giving thanks for a holiday bonus when you hate your job

This letter isn’t really about a bonus at all. A reader writes:

Should I send a thank-you note to my supervisors (who are also the owners of the company) for the Christmas bonus I received, even though they know I’m unhappy with the job and with them?

I work for an incredibly small company, and besides me, there is one other admin, and the two partners, on salary. The other five workers are contractors. Before I got this job, I was a (begrudging) temp for over five years, and this is my first job that I’ve ever received a bonus of any kind, let alone a holiday bonus.

My first instinct is to thank them profusely for their generosity and tell them I’ve had a wonderful year working here. However, I’m concerned it will come off as disingenuous because to be fair, my job is boring, I’m not very happy here, and the expectations of what the job would entail and what it actually does entail are two wildly different things. In fact, the issues I’ve had with the paid-time-off policy, the hours/days the office is open, the dress code, and tasks I’m supposed to complete have caused tension with both the Partners and unless they are completely clueless, they must know I’m not thrilled.

My side? I took the job to do menial tasks because I was told I could wear jeans to work, the schedule was flexible and I could take time off for just about any time for any reason. The comfort of flexibility and being able to wear what I want (again, jeans and a turtleneck with flats are my uniform…in the summer, I wear t-shirts – I’m not what you’d call a flashy dresser) was worth it despite the potential of being a bit bored with my job responsibilities. Yet, over the summer (after having been at the job for five months) I was told I should be “grateful not to have to wear a suit every day,” never could wear jeans again, not even on December 24th or the day after Thanksgiving, not allowed to take time off when it was requested (the two days after the Fourth of July this past year). I was also expected to clean out my boss’ office when he decided to rent his space to a new tenant, sell items for the other boss on Craigslist with people I had never communicated with, and pay cash to tip movers out of my own pocket. Just overall feeling like a major shift in expectations was rapid and after missing out on a family reunion and spending hours each week trying to figure out what to wear to work, I’ve just turned very cranky and very bitter about this job, fast.

So you may be asking me to come back to the point — do I thank the bosses for a Christmas gift, do I say anything about my status of employment (like, “I’m honored to be working here,” or “I look forward to continuing to work with you,” etc.)? Do I say anything about our clashes (like, “thank you for this amazing bonus, and despite some of our issues throughout the year, I appreciate being recognized”)? Do I thank them for the bonus and let them know that I’ve never gotten one before and how generous that is? Again, I’m just concerned my tone will come off sarcastic and disingenuous if I try to profusely thank them.

Oh, and hand-written, right?

This question is about way more than what you’re actually asking, or at least I intend to answer way more than what you’re actually asking.

First things first: Send a note that simply thanks them for their generosity in giving you the bonus and says it was very kind of them. No need to add anything disingenuous about your feelings about working there, and no need to reference the issues you’ve had. Just a thank-you, pure and simple.

Handwritten is fine, but frankly, it doesn’t have to be. This isn’t social correspondence, where handwritten would be more proper.

Now, on to the unsolicited but — in my opinion — much more important advice:

1. Stop spending hours every week trying to figure out what to wear to work. That makes no sense. Buy a bunch of black pants and khakis and be done with it.

2. Stop fighting the paid-time-off policy, the hours/days the office is open, and the dress code, even if only in your own head. You’ve expressed your opinion on them, it’s been heard, and apparently those policies aren’t going to change. Speaking up is fine; continuing to complain (again, even if only to yourself) after you’ve been heard and told things aren’t going to change is both fruitless and legitimately frustrating to those around you.

3. Stop complaining — again, even to yourself — that you took the job with one set of expectations and it turned out to be different. Yes, that sucks. Absolutely it does. But now that you know what the conditions are, it’s up to you to decide whether to continue working there under those conditions or not. You can decide you’d still rather have the job (and the paycheck), even though it’s not what you thought it would be, or you can decide to leave. But what you can’t do is to keep complaining about it and being so bitter about it. That’s not fair to your employer, it’s not fair to your coworkers, and it’s not fair to yourself.

