my employer wants me to remove a sticker from my truck, over-sharing anxieties, and more

It’s seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. I got promoted and now have less work to do!

After 6 years with my company I was finally granted the promotion I had been wanting. Basically I went from “Junior X” to “X”. For the last three years or so I have been doing the work of both the “Junior X” and the “X”. It was a lot of work, but I was able to handle it without issue. So now that I’m just “X”, many of my previous responsibilities have been delegated to a new hire, and frankly… I’m bored! I’ve made an effort to “slow down” and even created a new project for myself (I’m in a creative field so this is easy to do) but I’m still finding myself with down time. I really don’t want to leave this job as I like the company’s philosophy, the people/culture, not to mention the fact that jobs in this somewhat niche field are few and far between. Is there a good way to ask my boss for more work, without coming across as “expendable”?

What’s the next step above X, and what will you need to do to get there? Can you start taking on some of that work now, or building the skills that will allow you to later? Since it’s easy for you to create new projects for yourself, I’d do that — and might even be explicit with your boss about what why you’re doing it. (Make sure you don’t sound like you’re expecting to move up in an unrealistic amount of time — if it normally takes people three years to get to the next step, present your plan within that framework.)

2. My employer wants me to remove an offensive sticker from my truck

I recently broke up with my girlfriend and to retaliate, I put a sticker across the front windshield of my truck that says “Lift it! Fat girls can’t jump.” (My truck is raised or “lifted” really high. You have to climb up to get in. The sticker makes fun of fat girls not able to get in my truck.) It was funny to me and my friends.

I drive the truck to work every day, and about the end of the first week, my manager came and asked me about it. I explained and he asked if I would take it off since some people had told him they found it offensive and embarrassing. I said I would park at the end of the lot and face it away from building. He came back next day and asked again if I would remove it. I said I would cover it up when coming on the property. The next week, HR approached me and reminded me of the anti-harassment policy. I am holding my ground on offering to cover it up but not removing it. I spent $150! I am waiting on what will be decided but what do you think I can expect?

I think you can expect to be seen as an ass, since you’re acting like one. And yes, acting like an ass is a fireable offense. It’s also one that destroys your reputation and harms your ability to get promotions, raises, and references. Is this really the hill you want to die on?

3. I can’t attend a required training because a medical condition prevents me from traveling

As part of my 2012-2013 goals I am to receive technical training. Getting this technical training is not only beneficial to my company as it gets them discounts and having trained people on staff is required for support of the product, but is beneficial to me as it would guarantee me a job at many other organizations. My manager is really pushing this training because it needs to be scheduled, approved, paid for, etc. all in advance.

My problem is that this software company only has training for my certification track at their location. It is quite far away from where I live and the training is about 2 weeks long. I have a medical condition that prevents me from traveling and staying away for extended periods of time. I have not told my management of this problem because doing so could directly affect my employment (even though it is not supposed to). I work in an environment where anything less than extremely professional is not acceptable.

I have tried to get the company to train me online. They do it for many of their other training classes. The people that I have interacted with are unwavering in their stance that this training is at their location only.

How can I address this issue with the company or my management that will show that I am not getting this training because I can not go there to get it… not because I don’t want to? I feel like emailing up the food chain at the company to see if I can get something accomplished. I feel like they are discriminating against people who can not travel to their location. It is known that they have the capability to train remotely, they just wont.

The company that offers the training is under no obligation to offer the training in specific locations. They may have decided that it’s not profitable for them to offer this particular training in your location and that it’s not as effective to do online. Those decisions are their call.

Instead of focusing on them being unfair, talk to your employer about your situation. You don’t need to disclose the nature of your medical condition, but explaining that it limits your ability to travel is going to be key if you want them to understand why you can’t go to the training. Otherwise, you’ll look like you’re resisting traveling for no reason, and that’s much worse.

4. Can I bring up my concerns about a company in an interview?

I applied for a position with a company that, after doing a bit more research, I’m unsure about. The position is great in that it’s the direction I would like to see my career go in, the money is good, and the commute is very reasonable. I found the position via Indeed, so I looked around the website before applying and it seemed fine. After having a very successful phone screen, I researched the company a bit deeper for a second in-person interview and I’m having a few reservations.

There appears to be a lot of turnover within the company, they’ve gone through a handful of CEOs over the past few years, and there have supposedly been issues where the company hasn’t necessarily met the goals it sets out to do. The position itself is a great fit for me overall, but I’m really wary of this company’s future. As it is, I’ve been laid off twice within the past two years due to the economy and I’m very, very wary of possibly accepting a job with yet another unstable company. I do have a few other options in the pipeline (thankfully), but this position in particular is a really good fit. Is there a proper way to bring up my concerns in a second interview? I did get a good portion of my research from Glassdoor, so it should be taken with a grain of salt. Either way, there are enough red flags going up to make me question this position. Any advice on how to go about this?

Ask about it. Good employers know that good candidates have options and that as a result they’ll do some research and some critical thinking before accepting a position. It’s completely reasonable to say, “I read that you’ve had issues X and Y, and I wonder how the company is handling that internally, and what the future looks like in those areas.”

5. Company contacted my references before an interview, and now I haven’t heard anything

I am a recent grad and I applied to an entry-level job this July across the country. I’m willing to move — it’s almost expected in my field and I said as much in my cover letter. They asked for three references which I gladly gave. I got an email two weeks ago from my former supervisor with whom I have a great relationship — she told me they had called and she’d given me a glowing review. And then I heard absolutely nothing from them! They haven’t emailed or called about an interview or any type of follow-up. It’s now been two weeks since they called her and I’m starting to get somewhat anxious about it. Is it normal to call people’s references before contacting them or interviewing them?

The listing said they would contact appropriate candidates for the job, so I am worried that if I email them it might come across as pushy. Is there an appropriate way to follow up? I’m worried they’re put off by my being currently located on the east coast.

No, it’s not typical to contact people’s references before an interview. It’s a waste of time, since there’s no point in talking to references if it turns out in the interview that the candidate isn’t someone you want to hire. Most employers wait until afterwards. (Although academia might be an exception to this, as they often are.) However, two weeks in nothing when it comes to hiring. Many hiring processes take months.

However, since they’ve expressed interest by contacting your references, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to email them and ask about their timeline for next steps and reiterate your enthusiasm about moving to their location.

6. How to avoid over-sharing anxieties with people I manage

I’ve over-shared with my assistant in the past, and realized why telling the people who look to me for support that I’m troubled is unfair to them. I was manager of one department in an annual convention, so I worked with two assistants sporadically over several months, then intensively for a few day of the convention. I had untreated anxiety that was making me overexcited and causing me to second-guess a lot of things. Mid-convention, I confided some of my worries to one of my assistant managers. Once I’d done that, I was able to envision the new situation I may have created for her, so realized why it’s bad for supervisors to do this to their employees.

Despite my limited managing experience and the personal drama, I really like organizing and watching out for all the people above and below me. So if I get to manage people again, when and how is it ok to ask for critical feedback without causing them to worry about me? I don’t want to cross that line again.

You can certainly ask them for feedback without divulging your own anxieties. You just need to keep it about the work and not about your worries. For instance, you can ask what you could be doing differently/better as a manager and whether there are things they think could be done more effectively. You don’t want to ask them this all the time, of course, or it will come across as anxious — but periodically checking in on how things are going is good to do.

It’s also worth remembering that part of the role of a manager is to minimize drama, so you want to make sure that you’re not contributing to it or causing others to worry unnecessarily. Tell yourself that part of your role is to be a calming influence!

7. Applying for a position working with Irish students when I’m passionate about Ireland

I come to you today with a question for a cover letter I’m working on. Specifically, the position is an administrative coordinator that works with Irish students who come to the US on J-1 work visas. I’m attracted to this position for two reasons. First, it’s related to my field and career goals. The second draw is that I have a particular passion for Ireland. I’m of Irish descent, and in college, I took Irish Studies courses. I worked as a teaching assistant for one of these courses and also took a non-credit Irish language course. In my post-grad life, I play Gaelic football on a local team, where many of my teammates are Irish students here on J-1 visas.

Is there an appropriate way to frame this experience in a cover letter? I feel like it’s important to touch upon that I understand Irish culture, and already interact with students on these work visas, but I also don’t want it to come across as “fangirl-esque” (for lack of better term) and that I’m only interested interested in this position because it’s related to Ireland.

Yes, you should mention all of that! Don’t frame it in an “intense fan of Ireland” way, but rather as evidence that you have an interest in Ireland and an understanding of and appreciation for its culture.

{ 470 comments… read them below }

  1. KarenT*

    You spent $150 on a sign that says “Fat girls can’t jump”? And you actually wrote in to blog hoping to find someone to back you up? I don’t have words for you, except to tell you that you are an ass. And a rather juvenile one to boot.

    1. rw*


      My opinion of retaliation being juvenile aside, I’m curious why he retaliated if, by his own words, he broke up with her. Although, given the rest of his message (thinking it funny to insult weight, not understanding professional work behavior, etc.), I wouldn’t be surprised if she broke up with him, hence the “retaliation.” In any case, I hope he learns his lesson, either by seeing the light or getting reprimanded.

      1. KarenT*

        Yes, and I bet his goal for retaliation was to make her feel bad about herself.

        OP, I promise you she sees that bumper sticker and is grateful you are no longer her problem!

      2. Jamie*

        That’s exactly what jumped out at me. People who leave relationships of their own volition don’t need to retaliate…that’s the milieu of some who are left.

        And I have nothing to add except that I think Alison’s answer to this is one of the most awesome responses to any post. Succinct. Direct. And dead right.

        1. Job seeker*

          I think to use a sticker that is is just plain mean. Also, I would remove this if my employer was asking me to. This is so insulting and offensive to others that why in the world would you choose to do this?

          1. Jamie*

            I work at a graphics company where sometimes we get these, er, insensitive requests. When it comes to pricing them we often add a charge for pain and suffering, if they seem intent on offending others.

            1. Jonathan*

              As for the sticker, when i bought my truck i had one on the back. My girlfriend at the time thought it would be funny to remove some letters so now it says “i cant jump”. I thought the original was better, but whatever. Keep your sticker on bud, just cover it up and people will shut up.

    2. The Editor*

      #2–You aren’t going to find a lot of support here I think. Free speech and all, but… Really? This calls into question so much more than I think you are realizing.

      As a hiring manager, if I saw your truck with that sticker and knew you were applying for a job with me, I’d throw your application out because it speaks to a serious lack of judgment and awareness of how your actions impact others.

      1. KarenT*

        I support free speech in the sense that it shouldn’t be illegal to have such a bumper sticker. However, it’s asshat behavior to have one.

        1. Jessica*

          Exactly. Free speech does not mean freedom from the consequences of your asshat behavior.

          1. JoAnna*

            In other words, “Having the right to do a thing is not at all the same as being right in doing it.” – G.K. Chesterton

            1. theotherjennifer*

              or…”just because you can doesn’t mean you should”… (for us less well read readers!)

        2. bearing*

          Just think, if stickers like that were illegal, we’d have to have a conversation with the OP to find out what an asshat he is.

          Free speech saves time.

      2. Katie the Fed*

        Free speech means the government can’t arrest you for speaking freely. But it doesn’t mean people can’t fire you or publicly shame you for being an insufferable ass or saying terrible and offensive things.

        See also: Dr. Laura, Paula Deen

        1. LPBB*

          + a million to both Katie and Jessica. I am so sick of people completely misunderstanding the concept of free speech and also completely not understanding how polite society works.

          1. Ruffingit*

            Yeah, totally. The other day someone was making an argument on my friend’s Facebook about how Paula Deen’s right to free speech was definitely being violated because the First Amendment protects freedom of speech. UH yeah…NO! I very politely had to point out that the First Amendment protects you from the government infringing on your right to speak, it does not protect you from your fellow citizens thinking you’re an ass and firing you for your speech. Hence, Paula’s sponsors dropping her like a twice-baked hot potato. They are well within their rights to do that because their right to free speech means they get to “speak” their feelings through their actions of dumping her off. Such is life.

            1. Simonthegrey*

              Likewise had that conversation with a cousin AND an uncle after that Duck Dynasty guy’s show got canceled.

        2. Tasha*

          Furthermore, this is a private employer. Employers can restrict the speech of employees on the job site, with some exceptions around discussions of wages and hours that don’t interfere with the performance of their duties. (In fact, the government-as-employer is treated similarly.) If that weren’t the case, imagine all the lawsuits from employees who think dress codes unconstitutionally restrict their freedom of expression. (PS–I’m not a lawyer, and don’t even play one on TV.)

          1. Ruffingit*

            Actually, there have been lawsuits over dress codes, tattoos and the like. Interesting stuff to read, but your point is well-taken that private employers aren’t required to uphold the “rights” people think they’re generally entitled to.

