tiny answer Tuesday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s tiny answer Tuesday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Is it worth joining this honor society?

I just started getting mailings soliciting my membership in The National Society of Collegiate Scholars. I checked and it’s legit (for what it’s worth) and the invitations are GPA-based, so it’s not an “anyone who can pay gets in” sort of thing. The lifetime membership fee is not negligible, but also not particularly onerous ($75), and it’s a one-time expense. But it’s not something I’m going to shell out for if there’s no tangible benefit to me beyond the chance at a few scholarships and an ego boost.

However, one thing they tout is that you can put your membership on your resume. And I’m sure you can — the question is, assuming that it is a legit and reasonably well-known honor society like the NSCS, do hiring managers care one way or the other? Because if you do, that might be worth the investment.

Nope, not at all. If your GPA is impressive, list your GPA. But employers don’t care about this type of membership.

2. Asking for a more private office space

My position is being moved from our downtown offices to a location nearer to my home – yay! I have no problem with this whatsoever. But … the new workspace (cubicle) is in a very open space compared to the rest of the open plan office spaces. Also, it is quite smaller than the space I have been used to occupying. I would have to downsize on quite a bit of my historic documents and files. I have asked the facilities manager if I could swap spaces (there are a couple of “empty” cubes – being reserved for people who have yet to be hired).

I know for a fact that I will not be comfortable in a workspace that is as open as this (I would be constantly worry about who was checking out my work). There is a completely unused cubicle space (not assigned to any yet-to-be-hired employees)…it is just used as storage space for filing cabinets. I am not trying to cause problems and I’m trying to come up with solutions – would it be wrong to go to senior management and suggest that they move out the filing cabinets and set up a suitable workspace for me? After all, I am not a new employee, and have a stellar record of accomplishments. Is it too much for me to ask to be comfortable?

It’s fine to ask. Don’t go to “senior management” though; go to your own manager. Be prepared that they just might not be able to do it though; they may want to use the space for the filing cabinets that are currently there. (And realize that those yet-to-be-hired employees may actually have a higher need for privacy than you do, based on their job duties — try not to take it personally if so.)

3. Prospective employer wants me to meet with an industrial psychologist

I have just concluded 3 rounds of interviews with a firm and the prospects are excellent. Now they have asked me to meet with an external industrial psychologist. The job I am applying for is a senior position (associate), but they have clearly stated that they are looking for a candidate who will eventually take over a senior management position. I have never done a face-to-face psychological interview. What is the purpose of such an interview and how much personal information is necessary to divulge to this company?

They have also indicated that this half-day meeting will be confidential and that the hiring company will only receive a summary report of my discussion. Is there anything more that I should know about this exercise? I am a little leery.

Some companies use industrial psychologists to help determine fit with the position they’re hiring for. But this interviews aren’t generally about the sort of invasive psychological questions you might be picturing — they’re not going to ask you about sexual fantasies or tensions with your mother. They’re going to ask questions designed to get at the traits and skills they’re looking for. I’d treat it like any other part of the interview process. And if you’re asked something you’re not comfortable answering, it’s fine to say that.

4. Negotiating salary when becoming a full-time, non-temp employee

I am currently a contract employee (the company’s term) for a large, international company. Although they posted the position and interviewed me, I am paid through a third party employment agency. During the initial salary discussion, I was told my requested salary was at the top of their range, but when I received the offer, it was for this top number and sweetened with 6 paid vacation days, so I accepted. (It is paid hourly.)

I started last May as a part-timer (3 days/week), and will soon be moving to full-time. I expect at some point the company will ask me to become a full-time “permanent” employee instead of contract (most employees here started out that way). My question is, can I negotiate a hiring starting salary at that point? And how much can I ask for? I know the company pays the third party employment office over and above what I make hourly to “employ” me, but how much of that can I expect to recoup for myself? I should add that I very much enjoy working here — it’s a great job, great culture, and great people! I really couldn’t ask for much more other than the security of being permanent. Are there rules for this sort of negotiation?

You can certainly try negotiating. Keep in mind, though, that you might not be able to “recoup” what they were paying to the employment agency. They’re paying that fee for a purpose: to have the agency handle the administrative pieces associated with your employment, to be able to replace you with a minimum of fuss if needed, etc. So you shouldn’t base your salary argument on that. Rather, you should research what’s reasonable to ask for just like you would with a new job, and build your case around that.

5. Manager didn’t turn in my internal job application

My supervisor did not complete and turn in my internal job application. I gave her plenty of time to do it and she said she would turn it in. I am home-based and do not go in the office. She did not turn it in and never even filled out her part. The job posting closed. Do I have legal recourse?

No. It’s unfair and bad management on her part, but there’s nothing illegal about her neglecting to do it.

6. Banning certain foods from the office microwave

Can you ban certain types of food from being cooked in the microwave in the workplace, such as fish? Is it legal?

Of course it’s legal. There’s no law protecting workers’ right to microwave smelly foods.

7. Applying for a job where husband’s job search might complicate things

In November, I applied for a position in another state. Time marched on and nothing happened. Meanwhile, we were lucky enough to find another government job in the same town for my husband. He made the cut and his name was sent forward to the hiring official. Several weeks later, the job was canceled and readvertised for the employees of a particular agency only — not his — so he couldn’t apply. The job I applied for readvertised for a particular agency — mine — I reapplied and have a call. We are looking daily for him, but have found nothing.

We both would not mind moving. We are more than willing to trade in our daily 3-hour commutes for a 20-minute commute — not a problem. Bottom line, I want to be a contender — I have a very good chance and it would be a promotion. How to I gracefully answer questions about him and his employment? If he is unable to find a job, it will be a dealbreaker. Also, we would need to move — very complicated. We do have a child and would look at the end of the school year — is this unreasonable?

Government hiring often moves slowly, so waiting until the end of the school year might not be a deal breaker, but you’d need to ask. Only they can tell you.

Regarding your husband, you’re unlikely to be asked questions about him and his employment — or at least you shouldn’t be. Your husband’s situation is none of their business. (And this isn’t academia, where they might ask because they’d want to hire you as a package.) If he’s ultimately not able to find a job there, you can turn down the offer if you get one. But there’s no reason to get into details with them about that situation.

{ 147 comments… read them below }

  1. Julie Johnson*

    Thank you so much for answering my question about my supvr not turning in my internal job app. I really appreciate your timely answer.

    1. jesicka309*

      Do you know who is doing the hiring for the internal role? A quick email saying that you were interested but missed the deadline could help you out. Or talk to HR, sometimes they can suggest how to go about applying for the role. It may have just been an honest error on the part of your manager, but you could always see if they could make an exception (assuming, of course, that you are a stellar employee).

