fast answer Friday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

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

1. I blew up at my coworker; which of us was out of line?

I work for a fairly large defense contracting company, and it’s my first job out of college. I’ve been working there for nearly 2 years, and I share an office room with 3 other people. The other day, one of my office-mates needed to thread some Ethernet cord through above the ceiling panels of my part of the office. When he started, I was concerned with the dirt and fiberglass getting all over my workspace and I tried to persuade him to consider alternatives. However, he dismissed my suggestions, saying that I was just being self-serving, and he basically bulldozed right on through, threading the cord across the ceiling, stepping on my desk and my papers and having dirt falling down on my space. I got over-agitated and cursed at him, and he fired back, saying that I was being a jerk. We talked about it today, and he said his position was that he was doing his job and he needed to thread the cord regardless, so he took the liberty to do it his way. My problem was that he handled the situation disrespectfully, and did not make clear to me his plans and didn’t take into consideration the mess he was going to make.

He has thoroughly pissed me off because I see my office space as my space, and he violated it by doing whatever he thought he needed to. I am super upset about the issue and the only thing keeping me from talking to my manager about it is that he gave a dry apology (no emotion) and my team is close knit and I fear drama hurts the team. I’d rather have everyone get along, but I’ve noticed he has an attitude towards me and I am not sure if its because I am advancing on the team faster than him or if he is legitimately upset with his assignments and so he loses patience. Either way, I’m getting annoyed and he doesn’t seem to understand he needs to stop treating me in a disrespectful manner. Could I have handled the situation differently? Do I have the right to feel disrespected?

From what I can tell, you were the one who was out of line. He had a job to do, and if he needed to thread something through the ceiling panels above your desk, that’s what he needed to do. The thing about workspace in an office is that it’s not really “yours”; it can be disrupted at any time when a company priority intervenes. You should apologize for losing your temper with him.

2. Should interviewers respond to candidates’ thank-you notes?

I often interview candidates at my company. We’re a successful startup that’s getting a lot of attention, so we tend to have highly qualified, enthusiastic candidates who send followup notes/emails after their interviews. Often I receive these emails before we’ve made a hiring decision. And I’m stumped: do I reply? If so, how do I express professional friendliness while not raising hopes prematurely?

Candidates usually interview with 7-8 employees (and yes, they’re at our office for 5-6 hours — it’s a long day for them). So while I may interview a candidate for 45 minutes, I’m not the final decision maker. Any tips on whether/how to respond?

You don’t need to — think of it like gift etiquette, where if someone sends you a thank-you note for your gift, you’re not expected to then send them a thank-you for their thank-you. If you were, it could become an endless cycle, and we would all just keep thanking each other over and over. That said, it’s certainly a kind and gracious gesture to reply to a candidate’s thank-you note with a quick, “thank you for the note, and we’ll be in touch soon.”

However, be aware that no matter how carefully you choose your wording, some candidates will study the note to try to find hidden meanings in it. I know this because people regularly ask me to interpret these notes for them. But there’s nothing you can do about that, and you don’t need to forego responding just because someone might read something into it that’s in no way there.

3. Listing dollar amounts of scholarships on your resume

As a college student, is it appropriate to list the dollar amount of scholarships/awards received on a resume? I’ve Googled around and people seem to think this is a tacky practice. I currently have: name of scholarship, dollar amount, and a short description (all on the same line, so it’s not necessarily taking up a lot of space). Should I take the dollar amounts off?

Yeah, I don’t think the dollar amounts are really relevant and will indeed come across as a little tacky to some. I’d only refer to the amount if it was enormous — and even then I’d just say “full scholarship” or something without naming the specific dollar amount

4. Company is changing my status from employer to contractor

I am wondering if you can tell me if a company has the right to change an employees status from W2 to 1099 without a 30 day notice?

Sure. There’s no 30-day notice period required. However, they do need to ensure that you’re actually being treated as a contractor once they make that change — which is probably fairly different than you were treated as an employee. So I’d read up on the law and make sure you know what that’s supposed to look like.

5. Is this a bad idea?

Would you think that someone was a whack job if on their resume they:

1. Replaced the word “Objective” with “Aspiration”
2. Replaced the word “Experience” with “Professional Undertakings”
3. Replaced the word “Education” with “Enlightenment”


6. What to ask in an internal interview

I’ve been with my current organization for about two years. Recently, a promotion became available at a different location than mine for the same job I’m doing now, but with more responsibility. I feel like I’m well prepared for the interview, but I’m floundering a bit on what kinds of questions to ask them. Because it’s an internal position, I already know a lot about the culture of the location, the benefits and salary, the manager’s style, and the expectations of the job. I’ve met the manager several times, and know many of the people who work there. Other than your magic question (“thinking about people who have really been outstanding at this job in the past, what differentiates them from people who were merely good?”), are there other aspects I’m not thinking of that I could ask about?

Think about what you really want to know. When you think about doing the work every day, what are you wondering about the work itself, the challenges, how success is measured, the immediate and longer-term goals, the team, etc.? People sometimes feel stumped about what questions they should be asking in an interview, but generally if they really think about it, there’s loads of stuff that they don’t know and would like to.

7. Why would a company be hiring in an area that will likely have layoffs?

I had an interview with a very large company. I did some more researching and found they lost a large contract last year and a bigger one, almost 25% of their business, this year. They are planning a workforce reduction, according to the internet news. Why would a company even interview for a position in an area that will most likely have reductions?

Because they may not be planning to cut that particular position. When done well, layoffs aren’t across-the-board slicing. They’re specific cuts that are carefully and strategically chosen. They still have plenty of positions that they need to keep, and the one you’re interviewing for may be in that category. On the other hand, it might not be — this could be an example of a company recklessly hiring when they shouldn’t be. So ask — ask about what you’ve read and how it’s likely to affect this role and the larger team you’d be working with.

{ 138 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous*

    (1) Speaking from experience as a defense contractor, experience with tech, and experience in a shared office, I very strongly disagree with AAM on this one. Both of you screwed up.

    Before I get into your co-worker’s screw-ups, though: Blowing up at someone was totally wrong of poster #1. It’s never acceptable to curse at someone. If you get angry at someone, find the effective way to draw boundaries with them.

    Your co-worker is a major screw-up, though. Unless your co-worker is an IT guy, he should absolutely not be messing with wires in the ceiling. He shouldn’t be doing anything with a network at any business unless he is IT, but he should especially not be doing it at a defense contractor. Depending on where you work, he could be fired for that – it is a serious security issue. Alternatively, he could be doing Union work, which could get him / your dept./ your business into unnecessary trouble. He could also be creating fire hazards, material hazards, electrical hazards etc. if he has no clue of what he is doing and what else is up there. I suggest you contact the IT help desk and mention it to them to see if it is a problem for them.

    Co-worker screw up two: standing on a desk. I absolutely guarantee that is not OK at a defense contractor. You absolutely have to use a ladder. You absolutely have to have ladder training (I know – but it kills far more people than other office problems). You probably also need electrical training. This is totally unacceptable and unnecessarily dangerous. Doing it against your objections is also unforgivably rude. You should have issued a stop work order immediately. You should have had stop-work training at some point. Go talk to your safety people. Get them to straighten him out – you will be doing him (and your department) a favor by getting him to knock this off NOW before you all get in trouble for it when he does it again later.

