any kind.

      Reply
    7. Teach

      One of my colleagues wears a combination of the same 3 items everyday – leggings, tunic dress, and open cardigan – from a popular direct sales company. She also has a short pixie style haircut that would require minimal styling, and wears no makeup. She has expressed the idea that spending time on appearance is not one of her values, and if anyone has commented on it, it’s been in admiration! (Plus her clothing choices are super comfortable and make it easy to move around to work with children.)

      Reply
  28. Arjay

    Unless it’s important to you to share your reasoning with others, there isn’t any need to. Plenty of people have an unofficial “uniform” like this that they adopt for work. Most people wouldn’t even notice consciously; they’d just think of that as being your style. (Exceptions being if you work in a very fashion conscious industry or role.)

    In my experience what they will notice is when you deviate from that style. I wear a lot of dresses to work and on the days when I wear pants or jeans, I’ll occasionally get a comment like, You’re wearing pants!” I respond just as obviously with a cheerful “Yes, I am!” or “yep, it’s laundry day”.

    Reply
    1. Hellanon

      Yeah, I wear pants all the time, so get comments like “You’re all dressed up!” when I wear skirts. I’ve taken to replying yes, my yoga pants have cat hairs on them, which is enough of a non-sequitur that people drop the topic.

      Reply
  29. Sarah Harding

    So I have a question. I’m working night shift with a coworker (think mental health facility for adults who also have intellectual disabilities) and there’s the flu going around. I work one level, my coworker the other and it’s a small place, you can really hear on both levels. Anyway, I’m on level 1 and I can hear a patient coughing on level 2, sounds like they are in distress so I jogged up to see what was going on. The patient was hacking-coughing, but the other staff was standing there telling them “stop forcing it, quit faking” and not helping at all. I got extra pillows to prop the patient up a little better, and that seemed to help him. The other person is older than me, intimidating and I’m new to this job, but I was taken aback by what I think was a lack of concern. I want to follow this to our supervisor, but I also don’t want to cause trouble, what do you guys think?

    Reply
    1. WellRed

      I think your first priority is to patients so you need to bring this up. I can guarantee this wasn’t a one-off.

      Reply
    2. AJ

      Observe what your coworker does, be respectful, but ultimately the quality of care you provide is up to you. Your gut feeling is probably right in this situation.

      Reply
    3. Not So NewReader

      Having worked in an adjacent area, my answer is no do not tell your supervisor. Just correct the situation yourself and let it go. There are reasons why staff is saying what they are saying. The patient may have responded to you simply because you are the new person. Once you are established, you will not get that response from that patient.

      I cannot count how many times people would change their tune for the new person. It made the rest of us look like abusers. NO, it was all a game. In your story here, you remedied the situation immediately.

      A wait and see approach will serve you well. Assume everyone is being fair and watch what they are doing. Once you get some time in and if you have several examples collected and you believe you are on solid ground, then proceed forward.

      Reply
    4. Tabby Baltimore

      I think it’s perfectly okay to follow up with your supervisor, but you might consider framing the conversation by asking her for guidance about how she’d like you to handle the type of situation where you and your colleague have a difference of opinion, or use different approaches, about how to solve the problem of patient comfort. FWIW, your colleague sounds a bit burned out.

      Reply
    1. Ramona Flowers

      I’m still in bed watching TV. It’s the last day I can keep the cat company at this time and he’s in the bed so clearly I am obliged to remain here…

      Reply
    2. Elkay

      I was dressed by 11:02, it felt like an achievement. Admittedly it was 3 hours after the alarm first went off.

      Reply
    3. nep

      This is one of those days I might crawl back in bed in a while. (Got up around 630am but don’t *need* to be up for anything.)
      Do you ever do that on days you can? Does anyone else love that moment of crawling back under the covers (even if only for another 20 min or so) when schedule allows?

      Reply
      1. JaneB

        Been doing similar all break, got up at 1pm today, tomorrow is going to be SO PAINFUL!!!

        Holiday jet lag without leaves by the country is a real thing!

        Reply
    4. Caledonia

      I’m up and out. I did snooze for a bit though, trying to re-adapt my body clock for going back to work on Weds.

      Reply
    5. Lcsa99

      I fixed the toilet then went back to bed. That’s sufficient for me. We had kitty butt in our faces much too early but my husband fed them so we’re all good now.

      Reply
  30. A.N. O'Nyme

    Happy New Year’s everyone!
    Out of curiosity: readers, what was your vertraging first AAM letter (that you read)? Mine was “my best employee quit without notice because I wouldn’t met her go to her college graduation”. My jaw hit the floor with that one. Linda hoping for an update (or the employee’s side of things, anyways) but I know that isn’t very likely…

    Reply
    1. Ramona Flowers

      I think I found AAM while searching for interview skills so it was probably something on that. I remember one of the first was some kind of round up of bad candidate behaviour that included someone who took out their gum and handed it to someone else to throw away. I’ll see if I can find it…

      Reply
      1. A.N. O'Nyme

        …Don’t think I remember that one. I found AAM because some linked to that letter on another site. I quickly got hooked…

        Reply
    2. nep

      It had to be something about resumes, because I first came upon AAM when looking about for resume advice. Of course, hooked since then.

      Reply
      1. Chocolate Teapot

        I used to read Etiquette Hell and there was a post about a question concerning a young employee whose mother had booked them on a fortnight’s holiday without checking in advance and the, new to the workplace, employee was asking for advice on how to handle this. I think they had not been working long enough to accrue any paid leave, and even if they had, there would not be enough of it.

        I haven’t read Etiqueete Hell for years now, but I am a regular reader of Ask a Manager!

        Reply
    3. Middle School Teacher

      I ghosted my ex and she’s going to be my new boss. I found it through a buzzfeed article and just fell down the rabbit hole. The next one was the one with the guy who was scared of birds and I was hooked.

      Reply
    4. Todd Chrisley Knows Best

      I’m ashamed to say it was a BuzzFeed post that brought me here. A commenter there mentioned it and I came over and joined the fun.

      Reply
    5. copy run start

      Found this site looking for cover letter help, and I found the other posts interesting and informative. Really helped me grow and understand a lot as I moved from college to real life.

      Reply
    6. Porygon-Z

      Some post about how often to follow up! At that point I was interviewing for a grocery store job during the summer I was home from college.

      Reply
  31. nep

    Anyone else like the film The Commitments?
    I recall really liking it, but it was so long ago — don’t remember a lot of it. I was just looking at a couple of scenes on YouTube. I and a couple of friends get together once every couple/few months to watch a movie. I’m thinking of suggesting this one.

    Reply
    1. Chocolate Teapot

      I watched it ages ago, and thought it was quite good. In fact I have seen The Commitments the band play twice, the second time for a St Patrick’s Day celebration. There were only 2 people in the band who were in the film though.

      Reply
    2. LK

      Haven’t seen the film, but watched the stage show (is it the same story?) in London a few years ago. I found it…all right? The audience really seemed to get into it and danced in the aisles at the final number, but it’s not a show I’d go back to.

      Reply
      1. Elkay

        The stage show isn’t as good as the film because they couldn’t get the rights to most of the music featured in the film.

        Reply
    3. Elkay

      Yes! I haven’t watched in ages but I love it. I think it works because most of the cast are musicians rather than actors.

      Reply
    4. Mephyle

      I adore it. It’s one of the films I think I will keep watching at regular intervals for the rest of my life, and never stop enjoying.
      I have a special fondness for certain musical films in which the music is real; i.e. not musicals. Cabaret, Prairie Home Companion, O Brother Where Art Thou and The Commitments.
      I also think it’s cool that a band that started out as fiction became a real show. Somewhat like Spinal Tap and the Leningrad Cowboys, for example, although not with as many members that were in the film as those bands.
      Also, I finally read the book, more than 20 years after first seeing the film. It’s excellent too, and it’s interesting to see how both media (book and film) captured and conveyed the music differently but successfully in both cases.

      Reply
  32. Asking for a Friend

    Happy New Year, AAMers! My questions relates to use of personal email on work computers.
    A friend of mine is unhappy in her job and I’d like to encourage her to read AAM, work on her resume, interview skills, etc., and get out of there. It appears to be one of those @your boss sucks and isn’t going to change” situations. However, other friend, who used to be in IT but has been retired 10-plus years, says it would be bad to send her an email phrased “here’s some good info if you’re looking to leave your job” because she opens her personal email on her work computer. His POV is that anything you do on your work computer is accessible to your employer and that employer would then know.
    To add context, these are friends in the kink community and I know that she gets announcements at least of events like Kinky College on her email.
    Now, I know that it would not be good to work on leaving your job on your work email. My question is about personal email on the work computer. My position is that they possibly could access your personal email but in a busy IT environment, why would they ever? At most they might notice you have an open tab on gmail.com (or whatever) for a few minutes a day, but the chance that they would see content of emails much less report it to the boss seems vanishingly small to me.
    So who’s right? Does your work “own” or otherwise access your personal email if you open it at work? Or, do professional jobs that allow you to access your own email ignore the content, possibly would have to use keystroke recorders or some such method to even find out the content? Is he paranoid or am I naive?
    (Either way, I will likely just call friend and tell her about AAM, then email the link without comment.)

