after I resigned, my boss asked me to drive 1,000 miles at my own expense

A reader writes:

I put my notice in a few weeks ago. We have a slow season come May. Knowing my boss’ history of being overdramatic, I offered to work until May to give her some extra time to find a replacement, as she has to attend a few conferences taking her away from the office.

I was trying my best to be gracious with my exit and was willing to train my replacement. We are a small company (3 employees total, including my boss, who is the owner). However, I run all aspects of her business for her, so she wouldn’t know how to train my replacement.

I work in a remote office in Georgia, and she is in Michigan. Now she’s saying I have to drive all the company property to her office and spend a week in that city training my replacement all at my own expense.

I am financially unable to do that and think that is completely unreasonable. I already packed everything up and offered to ship it via our company FedEx account. I of course planned to return everything, but not on my own dime. We even have an office in Georgia that she won’t let me return the property to.

I now want to cut my time here and just walk away now. It’s been three weeks since I’ve given notice. I refuse to go to the headquarters at my own expense to train my replacement. Is that acceptable?

What?!  She’s being ridiculous.

Out of curiosity, is she the type who tried to get you to do things on your own dime previously, or is this twist just a petulant reaction to you leaving?

In any case, she can ask for whatever she wants, and you can decline to give it. Certainly it’s not normal to expect someone to do what she’s asking, so you should have no qualms about saying no.

However, I would not walk away now. You gave notice for May, which means she’s planning to have another month-plus for your transition, and if you cut that short without warning, you’ll be stooping to — well, not to her level, but you’ll be ceding some high ground.

Instead, say something like this, “I’m not able to come to Michigan in my final weeks, nor am I able to personally pay for any transition expenses. I’d be glad to ship things via our FedEx account or return things to the Georgia office. Please let me know what you’d prefer.”

If she becomes hostile or continues to be irrational, then say this: “Jane, asking an employee to spend their own money on work expenses like these is extremely unusual, and I want to be very clear that it’s off the table. But more importantly, I gave you a good deal of extra notice because I value our relationship and wanted to make things as easy as possible on you. But you’re pushing me to do something that I’ve already made it clear I’m not willing to do, and something that isn’t reasonable to expect of me. I’d like to stay here through May and help you transition. But if it’s going to be contentious, it will be better for both of us if I were to leave sooner.”

If she calms down, great. If she doesn’t, then you say, “Given this situation, it would be better for both of us if I give a standard two weeks, instead of a longer notice period, so my last day will be ___ (two weeks from now). Please let me know where you’d like me to send these items.”

If she doesn’t tell you where to send them, then you make that call yourself and send them to one of the two offices.

But you should give two weeks if you’re going to leave earlier than your original exit date — because otherwise you undo a large chunk of the usefulness of early notice periods (which are about transitioning work) … and allow her to tell future reference checkers that you essentially walked off the job.

The only exception to this is if she becomes outright abusive, at which point you could say, “I’d like to work the remaining two weeks and I don’t want to leave you in the lurch. However, I need to be treated professionally during that time. I had planned to use the next two weeks to put my projects in order, write up documentation to leave behind, and so forth, but I do have a bottom line as far as respectful treatment. If we can’t work together without the hostility, then I will need to leave now.”

Good luck, and congratulations on moving away from this.

Read updates to this letter here and here.

{ 112 comments… read them below }

  1. EnnVeeEl*

    I understand the sentiment, but we’ve seen a lot of these types of letters come in lately. People want to be professional and gracious, give a bit more notice, and employers don’t really appreciate it. Nice people. Wish I worked with more folks like this.

    Two weeks. That is enough time for me to get all the documentation together, tie up the loose ends I can, etc. No more than that. This is not right. People leave jobs all the time!

    1. Broke Philosopher*

      It’s very frustrating. I am (was) an independent contractor and decided to leave my company recently. I told the company that I would keep working with a few clients because I knew that they would have trouble finding someone else in the company to take those clients on. In response, they demanded that I keep other clients, and then tried to guilt-trip me when I told them no. I definitely regretted going out of my way for them after that!

    2. Yup*

      How bosses/companies treat people when they’re leaving is such a revealing window into their mindsets. I gave four weeks notice to my last employer because I resigned during a very busy time. They couldn’t have been more grateful, the transition went smoothly, and now I’m happy to answer the occasional email about where I did leave the Pinsky file. Everyone wins. Whereas in a prior job, I gave 2 weeks notice and my boss asked me to extend it a week because she’d be traveling for business during my last week. I agreed (to be nice) and she made those 15 days a living hell of crazy demands. She even denied my request for 1 day off because there was “too much do,” resulting in me finishing Job A on a Wednesday and starting Job B on a Thursday with no space in between. So unnecessary.

  2. Toni Stark ` Stark Enterprise*

    Would it be out of line to tell the OP to save his/her emails and texts from the boss? I bring this up bc I watch WAY too much of Judge Judy and I’ve seen a few cases where small employers try to sue former employees over stuff like this. If OP does send the materials to one of the their locations and the boss claims damages (lost, stolen, broken) items, the OP can show that they had repeatedly asked for direction and it wasn’t given so they sent the items to the nearest company office.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes, I would definitely agree that the OP should save documentation of her attempts to return these items — and documentation that she did.

    2. FormerManager*

      I would also make sure I get the proper documentation from USPS or whichever shipping company is used as well.

      1. C4T!!!*

        Saving it not only for judge Judy but also for unemployment hearings so if you do have to quit in less than two weeks you’d have documentation of constructive discharge.


