update from the reader whose cubicle was giving her migraines

Remember the letter-writer last month who was getting migraines from sitting next to large windows, but her boss wouldn’t let her move to another space? Here’s her update.

So, after I wrote to you, I got in touch with Human Resources and my university’s ombudsman. Human Resources had still been working on the issue in the background and was waiting for the “owner” of the empty cubicle (since it was now occupied by his assistant) to see if that assistant was okay with switching desks with me. She was, so a few weeks ago, we just switched desks. Yay!

Everyone seems to be much happier — this other AA prefers being near the windows, I don’t get debilitating migraines anymore from glare, and bonus, I’m by myself in the “new” cubicle so I feel like I can just relax a bit.

The only downside is that my boss is still not happy that I moved. The day of the move, he kept telling all of us to make sure that the area just outside his office, including his bookcase and printer, still belonged to him (that area was never part of this question anyway, which I reminded him). And whenever he comes out of his office, you can practically see his eye twitching whenever he passes my “new” desk. So … I’m kind of still surreptitiously looking for a new job. There are other reasons why, so this is just one more reason.

But anyway, thank you to you and your readers for your advice and support. Your blog is one of my new favorites and I’m constantly sending people to it anytime they have a job question.

{ 24 comments… read them below }

  1. Jamie*

    I’m glad your’re feeling better – good luck in finding a less twitchy boss.

    In the meantime at least your migraines are less frequent – that’s always a good thing.

  2. NewReader*

    This type of stuff amazes me. It’s not just bosses who do this. I have to wonder– does he NOT have enough to keep his mind occupied?
    The whole situation seems like it should have low to no impact on him and his job.

    1. Josh S*


      My wife is a teacher. Her school is lucky enough to have an aide that makes all the copies for teachers at the school so they can focus on teaching instead of waiting on a copy machine. A couple weeks ago, the principal announced that copy requests (for worksheets, notices to be sent home, etc) had to be checked and approved by the principal before she would allow the aide to make the copy.

      My response, “I’m glad the school is so good, with test scores so high, and all the teachers working well together, and curriculum standards all up-to-date, that she can focus on such a small detail!” (And in case the sarcasm wasn’t obvious, the school’s test scores are struggling, there are a lot of inter-departmental woes, and the school still hasn’t implemented the curriculum changes that were rolled out district-wide at the beginning of the year.)

      Yeah, that principal has bigger fish to fry, and is a little bit psycho. I feel bad for my wife working under such a person.

      1. Rana*

        I have to say that such a policy would tempt me to send multiple small jobs to be copied, in the hopes of demonstrating what an asinine policy that is.

      2. A Teacher*

        Yeah, we get in trouble if we go outside of our “lane” for anything. If you have a technology question, you can’t ask your supervising assistant principal that directly oversees you if it is outside of his/her lane; if you have a problem with textbooks and a curriculum question you have to ask the curriculum AP one question and the person assigned textbooks a second question and then they have to collaborate. Field trips have to be approved by the principal but we have to show them to the AP that supervises us and then take them to the secretary’s principal. I also have a computer lab and we report any and all issues to our district IT helpdesk. The new AP wants us to run everything through him/her and then if he/she remembers a ticket goes in. Often, I end up having to do it myself–seriously, for a simple LDAP error that takes our tech person 5 minutes to fix can take me 2 days to get a helpdesk ticket because of the micromanagement. I could go on but there’s lots of stuff like this in education and yet teachers are the first to be slammed by the public as a whole for anything and everything because of course “we only work 7 hours a day for 9 months a year” …and I left corporate America for it.

        1. KellyK*

          Yikes! I guess I was fortunate when I was teaching, because it was a tiny school district (one high school, one middle, two elementaries) and much less bureaucracy and micromanagement.

          Thank you for being a teacher. I, for one, appreciate everything you do. (I’m one of the many who did it for a couple years, burned out, and decided corporate America was much less likely to give me an ulcer.) I like to ask people who toss out that “seven hours a day, nine months a year” line why they aren’t teaching, if it’s such a dream job.

      3. Zee*

        Your wife’s principal’s only excuse might be is that he wants to see the materials the teachers are using and handing out to students. If he was really that interested, however, he can go in and sit in the classroom and watch the teacher teach. It sounds like he doesn’t know where to begin with these problems the school is having, and he is misguided into even begin on how to approach these issues or implement the curriculum changes you’ve mentioned.

        1. Josh S*

          The reason behind it is that the Principal wants to make sure the teacher isn’t copying bad worksheet games that have no real point. (Like the ‘puzzle’ worksheets that make a joke, or spelling worksheets, or whatever.) I think she’s trying to encourage good teaching methods.