      1. AG*

        I agree that it wouldn’t hurt to go to HR or the hiring manager and say that your manager forgot to turn in the application, but would they consider you anyways?

        1. fposte*

          I’d only mention the manager part if there’s a reason it had to come from the manager rather than the OP, like the manager had to fill a part out. If it could have been mailed in or emailed in directly, it’s not going to look good to suggest it was anybody’s responsibility other than the applicant’s.

    1. Anonymouse*

      I was a member when I was in undergrad, and even though it didn’t end up on my resume, I would definitely say it’s worth joining.

      I met some awesome people (from all different programs, which may not be as helpful if you live on campus, because then you have another avenue for that), and ended up going to the national conference, which was a great introduction to conferences, because it allowed me to get all the jitters out and be able to really focus on the facts at later conferences I went to in my field.

      And it provided a lot of community service opportunities that I wouldn’t have otherwise had.

      So yeah, don’t join for the resume bump, but I’d look into your school’s chapter activities.. it might be worth it in the short run

      1. Autumn*

        I was also a member in undergrad and would say that being in NSCS provided me some great opportunities – I didn’t list being a member on my résumé either, but my school’s chapter was getting up and running and I was able to get some leadership experience on the exec board – organizing events, networking, and meeting a ton of great people!

        There are actually some benefits when you get out of school too – discounts from Geico, discounts (and under 25 fee waived!) from Hertz, and I think there are others too, but can’t think of them off hand. Those are the ones I’ve used most.

        As a disclaimer: I’m biased because I did an internship with them (another member benefit if you’re DC based or interested in spending a summer in DC) so while my membership wasn’t on my résumé, the internship was.

        Hope that helps!

  2. Soni*

    #6. I’ve definitely heard of buildings banning microwave popcorn before, since it has a bad habit of burning and setting off fire alarms, necessitating whole-building evacuations and no one returning until the fire department has given the all clear. (In a serious high rise building, that can literally be an all-day event.)

    And specific your case, the smell of cooking fish is nauseating to many people (myself included), and the smell has a tendency to linger…and linger. I can definitely see that getting a bunch of complaints.

    1. Jessa*

      Also some people may have fish allergies, I have a friend who if in the same kitchen as someone cooking shrimp comes up terribly ill.

      They may be banning for smells, they may be banning for medical reasons, either way. It’s not unreasonable in shared space to have rules.

      1. Elizabeth*

        Heck, they could even be unreasonable and it would still in most cases be legal. For example, they could ban eating orange foods in the break room on Tuesdays – it would be silly and pointless, but they’re still legally allowed to do it.

      2. KellyK*

        Microwave popcorn is also an airborne allergen, though not a very common one. (My mom-in-law is highly susceptible to it.)

    2. Steve*

      When I was in college I earned extra money working in a factory. One of my coworkers, a Polish immigrant, once pulled a fish out of the pond behind the building and microwaved it whole. Like, guts and scales and head still attached.

      Yup, he ate it that way too.

      1. Jamie*

        This is creepy. I work in a factory and I’ve heard that exact same story here – but with an immigrant of a different nationality and it was the creek not a pond.

        Exact same story.

        And if you’ve ever smelled the creek by my work on a warm day knowing someone ate something that came 0ut of it makes it even more gross. They don’t call it bubbly creek for nothing.

        1. fposte*

          Exact same story with a different immigrant suggests an urban legend. Not seeing in Snopes yet, but the factoid-level stuff often doesn’t get in there.

        2. bemo12*

          Its not an uncommon thing actually. Many foreigners cook whole fish in the microwave and eat it like that.

          I knew a family who would wrap a fish in tin foil with some seasoning and run it through the dishwasher to cook it.

          I never ate dinner at there place thankfully.

          1. Another Emily*

            I don’t see the problem. They basically just steamed it. It’s not like they put soap in. ;)

    3. pidgeonpenelope*

      I had a coworker who loved burnt popcorn. She ate it everyday.

      I have a coworker who comes from a country where fish is in their primary diet and so he microwaves fish a lot. I wish my work would ban microwaving fish and popcorn but at the same time, I would feel bad about essentially telling this coworker he can’t microwave his food.

      1. HR Pufnstuf*

        I’m in commercial seafood, fish required!
        Years ago, we had some sea snails that were coming up with the crab pots, one of our workers would cook them up and eat. Furtunately I was standing next to him when he collapsed and was able to sit him down. That was the last of the sea snail snacking.

    4. CollegeCareerServicesThatDoNotSuck*

      This AAM response may be correct, it’s probably legal, but I question if it is ethical. If someone in the office has an allergy or medical condition and they need to protect that, fine. But I don’t think its ethical to restrict food that others may not like. I worked with an immigrant once, and her home brought from home was considered very stinky and unpleasant to others. (I thought it smelled delicious.) There was a ban on food that “had strong odors”. It was intolerant and unfair that she had to learn to prep food more suitable to Western noses. I’m sorry but some Lean Cuisines just reek! But those were okay. I think there is more grey in this question than noticed at first glance.

        1. Jeff*

          If people would just reference the requirements I posted from EEO above, there wouldn’t be as much discussion about the legality of nuking a fresh fish. I don’t understand why people have such a hard time following these rules.

        2. CollegeCareerServicesThatDoNotSuck*

          No, there is no grey in legal, and I agreed on that point. The law however is not always ethical. Just because it is legal does not mean it is the right thing to do.

          I think that there is more considerations here than “fish stinks”, that’s all. While all need to be courteous and try not to smell the place up, a little cultural competence in some cases is also needed. Legal or not.

          Do you know if the right to bring home cooked food that is culturally related ever been challenged in the court?

      1. Jamie*

        I’m not sure this is an ethical issue as much as a manners issue.

        If a racist was deliberately targeting a certain ethnic food because they didn’t like those people – that’s an ethical (and legal) problem. If they just really hate the smell of certain foods – that’s not an ethical failing it’s just a matter of applying it fairly to the Lean Cuisines that rise to the same level.

        I just think the general rule of thumb is the less obtrusive behavior should have the right of way. Quiet trumps noisy, odorless or mild odors trump strong odors, no touching trumps hugging. Obviously we all have to make concessions because we work with other people who have different needs/tastes/preferences – but in general I think the less obtrusive option should win because that results in the fewer people being bothered.

    5. Vicki*

      We had the fire alarms frequently at one company I worked for. If it wasn’t the microwaved popcorn it was the coffee pots with 1/4″ of slowly burning sludge.
      Personally, the smell of microwave fake-butter popcorn makes me naseous. Happily for me, a colleague had the same reaction so, when a “senior” team member wanted to buy a popcorn machine, we blocked the effort.

      Ugh. Stinky offices; another reason to work remotely.

  3. Lindsay*

    5. You must be so annoyed! At a previous job my boss’s boss failed to turn in his recommendation for me for a company scholarship in a timely manner and I was so frustrated. Unfortunately, it’s not illegal, just rude.

