fast answer Friday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s fast answer Friday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Coworkers want money from me for a lottery

I just started a new job a few weeks ago. I recently learned that my coworkers gather an office lottery pool about two or three times per week. Since everyone contributes to it, my coworkers added money in my absence (I have been in several new staff meetings) and asked me to pay them back. Is it wrong to feel a little insulted by this, especially since they didn’t even ask me if I wanted to contribute in the first place? I am helping take care of a sick relative, which I don’t plan on telling my coworkers, so I prefer to keep all of my discretionary income for myself or my family. How can I politely say that I’m not interested? (I am already aware that it will look bad that “the new girl” is the only staffer not contributing.)

I think “insulted” is an overreaction (they didn’t insult you, after all), but “annoyed” wouldn’t be. In any case, I’d just say, “I’m not one for lotteries, so no thank you” and leave it at that. (Alternately, you could say “I’m neurotic about budgeting, so I can’t” or anything else that conveys “no, this isn’t going to happen.”)

2. Asking for feedback after an internship rejection

I recently applied for an internship which was highly competitive. I really thought I was sure to get this internship, I’m over qualified, have everything they want, job experience, supervisory experience, stellar grades, volunteer work, etc. It turns out I didn’t get it. I’m over it, and on to my next plan, but…

This company gives an interview to anyone at my college who applies, in order to give them interview practice. The rejection letter was simply a brief paragraph which didn’t say much. Since they are trying to give people practice, do you think it is appropriate to email back asking for feedback on why I didn’t get the position?

Sure. In fact, it’s always appropriate to ask for feedback after an interview if you get rejected. You might not get it, but you might — and in a context like yours, there’s an extra chance that you will.

Just make sure to keep your tone non-defensive and non-combative.

3. Reaching out to a former coworker

I’ve been unemployed for about five months, and in the process have come to own your book and read your blog religiously. I’ve really taken a lot of your advice, especially about networking, to heart. Once I find a job that I’m interested in, I check to see if any of my LinkedIn contacts work at the company. On one such search, I came across an old colleague’s profile (we are not connected on LinkedIn but have several old colleagues in common). I saw that she works at a great organization, one that I too would love to work for. So naturally I went and searched the company’s website for job postings. One of the posted jobs is perfect for me and I plan to apply.

I don’t want to be just another resume in a stack of resumes. I feel contacting my old colleague (a director at the current organization) could possibly help move my resume to the top of the pile. The problem is that we hardly interacted at our old company. She was upper management at the old company, in a department I had nothing to do with, and I’m not sure if she’d even remember me (old company was about 30 people with a semi-high turnover rate; she was there for 15 years and I was there for 3, but she was asked to leave about 2 years into my time there). Additionally, I plan to be in her city for the next two weeks. Would it be weird to ask her to meet up for coffee, knowing that we hardly know each other?

Definitely reach out to her. She’s a legitimate contact; you worked together in a small company for three years, even if it wasn’t closely. I wouldn’t make the focus of your ask the coffee, though, since some people (like, uh, me) avoid such things at all costs. Instead, email her about the fact that you’re interested in the job and say you’d love any insights she can offer you on the company or the strength of your candidacy. Then add something like, “I’ll actually be in XYZ in a couple of weeks and would love to buy you coffee if you have time, although either way I’d love to hear from you.” Good luck!

4. Mentioning a hearing disability in your cover letter

I recently made the switch from recruiting to student advising and I love it. I had an interesting situation yesterday when helping a student review his resume. He had indicated in his cover letter that he has a hearing disability. Normally this is something that I would advise leaving out, but the reason he mentioned it is because he has difficulty understanding what people are saying to him over the phone. He mentioned his disability because he was explaining that the best way to reach him is via email, so his reasoning was valid. I explained to him that the decision to take it out or leave it in was up to him, but that he had to understand that by leaving it in he was opening himself up to possible discrimination.

What are your thoughts?