        3. Forrest*

          To be fair, free speech is a political concept and could apply to private organizations (like if a company is censoring conversations regarding a union).

          It’s the First Amendment that says the government can’t arrest you. And even then its has limitations.

        4. Jamie*

          Thanks Katie – saved me the typing.

          And the OP doesn’t say whether or not he’s a manager, but I could make a good argument for it being justifiably a fire-able offense if he manages others…because once it’s known that he had this you couldn’t expect reports to trust his judgement or that they would be treated fairly regardless of gender or body type.

          He’s lucky he still has a job, IMO.

          1. Ruffingit*

            You know, I’m less bothered by the sticker itself (although I believe it’s stupid, asinine, and juvenile) than I am by the fact that he’s actually choosing this as his hill to die on. The decision to fight its removal says more about him to me than the sticker itself. It says he cannot see the forest for the trees, he cannot prioritize decisions, he cannot follow basic directions…the list goes on and on.

            1. KarenT*

              I could agree with that. The sticker makes him an ass; refusing to remove the sticker makes him an idiot.

      3. Rana*

        Agreed. I’d defend the OP’s right to have that sticker on their truck. But I’d also think they were a fat-phobic, sexist asshat.

        1. Nik*

          Same. I have an equality stickers from the Human Rights Campaign and I’d be super pissed if someone ever even suggested I remove it. At the same time, I know someone who drives her father’s car to work because they work opposite shifts. The car has some crazy political stickers my friend doesn’t happen to agree with, but it’s not her car. I’d hate to think of her employer giving her grief over stickers she didn’t want. Of course the OP’s case is different in that he a) admitted he put the sticker on, and b) is a tool, but I’d be really skeptical of an employer that cares so much about what its employees’ vehicles look like.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            There’s a big difference between political stickers and stickers that indicate malice toward a protected group (women).

            1. NAFG*

              The OP also indicated that complaints had been made by co-workers, and that HR had talked to him about the anti-harassment policy. Stickers indicating political opinions don’t open you up to those things, but “jokes” about women, or race, or age, or other protected groups will. By itself, the sticker is bad. Because the OP is digging his heels in, he’s making it worse. He can hold his opinions and make his not-funny jokes outside of work hours, but by parking that truck in the company’s lot, he’s brought his opinion to work. That means the truck and that sticker is right in everyone else’s face, offending at least one person (since there is a known complaint) and probably more. That gives the company the right, and in fact the duty, to deal with the matter. I think the OP’s choices at this point are to take the sticker off, drive a different vehicle to work, or leave the job.

              1. Jamie*

                This. My bumper sticker supporting a political candidate (as if) or my window VH decal (don’t judge) don’t violate a protected class at work. People with opposed political leanings or VH haters (who?!) could form negative opinions of me based on those things, but I’m not making a statement about beliefs that would violate their protected status.

                1. Jamie*

                  And if I had a prize to award it would a brand new Van Halen CD for Liz…who had the right answer!

                2. Ruffingit*

                  VH makes quite a few appearances on my iPod. No judgment here and rock on fellow VH lover :)

            2. Naomi*

              Some extreme political stickers do indicate hate towards women, minorities, a certain religion etc.

            3. Anonymous*

              Dude that’s hilarious keep the sticker bro!!! I got one on my truck that says my trucks prettier when she’s dirty and one that says big girls don’t look good in boots

          2. Goosey Lucy*

            If it’s parked in the company parking lot, can be seen by clients, etc then it reflects on the company. A big fat-shaming, woman-demeaning sign in their lot is definitely not something they want associated with them.

            1. Cat*

              Agreed. If I patronized a business regularly and always saw that truck parked in the lot, it would definitely affect my opinion of them and I bet I’m not the only one.

              1. Jamie*

                You are not. I’d take my business elsewhere also, the same as I would if I saw racist or other bigoted signs displayed on employees vehicles.

          3. Loose Seal*

            When I worked for a state agency, we were not allowed to have bumper stickers of any kind on our vehicles, from the “I attend church at …” stickers to political support stickers to cute slogans about your schnauzer.

            The reason for this was obvious: we were being paid by the taxpayers and supposed to treat everyone that entered the building the same way. If someone saw a sticker that offended or hurt them on their way in, how would they feel assured that they would get fair treatment?

        2. Anne*

          This exactly.

          You have the right to express yourself in whatever way you see fit, OP, and everyone else has the right to judge you negatively for it.

        3. Del*

          I’d defend the OP’s right to have that sticker on their truck. I’d defend the company’s right to not employ the OP because of said sticker. Rights for everyone!

        4. Simonthegrey*

          I admit, as a fat chick, that if I saw that sticker I would merely read it for what it is: a commentary on the owner’s diminutive penis size.

      4. E.R*

        Also, his girlfriend is very, very lucky they are no longer in a relationship. He clearly did not respect her (and possibly, women in general) and who knows what else that poor judgement would lead to.

      5. Brton3*

        Free speech means the government can’t make him take the sticker off, and nothing more.

    3. Jubilance*


      Seriously OP, you sound like a douche. Did you really expect people to back you up? How old are you, 19? “oh hahaha it’s so funny to make fun of fat girls & drive a really tall truck!”

      Grow up dude.

    4. Jessa*

      I think the sign is terrible, and can be considered harassment of women for a protected category (medical reasons) but if you do not want to take the stupid thing down, get a magnetic sign and put it OVER the thing at work. Your employer has the right to make the workplace safe mentally for the women who work there and do not want to be made to read that garbage.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Obesity isn’t a protected class, and neither is medical reasons. You *might* be able to make an argument on disability now that it’s classified a disease by the AMA, but I don’t think the courts have gone there yet.

    5. Anonicorn*

      Employment issue aside – I don’t know if OP intends to ever have a girlfriend again, but even many not-fat women will see that sticker as a major turn off.

      You know what? Keep it on there. A warning label like that is probably a good thing.

      1. some1*

        “even many not-fat women will see that sticker as a major turn off.”

        This. Not every presently thin woman was always that way, and every woman I know, regardless of size, has received unwanted comments on her body. And as a woman who grew with brothers and no sisters, I take a lot of issue with women being singled out for criticism over men.

        The only thing I liked about that letter was the fact that your company is putting the kibosh on this right quick.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I was thinking the same thing, Anonicorn… not only will this poster not have to worry about that nasty alarm clock every morning, but he won’t have to worry about budgeting for dates, either.

        OP, not all women are responsible for the actions of ONE woman. You cannot tar and feather everyone in sight.
        Secondly, you chose to date this person in the beginning, no one forced you, it was your own choice.
        Lastly, if you are going to put a sign on your truck for every time someone wrongs you, you will need to save up to buy a tractor trailer. You will have many signs. Life is not always fair.

        1. Forrest*

          And if it is the ex’s fault (which I doubt) it wasn’t her fatness that was the problem or made her awful.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Very little doubt in my mind. She wised up and moved on. If he did actually initiate the break up why does he need to retaliate? If his intention is to retaliate against himself I have to say mission accomplished. He hit the target.

      3. Cara*

        Agreed. I have always been thin, but I find it incredibly offensive when people pick on people for their weight, just as I’ve always been white but find racism offensive, and I’ve always been American but find xenophobia in our country offensive, etc.

        Bullying and belittling people for their physical attributes is just awful, period. I’m really stunned that the OP thinks it’s a good idea to dig in his heels over this sticker. If I were his manager, I’d fire him even if I agreed with the sticker, because continuing to display it after repeated requests to take it down displays incredible immaturity and a lack of judgment.

      4. Katie the Fed*

        Yep, it’s like when I see a “no fatties” note on someone’s online dating profile. NEXT!

        1. Del*

          It’s so convenient when they’re willing to openly label themselves as shallow and judgmental.

      5. QualityControlFreak*

        I’m chuckling at #2. every time I see one of those “lifted” trucks (and they are usually driving like asshats too) I think someone is very concerned about the size of their … let’s say attribute.

        But I don’t have a sticker on my car that says that.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Yeah, it’s a deal breaker for me too. I don’t care much what someone drives, as long as it’s in good shape if I have to ride in it, but lifted trucks, boom cars, and lowriders kind of go with subcultures I don’t really feel I’m compatible with.

        2. Vicki*

          I knew a woman who drove one of those trucks. She was 5′ tall. She happily admitted that she drove that truck because it gave her the unusual opportunity to “look down” at every pedestrian and other vehicle.

      6. Elle D*

        Seriously! If this boy showed up in this truck with this sticker to pick up any of my thin, beautiful friends on a date, I can guarantee you the date would end right there. None of them would find this even remotely “funny”.

        Not to mention the fact that the OP clearly still isn’t over his ex-girlfriend.

        1. Grey*

          Exactly. Maybe heavy gals can’t jump high, but all of them can still read. Dude, that sticker is serious babe repellent.

          But anyway, you didn’t come here for dating advice, so I’d agree that simply covering the sticker should be enough as long as no one is able to read it while you’re parked there. Don’t expect much respect from your employers or co-workers though.

          1. Jess*

            I’d just like OP to know that as a short, fat, woman, it is not my fatness that makes it hard for me to get into your dumbass, impractical, lifted truck, it’s the fact that I’m short. So, at the very least, your sticker is inaccurate.

    6. VictoriaHR*

      I say he should put up a new sticker, class it up a bit, a Shakespeare quote, from Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing: “remember, that I am an ass; though it be not written down, yet forget not that I am an ass. “

    7. Kerrigan*

      These types of “bros” apparently don’t realize what raging douchebags they are. I thought maybe they did, but were proud of the douchebag moniker they’ve earned.

    8. Andie*

      +Infinity!! Did OP #2 really think AAM would give him one good reason to keep the sticker on his car?? Really??

      A sensible diet and exercise can turn a fat girl into a skinny girl. There is no diet or exercise regimen to cure STUPID!

  2. Katie the Fed*

    #2 – I don’t know what’s worse, the fact that you think it’s super fun to make fun of fat people, or that you spent $150 on a bumper sticker. Either way, I’d like to high five your girlfriend for dumping your sorry ass. I hope your manager follows suit.

    1. Chloe*

      + one million.

      Having said that, this gave me the biggest laugh I’ve had all day, just the lunacy of even doing this in the first place alone was staggering, but to be so surprised at the reaction that you have actually written to a blog for advice struck me as incredibly funny.

      I love the variety of the human race.

      1. Stevie*

        If he had done this in the heat of the moment – say within a few hours of the breakup – and then realized how stupid he was, that wouldn’t be as bad to me. Of course, that would come with being extremely mortified and embarrassed and sorry about offending anyone else. I think most people have made one stupid break up mistake in their life when emotions were high, learned a lesson, and handled all other relationships with some class in the future. Maybe OP is 19?
        It’s the fact that it’s now weeks later and he still holds that this is a good idea is weird. And sounds vaguely like he feels entitled to a relationship, which is something that should be addressed.

        1. Forrest*

          He’s entitled alright – I can’t image the audacity it takes to shame someone for choosing not to be with them anymore.

    2. Mike C.*

      I totally missed this! Not only is this fellow a misogynist jerk, but he’s terrible with money too!

    3. Jamie*

      I missed that point – that’s right….

      What is a $150 bumper sticker anyway? Is this “art” you had painted onto the car. Classy, either way, but seriously $150 for a sticker. Bad judgement all over the place.

    4. Emily K*

      I’m thinking at $150 it’s probably less a bumper sticker and more a giant, entire-front-windshield-spanning decal. Big surprise employer doesn’t want a billboard of hate on their property.

      1. Sasha LeTour*

        Typically, yes, at that price-point, the graphics span an entire front or back windshield and are visible to all from 100 ft. away. That’s why they cost so much.

        I started my ad agency career in print, and decals of this size and expense were frequently requested, albeit for branding purposes rather than shaming purposes. In fact, they were MORE expensive “back in the day” because the technologies we currently have to lower and speed up printing costs were not yet mainstream.

        Interestingly, one of the things I most vividly remember about attending high school in a small Southern Appalachian town with a not-insignificant pro-Confederacy population is the staggering number of Confederate Flag and outright racially inflammatory stickers of the “I paid $150-plus” size and type, and the fact that the school administration chose to look the other way. I am glad that more and more schools today are moving toward deeming such things unacceptable.

  3. Katie the Fed*

    I kind of feel bad for all the questions that weren’t #2 – the blinding terrible that is that question is going to obscure them.

    1. Ruffingit*

      Yeah, I’m thinking maybe Alison should put all the other questions from today in their own post so they can get equal time. Those poor people are being overshadowed by the giant 100-year-old redwood that is #2.

  4. Anonymous*

    I assumed #2 was just trolling the blog. Hard to believe that someone would actually do that and have to ask what Alice thought would happen.

    1. LisaLyn*

      I am going with this. Sometimes, I have to believe that people are trolls just to not face-palm myself to death.