  4. Josh S*

    #1: In general, I’m skeptical of anything that asks you to pay up front for membership without letting you see the real, tangible benefits you get from membership. While it may be beneficial to some, by and large the up-front fee collection is often a HUGE red flag that a scam of some sort is happening. (I think of Direct Buy Club, the now-defunct Who’s Who Among High School Students, etc.)

    While that may not be the case with this society in particular, it’s also not particularly helpful to your career to be listed in one of these self-selected publications.

    1. Katie in Ed*

      While I don’t think that NSCS is quite as bad as Who’s Who, I’ve never experienced any tangible value with it. My dad purchased me a membership based on a direct mailer and was even considering flying out of state to attend the membership ceremony. He really pushed me on it when I told him no.

      That being said, skepticism about these types of societies led me to almost miss out on being a Phi Beta Kappa member, which I ignorantly dismissed as yet another snooty scam (it’s not). That one is definitely worth putting on education resumes.

        1. Eric*

          “widely known, legit, and respected.”
          And apparently too good for me.
          I’m not bitter or anything :)

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        You mean being listed in the Who’s Who of American High School Students isn’t THE driving reason behind my career success? =)

  5. Mike*

    Re #6: It should be illegal to microwave fish and to burn popcorn in the office microwave.

    1. Chloe*

      Agreed. Sorry if this offends anyone, but its hard not to read #6 as a joke question. Does anyone seriously think that lawmakers would pass a law protecting people’s right to cook fish in a work microwave? I know there are a lot of frivolous, arcane and frankly inexplicable laws on the statute books but this would really be setting the bar high.

      1. Yup*

        Not illegal per se, but perhaps worrying that it’s disrespectful or offensive. Dietary considerations often relate to religion and personal beliefs, medical concerns, cultural backgrounds, and so on. So somebody might be thinking “Hey, am I even allowed to broach this topic without opening a giant can of worms?”

        1. Ann O'Nemity*

          Good point. I know someone who rents out a vacation condo and he had some difficulty removing curry smells after an Indian couple stayed there for a week. My friend was worried that banning curry specifically would be appear discriminatory so he carefully worded something about strong cooking odors.

      2. Vicki*

        I reads the question as “is it legal to put up a sign banning certain foods?” not “is it legal to cook stinky foods at work?”.

    2. Anonymous*

      and bacon. to microwave or burn it. it happens in the lounge every morning and the smell travels through the vent into my office on the next floor down. -_- why

      1. pidgeonpenelope*

        I have a coworker who has the worst diet possible. One day, while at the grocery store, he saw that bacon was on sale so he bought like 5 pounds of it. On my floor, we have three microwaves which spans two break rooms. He cooked his 5 pounds of bacon in each microwave and then used another floor’s microwaves. It smelled like bacon for a long time.

          1. Elizabeth*

            I generally like the smell of bacon.

            Someone microwaving 5 pounds of it across multiple microwaves in multiple departments would be pretty overwhelming and eventually cross over into offensive.

          2. AG*

            Actually my problem with bacon is that the smell tends to linger in the microwave because the grease gets stuck to the inside walls. So when my fiance makes bacon in the morning, if the microwave isn’t cleaned afterwards (and guess who has to clean it!), it makes my oatmeal bacony.

          3. Chinook*

            I once subbed in a Home Ec class with 3 Muslim students. When it came time for some of the students to cook bacon, they started turning green and asked to work in the hall. I guess that meat, when you Register not raised to eat it, can actually smell stomach churning if you are not raised with it.

  6. PEBCAK*

    #2: Would a privacy screen be a possible compromise? I know it’s not as good, but a lot of people where I work have them.

    #4: I’m always surprised when people expect to get more by moving to full-time. Contract workers are, in part, being compensated for the temporary nature of their work, lack of benefits, etc. Unless other industries work really differently from IT, full-time might actually come with a lower salary.

    #6: Incidentally, I once worked somewhere that the policy memo sent out about smelly food could have been read as discrimination against a protected class. They dialed that back in a hurry.

    1. Lulula*

      I read #4 differently, and thought they might be going through a temp agency since they mentioned a third party (as this is what I’ve done previously). In that case, you might be pocketing $10/hr, while the company is paying $16/hr to the agency for you. Of course, if you’re brought on full time and that includes benefits, that might eat up the difference in pay, but usually you’ll get a bit more take-home as well. Depends on the company & position. If it is a temp-to-perm scenario, there’s sometimes a hiring fee paid to the agency based on the salary they hire you at, which may also factor into the flexibility of the offer. Because I was usually so desperate to be brought on board, I never even considered negotiating in that situation, so no comment on that part!

      If I’m wrong and #4 is truly an Independent Contractor, yes, those people generally have the larger paychecks to “compensate” for lack of benefits (I’m not sure if they really do get enough extra to pay for insurance, holiday pay etc, but in theory it makes up for that). In which case, you may still end up ahead of the game going full-time when you take full compensation into account, but you may be dismayed by the number on the paycheck.

      1. Jamie*

        That’s how I read it also – making the jump from temp agency to direct employee.

        If you are talking about a freelance contractor – and I only know IT – you’d definitely be talking about a significant pay cut. When I freelanced I charged 3X an hour what I’d have taken as pay as a direct employee. Temp to perm is entirely different.

        1. OP #4*

          Yes, it’s the jump from temp to perm that I’m talking about, not a freelance position. Thanks for the input!

      2. Cathy*

        The difference between what the company pays the agency and what the agency pays the employee is not just for benefits, it’s for taxes and administrative overhead too. Although she’s considered a “contractor” to the company, she’s actually a W-2 employee to the agency (assuming she’s in the U.S.)

        The agency is paying half her social security tax, workman’s comp insurance, unemployment insurance, etc. They are also paying someone to do all the accounting and reporting. Once she gets hired by the company, those costs shift to the new employer, and she can’t expect to “recover” them in the form of increased wages.

        1. Chinook*

          I was going to say the same thing – part of the fee paid covers payroll taxes. I once hear that, in Canada, payroll taxes can be 25-30% of your salary. Keep that in mind when comparing fees paid by the employer to your actual salary.

          Also, every company is allowed to make a profit when they make a sale. I accepted a long time ago that my services are the product being sold and never blink an eye when I make $20/hour for a job the company is paying $40/hour for (which I learned when I opened these invoices as a temp).

        2. Rana*

          Yes. This is also one of the not-so-well-known “surprises” of freelancing: when you’re the boss and the employee, you’re the one who’s responsible for those taxes, and, percentage-wise, they are not small.