This is the job. You know what the reality of it is now, even if you didn’t before. Knowing that things aren’t going to change, do you want to continue working there or not? Make a decision, either way, but get yourself — and the people around you — out of this unhappy limbo.

Bitterness has a way of moving in for good if you let it take up residence for very long. Don’t do that to yourself.

Read updates to this letter here and here.

{ 76 comments… read them below }

  1. Jamie*

    ITA – just thank them for their generosity and tell them how much you appreciate it. You don’t have to lie or pretend its anything it’s not.

    Good luck finding a better situatuion, if that’s what you choose. It really sucks to feel stuck in something when you feel the old bait and switch – reality not being what was initially promised. I’ve definitively been there and wish I had made a plan to move on instead of hoping for change which was never going to happen and I ended up giving notice with nothing lined up because I finally hit the breaking point.

    I learned from that, but it was a very painful lesson.

      1. Jamie*

        Omg – if my mom were still here I know what I’d be getting in my stocking!

        Too cute! I’m sorry I never took my gramma up on her offer to teach me to crochet.

        Slightly back on topic, I was surprised to see some people here have already gotten your bonuses. For most people I know it comes on the last check before Christmas which I am convincd is why so many people do last minute shopping. I know it is for me.

        1. LA*

          I got mine this morning! A whole $400 less than we were told it would be. I’m still incredibly thankful, it will still buy Christmas presents and pay shipping costs for my family that lives far away, but man if that wasn’t a rude awakening. I’m kind of where the OP is on this in that I have another job lined up and just waited for my bonus to clear before I resign on Monday … It’s tough. But my advice to the OP is to separate the bonus from the job. It’s a generous gift and you should thank them for that. Yes, you got it for working in an unhappy environment but you were still gifted a sum of money. Say thank you, and be grateful to have this sum of money to be able to use how you wish – I recommend buying a pair or two of nice pants and then spending the rest on something relaxing to yourself. A massage on your “employers” dime (as you didnt expect them to give you this money) is doubly relaxing!

    1. Josh S*

      One technique I learned from my time at Dale Carnegie was the “TOUT” method of giving thanks. It was designed as a way to say thank you when receiving an award or being recognized, but it works pretty well (slightly adjusted) as a Thank you Note:

      Thank You
      Others’ contribution
      Use for the reward
      Thank you again

      Start with Thank You. Recognize that others contributed to it (in the case of a thank you note for a gift, this can be a recognition of the generosity of the giver), or that every time you see/use the gift you will be reminded of the giver/team/whatever. Let them know how you’ll use it, or how it is meaningful to you, and then end by thanking them again.

      In the case of a bonus, that could look like:
      “Thank you for the end of year bonus! I appreciate your generosity in sharing the fruits of the company. With this money, my family can [buy a new car/fix the roof/take a vacation we’ve been wanting to/enjoy a nice meal]. Thank you again!”

      It’s simple, effective, and let’s the giver know that you really considered the impact that their gift will have on your life.

  2. HR Director*

    Sounds like she needs to get over herself. If the job is so bad, she should leave, and let someone who really wants to work there do so. I suggest she take some time for some internal reflection and growing up. You don’t always get to dictate exactly what you want, and it wasn’t apparent from her description that she possessed a highly desirable skill set, where she can call the shots.

    1. KarenT*

      That seems a little harsh. The OP clearly has some things to figure out but we don’t know what their skill set is or what they do.

      1. KayDay*

        yeah, and we don’t know what her other considerations were. At this stage in my career, it would be ridiculous for me to expect those things, but when I had a part time job in college? Being able to dress casually and having a flexible schedule would be two really important considerations. And I’d be annoyed if I was told one thing and another thing happened.

        HOWEVER, even when the job turns out crappy (and yes, said part time sucked big time) there’s no point in spending a lot of time complaining about it. Either get over it or try to get out.

        1. Vicki*

          KayDay – I’m curious about what your career is? Because, at this stage in _my_ career, I absolutely expect to be able to dress the way I want and have a flexible schedule. (I’m in Tech.)
          At the companies where I’ve worked, the mere thought of a “dress code” is anathema and no one is told what their “hours” have to be unless they do non-exempt shift work.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            That’s fairly uncommon though, and most typically something that only comes with seniority in most fields, if at all. (And in plenty of fields, it never comes, no matter how senior you are — what you’re describing is the exception rather than the norm.)