    2. Riki*

      I thought “troll”, too. However, people do dumb things all the time, and then cry “free speech!” when they are told to stop doing that dumb thing. Furthermore, employers have rules and expect their employees to follow those rules. It’s (usually) clearly stated in any employment agreement or handbook a new hire has to sign. I once worked for a company with a strict dress code. I didn’t like it, but my paycheck mattered more than not being able to wear flip flops to work. Choose your battles, people.

    3. RJ*

      I once house- and pet-sat for a week for a good friend from work. Her 19 year old son had a VW Bug that was super low to the ground. It had a sticker on it that said something to the effect of, “No fat chicks, car will scrape.” As a fat chick, I was deeply offended and hurt, and honestly, it changed the way I felt about my friend too for allowing that in her garage. This particular guy might be a troll, but this type of guy is definitely out there.

    4. Pussyfooter*

      I’m treating it as real. Even if it took a troll’s cajones to write in about it, real people do buy those kinds of signs. Younger people grow up around that kind of behavior and recreate it, etc.

      Plus, I’m wondering if OP #2 thought that this was a first amendment, protected speech issue? Maybe he’s got friends/relatives telling him his employer is breaking the law.
      (The government hasn’t indicted him for aggressively stupid speech and thrown him in jail–the system works!)

      1. Bobby Digital*

        Man, which just made me realize that his friends and relatives have to see this, too. Dude, take it off. Seriously. Your aunts and grandmothers -definitely- don’t care about free speech.

  5. KarenT*

    Ugh, so I just googled and this “Lift it! Fat Girls can’t jump” is thing. Multiple sites sell these stickers.

    The best part? They are going for $5.98 on most sites. OP, I hope yours is diamond encrusted…

    1. Jesse*

      I wonder if he got a decal instead of a sticker. Then it would cover his entire back window.

      Double douche.

      1. Sadsack*

        The way OP describes it, I imagine it is a giant decal that goes across the entire width of his windshield along the top edge. Does he not realize how any people he drives past who think he is an idiot? I guess it might depend on where he lives.

  6. jesicka309*

    I’m going be astounding and ask about OP #1
    Alison, would your advice change if the position was non-creative? I’m in a data entry role, and frequently bored. I’ve given up asking for more work because I am told to ‘ask and see if anyone else needs help’ but I know most are just as bored as me and are loath to give up what work they have.
    And as I’m not in a position to create work like the OP, I was wondering what you’d suggest?

    1. Leslie Yep*

      It’s not super glamorous, but is there anything you could do to systematize or document your processes? I’m thinking like an instruction manual for using your office’s systems, or for how you do your data entry?

      If you and many other employees around you are looking for work, could you spearhead some kind of weekly skill development group? Spend an hour teaching each other one skill you’ve learned in your workplace? Of course you can always spend time beefing up your Excel/Access/etc. skills.

      Perhaps you could ask to shadow someone who your work affects (whether that’s your manager or someone else) for a few hours a week to better understand the context of your work and suggest opportunities for more effective work.

      1. Elise*

        Exactly! There’s tons of projects you can create. I would start with updating or creating instruction manuals for the job. If you do lots of types of data entry, you could organize different part for co-workers to do. Then, you will be busy making something useful while developing leadership skills.

        And creating your own projects and leadership both look great on resumes.

      2. jesicka309*

        Unfortunately I don’t have access to our guide books – they can only be accessed by team leaders and above. And our procedures are set by an external body – we just comply with them. It’s the kind of role where there is no ‘correct’ way to do your work – as long as at the end of the day, the work is complete, it doesn’t matter how it’s done.
        I used to ask for more training and tasks, but I was usually given the brush off. We have eight people in the same role with their own markets, but with significant cross over. I’m in TV advertising, so there’s not much to share between staff knowledge wise (TV schedules don’t change whether you’re in New York, LA, London or Melbourne).

        I feel pretty frustrated about the whole thing, and I’ve tried to feel out how my coworkers are, but it seems like most are quite content that they’re getting paid a moderate amount to do a pretty easy job. I’m a bit more ambitious. :)

        1. Liz*

          I think they’re suggesting that you document your processes and the procedures you follow, so that if you’re ever off sick or need to train someone new you can say “This is how I’ve been handling project X”. As time allows you can add sections with alternate methods for handling the same issue.

          This can also be a jumping off point for suggesting improvements.

        2. Ms Enthusiasm*

          Is there anyway you could ask to start training as a team leader or to take on any of their work? Have you expressed an interest in moving up to your boss. Have you asked what the next steps are if you were to move up?

        3. Leslie Yep*

          I would suggest that you stop asking for opportunities and just do it. Think of something you could learn that’s even vaguely related to your job (i.e. you can make a business case for it) and do it. I would still tell your boss, so they don’t walk by you at your desk reading articles for your professional development and assume you’re trawling buzzfeed. Check out or Coursera. Find a book about some aspect of your industry. Find someone interesting or even not that interesting to shadow.

          And–if you’re in a role where there’s no “correct” way to do it as long as it gets done, that’s a REALLY great opportunity to talk with your colleagues to see how they are doing it! It’s not earth-shattering discussion, but you might find that someone else has found an interesting way to do something or surfaced a problem that’s actually systematic that you could solve for.

          But basically, from what you say:
          1. Your boss/colleagues are not likely to give you more tasks
          2. Your boss/colleagues are not likely to give you learning opportunities or additional trainings.

          So you just need to decide for yourself what you’re going to use this time for. They aren’t going to give you more to do. If there is truly nothing to fill that time, which I would find hard to believe in most cases but could be, you need to decide whether this job is what you want to be doing.

          1. Clementine*

            I’m in a place where they don’t *care* if you’re looking at buzzfeed, Facebook, Youtube or whatever. In fact I was told by my manager that during “slow times” (which is 85% of the time) I could “catch up on my email or whatever.”
            As for additional duties, I hear you, #1–I asked for them, and was told “we really don’t want to get into that kind of thing. Because if we get overwhelmed with work, no one is going to offer to help *us*.” Methinks my boss just doesn’t wanna work too hard. He’s got a nice cushy thing going on here.
            Also, #1, I was once in a creative job/field and had the same situation. I didn’t want to be seen as expendable either. I should have used my time more wisely but it was an unhappy fit. Anyway, it turns out I was expendable, along with a lot of the duties I was performing.
            Live and learn.

          2. jesicka309*

            I have no interest in becoming a team leader, as it’s the exact same work (with the one additional duty of managing the rest of the team).
            It couldn’t hurt to look at the exact processes we use, but I’m worried it’s nitpicky – it’s the equivalent of working out whether people are using keyboard shortcuts, right clicking, or going through the full menus. Same result, and every one has their own preference – how annoyed would you be if your coworker told you not to right click, but to use shortcuts?
            About two years ago I took it upon myself to do professional development in my won time, and started a business degree online. This actually bit me in the ass, when I applied for a lateral transfer into a different role within the department, and was told that my doing the degree made it seem like I had one foot out the door. Can’t win….ugggghhhh.

  7. Chaucer*

    As someone who has been into fitness his whole life, I find your sticker disparaging fat women as disgusting, offensive and incredibly immature. You put that sticker to retaliate against your now ex-girlfriend? What are you, 12? Obviously, you didn’t have a problem with her weight since you dated her, but after the break up you decided to play passive-aggressive.

    Stop being a jerk, and take off the sticker. If you’re really insistent on leaving it on, leave it on, but the only things you’ll accomplish are probably getting fired and having everybody who drives by you or sees your truck view you as a tool

    1. P*

      I thought the passive-aggressiveness was funny too – it just makes him look like a bitter, hurt child who can’t deal with emotions in a healthy way.

      It’s like the guys who will harass you on the street based on your looks, and when you respond negatively they start hurling insults… also about your looks. Bud, 30 seconds ago I was “sexy” enough to single out. Perhaps this is more about you than it is me.

    2. some1*

      “Obviously, you didn’t have a problem with her weight since you dated her, but after the break up you decided to play passive-aggressive.”

      People with an inferiority complex do this all the time. Not only did he get dumped, he got dumped by a fat girl! Doesn’t she know he was doing her a huge favor by dating despite her weight, and this is the thanks he gets?? Doesn’t she know he could get a Size 2 to go out with him in, like, 5 minutes?

      In all seriousness, maybe he actually wanted to go out with her *because* (in his eyes) he was out of her league, which he thought would make her more grateful, more likely to put up with mistreatment from him, and less likely to leave. I think people subconsciously do this way more than they think.

  8. Rayner*

    #2 Congratulations. You spent $150 to look like a sexist, juvenile misogynist piglet. Your girlfriend was damn right to drop you if you think that making fun of people because of their size is okay. It’s arrogant, it’s insulting, and it’s extremely infuriating.

    And your manager is right to ask you to get rid of it. I know that as a fat person, if I saw that sticker on an employee’s car, I’d try my hardest not to shop there or use those services if I could because it’s offensive, hurtful, and show poor judgement from the employee and, potentially, the business.

    You don’t have to worry about fat girls getting in your truck. Or indeed, any girls. Your attitude sucks. And you can ‘Lift’ that to your next meeting with HR.

    1. Liz in a library*

      Yep…I wouldn’t do business with a company that I saw as tacitly promoting weight shaming either. Uncool.

      You really can and very well may get fired for this if you don’t back down OP…

      1. Anne*

        I’m actually reminded of a copyshop near my work. They were advertising their ability to print on t-shirts, so they printed up a t-shirt with a Demotivational poster… it was a bunch of grads sitting waiting to be called up for the diplomas, and they all looked exactly the same except for one girl who was showing off excellent legs. The tagline was “SLUTS… always stand out in a crowd”

        They put it right up in their shop window.

        Needless to say, my office does not use them for our printing and photocopying needs any more.

          1. KellyK*

            Yeah. Had they printed one of the non-sexist generically snarky ones, it would’ve been funny. (In my office, I have “Minds are like parachutes. Just because you’ve lost yours doesn’t mean you can borrow mine.”)

  9. Anonymous*

    #3 – Have you tried discussing this with your doctor at all? Are there options for you to become more mobile, even for limited stretches of time? Maybe you just need some professional advice on how to manage your condition while traveling. Maybe you just need some additional accommodations while on travel for your condition, and maybe your workplace would be willing to pay for those extra accommodations in order to get you through this training.

    Obviously, as a random person on the internet, I don’t know squat about your medical problem. All I can do is try to relate your brief, detail-free description of the problem to my personal experiences. My mother is in late-stage heart failure. That means she can’t reliably walk, is on about 20 different specifically timed medications, is suffering some dementia, and her heart can (and does) stop working at random – it’s a terminal illness.

    Feeble as she is, she can manage trips as long as there is someone around to accompany her, and as long as she can go at her own pace. I wouldn’t encourage her to go backpacking across Europe, certainly, but if she needed to travel to a single city for two weeks it could be managed.

    Would having a nursing aide or someone like that at an extended stay hotel make this manageable for you? Do you need strict diet control that you could achieve if you cook your own food? Is it the travel itself (take a train instead of fly), or the destination, or the duration? Is there some medical equipment that the company could rent for you?

    1. Colette*

      I wondered that too, especially since apparently the OP’s company doesn’t know she has a medical condition.

      If the issue is a regular treatment of some sort, would it be possible to arrange to have it in the other city during the training?

      If it’s truly impossible to travel, then she needs to tell her manager that, but I’m wondering if it’s possible for her to make arrangements to make this work, since it seems like the training will be good for her in the long term.

      Another thing to think about – is it really just this one company that offers the training? Are there others who might be closer to home?

      1. MaryTerry*

        I just wanted to mention that a friend arranged to have dialysis when traveling so I know that some medical treatments can be set up in other cities. Yes, it was a hassle, but he traveled out of the area at least twice a year.

        And yes, I know of at least one company that only does a certain training at one location, take it or leave it. Can be very inconvenient if you need that specific certification.

      2. Judy*

        Two thoughts – could you manage the course if it were 2 x 1 week courses? Could they allow you to take week one with class A, and week two with class B the next month?

        Secondly, with the work/life balance discussion yesterday, I’ve seen some truly amazing things people have done for “life” events. People in hospice or ill traveling 4-10 hours in the car for weddings, funerals, anniversary parties for close family.

        When my FIL died, my MIL’s brother flew across the country with his wife and a friend who was a nurse, just to be with his sister for one of the hardest days of her life. Wheelchair, oxygen tank and all. It probably would have been easier for him to go for several weeks with planning, rather than just a 3 day trip with 2 days notice.

    2. Loose Seal*

      Not a doctor…

      This might be Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS). I have a friend that has it and she is always reluctant to travel because she never knows what might set it off. I think my friend would feel a bit cornered knowing that she had to do this. It’s different when she decides to go somewhere for pleasure; they can cut the visit short if she gets a [I don’t know the word here — reaction, spell, episode?]. But if she had to go for two weeks and know that it might reflect badly on her if she gave up and came home, I think she’d try to find reasons to avoid going in the first place. And she probably wouldn’t want to tell work her reasons because most people (including her mother-in-law) just tell her to take some Benadryl, which doesn’t really work as it’s not an allergic reaction.