    Reply
    1. Asking for a Friend

      And if I were at work today instead of typing on my phone, the preceding would be more typo free.

      Reply
    2. Fabulous

      I don’t know about the IT implications, but I regularly check my personal email at work. I’m sure there are ways for IT to keep tabs on what you do, but why would they unless it’s a highly dysfunctional environment who doesn’t trust their workers? If she’s really worried about it, she could try using incognito browsers or just use her phone for personal email during the day.

      Reply
      1. Asking for a Friend

        This is my perspective also. For the record, it’s my other friend who says I shouldn’t email the first friend because she checks her personal email at work. Far as I can tell, first friend has no issues with the privacy of her personal email. This came up in conversation with other friend when I said “so how’s first friend doing these days?” And he said “she’s stressed with work and her boss sucks” and I said “oh I should email her about AAM and offer to help” and he said “0h no don’t do that because then they will think she is looking for another job!” Which led to conversation about how likely it is that job would see the content of her emails. I think it’s wildly improbable; he thinks it’s quite likely.

        Reply
      2. Observer

        See my reply below for some examples.

        Incognito browsing won’t help, either, because if IT is competent and has a reasonable budget, they are not looking at your browser history anyway.

        Reply
      1. Asking for a Friend

        Yes, I will do this or other discreet phrasing that doesn’t imply anything about her job or plans. Basically just want her to know her situation is not hopeless.

        Reply
    3. Observer

      Your work could be accessing ANYTHING you do on your computer.

      Would they? That depends on a lot of factors. Is there a reason that they might be tracking what this employee is dong? Is there a reason why they might be tracking what people in that department are doing? Do they worry about the possibility of people sending out sensitive information? Have they had problems with inappropriate web or email usage?

      A yes to any of these questions would make it far more likely that there is some sort of tracking going on, whether manual or automated. The real problem here is that you may not have any way to know the real answer to these kinds of questions.

      Reply
      1. Asking for a Friend

        I think these are no’s but you are correct that I don’t have any way to know. I also think the answer is to my underlying question is that yes, he is paranoid, and yes, I am naive. Probably I’ll do the 1984 method of having a whispered conversation in the bathroom with the fan on and the water running. All of you are my witnesses that I really do love Big Brother!

        Reply
    4. Schmitt

      OK, it’s a little more nuanced than that.

      Scenario 1) she has downloaded an email program onto her work computer (Thunderbird, Outlook) and is opening her email there. Depending on the settings of the email program, copies of the emails could be saved on the hard drive. If she saves her username/password for auto-login, anyone who could access the computer / her account could access her email.

      Scenario 2) she opens the email in a browser window. Same here: If she saves her username/password for auto-login, anyone who could access the computer / her account could access her email. Otherwise, there is little danger. Any reputable email provider should be using SSL, which means the email contents are encrypted and cannot be read when they travel through the work network to her computer. The only way to read her emails here would be if there was a keylogger or auto-screenshot program installed, and no reputable IT department should be doing that.

      Reply
      1. Observer

        The only way to read her emails here would be if there was a keylogger or auto-screenshot program installed, and no reputable IT department should be doing that.

        Even assuming no dysfunction at the company, this is not really true. There are good reasons why a company might do stuff like this, although if they have any sense they would make it clear in their handbook and periodically remind people.

        If the coworker is not a good email provider or they’re using a client and haven’t set it up for SSL, then all bets are off.

        And, in a good IT shop, remote access to desktops is common. It’s a huge time saver for everyone in many scenarios.

        Reply
    5. copy run start

      Can they? Sure, if you’re not careful/they are particularly nosy. But most places probably don’t have the time or inclination to do so without some sort of prompting. If your friend is obviously not happy at work, they may be under extra scrutiny. At the very least they could tell whether she was hitting up Gmail and that might raise enough questions to cause a problem for her.

      My rule is to not mix business and pleasure. Two different phones, no personal accounts/email on the work machine, try to keep business off my personal devices, etc. I don’t even connect my personal phone to the office wifi at work.

      Reply
    6. Theodoric of York

      I would err on the side of caution.
      1) Employees (in the US) have no expectation of privacy for email or anything stored in their work computers.
      2) IT departments can log in remotely and do whatever they want to your work computer. Usually, it’s SW updates.
      3) Keyword searches are common, so being a needle in a haystack might not be much protection. They might be looking for “job search”, or “resume”, or “my manager sucks”.

      I would just call your friend on the phone and tell her to Google “Ask a Manager” at home. Don’t email anything.

      Reply
    1. Overeducated

      What a good question! I’m interested to read the answers.

      I guess I like that I have an interest in lifelong learning, I feel like I am frequently finding out fascinating things (I like people who are interesting to talk to and aspire to be one). I am also a good cook.

      Reply
    2. Ramona Flowers

      Contrary to how it may sometimes seem on here, I am very non-judgemental and I like that about myself. (I basically don’t think in terms of should or shouldn’t. Just what has been, and whether it could change in future.)

      Also, I’m really good at choosing gifts for people.

      Reply
    3. Language Student

      I’m thoughtful. I put a lot of thought into things like gifts, and I’m pretty good at predicting how others will feel about something or perceive it when I need to make a decision (though this can lead to indecisiveness sometimes).

      I take my responsibilities seriously. If I do something, I do it well and if it’s new to me, I put in a lot of my free time into learning about the thing and how to do it better. This has its own problems too – like with perfectionism, and my idea of the bare minimum is often higher than the actual bare minimum so sometimes I have unrealistic expectations, and I can be too single-focused when I start something new, but generally I’m pretty pleased with my work ethic.

      I was going to say I’m pretty happy with where my self esteem is, but I realise I’ve qualified everything I’ve just said with “but”, so maybe not so much that.

      Reply
    4. London Grammar

      I like that I have a good understanding of boundaries and what is and is NOT appropriate. I am constantly astonished by some of things that people do or say and many of these people have no idea that they are causing offense.

      Reply
    5. CatCat

      I am good at setting boundaries. I love animals. I am good at learning new things and applying them in my life. I support the local library and art museum.

      Reply
    6. Red Reader

      I am hyper-functional and I get shit DONE. I work 50 hours a week and am a full-time grad student working on two separate masters degrees, plus a volunteer mentoring gig with a local high school freshman, plus house management for my family of four.

      (This does have downsides. The people who can vacation with me are few and far between, because somehow I ended up with a lot of friends for whom “sit around and read or knit” is a perfect vacation. I also tend to have unrealistic expectations of the people around me, because even “less than I expect of myself” is still a lot.)

      Reply
      1. nep

        I read this and think: “I’ve got the same 24 hours Red Reader has, so…”

        Wow. You are accomplishing a lot.
        I like people who Get Shit Done.
        All the best.

        Reply
        1. Red Reader

          I am moderately concerned about how I’m going to fill my spare time after grad school ends, haha. Right now the top of my list is a second bachelors degree at a school that does a flat fee tuition for as many classes as you can accomplish during the term. I’ve joked (sort of) about aiming for a classes-per-term record :-P

          Reply
    7. Foreign Octopus

      Favourite trait: my ability to bounce back.

      I’ve realised in recent years whenever something bad happens (major or minor) I bounce back from it quickly. I accept that something’s gone wrong, have an annoyed sigh, and then get back to it without any drama. I really like that about myself.

      Reply
    8. C Average

      I’m funny and authentic and genuinely nice. I’m always on time. I have eyes a friend once described as “the color of whiskey.” Also, almost all cats and dogs like me.

      (Thanks for this question. It’s a nice thing to ponder.)

      Reply
    9. The Other Dawn

      I’ve really taken the “Don’t worry about what you can’t change” mantra to heart. So that means I usually pretty unflappable. Great at home and usually at work. Although at work that isn’t always good, because my boss is freaking out over something he sees as big and since I’ve “been there done that” in my previous work life, I’m not freaking out and he thinks I’m not concerned.

      Reply
    10. Suddenly Free

      This is a great question to start off the new year!

      I think my best trait is that I’m a survivor. 2017 was, simply, the worst year of my life. It began and ended with bereavement and loss, with many months of terminal illness, brutal treatment regimens and me juggling the dual role of both primary caregiver and breadwinner in the interim. By the end of the year I had lost both spouse and job.

      I am still standing. I am still putting one foot in front of the other. I have the ability to hunker down and hold on while the storm blows my whole world apart, and then get up and go on. I like that about me.

      Reply
        1. Suddenly Free

          Thank you, nep. You are always a positive voice here and I appreciate it. That’s one of the things I like about you. What do you like most about you?

          Reply
    11. Temperance

      I’m very logical and intelligent, but also great with little kids. I am very proud of being the favorite aunt or auntie of every little kid in my life.

      Reply
      1. Tretinoin Newbie

        I can stomach the taste of just about anything if I know it’s good for me. I am meticulous when I want something done right. I am a great dancer. I can accept and care about anyone as they are: nationality, race, age, looks, etc don’t matter ( not speaking about bad behavior). I love that I love to read. I am intelligent. I can spend hours alone and not experience boredom. I was able to pick up a second language quite easily. I talk with my mom everyday. I am a faithful and fun loving wife.