    2. Jennifer*

      Re your answer to #6 – was this a religious objection (fish on fridays) or something else? For some reason the first thing that came to mind was “ethnic” food of some sort, like curries etc. I can see how that might cause some trouble. I am a smelly food lover, so I always try to be conscientious of what I bring into the office, but I can see how it might be hard to have to cut out pretty much your entire diet just because it is unfamiliar and therefore “smelly” to your coworkers.

      1. Jamie*

        In thinking about this, wouldn’t a rule in place regarding how far a smell can carry past the kitchen/break room be fair? Because unless you’re singling out one particular ethnic food that would take care of the curry based dishes as well as the bacon, the fish, the popcorn, etc. It’s making the rule fit the issue – and it’s non-discriminatory.

        Because for me smells aren’t nearly the problem for me as sounds – so it’s not a personal issue for me – but as much as I love the smell of bacon on a Sunday morning or garlic in almost anything it still smells gross wafting through the office.

        Kind of like the perfume rule. When I was a kid and first wearing it my mom said no one should be able to smell it on you unless they are within 2 feet – so it seems like you shouldn’t be able to smell food more than a couple of feet outside of the food area would be fair.

        1. Jennifer*

          That definitely sounds like a pretty fair solution to the problem. Can you imagine trying to police it though, especially if you have petty coworkers (or one turned petty because they are upset they can’t have their fish anymore)? “Karen’s mustard on her sandwich wafts 2 inches past the line!!!”

          I think unless it’s an allergy thing, (or possibly something that might bother customers/clients) the most you can really do is ask people to be conscientious, and hope they oblige. There are quite a few things many of my coworkers do that annoy me, but I can’t imagine creating policies to police behavior unless it goes beyond mere annoyance or grossness.

          1. Jamie*

            I see your point – I guess I’m pretty spoiled in that when it comes to this stuff I work with reasonable people and everyone is pretty considerate and accommodating.

            Except for the person who keeps missing the bathroom trash with the paper towel so there is always something for me to pick up when I go in there. I am this close to writing a passive-aggressive note.

            I do agree that whenever possible behaviors should be handled by general civility rather than policy. Like my weird thing with hearing people eat – I don’t ask anyone to alter their eating habits for me, but when I’m hosting a lunch meeting I make sure we’re not ordering anything involving chips. A policy about loud foods in meetings would piss people off…but my way? They are just happy to get pizza, or pasta, or burgers and fries…no one has to know the menu was chosen by design.

            1. fposte*

              For me it’s the coffee-grounds pitchers who fling them toward the garbage can and leave a big spatter on the wall. Seriously?

            2. A Bug!*

              I am this close to writing a passive-aggressive note.

              If you write it on the offending paper towels, taping each one up as you come across them until the bathroom wall is covered in trophies, I would give you five dollars.

              Don’t miss out on this exciting opportunity!

            3. Min*

              Are they actually missing the trash or are they using the paper towel to open the door and then dropping it? I used to work with a woman who did this (though I never figured out who) and it was ages before it dawned on me why there was always a wadded up paper towel on the floor just inside the door. TPTB finally just moved the trash can to be right next to the door – problem solved.

              And I’ll add my $5 to A Bug’s.

              1. Jamie*

                I thought of that – but the basket is so close to the door there really is no excuse for missing it.

                And as much as I would love to earn $10 I don’t think it will hold me over when that would totally get me fired since customers also use that bathroom…although it would be awesome!

        2. class factotum*

          Two feet?

          Y0u are far more generous than I.

          My philosophy is I shouldn’t be able to smell your perfume/aftershave unless I am kissing you. On the lips.

    3. Vicki*

      As Lulula points out, a lot of “contractors” are actually W2 employees of the contracting firm. They are NOT especially compensated for the temporary nature of the work or the loss of benefits. They’re often making about what they might expect to make as a FTE (who would also get benefits).

      I’ve been “contracting” this way for 10+ years.

  7. Anon*

    lol with the fish maybe suggest fresh salmon as an alternative. I’ve microwaved salmon that I baked the night before and no one said anything other than that it smelled wonderful.

    Some fishes just don’t carry a fishy smell – unless they’ve gone bad…

    Now tuna… that’s another story.

    Do keep in mind that some people have fish on Friday for religious reasons.

    1. Elizabeth*

      I like salmon, but I do think it tends to leave an odor behind that others might find disagreeable.

      I think that a rule about “no fish” on its own doesn’t run into religion issues, because it’s my understanding that the reason people eat fish on Friday is to not eat meat. Someone following that stricture could eat something vegetarian on Fridays for lunch, and fish for dinner at home. Or they could eat fish that didn’t have to be microwaved (sashimi, anyone?).

        1. Anon*

          Oh my god, please no tuna salad in the workplace ever. The smell seriously makes me gag. It’s so strong and so offensive.

      1. Runon*

        I think that the No Fish rule could be viewed as discriminatory if the rule read something like “No fish is allowed in the microwave on Friday’s during Feb – April.”

        Because then it would be aimed at a specific religious group. But if it is simply No Fish. I can’t imagine* that would be a problem.

        *if it was Geoff and Susy the catholics can’t microwave fish and Jody and frank the atheists can that would be a problem. Apparently I can imagine. But I had to work at it.

      2. KellyK*

        Ooh, sashimi. I would totally be up for sushi or sashimi every Friday during Lent (or every Friday ever).

        Tangent aside, I think you’re right that a “no fish in the microwave” rule doesn’t run into religion issues on its own. It would have to either be applied selectively to give the Catholics a hard time, or be in some oddball situation that was so restrictive for other reasons, that it ended up adversely affecting someone’s ability to follow their religion. By itself, not so much.

        1. Jamie*

          I have to say I’m sure it happens somewhere, but I’ve never run into anyone giving Catholics a hard time in the work place.

          For religious reasons, I mean. I’m Catholic and it’s not like I don’t get a hard time for everything else. :)

          Maybe it’s a majority thing – if you discriminate against Catholics in Chicago manufacturing circles you are really limiting yourself. Or maybe it’s because it tends to be the people who observe lent who bring in paczkis on Fat Tuesday…and no one wants to alienate the people who bring in the pastries (I will never know why people eat things with filling, but apparently you don’t need to be a Catholic to dig a Polish donut.)

          It’s funny – tptb buy lunch for us fairly often and on Fridays during lent a couple of times they’ll stop and bring in fried shrimp from this local restaurant. Good luck trying to grab a diet coke from the kitchen while the shrimp grab is happening…seriously chaos.

          1. KellyK*

            Yeah, I don’t think it’s at all common, but it was the specific religious tangent we were on, so I went with it. If someone is going to catch religious-based grief over food restrictions, it’s much more likely to be Jewish people or Muslims (particularly during Ramadan for the latter).