      1. HannahS*

        I appreciate that you’re sharing your friend’s experience, and your last sentence shows that you’re sensitive to the fact that people with illnesses are often misunderstood, which is great! But please, don’t suggest diagnoses unless the person is asking for that kind of advice. As someone with a chronic illness, it drives me insane when I ask a question relating to the logistics of my disability and people start telling me what I may have. I know it seems nit-picky, but it adds up over time, you know? Thanks :)

        1. Loose Seal*

          My intention wasn’t to tell OP what she may or may not have. It was to let responders know that sometimes people have something that is so pervasive that a simple accommodation won’t help. And, in my friend’s case, describing her syndrome to others makes her feel like someone on display.

          I’m sorry I offended you but I do think that people that don’t have chronic illnesses or aren’t close to someone who does have no idea how difficult “simple” things like travel can be. And that was the intention of my response.

          1. HannahS*

            I’m glad to hear it! Honestly, I thought your response showed a lot of compassion. My only issue was ever with the three words, “This might be” but it seems like I misunderstood your intention.

    3. Anon*

      I think Anonymous (first comment in this thread) has some good ideas, and I hope some of them can help the OP. I’m allergic to wheat, and I have GERD, and every few months, I have to travel for work. I used to love traveling, but lately, every time I do, my stomach gets really messed up. I had to go out of town again last week, so I thought I would try something new to see if it helped. I brought food (that’s not always easy to find) with me. I called the hotel, and they agreed to put a refrigerator in the room for me. I really appreciated it, and I didn’t get sick this trip! :) (I also didn’t have to eat salad for every meal!) If I had to stay longer, I’d stay at an extended stay hotel because they have full kitchens in the rooms, and they generally don’t cost more than regular hotel rooms.

      1. Emily K*

        I always pick a hotel that has a kitchen. What you pay in extra room charges you save in being able to make one $30 grocery trip for the week instead of dropping $15-25 on every meal in a restaurant.

  10. Nik*

    #4: I might steer clear of that place if you have other options because that sounds terrible. So many red flags popping up before you even interview is a bad bad sign.

    #7: Your passion about Irish culture will help you I bet!!

    I’m just trying to give the other numbers some love because they are so far into the shadow of the gross guy in #2.

    1. Today's #6*

      wow. pitty advice.
      Just kidding!

      Yes, #7, don’t come off like a *rabid* fan, but enthusiasm is a selling point. I’d want to know that you focused on learning about Ireland throughout school and currently interact with lots of visiting workers from there.

      1. Bwmn*

        I think that there is a lot to sell on your enthusiasm and experience with Ireland – but one way to potentially avoid “rabid fandome” is not not mention that you’re of Irish descent. You have plenty of high quality qualifiers (Gaelic football, Irish studies, etc) without mentioning an ethnic/genetic connection.

        Not to be overly crude or to downplay people’s enthusiam of their heritage – but you risk being lumped in with a Jersey Shore style of “cultural enthusiasm”. On the Jersey Shore they make a big deal of being Italian in a way that’s a lot less professional or impressive. However, if someone mentions studying Italian language, history, cultural traditions, etc. – whether or not they’re of Italian heritage, that’s impressive.

  11. FRRibs*

    I’m not going to call into question the judgement of #2…pretty sure that was covered.

    But…you’ve gotten what are not subtle hints that management and HR would like you to remove it. If you were serious about trying to reach accomodation, you would have covered it while on work premises rather than “offering” to two weeks ago…then continue to display it.

    If you’re not trolling, I would take this experience as a lesson learned. Sometimes you have to sand off the rough edges in order to get along with everyone else. Also, if you’re trying to be funny: Know your audience.

  12. AF*

    OP #2 makes me not want to go on the Internet anymore. So if I got a big sticker that says, “The guy with the sticker on his car making fun of ‘fat girls’ is an idiot,” would he be okay with that? To think that this person 1) is employed, and 2) has $150 in disposable income to “retaliate” (WTF?!?!) against an ex-girlfriend makes me really sad. Come on dude.

  13. sara*

    No offense alison but i think #2 should have been a stand alone post.
    And seriously dude? You spent $150 on a sticker? How did u get through life being such an idiot?

  14. Today's #6*

    Hmmm….$150 toy versus *income from being employed*? What to do? What to do?

    Hmmm….coworkers who are decent to me versus reminding myself I got burned by some girl who’s never going to see that sticker as often as I am? ….Plus the whole “don’t advertise your private life at work” thing.

    1. Stevie*

      Hey #6! This is actually related to your post… :)
      I’m currently reading The 12 Bad Habits that Hold Good People Back and over sharing is one of them. The book is good because it also gives some good advice on how to fix any of your bad habits or help people you manage overcome theirs. It might be worth looking into.
      It seems helpful so far. But it’s also a really tough pill to swallow to read about all your bad traits that need fixing. Or at least it was for me!

  15. EE*

    Hi! Irishwoman here (who always desperately wanted to do a J-1 but never had the cash…)

    Will Irish people be viewing your application? There is a popular pastime in Ireland of making fun of Irish-loving misty-eyed Americans, always willing to buy expensive tourist tat, call the language “Gaelic” and talk up their Irish descent. It’s a bit unfair, but it’s a running joke nonetheless.

    To avoid falling afoul of it, talk about the Irish language course and ESPECIALLY the Gaelic football. This will show you’re knowledgeable and engaged. It’s a sharp contrast to the stereotype.

    Good luck!

    1. Sarah*

      I was coming down to say the same thing. There are few things in this wide world more annoying than Americans who refer to themselves as ‘Irish’ and think they have a special affinity with the Irish because their great-great-grandfather was from Cork. Not saying that’s the OP necessarily, but focus on what you’ve done- i.e. the language, football, knowing other students in the same situation socially.

    2. Chinook*

      EE I was wondering if the Irish loving OP realized that their is a stigma too about N. Americans of Irish descent and their ideas of the old country. My father was born in County Kerry and his family moved to Canada when he was 6 and we still laugh at the poor American who tracked down his Irish roots only to find his most closest Irish relative was in N. Alberta! Funny that it didn’t make him that happy?

      As long as the OP doesn’t play up the relatives who left Ireland over 100 years ago and has an understanding of modern Irish culture (which she might considering her hobbies), she should be okay. It is like me and Japan – I love the country for all that is good and bad and understand that it is more than samurais, ninjas and manga.

    3. LV*

      This. I’m not Irish, but my husband is. Every year on and around St Patrick’s I’m treated to rants about “#!&@&#!? Plastic Paddies.” If he were a student coming to the States, he would unfortunately not be impressed by OP’s passion for Ireland.

      1. Chinook*

        First, I want to acknowldge that OP #7 is not a Celtic Irish Fan Girl and someone who knows the difference, so what I am about to say doesn’t apply to her.

        Now, my rant – what is up with green beer and green soda bread on St. Patrick’s Day? Especially when real, Irish beer and real irish soda bread 9both of which are most defintiely NOT green unless sotred improperly) are a much tastier alternative? And why should anyone want to kiss me because I am Irish? When I see those signs floating around, I feel a need to flaunt my mother’s heritage and point out that we have been here longer than the English and, through one strand, longer than the whiteman. I don’t care if my skin and hair makes me look like I just walked out of the heather, I don’t want to be kissed because of where my father is from!

        1. Jazzy Red*

          For decades, the Irish were discriminated against in America and had a hard time even finding work. (Same for the Italians, the Germans, the Polish, get the picture). Right after WWII, people kind of dropped their Old World connections, heritage, and customs to be as much like WASP America as possible. A few decades passed, and people started honoring their ancestral heritages again (think Alex Hailey and Roots).

          IT’S FOR FUN! They’re not hurting anyone, so leave them alone.

          1. LV*

            I don’t think it’s unreasonable for actual Irish people to be annoyed when they see their culture reduced to such silly stereotypes as green Guinness and “Kiss me I’m Irish” shirts, all so that people who have one Irish person somewhere in the upper branches of their family tree can “honor their ancestral heritage.”

            1. Bea W*

              The way Americans do up “Irish” heritage, especially around St. Patrick’s Day, makes me want to go slink into a corner and pretend I don’t have Irish heritage. I wasn’t raised with any connection to Irish traditions or Ireland, but I’m pretty sure my Irish ancestors weren’t a bunch of roudy drunk leprechauns any more than my Italian ancestors, who were recent enough that I was raised around them, were greasy pasta-eating mafiosi.

              Stereotypes aren’t very fun.

        2. ThursdaysGeek*

          I’m an American mutt with some Irish mixed in with everything else. So I always try to wear orange on St. Patrick’s Day, because, hey, I’m Protestant, not Catholic. Most acquaintances just look at me in confusion, because all they know about Ireland is green on St. Patrick’s day. I don’t know much either, just enough to cause trouble. :) (Of course Patrick was Catholic — that was long before Luther.)

            1. ThursdaysGeek*

              Oh! I didn’t know that! Insulting to real Irish? Because I’d think the whole green beer/kiss me I’m Irish would be just as insulting. But I wasn’t trying to insult. :(

              1. Stevie*

                I heard that it stems back to the fighting between the Protestants and the Catholics. Since St. Patrick’s Day is kind of the Catholic holiday, it’s just insensitive to wear orange. BUT, I live in America. And I really want to emphasize that I *heard* this information – from someone in America. He purposely wore orange on St. Patrick’s Day because he liked to get a rise out of people and knew that some would take it personally.

              2. Chinook*

                Green beer is frankly insulting to anyone who enjoys beer. It is almost as bad as chocolate beer (but that is the worst because it ruins 2 good thigns at once).

            2. Chinook*

              In N. Ireland, wearing orange can signify that you are an Orangeman (a.k. Protestant a.k.a on of those people who stole Ireland from the “real” Irish) and is often used on another holiday to provoke the Catholic majority when you go marching through their neighbourhoods to point out that you won the war and they are losers. This type of sentiment only makes the militant IRA types angrier and is goes back to the whole history of “the troubles.” (and someone who is actually Irish can clarify where I am getting this wrong). The fact that modern Ireland (both the republic and the north) are moving away from this and it is only the fanatics left fighting (and no longer bombing).

              In reality, the Republic of Ireland’s flag is green, white and orange to signify the unity of the two cultures into one nation. My father being anglo/Protestant doesn’t mean he is any less Irish than those who are celtic/Catholic. My father’s Irish roots probably go back farther than my mother’s French Canadian roots (and we were among the first settlers) and both of these are important parts of their respective nations even if they make a noticeable (and sometimes irritating to the point of inciting terrorism) minority.

              So, in short, to the an Irishman holding a grudge about someone wrongly imprisoning or killing a political prisoner, wearing orange would be insulting but, I hope, enough time has passed that we are all getting beyond acting on that anger.

              1. Esra*

                Growing up in smalltown Ontario, the local Orangemen were a racist group. I’m sure it varies area-to-area, but that’s how I knew them.

                1. Chinook*

                  From what I have learned, in Canada, the Orangeman evolved here to be a hate group who, among other things, believe that the only thing worse than a Catholic is a French Catholic. The fact that I have one grandfather who was an Orangeman (in Ireland) and the other a French Catholic has been one of those things that just never made sense to me but thankful to have moved beyond it.

    4. OP #7*

      Hi ladies,

      Thanks for the input! I’m well aware of the stigma of that comes along with Americans claiming to be Irish (my family has been in the States for over 100 years, I’ll be the first to admit that I know this doesn’t make me Irish, just of Irish descent). This was actually my concern for mentioning the courses, Gaelic football, etc. in the cover letter. Didn’t want to come across as someone pretending to be something I’m not =)

      I think I decided, as another poster suggested, to focus more on the technical skills of the job and past work experience, and then add the cultural experience as more of a side note.

      1. Jessa*

        You can however point up that since you know a lot of Irish visa holders you’re particularly knowledgeable in their specific issues. So that might help. IE I play football with em and I’ve heard em gripe about x y z so I’m aware of what issues are with Irish visas vs Czech ones. That’s job relevant and doesn’t sound fannish.

      2. Library Jen*

        Hi OP, just wanted to say that the fact you not only took some Irish Studies classes but were also a TA also suggests more of an intellectual interest and engagement with the country that goes beyond stereotypes and fangirling. Good luck with the application!

      3. Ellie H.*

        As others have said, your interest in Irish culture doesn’t strike me as “fangirl” at all, though I’m not Irish in the absolute least.

        My suggestion for phrasing it in your cover letter would be to say something like: “I’m also interested in the position because I have an appreciation for and familiarity with Irish culture (I am of Irish descent). In college, I was a teaching assistant in the Irish Studies department after having studied Irish language and related subjects. In addition, I currently play Gaelic football where many of my teammates are Irish students on J-1 visas, so I’m familiar with the circumstances of those students.”