    Co-worker screw up 3: bullying an office mate. Ask to swap offices. This guy has no respect for you. He shouldn’t have violated your space. You obviously have no clue how to effectively assert yourself. Swap offices for now, and work on setting boundaries the right way in the future.

    1. Jessa*

      Also, let’s presume he had the right and the training to do whatever it was. You come in, you explain the work, you help the person move their stuff and you cover up what you cannot move. You do not stand on their desk and you do not belittle the fact that they wish to keep their stuff clean.

      If you HAVE to stand on their desk (for some reason the desk cannot be moved and a ladder will not fit) you wear shoe covers or take your shoes off at minimum. You do not put dirty shoes on someone’s stuff.

      1. Anonymous*

        I agree that office space is office space and there is no excuse to curse at another co-worker. However, the thing that bugs me the most about the entire post is that the OP specifically asked the guy not to do it, gave him alternative suggestions, and the guy CHOSE to continute without giving the OP time to react and move her space. I would think many people would be hard pressed not to react to the blatant disrespect displayed by this action. IMHO I feel the guy acted agressively/entitled. Even the apology was worded as such. I think whether to bring this situation to the manager’s attention depends on the work culture. If you have a good manager, I think this behavior and attitude is something that the manager should be aware of because it does create a negative working atmosphere. I would talk with your manager and list the factual (not emotional) events that took place. Take responsbility for your actions. In the future if this person does become aggressive then you have established a pattern of behavior.

      2. Sarah*

        I agree with Jessa.

        AAM is wrong on this. It shows a complete lack of respect by OP#1’s co-worker. I do agree that you should not curse at a co-worker.

      3. fposte*

        I think shoes are fine on the desk itself–I think there are safety reasons not to take them off, and I wouldn’t expect somebody to take off their shoes or cover their shoes in their own workplace. It’s the stepping on papers that’s a problem. I get that sometimes cable has to go through the ceiling and that alternatives aren’t going to work, so I don’t hold it against the guy that he didn’t take the OP’s suggestions. But you still don’t get to gallop over people’s work.

      4. Jamie*

        You come in, you explain the work, you help the person move their stuff and you cover up what you cannot move. You do not stand on their desk and you do not belittle the fact that they wish to keep their stuff clean.

        I agree with the explaining and not belittling – but IT has no obligation to help people move their stuff. Personally I tell people when I’ll be mucking in advance and if it’s something like this where stuff falls I’d ask maintenance for a tarp to toss over what they didn’t move.

        And it’s really dangerous to stand on a desk in stocking feet – you’d have to keep your shoes on or risk real injury. That’s what Clorox wipes are for.

        1. fposte*

          Is it common for stuff to fall from moving cable through a dropped ceiling? I work in a pretty old building, and I’ve never had more than a little dust and schmutz come from opening ceiling panels up. It’s the human-used areas that tend to get really dirty. (I realize that there are dead animal possibilities, but I’ve never had it happen.)

          1. Jamie*

            If you dislodge the ceiling tiles some of them (at least the ones we have here) have a lot of dust and crumbly bits on the which fall everywhere. And there’s always the fear of dislodged and pissed off spiders.

            But I think it depends on the ceiling tile. Ours are made of some pressed or particle something or other and moving them always means either a tarp beforehand or a vacuum after – depending on what’s underneath.

              1. ThursdaysGeek*

                I’ve got to agree. :) I kind of like the things, but I don’t want them angry and on my desk!

        2. Forrest*

          But in the situation the letter writer described and the one in Jessa’s example, there was no advance notice.

          I think its ok to say “I’m not moving stuff” when you give the person advance notice. If you just show up, you should offer to help.

        3. Cat*

          I think it depends on the office set-up; in mine, protocol is that IT sets you up with a laptop and you work elsewhere while they do what they need to do (which usually involves recruiting help from our Office Services folks to move the stuff). Without knowing the job duties involved here, and the office protocols, I think it’s hard to say much.

          1. Julie K*

            I don’t think the cable threader was in the IT department – at least it wasn’t mentioned in the letter. In my last cubicle situation, there was one set of Ethernet ports, and it was under my colleague’s desk. In order for me to not have to use the (unreliable) wireless in the office, I needed to run some cable under the partition and under her desk. So I understand these things need to be done sometimes, but you can have respect for your colleagues and ask for their cooperation. We are only getting the OP’s side of the story, but it sounds like the coworker in the OP’s letter just steamrollered right over his/her objections. Not that cursing and/or yelling are ever OK at work…

        4. Liz*

          We may not have an obligation to help people move their stuff, but we should always give them a chance to actually move it themselves. Ideally you arrange a time when it’ll be convenient (preferably when they’re away from their desk) so you don’t have to hurry and have plenty of time to do the job right.

          1. Jamie*

            I couldn’t agree more – absolutely. And advanced notice isn’t just for them, it saves us time as we don’t have to wait while they scramble. And the vast majority of users. ime, are great about this.

            But you will occasionally have the user who disregarded the email, and the reminder email, and didn’t notice that you were doing X to other desks in the area just like you said…so when you get to them they haven’t moved a pencil. It always seems that these are the people with 8000 items of tchotske on their desks. I’m not moving Aunt Mildred’s ashes (name changed – but true – user with ashes on desk of distant relative), or a collection of snowglobes. I’ll wait while they move their stuff.

            1. Jessa*

              Absolutely, but that’s an entirely different thing to the OP. The idiots you’re talking about refuse to take notice when you send notice. If you had just shown up I’m sure you would have helped some. Or said, “Look I’ll do Sam now while you move your stuff,” or “I’ll be back in 20 minutes.”

              1. Jamie*

                I honestly can’t imagine a scenario where I’m barging in on anyone unannounced and demanding access right now. Unless something was on fire and in that instance I would expect cooperation.

                But seriously, a cable running emergency which defies cooperative scheduling is a rare thing…I can’t even imagine it in my environment.

                Cable emergencies usually are when something goes wrong and the user loses connectivity and the immediacy benefits them so they do get out of the way.

              2. Julie K*

                In my experience, the maintenance people in my office doing the work in the ceiling don’t seem to have given a thought to protecting desks and equipment (they’re surprised when I want to cover everything). Equipment is in short supply around here, so if something gets broken, you don’t get another one. We don’t get advance notice, so I make them wait while I cover or move my printer and flat panel and clear off my papers. They don’t like having to wait, but I’m not going to do without a printer or monitor because they don’t respect the equipment on people’s desks. As a side note: the IT people work after hours, and they are careful to cover everything when they need to work over a desk and never leave a mess. This is clearly a “hot button” issue for me, but I’m tired of being related to like I’m overreacting when I’m just trying to protect the equipment I need to do my job. However, I never swear or yell at anyone at work. Ever. I understand the feelings of annoyance and frustration, but that’s not a helpful way to express it.