            And I think you’re right that it’s a majority thing. Catholicism is still the largest Christian denomination in the US, and Christians as a whole are a pretty big majority in the US. (From my experience, the Protestants that consider Catholics to be “not real Christians” are a pretty small minority.)

            1. fposte*

              And the ones I’ve known didn’t consider other Protestants to be “real Christians” either.

              1. KellyK*

                Yeah, that sounds about right, though I’m not sure if it matches my experience or not, because I have no idea how the people who have said those things to me feel about other Protestants.

                When I was in high school, one of the older ladies at my church cautioned me against attending a Catholic college because “they’re not real Christians.” I have no idea how she felt about Baptists or Episcopalians.

                I also had one coworker (a Seventh Day Adventist, if I recall correctly) go on a random anti-Catholic rant in my office, apropos of nothing. Again, no idea if that extended to “everybody not in our denomination,” but it wouldn’t surprise me.

                1. AgilePhalanges*

                  I know this is an old thread, but hopefully you’ve subscribed. :-)

                  I just figured I’d satisfy your curiosity somewhat, since I grew up Seventh-day Adventist (though am now more agnostic). SDAs are, of course, as snobby as any other denomination about believing theirs is “right,” as really, why would you identify as a certain denomination if you didn’t believe yours was the correct one? Therefore, they do believe most other religions are wrong about the day they worship on. I think where Catholics get singled out by SDAs is that they “worship” “idols” and have other “gods” besides the trinity (statues in churches, praying to Mary in addition to Jesus/God). I, personally, never heard outright animosity, but did gather that Catholics were looked at in that regard, so I must’ve gotten it from somewhere.

                  However, when our church was undergoing renovations, we held services in the Catholic church across the street (very compatible that way, since we held services on different days), and I think the favor was returned some other time down the line, so my particular congregation as a kid definitely didn’t think of Catholics as people to be avoided. Maybe pitied for their lack of understanding? :-)

                  But there are definitely differences in how different congretations of SDAs choose to follow their religion, so sadly, it doesn’t surprise me if you received animosity from someone who identified as SDA. :-/

      3. Laura L*

        “the reason people eat fish on Friday is to not eat meat. ”

        I don’t really get this. I mean, fish is meat. Unless I missed something in 9th grade biology. :-)

    2. Mike C.*

      It’s not that people eat fish in particular for religious reasons, they simply don’t eat red meat.

      1. Lanya*

        …or any meat in general, on Fridays. Except seafood.

        Speaking of which, I recently learned that alligator meat counts as seafood and can be eaten during Lent!

      2. Jamie*

        Very true – at least if you’re talking about Catholics during lent.

        Hence the famous egg and pepper sandwich that becomes so popular this time of year. Personally, I’m not a fan…thank goodness for grilled cheese and cheese pizza or I’d be very hungry on Fridays in the spring.

    3. saf*

      “Some fishes just don’t carry a fishy smell – unless they’ve gone bad”

      Many people believe that, but to others, there is always a fishy smell. Some of us are just more sensitive to that smell than others.

      1. fposte*

        Yup. Somebody mentioned tuna salad–a freshly opened can of tuna wafts like nobody’s business, and, like most oily/fatty smells, stays around for quite a while.

  8. CatB (Europe)*

    #3: psychologists are bound by quite a strong Ethics Code (see apa-dot-org for details), and AFAIK the psychologist – client relationship has the same privileges as the doctor – client or attorney – client ones (though you may want to check that – I’m not American). IME the final psy report will be devoid of any private info and will contain test conclusions (if any are conducted) and the inferences the psychologist makes from those results. Since this a hiring process I guess the interview will be about determining your personality traits, maybe temperament, perhaps some projective personality tests, all meant to determine as well as humanly possible if you are a good fit.

    IME some employers might want to see also if thre’s a certain kind of potential there to be developped (managerial, technical or whatnot) or may be trying to see – supposing you are really coveted for – in what ways they can make best use of your combination of skillset and personality (I do know of a company that altered the office space layout to accomodate a particular phobia of a candidate they really wanted).

    But I suppose that if your interview falls into the “general” type no really private questions will be asked. This is just an interview, not a psychoanalitycal therapy session.

    1. RG*

      But who is the industrial psychologist’s client? The (potential) employee or the employer? Which is analogous to getting interviewed by the company’s general counsel – they work for the company as a whole, and the employee (anywhere from executive to rank and file) doesn’t get the attorney-client privilege for those conversations.

      1. CatB*

        The “client”, in APA sense, is *always* the human being talking to the psychologist. Always. Even if said psychologist were employed by the firm, the privilege sticks. The employer has access only to the conclusions and inferences, never to personal data. Anything less and this profession is rendered useless, as it relies solely upon the mutual trust. See APA site for info.

        That said, it isn’t unheard of psychologists betraying this bond of trust. But they’re accidents.

  9. -X-*

    “I would be constantly worry about who was checking out my work”

    Maybe try to stop worrying?

    1. Anonicorn*

      Some people do work that isn’t appropriate for everyone (even coworkers) to walk by and see.

    2. Lulula*

      I don’t worry, per se, but I’m definitely uncomfortable when it feels like people are evaluating my work as it happens. I prefer my work being gauged on the final product, not at various points in an imperfect & sometimes messy process.

  10. JT*

    For #2 – about “historic” documents. If they really are historic (important material about the history of the organization or its work and are unique copies), they should be saved in a safe way – such as in an archive or off-site storage. Or maybe onsite but in a careful way.

    If they are just old, but still needed for the OP’s work, she should say that: “my work will suffer in X, Y, Z ways if I don’t have access to these documents.”

    But if they’re just old and she likes to have them “just in case” she should probably toss them, or at least really think when was the last time she referenced them, and what would be the costs of not having them. If they haven’t been referenced for years, and could be re-created in the remote chance they were actually needed, they should probably be tossed. Or perhaps moved offsite to cheaper storage. Document storage has costs – most clearly in terms of space/rent but also in terms of the cost of keeping track of the material and even, in some organizations/industries, litigation risks (in a lawsuit they might be discoverable material, which means time/money may have to be spent going through them).

    1. Jamie*

      Good points. It can also be cheaper to hire a couple of temps to come in for a day or two and scan the stuff you want to save and store it electronically. It’s cheaper and there is back-up.

      I’ve temped in places with these open floor plans and I think a lot of times they forgot to consider designing them for people to work and instead focused on getting as many packed in as people.

      If the OP’s concerns for privacy are work related then speaking to their manager about how to address that should do the trick. Privacy screens mentioned in another comment are a good option. Storing legacy documents – that’s a less sound argument. Some stuff you need to keep you don’t need to put your hands on every day or even every year – that can be stored in a locked cabinet elsewhere and doesn’t need to be in your cubicle.

      The things is the people yet to be hired, if they are IT (and no, I don’t know why my mind always goes there first – coincidental I guess) will have security issues AND likely the need for more space (although I would argue they need an office.)