        Having background familiarity with the circumstances of the job from a non-professional context is not an unusual thing to talk about in a cover letter and will likely be seen as an asset. I don’t think it would seem frivolous phrased that way.

    5. Anon*

      I always thought the language was called “Gaelic.” What is it called? (I was going to start with “at the risk of sounding ignorant,” but then I realized, I *am* ignorant about this!)

      1. Loose Seal*

        Erse, I believe. I’m not a Irish person but my favorite novels mention it. (Plugging the Outlander novels by Diana Gabaldon — read them now and fall in love with them too!!)

        1. LV*

          Erse is an archaic term (so it makes sense that it was used in the Outlander series!). It’s generally just called “Irish” although the older members of my (Irish) husband’s family call it “the Gaelic” every now and then.

        2. Heather*

          Heh…but don’t start reading them unless you have a LOT of time to spend reading, because once you start you will not stop!

          That reminds me, I have to go check Diana’s site for updates on when the new book is coming out :)

      2. Chinook*

        I dont’ know much about Gaelic (my dad knows 3 words in it – the 2 on the family crest and how to pronunce his family name), but I understand that there is a difference between the Gaelic used in Scotland vs. Gaelic in Ireland. They may have the same roots but have developed differently.

        And thumbs up for plugging Outlander (and timely since the tv series now has casted both of Claire’s husbands!!)

        1. Chinook*

          The new book is March 2014 according to her Twitter feed. I think they are trying to time it with tv series in some way.

      3. EE*

        It’s called Irish.

        There is a *family* of languages called the Gaelic languages. One of them, Scots Gaelic, is often referred to as Gaelic. But Irish is never called Gaelic.

        Anon, I like your careful embrace of the word ‘ignorant’. Smart people are typically smart enough to know when they’re ignorant.

        1. Bwmn*

          I am of no Irish descent at all, but received my Masters degree from Trinity in Dublin. Coming back to the US, I was dating a guy who’s family was of Irish descent and remember the time I corrected them on Gaelic being the group of languages but Irish being the name of the language – and the degree of stink eye I received for that.

          Irish heritage in the diaspora is clearly a very sensitive thing for some people, and in the US is basically a thing of its own. In a professional context, if I was hiring and had two nearly identical resumes – but one mentioned being of Irish heritage plus educational/athletic experiences and the other mentioned nothing of heritage I would go for candidate number 2. I’d be concerned of whatever sensitivities and preconceptions the first candidate might have and not want to bother with.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      EE, okay. I am going to put myself out there… how did this come about? Why these sentiments towards Americans? Is it just Americans or do people from other nations provoke a similar response from Ireland?

      1. Jamie*

        I don’t get it either – but it’s definitely a thing. My grandfather is from Killarney and we have a little bit of Irish tchotchke around the house and we all got claddagh rings for confirmation. I know the Irish born hate it, but who cares? They aren’t coming to my house to mock the beautiful Celtic cross I got for a wedding gift.

        We aren’t Irish because we’re Americans, but I thank my Irish descent for the auburn hair and curse it for my pale skin. No matter what you do someone somewhere will hate it.

        And can people please stop with the freaking green beer on St. Patrick’s Day? It’s gross. Thanks.

        1. Chinook*

          Okay, Jamie. You have now confirmed it. We ARE related! We have so many similiarities, right down to where our families are from in Ireland, that it only makes sense. Of course, you are also Irish Catholic, so maybe not (as my Dad is a Prot.)

        2. Today's #6*

          I think it’s because being part of a culture includes so many idiomatic things that go beyond ancestry. People generally see the world as those around them where they grew up. So when they “go back to the old country” they act like foreigners and it comes off as a little too familiar to be calling one’s self a local.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Ahhh… a level of informality that could indicate a lack of respect. Oh dear. Not good. Is it just Americans that do this?

            1. Felicia*

              Some Canadians do this too, but it appears to me to be less common unless ones’ grandparents were immigrants to claim ancestral heritage that strongly. Though where I live most peoples’ grandparents – or more often parents – were immigrants. Perhaps because when you say “I’m American” or “I’m Canadian” then it’s more likely your family did come from somewhere else at some point than it is in other parts of the world since we’re comparatively new countries? Though my maternal grandparents were both Polish, and I never claim to be Polish or even know much about the culture.

          2. Bwmn*

            Today’s #6 got it right. A lot of Ireland tourism is focused on an “old country” perspective in a way that heavily denies any kind of modern Irish culture. Beyond tourism though, “remote” Ireland used to be very heavily studied by various social scientists. So you get all sorts of stories of supposedly remote Irish communities putting on shows for various academics who didn’t realize that these were communities that had been studied many times. It’s definitely contributed to this attitude where the outside comes to Ireland looking for the remote and ignoring everything else.

        3. EE*

          Jamie, we Irish wear claddagh rings too. They’re pretty and subtle, so nobody will hate that.

      2. Forrest*

        As an American, I’ve always gotten the impression that we can be vaguely douche baggy, especially when it comes to Europe. A lot of us are descendent from there but don’t really know much about our ancestors’ culture and those of us who can trace our American Heritage back…while cool, probably isn’t that impressive considering how young America to the European countries that we mainly like to claim to be from.

        Plus, Americans often boil down European countries to stereotypical things while not acknowledging a country’s complicated history. I’m Irish, so I’m going to drink this green beer while not knowing anything about Ireland’s struggle for independence! I’m Russian, so I’ll make Soviet Russian jokes while not knowing what political party is currently in charge.

        1. Del*

          It’s not just Europe, either. There are plenty of cultures Americans in general stereotype and exoticize the heck out of.

          1. Jamie*

            And there are also plenty of cultures that do the same to American’s. We get painted with a pretty broad brush ourselves sometimes…no culture is immune from this or immune to doing it to others.

            1. Del*

              The “kiss me I’m Irish” type is (at least ime) pretty uniquely American, since the vast majority of us are by definition dissociated from our ancestral cultures in a way that someone in, say, Spain is not.

            2. fposte*

              Definitely true. I think there are some legitimate reasons why we currently make such a large impact, including our numbers, our ability to travel, and our tendency to be louder about our nostalgia for what we never had than many other peoples, but there’s a grand tradition of creating the country where you never lived in the image that pleases you.

      3. Chinook*

        As someone who lives both sides at the same time, I think this sentiment is more aimed at those who equate Irish heritage with being Irish combined with seeing “the old country” through rose-coloured glasses and keeping it in a time capsule. Ireland has changed a lot in 100 years and some of it changed faster than over here. Case in point, my Canadian grandmother didn’t get electricity until in her teens and parts of my grandfather’s family didn’t get running water until the 1960’s (and they lived in a town, not in the middle of nowhere). My Irish grandmother, who was 10 years older, grew up with running water, electricity and graduated high school. Yet, my Canadian family had to go away to be involved in war and conflict whereas my Irish family just crossed the channel to help England (we are Anglo Irish, not Celtic). So, the deprivations experienced were quite different.

        I also think that part of the probelm is that there is still a lingering racism towards the Irish in the way it is fetishized around St. Patrick’s Day. When I look at some of the displays, it is like they are celebrating a mythical culture of time long ago and not one that is living, breathing and evolving. I never see celebrations of the peace treaty between the IRA and Northern Ireland nor do these celebrations ever include the Anglo Irish who have been there longer than most whites have been here. If you are Irish, then it is automically assumed you are celtic, living in a croft in the middle of nowhere that your family has lived in for generations.

      4. Yup*

        I’m an American with a Irish father, and I’ll share my aunt’s story tells about one of her visits home.

        My aunt, who was raised mostly in the US and speaks with an American accent, was walking down the main street in a small town. She was lost, looking for a particular shop, and stopped a priest who was passing by. “Excuse, Father, can you tell me… (checks piece of paper)… where Mahon’s Fish Shop is?”

        The priest looked at her for a moment and replied, “For sure I though you were going to ask me, “Father, can you tell me… about me ancestors? That’ll be the third today. But if it’s only fish you’re after, come this way.”

  16. Linda*

    #2 – You spent $150 on a sticker for your truck to retaliate against someone you’re no longer in a relationship with? Well, I have no idea why your job is in danger. Clearly you are mature, level-headed, and good at making decisions.

  17. fposte*

    Hey, #6, I’ve worked through some of that myself. In my case, I was overemphasizing transparency–it seemed like a virtue at the time, but in reality it meant I was making a lot of upper level toing and froing into a worry for my staff when it didn’t have to be. Now I try to ask myself, “Will this information help them do their job? Would later be a better time to share it anyway?” The trick with “later” is that it gives me a little time for the unburdening urge to pass in the meantime.

    Oh and #2–your job’s doing you a favor. That sticker screams “dumped and not over it.”

    1. Today's #6*

      My reason for oversharing was different, but the questions still work. I’m cut/pasting your questions for later reminders.

  18. Anonymously Anonymous*

    #4 While I like the advice given, also be prepared for *prepped* responses that either will try to go around the issue or not address it at all. Like AAM said good managers will address it without a problem.

    I had a similar experience recently—it was job I wanted so badly despite the red flags. My want for it as well as the pay was clouding what all my sources was saying. I have a friend who knows a couple people who worked at the company she said “oh yeah, they are looking to hire extra help around this time of the year for all the paperwork”
    I had did research and found an article (local news) from a year prior stating all the downfalls, backlogged paperwork, compliance issues, as well as their plan to hire over the next year. And it was all in sync from the time I put in my application to the time they called me in for an interview (which was exactly 1 month prior to a new system conversion). Then when it was my turn to ask questions, their response was prefaced with a almost stern chastising look followed by “We are in the process of converting our system,…”– whether my question had to do with caseload,work place culture, traits to succeed in the role….

    To be fair I never flat out asked about the information I found so I shouldn’t have expected them to address it. But judging by my interviewers’ look when I asked about the traits needed to succeed in the role, said it all. I’m sure they aren’t intending on keeping all the new hires because that was also addressed in the article,’ that once the new system is in place they will not need as many staff and clients could call in and speak to any staff about their need.’
    So I took “We are in the process of converting our system” to mean it’s about to get real ugly and real up in there and I would be stuck doing data entry most of the day to get everything scanned into the new system! I have no problem doing that as I have taken a position in the past to help with system conversion (with much less pay), it just wasn’t what I really expected in that role. I expected it to be more client-facing. While I probably would have accepted the offer because the pay triples what I make now, I’m glad I had the guts to ask the questions I did (not sure if that weeded me out the process) So be prepared. Good Luck!

    1. TrainerGirl*

      I’m facing this issue now…I was laid off last year, laid off twice this year. I’m currently working on a 1 year contract, and I like what I’m doing and where I am.

      I interviewed for and was offered a position with a company…in doing research online (again, a lot of it from Glassdoor), the company’s reviews were absolutely awful. From the time the recruiter first called me, I had a vague uneasy feeling about the position but couldn’t verbalize what was bothering me. I’ve heard a lot of “a job is a job”, but since I am currently working and have time to find another position, I’ve decided to pass. I’m normally super stressed about this situation, but I don’t feel bad about turning this job down. I believe in following my gut, and I’ve decided to say no.

  19. Anonymously Anonymous*

    #6 ‘Tell yourself that part of your role is to be a calming influence!’

    As a subordinate, this is the best advice. While the manager just maybe expressing concern or being transparent, that employee now feels these issues my affect work. And if I feel my manager has issues that might affect work I’m a part of, now it’s my problem. Kind of like the reason I don’t share certain problems with my boyfriend because he immediately tries to fix it—no I was just venting.

    1. LisaLyn*

      I think that is great advice! I think you’re right that once you are the manager, you can’t really vent with your staff because first of all, they will be looking to you to fix it, and also it will seem so much more serious coming from a manager than from a peer.

      1. Anonymous*

        Ugg. I had a manager once who would spend the first hour I arrived at work venting to me about work and personal things. Made my worklife horrible because I started the day stressed out.

      2. Chinook*

        I once had a military man explain to me thatone of the jobs of good management is to act like an umbrella, protecting their people from whatever stuff the people above throw at them. If done well, the employees will never know what headaches they have been saved from having.

        1. Judy*

          One of my bosses said that the manager’s job was to be a steamroller, running in front of the team and flattening down the terrain so that the team can run at full speed. Need a new tool? Having issues with X department? etc.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      This. Groups tend to go in the direction of their leadership. If their leadership is frazzle and messy, guess what the group is going to be?

      I am not much on venting. Venting is like dumping out some trash along the side of the road. Workplaces are not dumps to unload stress. (Well, you really can’t dump stress out at home either. But that is a different discussion.)
      Conversely, I have no problem with a person who is clearly looking for solutions and is telling me the particulars of what needs fixing.
      The difference is venting goes on and on with no solution on the horizon. Everyone in the whole place gets to hear the sob story over and over. Nothing is ever resolved and each day the story gets worse.