  3. Extremely Frustrated*

    Thank you so very much for answering my question with such promptness! I have been laying awake every night with the stress this has caused me trying to do what is right, but not be taken advantage of! It’s nice to hear an objective opinion. Many people that know her personally tell me to walk now because it will only get worse.

    To answer your question… this is not new. I have never had to spend my own money per se, but she will not be quick to offer company money to pay for things. I wasn’t allowed to stay in hotel when I had to go to the Detroit office – I had to stay in her house, which I think crosses all kinds of business professionalism, but at the time I didn’t know how to argue with my current employer about without seeming confrontational.

    Her actions are not new… she’s tried to pull this same thing on past employees – who have also been pushed to the point of just walking away. She’s known for really bad mouthing anyone who leaves regardless if they try to leave gracefully or not. I was warned I would encounter this type of manipulation.

    I think it’s important to note that my leaving the job was all due to how she’s been as a boss. However, my next chapter IS bringing my up to Michigan, but not anywhere near her office. I have to pack 5 years of my life and my dog in my car, so that’s why she’s trying to pull this for her benefit. She believes if I’m driving up to Michigan, I need to make the detour to her office which is over 3 hours out of my way – round trip 6 hours more. When I said I cannot afford to take this equipment back nor fit it all in my car, she sent me an email stating that I verbally agreed to do so at my own expense. Which I NEVER would have done. I agreed to return all equipment no questions asked, of course. I’ve been taking care of it, organized it, packed it nicely and am ready to ship it. I have never signed anything that said I would do it at my own expense. A couple things she agreed would be easier to sell (file cabinets, etc.) which I have taken the liberty to put up on craigslist for her, take time out of my nights and weekends to meet people so that they can check them out and purchase, and I put the cash into the company bank account. Which, in my opinion, is far more than any employee who’s dying to get out would ever do!

    She’s already hired my replacement – who can start earlier – which is why feasibly I think I could go. The replacement is just waiting for my exit at this point. I feel terribly sorry for whoever is stepping into this position. I want to train them for their sake, but knowing that I will get a bad review from my boss regardless of what I do… makes me ready taint my professionalism by leaving earlier than first notified.

    1. EnnVeeEl*

      You sound like a nice person and a good employee.

      Which is why I say this: Take AAM’s advice. Send her her stuff. Exit stage right.

      Make sure you keep in touch with other employees to use as a reference.

      She never deserved more than two weeks from you. And how she runs her business isn’t your problem at this point.

      1. AJ-in-Memphis*

        Agreed x 1,000. Please also make sure you limit the amount of time you spend with the new person after you’ve left. There’s a boundary you’ll need to set from training day #1. This way you can cut ties 100% after you’re no longer receiving pay.

    2. Esra*

      It sounds like you are already going above and beyond. I think at this point you should just focus on what’s best for you, even if it is unfortunate for the new hire.

    3. Josh S*

      She emailed you stating that you verbally agreed to take the office equipment back to her on your own dime.

      You need to email her back saying, “I never stated that I would do this on my own dime. I’m not sure how you got that impression, but that is not something I would be willing to do.”

      That way you have it in writing showing that you never agreed to it. If you just leave her email hanging without agreeing/disagreeing, it might be taken as tacit agreement, which you do not want.

      (I am not a lawyer. I am certainly not your lawyer. This is not legal advice. You should assume I learned everything I know about the Law from “Boston Legal” and “The Good Wife”.)

      Apart from that, start following AAM’s advice. It’s spot on, and you’ve already seen that your boss isn’t willing to be reasonable despite your generosity. Don’t fret about how your boss is going to treat you — it’s unlikely that anything you do to try to placate her will help you in any way, shape, or form.

      1. SarasWhimsy*

        +one million for the boston legal reference!

        And I have to agree, not as a lawyer but as an hr person. If I saw that you didn’t respond to that, I would wwonder if the email was accurate.

    4. Mike C.*

      If this employer has a history of badmouthing everyone who leaves regardless of how they left and of trying to get employees to inappropriately pay for things they shouldn’t I would strongly urge you to just leave.

      I’ve left a bad situation with *no* notice, and my reputation is just fine.

    5. Ash*

      This is what you need to do:

      1) Write up an itemized receipt of what equipment you have to turn over;
      2) Make a copy;
      3) Drive to the Georgia office with the receipts and equipment;
      4) Go into the office, have someone sign both copies of the receipt, you sign both copies;
      5) Then give them the equipment, along with one receipt;
      6) E-mail a copy of the receipt to your boss with your two weeks’ notice;
      7) Never have any contact with this person again.

      1. Anonymous*

        THIS. Do this. I would also take pictures of the equipment, in the Georgia office. If your camera has a date stamp feature, use it. Or get the day’s paper in the picture or something.

        Srsly, I’m usually pretty trusting when it comes to things like this, but in your manager’s case I think I’d make an exception.

  4. Gobbledigook*

    Alison: You did this on purpose just to get that “I would walk 500 miles” song in my head, right? hahah

      1. Jamie*

        I have the day off and I’m watching Downton Abbey in my pajamas surrounded by fur children, drinking a perfect cup of coffee, and all in all ensconced in total happiness…catching up on AAM that I missed during my morning nap and …

        That song now in my head.

        What did I ever do to you two?

    1. Christine*

      Didn’t even notice the reference before, and now the song is firmly planted in my head. Grrrrr!!! :P

      P.S. I’ve always loved your screen name!