        Reply
    12. Reba

      I’m observant. (Not in a religious sense, but as in I’m a pain to go on a hike with.)

      Interesting thread, nep! Happy new year!

      Reply
  33. Loopy

    Happy New Year AAM community!!!

    Strange happening. After years of seeing bullet journals and ignoring them entirely I suddenly really really want one. Since it’s a cheap investment I’m going out today to get one and try my hand at it. I like hobbies/projects that are low initial investment so I don’t hem and haw about whether I’ll stick with it. Anyone who does it want to share some layouts they’re proud of? I’ve always looooved looking at them- I just never felt the itch to try it out until last night. Might be my 2018 organization obsession (see weekend thread).

    Anyone else ever have that happen where you ignored some big thing and then suddenly jumped on really late? I did this with game of Thrones too, haha.

    Reply
    1. Language Student

      I have a lined journal. On I start a new week on a new page and write the dates of the week at the top.
      There’s a few lines for goals for the week, with a line per goal and little boxes for checks on that line.
      Each day gets a new line, a few goals on the next line depending on what I’m doing that day, and then I just write about what I’m doing and how I’m feeling. Days often go onto a new page, especially if I’ve been busy. I try to journal before bed so I use less tech right before bedtime, which I think is affecting my sleep.
      Random pages, like year goals and books to read and shopping lists/recipes have coloured page tabs on them so I can find them easily.

      I’ve done ultra-organised journals before, with specific lines per day and never going over a double page for a week, but it’s a lot of effort and I find this method to be more low-key and easier to maintain.

      Reply
  34. Cheesesteak in Paradise

    Overtime tracking/employee hours

    Hi all,
    I was hoping someone may have suggestions for tracking overtime hours or employee hours. Just switched jobs and ideally would setup a new system that allows each employee to input a date, a time (eg worked from 7a-630p for total hours or worked from 5p-545p for just overtime) and a comment box (eg for stayed to work on x). Each employee would only be able to edit their own hours. And then it would be easy to generate reports like Fergus worked 5 overtime hours this week or 300 this quarter.

    Ideally would be an internal database. I was thinking Microsoft Access but open to other options and honestly not that familiar with it. Website would be okay too as long as minimal price.

    Anyone have any experience with this?

    Reply
    1. Elkay

      I think MS Project on Office 365 might be able to do what you want. We enter our timesheets into a MS web portal and it updates our projects. I think our Project Managers can then run reports. Not sure how much of it is out of box functionality.

      Reply
    2. KR

      EasyClocking is super, well, easy. It could be pricy depending on how many employees or features you want though, but I would recommend checking it out.

      Reply
    3. CAA

      While there is probably some free timesheet template out there for MS Access, it is not the best database for multiple employees accessing it from their own computers, possibly simultaneously. I would not take that risk for an application that you rely on for payroll.

      There are thousands of time tracking applications and systems you could purchase. Do you have IT support for this? At a minimum, you’re going to need a server and nightly backups and you want something with audit trails so you know who edited what and when. If you don’t have the proper level of IT support in house, then go with a web based application that’s hosted at the provider’s site.

      Reply
    1. Scubacat

      For the love of all that is sparkley in the universe…..why?

      I’m sure that Detroit is a very nice city with great hockey games. But still. WHY?

      Reply
        1. nep

          (I should say — I was surprised it was on such a list, but glad for the recognition of what appears to be quite a story. The Detroiters I know are absolutely in love with their city.)

          Reply
      1. Michigander

        I’m somewhat local and biased but… Detroit is way more than hockey? I haven’t seen the ranking but I’m going to guess that it’s cheapness as a destination is part of this, and what you get for the money is pretty nice if you ask me. Sure, if you’re into ruin porn there’s plenty of that to go around (though the train station is slowly making a comeback)… but there are a ton of hipster restaurants that have sprung up in the last few years.

        All of the major sport venues are now basically clustered into one district which gives you easy access to any of the pro sports– and LCA is a brand new facility. The DIA is one of the best art museums in the country (I also enjoy MOCAD, the Heidelberg). There are a ton of historical sites that would be appealing to any lover of architecture and history (the Guardian Building, Belle Isle, there are whole neighborhoods of immaculately preserved historical mansions). Some of the music/theater venues are also absolutely breathtaking– the Fox, Detroit Opera House, etc. One could probably fairly affordably stay at some of the incredible historical hotels as well.

        There are also some really interesting projects happening around the revival of Detroit that may become models for other rust belt cities since Detroit is unique in it’s sheer size– abandoned lots being converted into community gardens. Lots of abandoned buildings being bought up and converted into sometimes bizarre entrepreneurial ventures… the Seafoam Palace springs to mind.

        If one is so inclined there are the suburbs as well– the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village… along that line car buffs might also enjoy the Piquette Plant in the city, the NAIAS, the MIS, etc. I’m in the Ann Arbor area now, which is just a over a half hour outside of Detroit and could easily merit it’s own trip since we have a ton of restaurants, our own massive tourist attraction of a stadium, and a world-class university that regularly hauls in top speakers and performers.

        I mean, yeah, don’t come here in February when it’s -20 degrees, save your trip for early summer or fall. And maybe have your wits about you when you’re wandering the streets of Detroit… but in my entire life I’ve never had anything shady happen to me in Detroit. It’s not that hard to stay out of trouble here, ha! Also, I don’t mean to attack you or anything, just wanted to share some of my top attractions should anyone else stumble on this thread and be tempted to dismiss Detroit.

        Reply
        1. nep

          Well said. There is far more to Detroit than most people think — not just the startups and new infrastructure, but some amazing historical buildings/architecture.
          (If anyone working for the city saw your post, they’d hire you as a PR consultant.)

          Reply
          1. Michigander

            @nep: haha thank you! It might be a southeastern Michigander thing to immediately spring to Detroit’s defense. I do feel like I’ve developed a great elevator pitch over the course of my life.

            Reply
        2. Michigander

          Oh, I almost forgot. Canada is *extremely* easy to visit for a day trip as well! But generally speaking if someone were to come visit Michigan just one time in their life I’d say to visit Detroit + another area just to get a feel for the entire state. There are some amazing natural attractions “up north,” as we like to say, in the UP and northern part of the lower peninsula.

          Reply
          1. Red Reader

            I grew up in Michigan, and a friend came home with me for a visit a few years back. We spent a day at Henry Ford and Greenfield, and decided to go to Canada for dinner just for funsies :) (The customs officers on the way into Canada were terribly amused. The ones on the way back into the US were humorless jerks. :-P )

            Reply
        3. Elizabeth H.

          Yes! Detroit is so full of amazing history and culture – and the architecture is truly remarkable. I think it’s a fantastic destination for anyone interested in American architecture.

          Reply
  35. Legalchef

    I’m still sick. It’s not quite the flu, not quite strep. May possibly be a sinus infection. It’s been over a week now with no relief and I am over it. I’m trying to avoid antibiotics bc I am breastfeeding but I might have no choice :(

    Reply
  36. Mimmy

    Anne’s thread above about realistic career goals made me think of another question I’ve always had (I didn’t want to hijack her thread!):

    What does progressing as an individual contributor look like?

    One of the commenters mentioned that they progressed for years as an individual contributor before going into a management role. I too feel like I haven’t been able to go beyond entry level despite my academic background and skills. I have no desire to be in a position that involves supervisory/management responsibilities, but that seems to be the expectation for those wanting to progress in their careers, at least from what I can tell. I just want to build on my current skills and knowledge and be involved in interesting projects.

    Reply
    1. Mimmy

      Whoops, the first and second sentences in that last paragraph should be swapped:

      “I too feel like I haven’t been able to go beyond entry level despite my academic background and skills. One of the commenters mentioned that they progressed for years as an individual contributor before going into a management role….”

      Reply
    2. Elkay

      I’m an individual contributor with no desire to be in management. From my point of view tasks have migrated over to me from my boss so I do the bulk of the work and my boss has a big picture view. If you can carve the niche as subject matter expert on a task or area then you can progress as an individual contributor.

      As an example from my role, when I started my boss was 100% responsible for planning the budget, he’d talk me through what he did and in time I’ve taken that on and he goes through it and signs off/requests changes on what I’ve done. He’ll give me a big picture request such as “We need to cut 100K”, I’ll go back with suggestions of where that 100K can come from.

      A job before that I started off as a user of a piece of software, we had a support/training contract with the provider, by the time I left I was the expert user for that piece of software and the key contact for the provider.

      If you have annual reviews pick something that you’d like to make “yours” and suggest that to your manager.

      Reply
      1. Mimmy

        If you can carve the niche as subject matter expert on a task or area then you can progress as an individual contributor.

        This is definitely something I’ve been hoping to do.

        Reply
        1. Theodoric of York

          In fact, you master a series of subjects, and become the local expert and resource. Eventually, your colleagues will refer to you as “Senior Staff”.