      I have no problem with a person who quietly asks one or two people advice on a matter. The inquiring person either uses the advice or develops an idea of her own and life goes on.

      In general, I think it is a good idea for supervisors to routinely ask their employees questions. “How is this project going?” or “Is there anything you need?” or “How was your meeting with Bill and Sue?” Ask open ended questions, wait for the answer. Key part- WAIT. Many employees will tell you about everything including their plan for World Peace before they get to mentioning “You really messed me up the other day when you did X and I needed Y.” You have to wait and you have to listen.

      1. Today's #6*

        I’m not sure if some of the people above are responding to Anonymously Anonymous or to me.
        As soon as I had this 5 min. conversation–quietly, off to the side, I started rethinking it. I realized then that ever doing that again would stop me from being my people’s “umbrella”. What I’m really focused on now is how to ask my reports for feedback on my performance without making them worry that something’s wrong with the company or me.

        I’m stealing some of “Not So’s..” ideas :)

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          What I’m really focused on now is how to ask my reports for feedback on my performance without making them worry that something’s wrong with the company or me.

          Hmmm, those are really two different things. The former shouldn’t cause the latter, unless I’m missing something…?

          1. #6 Today*

            Yeah, I think I was so disappointed by that one incident that I mixed these two issues together in my head.

            Your original answer to the post actually reframed the problem in pretty well: I can ask people how I’m doing without injecting any personal concerns into the conversation at all. So you actually nailed that.

            As far as not acting jumpy when I’m under pressure, I hadn’t thought hard enough about approaching that as it’s own separate issue either. Now I can focus on that. (Any advice on projecting calm when one is *not* would be appreciated from anyone still reading this thread ;’)

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Projecting calm when under fire:
              Speak less and listen more. It will make you look very intelligent. That seems counter-intuitive, I know…

              When you do speak, go directly to action plans: “Our next step here will be XYZ.” Or “Sue, do you remember how we fixed this the last time we hit this bump?”
              Your crew will quickly read this as “yes, Boss understands there is a problem and Boss is taking steps to fix it.”

              Delegate parts of the clean up– everyone wants to help but no one wants to get shot over it. Let them know what they can do to minimize the fall out and that is okay to help.

              Follow through. See the situation to its resolve.

              After the dust settles: Depending on the situation you might want to ask the impacted people specific questions- “We did XYZ but I am thinking that all we needed to do was X and Y. Do you have thoughts on that?” OR “I think this whole thing was trigger by ABC, what do you think we can do to prevent this from happening again?”

              I know that I have gotten good results by going back later and saying “If we encounter this again, here is how we will handle it from now on.” That sets a standard operating procedure and people know what is expected.

              The most powerful of all this is the speak less, listen more part.

              Be patient with yourself. If you cannot be patient with you, then you cannot be patient with them either. The more tough situations you encounter the more your surefooted-ness will grow. This does not happen over night. Ask questions, apologize when you are wrong and thank them for helping out.

              I had a job where i was routinely blindsided by stuff and there was constant chaos. I decided to swim, not sink. I had to be able to say “I am sorry” without being destroyed by the guilt/worry and without losing parts of myself. I had to train my brain to say thank you because I was sooo caught up in all the goings-on, it was easy to forget. And I had to ask them questions because i could not see all the aspects of a problem on my own.
              It was quite a humbling experience, actually. When I started feeling humbled, I started becoming their boss. I understood the limits of my power and the limits of their power.

  20. Jan Arzooman*

    As stated by several, #2’s been covered extensively in the comments already. Unbelievable. I would hope I would not be sitting next to this guy if I worked with him. Gross.

    #1 I would spend time learning new software–processes on the computer that make your and others jobs easier, then hold workshops on them. For instance, if you use Word, research macros (or even just shortcuts) for your particular field and create a set you would use on a regular basis. Or, see if there’s another skill that you never learned but want to learn more about it, start training yourself.

    You could also see if your company would allow you to take management training classes, or additional training in various management areas that could help you in your role and in future promotions.

    1. Twentymilehike*

      I agree with this response to 1 so much!! I was in a really similar boat. Later when I was interviewing for a new job, my interviewers were always impressed that I was able to use my down time constructively without needing direction. In an interview, I was once asked about what I did when work was slow. It was awesome to say that I took an advanced online excel class and found a way to use everything I learned at work. I didn’t NEED to do the things I did, but having time to play around made it possible to make things easier for when we were busy again.

  21. Mike C.*

    You know, I read that question thinking you were expressing a political opinion or something worthy of defense, but instead you want AaM to defend your choice to objectify women instead?

    Are you high or just stupidly offensive?

    1. Mike C.*

      And while I’m at it, you should probably remove the “truck nutz” and mud flaps with the pretty girls on them as well.

      1. Christine*

        Ha! I would bet money that you’re right about that. Let’s throw in a sticker of Calvin pissing on something, and the visual is complete.

      2. Ann O'Nemity*

        Ugh, I had to work with a co-worker once who had the truck nutz. What a douche. He was eventually fired for a variety of inexcusable actions that I will broadly label “bad customer service.”

      3. JoAnna*

        HAHAHA! My first thought when I read #2 was, “I bet he has those disgusting “truck nutz” on his vehicle too, and probably one of those “pissing Calvin” decals as well.

    2. KellyK*

      Yeah, I had the same initial reaction, and sympathy for someone who was probably the political or religious minority in their workplace getting grief for having an opinion and expressing it in a pretty low-key way. (I’d much rather walk past 40 bumper stickers I don’t agree with than listen to those same opinions, at high volume, when I’m trying to get work done.)

      But, hey, if you want to go get yourself fired over your non-existent “right” to be juvenile and insulting, knock yourself out. I’m sure there are plenty of people who’d love to have your job, and coworkers who’d be much happier working with someone who isn’t a jerk.

  22. Laura*

    #2: You are an enormous jackass. You absolutely have the right to behave like one, and your company absolutely has the right to decide they don’t want to employ one.

    #3: Be thankful that the training is offered at all. I work with and support a very large ERP system, and have tried numerous times over the last couple years to enroll in a training class for a particular application. Each time it has been cancelled due to lowenrollment so I’ve been left to learn it on my own through trial and error.

    1. Bay Stater*

      I’ve been left to learn it on my own through trial and error.

      And isn’t that fun?! (not!)

      1. Laura*

        Oh, it’s so aggravating. What really ticks me off is that the cancelled training sessions have all been online. When I complained, the reason I was given was that if the enrollment does not hit a certain level, the class is cancelled because it is not cost-effective to have it.

        Now, if we’re talking about paying for an instructor to fly somewhere, stay in a hotel, eat meals, rent a car, and all the rest of it, that makes sense. But the cost of paying an instructor to lead a class from home or office location has to be much lower, so why apply the same enrollment thresholds?

        And in the meantime I’m unable to learn about the application, other than what I just happen to run across through testing, research, and service requests when I run out of ideas.

        When I ranted about this to the person unlucky enough to get my ticked-off phone call, his suggestion was to ask for a private training session, where an instructor would come to our site and lead a class. Yeah. I bet that’s nice and cheap.

  23. Del*

    #4 – You definitely want to approach this delicately, but don’t hesitate to do so. I did something similar in an internal interview (a large part of the department had been outsourced a year or so before I interviewed to move into what was left), and it went over just fine. Definitely don’t make it sound like you think the company is unstable, but ask about how X issues have/will impact the duties of the position or similar. And be really aware of the interviewer’s non-verbal communication when you’re on that line of questioning — depending on how comfortable they are talking about it, you could either get a really productive discussion about the value you’ll bring to the situation, or you might want to just ask a question or two and then back right the heck off.

    #5 – I’d tread lightly on the “I’m of Irish descent” part of that, unless that descent has played a real role in your life — ie, “Oh yes, my family has preserved XYZ traditions that we brought over from Ireland” or something along those lines. There are a lot of Americans who can claim some degree of Irish descent, and tend to do so really vociferously despite retaining absolutely no Irish-ness in their lifestyle, habits, or ingrained culture, and you don’t want to label yourself with that.

    Otherwise, just stick with talking about the things that you actively do that show your interest in Ireland and working with Irish students. From the sound of it, you’re not the “Kiss me I’m Irish” type, and you don’t want to imply that you are.

    1. Del*

      Sorry, the second one should be #7. This is what I get for checking AaM before the coffee has kicked in.

  24. S.A.*

    “a sticker across the front windshield of my truck”

    Dear #2,

    The only reason you’re doing this is for your own amusement- you’ve put it on the front of your windshield so that you can see it when you’re driving AND make a statement to the world. YOU know why you’re doing it and YOU might find it funny; here’s a tip though: it’s not the kind of statement you WANT to send out to the world.

    You want to think it’s funny to make fun of fat girls because your last girlfriend was one and now the relationship’s over? Fine. It’s offensive to ALL women to make blanket statements (either about women or about fat women) based on the experience you had with ONE woman, but it’s an understandable position to take when you’re bitter after a break up. I’m not going to say that you don’t have a right to your own opinions or you (and your friends, who probably are there supporting you post-breakup and are commiserating with you) can’t express those opinions in non-public ways. You can bitch and moan on locked Facebook posts or over a root beer at the local soda shop with your friends (because you better be under 21 if you’re pulling this bullshit- but that’s another point entirely) but the point is- keep it semi-private or private.

    Don’t put it out there for the whole world to see and/or know about. Your bitterness and stubbornness is now on display for everyone to see. Not only is this not helping you move on from your break up (by putting a physical reminder of it literally in your face as you drive around), you are broadcasting your emotions to the world in an offensive manner. You even SAY it’s offensive in your letter to AMA- you KNOW it’s wrong and you’re still doing it. You’ve moved from being a bitter ex to being a bitter, offensive, stubborn asshole. If this is really how you want to be perceived to the world, then mission accomplished. Otherwise, stop it. Now.

    Consider this a $150 lesson in civility and only put things that are benign or positive on your truck, if you have to put anything on your truck at all. Trust me, at $150, you’re actually getting a bargain and you’ll (hopefully) keep your job in the process. Otherwise, this $150 is going to end up costing you A LOT more monetarily and you’ll lose out on salvaging your reputation.

  25. Lora*

    1. Is there any extra training you can sign up for? When I was bored at work (two jobs ago), the company training system would let you sign up for pretty much anything you wanted, and I got some great training on how to be a good manager, how to be a good teacher for adult education, etc. Also, do they have a corporate library, or are there any books or journals available that are relevant to your industry? You can always read.

    3. Can you talk to your doctor and see if there is any way they could help you out temporarily? I’ve had to travel while having cancer, medication that caused heart problems, and various other medical conditions where my doc said, initially, “you really should not travel while doing this,” and when I told them, “my other option is being unemployed and having no health insurance to pay for treatment,” all of a sudden, “well, I guess we could do XYZ instead, that’s actually just as good…” In the case of the heart problem medication, there was an on-site safety officer who was also a paramedic, they had an AED available and I had a walkie-talkie and worked with a buddy the whole time.

    4. Yes, yes you can. You have to word it a little delicately, like, “I saw ABC in the news the other day, how is that going for you?” rather than “so, how bout that overturned tanker truck full of toxic waste you guys dumped on the elementary school?”

    5. People are weird. Be patient.

    6. Every day that you are a manager, you are on stage. That is how much scrutiny you get, every damn day. Also, employees will talk amongst themselves and there is bugger-all you can do about it, so realize that what you feel may be a friendly conversation in confidence, most likely will be broadcast to the entire company by lunchtime.

    7. Put the stuff about your Irish culture experiences last. Talk about the reasons you’d be a good administrator for international students first. Then frame it as a kind of bonus at the end, the way you would if you were writing a cover letter for a job which also happens to be a hobby for you.

    1. Lindsay J*

      6. Yes. I felt bad for my last manager sometimes, because he was young and inexperienced and tried to do right but didn’t quite make it there.

      He tried to keep his relationship issues out of work, but since the girl he was on-again/off-again dating worked in a different department, gossip traveled and every one of his good or bad moods was analyzed in the context of what we knew about his social life.

      1. Lora*

        Yeah, I didn’t think I could add anything to the various comments.

        The managers always being on stage thing has been one of the most useful bits of management advice I’ve ever gotten. Also, if you want critical feedback from subordinates, I found that it’s useful to phrase it as, “here is what I was thinking about, but I would really like to hear your opinion–how would you approach the situation?” “I was thinking about Problem, and I’m trying to brainstorm solutions, what do you think about it?” Or even just flat out, “What do you think we should do about this?” said in a light, friendly tone, like, “what do you think about (movie)?” And then really, really consider and try to incorporate some of their response into what you do. People like being asked for advice and feeling that their boss values their contributions and expertise. So not only do you get the feedback, but you improve the relationship at the same time.