I think his reasoning makes sense. Someone likely to discriminate against him is going to have that opportunity as soon as they reach the next step in the process anyway, so it’s not like he’s avoiding that by leaving the mention out of his cover letter, and this way he’s giving them useful information about how to reach him. There’s more advice about job-searching while hard-of-hearing in this very old post right here (the seventh blog post I ever wrote, in fact).

5. Applying for a job you quit in the past

I was just wondering whether or not it is a good idea to apply to a job I quit in the past. I left on fairly good terms around three years ago and still have my old manager’s contact information. I saw the job posting online.

Sure, as long as you left on good terms and did good work while you were there. Be prepared to explain why you’re interested in returning to the same job you earlier left.

6. Ninjas, sultans, and swiss army knives

I just can’t take the personal branding on LinkedIn anymore. When I saw somebody refer to himself as a “Swiss Army Knife” today, I considered closing out my account for fear of coming across another idiotic self-appointed nickname. It’s already bad enough that dozens of business “ninjas” and “sultans” are populating the workplace, and now this. Do people really add these things to their profiles with a straight face? Anyway, I’m just curious what other silly titles are out there. I know LinkedIn profiles are not supposed to be as formal as resumes, but there seems to be a lot more embellishment of accomplishments and responsibilities on there, making people seem arrogant and clueless rather than accomplished and professional.

Yeah, blame the personal branding evangelists. It’s lame, and most hiring managers don’t give a crap about what you call yourself.

7. Can I break my commitment to stay for three years?

I am a young professional. I saw a job ad for a non-attorney position in government (where I want to spend my career) that matched my interests, especially in writing. After three rounds of interviewing, I was selected for the position. During my interview, the position was described as one that would focus on report writing and application of relevant legal principals. During the interview in which I received the offer, the head of the department requested that I commit to a term of three years. I agreed because the position seemed perfect for me.

I’ve made it through a year and realize I hate the job and feel misled. My position has little to no writing requirements and instead is mostly data entry. I write maybe 2-3 pages a week and I have to fight to even get that much of an opportunity to write.The office culture is highly dysfunctional as the head of the department doesn’t get along with my boss. My boss tells me to my face that I have done a good job whenever I ask for feedback but I have heard from multiple employees that he is actually displeased with my performance and sees me as a spy for management. I have also found that there is little opportunity for advancement with this department as some of my coworkers at my level have gone decades without promotion.

Should I honor my promise to stay on for 3 years or would it be okay to start looking elsewhere?

Start looking. Your obligation to honor your promise to stay for three years fell apart when they didn’t honor their obligation to give you the work they promised you.

To be clear, jobs evolve and aren’t precisely what was envisioned when advertised, so you shouldn’t go running off if things are just slightly different … but this sounds well outside the normal bounds of that. “Mostly data entry” is very different from what you were sold.

{ 91 comments… read them below }

  1. Blinx*

    #6. I’m sorry, but I’m laughing at this post because I recently replied to an ad that ASKED for the Swiss Army knife of creatives. “Single blade and toothpick candidates need not apply.” I’m wondering what this hiring manager has in THEIR LinkedIn profile!

    1. Esra*

      Those types of postings are all over the creative landscape.

      I’m always skeptical applying to them, because the things I would actually consider myself a ninja astronaut rockstar at (ex, baking chocolate chip cookies, playing videogames, reading for fun) are never listed in the desired skills section.

    2. Anonymous*

      I think those types of postings are useful to filter out applicants as well. If you totally don’t resonate with that type of language (or at least find it amusing), then you won’t apply to those ads. I think it’s a good cultural filter for the company.

      1. The gold digger*

        I felt the same way about companies that boasted that you could take your dog to work with you.

        It’s a great way of warning people who don’t want to have dogs all over them not to apply.

        I would, however, be completely in favor of a cat-filled workplace.

        1. Jessica*

          Amen! I’m super allergic to dogs (even though my workplace, a school sadly, has employee dogs in the building all the time for some reason), but I keep begging my boss to get an office cat. Hey, if they can all have their dogs running around, why can’t we have a quiet, unassuming cat in the office? (We’re both cat people, and I currently live in a pet-free apartment building.)