    2. VeryVeryAnonymous*

      So here’s a thing that is true: I had a one night stand with one of the Proclaimers. Actually, that’s not quite true… I, um, put up a stop sign at the last moment. Because I hadn’t shaved my legs. Really. So I had an unconsummated half-night’s stand with one of the Proclaimers.

      (I’m so obviously anonymous for this but am a regular commenter here. No, I’m not coming out of the shame closet. I guess Alison can probably tell who I am. Hi, Alison. Don’t judge me.)

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Between this and Jamie’s story of how she met her husband-to-be in the SuperDawg parking lot, we may need to start the “AAM After Dark” section of the site very soon.

      2. Jamie*

        Tell me I’m not the only regular poster who desperately wants to post a “not me” disclaimer to this?!

        J/k as this is totally cracking me up! But still not me. Now which hair band frontman did an entire set list with my panties around his neck and a very explicit declaration of certain feelings attached …well, I’m pleading the 5th. Until Alison starts her AAM after dark …for which I need another name…

        So just saying I’m not judging – but not me. :)

      3. Granny Pants*

        I have a very similar story about a different, less famous, band. But I stopped because I was wearing white granny pants. It hadn’t occurred to me this sort of thing might ever happen . . . .

  5. Anon*

    Obviously, you know the details of this situation far better than we do. But, your latest response gives me some pause. It sounds like she wanted you to bring the materials to her house when you were driving to Michigan anyway (which isn’t quite the same as her asking you to drive all the way from GA on your dime), and initially it sounds like you just assumed she won’t pay for travel “she will not be quick to offer company money to pay for things.”

    Before you go the nuclear option (shortening the notice period, quitting now), it might be worth trying to have a calm conversation about how you can help her get what she needs and assist in training your replacement in a workable manner – e.g. shipping, talking to new asst via skype, her reimbursing you for mileage for a short visit once you are in MI. Leaving before your notice period will destroy a future reference – in some cases there is nothing you can do about it, but it’s worth trying to avert.

    And, going in to the conversation disrespectfully runs the risk of your getting fired for insubordination. Now, in the future you could always say you had already given notice, but it may boil down to what she says in a reference. Again, you can’t always control what she’ll do or say, and you may not need that reference again, but I’m just trying to offer some caution.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It sounds like the OP can’t fit it in her car, however, because she’ll have her own things in there. But she’s also already going above and beyond, and if she doesn’t want to drive a few hours out of her way while on a personal trip, that’s reasonable to say.

    2. Esra*

      Six hours of driving, uncompensated, seems like a pretty big ask to me. It sounds like OP has already offered several other reasonable solutions.

      1. Jamie*

        Yep – completely reasonable solutions were all she needed. And 6 hours is a very big deal…Michigan is a big place.

        1. Ash*

          Michigan is big and as a Michigander myself, I can say that no one likes driving to, around, or in Detroit. No one.

          1. Cindy*

            Lol. Michigander here too. I just spent a lovely day in Detroit. Toured the Pewabic Pottery factory, had lovely crepes at Good Girls Go to Paris, shopped the boutiques in the Cass Corridor.
            FYI, fear and ignorance don’t look good on anybody, even an anonymous internet commenter.

            1. Kathryn T.*

              It has nothing to do with whether or not Detroit is a lovely city or not — it has to do with the fact that traffic around Detroit is terrible, terrible, terrible. Almost as bad as Chicago.

              1. EngineerGirl*

                Traffic around Detroit is wonderful! Driving in California is insane. The only thing unnerving about Detroit is that everyone drives like a NASCAR driver – 75 mph about 3 inches off the other drivers back bumper.

                I vote for Sweet Lorraine’s

      2. EngineerGirl*

        OP shouldn’t have to drive across the state to deliver it. And if something is damaged (as often happens in a move) the OP will be blamed.

    3. fposte*

      The reference might be a lost cause here anyway, though; certainly the OP shouldn’t drive an office worth of stuff cross country for hope of preserving it. Usually UI would be relevant on the terms of a separation, but in this case the OP has a job waiting in the wings, so it seems like it’s not a factor.

    4. Mike C.*

      Why should an employee have to bend over so much for an employer that is clearly trying to take advantage?

    5. Extremely Frustrated*

      Hi Anon,

      I totally understand what you are suggesting, which is why I wrote in. I’ve been going back and forth about what’s best to do. I absolutely hate confrontation, but my suggestions of skype training and shipping equipment were immediately dismissed and I was met with the email saying everything is at my own expense.

      I am trying to remain simply factual in an email and make it clear what I can and cannot do.

      With an office in Georgia, big things like the printer were supposed to stay here. But the other employee (who is also in the process of leaving as soon as they find a new job) went out and bought another printer because he didn’t WANT this one due to its size. Thrown under the bus there. I was told to rent a van to fit everything – unacceptable. I’ve sold practically everything I own so that I can fit everything in my small car. As soon as I was told things were all going to be at my expense is when the story shifted – that is where I draw the line.

        1. Extremely Frustrated*

          That’s the problem… she’s very irrational! ha ha Right now her argument is… “because you said you would.” Which is an outright lie.

          And the reason I’m leaving this position. We’ve caught her in way too many lies with our artists and clients. It’s a toxic environment that I simply cannot work in anymore.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Make sure you email her back like the other commenters suggested, stating that you did NOT agree. Seriously, I’d leave as soon as possible. You have to do what’s best for you, not this sick, twisted freak of a boss.