  3. Worker Bee*

    I second that. Start looking for a new job and check out the awesome advice you can find on this blog. Don’t let this pull you down, you have a job that pays. So start looking for a job that not only does pay but one that you would actually enjoy

    1. Sara*

      Because it’s not easy to find a new job.

      Comfort in a bad situation because it’s familiar.

      “Better hte devil you know than the one you don’t.”

      1. Rana*

        +1 on the first one, especially if you’re in a field where jobs are few and far between, and might require many months of search and/or moves out of state.

        It’s not so much fear of changing jobs as fear of having no job at all.

    2. fposte*

      And sometimes it’s not fear of changing jobs but understanding that finding a new job is often time-consuming and chancy and exhausting.

    3. Lulu*

      All of this. And once you’ve had a job you really dislike, you become more aware of the possibility of it happening again, as well as the difficulty of strategizing so that it’s less likely to. And when you hate your job, it can be difficult to find the energy/wherewithal to dig your way out. But seriously, the job market for non-specialists right now is miserable and has been for quite some time – there is no “just change your job” easy button.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      It’s not just the job hunt. Once you get the new job, the learning curve can be exhausting. Come home, fall into a chair and call it a day- exhausting.
      The whole thing can be an endurance contest.

  4. Peaches*

    I just want to raise one issue that seems to be overlooked. Her bosses expected her to pay for something that was their expense and, maybe I’m wrong or it just needs some clarification, but it doesn’t sound like they reimbursed her. I’m speaking about the moving costs.

    And the bait and switch sucks! You don’t want to look like a job hopper so you try to build a nice resume but find out months or so into a job that it’s totally different? What then? You try to change and look like a hopper, or you tough it out for a few years.

    Still, either way, an attitude change would help, but I totally empathize with the frustration.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I totally agree. It sucks! But now this is the situation, and OP, you’ve got to figure out whether you can accept it and be reasonably content, or whether you need to leave.

      But yes, absolutely sucks and is unfair.

      1. Ryan*

        I’ve worked for underhanded employers who turned out to be the most unscrupulous lot I’ve ever had to deal with. Being content after being constantly lied to and taken advantage of (all thanks to a down economy) is a pretty hard pill to swallow. If you can do it you’re a better person than I am. If not…start looking for another job situation…even if it’s not ideal…if the people you go to work for are at least going to be up front and deal with you honestly that’ll make all the difference after working for the kind of people you are now.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Right, you won’t always be able to find a way to be content with a situation like this. The point, though, is that if that’s the case, you’ve got to start actively working on leaving. Staying and being bitter the whole time isn’t a reasonable option.

    2. Evan the College Student*

      And the bait and switch sucks! You don’t want to look like a job hopper so you try to build a nice resume but find out months or so into a job that it’s totally different?
      But leaving one job early on, with a good reason, doesn’t make you look like a job hopper, right? Or are my expectations off?

        1. IT_Person*

          And the “length” before you hop that is concerning depends on industry/experience/size of company.

          In a lot of smaller companies, 2-3 years per role is expected. It then becomes important to get one job with a 4-5 year duration to show you are actually about commitment, it’s just that the roles/companies change so much that you’re no longer needed after the “period of transition/growth” has occurred.

      1. dejavu2*

        If you only do it once and you can spin it right, it won’t haunt you. I had to bail on a job once after four months. It was very much a bait and switch situation, but “luckily” I had a convenient out when the terms of my employment were unilaterally changed without warning, including a multi-thousand dollar reduction in my remuneration, and the elimination of a key perk worth thousands. On my final day (not a coincidence), my boss’s abusive behavior escalated to physical abuse. Sigh. It was the job from hell. And it’s on my resume. But I’ve never left another job on anywhere remotely near such a short timeline. I have been asked about it in interviews, and I have always responded that I believe it is inappropriate to speak negatively of a former employer, but that I was not being paid in accordance with the terms of my employment, and so I left after completing a certain (impressive sounding) major project. As far as I know, it has never hurt me in a hiring process.