          2. Ellie H.*

            Exactly. I think the idea that someone would just show up and I would be expected to jump up, interrupt whatever I was doing at the moment, move all the things off my desk, possibly turn my computer off, etc. at exactly the moment most convenient to him is really rude. I’m not saying that the LW was justified in blowing up at him or that the coworker shouldn’t have the right to thread ethernet cable through the ceiling above the LW’s desk or whatever, but that it was really wrong not to give advance warning, try to arrange what would be a convenient (or at least not an inconvenient time), and at least apologize for the inconvenience and mess.

        5. Jessa*

          IT has an obligation to cover the stuff then. Or give enough notice for it to be moved.

          And honestly if you’re sticking in on someone with NO notice at all, it’s COURTEOUS to help them move the stuff so you don’t step on it. It makes your job go faster than if you just stand there while they move their things.

          You do NOT stand on someone’s stuff. Period. And as for shoe covers they make them non skid, heck they make them non skid enough that you can use them in a surgery suite when you may be stepping in blood. They also make non skid socks. My point is you don’t put bare shoes on stuff. Whether it’s proper shoe covers, or non skid socks, or a tarp, you do something. I stand by the assertion that you don’t stand on furniture without protecting the furniture.

          Truthfully, however there should be a ladder.

          1. fposte*

            Sure, you don’t stand on their stuff. But the desk isn’t their stuff. Ultimately, while I understand you agree with the OP on this your point of view is strongly held, I don’t think it’s one you can expect an employer to share and to support you on.

      5. Kou*

        I agree with this. Let’s say it really really was his job and he really had to do it right then and that way and nothing LW could do could have postponed that. The guy was still being ridiculous in walking over LW’s workspace and dropping dirt and dust all over them and their paperwork.

        And frankly, if I 100% had to do it right then and someone was being a wad and wouldn’t move themselves or their things, I’d leave and talk to my supervisor (or theirs, depending on the structure) if it had to be done right that instant. Nothing angry, just, “Wakeen is busy and can’t really leave his workspace, but I need to get in there for this cable. We can’t do both at once, which is priority right now?” Since for all I’d know, Wakeen really REALLY does need to be at their desk and I can wait ten minutes or whatever.

    2. EngineerGirl*

      I’m going to chime in with Anonymous, who said what I wanted to say perfectly.
      I will add that stepping on papers on someone’s desk is outrageous too.

      Unfortunately, the OP has lost a lot of high ground by cussing the other person out.

      1. -X-*

        I’ll add that even if it was correct of the guy to get on the desk, he shouldn’t stand on papers and he should clean up. He should have insisted the OP clear the desk (or done it himself) and cleaned up afterwards. And if the OP wouldn’t let him as access to the space, such as by cleaning the desk, he should have escalated this to the OP’s manager or the office manager or whoever is really in charge of space first. Then done it, cleaned up, and let the OP fume.

    3. straws*

      Thank you. This, along with the other comments it provoked, is exactly what was going through my head as I was reading #1!

      I’ve also had an employee do the exact same thing as the OP’s co-worker, and the ensuing mess took up more of the desk-owner’s work time than waiting to have the ethernet run properly would have taken for the co-worker. There are ways to minimize the mess and the risk (standing on a desk!), and it doesn’t sound like this co-worker stopped to consider either.

    4. Bryan*

      I have a suspicion in #1 the truth might be massaged a little. The OP is angry that the co-worker stood up on their desk anyways and I wouldn’t be surprised if the severity of the mess is exaggerated.

      1. Kou*

        I do agree with this– perhaps there was advance notice, or the guy did give LW a chance to move and LW just sat there to be obstinate. We don’t know. However, since when LW complained they did take it back to the ethernet guy, that does tilt it in LW’s favor.

        1. Jamie*

          I read it as she didn’t complain – she said she didn’t take it to her manager because he gave her a dry apology.

    5. Runon*

      Very much this. I could see this happening in a tiny little office with a few people who run roughshod over each other. But once you get gvt money you have to start following a lot of additional gvt rules. And this appears, on the face at least, to violate a lot of those.

      OP also handled this very poorly and none of the violations of the coworker make the OPs actions ok.

    6. Anonicorn*

      I don’t condone the way OP handled the situation, but I agree that the coworker isn’t entirely blameless.

      Like you said, usually the employees themselves don’t have to do maintenance work like this. And surely a step-ladder would be better and safer (and probably in a safety policy) than climbing on someone else’s desk.

    7. Jubilance*

      I totally agree with all of this. Coworker shouldn’t be doing any type of wiring, even if its just moving an Ethernet cable. I’m sure this defense contractor has a specific process for how things like this should done, my guess is the coworker didn’t want to go through the proper channels and wait for someone from IT to do the work.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        See, this is the part I’m not getting — we don’t know if the coworker shouldn’t be doing any wiring. It’s possible the coworker is an IT guy. We don’t know from the letter. (On the other hand, though, I’ve never worked in defense contracting and so maybe this is utterly obvious to people who have.)

        1. -X-*

          I’m not focusing on who’s allowed to do wiring – we don’t know.

          But if you have a conflict with a co-worker who won’t give you access to space, you don’t just jump on the space and mess it up. You should escalate it managers of the people or the space.

    8. Scott M*

      Tangent here….For all the managers out there who want employees to use a ladder: PLEASE make sure you actually have one available. We are told here over and over again to never stand on office chairs or desks or tables. But where is the ladder? Locked in the closet, and the only person with a key is never at her desk (for good reason, her job requires her to be in multiples places in the building all day).

      So what does everyone do? Stand on desks and office chairs and tables!

      Corporate logic at it’s finest.

      1. Natalie*

        And a PSA from your landlord – you can’t borrow our ladder. We will be happy to have our maintenance guy, who we know has safety training and is covered by our insurance, do the ladder work for you. But if you need a ladder regularly you should go out to the hardware store and buy one.

        1. Jessa*

          This. And give the actual workers access to the stupid thing. Why the lead worker doesn’t have a key to that ladder closet is stupid you know?

    9. pidgeonpenelope*

      1. Allison was right. You shouldn’t have blown up at him. Also, you shouldn’t go to the manager about it either. If you and he have a conflict, you and he need to handle it. It’s unnecessary drama for your manager to deal with.

      On that note, I’ve had a similar issue where a coworker stepped over my boundaries and it really pissed me off. My mistakes are exactly your mistakes only I did go to my manager and she told me that this wasn’t the kind of thing to bother her with and that we need to resolve ourselves. So I tell you this out of learning from my own mistake.

    10. W.W.A.*

      I agree. OP was wrong to lose his cool but the coworker clearly escalated the conflict in this situation and who wants to sit in an office with someone like that? When you declare you’re going to do something disruptive to your coworker, and your coworker asks you to do it a different way or at a different time, you don’t say “tough beans, I’m doing it” and then trundle your way into his space.

    11. Anonymous*

      Like previous anon said, both OP and coworker were wrong. I also think that OP’s coworker could have violated some internal rules about this, depening on their workplace. Risk management at my workplace would have a cow if they saw someone standing on a desk to do this. It’s also apparently happened so often they they have also specifically stated to not stand on desks and use a ladder. My IT department and facilities management department would also have a major problem with this, as both have a diagram of where everything is, and someone moving something or dis/connecting something can cause major problems later when they’re tring to fix a problem. Someone doing that at my workplace would have the possiblity of 3 very annoyed people talking to them if found out.