  6. Steve*

    I would be exceptionally leery about hand-delivering these items at all. This is what I think is the most likely scenario.

    Boss agrees to reimburse you for 6 hours of travel.

    At approximately 360 miles (60 mph X 6 hours) this is about $200 dollars, using IRS rules.

    After expense report is submitted, boss hems and haws until way past your departure date, and you’re faced with writing off the $200 or suing for it, which isn’t worth it for $200.

    1. Natalie*

      Excellent point. If the boss has historically been stingy with company funds for valid business expenses, there’s exactly zero reason to think she will somehow behave better in this situation.

    2. ExceptionToTheRule*

      Boss should also reimburse for mileage in addition to time, which drives the cost a little higher at $.555/mile (which is the IRS & GAO rate).

      1. Elizabeth*

        I think that’s what Steve was using for his calculations to get $200. But the OP should also be paid for the time spent driving, which bumps up the cost (by how much depends on what the OP earns, but a day of work is probably not insignificant). I’m not convinced this is even financially worth it on the company’s end to save the FedEx costs! You can ship a lot of stuff for $300-400 within the US… using their price calculator, it looks like you could send about 10 50-pound packages for that price if you were willing to do 2-day ground shipping. Surely that’s more than the OP could fit in his/her car even if only the company stuff was in there and not any personal belongings.

        1. ExceptionToTheRule*

          I skipped right over the mileage *blush* and read time. Which the OP should be reimbursed for as well.

  7. Stacie*

    While I totally agree with AAM, I can’t help think that this set up is a little bizarre. Like why does a company with 3 employees have a remote office 1000 miles away? How were you originally trained (did you have to go to Michigan then)? Just seems like a very expensive way to do business for such a small company.

    1. Extremely Frustrated*

      It is a very unique case. We are in the entertainment industry where most of the agencies work from home offices and multiple locations. Two of us are in Georiga, one in Michigan. Now it will be flip flopped and someone is joining her in Michigan – Lord help them!! Which is why she wants the equipment up there not down here. Completely understandable – and I will return it happily – but not pay for it. After these ridiculous requests, I am only willing to train remotely – I will not drive out of my way (I have a lease and am already over miles making this trip to Michigan) to train someone face to face when it can be done virtually.

      Also – this isn’t the first company I’ve worked for remotely in this industry. I’ve successfully transitioned out of another without a hitch and very amicably. They paid for me to ship things back to their main office and still give me a great reference!

  8. perrik*

    Just noting that you should make extensive documentation of all company-owned items that you are returning to the local office.

    1. A detailed list of the items, with model numbers and serial numbers for all equipment (even if it’s just a $5 calculator). Have one master list and one packing list for each individual box/bag/container.
    2. Photos of said items to have a visual record of the appearance/condition of everything you’re returning. Backup the photos to Dropbox or some other location.
    3. A signed and dated receipt for the items, with the signature affirming that the list and the actual goods delivered to the local office agree.

    When you’re dealing with this sort of person, exhaustive documentation is your friend. Make sure she knows you have this information too, to forestall any attempts to ding your last paycheck for missing stuff.

    Congratulations on the new job! I hope your new boss understands the concepts of “business expenses” and “not being an unreasonable doofus”.

    1. Sydney Bristow*

      I completely agree with all of this. It’s sad that anyone would have to do this, but you need as much documentation as possible when dealing with someone who has a history of being completely unreasonable.

    2. ExceptionToTheRule*

      Insure the heck out of it with FedEx. Then if there is any damage, she can take it up with them.

      Your boss is bat-poo crazy. Congrats on the new job.

  9. Joey*

    Ya, you’re being way too nice. so nice in fact that you’re volunteering to have to put up with this crap far too long. Id be so outta there especially since she already found a replacement. I’d say something like this, “I gave you more notice than I normally would because I thought you deserved it. But your request is completely unreasonable and outside of the bounds of how I want to be treated. I think its best that I leave sooner now that you’ve found a replacement for me. My last day will be in two weeks.”

    1. Extremely Frustrated*

      I am shaking drafting an email as suggested for fear of backlash! I will keep you all updated. I am so thankful to have written in because this case is so unique, I couldn’t find any advice on it in any of my online research!

      I have been a good employee and want to be ethical to the best of my ability, but the compassion and respect is clearly not reciprocated so I need to stop trying to help.

      She will not give me a good reference regardless – that I know 100%. If I planned to stay in this market, it wouldn’t matter because everyone knows her and wouldn’t believe anything she said. That’s the reputation I’ve learned she has. So I am trying not to let my fear of a bad review keep me here for longer than necessary. I want to enjoy my final month in Georgia and be stress free! :)

      1. Mike C.*

        Don’t let that hold you back. I’ve been in your work situation before. It’s difficult, but don’t let that fear hold you back.

        I promise you, in a month you’ll be wondering why you even put up with this behavior.

      2. HumbleOnion*

        Don’t worry about a backlash. You already have another job lined up. What’s the worst this person can do to you? You’re getting away- you’ve already won!

  10. anon-2*

    Hey it’s not as bad as asking you to train your replacement after they’ve fired you or laid you off….

    Now that’s another question – for AAM – what do you do if you are asked to train your replacement because they want to get rid of you? This is common in my field – and an effective management tool to reduce costs – PROVIDED – a very big “BUT” – the person being fired and asking to assist in his own sui-, uh, “outsourcing” needs the money and can’t afford to walk away from a foul smellin’ situation….