          Reply
    3. Ramona Flowers

      I’m an individual contributor and not a manager. To me progressing and succeeding means stuff like working on interesting projects, having projects I can lead on, working with other people, learning new things, just not managing others.

      Reply
    4. Weekday Warrior

      In some fields this is recognized by separate “technical” and “manager” tracks but even where not explicit, non-managerial individual contributors are very valuable in every field.

      As well as increasing subject or tech expertise, the really great contributors develop excellent people skills, EQ, or whatever you want to call it. They share their knowledge, respect others, further the goals of the organization, give thoughtful feedback, and are just generally great to work with. Sounds basic but we know from this site that these skills and traits are not always common!

      Understanding ourselves and others are super valuable skills for everyone and are especially powerful in individual contributors who don’t “have” to explicitly use them in a managerial role.

      Reply
    5. periwinkle

      My employer has a separate path for individual contributors to gain high recognition/status (for lack of a better word) without going into management, but it’s very limited in scope and is very difficult to achieve. It’s almost entirely limited to people in technical functions but someone in my function has made it and I am determined to try for it as well.

      There are a lot of opportunities in this company for individual contributors to do strategic work and/or work on cool projects. However, I have plenty of colleagues who are not interested in that – they just want to be damn good at what they do and take pride in their expertise.

      I figured out quickly that I was not interested in managing people but did want to do strategic work, so I talked with my mentor (a non-manager doing high-level work) and figured out how to move in that direction. If your manager cannot offer guidance on how to progress as an IC, do you have a mentor or colleague who has achieved the level of skill/progression/project complexity/etc to which you aspire?

      Reply
  37. Still Not Engaged

    Despite my boyfriend yelling me months ago that we’d be engaged before the end of 2017, it didn’t happen. Way to ring in the New Year (NOT). I know he has the ring too, which makes it even worse! I apparently need to avoid Facebook for a while. Too many pregnancy and engagement announcements for me to handle right now when I can’t join in the fun… Ugh.

    Reply
    1. Book Lover

      On the one hand, yes, you could just ask him to marry you. On the other hand, if he doesn’t want to ask you, maybe that tells you something? Either he doesn’t want to get married to you, doesn’t want to get married to you yet, enjoys having the control, something else?

      Reply
      1. Language Student

        Yeah, I think it’s worth having a conversation about marriage and life together. It might turn out that he’d just rather wait until you’re in a better position to save or something, but it might also be that you have different expectations, there’s an issue he wants to deal with first but doesn’t know how to bring up, communication issues or something else. It’s not great and a bit strange that he essentially promised something he presumably knew is important to you and didn’t follow through or comment on it, so maybe there’s something behind that.

        Reply
    2. GirlwithaPearl

      So you’re sitting around waiting for your boyfriend to determine a major life decision?

      Doesn’t sound like a true partnership to me.

      Reply
      1. Language Student

        I think that’s a bit unfair – it sounds like they’ve discussed their plans, expectations and wants already, since he told her his plans (even if that ended up not happening). One person can have the proposal responsibility without it meaning anything about how strong your relationship is – I’m waiting for my girlfriend to propose to me. We’re partners, we’ve discussed everything we can think of, from the proposal itself, to the importance of spending more on the reception vs the honeymoon to the guest list to how we want to deal with things like life support in the event of an accident or health problem, to how to deal with savings and pensions… me wanting my girlfriend to propose to me, and her wanting to propose and work out the fine points of the proposal doesn’t change our relationship or our dynamics. We can’t tell much about the dynamics/equality of StillNotEngaged’s relationship just from knowing that a) they’ve discussed marriage and b) he didn’t propose when he said he would.

        Reply
    3. Starryemma

      Being close to being engaged, but not engaged, is a really stressful time. You can either stick it out, or if it gets to be too much, talk about it.
      Ideally, talk when you’re calm, versus delaying talking and the having it bubble up in an upset, crying mess (I might’ve cried after a really nice steak dinner my boyfriend made, so much so that he would then preempt future steak dinners with the caveat that it was just a nice dinner and not engagement time.)
      It may be that he has some grand plan, or feels he needs to come up with something cool. It may be he’s not feeling ready. It may be that the ring is getting worked on. He probably doesn’t realize that you were waiting with baited breath for the end of 2017- something similar happened to me, where a preset “deadline” we had discussed passed. I’d talk about that, and how you feel, and ask what’s going on, and if he can give you an updated timeline. It’s such an insane, shitty feeling.
      If you haven’t, I recommend reading through the archives of “A Practical Wedding.” Their search feature isn’t always great, so try googling A Practical Wedding + pre-engagement, which it’s sometimes called.
      Some people end up preposing themselves in this situation. That wasn’t for me, but talking (+tears) were. Hang in there.

      Reply
    4. Sam Foster

      *red alert* * red alert* *red alert* There’s a much bigger issue(s) in play if you are in this place. Time to sit down with the fiancé and have a serious talk about your relationship.

      Reply
    5. Mrs Kate

      Story time! I found a receipt for a $3,000+ ring in my boyfriends’s car (I was legitimately looking for some other receipt, not snooping). I then immediately found a return receipt for that same jewelry store, same amount, a week later. That was in August.

      I swear to you, I basically did nothing but stress and cry for weeks. Months, even! He, what, though about proposing and decided not to?

      In October, he proposed while we were on vacation. I never straightforward asked him, but did get after several questions over many months that he had put a deposit down on a stone, changed his mind bc he found a better one somewhere else, then had a ring custom made. He’d only been “sitting on” the engagement ring for a couple weeks when he proposed. Of course he has no idea I was out of my MIND with worry.

      That was almost 10 years ago. We got engaged and married 8 months later.

      Good luck! I echo other commenters that The Date May not be as hard in his head, and/or he’s trying to plan something memorable.

      Reply
  38. Dainty Lady

    I’m pretty sure i got this cold I am suffering with (and have to teach with tomorrow, sigh) from my small crossfit gym. Crossfit places are often not super sanitary, and people are pretty determined exercisers. Do you think it would be rude/entitled to send an email to the coaches asking them to suggest that people not attend if they’re sick?

    Since I don’t expect this to actually work anyway, any suggestions for not getting every random bug that lands on a barbell? Not touching my face is impossible given the activity. Thanks for any help!

    Reply
    1. Language Student

      Wipe down equipment before you use it as well as after, maybe? Ideally people will be wiping down after, but if they aren’t, that might help.

      Reply
    2. Be the Change

      Ugh, I hear you on the dirt in the box. They can be grody. Maybe scoop up some wipes and take them to your station and whenever you get a drink, wipe your hands first? My first thought was surgical mask but then you can’t breathe!

      Reply
      1. London Grammar

        Seconding that and also using antibacterial hand gel on your hands before and after touching the equipment.

        Reply
  39. Helpful

    I am kicking around the idea of creating some sort of mindfulness group would be a cool part-time gig. I’m thinking of group sessions that offer guided mindfulness sessions (say, 30 minutes). If this is something you’re interested in, would you attend a “class” rather than just download a free app? Would you pay $5-10? Any initial feedback would be appreciated.

    Reply
    1. Ramona Flowers

      I would only pay if the person running it was an experienced practitioner. Also a lot of these types of classes are free where I live. Sorry if that’s not what you wanted to hear!

      Reply
    2. Dear liza dear liza

      Yeah, we have a number of community groups in my area that are free- and I’m in a pretty rural area.

      Reply
    3. Temperance

      I’d pay if the person was really experienced. I live in a suburb where there’s a lot of offerings like this, though.

      Reply
    4. Helpful

      This is exactly the type of feedback I’m looking for! I live in a place where this isn’t offered much, but will continue to research. Thanks for all who have replied so far!

      Reply
  40. Fake old Converse shoes

    Guess who was too ill on the 31st to eat anything but microwaved pumpkin? Apparently it was a combination of cheap champagne at work, heat wave, strong air conditioning and stress. (Also, I had a dream in which my crush got married and asked me to be one of the bridesmaids, while my mother insisted in getting me drunk and try to kiss one of his brothers. Thanks for making me remember I’m single AF, brain) Well, at least there is enough food for a week in the fridge and the weather is acceptable for Jan 1st.

    Reply
    1. Fake old Converse shoes

      Family tradition, I guess. Easy to digest, easy to cook, and makes you feel full. Usually served with tea and a peeled apple for dessert.

      Reply
  41. Junebug

    Work-related question: would it be bad faith to accept a lowball offer for a promotion for the experience and pay bump but then jump ship for market-rate pay after a year or so? How long would I need to stay to avoid burning the bridge?

    Reply
  42. C Average

    Recently, someone at work challenged me to sum up 2017 in four words. (My answer: “Well, that was interesting.”)

    In four words, what are your hopes for 2018?

    Here’s mine: “More joy, less drama.”

    Reply
    1. Gingerbread

      “Don’t worry, be happy.” I’ve done a better job at not stressing about the small stuff, but I have a long way to go.

      Reply
    2. Jean (just Jean)

      Since I’m sitting here procrastinating on a long list of useful, worthy, and necessary activities…
      “Yes! Do it now.”
      Next step after hitting “submit:” separate the seat of myself and the seat of the chair. Perhaps I’ll mutter,
      Finished tasks bring satisfaction.”