        2. KarenT*

          Yes! I once went on an interview and upon arrival met the office dog and was told employees were welcome to bring their dogs in. I instantly started picturing dog hair on my work clothes and barking while I was on the phone.
          A cat workplace, however, would have me for life! Cats would love to climb cubicle walls!

      2. Sharon*

        These are common in the IT industry also. I agree that it’s a way to have your applicants self-filter. But by the same token it’s a form of subtle agism. For example, most people over 35 are more mature than to think of themselves as ninja rockstars. So if you have that description plastered in the title of your job ads, along with pictures of bungee-jumping teenagers all over your career website… well, count me out! Do you want professionals who get the job done or do you want kids who live for the next adrenaline pump?

        1. Mike C.*

          This is really a great point, and something I hope people think about when writing ads. Language is a powerful tool.

        2. Spolio*

          I would say that it’s more cultural fit that ageism. The company that I work for (non-IT) recently put out a job ad for a Web Ninja. Our company culture is very laid back and playful, which is reflected in all of our ads. Someone looking for a more traditional environment would not be as happy here. I think that’s a matter of personality more so than age, and it’s good info to have before you apply.

  2. Mike*

    #6 – I’ve also seen “Polymat” on someone’s LinkedIn profile. If you are in fact a polymath, you probably know how to spell it correctly.

  3. Henning Makholm*

    #2 — “I’m over qualified, have everything they want …”. That sounds like a possible contradiction. How do you know that you have everything they want? What if they wanted someone who isn’t overqualified?

    1. Holly*

      I agree. A lot of times candidates think they’re a perfect fit, but the company actually has a number of other filters (company culture, etc.) that the candidate isn’t aware of.

  4. Anonymous*

    OP#1: I had a similar situation at a previous job, and all I said was “No, thank you. I don’t do the lottery.” Having said that, they asked me if I was interested. Your co-workers were presumptuous in adding you without asking first. That’s their mistake, and you shouldn’t worry about having been added to that without giving your okay.

    1. Long Time Admin*

      They probably thought they were being friendly by making sure the OP was included. Cut them a little slack.

      If the OP tells them that she doesn’t want to be in on the lottery (not hints at), and they ignore her, then we can criticize them.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I agree. I think they were trying to be inclusive. Perhaps take the sting out of the message by saying that you do occasionally participate in other types office activities. (Bringing in treats, holiday charity, etc. Just give them some idea of what you like to do.)
        So, yes, you are correct that others should not have spent your money without asking- however, try to hold it in a good light (they were being inclusive) and see how it goes.

        1. OP #1*

          Hi! I’m the one who submitted question #1. Thanks for your reactions. For some reason, I didn’t realize they were probably just trying to be inclusive and welcoming. I did pay this time and politely asked not to be included for next time. I also like the idea of participating in other office activities. Thanks everyone!

          1. Jessica*

            That was a decent solution! I was trying to figure out how to get out of paying it without hurt feelings (especially for those who were now out more money) and long-term repercussions, but it sounds like you found a good way to deal with it. How do they do lottery draws for the prize?

            1. Jessica*

              Ah, nevermind. Reading below, apparently it’s more common to go in together to buy lottery tickets. That makes more sense than just pooling money to give it to someone. ;~)

          2. Andie*

            I agree they should have asked first but maybe you will bring them goodluck and they will win. We have a lottery pool at work and so many people want to quit after realizing how much money they have spent over the years. Nobody wants to quit because they are afraid that the minute they don’t pay their $3 bucks that is when the group will finally hit the lottery.

          3. Anonymous*

            I may be a bad person, but if this solicitation of money occurred after the lotto results were already in, then I suspect someone used you to recoup their loss for the week.

            Think about it this way: had they won, do you think they would have post-fact split the winnings with you, just to “include” you?

      2. EngineerGirl*

        While adding the the OP automatically is an inclusive move, asking her to pay them back for something she never agreed to is not. I suspect that is what the OP is upset about.