      I hate clutter so if I were the OP and the answer was no and I needed to stay in the small cubicle I would expect my boss to either green-light a plan for converting the paper to electronic files or give me a file cabinet elsewhere.

      It’s funny – I remember temping at this one place and everyone was in small cubicles where the dividers were only about 4 inches up from the desk – so basically they weren’t cubicles as much as rows of desks. And then along the walls were these cubicles with walls that went all the way up. They weren’t any bigger than ours – but just the illusion of privacy. They were totally empty and all the direct employees coveted them but they just sat unused. There are weird politics when it comes to cubicles.

      1. Lore*

        My office definitely did not consider the work that needed to be done in designing our current cubicle farm. We have to proofread and there isn’t a flat surface big enough to put three side by side pages on without moving the keyboard. Also there are no desk drawers. And no bookshelves. And I work in book publishing and was downsized from an office with three full height bookshelves, six wall shelves, a work table, a credenza, and a desk. Hard times. (Even the previous cubicles were large enough for a bookshelf, a work table, and a guest chair.) It’s honestly the main factor in my considering leaving.

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          “My office definitely did not consider the work that needed to be done in designing our current cubicle farm.”

          No kidding…I’ve seen this happen at a few companies that I or a friend has worked at, where clearly the office space was designed by an architect who was thinking only of the beauty of the design, plus higher-ups who were thinking of the aesthetic and some idea like “open spaces increase collaboration!” and “lots of light for everyone, regardless of job title!”*

          And then, when the worker bees actually start using the new space, they find out that 1) the light is so strong that they can’t read their computer screens; 2) the space is SO open that no one can conduct a phone call, business-related or personal, without everyone hearing it; 3) there aren’t nearly enough conference rooms (see #2 for why); 4) no one can get any work done without being interrupted, because the lack of walls and doors makes it impossible to signal via a closed door “I’m working on something important and need to do it undisturbed.”

          God, I miss doors!

          *At least, these were the professed ideas. Cynical me thinks open spaces increase nosiness, so that coworkers will police each other from time-wasting, and that open spaces are also cheaper than building walls or even tall cubicle dividers.

          1. Lora*

            My favorite at a past workplace was this:
            We were organized by group into these honeycomb contraptions. Our group put a makeshift door on ours, ordered an extra-large monitor and hooked up a spare laptop to it so we could watch DVDs on slow days and dragged some old lounge chairs that used to be in the lobby into our honeycomb. Management got a bit upset when one of the engineers brought in beer and Chex mix to watch a taped football game and that was the end of the party, we had to take our door down.

            Worst workplace notion ever, “hoteling,” where you don’t have a desk at all, you just come in to a big open space and pick whatever desk is empty. I have seen companies that do this with, not kidding, scientific workspaces that are routinely covered in spilled chemicals, so you’re coming to work and the first thing you have to do is a HazMat cleanup. I have also seen this where the company assumes that on any given day, some % of the employees will be sick/telecommuting/vacationing, so there are not enough desks for everyone who shows up to work and some people have to sit in the cafeteria all day. Not kidding.

            1. VintageLydia*

              Thats how my husband’s work is. Most of their employees work at client sites so it doesn’t make sense for everyone to have their own desk, but occasionally the clients themselves are remote. He hates it because it’s an open layout, making conference calls absolutely impossible (and he has 2-3 conference calls a _day_.) Thankfully he’s allowed to work from home, but I’m here with our 4-month old infant which isn’t exactly distraction-free either, but at least he has a door.

          2. Chinook*

            The receptionist area I worked at was designed by an architect and was horrible but beautiful. My knees always hit something, there was no place for courier packages, it was dark and either deathly silent or annoyingly loud (no inbetween), you couldn’t see who was coming in until they were there and there was no direct light in a “right to light” office.

          3. Lulula*

            +1 And they wonder why people don’t want to come into the office to work! Maybe if I didn’t have to listen to 3 simultaneous phone conversations and have all of my work-in-progress constantly on display for all to see… I think the “open office” was actually devised by the manufacturers of office privacy products ;)

  11. Jamie*

    they’re not going to ask you about sexual fantasies or tensions with your mother.

    So we’re not supposed to be asking about these things in interviews? Oops.


  12. Jamie*

    #4 – I have experience on both sides of this…both going “perm” from a temp position personally and being on the employer side of others doing the same.

    I’ve always seen an increase over what the agency was paying – but never the whole mark-up. As Alison mentioned we pay the mark-up for the inconvenience of not having to deal with the overhead for payroll, benefits, etc.

    But I have always seen a bump of some kind. Don’t forget that the company may have to pay a lump sum to the agency to hire you on. When it happened to me mine was in the low 5 figures – so while you don’t see that cash either, there can be an outlay of investment especially if they don’t go temp to perm with a ton of temps and thus negotiate to waive or lower this fee.

    Keep in mind, too, depending on the position you may have an increase in responsibility becoming a direct employee (I hate the concept of permanent employee – nothing in life is permanent except family, imo). There needs to be a clear delineation in companies between what constitutes a temporary worker and a direct employee…when lines get blurred it can cost a company money. So for example, what you think of as the same position just not through the temp agency may have some managerial responsibilities they can’t legally give a temp. Or tasks involving internal information not shared with temps.

    Or it could be exactly the same job – but it’s worth asking about because if there will be greater responsibility you want to factor that into your negotiations.

  13. Anonymous*

    #1 “reasonably well-known honor society”

    I wonder if the OP had heard of it before. I hadn’t.

  14. Jamie*

    #1 made me wonder if it’s kind of like putting a professional association on your resume.

    I personally wouldn’t pay to be in anything where there wasn’t a tangible benefit – but I do belong to a professional society because of access to training materials and networking (which I never use) and I put that at the tail end of my resume because you can either be approved for membership by having a certain degree (which I don’t) or professional experience in a specialized area which was vetted by calling my boss (seriously).

    It’s not like I’ve used my resume for anything since I joined so I don’t know if this is the kind of thing that should be there or not.

    This honor society thing though – I put that in the same category as listing a Mensa membership…irrelevant and kind of pretentious.

    1. Judy*

      At least the 2 engineering honoraries I joined in college gave some immediate benefit. They hosted monthly talks with companies in the evenings, and the companies supplied the pizza. And both did service projects around the campus, which got us out doing something as a group. I was involved in those about the same amount as I was in the student chapter of my professional society and SWE. And I certainly got back the amount I paid in dues (total) with the SWE scholarship.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I’d say that legit honorary societies you’re part of in college are appropriate for a resume during college and for a few years after you graduate (and possibly longer for Phi Beta Kappa). But societies that you pay to join after graduation that are based on what you achieved in college? Not useful to include; will look like irrelevant, unimpressive resume filler.