  2. Anonymous*

    # I received a thank you for my thank you from the company in question #7. I was surprised as I have NEVER received one before. It was pretty generic thanking me for my time and saying a decision would be made next week, which has not happened.

    #7 So since I have not heard anything I am only speculating they possible moved someone else internally into the position and are not going to the outside, or are doing backgrounds on someone else and keeping others on hold. In my research I found they tend to do this for a long time. Just a thought.

    1. PEBCAK*

      #7: I contracted at a company that was simultaneously laying off and hiring. It had gotten “top-heavy”, i.e. there were a lot of directors and managers, and nobody writing code.

  3. Angelina Retta*

    #1: I’m with you on this one. Unless he had to do 50 in a day and didn’t have any time it wouldn’t have killed the guy to put a plastic tarp over the desk.

    But it is important to keep in mind offices aren’t yours so you should take all your personal stuff out so you won’t feel so bad if something that really is yours gets damaged.

    1. Tasha*

      Well, work stuff is also getting damaged by the dirt and dust. When wiring was or floors were redone at the public university where I worked/studied, notices were sent out days ahead of time so that people could put important stuff out of the way.

      Had the OP not cursed at the overenthusiastic (amateur?) electrician, I think he would be in the right. If the employee manual or another relevant document prohibited that sort of invasion, he could bring it to the other employee’s attention, saying something like “just so you know, Manual X says we need to wait for proper installation because of A, B, and C risks.” As is, though, I’d forget about it. Yes, it’s irritating to have someone on your desk and in your ceiling during the workday, but it sounds like no permanent damage was done. Bringing it up again will only exacerbate the bad feelings on both sides.

      1. Jamie*

        Had the OP not cursed at the overenthusiastic (amateur?) electrician, I think he would be in the right.

        If the OP is reading I hope they chime in with whether this was the co-workers job to do this, or if it was something he was messing with on his own. Because as someone who has to occasionally run cable because it’s my job I assumed this was a legitimate work task.

        1. Elizabeth*

          And I assumed that it wasn’t a part of the co-worker’s work tasks, because in our facility, running cabling is the province of the facilities management/maintenance department. If IT does it without their involvement, we can (and will) run afoul of the fire marshal, thanks to strict codes about using fire caulk on holes, not interfering with the lines for sprinkler systems and host of other issues that we’re just not up to date on.

        2. fposte*

          There are situations where I’d end up having to do this as an end user (I have Ethernet cable around for pretty much this reason, in fact). But then I wouldn’t have IT’s level of authority to claim necessity to step on other desks and run it through the ceiling rather than around the edge of the room, so I’m interested to know too.

          1. Jamie*

            But then I wouldn’t have IT’s level of authority to claim necessity to step on other desk

            I totally want this added to my job description. And I will go around the office walking on desks just because I can – and then maybe someone will send me somewhere relaxing for some time to rest. :)

            To Elizabeth’s point – before I had my own office I shared with others and none of them were IT…so it’s totally plausible for an office mate to be IT even if the OP isn’t.

            1. Chinook*

              “Boss, Jamie claims the floor is lava and can’t walk on it. I think it is time she takes a vacation.”

              1. Jamie*

                OMG I was totally going to reference the lava game but thought no one would know what I was talking about!

                Wow – you are totally in my head. Be careful, it’s scary in there.

                1. RG*

                  I think the lava game is universal. My sibs and I played it. It popped up in a fiction book I was reading (character was referring to it as a game he played as a child).

                2. Kelly L.*

                  We did too! Definitely universal. And lava, like quicksand, was one of those things I thought would be a much more important factor in my life than it actually is.

                3. Jamie*

                  Quicksand! Have you noticed that you would hear about quicksand constantly as a kid but then never at all as an adult? Why is that?

                  Because they don’t show re-runs of Gilligan’s Island as much as they used to.

                4. Ellie H.*

                  @AAM – I know! My dad says this all the time. He was particularly fascinated by quicksand as a kid. I was too. My best theory is that it figures in stories that are mostly only ever read by kids, but I can’t think of any examples at the moment.

                5. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I remember quicksand making frequent appearances in kids’ magazines too — like Scholastic Reader and whatever else those magazines full of jokes were that we’d always get in school. It seemed like something you could feasibly encounter if you were, say, hiking in the woods.

                6. ThursdaysGeek*

                  If you want to experience real quicksand, there is a quicksand stream that is also a road in New Zealand (google images for ‘Te Paki stream’). It is seriously cool!

                7. J2*

                  For us it was sharks, not lava. I think there was too much floor and not enough furniture to get all the way around the room for lava. Plus my brothers just really liked being sharks.

                8. Jen in RO*

                  We don’t call it the lava game, but we also have it here. It’s universal it seems!

  4. bob*

    #1: Wow for the first time I have to completely disagree with the Teapot CEO here. As a person who has strung more than a few miles of cat-5 in my day I can say without question the clown stringing the cable was way the hell out of line. If he was actually in IT his boss should be doing the apologizing for his conduct stomping all over the OP’s desk and so should the dufus running the cable because that was just plain stupid and most networking shops do their work after normal business hours anyway for just this reason. Plus they know to cover up any desks and clean up after themselves.

    Seriously, in what office is it okay to just tromp all over someone’s desk? OP may have been out of line to curse the guy in the office but 90% of this on the bonehead stepping on the OP’s desk and leaving a mess.

    1. Jessa*

      This. All the time I’ve ever had this work done, it’s been done before or after hours. Or the people have notice to put their stuff in their desks because they’re going to fix stuff. And if it HAD to be done during work, they didn’t make messes.

      1. Sourire*

        Exactly – I work at a 24/7 govt facility and tech is very inconspicuous when they are there generally, but if they must be really disruptive, we actually move to an entire other back-up site. It’s pretty unreasonable to me that work would need to be so disrupted without any alternatives offered/considered (work could have been done during off-hours, OP could have moved to another desk for a bit or been assigned to a task in another part of the office, etc).

        That said – it’s really unprofessional to “blow up” or swear at another coworker. He has apologized and I think OP needs to as well. And if the issue comes up again, OP could consider going to management about a general concern for how tech-related fixes are being handled during business hours.

        Lastly, if the coworker does actually have an attitude toward the OP or treat OP differently, that is a whole other issue that should be dealt with separately and hopefully on a one-on-one level first. HOWEVER, I have to say, OP’s attitude here makes me wonder if perhaps there is a bit of a mutual attitude issue going on here, and coworker is reacting to how they perceive OP as treating them.

  5. Chocolate Teapot*

    1. Any time there is going be disruptive work (re-aranging Cable Spaghetti, moving printers etc.) we get a message saying when technicians will be in so we know to move papers.

    1. Jamie*

      Yep – and like others have said if this can possibly be done after hours it is…because it’s easier to do it without others around and it sucks to have an audience when you’re crawling around on the floor or up on ladders…because for some reason people find it fascinating to watch.

  6. Sourire*

    #5 – Was this a resume you/your company received or was it something you were thinking of doing yourself? I have to imagine that this came from some sort of misguided advice about making a resume stand out (from the same people who tell you to make functional resumes, to format them oddly, and use colors). Who are these people and why are they still allowed to be giving people job searching advice?