      Reply
    3. Chris

      “Get off your ass”

      It sounds harsh, but I am prone to waffling. 2017 has been difficult because I’ve noticed that tendency has holding me in limbo all year. I just need to decide and commit to a decision- go back to school, attempt to get a new job, and housing are all at the top of the list.

      Reply
    4. Windchime

      “Talk less, smile more.”

      (Hamilton will be coming to Seattle and I’m pumped to play the ticket lottery.)

      Reply
  43. Damn it, Hardison!

    Etsy (and other) printables question – what software is typically used to create them? I’m looking for planner type insets and nothing is quite what I want, so I’m wondering how hard it would be to make them myself. I do want them to be somwhat colorful and creative (at least with fonts) but nothing too complicated with lots of images, etc. Anyone do this/have advice?

    Reply
    1. Helpful

      I bet you could get some decent results with things like PowerPoint or adobe or even some fancy Word tricks, then save as PDF. I made some using various options in Word a while back and got good, basic but nice-looking results.

      Reply
    2. Helpful

      Oh, can’t believe I forgot about Canva. They even have some pre-designed and very nice planner templates. Definitely check it out.

      Reply
  44. The Other Dawn

    I don’t normally make resolutions anymore, but I think this year I will: sell my old house so I don’t have to deal with being a landlord anymore! My tenants are actually great, but I just hate the thought of knowing I’m responsible for another house. Recently they had a mouse infestation. It was so bad we had to get an exterminator in. We never had that problem when we lived there. My only thought is maybe the food business next door (which changed owners) has something to do with it. I know it’s nothing to do with the tenants because they are extremely meticulous with keeping the house clean. So we had to pay a few hundred for that. Several months earlier the main drain backed up due to a collapse in the pipe coming into the house. It’s something we knew about and made sure we had it cleaned each year. Local plumber through Roto Rooter wanted $6,000 to replace it. Thankfully my husband is handy! Between him and one of the tenants, they were able to do it themselves for a couple hundred dollars. Prior to that the furnace died, which required my husband to fix that. Yes, we could pay someone to do it, as we live 45 minutes away, but that gets really expensive, fast.

    Anyway, with the money I’ll get from my dad’s estate, which isn’t much at all, and my annual bonus, I’m hoping I can pay enough of the second mortgage on that house in order to not take a hit when we sell it. That’s the only reason we haven’t–it’s underwater.

    I started making all my goodies for my upcoming family Christmas shindig, which is next weekend. Got the brownies made, which I’ll freeze. I’ll make the gingerbread today. Made rum balls last night for the first time. They’re literally 90 proof! Hopefully they mellow out in the next few days like the recipe says.

    I guess today I’ll do some cleaning, like shampooing the carpets. Always need to do the deep cleaning before family comes since I have so many damn cats!

    Reply
    1. Starryemma

      I hope you can find a way to sell the house this year, since it sounds like that’s what you want.

      And the rum balls sound amazing!

      Reply
  45. Visiting relatives

    How often do you see your in-laws? I used to visit mine a lot more, but once I started working 80+ hours a week I had no time to visit them. Now that I’m at a new job with reasonable hours, I still don’t see them much, for a few reasons (they only live an hour away FWIW):
    1) the only day my partner and I can see my in-laws is on Sunday’s because of their work schedule, but I either get out of work late or visit my family those days
    2) I may have some resentment towards them. My in-laws used to often talk badly to me about their other kids’ partners, so I started to feel like “well what are they saying about me?” I also have some resentment because of their attitude towards money — we’re always expected to spend hundreds of dollars on birthday/holiday gifts and we are given a guilt trip if we don’t. This is tough as we’re trying to save money for a house and can’t always pitch in $500 for someone else’s over-the-top birthday party.
    3) TBH, I got comfortable with not going. I’m not much of a social person, so if I can avoid being in a situation where I have to make conversation with people I’m not close with, I will.

    My in-laws are nice people, so I feel bad not going, but now it’s at the point where I only see them a few times a year so it feels awkward when I do go. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t.

    Reply
    1. The Other Dawn

      #3 is me. We’re 45 minutes away from my in-laws, used to be about 10 minutes. My husband isn’t much on visiting his parents. He calls once every few weeks to a month. We see them usually at holidays and sometimes in between if we have them over for dinner, or husband has to go down there to fix something. They don’t entertain, as their house is….eww (very cluttered, not clean AT ALL, etc.; they’d need a massive overhaul to even have room at the table…). I’m perfectly fine with that, although I do feel guilty. I guess I feel like the fact that we don’t see them/he doesn’t call them more is somehow a reflection on me, even though it’s up to him to manage his relationship with his parents and sister.

      What also makes it hard for them to visit is basically no one other his mom drives and they have just the one car. Dad shouldn’t drive due to health issues; sister is 50, never got her license; nieces are 20 and 25, no license; uncle doesn’t have a car. Mom is the taxi. The whole “no one has a license” thing is a huge hassle and I feel bad for his mom. I don’t know what everyone will do when she passes away. (I realize not everyone drives, but they’re in an area where they really need to be able to drive and it’s pure laziness; I thoroughly know the situation and so does everyone else in his extended family.)

      Reply
      1. Visiting relatives

        THANK YOU! You articulated exactly why this is bugging me — I feel like the fact that my partner doesn’t see the in-laws so much is a reflection on me. My brothers and sisters-in-law and their partners all live with parents-in-law, so since they see each other all the time, I also feel like it emphasizes the fact that I don’t come around often.

        My partner will sometimes blame me for the fact that they’re not close to their family, but I really don’t see how that is my fault. Partner is completely capable of visiting family on their own. The in-laws don’t entertain either, so naturally we visit my parents more as they have family parties often. My partner and I live in a small apartment so we don’t invite anyone over.

        Reply
        1. The Other Dawn

          Unless you’re actively preventing/discouraging your partner from seeing their parents, I don’t see how it would be your fault. Maybe they feel guilty that they don’t visit more often, so they’re making it your fault.

          I think some families are very enmeshed in each others’ lives and it’s natural to be just as close with the in-laws as they are with immediate family, but I’m definitely not one of them. It’s just not me. (I have a hard enough time keeping up with certain members of my own family.) I also don’t call my in-laws “mom and dad.” I have parents who are now deceased. It’s not a reflection on my in-laws at all–I actually like them–, but I’ve never felt as though “mom and dad” fits.

          Reply
    2. Language Student

      Not married yet, but long-term, serious relationship and we’re a social unit. Both of our parents have split up and 3/4 parents have partners.
      1. We probably actually visit my partner’s mum every few months, but we call a couple times a week and see her for about fifteen minutes every couple of weeks. We both like her, but even though we’re local to her, she’s generally pretty busy. We see her boyfriend once in a while (they don’t live together), but only for a few minutes at a time.
      2. We visit my dad and stepmum monthly, for a couple days at a time. We all get on amazingly, but finding time can be difficult occasionally – they often have a lot on, and fit in visits from my sister too, though they and my partner both work weekdays so in theory, weekends are free. They live about an hour away so we usually make a weekend out of visits.
      3. I see my mum multiple times a week for an hour or so at a time, but my partner sees her about once a month, usually in passing. She lives about 20 minutes away, so it’s easy to see her, but there’s a history of things mum and I did when I was a teen that put pressure on our relationship and coloured my partner’s view of her, so things are still a bit difficult between them even though they’re fine between mum and I now.
      4. We practically never see her dad, because he lives in another country and we don’t have a real relationship with him or his wife (and we’re okay with that).

      My side of the family have more major events and get togethers, so we tend to see them as a whole extended family unit slightly more often than we see her side, as well. I think we’ve been to like 3 major family events for her side in the past few years compared to maybe 3 or 4 times that for my side of the family in the same length of time (even though our families are about the same size).

      Reply
    3. Red Reader

      My husband’s dad passed before we got together. I met his mom once during the 4 years we’ve been together (they weren’t close, and she passed a few months back). He doesn’t associate with most of his siblings, and the one he does spend time with (his twin brother, and they still don’t see each other very often) and I peaceably dislike each other. so I have pretty much zero contact with my in-laws, mostly by my husband’s preference.

      Reply
    4. Reba

      Your in-laws are “nice people” who give you grief about not dropping HUNDREDS of dollars on their ideas of fun?

      Reply
    5. Todd Chrisley Knows Best

      We have family dinners on Saturday’s with everyone, and yes, at least in my family, the more you skip the more we talk about you. (Well, the gossipers do.) Coming from the other side, we view it as you not liking us. (General you, here.) Of course, the person who always skips (in-law situation there, too) is a little catty when they do show up, so I’m sure that’s part of it. I think just reaching out with a call or text when you can’t always come can be a good step to patching up the relationship and make actually coming seem more welcome. It will be awkward at first, but in my opinion, it’s nice to keep family as close as you can, even if it’s just to avoid awkward gatherings you do want to attend.