        Professional membership groups — different and useful to include.

    2. Susan*

      In my field you are expected to join professional organizations and be active in them by serving on committees, planning events, etc. Not only is it expected, it is also required by some jobs as part of the duties.

      So for me it is a must on the resume/CV. Though I put it towards the end and tend to emphasize the ones I am actually active in as opposed to just paying for membership.

      1. -X-*

        Professional organizations are not the same as honor societies. There can be some overlap for a few organizations, and sometimes in mission, but they’re not the same.

  15. Jon S.*

    Re: #1 and similar situations: I’d ask myself who is getting the benefit out of this relationship—the “society” or me. In this case its pretty clear cut that they are: they get my $, they get to trade on my academic accomplishments/reputation….and I get……..nothing.

    1. Jennifer*

      Yep, ITA. Also, in general, “real” academic awards will pay you (or at least certainly be free), not the other way around.

      The only real benefit I could see from this one is that it may help you if you plan on doing some further graduate study. HOWEVER, if that is the case I would speak to someone at your school in admissions, a higher up in the faculty of the field you are thinking of pursuing, or even your normal academic counselor, and ask for their opinion on it. They are much more likely to know if academia cares one bit about it or not.

      1. Jon S.*

        just did a quick search on GuideStar. NSCS: Total 2010 revenue was about $5.8 million; $5.2 million of that came from member dues. Of total functional expenses, about $3 million went to salaries and office expenses and…drum roll please….$350K went to scholarships (presumably for members). So let me get this straight….you take in $5.2 million from memberships and spit back less than half a million in aid to those same members? Sounds like a load of crap.

  16. Just Laura*

    “There’s no law protecting workers’ right to microwave smelly foods.”

    Thanks for the laugh!! Love AAM. :)

    1. CH*

      Interesting article. I wouldn’t have guessed that so many students eligible for PBK wouldn’t have heard of it. It may be indicative of what is going on with the liberal arts in general when students are more concerned (with reason these days) about getting a job along with the diploma. When I started college (back in dinosaur days), it was the only honor society I had set my sights on–and it is the only one I still list on my resume. I too have had it noted in interviews.

      1. Katie in Ed*

        I definitely could count myself among one of the unwashed who almost dismissed this honor. The article mentions that honorees from state schools or those who were first in their families were less likely to have heard of PBK. If you don’t come from a background that exposes you to this sort of thing, it just seems like another BS scam. Maybe it’s something about their ad copy, but I remember being very turned off by the whole thing. Seems like a wonderful example of class/cultural difference.

        It also gives me a heartbreaking memory of my grandfather, at that time riddled with Alzheimers, asking me if he could buy me a PBK key. I thought he must have been out of it to want to spend $85 dollars on a keychain. But perhaps it was a moment of clarity that I misunderstood. :'(

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          I was suckered in by the “Who’s Who in American High Schools” so in college I never considered paying money or going out of my way for any honors. I either didn’t hear of Phi Beta Kappa at the time, or in ignorance dismissed it and forgot about it. I had the grades and the summa cum laude, but that’s all. None of that matters now: how I do in my current job is what people care about.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yeah, I think Phi Beta Kappa is very different — widely known and respected — or at least it’s been that way in the past (and thus will probably continue to be for a while, at least as long as those of us who think of it that way continue to be involved in hiring).

      1. Seal*

        When I finished my second masters degree, based on my GPA I was invited to join Beta Gamma Sigma, the international honor society for business programs. Since I work in academia and such memberships look good on your CV, I paid the money and joined; some of my less-informed classmates didn’t.

        As a side note, several years later I found out that my late father was also a member. That too made me glad I coughed up the money to join.

    3. Anna*

      Wow, the PBK representatives quoted in that article are really snotty and self-important. Seriously, saying that “the mark of an educated person” is reaching out to people who ask you for money for stuff you’ve never heard of to ask why they want your money? Comparing themselves to Nobel Prizes when arguing that people shouldn’t turn them down. And this was the worst one: “The fact that we have championed the idea of liberal arts education for the last 200 years evidently does not mean anything to them,” basically saying that if people don’t want to give PBK money, they must not care about their educations. Frankly, if these are the people you get to associate with if you become a member, I’d turn it down too. They sound like a bunch of blowhards.

      I think they need to take AAM’s advice about selling themselves. Just as, when you apply for a job, you can’t say in your cover letter, “I am the best candidate for this job,” and then get offended when people don’t take your word for it and hire you, these people can’t blame students when they do such a poor job of marketing themselves and then students have no idea who they are. They need to focus on what concrete benefits a PBK membership can bring to a person’s life, beyond just “we are prestigious and everyone knows it.” Do they offer career assistance? Social events? Networking? Free food? Discounts on car rentals? I have absolutely no idea, and I’d be surprised if most people could tell you anything about the organization other than “isn’t that the thing for the folks with high GPAs?”

      Basically, they’re engaging in the institutional version of “Don’t you know who I am?” It’s some combination of pitiable and funny when minor celebrities do it, and it’s the same when these people do it.

  17. Allison*

    for the microwave question, what about foods that take forever to cook? In my office we have 120+ people, a tiny kitchen, and we just got a second microwave. Needless to say the lines for the microwaves are still long, and a huge part of that is because people bring in frozen lunches that take 5+ minutes to cook. I think it’s fine to use a microwave to heat up leftovers, but for frozen meals? I wish they were at least asked not to do it during the usual lunch hour.

    1. KellyK*

      Yeah, that’s crappy. With 2 microwaves for 120 people, if everyone has the same lunch hour, that breaks down to a minute of microwave time per person. That’s not enough time to heat leftovers either. Asking people not to monopolize the microwave during the regular lunch hour sounds reasonable, but it probably wouldn’t solve the problem completely.

      1. A Bug!*

        I’d say that the problem lies more with the employer for providing inadequate facilities, to be honest. 5 minutes is not all that unreasonable for heating up a meal, even some refrigerated leftovers.

        1. Allison*

          Well that’s kinda true too. The problem isn’t that they picked this office with our current size in mind, at one point the space they got was quite roomy for the amount of people working at the location; we’ve just been growing so quickly that we’ve barely been able to keep up infrastructure-wise. We keep taking over the surrounding offices on the floor, but haven’t added any extra kitchen space.

          I just avoid bringing food that needs to be heated up so I don’t have to deal with the line.

  18. Ann O'Nemity*

    The National Society of Collegiate Scholars isn’t particularly well-respected in academic circles and not particularly well-known outside of academia. When given the opportunity, I didn’t join and haven’t regretted it.