  5. Anonyplat*

    HFS, this is perfect timing! Very perfect! The start of the question, about sending a thank you note when you hate your job – I just found out I’ll be getting a bonus two days ago, verbally, and yesterday I met with the company president and thanked her (twice!) for it, telling her it would make a huge impact on me, etc. She even said “you’re welcome!” Apparently later that day, she pulled my boss aside and said I was ungrateful and didn’t thank her for it, and that no one in the company thanks her for everything. SHE SAID “YOU’RE WELCOME”! Agh!

    So now I have to buy nice stationary (at my boss’s request) and write the president a thank you note telling her thank you for the bonus, thank you for the job, that I love working there and it’s a wonderful opportunity for growth – when I hate working there, because of the president’s attitude, like the above. Great. Also, me not thanking her (apparently) means the company president now believes I do poor work, when she’s loved (she told my boss this in the past) every single thing I’ve done up until yesterday.


    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      That’s absurd! No thanks is even required for a bonus; it’s additional money that you’ve presumably earned with your performance — although a thank-you is polite and good form. But complaining that a thank-you wasn’t received (totally aside from the fact that it was) and forcing someone to write a note? That’s ridiculous.

      Your president is a loon, or your boss is.

      1. Anonyplat*

        Alison – I’m so glad you agree, because I was really shocked when my boss took me aside about this. I received the bonus because I’ve really surprised them with my work (their words) and now suddenly my work is awful and I’m ingrateful and a ton of other things – just two days later. I don’t get it, but I’m a bit fed up that all of the work I’ve put into my performance just got wiped away (my boss’s words) because of that one incident.

        1. Heather*

          Did you tell your boss that you verbally thanked the president? Either way, it’s ridiculous, but I just wanted to know the extent of the craziness.

      2. Jamie*

        I vote that they both are.

        And I’m assuming neither is your mother, who also shouldn’t be ordering people to write thank you notes once they are old enough to have a job.

        How awful.

      3. Samantha*

        The second Christmas I worked at a nonprofit we received a small bonus. It was strongly suggested by the management team that we email the board a thank you with a photo of ourself and what we spent the bonus on. So strange and inappropriate. And we are talking a very small amount. I didn’t do it and I don’t think very many other staff members did either.

        1. Esra*

          The non-profit I work at has mainly people in their 20-30s, so all the photos would be shots of us at our computers, putting a little extra money onto student debt payments that month.

        2. KayDay*

          If that were me, I guess I would have had to get a picture of my break pads, because I spent my entire bonus on various car repairs that I had been putting off.

          But that’s ridiculous. I usually just say thanks to my boss. Our board doesn’t determine employee compensation, only the ceo’s.

    2. KarenT*

      Is the president the owner? Because she’s making it sound like this is some personal favour. Bonuses are rewards for a job well done and a strategy for retaining good employees. They are not gifts!

      1. Anonyplat*

        She is the owner. Apparently it is supposed to be a gift. No matter what, I expressed a verbal thank you – twice – but it’s like that didn’t happen, so.

        1. KarenT*

          It’s still ridiculous. I was wondering If she was the owner because that’s how she was coming off. That doesn’t justify her behavior. She sounds like a child.

  6. Not So NewReader*

    A gift is a gift. Think of it as a momentary olive branch, OP. A cease-fire, if you will. Remember the song “Snoopy and the Red Baron”?

    Dear Bosses,

    I appreciate you remembering me with a gift this holiday season.
    I will enjoy it.
    Wishing you and yours the best this season.

    Thank you,
    Your employee

      1. Jamie*

        I’ve been listening to that every day on the way to work, along with Elton John’s Step into Christmas since December 1st. :)

        1. fposte*

          The iTunes one I have is a slightly different version, though, and that bugs me. Do you have a different source, or are you just more adaptive than I am?

  7. apopculturalist*

    So the general opinion is: write a thank you for a holiday bonus?