        Worst over-sharing I ever did as a manager: I was having a really horrible, terrible, no-good very bad day, in which everything that could go wrong, did. After a while I decided I simply could not hear another goddam bad thing for a while, shut my office door and blasted heavy metal while shouting at the computer. One of the kids (entry level engineer) knocked on the door. “WHAT.”
        “Um, I need vacation time. Here’s my form.”
        “This is next week?”
        We were already short-handed. I slammed the door, hard. Then remembered she had put in 60+ hour weeks and traveled a lot more than usual to cover for someone else. Signed the form, apologized to her, but still. I got a permanent rep for having a temper. Was not good.

        1. #6*

          Oh no. There’s good stuff here.
          I mushed over-sharing, displaying anxiety, and asking for feedback into one question. I think you have some good questions and suggestions here in your first paragraph. (I love cut/paste)

          I’d call the bad day at the office incident “venting” instead of “over-sharing”.
          Yeah. Even I get short tempered at work if enough upsetting things gang up on me…Sometimes I think of it as: “ok! This is clearly one of *ThOsE* kind of days, and the rest of the crummy things that are going to sneak up and hit me today, I’ll just get on dealing with as best I can and not even try to feel normal til it’s over.” Not expending more energy to feel normal saves stress.

  26. Kay*

    Regarding #2

    I think he has already spoiled his professional reputation. I can’t imagine any way to come back from having this horribly offensive sticker and then compounding it by not removing it once people complained.

    It also made me giggle that he was listed as #2 because originally I thought “What a shthead”.

  27. LV*

    Windshield stickers cost $150? There are people out there willing to spend $150 on stickers (offensive or otherwise) for their car windshields?

    This is just baffling to me.

    1. Chinook*

      The fact that someone who paid to raise up their pickup also chose to pay good money for a trashy sticker doesn’t surprise me. I would take one look at the image (and I am willing to bet there is probably a bush bar or spotlights on that truck too), judge you as an idiot redneck, drop your IQ by 20 points before you open your mouth and wonder why on earth you are working there. There are legit reasons for lifting your truck (and they usually involve jobs that don’t have a paved road), but those vehicles are company vehicles and that sticker on company property would be a reason for immediate dismisal.

      BTW, I ain’t some city hick who doesn’t understand where you are coming from. I saw dudes like you back home all the time. Grow up and realize that this is not the hill you want to die on.

      Signed, a first generation redneck girl.

      1. KellyK*

        First, I loved your rant. Second, I’ve never seen “hick” used like that before. I’ve always seen it as synonymous with redneck rather than city slicker. Is that a Canadian thing?

        1. Chinook*

          I don’t know if it is a canadian thing, but there are subtle differences between being a redneck and being a hick. A hick is uneducated, narrow-minded because of the lack of education and is quite happy to never know more. A redneck, when used positively (but also can connote a racist when used as a slur) is someone from a rural area who is used to hard work, telling it how it is, giving/receiving a hand up instead of a hand out and comes from the sunburned neck you can get when working in the fields all day. I consider myself a well-educated (univeristy degree and conversant in 3 languages), well-travelled redneck who knows a hick when she sees one.

          1. Jamie*

            Eb from Green Acres was a hick. The Dukes of Hazard were rednecks.

            I can’t explain it any other way.

          2. Editor*

            I’m cautious about using “redneck,” because in some places I’ve been in the U.S. it is used in the same sense as “white trash” — see Jeff Foxworthy, for instance.

      2. Agile Phalanges*

        I (a fat chick) used to date a guy that was into real, actual off-road driving. And while yes, you want big tires (so you can more easily crawl very slowly in a VERY low gear over very BIG obstacles), you want the truck itself to be as low as it can be while still getting clearance over those big tires. High center of gravity doesn’t work too well with rock crawling. :-)

        So, uber-tall shiny truck with truck-sticles, chrome all over, and big flood lights on top (right where they’d get broken in a rollover or even close call with trees? Poser. Beat-to-hell truck with scratches, dents, and dings that’s a few inches higher than stock, has a REAL roll cage, and has a working winch? Real deal, for whatever that’s worth.

        1. Jessa*

          Thank you. We don’t get too many obstacles in the road here, but we do get high snow drifts and trees down in windy season (Ohio tornado belt,) high tires on a Ford truck on our 2nd car work fine. We laugh at those guys with the giant fancy things that look like they’d cry if it got scratched going over a snow drift that they then found had something IN it.

  28. BCW*

    Putting aside the lack of judgment on the part of #2 and whether or not you think he is an ass, I do kind of agree that your job shouldn’t tell you what you can and can’t have on your car. I worked at a Zoo years ago, and a co-worker had a bunch of PETA stickers on her car. This was at a time when PETA was protesting zoo’s and aquariums A LOT. No one asked her to remove it. As someone mentioned, if they have equality stickers on their car, yet they work for a religious institution that as a whole doesn’t agree with that, should they be asked to remove it? I’ve even seen bumper stickers people put on their car that say “My kid beat up your honor student” which essentially promotes bullying. As a former honor student and former teacher, I think its totally tasteless. Even still though I can’t imagine going to management about it, and I think as much as I don’t like it, I don’t think they should be threatened to remove it with their job.

    1. Del*

      Within bounds of reason, no, your job probably shouldn’t be telling you what you can and can’t have on your car. But there ARE bounds of reason, and the OP crossed that.

      Put yourself in an employer’s shoes and think about it this way — would you want to employ someone who was willing to display a swastika on their car? What about an openly racist slogan? Would you be willing to deal with the morale problems the rest of your employees would suffer, being confronted with something like that? Would you be willing to risk the hostile-workplace claims?

    2. KellyK*

      I think if it’s totally antithetical to the organization’s mission (like the PETA stickers at the zoo), it’s reasonable of them to ask that you not display it on their property to avoid harming their reputation. (I think we’re in agreement that removing it shouldn’t be necessary if you cover it, park elsewhere, or whatever.)

    3. KarenT*

      Even if I agreed your job couldn’t tell you what you could put on your car, I would still think they could tell you what you could and couldn’t put in their parking lot.

  29. KellyK*

    #3 – I like the suggestions of talking both to your doctor and to your company. I’d start with your doctor so you can figure out if travel is possible under certain conditions and what those conditions are, then go to your employer with a plan. And, if it’s not possible, explain to your employer that you’re under doctor’s orders not to travel.

    Also, I don’t know if it’s applicable, but if any of your issues will affect the training itself, you may want to talk to the training provider about accommodation under the ADA.

    The other thing I would do, since you’ve mentioned that this is likely to affect your job, is to document the heck out of everything that might be relevant if it does. Keep copies of all correspondence with your company regarding this issue, and keep them at home rather than at work. Also keep copies of any performance reviews, kudos, or other documentation that shows their level of satisfaction with your performance. That way, if you’re later in the position of proving that you were discriminated against because of a disability, you have all the info you need to back that up. If you’ve seen things change for other people when they disclosed a disability, then I would also document—again, away from work—exactly what you observed. I’d also try to keep in touch with them (if they’re former employees) so that you can compare notes if anything happens.

    I know that probably sounds slightly paranoid, but one of the things I personally find helpful in a bad situation is to know that I’ve done what I can do to prepare for it. It reduces the worry a little bit if I’m very careful about covering the parts that I actually do control.

    It’s a really awful situation to be in, and I hope that it works out okay for you.

  30. BCW*

    As I wait for my comment on #2 to be approved, I had another thought. Reading this blog has taught me something. It seems there really are 2 schools of thought. Some people think that whatever you do at work or outside of work should be able to be policed by your employer. For example people think its fine that a teacher gets fired for being photographed with alcohol because they represent the school. Then the other school of thought, which I belong to, is that what you do in your personal time (assuming its legal) isn’t the business of your employer. So I think this is an extreme case which will elicit strong opinions, but its going to come down to which side of that argument you fall on. I think the sticker is in bad taste. BUT, if he did offer to cover it up when on work property, that should be the end of that. Its kind of like an offensive tattoo. If you want to wear it proud outside of the office thats fine, whether or people like it. I think your job has every right to ask you to cover it up while there, but for them to ask you to get it removed is something different.

    1. KellyK*

      The thing is, #2 has *never* covered up the sticker, at least not that he mentions. He has “offered” but that’s all.

      This would be a different conversation if he’d immediately covered the sticker and was keeping it covered while his car was in the employee parking lot, but he was still being asked to remove it entirely by his boss and HR. (He’d still be a jerk, but he’d at least not be flaunting his jerk-ness at work.)

      If that were the case, I’d agree with you that it’s an off-work issue that might not be relevant. (I say “might not” because it still tells you things about his judgment, and because there’s still the possibility of losing customers who see the sticker leaving the company parking lot every day.)

      1. BCW*

        You are correct. If he offered, but hasn’t done it, then its just an empty promise. But if he does do it, I think it should be the end of the problem.

        1. KellyK*

          I’d pretty much agree with that. (If he did it when first asked, it should have been the end of the problem. Now that he’s been insubordinate for a couple weeks, that’s a problem in and of itself.)

        2. Forrest*

          The problem is the OP has already created a hostile workplace. The people complaining know the sticker is still there. Just because its “out of sight” (which it isn’t) doesn’t mean its out of mind.

          People have the “right” to be douchebags. Companies have the right to say they don’t want to tolerate it and not even bother to compromise, especially if other employees are bringing their concerns to the table.

          1. Ariancita*

            By the same argument though, even if he removes it now, people have already seen it and knew it was there.

                1. Forrest*

                  That said, if I was an employee of this place, I would feel more comfortable working with the guy if the sticker had been removed vs just covered up. If I see the sticker is removed, I would at least think that HR/management conveyed why it needed to go and set up strict consequences.

                  Seeing it covered would make me think the guy and HR/management doesn’t have a clue why its harmful.

                2. fposte*

                  I’m also having a hard time figuring ways the sticker could be covered up that don’t mean the driver is either a) driving unsafely or 2) covering the sticker only after the truck is parked in the lot, which means it’s already being displayed on company property.

        3. Jessa*

          I’m of the opinion that we now have a different issue on the table. If the OP had covered it when originally offered, or taken it down when asked, that’d be one thing. But offering and failing to do so, or passive aggressively just leaving it in place, is a problem. At this point it moves into firing territory not so much because the OP has no right to hold that idiotic opinion, but because after being told “not on company property,” they said they understood and then refused to actually DO anything about it.

      2. Liz*

        “The thing is, #2 has *never* covered up the sticker, at least not that he mentions. He has “offered” but that’s all.”

        This gets to the heart of the matter. He doesn’t just want to keep the sticker on his car. He wants his manager to tell him “It’s ok to keep the sticker on your car just cover it up”. He wants win this fight and get validated for his douchebaggery. If this was really just about keep the damn sticker, he would have just started covering at work ages ago. The problem would have been solved. He is in a game of chicken with his manager and now wants validation from Allison. The #1 sign of an immature person is that must have outside validation for the choices and beliefs.

    2. BCW*

      And before anyone else tries to say that I’m ok with prejudice, which is what I think anonymous above was hinting at, here is another example. I’m a black man. I live in Chicago. If we hired a new employee and they had a confederate flag sticker on their car, I may not like it, but I would still say that it is their right to have that on their property. I also wouldn’t go to my manager or HR to complain about it. Like has been said, I might think he is insensitive at best, racist at worst, however I still don’t think management should get involved. Now if he was making racist comments IN the office, its a different story. Just as with this guy if he was making comments against fat girls in the office it would be a different story. In short, saying I agree with someone’s right to do something, doesn’t mean I agree with the action that they are doing.

      1. Yup*

        I hear what you’re saying, but I still think it’s incorrect to say that there’s only two schools of thought on this. To use your example about the confederate flag sticker: what if this person wanted to put the sticker on a vehicle that was personally owned but used for company business, like visiting lots of clients? That affects the outcome, right? What if that person were the president of the company? Which means that this one instance could influence the overall culture of the company very strongly, yes? And so on. There’s a lot more than two schools of thought on this, and none of them are as simple “the company can police you” and “private is private.”

        1. BCW*

          Those are both very good points, which I hadn’t thought of. I will say that if your vehicle is being used for official company business, that absolutely changes my opinion on whether they should be able to have a say in whats there. The thing with the president of the company makes a lot of sense as well.

          1. Elle D*

            Even if this isn’t a “company car”, if the car is parked in the employee lot and the company has clients or vendors coming to the office, it’s bad for business. I would feel this way about any hateful/derogatory/controversial message on a car.

            Additionally, if the parking lot is in an area that can be seen by people driving or walking by, it’s also an issue of brand management – I would not want my company to be associated with the message “Fat Girls Can’t Jump”. We don’t know how the OP’s company parking is structured, so I recognize this isn’t a foolproof argument in this situation, but that is something to be considered.

            I work at a professional services firm. We have clients visit regularly and our garage can also be utilized by the general public (we neighbor popular retail). It would be a major issue if someone parked in one of our company reserved spots had a disparaging message emblazoned on their vehicle.