  19. Jeff*

    Actually, the EEO Commission states the following: no employer shall discriminate against microwaved food based on the food’s origin, smell, taste, or texture. However, employers may discriminate on the number of calories contained per microwaved food item. For example: All food items containing less than or equal to 500 calories may not be prohibited by any employer from microwave use. Any food item containing greater than 500 calories may be banned from microwave use regardless of origin, smell, taste, or texture.
    *Violators of this law may be subject to have smelly food placed on their desks for no more than 10 working days.

          1. Lulula*

            ROTFL! If not another band name, that certainly goes on the list for solid album title ;)

        1. CollegeCareerServicesThatDoNotSuck*

          Oh, I found it. I should have spent less time looking, apparently! lol

  20. Jubilance*

    Am I the only person wondering about a lot of these “is this legal?” emails? Most of them seem very clear that it’s legal for an employer to do. Why do people default to “it must be illegal!” when something happens that they don’t like? Symptom of our litigous society?

    1. Jennifer*

      I think a lot of people also tend to confuse constitutional rights with their rights in general in society. Freedom of speech, for example, does not apply to your private employer.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Definitely what Jennifer said.

      Also, a lack of understanding of how the law affects them in general — it’s the same thing that causes people to think they’re required to consent to a police search, for instance. (Which is shocking to me, because there’s very little more basic than your civil rights, but most people don’t know them.)

      Also, a general feeling that if something feels unfair, there must be laws making it so — a sort of outrage translated into “there must be a law, because this can’t be right.”

      That’s my best guess.

    3. fposte*

      I think it’s more the delay of realizing that the rules of our youth aren’t codified anywhere once we’re adults. A lot of us at heart believe there are always permanent records and a principal who knows if people have been running in the halls, and it’s a repeated shock to realize that in adulthood there really isn’t such a thing and that nothing actually happens to hall-runners.

      1. Jamie*

        Hall runners all grow up to work in manufacturing and become some poor HR person’s OSHA headache.

        And yes, I think it’s just some people think if something isn’t fair there is some official avenue to address it and correct the problem. In reality, sometimes life just isn’t fair.

        It’s kind of the same thing when a boss yells or there is verbal abuse at work a lot of people assume that is a hostile work environment and they can either sue, quit and get UI, whatever…and they don’t logically understand that just because someone was hostile in a work environment doesn’t mean it clears the bar for Hostile Work Environment. Learning that the difference between working with an jerk and working with an actionable jerk is spelled out legally is an eye opener for many people.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Calling that legal concept “hostile workplace” was a huge mistake on the part of whatever lawmaker started it. It’s probably responsible for more people thinking it’s illegal for their boss/coworkers to be jerks than anything else.

        2. fposte*

          Agreed. Though I do think “hostile work environment” and “wrongful termination” sound like they should mean what a lot of people think they mean rather than what the law actually means, so I find the confusion there fairly understandable.

          1. Jamie*

            I totally agree – because you can absolutely have a hostile work environment and wrongful termination (lowercase) which don’t rise to their uppercase legal cousins.

            The verbiage is confusing which is why people get even more upset when they realize the rights they think they have don’t exist.

            1. A Bug!*

              It also doesn’t help that the terms are defined differently across different jurisdictions. In the day of global communication many people don’t realize how relevant jurisdiction is to a lot of legal concepts.

              I get a lot of clients coming through here who use terminology they’ve clearly picked up from reading about the topic online. Their understanding of the matter is just so out of whack that correcting their misconceptions takes longer than it would to just explain things from scratch to someone coming to us with a clean slate.

      2. Elizabeth*

        I have a story about the “permanent record”.

        My husband grew up in a small town. He & his next-door neighbor were playing with a BB gun one afternoon, when a stray BB hit the sliding glass door & shattered it.

        Fast forward almost 35 years. I work with the next-door neighbor’s next-door neighbor, in the same state but in a completely different part of the state. He is now a school superintendent.

        I told my co-worker the story of the BB gun & the sliding glass door. She held the story in reserve for a few weeks, then said “so what is this I hear about you shooting a sliding glass door?” She said his face went chalk white, and he stammered out “How did you know about that??!?” She said “I work with your co-conspirator’s wife!”. He was flabbergasted that anyone knew about the story.

        So, while there isn’t a formal permanent record anywhere, there are a lot of long memories out there in the world.

    4. Runon*

      I actually think it is about “fairness” more than the litigiousness.

      People tend to think that fairness is something that is a value, when people are kids they are often told about fairness, share because it is fair etc. But fairness isn’t a legal standard, isn’t always a good standard, and is nearly never something people can agree on.

      It isn’t fair that I have to smell your smelly food. But you think it isn’t fair that you can’t simply have your lunch in peace without me complaining about it.

      Life isn’t fair. The law isn’t fair. Work isn’t fair.
      But people want someone to make it fair, if your boss won’t make it fair maybe the government will. Someone has to make life fair.

      1. fposte*

        I think this is true; I link it to childhood because often that’s such a key concept being taught then and there’s actually some enforcement. What you don’t realize is it’s being taught because there’s no rule to make sure it happens–we have to individually honor it.

        1. Jamie*

          And those of us who are rule followers by nature resent other people not honoring these type of social conventions.

          I will never, ever, park in someone’s reserved parking spot unless given explicit permission to do so. I notify people when I am out of the office and they can feel free to have at mine. But if I come in a little late because I worked late the night before I really don’t like to see someone else’s car in my spot.

          Because the fact that I wouldn’t do it to you makes it wrong (in my mind) for you to do it to me. Because it’s breaking the rules.

          Same for paper in the copier. I’d never leave the copier empty, I refill the paper. So it irritates me when I go to make copies and it’s empty. It’s not the act of filling the copier – I don’t mind – it’s that it was wrong for someone to leave it empty.

          But yes, 100 people and 100 different variations of what is right/wrong and then the severity of each offense. It’s a wonder we get along at all.

      2. Allison*

        Yep, unfortunately you can’t criminalize being a jerkwad. You can try to legislate fairness all you want, you can try to make people be considerate to each other, but it’s just not gonna happen.

    5. Rana*

      On the flip side, it’s arguably better for people to be thinking that abusive behavior is illegal than for them to assume that it’s something workers must put up with. Not that it’s good that people can’t tell the difference, but I’m just thinking that if you have a choice between a lot of people thinking that both ordinary unpleasantness and active discrimination are illegal, and a lot of people thinking that both are acceptable, I’d rather live in the former situation.

  21. anon-2*

    Honor societies? Don’t know if they would mean anything. I had been asked to join MENSA – but – ahggghh… no, not for me.

    Professional societies? Tied into one’s line of work? MOST DEFINITELY.

  22. G*


    Thanks so much for answering what to do during interview when it comes to relocation questions aimed at children and husbands. You wrote me back on a the very day I had the interview! I brought up nothing about my child or husband and neither did they….let’s just hope for a round 2!

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