      Reply
    6. Elkay

      Haven’t seen or spoken to my in-laws for years. Sending thank you notes for gifts is the closest I get. I see my parents about once every two weeks but they live less than 30 minutes away so we see them for a couple of hours at a time. My other half speaks to their parents about once every six weeks or so but haven’t seen them for years. The reasons are numerous but mainly it comes down to effort. Neither side particularly makes an effort to make visits happen so they don’t.

      Reply
    7. Anon for this

      I use to see MIL frequently as she lived with us for several years. She accepted a job and moved out several months ago. Since then I’ve seen her once and hardly communicate with her now. As for SIL and her family, we mainly saw them around the holidays. I haven’t seen them since the 2017 election. I don’t care to spend time with SIL and her family now. I don’t control DH and he is free to see his family whenever he wants.

      Reply
    8. Temperance

      They don’t sound very nice. They say bad things about you, and have ridiculous financial expectations.

      I’m guessing that they don’t make the effort to drive to you. I personally wouldn’t visit them weekly or even monthly, but I wouldn’t do it for my own family as well. When you’re working that much, it’s kind of ridiculous to take the one relaxing day you have and spend it with your ILs.

      Reply
    9. Kuododi

      How’s your granddarling doing over all? Are they functioning well in school/activities as a whole. How are they doing as far as connecting with family and friends? Those are the questions I’d encourage you to look at while making your decisions. I wish you and your sweet grandchild blessings and peace in the new year

      Reply
    10. Theodoric of York

      Your in-laws do NOT sound like nice people, and it’s up to your partner to manage the relationship with his(?) family. Part of this is to support you when they bad-mouth you or try to guilt you into squandering your resources against your better judgment.

      Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        Yep, yep, yep.

        While it is true that our SOs can increase or decrease the level of interaction with our families, the SOs do not have the last word. We do. I think absorbing undeserved guilt there does nothing to get to the actual heart of the matter. My husband worked long hours but would take me on long trips to see my family any time I asked and we planned it. The truth is I did not always ask. And there were reasons for that.

        Reply
  46. CatCat

    I am a leeeeeeetle bit hungover, but I’ve downed some water and I think I’ll be good after breakfast.

    I’m anticipating a fairly lazy day. We’ll probably go for a walk this afternoon, make some cat treats (we got a kit for this for Christmas), and binge Planet Earth 2 on Netflix.

    Reply
  47. oranges & lemons

    One of my goals for the year is to be more engaged with current events, particularly internationally–can anyone recommend any good podcasts? I much prefer hearing the news to reading it.

    Reply
    1. Okay then

      NPR and BBC had good daily ones when I used to listen to them – it’s been a while though so I’m not sure how good they still are.

      Reply
    2. Elf

      Not much help on the international front, but I know you can get the Rachel Maddow show as an audio podcast, and it probably isn’t the only tv news show you can do that with. (not actually a news show, but Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me always makes me happier, and I usually learn something)

      Reply
  48. Engineergal

    How do I tell prospective employers during an interview that I am looking to leave my current position because I need a better work/life balance (i.e. to work fewer hours)?. I had a well paying, technical position at my current company and performed very well at it. So well they promoted me to a Program Manager about a year ago. The promotion came with a tiny pay raise, so small it was essentially a lateral move pay-wise. However I went from 45 hours a week to 60+ and I just can’t do it anymore. I know my current company knows this is unsustainable and have expressed concern I’m going to leave, but have done nothing to rein in my terrible manager or change the situation.

    How do I explain this to a potential employer without sounding like I am a clock watcher or don’t want to work hard? I have no issue working overtime, I am fine putting in 9 or 10 hour days. But I can’t keep working 12 hour days, evenings and weekends from home, when I’m sick or on vacation, etc. There is concern my department will be dissolved, so I could cite that as a reason for the move. But it’s really important to me I move to a company with reasonable expectations of their employees. Any advice for how to word this? Or do I avoid it all together, give a more generic reason, and bring up the work/life balance/expected hours question in another way?

    Reply
    1. Reba

      I’d phrase the “why looking” around something positive — growth in a new area, more responsibility, whatever — and get at the work-life balance through questions. (Basically what you suggested at the end.) Depending on your sense of the interviewer/workplace it could make sense to share more about what your current heavy schedule is doing to you, if it would help to deepen the conversation on the subject.

      Good luck with your interview! I hope you land somewhere that respects your time.

      Reply
    2. Todd Chrisley Knows Best

      I feel like this is a pretty reasonable reason to be moving. Not everyone wants a 60 hours week, and as long as the new position runs more of the hours you’re asking for, I wouldn’t see it as a red flag. It seems practical, not lazy. I think how they respond to that would also be a good indicator of company culture, so I wouldn’t beat around the bush.

      Reply
  49. Phoenix Guardian

    I have been lacking motivation for the month. About a month and half ago, I planned to leave my company but a few days after I left and before I started new job, there were some personal things that came to light and I would need a flexible schedule. New job would allow a little flexibility but could not sustain me financially. So I returned to company I left and asked about the offer they tried giving me before I left. They gave me a promotion and had me replace someone at another location (they closed my location when I resigned). The person I replaced done all but run the location into the ground. I’ve already brought a place back from the depths but this time it seems to be even more draining. I don’t know if it’s because I’m in a different state so there are a different set of regulations or now I have two kiddos.

    There just never seems to be enough time in the day. I get up at 4/4:30, leave the house at 5:50 to drop off kids and commute, work 6:30-5:15, commute and pick up kids to get home at 6:15, after dinner, bath, a little playing and to bed by 8. I’m up at least twice a night to feed baby.

    All I want to do is take a nap. Sorry for the rant. I’m just tired and unmotivated.

    Reply
    1. Observer

      Do you have a partner? If not, see if you can hire some help.

      Also, see if you can do some remote work (maybe once a week you work from home.) And find other ways to ease the burden. Can you find a different child care provider that requires less of a commute? Do some ride sharing so you’re not doing so much driving? etc.

      And also, please take care of your health. Eat well, try to get some exercise and skip any commitments that you do not absolutely HAVE to take on – and I do mean HAVE to for the safety and health of you and your family, not social or family “obligations” like hosting the family whatever party. It sounds like a checkup also wouldn’t hurt.

      Feel better.

      Reply
    2. J.B.

      I’m sorry that’s rough. And the first year with two kids is just rough. Treading water at work is a worthy goal, new challenges can come later-really you will get that back. As for feeding – can you do anything to rearrange sleep so that you get 5 uninterrupted hours of sleep a night? If you’re breastfeeding seriously consider formula for one of those times. And why 4/430 wakeup – is there anything you can ditch to get another 30 minutes? If that’s for exercise I promise you will feel better sleeping during that time, and lunchtime walks are a great alternative.

      Can someone else do pickup and can you get a mother’s helper 2x per week? One on one with 2 kiddos is draining too. And baths don’t need to be every day.

      Reply
  50. Todd Chrisley Knows Best

    I’m not sure what’s happening to me, but I’m just generally really tired of people after a few hours. It’s only come about recently, and I don’t love it. My brain just wants to be alone after that time. I know I’ve always been introverted, but usually I could swing a few days of busy hang outs. Now I just want to be left alone, and I think it stems from my last living situation that left me anxious, depressed, and avoiding all roommates. It’s been so long since I’ve truky been able to function socially and now I just don’t want to watch that video, and do you really have to state the obvious, because yes, I can indeed see that there are a lot of people here and that there’s someone from high school over there. Sigh. (I say this trying to figure out how to get someone to leave my house before we have plans tonight. I just need a break, I love this person but I do not want to spend over 24 hours with them consecutively.)

    Reply
  51. Junior Dev

    Happy new year!

    I start my new job in a week. I’m nervous but excited.

    What new things are you facing this year?

    Reply
    1. Mimmy

      Best of luck Junior Dev! I’m hoping for a new job too because I need a different environment.

      Other than that, the only “new” things are travel to places I’ve never been to this summer.

      Reply
  52. work etiquette

    One of my reports emailed me to let me know their parent passed away. I knew this was a possibility. My question is always … do I tell others? I tend to feel that it’s not for me to share. I try to be very careful about not sharing personal information about anyone, whether they report to me or not but once someone got very upset because they assumed I would let everyone know. If the message was in person, I might have asked if they wanted me to share but the person emailed and was flying out.

    Reply
    1. Reba

      Why not email back, express condolences and ask how they’d like it to be handled? They may not be able to reply right away, but if I were your employee I’d appreciate being asked. You can tell others they are away dealing with family stuff (or similarly vague) until you know how they’d like to proceed.

      Reply
    2. nep

      Good reflex — great to respect the person’s wishes in this regard. Agree with Reba — in your response, ask whether the person wants this shared with others.