    I was lucky enough to receive one last week, as did all of my co-workers in my 30-something sized office. I wasn’t sure if I should write a thank you or if those things generally go unacknowledged. (This is my first job with a holiday bonus; my boss last year gave me a beach towel.)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      No, you totally don’t need to. It’s a nice thing to do though and generally makes you look like a gracious person. But a verbal thanks is also totally sufficient (unless you work for Anonyplat’s crazy boss above). And frankly, saying nothing is also fine. You earned the bonus; a thank-you is gracious but not required.

    2. KarenT*

      Not necessary, but I might send a quick email saying thank you and that you appreciate being acknowledged.

    3. Jamie*

      Although I would say send a quick email as a thank you for anything they didn’t have to do, I have often three different kinds of bonuses in my career and I do feel differently about each:

      The first was the compensation bonus. My position in the bonus plan was negotiated upon accepting the promotion and in my file. The total amount available to me was specific as was what percentage of that I received depending on my metrics. That I felt was totally earned as much as any part of my pay check, because it was part of the deal. If I earned it and they didn’t pony up lawyers would have been involved because it was a significant percentage of my comp package. I did not send a note for that, but I said a verbal thanks as it was handed to me.

      Then there’s the company thank you to everyone bonus where everyone gets the same amount. This is usually called a gift not a bonus IME and while it’s not personal, it’s a very nice gesture and a company certainly isn’t obligated. IME this is generally between $100 and 1k – and I thank verbally and with a note. In privately owned companies that is money they are choosing to give rather than keep themselves and that is a lovely think to do.

      Fwiw I was there once when the amount was 1k to everyone and I heard more than one person complaining that it wasn’t enough. Well, whats a grand to them when they make so much blah, blah, bah. DON’T DO THAT! Because it leads to conversations about should we even bother since its not appreciated. So send the note, it can help lessen the sting for the owners who overhear the nasty comments.

      The third are merit bonuses above and beyond the gift mentioned above. These are different amounts for different people as personal thank yous for going above and beyond. Whether to give them and how much is totally at the companies discretion, unlike my first example, so I don’t really consider this part of compensation – even though it was earned for work performed in the year. IMO these are the most persoanlly meaningful to me since they are given with a discussion of how much you bring to the company and how glad they are that you’re on the team. For this a verbal thank you and an email and continue to do your best work.

      1. Jamie*

        Excuse the typos – I do know the difference between companies and company’s even if my fingers don’t.

  8. Diane*

    OP, your frustration with your job is going to gnaw on you unless you reframe it. It sucks and it’s not fair, as others have said, but please take a deep breath, see that it’s just a job, and change what you can. I’d also caution you to learn from my past mistakes and stop complaining if you’ve made your point and your bosses aren’t budging. You will look bitter and uncooperative, even if they’re the ones who changed the terms. That includes the nonverbal stuff — eyerolls, sighs, slow but grudging compliance. It’s not fair, but these things will color others’ judgement of your work and will reinforce your own negative feelings. Fake it until you make it, create a project or two to teach yourself some new skills, and cheer yourself up by building your resume for something better.

      1. Diane*

        I’m not totally successful, but I wish I had been able to make this adjustment sooner. Maybe it’s old age and perspective that a job is just one part of life.

    1. Lulu*

      Another thing I’ve done when I’ve been stuck in this kind of situation, in addition to the project/skill idea, is try to come up with some things I liked about the job – as simple as “I like my coworkers and I’m helping them with x” or “I’m getting a paycheck and health insurance”, whatever I could think of. I tried to refer to the list every morning, and any time I started to melt down. Given that I wasn’t in a position to just walk out the door, reminding myself of the positive elements (however basic) helped me get through the day and stop feeling totally defined by my bitterness.

  9. Cassie*

    How timely! I was just given a small bonus from the manager today, for (as she put it) all the help and work I’ve done for them. I was quite surprised (bonuses are rare and it’s the first recognition I’ve gotten) and though I did thank her several times, I am trying to figure out if I need to do something more.

    In some ways, I want to thank her for recognizing the work that I’ve done and for thinking of me, but at the same time, I’m not sure that she was the one who came up with the idea to give me a bonus. Although I guess it doesn’t matter – she is the decision-maker so even if someone else suggested it, the fact that she approved is still commendable.