    1. T-riffic*

      I’d like to know this as well. I mean, if the OP was thinking of putting this on their resume, it speaks to some sense of good judgement that they decided to ask Alison first. But “enlightenment” instead of “education”? Yikes. I know some people who are educated but hardly enlightened.

  7. LadyTL*

    #1 While yes blowing up and cursing did put you in the wrong, the other guys was both disrespectful and entirely unsafe. If nothing else you should bring up his stepping on the desk to your manager because most desks are not safe for that kind of use. It could easily get your company in trouble if this guy hurts himself by not using a ladder. If he had any real training, he would have brought a ladder and asked you to step outside for a bit if the work had to be done right away because working with you under him is also unsafe. Never mind the rudeness in stepping on your papers. It would have taken less then a few minutes to wait for you to clean up your area so he could work if it was the only way for him to run the line.

  8. Chocolate Teapot*

    5). A Thesaurus is always a useful piece of kit, but I must admit, that read I read “Enlightenment”, I had visions of a Damascene Conversion!

    1. Receptionist*

      I pictured a young student in a monastery being taught by Buddhist monks to attain Enlightenment.

  9. -X-*

    Here’s some phrasing I’ve used for scholarships in the course of getting a few degrees. Each listed under the particular school/degree:

    For full ride+some living expenses
    “[scholarship name] (full tuition and stipend for all work toward degree)”

    For some money for several semesters
    “[scholarship name] (financial award for four semesters),”

    Scholarship where name makes it clear it’s just once
    “[scholarship name]”

    Award that sounds like financial scholarship but wasn’t
    “[award name] (honorary)

    In the last I was perhaps being too open with the “(honorary)” And I stopped listing that plus the second to last one after I got stronger things to list under education and wanted to keep that section brief. I may take out the semester listing on the second one soon, but I just wrapped up that degree so at the moment it’s in.

    1. KayDay*

      This is great. If it’s a scholarship that provides a large amount of money (such as full tuition), that’s definitely resume worthy. This is a great way to phrase it.

    2. littlemoose*

      I like that approach. When I was looking for my first job after law school, I listed the name of the scholarship I received, followed by (2/3 tuition). I wanted to convey that it was a substantial amount, and I felt that it was worth including because law school merit scholarships are tougher to come by. Anyway, best of luck on the job search!

      1. -X-*

        Yeah, 2/3 is a lot. I think phrasing it as a proportion of tuition is also less crass-appearing than using $ amounts. That would certainly make it worth mentioning for 1/2 tuition and perhaps as low as 1/4. Thoughts?

    3. T*

      I really like the -four semesters- bit too, because it shows that you had to (I’m assuming) make a certain GPA each semester to receive the next installment.

    4. OP #3*

      Hi X and all of the others (especially thank you to Alison for publishing my question!), since I’m a college student I’ve applied for research grants for a self-initiated project. I’ve received funding totaling $3,000+ from three grants at school. I know this is not a jaw-dropping amount or anything, but would you guys still recommend I take this off? I want to show that I’m serious about my project and took the initiative to apply for funding. I feel like $3,000 for a student is a lot. But this just might be me being naive.

      In the meantime, like all of you have recommended, I’ve taken everything else but the grant dollar amounts off. I will take the grant amounts off if that’s the consensus, too.

      Thank you!!! This blog rocks!

      1. fposte*

        Don’t list the award amounts, but definitely include the grant awards and the projects projects . People will then assume that the funding was actually higher :-).

        1. -X-*

          Yes. And maybe if the project was completely funded, use phrasing such as “Costs completely covered by grants from X, Y Z”

          For undergrad, that is a good money. Chapeau!

  10. AF*

    I’m so glad so many people have chimed in on #1 because I agree with all of you. At a minimum, making a mess and not cleaning it up is out of line, and passive-aggressive (or active-aggressive?) in showing a lack of concern. It’s a joint workspace, sure, but I would imagine that a lot of the papers he stepped on were pretty important to the organization too if the OP was using them as part of their job.

  11. Anony1234*

    #7 – I had interviewed with a company a few years back, and with hindsight being 20/20, I was glad I did not get the job. The person who was hired was let go along with a good percentage of the staff (small company) just a few short months later. I knew the company wasn’t doing well at that point when the economy was sinking, but I figured that if they were interviewing, things couldn’t be that bad. I feel sorry for the person who got the job instead of me, but I’m just glad it wasn’t me – to start up a job search again that soon for no fault of one’s own.

    1. A Disillusioned Employee*

      Can relate to that.

      A year and a half ago I got recruited away from a job to accept a position with a company that laid me off 5 months later.

      What made it worse was the fact that I was recruited away from the position I held for less than a year and decided to leave because it was a wrong place for me. Had very difficult time explaining that in subsequent job interviews. I also suspect that many times my resume was thrown in the trash because I was seen as “job hopper”.

      This, and shameless lowballing by employers, is the reason why I am “disillusioned”.

  12. KayDay*

    I’m with many of the other posters on #1 (many of whom have much more knowledge about the topic than I do). In my experience, it is never okay for a regular office-tenant to mess around with the networking and/or the building, even if for a simple task–only building maintenance staff, authorized telecom vendors, IT, etc. do that sort of thing.

    Now, sometimes they do need to interrupt your work to do their work. However, my experience has been that most people are pretty reasonable about giving some notice and doing their best to minimize the interruption. The one time when IT needed to fix a big problem with the network immediately, they apologized for the lack of notice.

    Now that said, it’s still never okay to “blow-up” at a co-worker.

  13. KellyK*

    On #1, I agree with everyone else that he was out of line in making a mess over your stuff and not giving you a chance to move it. (The other issues of safety regs and who’s allowed to do what work might depend whether you’re actually on a government site or at your company’s office–the rules tend to be looser in the latter.) Swearing at him wasn’t appropriate, and you should apologize for that, but he was definitely out of line too.

  14. calisha*

    This is a great site! My question was answered in a timely manner in plain English that was easy to understand. Thank you so much! It just seems like there are no advocates for employees who have simple issues or questions and work for companies too small to have an HR department. It’s good to know there is a reliable source to come to.

  15. PPK*

    #1 — I don’t think this was some random IT guy. It was the OPs officemate. If her office is anything like offices in my area, they put the ethernet and phone jacks in one spot. Usually someone is close to the ethernet jack and someone is across the room. The ethernet and phone cords have to get strung to the other side of the room somehow. Most people here run them across the perimeter of the room. However, I could see someone who would rather run it through the ceiling. Maybe he got a new machine or something. In my area, no one’s going to string your cords around your room, but you. I guess I’m assuming the guy is just running a cord from an existing plug to a new machine somewhere, not actually wiring anything.

    That being said, we don’t mess with other people’s desks for confidentiality reasons. It’s not that the desk and stuff is the OPs, its the desk and stuff is the company’s and she’s responsible for keeping it safe. Someone stepping on potentially important papers is not keeping it safe. (I know this is a bit of an exaggeration….all the papers on my desk are my scribbled notes and todos.)