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It sucks, but all you can do is approach it like any other job-related change: Is this job, under these new terms, one you’re willing to do? If not, are there different terms (more money) that would make you willing, or do you just want to walk?

  11. Extremely Frustrated*

    As I get ready to send this email, I had another thought. What do I do if she rejects both options to either ship or leave in the GA office – which I highly expect she will do. She will keep fighting me to the ground with this.

    Do I just take inventory, photos, etc. and ship anyway?

    I handle the FedEx account, bank account and pay all of our bills including our business credit cards. She honestly doesn’t know anything about any of the above (terrible for an owner of a company I know!)

    I have to be out of my house this weekend and obviously don’t want to leave anything behind. I anticipate just shipping it this weekend regardless, but if she refuses those options in an email is that unethical?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      In this email, you write, “I plan to ship these to you on Saturday. I understand that you would prefer I personally drive them to Michigan, but that is not an option.”

      And then you do that, regardless of what she says. She doesn’t have the right to refuse and require you to drive them, and you need them out of your house. If she tries to refuse anyway, then you say, “I am not able to store company property in my home after Saturday, as I am moving out. I can’t be responsible for it after that, so I am shipping it to you.”

      That’s it.

      She does have the right to tell you to take it to the GA office instead, but that’s it.

      1. Joey*

        I would send her a list of what you ship/dropped off and get some type of confirmation of receipt from whomever accepts them.

  12. Mike C.*

    You know, the more I think about this, the more I say you should just leave all this stuff at the GA office and wash your hands of the matter. If she then wants it shipped she can instruct one of her current employees to ship it out. Life is too short to have to deal with this sort of stress. You’re an adult and you deserve to be treated like one.

    Conflict is difficult, but I swear you’re going to feel so much better not having to deal with this anymore. This is an abusive relationship, and it needs to end.

    1. Rana*

      I agree. At this point, whatever involves the least amount of expense and work for you would be best, if only to get this problem out of your life as soon as possible.

      1. Rana*

        Also, I’d suggest just going ahead and doing it, and sending her confirmation after it’s done. She’s made it clear that offering her options is only going to result in her being unreasonable again, so just do what works for you and let her cope with the aftermath.

        1. Jean*

          I agree totally with Rana and Mike C. This is a great time to apply the rule “it’s easier to apologize than ask permission!” Just take everything to the GA office (with two copies of full documentation as suggested earlier on this post), obtain proof of delivery and receipt by having you and the GA office employee each sign both copies, and then turn on your heel and walk outtathere forever. You can tell her what you’ve done after you’ve done it, and you can attach a scan of all the documents so that she also has all of the paperwork. (I’m fighting down the urge to add “take someone else along to be your witness.” I’m not a lawyer & this is not legal advice.)

          Honestly, your boss is so out-to-lunch-beyond-the-galaxy unreasonable in her behavior that it’s hard to discuss her without lapsing into inappropriate vocabulary! Let her manage, or not, as she chooses. Either way, you will be blissfully uninvolved.

    2. Extremely Frustrated*

      I would do this in a heartbeat, but there is one complication. The other employee is/was a good friend of mine. He will be in my shoes as soon as he finds a new job because he is dying to get out of here as much as I am. Therefore, I would feel bad throwing all this stuff off at his house due to our friendship and knowledge of the circumstances.

      Perhaps I need to stop putting everyone else above myself, but I don’t like ruining friendships over things like this either. :(

      I think shipping is the best option at this point. Heavy documentation and photos are my best option at this point.

      On top of everything, I completely busted my finger moving one of these pieces of work furniture for a craigslist buyer – since I’ve helped the mean boss out by selling some of this stuff for her. That was frosting on the cake… I need to be DONE!

  13. Greg*

    Here’s why I always default to two-weeks notice, and encourage others to do the same: I find the motivation for giving more is usually something along the lines of “I feel bad that I’m quitting, and I don’t want to leave them in a really bad position without me.” But to paraphrase Charles DeGaulle*, the graveyards are filled with indispensable employees. Your company survived before you got there, and it will survive after.

    Now, if your boss is your best friend, or you really want to finish up a project, or you’re going to grad school and want to earn as much money as you can before going into debt, that’s fine. But don’t fool yourself into thinking you owe your employer anything other than your professionalism, which is two-weeks notice and an orderly exit.

    I would also add that, when you are giving notice, it’s probably a good idea to back up/bring home any real important stuff beforehand, just in case they get angry and ask you to leave immediately.

    * Thought I’d class the place up after all the references to Boston Legal and one-night stands with musicians. :-)

  14. Extremely Frustrated*


    After the email – I just got a reply saying “When can we talk since there have been so many misunderstandings about what’s being said?”

    No way man! This is preciously why I’m emailing… I need everything in email with this lady! I knew she’d try to maneuver around the situation at hand. I gotta get everything accounted for and shipped asap…. clearly!

    1. EngineerGirl*

      Here’s how you have a phone conversation with unethical people:
      Use a headset and bring up a word editing program on your computer. When she phones write down the entire discussion including agreements (especially agreements )
      When done email the discussion to her via the company email (this makes it discoverable evidence). Ask her to reply back with any corrections.
      Be nice about the whole thing. You just want to document things to avoid misunderstandings, right?

      She is trying to manipulate your good work ethic. Saying no to unreasonable requests is a business skill worth having. Don’t ask her what she wants. Tell her what her options are and as her to choose. If she refuses then tell her what option you are going with.