    2. Anony*

      Yea I would pay them the first time since I believe they were just being friendly too (you can’t penalize somone for that!) but make it clear that you don’t want to participate next time so that the same cycle doesn’t happen again.

      1. KayDay*

        Agreed. (assuming the amount is small and within the OP’s means) I think that by approaching this in a non-confrontational but assertive way, e.g. “Thank you for thinking of me, but I actually do not want to participate in lotteries. Here’s my two dollars for last week, however, please do not include me in the future,” is a good way to keep up the relationship with the co-workers while getting out of the lottery. If they give the OP trouble with that, I hope the OP updates us so that we can appropriately bash them for having serious boundary issues.

  5. Steve*

    Re Number 1, let me take a slightly different tack and ask you to consider something. You say that “everyone” in the office participates and that they included you without your agreement. Look at it from this perspective, since they all participate they assumed you would want to participate and did not want to leave you out. You are being welcomed into the office in a very inclusive fashion. Often times it is difficult for the new person to break their way into existing cliques. You have every right to be taken aback by what they did, but if you consider their motives it is also possible to feel good that they want you in the group. Depending on the office culture, if this is the main bonding activity I would strongly consider joining them if at all possible. The money is relatively small and being part of the team, even if in silly ways, can improve the office environment for all. (says the man who hates “Secret Santa” but has participated for years)

    1. Blinx*

      That’s true — it seems like this is a good problem to have. Think if the opposite had happened. You come in the next morning and no one’s there because they all won the Powerball, but didn’t bother to include you. Now THAT’s something I’d have an issue with!

      1. OP #1*

        Hi Steve. I agree that this is a good problem to have. Blinx, your comment made me laugh. I might be more upset about that than anything else!

        1. JohnQPublic*

          “Wow, I am so glad you thought of me. I wish I could make that part of my time here with you guys, but I’m afraid I have to be pretty frugal with my money, because (I just moved and my furniture wasn’t mine/I racked up some serious student loans back in college/When I was between jobs I had to dip into savings, and I have to build that back up/I have future plans that I really have to save money for). But thank you so much for including me. I hate to think you’ll win without me, but maybe that means ill be promoted faster?”

  6. Chriama*

    I’m especially surprised that they would assume you wanted to participate. I always thought that the lottery, like drinking and charity drives, is an activity that generates a lot of opposing view points. I suppose it might be a micro-cultural thing where it’s more acceptable in some places than others, but is it normal to assume that someone you don’t know would want to participate in a lottery pool?

    1. fposte*

      If it’s in the US, it’s probably not technically legal, either. (Most office pools apparently aren’t.)

      But they’re a big part of the culture at some places, and I agree with people upthread that the inclusion was likely kindly meant and should be treated accordingly.

      1. A Bug!*

        Yes, good intentions for sure (although I have to wonder if they would have been as inclusive in the event the pool had won), but a very good illustration of how even good-intentioned assumptions can go awry.

        Assuming (a) there’s nothing actually preventing you from gambling and it’s just a preference for you, and (b) you can spare the $2, I’d just pay them for this time and politely withdraw from future pools.

      2. danr*

        It’s legal in states that have a state run lottery. However, the big betting pools for the NCAA (college) basketball tournaments aren’t legal, but the states don’t worry about them as long as no one is taking money for setting up the pool.

  7. Anony*

    Re: 7. Can I break my commitment to stay for three years?

    I wouldn’t be afraid of breaking that committment. I agree with AAM and also, if you don’t have a 3-year contract, you certainly aren’t obligated to stay for 3 years. I applied and interviewed for a position once that asked for a 2-year committment, but people ended up leaving before that anyway. If there’s no contract involved, then I would start applying now. I think some employers will ask you that in the beginning just to get a sense of how long you plan on staying but it’s certainly no obligation, especially if the culture is toxic for you.