    I also know from personal experience how gross it can messing with the ceiling tiles. I have had my desk get all sorts of dusty crap dumped on it when maintenance had to replace a ceiling tile. But I was standing right there (and had requested the fix because the tile was getting wet from a leaking pipe).

    I’m going with both parties at fault. It’s not like her desk was a car parked in from of a fire hydrant. I assume if we were going to launch nuclear weapons unless we got another hard line strung up…the OP would have understood the urgency.

    1. Cat*

      Assuming that’s the case, I think the guy definitely should have strung it around the perimeter of the room, at least until after hours when the desk could be covered with a tarp and he could bring a step ladder in.

    2. Liz*

      You have jacks in just one spot? Wow. It’s been a while (almost 10 years) since I worked anywhere I had to run the cables around the room.

      1. PPK*

        Yes indeed. Our buildings were built in the 50s. Some areas have been cube-ified and rewired. Many have not. So the ethernet jack was run pretty much next to where ever the phone was run…when it was built.

  16. heyMe*

    #4- Are they also paying you more money to cover your taxes and FICA?? If they are switching you to contractor and still paying you the same amount, you will have a pay cut.

    While you are learning about the rules for employee vs contractor, make sure you check out the self-employment taxes, how and when to pay.

  17. Ask a Manager* Post author

    #1 — Wow, interesting response, and maybe I’m wrong. But I’m not entirely convinced :)

    My answer assumes that it was the coworker’s job to do what he was doing, and that he had the right to do it and the training to do it, since there’s nothing saying otherwise. Assuming that’s true, I still think the OP way overreacted. If the coworker was out of line, there were ways for the OP to address it that didn’t include “getting agitated” and cursing at the guy, and I think the OP has misplaced ideas about how much control he can actually exert over his own work space in an office, particularly a shared office.

    But I seem to be the only one on this side of the issue, so I’m certainly open to being wrong.

    1. Jamie*

      FWIW I don’t think you’re wrong. Sure, the co-worker should have given notice and time for the OP to move their stuff. But the verbiage “I tried to persuade him to consider alternatives. However, he dismissed my suggestions, saying that I was just being self-serving, and he basically bulldozed right on through, threading the cord across the ceiling” leads me to think that maybe the OP was pissed that they weren’t doing it their way.

      But there is a right way and a wrong way to run cable and it should be done properly even if that’s a little inconvenient in the moment. And usually the person running the cable should decide how it’s run. If I came to run cable through a ceiling (which when possible is usually preferable to the perimeter because it’s out of the way and it’s a straighter shot) and someone wanted me to run it a different way because they didn’t want to be bothered…it’s still going in the ceiling and now I’m annoyed.

      But – to the main point – whatever precipitated it pales in comparison to the blowing up and swearing. That trumps everything and in many cases there is an argument for firing people over that on the first instance (depending on the specifics).

      Whatever high ground the OP may have had with the perceived rudeness of the coworker went out the window when they responded in such a volatile manner.

      1. fposte*

        In general, I think cable-running whims supersede air-space sovereignty whims. So even if Wakeen is just an officemate and not IT and there’s no “cable must be through ceiling” mandate, it doesn’t mean he shouldn’t do it–running cable through the ceiling is pretty usual, it only takes a minute, and the OP’s emotions about ceilings and desks aren’t really a factor. (However, it still is the OP’s desk and the OP’s work, so the guy should have given the OP a few clear-up minutes.)

        1. Jamie*

          Exactly – if the co-worker had asked the OP to clear their stuff and leave their desk for a minute or two and if the OP had done so willingly rather than arguing about different ways to run the cable this would have been a total non-incident.

          It just reads like the classic conflict where both parties may have cared a whole lot more about being right and defending territory/actions than just cooperating to get stuff done.

          1. Anonymous*


            I can’t say I’d love it if someone had to drill into my office ceiling in the working day, but I also know it’s not really *my* office and if there is a business need, then drill away.

            I would, however, be furious if someone showed up at my door with a drill and a cable and hopped on my desk and proceeded to walk across said desk and papers on my desk (Seriously, WTF!). I wouldn’t swear at them because that’s not how I roll, but I’d be justifiably angry for sure.

            But I fully agree with everyone who said the OP lost the high ground when he lost his temper.

            1. KarenT*

              I’m the anon above.

              I think cable-running whims supersede air-space sovereignty whims.

              LOL, fposte!

            2. fposte*

              If it’s like my office (and it sounded like it was), it’s not even drilling. It’s pushing aside a few ceiling tiles, running cable through the empty space above them, and then putting them back. No tools required.

      2. The IT Manager*

        I agree. They may both be wrong, but in this example LW#1 is much more wrong because of the blow up and cursing. All we have is LW#1 explanation of the events which is somewhat emotional and I assume biased so the co-workers action could be over exagerated. There’s simply no good/professional reason to ever to start yelling and cursing at a co-worker unless they are physically attacking you. If they are yelling at you and you don’t yell back and remain as calm as possible, you come out ahead.

        The co-worker at the very least should not have stood on a desk with papers on on it and should have dusted it off afterwards, but IMO he’s not as wrong as LW#1.

        * The last paragraph hints at a history of conflicts between the two so this incident may be the latest incident between the two. LW#1, your reaction was very unprofessional. You do sound like you’re trying to do a good job. You need to let it drop and try to fix your relationship with your team member. Or figure out coping methods for you that don’t involve flying off the handle. I don’t know if speaking to your supervisor or HR is a possible way to resolve the conflict, but you need to do something if you want your team to continue getting along or even better working together in a professional manner.

    2. Runon*

      I don’t think anyone is saying the OP wasn’t out of line for cursing and the rest. Your advice on all that seemed to be spot on.
      It just seems that the coworker likely wasn’t acting at his best because even if it was his job to wire it (which many of us are skeptical of) this is not the way that type of work is generally handled, from safety, notification, etc.

    3. fposte*

      I’m going for “error on both sides.” I think OP’s officemate is quite possibly a jackass, but my concern on the OP’s response is that it sounds like he found the over-desk threading unacceptable, period, and not just because of the lack of warning to move papers, and that he’s still “super upset.” Those do suggest a belief in the inviolability of your space that you can’t afford to have in a workplace.

    4. MovingRightAlong*

      I have to third the opinion that you’re not wrong, Alison, but the OP’s co-worker isn’t in the right, either. The OP owes the co-worker an apology for reacting with a curse, but walking all over someone else’s work is just not ok.

      On another note, a lot of the responses seem to assume that the cable-running co-worker was from the IT department. However, I interpreted him as someone from the same department as the OP (“…I share an office room with 3 other people. The other day, one of my office-mates needed to thread some Ethernet cord through above the ceiling panels of my part of the office.”). If that’s the case, there’s probably no protocol for the cable-runner to follow like there would be for an actual IT worker. That just leaves simple etiquette, which in my book is allowing the inconvenienced co-worker (the OP) time to clear off her desk to make clean up easier. However, OP, if you were given that option with adequate time to comply and simply refused, I have less sympathy.

      No matter what, I would not recommend going to your manager with this. As another reader already said, your reaction has taken away some of the high ground and, unless your co-worker was violating some sort of safety protocol, it would probably just come off as petty. If you haven’t already, do the mature thing and apologize to your co-worker. You can’t control his sincerity, but you can control your own.