      And buy a copy of crucial conversations and crucial confrontations. Lots of suggestions for talking to people.

      1. Extremely Frustrated*

        Thanks for the advice… I don’t trust that much either. She will say that I wrote something down wrong or add things that are not true. I’ve watched her lie and manipulate others for over a year while working for her… she’s quite a professional at it. I just don’t trust her with anything at this point. I said I need to keep everything via email to have a written reference for everything said since my words have already been misconstrued.

    2. Rayner*

      I’d say stick to writing now. If she calls, refer back to your emails and stand your ground.

      “I’m afraid I can’t do that, Susie. I’m leaving on X day and haven’t got the room or the money or the time to personally drive this to you, so I’ll ship this stuff back. It’ll be probably be quicker! I’ll put in a checklist for you, and it’ll be insured. No, Susie. I’ve already said that bringing it to you is not something I can do, but I’m happy to ship it and even inventory it so you know it’s all there. I’ll even provide pictures for you. I’m sorry you feel that way Susie, but I gave you plenty of notice, and I’m afraid I can’t bring it to you personally as I’m leaving this house very soon and driving to you is six hours and hundreds of miles that I can’t travel. I’m not sure how you got that impression but I never intended to give it and I can’t change my plans now. I’ll send you an email to confirm it’s packed up and when I’ve sent it. No, I’m sure I never agreed to deliver it personally. I’ll email you the details and tracking information so you can follow it’s progress.”

      Write down anything you agree to, and email it her as the commenter above suggested, and try very hard to avoid talking to her by phone or you’ll find her saying that you agreed to things that you can’t do

  15. Extremely Frustrated*


    In an email I sent:

    “I believe it’s best for everything to be in writing since there have been misunderstandings and my words have been misconstrued. There is nothing more to discuss – I have been very clear with what I can and cannot do. Just let me know if your preference is to have things sent back or go to the local office so I can plan accordingly.”

    This was the email reply I got.

    “Really? Do you think that email correspondence is going make things clearer? You know better than that. Are you really refusing to talk with me? Have you ever known any conflict or misunderstanding between reasonable people that could be better solved via email?”

    While in most cases I would agree that a phone conversation is much better than written. But when the trust level is at zero – I don’t want to take any chances.

    1). There is nothing to discuss, I just need a simple decision… A or B.
    2). I’ve given this opportunity 3 times now with no answer.
    3). You are all right… I’ve put up with this for far too long and just need to walk away.

    1. Extremely Frustrated*

      Please AAM – suggest to me what kind of email to write back to completely end this. I feel like I’m being bullied into a discussion when I’ve been very clear that all I need is a decision. Clearly, working anymore time for this lady is not in my best interest.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        “I will shipping everything to you first thing tomorrow morning. If you want it taken to the GA office instead, please let me know before 10 a.m. Otherwise, as I have previously stated, I will be shipping it tomorrow. I can no longer keep it in my possession.”

        Then do it.

        1. Rayner*

          This. Don’t call her. Just send her that email and if she doesn’t reply by tomorrow morning, ship it to the local office/long distance office whichever you prefer and save the receipts, photocopy them, and email them w/ tracking information if you have + inventory so she can’t claim you kept the printer or something.

          And then wash your hands of her. She sounds deluded to say the least.

          As a side note, that email sounds more like a jilted girlfriend than a boss.

    2. EngineerGirl*

      Have you ever known any conflict or misunderstanding between reasonable people that could be better solved via email

      And there you go. Too bad she isn’t reasonable.

      The letter is a real classic though. With the gas lighting, shaming, personal attacks it might be fun to dissect it to see how many techniques she uses.

  16. Suzanne*

    I’ve worked for people like this. It is way past time to be negotiating with her. She has narcissistic personality disorder. Logic, reason, accommodation, courtesy, thoughtfulness, consideration, generosity and any other good qualities are all useless with such people. She is never going to do anything that makes sense, because it is all about her. She is not interested in making anything easier for you, because she doesn’t care. Do what other posters have said regarding the office equipment and documentation. Cease all contact with this woman immediately. Apologize to your co-worker about leaving him with the office equipment, but stop taking care of everyone else before yourself. You are important, too. It is now time to put your needs first. Forget about this boss; once you pack up and leave, she will be ancient history. And don’t even consider training the new employee. Too bad for that person, but you have already done 1000 times more than you should have for this woman. She is what is known as a toxic person. Don’t let her toxicity poison another moment of your life.

    1. Anonymous*

      Wow Suzanne – you nailed it! It’s like you know who I’m talking about personally! Literally, my jaw dropped reading this cause it was spot on! Clearly I am up late for another night wondering the cheapest way I can ship everything and how I can avoid inconveniencing my co-worker. I really have to stop!

      Thank you for that post… Seriously… Thank you very much!!!

      1. Josh S*

        The cheapest way to ship it is to: A) Walk into a FedEx, B) Ask “How much will it cost to ship all this stuff?” C) charge it to the company’s FedEx account, and D) walk away.

    2. khilde*

      Now… does this advice translate to a sister-in-law??? :) I have one of these that I married into that rules the family.

  17. Min*

    I don’t have anything to add to the great advice you’ve already received here. I just wanted to add my two cents that this is not your fault and I’m so sorry this has happened to you.