    I’m not a fan of her management style at times and the fact is, she can be very nice or very mean (depending on who she’s dealing with). So I’ll won’t say anything insincere about what an absolute joy it’s been working with her or anything along those lines. Would an email thanks be okay?

  10. Katie the Fed*

    Does anyone else get the feeling that maybe the OP took the flexibility and laid-backness of the workplace a bit too far and that’s why they started being more strict? It’s just a sense I got, but I obviously have no way of knowing. But I know that I’m generally fairly flexible with my employees but if I start to feel I’m getting walked on then I rein them back in. So maybe that’s what was going on.

    In any case, I agree that you have to get over the fact that your job changed. What you’re looking for – super casual dress code, really flexible hours – are VERY rare in the workplace. I would try to focus more on the work you do than the perks of the job. Or, mentally check out a little. I was an office temp every summer during college and I really enjoyed it because it was far less mentally taxing than most other things and I could sort of check out and daydream while I did my filing and transcription and other stuff. I kind of miss that job.

    1. EngineerGirl*

      Exactly!!! I think that there was major miscommunication based on the backgrounds of the OP and her bosses. I don’t think there was any bait and switch at all.

      I was told I could wear jeans to work, the schedule was flexible and I could take time off for just about any time for any reason

      OP, you mentioned that you worked for “partners” so may I assume that you work in a law office? Your boss may be coming from a very formal background. So here is what I think happened:
      Boss: Trouser cut dark wash dress jeans
      OP: Levis
      Flexible Schedule
      Boss: Not an assembly line, 7-4. Can occasionally leave to do errands with permission, Can arrive between 7-9.
      OP: Can come and go at will as long as job gets done
      Take time off for just about any time for any reason
      Boss: Please let me know several months ahead of time about your schedule. And there may be times that you can’t take it due to work loads. “Just about” isn’t “always”
      OP: I can take vacation whenever I want, maybe with very little notice.

      The miscommunication could be the root of the unhappiness. OP needs to talk to boss to re-establish expectations.

      1. Diane*

        Excellent points!

        OP, your bosses’ expectations aren’t that unusual, especially in a small shop where everyone pitches in and does whatever comes up, including cleanup. Clarify and adjust expectations.

  11. EngineerGirl*

    I also wanted to say something about dressing. OP, you may still be able to wear jeans if they are dark wash trouser cut (like Dockers). I have a pair I wear to work and it took people a while to realize that they were jeans. Especially when I wore them with a blazer.

    T-shirst are also something that can be dressy. There are the regular T-shirts with slogans on them (bad) but there are really cute tailored T-shirts that are scoop neck, V-neck, and drape neck that are really nice. Some have shirring and ruching making them look very fancy. But they are made of soft cotton, so are still T-shirts. H&M sells European style stylish Ts that are comfy.

    Dressing gets way easier if you have a capsule wardrobe – all the tops go with all the bottoms. Grab a top, grab a bottom, done! Add some stylish flats (not sneakers).
    I would suggest going over to the Vivienne Files and she how she creates outfits out of her capsule wardrobe. Once you figure out a capsule wardrobe dressing gets way easier.

    1. KarenT*

      Very good advice, and a reminder that casual does not equal sloppy. Dressier looking jeans and flats can be just as comfortable as raggy jeans/sneakers. And like engineering girl mentions, try H&M. Their plain t-shirts are about ten dollars.

  12. KM*

    OP — you’re entitled to feel however you feel; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! In the meantime, though, if you feel unhappy about your job, I agree with the general advice that you should look for one that doesn’t make you feel that way.

    IMO, you’ll be happier in the long run if you let go of the idea that your bosses need to understand why what they did was wrong (even if it was), or why their policies are stupid (even if they are) and concentrate on extracting yourself from the situation. You can still be angry about it — just be angry and actively looking for other work (and, in the meantime, if you feel like you can’t send a thank you note without also criticising — which is valid — or you really feel like you have such an acrimonious relationship that the note will automatically sound sarcastic, just don’t send one).