      Reply
  53. Anon for this one

    Question on how to handle this situation:
    I live in a pretty safe neighborhood of a major US city. Yesterday I came home from NYE celebrations shortly before 1 am. On the sidewalk, close to my apartment building a man was strangling a woman in what appeared to be a relationship fight. I heard her say “you’re hurting me” and his hands were on her neck. So I walked up to them and asked the lady if she needed for me to call 911. She said no, and he stopped strangling her and cussed at me. I decided to wait for a little longer to make sure she was ok, and so I waited about 20 feet from them, at the entrance of my apartment building. They kept fighting and he strangled her again. Then he realized that I was still standing there, phone in hand, and yelled at me, as he thought I was filming him. But it caused him to stop attacking her, and they started walking towards me. Since he was threatening me I retreated behind the first of two glass doors that lead to the interior of my apartment building while calling 911 to report the assault. As he walked by, he threw a bottle really hard in my direction, which shattered the glass door I was hiding behind, but it didn’t go past the glass.
    That is the moment I processed just how dangerous this situation could have been. Had I not made it inside the building quickly enough, I think the bottle would have knocked me out. He also could have been armed, or thrown a rock which would have probably gone right through the glass to hit me. I’m a 130 lb woman and he was a very strong guy (judging by the force of the flying bottle), so I wouldn’t have really stood a chance against him.
    My question is: how should somebody act in a situation like that? I didn’t want to not intervene, for fear that he was seriously injuring the woman he was strangling, but I also put myself into a dangerous situation. Any advice on what I should have done? (This is usually a safe neighborhood, I don’t anticipate seeing something like this again anytime soon). Also, should I fear crossing paths with this person again on my way to or from home? Any thoughts and tips are appreciated as I’m trying to process the situation.

    Reply
    1. nep

      Wow that is frightening. Glad you’re OK.
      I don’t know what is the right thing to do, but because I would really fear for my safety, I would probably get to a safe place straightaway and call 911. I know that if he was actually strangling her, seconds count; still I think I would be too scared to directly intervene. I’d like to think in the moment I would do something to at least cause a distraction and buy the woman some time.
      I’ll be interested in people’s responses.

      Reply
      1. Anon for this

        Thanks! Yes – seems to be the safer idea would have been to call 911 directly, but it felt like a situation that needed urgent intervention. Maybe I should have just walked away after the first encounter and called 911. I think sticking around after that with my phone out is what really set him off.

        Reply
    2. fposte

      Ugh, that’s so hard in the situation; you did well.

      Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s always a clear-cut answer, since cops don’t always improve a domestic violence situation, and you can’t be a rescuer if you go down with the victim. However, I think my default would be to tweak what you did slightly by saying nothing to them, going inside, closing the doors, and calling 911.

      I would doubt that you have anything to fear from them in general in the future; bottle-throwers are spur of the moment people.

      Reply
      1. Anon for this

        I think you’re right – I kinda assumed that knowing that somebody else was seeing this would make the guy stop, but I should have gone inside the building right away. I guess my lizard brain doesn’t default to “flight@.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          I think my lizard brain defaults to “What the hell is happening here?” and only figures it out later, so I think you’re way ahead of where I’ve been.

          Reply
        2. nep

          I think there’s generally a considerable gap between ‘What I would/should do’ — pondering an abstract situation, and ‘What I do’ — action in the heat of the moment, when someone is in immediate danger. That said, I’m glad for an occasion to ponder it and read people’s responses; might help me make sounder decisions if or when the stuff hits the fan.
          Keep us posted on how you’re doing.

          Reply
          1. Anon for this

            Yes, you are absolutely right – if I have the ability to anticipate a stressful situation I always try to think of how I need to act and what I need to say – because making smart decisions on the fly is not really my strength. So when I anticipate a stressful situation at work or in a relationship I like to play them out in my head beforehand to identify the best strategy. Since that clearly wasn’t possible here I wanted to at least figure out what the best way to react would have been. So when I got home I tried to google what you should do when you observe a situation like that. For the most part it seems the advice is to call the police from a safe spot.
            I’m mostly doing ok – I went by the door a little while ago to look at the broken glass. Right now I just really hate that the apartment building has such a large glass door, so I’m visible when walking through the building. I don’t expect this person to come by and stare into the building but it does make me feel a little less safe in the dark. I suspect in a few days I’ll feel a lot better about it. I’m lucky to not have ever been a witness to (or a victim of) violence so I’m still just processing how somebody could act this way – I think that assaulting one’s (presumed) partner like that on the side wall indicates that this person must have very few inhibitions when it comes to violence. I’ll probably take a car if I have to get home late the next few days or so, until I feel safe again.

            Reply
    3. Observer

      I would have gone into the vestibule and called the police from there, I think. I do not think I would have asked the woman what to do. If nothing else, it’s possible she said “don’t call the police” because of fear not because she really didn’t want you to call.

      I say “I think” because I can’t swear that I’d have enough presence of mind to do this.

      Reply
      1. Anon for this

        Thank you – yes, in hindsight it was a weird question. You’re probably not in a position to say “yes, please call the police” if somebody is actively strangling you. What a terrible situation. I hope she will be ok.

        Reply
    4. Michigander

      For one thing, what you experienced was more traumatic and dangerous to you than mine– so make sure you take care of yourself and don’t feel embarrassed to reach out for help if you’re having a hard time processing it.

      A few years ago I overheard a dangerous argument in my apartment across the hall from me. I wasn’t sure whether I should call 911 until I heard her scream “Fine, I’m just going to kill myself!” I called and stayed inside my apartment, watching through the peephole just to monitor the situation. She tried to escape the apartment and he pulled her back in. I was able to see when the police arrived, quietly open my door, and point to the correct apartment. They broke in the door (I’m assuming because of what I heard her say) and, I wasn’t witness to this, but apparently he was threatening her with a knife.

      Don’t beat yourself up about how you responded, but I would say it’s best to call police first as quickly as possible (better safe than sorry, even if it were a weird situation where he wasn’t seriously/actually choking her) and only intervene if you absolutely have to/if it’s safe for you. Honestly I might have done the same as you if I actually saw someone being choked so I wasn’t surprised to read you reacted that way! I’m the same as you, live in a quiet, safe area where I never thought something like this would happen– it’s hard to prepare yourself for something like this!

      Do be prepared for the possibility that this might escalate into a situation where you have to be a witness again. In my case there was actually a trial and I was called to the stand. But the police that responded to the call talked to me outside of the courtroom and kept thanking me for actually calling. Apparently it’s not uncommon for people to avoid calling the police during domestic disputes, assuming it’s not their business to get involved. In my case this couple had a history of violent arguments in that building and I was the first to call the police, lucky for the victim because it was the first time he’d ever threatened her to that extent. It was sobering for me to think about since I was on the verge of not calling.

      As for me, I was fortunate that my lease was up about a month after the court date. But I won’t lie… I felt strongly about moving after that. The victim attempted to reach out to me and I politely declined to get to know her more. That was good because she got back together with her boyfriend a couple days before I moved out. It was nerve-wracking seeing him around again and I had a family member stay with me those last days before the move. He never attempted to even say anything to me… but still. I honestly can’t say what I would have done had the timing not been convenient to move– I think I would have broken my lease.

      I hope that’s somewhat helpful to read. You’re probably right that it’ll not happen again to you soon, if ever. I’m in the same city and nothing like that has ever happened to me again, it’s been about five years now.

      Reply
      1. Anon for this

        Oh wow. Thank you for sharing. That sounds really terrifying. Thankfully in this case the guy doesn’t know where I live, as there are a lot of apartments in my building. How scary!
        And yes, it was really traumatic at the moment. I texted a friend right after I got to the apartment and we talked it through, which helped, because I definitely felt unsafe for a little while after. Right now I’m more in a place of being surprised that my gut reaction was to just walk up to the guy and directly getting in his face – is that adrenaline? Or some kind of privilege where I assumed my mere presence would make it stop? Really weird.
        And thanks for sharing, this did definitely help. I assume this was an outlier, but if I encountered another situation like that I’d think about moving too.

        Reply
        1. Michigander

          No problem! I thought I would share because the situation was a little bit eerily similar. I think you’re right, it’s all adrenaline and you just assume that as soon as you call someone out that they would, you know, stop choking their significant other!

          Reply
    5. Book Lover

      I am so sorry that happened to you.

      I would have just called 911 at the beginning, honestly.

      And now, if you see him again and he seems threatening, just call 911 and make it clear you are doing that, and get to a populated area ASAP if you don’t see anyone around.

      Reply
      1. Anon for this

        Yes. Ugh I’m a little concerned because I don’t usually recognize people after seeing them once, so I may not recognize the guy. I’ll just avoid anybody with a similar body type for a while and will retreat to a more populous area if in doubt.

        Reply
    6. Starryemma

      That’s terrifying! It’s always easier looking from the outside of a situation. In an ideal world, you probably should have called 911 as soon as you saw the situation (cuz strangling = never cool).
      But it sounds like you kept your head in a really stressful, escalating situation, and you both intervened & got help when it was desperately needed. You’re starting your 2018 off by doing a good deed. I’m glad you’re ok.

      Reply
    7. Tabby Baltimore

      First off, I think you did the right thing by calling it in to 911, regardless of what you said/did beforehand. Honestly, I probably would’ve been worried enough to side-step the couple and go on into the building. If I’d had the presence of mind to, I might’ve snapped a cellphone photo of him with his hands on her throat from the vestibule, if I could’ve done so without being too obvious about it, but even if I hadn’t done that, in my call to 9-1-1, I would’ve definitely told the dispatcher that I saw him strangling her with his bare hands, at two separate points in the fight. Why am I focusing on this?