  18. Extremely Frustrated*

    Here is the update… warning it’s very long… I haven’t even read the entire email from my former boss because it was disrespectful, inappropriate and full of shaming and attempts to guilt me back into the position. ** Names changed for privacy**

    Mind you – much of what she says in here is manipulated like she always does. I did not WANT to stay until May, but I did offer to. Only to placate her and try to avoid her drama. I now know that was my first and biggest mistake.

    I have sent several emails stating that I needed to know where to send the materials – if I should ship them or send to the Georgia office and that there was no more discussion on the matter – there wasn’t a conflict to resolve. She’s trying to twist everything on me. Notice, she still does not answer this question – this is my 4th attempt.

    I have no idea what we could have possibly said or done to make you go out of the way to inflict as much damage as possible to this company and our artists. I hope that you prove to be the kind of person you have always professed to be and that I thought you were, and at least keep your commitment to turn over critical information in a dignified manner and help with a modicum of training. I hope you at least care enough about our artists to not cause complete chaos in our checking system. You know full well that are the only one that knows the system and that this is the day before a conference. It is certainly the norm in any situation for an employee to at least turn over critical information about their job upon exit and I will make myself available at any time tomorrow to do so. I hope that you’ll consider the impact of this on my family the day before I leave them for 5 days for a conference and show a bit of compassion by making yourself available on a day that I am in the office. Perhaps you didn’t recall that I leave for Northern Plains on Wednes. at 6am.

    If you had once communicated to me even a sentence before Friday that indicated that you were upset about something, then we could have put a faster transition plan in place or made some attempt to work out whatever has you so upset. {Mandy} could have given her current employer shorter notice and gotten here part of this week for training. But you asked specifically to stay until later in May. But It seems like you’ve invested some real thought info. how you can inflict maximum damage and I honestly have no idea why. But you are leaving checks and contracts for these artists undone for at least two weeks at an absolutely critical time immediately after NPL. You know this will be real hardship for these Artists. If I’d even known last week, we could have had {Mandy} start on April 8, but we chose April 15 at your suggestion and your expressed desire to stay until May. Obviously, it made no sense financially or otherwise to have your both on full time for a month. If I’d even know last week, it might have been possible to have her start before April 15, but that is not changeable now.

    We did have a misunderstanding at the end of the week about what you had committed to in returning all equipment and furniture in your possession when we took this risk, but I didn’t respond Friday; just asked you to discuss it in person. It was clear that there was a misunderstanding and email is certainly never an effective means of conflict resolution. {Sam} and I were going on the written condition in your offer letter. We had discussed in the interview process the risk inherent in moving your specific position to Atlanta and that’s why I told you that we were writing that as a condition in your employment letter that you received on Jan. 12, 2012. And it was my intention to wait until you returned to work tomorrow to talk about what further compromise might be warranted. I only suggested that you have your parents simply drive an extra 2 hours because I thought it was a logical aid to a commitment we were clear you had made. I have no idea if this suggestion is what has set off this…well I don’t know what else to call it but hatred or vitriole toward me and {Sam} and the company. I’m really baffled. But it’s very clear from your communication that there’s a very real hatred there for you to go out of your way to hurt us all.

    I have been asking for a schedule and an end date so that we could make plans, and we could have certainly made different arrangements for the transition time, but I was trying to accommodate your stated desire to stay until some time in May. Did I misread that? At first you said late April, then said you wanted to stay in ATL later. I was totally okay with any plan you wanted and was fine with the changes you stated last Wednesday.

    I welcome the opportunity to clear up whatever misunderstanding exists between us since I’m baffled. You and {Sam} were friends long before you came here, so perhaps you’ll be kind enough to have a conversation with him. But I really don’t think I’ve ever been unkind to you and or done anything to warrant what you know is going to be a massive burden on me and my family and this company in the coming months. Something it’s in your power to prevent with perhaps even the equivalent of a day of training {Mandy} had already agreed to make herself available at 4:30 pm each day next week for training as she finishes her current job at 4pm across town.

    {Sarah}, it’s clear to me that there has to be something else that I’m not seeing. While you haven’t been yourself for the last week really, I wrote it off to you being anxious with all the coming changes. I thought I was calm and supportive when you gave notice and that I’ve been open to whatever changes have come in your plans. I honored your wishes about notification of our own Artists. I have wracked my brain, and I really don’t know what I’ve done to incur your wrath, but I hope you’ll consider having an adult conversation with me tomorrow and scheduling a transition and training day when you know that I’m in the office.

    {Crazy Mean Former Boss}

    I have been moving out of my house all weekend – trying to figure out where to store everything in the time being. So I was behind on my email that needed to get out to her because I had to put all of that first. My email to her, where I FINALLY put my foot down. (I thank many of you for your advice and suggestions – I used some in this email!)

    {Crazy Mean Former Boss,}

    I am not able to hop on any meeting tomorrow. Everything is still in boxes from my move.

    I originally gave you more notice than I normally would have because I wanted to be helpful. However, after the recent revelations I have reconsidered that offer. I feel many of your requests are completely unreasonable and outside of the bounds of how I want to be treated.

    I put in many hours off the clock the past four weeks to catch up on current contracts and payments, write up documentation to leave behind, and create urgent items for my replacement. I do believe there is a bottom line as far as what is acceptable to ask of an exiting employee, and we have already exceeded that.

    It is in my best interest that I leave now. My last day will be Wednesday – four weeks after originally giving notice. Since you’ve found my replacement, you will have someone to take on the workload.