  13. N.*


    “Bitterness has a way of moving in for good if you let it take up residence for very long. Don’t do that to yourself.”

    Amen, Allison Amen.

    In this day and age of the people who have access to your blog say, I would argue that very few are truly “trapped” (at least not for long). While I do not advocate job hopping because “I was bored” (thank my Mum for that lesson, such a complaint got you roped into some neglected chore the rest of the afternoon, so in my house you learned to either find something to do or kept quiet about doing nothing), when the writing on the wall is clear, I personally have more respect for the person who ACTS. I almost don’t even care how; when you find yourself complaining about some injustice that will not change for the thousandth time to a coworker whose eyes have long since glazed over as they mouth your entire diatribe as you say it, something needs to change. And sorry, but you’re probably the one who needs to change it.

    I am sure everyone can imagine this advice has lost me a friend or two (even when I was heartbreakingly (my heart) gentle about it), but I had to remind them: You put the ball in someone else’s court too many times, you shouldn’t be suprised if they hit it back. If you don’t like where it went… well maybe you should have served it yourself.

    Whether you hear these lyrics in Frank Sinatra’s voice or Joey Ramone’s take it to heart:

    “Regrets, I’ve had a few But then again, too few to mention. I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption. I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway. And more, much more than this, I did it my way.”


    1. N.*

      Hmmm. I think the text I quoted was supposed to read “exception” not exemption. Must be more carefull…

      1. Jamie*

        Isn’t this a staple in every mom’s bag of tricks? Like my mother before me I will hand out chores to any child who com,aims of boredom. Unfortunately, my kids learned this lesson wicked quick…so I didn’t get the same kind of house detailing I would have had they kept it up.

        1. anon.*

          my mom used to say ok, you’re bored? lets play ‘clean the house’. Now THAT got us to find something to do real quick!

  14. Snow*

    I had no idea attire would play such a huge role in someone’s decision to accept a job. There really are worse things to worry about. Geez…

    1. Katie the Fed*

      I could see it if they tell you that you have to be in a suit every day – dry cleaning and ironing are expensive. That might factor in especially if it’s a low-paid job.

      1. Rana*

        Plus having to buy the clothing in the first place.

        (I will admit that not having to wear nylons and heels has long been an aspect of most of my employment that I’ve really appreciated.)

    2. Colette*

      People have different priorities. It’s a trivial thing to you, but other people are allowed to feel differently about it.

      The OP mentioned it was a menial job, but that she was willing to take it because of her understanding of the dress code & time off policies. That may not be a trade-off you’d want to make, but tht doesn’t make it less legitimate.

  15. OP*

    Hi everyone and thank you for commenting on the post about my issue. I’ve been thinking about what Alison and all of you said, over the past month and I wanted to just let you know a couple additional things, as well as let you know what I’ve done to change things.

    I work at a small start-up company as an Office Manager/Executive Assistant. I’m usually the only person in the office and days will go by without seeing either boss. It is not a law firm, it’s not Google, it’s not a university, nor is it a very in-person type of company (besides me, everyone works remotely about 99% of the time and our clients almost never come to the office).