      This article from the Washington Post, which ran in November 2017 (https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/which-domestic-abusers-will-go-on-to-commit-murder-this-one-act-offers-a-clue/2017/11/16/80881ebc-c978-11e7-aa96-54417592cf72_story.html?utm_term=.2c5f630e3ba5), provided me with some new information that I didn’t know before about how strangling is potentially a marker for escalating domestic abuse, or even murder. It was quite eye-opening to learn that, in some states, the act of non-fatal strangulation is chargeable as a felony.

      Reply
      1. Anon for this

        Wow now that’s scary – I definitely didn’t know that, but it makes sense – Id think that strangling is different because the person is acting on it longer and are in much closer contact to the victim than if they were to throw a punch, for example. So I can see that it would be a marker for lack of the kind of inhibition that would stop most people from harming others.
        I really hope that the woman finds a way to disentangle herself from this person.
        And yes, I’m glad I did say something. I think I’ll just think of a way that is more aimed at de-escalating the situation if that ever happens again.
        I stuck around because I wanted for her to know that I was still there and that I would wait and witness until he stopped, just he didn’t until he thought I was filming him and I called the police.

        Reply
    8. Mrs Kate

      Better safe than sorry. I was visiting a friend once and at 3:30 in the morning I awoke to loud moaning. It was 3am and I assumed it was the downstairs neighbor having s*x or watching porn. It didn’t stop for an hour (it kept me up! I was so pissed and grossed out!). Well, moaning turned into talking (female voice) and more moaning, and eventually loud lights and an ambulance. As it turns out, the man was having a heart attack, eventually phoned a sibling who drove over and convinced him to go to the hospital. He died on the ride over.

      I’ve never really told anyone about it because I just don’t know- should I have assumed it was someone moaning in pain? If I had called 911,m earlier, would he have lived?

      This isn’t a story of my potential harm- all I had to risk was embarrassment if I knocked on the guy’s door at 4am while he had a lady friend over (which he did not). I did know that the guy downstairs was an older man, and a loner, but it *really* didn’t occur to me to dial 911.

      Ever since then I’ve had a much more “what’s the worst that could happen?” << “what’s the worst that could happen if I don’t?”

      Reply
      1. Anon for this

        Oh gosh – thanks for sharing. I know exactly what you mean. I hope you don’t blame yourself for not calling anybody, since you were thinking it was something completely different. Honestly I’d be much much less likely to go and bang on somebody’s door in such a case, because I’d be expecting a super awkward conversation of asking them to be more quiet in their activities, and I’m generally super conflict avoidant. It just literally didn’t occur to me that I might be putting myself in danger too, or that he wouldn’t stop chocking the woman when it was clear that there was somebody watching.
        But I definitely agree with you on the weighing the “what-ifs”. I like to ask myself if I’m more likely to regret acting on something or not acting on it when I look back at my life.

        Reply
    9. Anon anon anon

      In a situation like that – when someone is being violent – don’t intervene. As you pointed out, and unfortunately experienced, it can cause things to escalate. Instead, pretend not to notice, get out of the perpetrator’s sight quickly, and call 911 ASAP. Don’t ask permission. The answer you get from someone who’s being attacked might not be their real wishes.

      This is coming from both the school of hard knocks (street smarts) and training as a first responder.

      Reply
      1. Anon for this

        Thank you! Hopefully I won’t be in the situation again, but if so, I will follow this advice. In retrospect it was a weird question to ask in that moment – I think I expected for the guy to stop upon my approach and clearly he didn’t. Hopefully lesson learned!

        Reply
    10. Elizabeth H.

      As others have said, remove yourself from the situation and call 911 right away. If you feel comfortable to do so you could approach and ask if everything is ok, etc after you’ve already called the police.

      Reply
      1. Anon for this

        That would have probably been a better question from the get-go! And yes, going forward I’ll get to safety sooner.

        Reply
  54. Anon here again

    I started a new job and my co-worker, “Sandra” is sweet, but a little eccentric. For some reason, Sandra had a copy of her resignation letter from a previous job and she showed it to me. On it, Sandra listed reasons as to why she was leaving. Some of it had to do with money matters (paycheck issues, not being paid for buying supplies with her own money, etc.), but other reasons included “people talking about her in the next room” and Sandra getting in trouble for giving a hug to another employee.

    I don’t know why she still had the letter or why she was showing it to me- it was a bit strange to me. Any thoughts?

    Reply
    1. fposte

      Uh. Yes, that’s all very eccentric–writing the letter, keeping the letter, showing you the letter. I think I would minimize emotional entanglement with Sandra, at least until you know the lay of the land there. She’s got questionable judgment and an overhsaring tendency; those are not likely to be helpful to you.

      And if you don’t like being hugged, consider yourself forewarned.

      Reply
  55. Ktelzbeth

    I have a knit merino wool balaclava that is warm, but just a little too loose. Wind gusts can sneak in and swirl around. Does anyone know if it would be possible to shrink it in a controlled manner? It is several panels stitched together to make the proper shape. Thank you in advance, since I’m not sure how much I’ll be on today.

    Reply
    1. Teach

      Yes – felting is the term you are looking for if you want to do more reading. Hot water and agitation cause felting, so if you had a basin of warm/hot water with a little soap suds and another basin of cool water, you could switch back and forth felting/shrinking it just a little bit at a time.

      Reply
        1. Teach

          You could also make a false seam down the back and take it in a little with hand stitches. (I wouldn’t cut it, just stitch it and tack down the seam allowance if it’s lumpy. ) Felting will lose some length and make the stitches more dense.

          Reply
  56. Carmen Sandiego JD

    It’s 20 degrees outside, but bad cabin fever means braving the cold for a bit of window shopping.

    Also, blepharitis. Any remedies? :S (puffy eyelid)…nutrition remedies?

    Thing are coming together for wedding stuff, but I feel like a ball of stress. Knitting, running, trying to eat healthy. Any other ideas?

    And what healthy recipes/stuff do you like to do during a frigid day?

    Reply
    1. Junior Dev

      When I have eye irritation I will sometimes wet a washcloth with cold water and hold it over the (closed) eye.

      Reply
    2. fposte

      Blepharitis tends to be an ongoing thing. Nightly heated face masks followed by lid scrubs with Cliridex or something similar are the usual recommendation.

      Reply
    3. Soon to be former fed

      Long time blepharitis sufferer here. My eye doctor recommended eyelash/lid scrubs using baby shampoo, and warm compresses, not cold. Warm eye compresses feel great by the way.

      Reply
  57. Ktelzbeth

    I have a cat sleeping on my lap. I should get up and do something, but there is a cat sleeping on my lap. That is all.

    Reply
  58. Jen

    I want to start working out, but don’t know when to do it. I usually prefer outdoor activities, but it’s currently -8 degrees F outside, so that’s not an option. I don’t want to wake up extra early to go, so maybe after work in the evening. I was also thinking about taking some sort of fitness class. The only thing is I’m a little hungry after work, so is eating something like a light soup okay? So confused…. any advice?

    Reply
    1. fposte

      It depends what you’re doing and how soon after you eat you’re doing it; I might go for something a little more dense, though, like cheese or nuts. Nothing like doing a forward bend and realizing your compressed stomach is now too small for its contents.

      Reply
    2. The Other Dawn

      If you’re going to eat before a workout, I’d say to do so at least an hour beforehand. And don’t eat hard boiled eggs. They take a long time to digest and can sit there like a rock. Go for a mix of protein and carbs, like apples and PB, cheese and a few crackers, nuts, PB on crackers. Stuff like that. I probably wouldn’t have soup, only because I’d likely have to pee in the middle of working out.

      Reply
    3. Michigander

      I typically work out after work. What I normally do is have a heavy snack (high protein) an hour before I work out while I’m still at work. That will get me through the workout. I’ll shower first and then have dinner. I’ve learned I can’t eat right after working out either so a high-protein snack beforehand is key for me.

      Reply
    4. Ktelzbeth

      I work out after work for the most part. I usually have some nuts or (product endorsement coming) a SmashPack, which is a commercial fruit and protein blend. I seem to be able to eat the SmashPacks pretty much right up to starting the workout without adverse effects on my stomach. Experiment and see what your stomach will tolerate and what will give you enough energy to get you through the work out.

      Afterwords, you generally want to have some protein within a half an hour. Chocolate milk, for all its simplicity, actually gives a nice balance of protein and carbs for recovery. Have a good meal within two hours.

      Reply
    1. Todd Chrisley Knows Best

      I used to love trefoils but I don’t buy them anymore. Prices have gone up and quantity and quality went down. I know it’s supposed to empower young girls and teach them business skills, but I just can’t swing the cost anymore. Cookie season is now a sad time in which I work on self control, haha.

      Reply
    2. Jen

      They’re much smaller now and you get less, which stinks. Still I like the Caramel delights, shortbread, and thin mints. They used to make shortbread dipped in chocolate- those were really good.

      Reply