    1. EngineerGirl*

      I think before the OP leaves they really need to approach management one more time. Go in saying “When I interviewed I was promised lots of writing assignments. Now my job consists of mostly data entry, which is not the job I interviewed for or agreed to. You asked me for a three year committment and I gladly said yes based on the fact that I would be writing. Since that part of the agreemet hasn’t been fulfilled I think we need to revisit my committment expectations. How do we go forward on this?”

      You’ll know very quickly what your answer is. Either they will be apologetic and try go fix things, or they will get angry and tell you “things change” etc.

      But at least you gave them a chance to fix it. That will be really important later when they asked you why you left your job.

      1. EngineerGirl*

        Also, while I normally don’t advise going over someones head, this may be the time to do so – **After** you’ve spoken to your normal boss. It appears that the director was the one that asked you to stay and it is possible the manager was forced to take you against his will. So now he’s trying to give you crud assigments trying to get you to leave. So **after** you’ve had your talk with your manager, suggest that the both of you (yes, both) go to the director to see if there is a solution. If the manager doesn’t want to go, you should go anyway. Say the same things to the director as the manager.

        However, be prepared for major retaliation from the manager for doing this. I would suggest being trasferred to another department to get away. Based on your comments there **will** be retaliation for going to the director and ratting him out.

        1. slim2120*

          I am number 7. Thank you for your feedback. I am considering this option. The one thing I have going for me with this is the head of the department does like me alot. I also think you are right that the head of dept. hired me against my immediate boss’s desire and he is retaliating by giving me data entry.

          The really frustrating thing is my boss won’t be honest with me and tell me what I am doing wrong. My previous employers all liked my work alot but I get the feeling my current boss thinks I am a bad worker.

          If he was honest with me and told me what I was doing wrong, I could improve my performance. Sadly, he keeps telling me to face that I am doing a good job. I have had four-five face to face meetings in which I requested a performance review and each time he told me I am doing a good job. Yet every month the percentage of my job that is writing declines and the percentage that is data entry increases. He also makes sarcastic/passive-aggressive comments about me in our weekly office meeting.

          I never experienced anything like this.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            That really sucks. I don’t know if you feel you want to try to make it work out or if you just want to leave.
            However, you could try keeping a journal of these things. I know P/A remarks sometimes sound tame on paper- what you want to do is show a pattern of these remarks.
            Also try to figure out if he treats everyone this way or just you.
            I wonder if you can go to the Big Boss under the guise of seeking career advice. “I had really hoped I would be doing more writing by now. But I am not. Do you have any suggestions on what my next move should be?”

          2. EngineerGirl*

            Welcome to the “adult” world. Hah! You’ll find throughout your career that you will encounter misundersandings as well as passive/agressive tactics. The best way to deal with either is a head-on conversation.

            I would make one suggestions going into the conversations. Make sure that you are able to quantify things. If you can note how many hours a week you are doing data entry Vs writing that would be good. That way it can’t be blown off. Also if the ratio is increasing every week you should note that. Again, pure numbers. If you have a timecard system it is pretty easy to go through it and see which percentage is what.

            1. Anony*

              I personally wouldn’t recommend go to your boss’s boss, no matter what type of relationship you have, because after all, your boss’s boss is still your boss’s boss, and imagine how your boss will feel if you stepped over his head and did that. If you really want to do that which I still wouldn’t suggest, try talking to your manager first before you do that.

      2. NUM*

        I do not think I would follow EG’s advice below/above. You do not owe your manager an explanation or (another) opportunity. In an ideal world, you would explain, your manager would understand and react positively, and everything would be better. But, as you say, they are dysfunctional. The chances of everything turning up roses seems slim. And, there is a big downside for you.

        If you have a great relationship with your boss’ boss, perhaps you can leave on good terms (and keep future options open) by explaining the reasons for your departure in an exit interview.

  8. KiT*

    Re: 6. Ninjas, sultans, and swiss army knives

    Can someone please explain what that means when someone refers to themselves by these terminologies? This is the first time I have ever heard of it.

    1. Anonymous*

      I’m in academics, not business, but I can guess. The ninja is the good employee who sneaks in, gets it done, everything’s better, and no one talks about it.