          But most of the teachers aren’t doing that anyway. And even if they were, this is the most bass-ackwards way of dealing with the problem that I can possibly imagine.

          It’s part of a larger pattern of crazyness from this principal that has been escalating lately, so I really kind of feel bad for my wife and her co-workers lately.

    2. ChristineH*

      I forget where she was in relation to her boss’s office and what her job is, but maybe he relied on her being close by, and the move put her further away from him? Yeah it’s a bit inconvenient, but that to me is a small price to pay for having an employee not be physically miserable.

      1. Emily*

        The original letter mentioned she would be switching spots with the AA assigned to a manager in another department who her boss seems to have a rivalry with. I gathered that he was less concerned with his own AA sitting further away, and more resistant to the other manager’s AA moving into the letter-writer’s original cube (near him), which he viewed as somehow giving up his “territory” to the rival manager.

    3. Kou*

      Me, too. Who are these people who get upset about things that in no way affect anyone in a negative way and don’t affect THEM at all?

  3. ChristineH*

    Really glad the new AA was willing to switch workstations with you. Your boss needs to remember that this switch is actually beneficial for him in a way because it allows you to do your job more comfortably, thus increasing your productivity. Isn’t that what every boss wants?! ;)

    I can empathize…because of my wonky eyes, I can be pretty sensitive to glare if exposed for too long, which can give me a headache, or at least make me not feel so well. I’m amazed I DON’T get full-blown migraines!

  4. Carl*

    I used to get a lot of migraines, twitches, and jerks from sitting in a cubicle. Then I quit my job and haven’t had to deal with those people anymore.

  5. Another Job Seeker*

    To the OP – I’m glad you were able to change offices. I’m sorry that your supervisor is being difficult, and I hope that you find another position soon.

    Just before I came to look at AAM today, I was surfing on another site – http://migraine.com/. I hope that the site provides you with information and support.

  6. Gracie (OP)*

    ChristineH, my original location was about 10 feet or less from my supervisor’s office. The new location is three feet closer, roughly. In fact, I’m now directly across from his office whereas before, I was catty-corner.

    All in all, I physically moved about 5-10 feet (if that) and am probably closer to him by like, 2 feet. So….it’s not like I moved all the way down the hallway or onto a different floor. Then I could definitely understand why a supervisor would be annoyed (heck, I’d be annoyed if I got moved that far from my supervisor because it would be a pain).

    1. Julie*

      It’s ridiculous that you had to even ask twice for this. I’m glad you can work without the stress and pain. I had a manager once who told two of us who were sharing an office that we couldn’t put the wastebasket where we wanted – in our own office. And we weren’t putting it anywhere weird.

      1. Jamie*

        “And we weren’t putting it anywhere weird.”

        How sad is it that to qualify your story you had to defend that you weren’t putting it anywhere weird. I’m glad that manager is past tense for you – hopefully they’ve gotten help for their micromanaging mania.

        The day I care where anyone keeps their wastebasket is the day I hope they force me into early retirement and some therapy.

        1. LL100*

          LOL, I’m imagining the wastebasket sitting on top of as desk. That was the only weird place I could think of.

    2. Gracie (OP)*

      So what’s funny about this is that in November, Boss 2 was moved upstairs about four floors. So now, from 11:30 to 2:30 every day (or 10:30-1:30 on Mondays), I have to be in a cubicle in the 7th floor. That required getting a second PC, telephone and fax hook-ups, internet hook-up, etc. Outside of those times, I have to be back on my original floor for Boss 1.

      Will someone please tell me that I’m not crazy for being less than ecstatic about this arrangement? I’m putting up with it obviously, b/c the alternative is unemployment, but apparently, my *appearing* to be anything less than Absolutely Elated is really ruining the managers’ days. Like, don’t ask me “hey, how is the two-floor arrangement working out?” and then get mad that I gave a polite and diplomatic, but truthful, answer.

  7. some1*

    OP, is your boss kind of a micro-manager/control freak in general? I have worked for people like that. My guess is that your boss feels like you went over his head by going to HR (even though you had every right to do so).

    1. Gracie (OP)*

      some1, normally, I’d say no. He’s usually pretty chill. That’s why I was so surprised when he initially said “no” back in late March. And of all the reasons I’d speculated for why he’d say “no” the whole “that’s my space and it belongs to meeeeee!!!!!!!!111” tantrum had never crossed my mind. As far as WTF moments go in my work history, this was probably the biggest of them all.

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