    I have worked hard on updating the training book. It now includes Chase Banking and notes for my replacement. Being the owner of the company for over 18 years, I am confident you will be able to train your own Business Manager.

    I am not able to store company property and can no longer be responsible for it, so I am shipping it to you. I will finish packing it and ship it by Wednesday morning. If you prefer I leave it with {Sam}, you need to let me know before that time.

    This is not open for discussion, my decision is final. I have put everything in order for the new Business Manager. I wish (the company) all the best in the future.

    Thank you,

    1. Jamie*

      It was clear that there was a misunderstanding and email is certainly never an effective means of conflict resolution.

      Sure it is – unless you are batshit crazy and don’t want an electronic trail.

      Couple of things jump out at me – where ever you go will be better than this, this is really so far beyond the pale I don’t even know what to say. People have divorces which are less guilt ridden and personal. Do not let any of that land on you – this is all her.

      And for business owners – if you will be THIS screwed if someone leaves with less than a ridiculously generous amount of notice because you have no back-up…well build in some redundancy and then you won’t have to send petulant and manipulative emails to a soon to be former employee.

      I am sop happy for you that you’re out of there. Oh, and did you accidentally leave the name of the company in there?

      Oh, and if I were you I’d check your offer letter and do the hand-off exactly as it’s stated in there – I can’t imagine you agreed in it to drive it back there?!

    2. khilde*

      What a highly satisfying read. I wish all OPs with these insanse stories were as good about updating us as you have been!! But seriously I’m really happy you stuck to your guns, did what you needed to do and are free (hopefully). Enjoy your new job!

  19. Anonymous*

    One last update… the email sent to our roster of artists by my former boss was forwarded to me. Every sentence in it regarding me is a blatant lie. And she really slanders me and my character. Is there anything I can do about this? I am irate. I know many people won’t believe her lies – but I wish a business owner could be held accountable for their lies.

    A couple things I’d like to point out…
    – I never requested to stay until May. I told her I would only work until the end of April. Then I was going to enjoy a couple weeks in Georgia to say my goodbyes and didn’t want to work during that time. She wanted me to come to Detroit to train immediately after, but I refused and said I would not be available for that, but I could do it via Skype the last week of April.

    – Notice she changes from I agreed “verbally” to I agreed in “writing” to return things.

    “Immediate Change in check policy and unfortunate momentary delays:
    EFFECTIVE TODAY, all checks should be mailed to the Shelby MI address and not to GA!!! 55130 Shelby Rd. Ste. C; Shelby Township, MI 48316
    So historically, we’ve always turned checks around within 24 hours and contracts within 48 hours. And unfortunately that has hovered closer to 48 to 72 hours at times this year. While we announced that old {Sarah} was staying til late April and then changed that to mid May at her request, she has suddenly and without warning quit without adequate transfer of materials, information and training, leaving us without an office manager for 12 days on the eve of our departure for Northern Plains. In fact, I’m headed to the airport in 5 hours. We’re a little taken aback, surprised and more than a bit ruffled by this startling change of plans, but we will prevail…it will simply take us a couple of weeks during this critical time to recover. Apparently, she forgot that she agreed in writing last year to return all our materials, equipment, supplies and furniture were she to leave, if we took the risk to put her position in GA. While I compromised on the furniture at my expense, she hadn’t really thought thru her move and refused on Friday to even attempt to have her parents load our stuff on their truck bound for just 2 hours from here in MI, despite her agreeing to this as a condition of employment. Again, we’re baffled by her behavior of late, but not particularly sad by this point to see her go. While we’ve been aware of her departure for 3 weeks. I was being constantly reassured that she would be presenting a comprehensive training plan and manual to me this past week and giving new {Sarah} a full two weeks transition/training, so we had hardly put our transition wheels to the ground, and unfortunately couldn’t amend the 2 weeks until new and improved {Sarah} was to start.”

    1. Anonymous*

      EF, I’m sorry this happened to you, but I can assure you that if I ever got an email like that from a client, I would judge her for gratuitously dumping all over a former employee more than I would judge the employee. Her self-absorption bleeds through that entire message.

    2. EngineerGirl*

      I noticed that her “suite” is next to Allied Septic & Excavation. Good to know that she keeps someone nearby to deal with all the stuff she’s putting out.

      So Alison, how unprofessional would it be to show this letter to someone that asks “why did you leave”? Or maybe it is better not to talk until they ask for references, then raise the issue?

  20. Anonymous*

    And now my final check has been held. How did we know that was coming?! Isn’t that illegal? Gonna have to ask my lawyer about my employee rights there!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes, it’s illegal. What state are you in?

      Also, has she told you she’s withholding it (and if so, what did she say?), or have you just not received it?

      1. Anonymous*

        It didn’t show up so I inquired to her, our accountant, and the guy that oversees all her financials. He finally told me he said to hold it until he reviewed the credit card and bank statements, essentially to make sure I didn’t steal any money.

  21. No Regrets*

    It just came to me today that I thought it would be worth updating this. I don’t know if anyone still reads this, but it’s been over a year since I’ve successfully moved on from that terrible working atmosphere… what a nightmare! I have been able to land an incredible position while finishing school. I feel like a valuable and appreciated member of a team again, and I work hard to exceed any expectations. It’s very true when they say people will work twice as hard when they are appreciated. But the bigger update in all of this is that the former company I worked for that caused me so much distress closed down! Yup – I had a feeling it was coming – but it finally happened! Probably for the best… no one should have to work for someone like that!

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