    First, just because I am bored with my tasks and responsibilities, does not mean that I have nothing to do or don’t have a full life outside of the office. I’m bored with how I’m spending my time at work, not in other parts of my life. I took this job because I believed it would offer me some great balance between work and non-work time, which is what I was looking for. I couldn’t find a job in my chosen field and I came to accept that fact (I earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in something far from administrative tasks like filing, depositing checks, scheduling, etc. and worked in that field for over six years, by the way, I’ve been out of undergrad for eleven years). I had also been temping at a few different companies to help pay the bills after my Mom died and I quit my Ph.D. program to move home with my Dad, but that has certainly made my resume look like a game of hopscotch. Last winter, when I was job-searching, I made an active decision to pursue a cultural fit over a task/responsibilities/intellectual stimulation fit because I knew that would make my life happier in the long run, because I draw a strong sense of accomplishment from my activities at home (like cooking healthy meals, spending time with my Dad and my husband’s Mom who both live nearby, hanging out with friends, reading. exercising, doing crafts, visiting friends out of town, going to antique shows, watching sports on TV, watching movies, interviewing high school applicants for my alma mater, taking a wood-working class, etc.). When I said I was told I had flexibility in my working hours, I didn’t interpret that as I can show up to work whenever I feel like it. I interpreted that as, I can go to a dentist appointment or a funeral or take a three day weekend when it’s a federal holiday, as long as I give notice that I will be out of the office and I get my work done and respond to urgent requests during non-work hours. I regularly sit at my desk from 8:30 to 5:30 to do my job and sometimes take a lunch break. I’m a hard worker and get compliments from my bosses about this regularly. So taking time off when I wanted was more because I didn’t want to make a choice between my aunt’s wedding on a Friday afternoon in a city 300 miles away from my home and an annual check-up with a physician whose business hours are within the same hours I am (now) required to be at my desk, than waking up hungover and just not showing up to the office because I don’t feel like going in.

    Also, regarding the dress code at my office, when I was hired, I asked the hiring manager, the person I was replacing (who was leaving on a very positive note with the Partners), and my boss about what was allowed and what wasn’t. Everyone said jeans were ok, that the code was “very casual”, and to just dress nicely. Everyone even said something to the effect of “what you’re wearing now is perfectly fine!” I normally dress in a very polished way and did often wear jeans (always a super-dark wash never with any rips or even a show of wear) with professional tops (button downs, layering a t-shirt underneath a cardigan or blazer, merino wool turtlenecks, not jersey ones, and never *just* a t-shirt). Almost every top I own that I would consider wearing to work can be worn under a suit jacket or blazer. When I took the job, I had very few “business casual” outfits due to wear and tear from my previous years in the workplace, and changes in body shape due to illness. So when I was told “You can never wear jeans! You should be grateful you don’t have to wear a suit everyday!” I had to revert to wearing clothing that actually made me look frumpier and less professional than the other clothes in my closet at the time had. A major selling point of the job was that I did not need to buy new clothes because I am trying to prioritize paying down my student loans and buying a house with my husband. But after I saved some money, I was able to buy some very cheap dress pants that are very uncomfortable and make me feel bad about myself, so I could fit into the correct look that my boss was requiring. Not to mention that I spent the first 17 years of my life having serious issues with a mother who demanded a certain “appearance” of me any day and every day of my life. As soon as I headed off to college, I bought two pairs of jeans and have loved wearing them more than anything else, ever since. My issue – yes. But still, upon hearing that I could wear jeans to work made the job even that more appealing to me. So having the flexibility to wear what I wanted was more because I wanted to wear jeans with a blazer and casual shirt underneath and heels, rather than wearing stonewash jeans, sneakers, and the latest free 5K giveaway t-shirt to the office.

    But I was wrong about the flexible schedule and the dress code and that is simply a bummer. And, when I was finding this out, it was because I did it and then got in trouble, not because a policy had been written/created/changed or because someone warned me against doing something. So a lot of the tension comes from an error I didn’t know was an error and I felt mislead.

    When I wrote Alison my original question, I had already thanked both my bosses via email for the generous bonus. I decided to send them each a holiday card and leave it at that. In the meantime, I have made a more conscious choice to leave closer to 5 PM in order to try to do some additional enjoyable activities with my day. I try to talk on the phone with the other administrative assistant, who I like very much, rather than just emailing with her, in order to feel a more personal connection to the company. I resolved to be a bit more focused on my actual work during the day, which has led to less of a feeling of boredom, in the moment. I also requested to be reimbursed for the cash expense for moving from the accountant and he processed it for me without any fuss from my bosses (who sign all checks).

    I have also finally created a website for a side-business that I have wanted to do for quite some time, but hadn’t gotten around to it until now, that is somewhat related to my “old” field. Perhaps this could eventually become my full-time career, in which case, I could work anywhere with an internet connection and I could wear whatever I wanted and still do the things I enjoy outside of work! But thank you again because Alison’s response and the comments from all of you really helped me re-focus and re-group.

    Happy New Year!

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