      The sultan is the ‘king’ of the task or job. Can do anything, works miracles, etc.

      Some of my library colleagues have picked up some unfortunate LOL Cats vocabulary, and I have seen informal, but not on resumes yet, mentions of ‘mad library skilz.’ I do think of myself as the Bunny Watson of my current workplace, and I have worked with a librarian whom I KNOW is the smartest woman in the world, but we didn’t talk about it all the time.

        1. Jamie*

          I have never seen Sultan – I’m not even sure what that means.

          I do, however, have a deep and fervent wish to never be referred to as a guru again. I hate that expression so much I have no words and it’s all over IT and people use it like a compliment.

          I’m no one’s guru – and if you’re looking for that kind of leadership and someone to whom you can devote yourself you can skip my office…I couldn’t be less interested.

          1. Anonymous*

            …and if you want to listen to things humming all day, you can go and meditate by the server racks :-)

    2. Anonymous*

      I don’t think they really mean anything. They are quite common in ads for startups in the SF Bay Area though. I don’t get it – I wouldn’t want to work with a “ninja” – you’d have to watch your back all the time, they carry serious weapons! And “rockstars” are a PITA.

    3. Josh S*

      They all generally mean “I’m a really good/expert level person at $Skill”, but in a self-aggrandizing, meaningless, vapid way. The only thing it communicates is that the office runs with an ‘offbeat’ style, and/or that they value style over/equal to results…

  9. KayDay*

    You actually bring up a good point, since I don’t think these companies are actually hiring mercenaries specializing in covert warfare, dictators, or inanimate objects. I would imagine “swiss army knife” is a more positive way of saying “jack of all trades” in regards to one field.

    The only obnoxious term I ever see is “rockstar,” which makes me think of someone with a big ego who trashes hotel rooms and expects other people to clean up their mess.

    1. HR Gorilla*

      In my experience, people want “rockstar” in their job title often *do* have a big ego and expect other people to clean up their messes.

  10. slim2120*

    I am the person who wrote number 7. I want to thank AAM for answering my question and removing information that could have outted me. I also want to thank the writer above who gave me feedback.

    This is something that has been troubling me for weeks so feedback is welcomed.

  11. Danielle*

    Re: #4, yes, I’m Deaf, and I would always advise people to just be honest about it because it really isn’t a disability you can hide. It demands accomodations right off the bat – normally very simple reasonable ones, but I always felt it was unfair for the employer to not know this. And yes, the sad fact of the world is I probably lost out on a lot of jobs because of people’s misconceptions of what hearing loss means, but I also don’t want to work for someone who isn’t willing to be understanding. I was unemployed for a long time, but I’m happily employed in a wonderful job now (thanks to much of Alison’s advice here on the blog!) who has no issues with my Deafness.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Yay for wonderful job!

      At least being deaf something people get. My disability is hidden–a learning one. With math. Which is everywhere. Most people don’t know what dyscalculia is. If one more person says “You just don’t LIKE math,” I’ll blow. I would love it, if I could do it!

      1. Danielle*

        It’s always the hidden disabilities that are the hardest, and it’s absolutely unfair that they’re not given the same “status” more visible ones are. Although being Deaf is sort of invisible . . until people start getting angry that I’m not answering them :) I really wish you the best though and I hope you can find someone willing to work with you on it!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Thanks. I’m going through Vocational Rehab right now, and may possibly take a technical writing program. It’s the only thing I can really do well–write. With all the admin jobs taking on accounting duties, my options are very limited.

    2. Mike Lewis*

      One of my engineers had a profound hearing loss yet of the fifteen or so people I’ve trained, he was the second best. Accommodating him was no big deal. I just took his calls if he had trouble understanding the caller and summarised the discussion for him during conference calls. Other than that, we sat next to each other and emailed one another all day.

      One thing I noticed was that when he asked people to repeat themselves, they thought he hadn’t understood what they said so they repeated it in a different way, confusing things. When he asked me to repeat myself, I realised that he hadn’t heard me, not that he hadn’t understood, so I repeated it using exactly the same words so he could pick up the ones he missed.