      1. Jamie*

        This is why I assumed that this was his job…

        We talked about it today, and he said his position was that he was doing his job

        As put out as the OP is about this it seems like if he had no business doing this and it wasn’t even his job she’d have included it to bolster the argument. But I could be wrong.

        And just a tangential thing – running cable isn’t like wiring an office. You don’t need super special training any more than you would to run an extension cord. Now I don’t want people networking an office without talking to me or moving cabling I have in there, but if I need to run a line from a switch to a new PC and I can’t get to it right away there are plenty of people who I could ask to run the cable through the ceiling tiles. Basically you just need to be told where IT wants it and be able to reach.

    5. -X-*

      Even if the guy has the right to do it, you don’t escalate to “force” by just doing it. You get the OP in trouble for stopping you by telling his boss or the building manager or whoever.

      I also think standing on someone’s papers is approximately analogous to cursing. It’s terribly disrespectful. If the OP won’t move his papers when he is supposed to allow legit work, tell a boss. Or pick them up, put them aside neatly, do the work, clean the space, put the paper back and complain to the OP’s boss that he is getting in the way of business.

      Don’t just stand on them.

      1. fposte*

        Agreed (though I don’t think the OP realizes that his co-worker’s actions may mean the OP avoided getting in trouble). I think IT Manager absolutely called it about there being an ongoing issue with these two and this being a reflection of it.

    6. Liz in a Library*

      Also, (haven’t read all of these, so someone may have already said this) the OP can really only control himself. It sounds like they were both kind of jerks, but I think the advice to move on and apologize is more useful than a simple commiseration that the other guy is wrong would have been. So yeah, they are both in the wrong, but the OP has two options from here. He can stay angry that the coworker was so rude, continuing the jerk feedback loop. Or, he can apologize and know that they’ll probably both respond better in the future. I think AAM’s advice was good, regardless of who is in the wrong.

    7. Anonymous*

      Agree with everyone else, need to know more about the situation, but I also disagree with AAM.

      1. OP is callinng this person their coworker, so this is not a new hire. As such this person has had plenty of time to go through the appropriate channels to get this done. Why didn’t they?

      2. Coworker did this while they were both working. Why didn’t they do it before OP came in or after OP left? The interruption from runing cable in an office big enough for 2 people, and putting the celling tiles back correctly (and this is key) isn’t insignificant.

      3. While I’m thinking of a curse-filled rant, it could have been something as simple as calling someone an a$$hole, while they were in fact acting like an a$$hole. Still warrents an apology, but it’s different order of magnitude from the rant.

      4. Not related to OP’s situation, but I have allergies, and the amount of dust this would have stirred up would have left me congested and sneezing for days. If one of my coworkers tried this, they wouldn’t even have a chance to get on my desk before I would be in my manager’s office saying that h#ll no, coworker does not have the right to affect my health for their convience.

      1. Jamie*

        The interruption from runing cable in an office big enough for 2 people, and putting the celling tiles back correctly (and this is key) isn’t insignificant.

        Actually if it took longer than 3-5 minutes they were dong it wrong. I’m the most uncoordinated person on the planet and you just move a ceiling tile, thread it, replace the ceiling tile, go to the other end pull that tile, grab it, replace it and plug in.

        Even in a huge office we’re not talking about more than 5 minutes tops. Which is why I think some of us are getting a feeling this isn’t about the cabling but issues between the two.

        As for your second point – as soon as someone calls me that and swears AT me rather than in front of me (which I could care less) there isn’t that big a difference in magnitude. Someone calls me that name and it’s a much bigger deal than a simple apology. And if I was acting like one there are way one can address that. If not with me than certainly with my boss…but once you start calling people names like that it can easily cost you your job many places.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, it takes me longer to screw on a jar top than to put a tile back (you can’t get the threads wrong on a ceiling tile). And there actually isn’t much dust in the standard closed drop ceiling area, because it’s mammals, especially humans, and human activity that generate household dust (and the things that like to eat it).

          1. fposte*

            Sorry, truncated that–“and the things that like to eat it, which are what dust allergies are reacting to.”

          2. Anonymous*

            I work in a building that’s had a significant amount of renovations done to it, and a lot of things that just don’t work right, so there is a bunch of *stuff* on the top of the celling tiles, so it depends on the building.

        2. Anonymous*

          But why take those 5 minutes while you’re working on something, rather than do it before you start working on that something or after you are done with it?

          And I agree calling someone any kind of name is more than a simple apology. But it also depends on the tone and context of what was said. I have told one of my coworkers to stop being a b*tch. We’re friends, and she was in a really bad mood that day taking it out on everyone, which is why I said something, so in that case it wasn’t meant as an insult. And later after cooling down, she didn’t take it as an insult either. At no point during that time was the manager involved.

          1. Jamie*

            And in some places there wouldn’t be a manager involved, and usually if people are friends they work this stuff through. That’s not something I would tolerate from a friend at work and if it was overheard at my place it would be dealt with even if your friend didn’t care. Because it’s unprofessional and you don’t swear at people at work or call them names. It’s really that black and white some places.

            And I don’t think anyone is arguing that advance notice isn’t better and it’s rude to barge in if it’s not necessary. I was responding to your point that the time to run the cable isn’t insignificant and I was just saying that it really is. In the time it takes for someone to get some water or walk to the copier it’s done.

  18. CoffeeLover*

    #1 I’m going to avoid pointing fingers with this one. I do think you should go to your coworker and have a calm conversation. Something like:

    “Bob, I’m sorry for blowing up at you the other day. I understand you have a job to do, but I find it disrespectful when you blatantly disregard my concerns. In the future, please help me understand why you need to do what you need to do and work with me to address my concerns.”

    I will say I have no idea how it got to that point. Did he not even give you a chance to move your stuff?

    1. Jamie*

      I personally hate the “apology but.” I’m sorry I did X – but if you hadn’t been a jerk doing why I wouldn’t have gotten mad.

      It’s too close to blaming other people for “making you mad” when adults are responsible for controlling their responses.

      1. fposte*

        Agreed. I’d separate the apology out from talking about what happened, just to avoid this.

      2. CoffeeLover*

        Well you’re not apologizing for being upset, you’re apologizing for showing it… “but” I see what you’re saying ;)

        1. Jamie*

          You’re apologizing for showing it…but when you add the “but” the implication is that you wouldn’t have shown it if they weren’t acting like a jerk in the first place.

          I’m sorry I yelled at you, but if you weren’t making me so mad I wouldn’t do that. That’s how it sounds and as infuriating as other people can be, the onus of our behavior is never on them – we need to own that.

          That doesn’t excuse their behavior – just saying their behavior is separate from why a person would be sincerely sorry. And believe me, there have been times I’ve said things in my personal life I wish I hadn’t said or lost my temper…but when I apologize I’m sorry that I lost my cool completely regardless of what I felt instigated it. Conflating the two issues just waters the apology to the point of being meaningless to me.

          For me if someone is apologizing once I hear “but” I stop listening.

  19. Rich*

    1.) Not sure if someone said this (I try to type my comment before getting dissuaded by others saying something similar), but I’m in agreement that the poster who got peeved and dropped expletives was out of line for that. Should def apologize and discuss how to avoid this type of situation in the future.

