update from the reader who was living off of cupcakes from the office kitchen

We have a late-breaking update!  This is from the reader who didn’t want her coworkers to know that she was “living off of cupcakes from the employee kitchen.”  She was struggling financially and couldn’t afford meals, let alone new clothes, when her employer changed its casual dress code to one that prohibited jeans … and started requiring a $5 “donation” for every violation.  Her three pairs of pants were all jeans.

She wasn’t asking for any help other than advice, but lots of readers asked for her address so that they could send her pants and other help. Here’s her update:

Sorry it took so long to respond; I’ve been in the long process of moving to a cheaper place.

First of all, to address the original poverty-inflicted jeans issue. I ended up confiding in another co-worker prior to discussing the situation with my supervisor. My co-worker was very sympathetic and secretly pre-paid for all my jeans-wearing days. I did talk with my supervisor about it afterwards because I felt it was the right thing to do in case anyone else in the office was in a similar situation. But I was covered for the month that the fundraiser was in effect.

I was completely overwhelmed with the generosity of complete strangers after you posted my question. I really hadn’t expected even to get posted much less the outpouring of response. I received several monetary and pants gifts from Ask a Manager readers across Canada and the U.S., as well as a ton of thoughtful letters and Christmas cards which I will save. I don’t think I can overemphasize how amazing it was to feel the support of so many nice people; it had a huge impact on my life. Thanks to the kindness of your readers, I was able to collect enough clothes for at least the next two years. I also was able to buy a few Christmas presents for my son and replace a few household items I had left behind, as well as actually eat nutritious meals for two months! It was the best Christmas I have had in years.

I made some financial adjustments to cut back on any expenses wherever I could and I’m now able to make ends meet. It will be a tough year, but I’ve decided to go back to school next year to improve my career outlook and ensure I can provide for my child, so I am taking on extra employment and freelance where I can get it to save up. I am looking forward to the day when I can pay forward all the kindness I received.

Thank you all!

{ 36 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous*

    This is the story that I wanted to hear an update about the most. I’m so glad to hear that so many great readers of this site donated to the OP; you guys rock. And OP, it’s great to hear that you and your son are doing well! Good luck with everything!

  2. Nethwen*

    “I felt it was the right thing to do in case anyone else in the office was in a similar situation”

    OP, I can guess how difficult it was to speak up, but I think this action has begun your paying it forward. Who knows what stress you’ve eliminated for someone because of your bravery.

    I’m pleased to hear things are better for you. It’s difficult to stay positive and happy when you feel sick from being hungry and you are worried about having a place to live. I’m glad the pieces are falling into place for you to have a better life.

    1. fposte*

      Such an excellent point about speaking up, and worth remembering by others uneasy about doing so when there’s a workplace problem like this. It can be easier to do it if you think of how many other people might be struggling if you don’t.

  3. curious*

    That update has made even a hard nosed old bugger like me feel all warm and happy inside. All the best to you OP and much respect to the generosity and kindness of AAM readers.

  4. Nichole*

    I am so glad to hear an update, especially such a good one, from this OP. Wish you the best!

  5. ChristineH*

    Aww now I’m all teary-eyed!! I know a lot of people were eager for this update, and I am in awe of the readers’ generosity. What a great audience you have Alison!

    OP – Glad to hear that everyone’s generosity helped me your Christmas a happy one. But equally as important, I am glad to hear that your supervisor and coworker were so understanding. It’s nice to see, in this shaky economy, an employer that really does care.

  6. Liz*

    I really needed to hear some good news today – this is great! Thanks for your story, and best of luck to you!

  7. Yup*

    OP, thank you so much for sharing your update. Best wishes to you in all your plans for 2012. We’re all pulling for you!

  8. Anonymous*

    Yay for the OP.

    Boo for AAM for posting something with “cupcake” right before lunch. Now I am starving.

  9. Anonymous*

    What a great outcome! All the best to you OP! Please check back in once in a while to let us know how you’re doing. Will keep you in my prayers.

  10. Realistic*

    Yay, OP!!! Glad to hear that things are going to be better for you in 2012. I wish this for all of us! Except maybe those 10 bosses in the “worst bosses of 2011” poll.

    mmmmmm, cupcakes!!

  11. JessB*

    This is so great, I really felt for this reader, and was delighted to see the outpouring of response to her.

    It’s great to see that she’s back on track, but also lovely to see the community here at Ask A Manager. We’re not just about picking on crappy bosses, it’s about helping each other get to good situations, and make the best of bad ones.

    And sometimes, picking on crappy bosses.

  12. Joanna Reichert*

    What a wonderful way to wrap up the year! I’m very happy that people can still, deep down, be moved by unfortunate situations and put their money/time where their mouth is. This was my favorite update. : )

  13. JsarahwatsHR*

    This update just made my whole day. Honestly got a bit misty eyed reading this. Truly gracious response from this OP, and she is making some difficult sacrifices for her child and future career. I’m content knowing that there are people like this out there, living honourably amid such challenges.

  14. Becca*

    I am glad it all worked out for this OP. I love happy ending stories. =)
    Wishing you the best and hoping that 2012 will be a better year for you.

  15. Jim*

    Reading this a few months late but this article completely made my night. Glad everything worked out, best of luck!!

  16. Sonata*

    Since I’m a newbie to this website, my reply is awfully late, but I wanted to express how touched I was by this heartwarming story. Best wishes to the poster!

  17. Anonymous*

    Hello Allison
    It would be great if you had a place where others could post clothes they neede for us that can and want to donate. I would rather send directly then give to salvation army whete they cjarge.

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