      The only problem occurred when my manager assigned him to do quality assurance for an audio project. In that case alone, I felt that he wasn’t the best choice.

      1. Design01*

        Wow- I wish there were more bosses like you. It’s actually really easy to get frustrated when people can’t hear you (yes, I have a hearing loss).

        Regarding the situation-it can be solved with CapTel, but I agree with Danielle. It’s not something you can hide in the long run.

  12. Just Me*

    I think the OP handled the issue well. But I do have a slight different take on this.
    Your new co-workers spent your money without permission. Regardless on why , spending someones money without permission is really just wrong. I think it was rude. You don’t weclome someone to a department by spending their money. That is presumtious that you have the money to spend as well as want to spend it on their ideas.

    How can anyone really just think… ‘ Hey lets welcome Nancy New Girl to the department by spending her money without permission and then asking her to pay it back ” and seriously not think that is wrong. I think their motive was more for getting more money for the lottery than welcoming the OP. You ASK people to participate not do it for them.

    I am sure everything will be fine as you handled it great ! It shows a lot for yout character….

    1. Britanny*

      I don’t think it has anything to do with “getting more money for the lottery.” It’s probably that they assumed the OP would *want* to participate because everyone does and loves it. Is it right to assume? No. But sometimes people do, for example by thinking that everyone loves being herded into the kitchen for staff birthday party cake day. I do, but I know co-workers who hated it, so it’s better to make it optional celebrate cake rather than announcing its 2pm and we all need to march into the kitchen.
      In the end, I don’t think this kind of stuff indicates malice.

      1. Just Me*

        You do not spend other peoples money without their consent.

        Being herded into kitchen for a co-worker b-day party is completely different. It doesn’t cost someone money. And nor do you then say… OK everyone.. everyone give me $2 for the slice of cake you just ate, as in this case

        As you stated it should be optional and that is the point. Her co-workers did not make it optional they made the decision for her. They based it on their wants at the time as they didn’t get her input and not did they seem to think they needed to.

        They did not do this to ” weclome ” her. They did it because they can spread the cost of the ticket more and/or get more try’s to win.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Hmmm. Maybe. But I wouldn’t say that’s definitely the situation at all; there’s really no way to say for sure. I think she’s better off assuming the best until/unless she gets a reason to believe otherwise about them.

          1. Just Me*

            I certainly agree that the OP should assume the best and be done with it but I am not able to beleive that they did not look at this as an oppourtunity to get more participation for the lottery ticket.

            And I beleive this only because that is what they did, used her money to help them on something she didn’t know exsited.

        2. Just Me*

          You welcome people to the office by sitting with them on break, offering a cup of coffee( pop…. ), showing them the ropes, letting them know about office doings, activities, etc.

          Making them spend money they don’t know they are spending is not welcoming.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I agree with you that it’s not a particularly considerate or well-thought-out way to welcome someone, but we really can’t know what their motivations were.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            I agree that no one should spend anyone’s money without asking- this goes not only for coworkers, but also spouses, family members etc.

            OP is kind of in a delicate spot. New job- rough start. If OP wants to survive at the job s/he (sorry, losing track here) needs to find a way to put it in a good light and move beyond the incident. Hopefully, it will not happen again.

            If the situation had been different my answer would have been different. For example: If she was told “We put in $10 for you to help bail the boss’s son out of jail again. So you owe us ten bucks.” There are so many problems with that statement I can’t count that high. I would have said, “No, I can’t. I am sorry.”

            1. Anon*

              What about people who may have ethical issues with gambling? They may belong to a religion that forbids it, have a family member who has a gambling addiction….There are so many things you just can’t assume.

              Also, when you’re just starting, even $2 is a lot of money. You don’t know if someone is supporting a partner, caring for an aging parent, paying loans, or simply wants to have a bit of extra cash to buy a beer on Friday nights.

              Bottom line: It’s never polite to spend another person’s cash. Your money is your business. End of story.