    Losing your cool is never cool.

    However, if disruptive wire work needs to be done, that’s something that needs to be scheduled in advance with the people it’ll affect and/or done early in the morning before staff gets in, in the evening once staff has left, or on the weekend. I’d be tight if I was trying to get work done and had dirt and debris falling on my desk and head.

    2.) No obligation to respond. However, if a candidate does something unique like: “Thanks for your time. I really enjoyed our conversation. I remembered we discussed x. I read this article and thought you’d find it interesting. Just wanted to share. Anyway, looking forward to the next steps.” Then I might respond and say “Thanks for the article. Good read. We’ll be in touch soon.”

    3.) No to dollar amounts for scholarships.

    4.) Agreed

    5.) I’d laugh, forward the resume to the team, and then not select that person for an interview.

    6. and 7.) Agreed.

  20. Employment lawyer*

    A few comments regarding #4:

    I am wondering if you can tell me if a company has the right to change an employees status from W2 to 1099 without a 30 day notice?

    First: Generally this is a “material” change of status and in most states you could refuse the change and collect unemployment. if you don’t want to stay there it’s a way to leave without being tagged as quitting, and in a way that allows you to get benefits.

    Second: Your company may be making a mistake. In my state of Massachusetts, an employer who issued a 1099 and W2 to the same person in the same calendar year is a target of audits.

    Third: Many contractors are misclassified. You might want to dig into that.

  21. soapyme*

    Re: #1, neither the OP nor her coworker acted very maturely. But I probably would have freaked out if a coworker stood on my desk and got dirt on my papers.

    I had a friend in college who would visit my dorm and sit on my bed. Okay, fine. But then he would swing his feet around and put his dirty Converse on my pillows. ON MY PILLOWS. WHERE I PUT MY FACE EVERY NIGHT. When I would ask him to move his feet, he didn’t understand what the big deal was.

    1. the gold digger*

      Shoes do not belong on the furniture! I watched once as a friend’s kids started stomping on my white, newly-reupholstered sofa. Waited for her to say something. She didn’t, so I had to say to the girls, “In this house, we do not put our shoes on the sofa.”


      1. T*

        STOMPING on your white sofa?!?!?! Sorry, that just makes me cringe so bad. My mother would never let me do that!

  22. Jessa*

    I would like to chime in on one thing. About work space and things “belonging” to a worker. Yes, we all know technically the whole joint belongs to management/the owners.

    However, studies have been done over the years where allowing people to take “ownership” of their space and stuff leads to exceedingly higher morale than making it all “you can’t do anything here it all belongs to the company.”

    Articles have been written (the one I read was in a business magazine for call centre owners,) explaining why each person having their own cubicle or at minimum sharing with someone but still having their OWN space in it (IE their own private drawer, and part of a wall each for personal stuff,) made for better retention, better morale, more positive workers.

    My point is this – responding to the OP with things like “not your space, don’t put your stuff, you don’t get to dictate anything about how other people move in your space,” kinds of things…just NO.

    The truth is it’s GOOD for employers to let employees take some ownership there. And it’s right and proper for other employees having to enter and work in that space to take notice of that and treat it like entering a private office even if it’s a cubicle with no door.

    That said, loosing your cool to the point of cussing? Not so good.

    1. fposte*

      Ownership where it’s not cool for people to walk on his desk? Yes. Ownership where he wants to forbid cable from going through the ceiling over his head? No.

  23. Kou*

    I have a question about scenarios like #1– what should you do if a coworker chews you out, but there’s no real “issue” to resolve? Like, they were hostile and unprofessional, but the only purpose of complaining is to point out that they misbehaved. Nothing needs to be done, per se, but AAM would probably say the manager would want to know.

    I have an issue with someone like this where I work, and a week ago they called me and just went off, complete with doing unflattering voice impersonations of another coworker. I mentioned it to one of my colleagues but it’s been bothering me because I just cannot imagine acting like that at work and I feel like I should tell someone, but it feels like just tattling.

    1. J2*

      What do you want to have happen? Are you looking for a better way to handle a future instance, with that person or someone else, should it happen? Or do you want to talk with someone about that particular issue, even if you say you don’t think there would be any purpose?

      Where I work, I would be able to take my concerns–in fact, I would be expected to take my concerns–either to my boss or to HR. That doesn’t mean something would happen to that person, necessarily. But I know that my boss would want to know that someone had upset me badly enough for me to still be bothered by it days later. And she and HR would want to know about someone who had shown hostile and bullying behavior, because that isn’t tolerated here.

      Saying something to a colleague may make you feel a bit better in the short term, but your colleague can’t take any action that would change things. That’s why you probably should bring it up with someone who can.

      1. Kou*

        You know, I’m just going to mention it to my supervisor. This isn’t the first issue that’s been had and it won’t be the last, sitting on it is not constructive.

  24. Mark*

    I am the original poster for the “1. I blew up at my coworker; which of us was out of line?” I’d like to get a few things straight to help provide background to the situation.

    1). My co-worker is (was) also my friend. We used to hang out on the weekends but now I am not sure where I see our friendship.
    2). He is the same type of engineer as me (Software Engineer I). He is NOT an IT guy – just another member of our team.
    3). No one above me/him told me he had to do it,as far as I understand it – he said he needed to do it so he could keep his 2nd computer. Its not because it was the only alternative. He decided that was the best way to handle it.
    4). He did not talk to me nor did he seem to care about listening to me. (He basically dismissed me immediately when I started to say “why not do {suggestion} instead”)
    5). I had to ask him about it first to see what he was doing.
    6). After talking to him, he did not give much time and just bulldozed right on through stepping on my desk and my papers like he owned it.
    7). I didn’t respond negatively until he started to step on my desk without my permission.
    8). Also he seems to have developed an attitude towards me.

    Thanks Alison and everyone for their responses, it really helps to know what people think. And I feel somewhat vindicated though things could have been better on both sides of the table.

    One thing I realized is that I need to get better at talking to my colleagues because I feel that they don’t understand what I say and its like I feel I go unheard. Its tougher too because it gets me frustrated and less happy at work which is just not the direction I want to be going. I am starting to understand your reasoning, that this is not my space and the company owns it- I agree with this and my reaction was not perceived well.

    Perception really makes a difference how people treat you and I just feel that my perceived image is 50/50. I am doing well in my job but my personality is that of a naturally straight-forward, serious guy. A lot of my co-workers make jokes at each other and its hard for me to take jokes – this I think makes me look bad. I want things to be better but I can only do so much without someone telling me where I can improve. If you have helpful words of advice I am all ears.

    1. Mark*

      Also I want to disarm the type of cursing that occurred since some people might imagine things differently. I basically got annoyed and said “Don’t F*** with me.” I also told him I felt disrespected and he should have talked to me of his plans before doing what he did. I did not put out anymore expletives than the F bomb. I also like to point out he called me an “a$$” to the other office-mate in front of me. I can say that we have been having issues since when I wasn’t able to take the guys “light-hearted” jokes very well – could this have something to do with it? I just think I am not one of the guys and this situation solidified that fact… (btw I am a guy :P)

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