              1. Cali*

                Actually this just happened to me. i like to stick away from many forms of gambling for personal religious reasons. When my office went in on a large lotto contest recently I declined. I didn’t want to fully explain why however, as I didn’t want it to seem like I was saying they were doing something immoral. If you say you don’t believe in something others are doing they sometimes can think you’re judging them- even if it’s not your intent and it’s just your personal preference. So I sucked it up and dealt with one woman’s pointed comment about it being a bonding experience and another person’s comment that if they won they would not share with non-participants (I think they thought I was just being cheap or a kill joy). Later I joked with a friend that at least I’d have great advancement opportunities if they won, as I’d be like the only one left in the office. :) Moral- stand your ground. And try not to judge the kill-joy, they may have better reasons not to participate than they are saying, but keep them quiet so as not to potentially offend you.

  13. KarenT*


    This whole ninja/sultan thing is annoying and silly, but I suppose if one were to buy in to those metaphors you may be excited to hire a ninja. It does seem like a modern attempt at “What colour is your parachute?”

  14. Vicki*

    My spouse programs in Ruby; several of the Ruby mailing lists periodically discuss the silliness of “ninjas” and “rockstars” in job descriptions.

    I did like this take, found recently in Twitter:
    ‘Stop using “guru,” “ninja,” and other terms for job descriptions. You are a Sparkly Code Princess. Own it.’
    — Timothy Asher @betthearm 9 Nov 2012

        1. Jamie*

          This reminds me of that commercial that’s running now, where the mom is in the toy store buying some princess castle for her daughter and the credit card company is saying that if she finds it for less elsewhere…refundcakes…blah blah.

          Anyway the toy store clerk is in a princess outfit and she tells the mom to have a “Super Sparkly Day!”

          I am convinced all I need to kick start my enthusiasm again is for someone to wish me a super sparkly day. In person. Every day.

          I’ve asked my husband to do this when he wakes me up – but he just doesn’t seem up for it at 4:45 am when he leaves for work.

          I would wish him a super sparkly day if he asked.

          1. Agile Phalanges*

            It wouldn’t be in person, but if you lived here, you could get wished “Have a sparkling day in [region]” by a local meteorologist on the news every day (multiple times a day, actually–morning news, evening news, radio…). Would that do?

          2. Anonymous*

            I am convinced all I need to kick start my enthusiasm again is for someone to wish me a super sparkly day. In person. Every day.

            Somehow, I have this image of you taking the Striteraxian approach of punching a sack of potatoes before going to work.

          3. Jessica*

            I just saw that commercial the other day and it completely reminded me of this thread! It reminded me, too, to tell my husband about it, and he loved “Sparkly Word Princess.” I told him it was taken, though. ;~)

  15. Becky*

    Re: #6, my workplace asked us to come up with nicknames for what we do that are listed on our business cards and website. It definitely is supposed to reflect the culture of the company. Our customers seem to either find it amusing or not care, and I do currently have it listed on my Linked-In profile while I work there. I wouldn’t list it on my resume that way, though.

  16. Joanna Reichert*

    As a fan of survival skills . . . . . . no, it’s still not cool. Honestly, we do get your innuendo about being multi-faceted, but it’s just too lame.

    Another term that makes my skin crawl? “Rock star!” Used in everything from tiling salesmen to veterinary receptionists. (Don’t ask me how I know that.) I heard it more when I worked in the music industry but how it spread to decidedly boring and non-musical skill sets is beyond me.

  17. JillieMack*

    #5 – I couldn’t agree more with AAM’s advice! Your situation is almost exactly the one I was in a few years ago. I had left a job and also after 3 years, was looking for something else and re-applied for my old job. It turns out, I was the only person they even interviewed for it and I’ve now been [happily!] back for about 4 years now. They did, of course, interview me again (and didn’t tell me I was the only one until I was back). Just make sure you have a good response for why/how things have changed so that you want to come back and aren’t just coming back because you’re desperate and will jump ship again as soon as things are different. Good luck!

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