      2. Del*

        And how would you feel if it was a sticker that explicitly called out black men as being undesirable and incapable, as the OP’s sticker does toward fat women? Not something that implies bigotry, something that states it right out in the open?

        1. BCW*

          Honestly? I’d probably not like that person very much and choose to not associate myself with them, unless I was forced to. I’d probably think they were a racist jerk. I still don’t think I’d go to HR unless he did things in the office. I’d also still think its his stuff, he can do what he wants. If thats how he wants to present himself, there is nothing I can do.

          1. Del*

            And if the owners of the business don’t want to be associated with him? That’s a matter of position, in that case.

            1. Jamie*

              This is my question. If your manager never said a negative word about race in the office, but had an offensive sticker on his car blatantly stating he has a problem with you and others of your race…are you comfortable that you’re going to get a fair evaluation? Fair raises and shots at promotion?

              That defies my concept of logic.

              1. BCW*

                We can argue hypotheticals all day. There is nothing saying that this guy is management. On the whole, I think management does have to adhere to different standards than non-management folks. So while I agree that if it was a manager it would make things difficult, if it was just someone else in the company, my general statement is the same.

                1. Jamie*

                  You’re the one who brought up hypothetical – the fat hating guy didn’t have a confederate flag.

                  I wouldn’t want to work for a manager with racist/bigoted beliefs proudly displayed on his car, nor would I want to work with a co-worker or subordinate for the same reasons: I don’t trust you.

                  A co-worker, subordinate may not as directly affect my paycheck but anyone with the bad judgement to proclaim off hours that they hate (insert group of choice) people can’t be trusted to work fairly and cooperatively with them on anything. It’s hostile and IMO shouldn’t be tolerated.

                  We’re not talking about thought police here. It’s a rare and special segment of the population that publicly announces their hatred with their vehicle.

                2. Ariancita*

                  But BCW’s example was a comparative one. These hypotheticals are getting more and more extreme.

                  I’m not saying I agree with BCW; I’m saying some of these counter examples are logical fallacies as their not equivalent to the situation at hand.

                3. Jamie*

                  It’s not a logical fallacy to follow up someone stating that they would not go to HR over a racist sticker of someone they work with by asking if that would change if that were a manager.

                  We work with people of all levels, and co-workers become managers. Asking for clarification of a statement made isn’t creating a logical fallacy.

                4. Ariancita*

                  It didn’t read to me as asking clarifying questions, but rather as creating more extreme hypotheticals to get to the point where BCW’s viewpoint no longer applied.

                  Apologies for misunderstanding.

                5. Colette*

                  Honestly, I think most things that you do outside of work should not be considered by your employer. However, that changes when you cross into illegal activities (i.e. having a glass of wine at a party = not the employer’s business; DUI = the employer’s business). It also changes when you cross into hateful activity towards your employer, your coworkers, or your employer’s customers – which is what this particular situation is.

          2. Anonymous*

            I think you don’t get where the manager is most likely coming from at all. You are thinking about this as a peer.

            The manager has had at least one employee that he values more than the OP say, “This is offensive and I expect you to do something about it.” With a subtext of “…or I will look for a job elsewhere.” So as that manager, which do you pick? You either side with the sticker guy and risk losing the angry employee, or you side with the angry employee and risk losing the OP. The manager made his choice, and it wasn’t in favor of the OP. You can validly argue about what that management choice should be, or whether the angry employee should’ve handled it differently, but that is an argument for another day because the person writing for advice is the one with the offensive bumper sticker, not the manager or the angry employee.

            Then, there’s the other (possibly even more important) management concern here – customers. If you would tolerate but be annoyed by a peer with a confederate bumper sticker, I have to ask whether you’d patronize a restaurant with that bumper sticker in the lot every single day? Would you shop at that clothing store? Contract with that accountant? Retain that law firm? Do you think others would patronize that establishment? Would it increase or decrease sales? Apparently, the management for this business decided it wasn’t going to improve sales any to have that sticker out front.

      3. Cara*

        That’s you, though. Just because you aren’t offended by something doesn’t mean others don’t have the right to be offended and ask that it be obscured or removed.

        1. BCW*

          Its not about being offended, its about whether I think its the work place’s duty to say what people can and can’t have on their property, even if its covered up.

          1. Forrest*

            But you haven’t argued for why this guy’s right outweighs the company or fellow employees’ rights. You’ve just stated that this guy should be able and as a minority, you wouldn’t be offended if something similar happened to you.

          2. Chrissy*

            I understand your position, but personally I thought the employer was being generous by alerting him to their disapproval and giving him multiple opportunities to take the sticker off. His car is parked on company property; who is he to say what should or should not be displayed on someone else’s property?

      4. Forrest*

        The guy is making comments in the “office.” The sign isn’t vague at all, it clearly states his offensive opinion and its on company property/time.

        Additionally, your status as a minority doesn’t give your opinion more weight over others. Many of us here are minorities of some sort.

        And if there was a black person in your hypothetical situation who was offended, what you would say? “Sorry, his opinion out weighs yours?”

        Free speech doesn’t just apply to the person who spoke first you know.

        1. BCW*

          I brought up my status as a minority because it was being implied that I’m ok with prejudice. I was just explaining how even if was prejudice toward me, my basic opinion about what the guys rights are wouldn’t change.

    3. Jubilance*

      This isn’t so much about the sticker, as its about OP #2 possibly making a hostile work environment for other employees. If he was walking around saying derogatory things about fat women in general, or sending out emails making derogatory statements about fat women, it would be the same thing.

      I agree with you in general, that what people do on their own time, outside of work, shouldn’t impact their work life. But by driving his truck to work with this offensive sticker on it, he brought his personal life into work & now is making it an issue for his coworkers. If he had kept his fat woman hate to himself during work hours, he wouldn’t have a problem. Covering up the sticker isn’t going to do much now, since now its clear how feels about fat women & he’s dug his heels in on removing it. It’s like a person who refuses to stop calling a person a derogatory term, because they feel its their First Amendment right to be able to use the word.

      1. BCW*

        I ask this as a serious question, not sarcastically. So do you think he should be fired at this point? People know of his feelings now and that he likes to make jokes about fat girls. If covering it up won’t do anything, neither would removing it. So what do you think is the course of action that should be taken?

        1. Loose Seal*

          Well, he’s been told twice by his manager and once by HR and hasn’t yet complied. Nor has he followed up on his counter-offer to cover it up. So, yeah, I do think he should be fired now. But my response has less to do with the content of the sticker and more to do with the fact that he continues to ignore the issue even though he’s been spoken to repeatedly about it.

          1. Leslie Yep*

            Yes, this exactly. I don’t know what decision I would make as a manager in this case, but it would seem totally reasonable to me that after the employee had declined repeatedly to comply, his job would be on the line.

            1. Heather*

              Yeah, he’s refused to follow orders from his boss more than once and if the letter is an indication, his attitude & professionalism are not great to begin with.

        2. Jubilance*

          Since his manager and HR have both made a request of him and he hasn’t complied, I’d say we’re in the realm of insubordination. If firing is allowing for insubordination at that company, then it’s well within the company’s rights to follow that course of action.

        3. Anonicorn*

          I know you were asking Jubilance, but if OP isn’t causing any other direct issues and is otherwise professional and a good worker – no, I don’t think he should be fired for a sticker on his truck (on the condition that it isn’t a vehicle used for company business, which a raised truck doesn’t seem like it would be).

          1. Anonicorn*

            Although, the comments above make a good point about insubordination. In which case I think it’s reasonable to fire someone after telling them they’re causing offense but OP never does anything about it.

            1. Blue Dog*

              It is not just the insubordination. It is the shocking lapse in judgment, the internal claims re: hostile work environment, the damage to the reputation of the company, and the risk of alienating customers.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Yes — he has ridiculously bad judgment, and there’s no way I’m going to believe it’s confined just to that sticker. So yeah — it’s reasonable to fire him for this. Not because “you had an offensive sticker on your truck,” but because “you have awful judgment, and we need people with good judgment working here.”

                1. pidgeonpenelope*

                  He’s also incredibly insubordinate. And yes, that’s a judgement issue too but I wanted to point that out. Insubordination drives me bonkers.

                2. Rana*

                  That’s a useful distinction. It’s not just about the sticker, and the OP’s offensive opinions, but the way that he’s blowing off his employer’s (and fellow employees’) concerns here. It’d be one thing if he was surprised by their objections, apologized, and made an honest attempt to address them. It’s the way he’s basically saying “Ha ha, I have offensive views, it’s your problem, not mine” that makes this a management problem.

                  At this point, is anyone persuaded that if another similar complaint came up regarding the OP’s views or behavior the OP would handle it in a more mature and productive fashion? I’m certainly not.

        4. Anonymous*

          Yes, I think he should be fired. He’s been given plenty of warnings, explained that it was harassement, and he offered an alternative but didn’t implement it. He’s run out of chances.

        5. Cara*

          I think he should be fired, at this point not because of the content of the sticker, but because he is displaying appallingly bad judgment in refusing to take it down. I don’ t know what line of work he’s in, but I wouldn’t trust him to act appropriately on a client visit, for example. He seems stubborn, immature and like a loose cannon.

        6. fposte*

          In addition to the points people are making, if I were his manager I wouldn’t completely trust him to cover up the sticker at this point–I would anticipate the possibility of some “forgetting” there.

          Depending on the situation, I could see going to disciplinary measures other than firing first, but I don’t think firing is unwarranted either. This is someone who’s brought offensive and harassing material onto company property, and despite the fact that the company has spoken to him about it twice, the company still has offensive and harassing material visible on their property because of him. You’d be in a much better position, OP, if you *had* covered the thing up the moment the problem was brought to your attention, but the fact that you’ve taken no action on your own suggests you’re not actually all that willing to cover it up, and that you are not going to be part of the solution here.

          And keep in mind that if they do fire you, they are absolutely free to tell people, including people you’re hoping will hire you, why.

          1. Ariancita*

            yes, I was thinking–is this similar to a job where the employee has a locker and, say, he has pictures of nude women posted up in it and it creates a hostile work environment? One could argue that the locker is owned by the employer, but there might be some equivalency with the parking lot being owned by the employer. So the employer can’t say he can’t have the sticker on his truck, but they can say he can’t park that truck with the sticker in the work lot. They could ban the truck from the work lot.

            1. Del*

              If, at this point, the company is willing to continue working with him on the issue (which would be very lenient of them) then yes, banning the truck from their property would be a reasonable solution.

              Also, the front window of a truck is much more visible than the inside of a locker (which presumably spends most of its time closed).

      2. bearing*

        Right — and the truck may be *his* property, but the parking lot he’s got it in is the *employer’s* property.

    4. P*

      I think it’s reasonable for the company to ask him to take it off entirely. Especially if he lives in a small town, vehicles like this tend to get a reputation: if you’ve seen it parked at the grocery store a few times, you’ll know it as “the big silver truck with the gross sticker.” Once it’s been seen uncovered, if someone sees it covered at his place of work they’re going to know what the sticker says and, most importantly, the (fat-phobic, misogynistic) opinion of the employee.

      While I would appreciate the employer asking him to cover it up in your hypothetical, I still wouldn’t frequent that business simply because it’s now been brought to my attention that a sexist sh!thead works there. That’s a reasonable concern for an employer to have and I don’t think it interferes with his personal life for them to tell him to remove it entirely.

      1. BCW*

        I can see that, but we don’t know what kind of town it is. It could be a small town, could be a big city. So your small town argument does work, but I’d figure though that if the reputation was there after having seen it, him removing the sticker wouldn’t do anything after the fact.

        1. P*

          Good points, certainly. However, I think it would still be better to take it off than let it be seen more. Hypothetically, let’s say 5 strangers recognize his truck at this point; if he leaves it on indefinitely when he’s not at work that number will steadily increase.

          I don’t think it’s a perfect, effective solution, but it seems like the best damage control to me.

          1. Jamie*

            Yep. Trust me on this…driving a car that’s even marginally distinctive is remembered. I don’t work directly with customers unless that have some rare IT emergency and most do not know my name. All the regulars know me as the one with the Mustang. I’ve had people honk at me at red lights in other parts of the city when I’m off work, and even in the burbs where I live, and wave…and because I’m bad with faces out of context I have no freaking idea who they are.

            But they knew me by my car.

            His truck sounds a lot more distinctive than my car and I get it at least once every two weeks – sometimes more often – that someone I know from somewhere honks because they know it’s my car.

            1. Chinook*

              Depending on where he lives, though, his truck may not be distinctive. One of the ghost cars in my city used to catch speeders is a lifted pick-up truck. They joke that the only way it would blend in more was if they put a secondary tank in the bed of it and hung a set of nutz off the back.

              1. Poe*

                I used to live in a city that had a lifted pickup ghost. *sigh* Such a love-hate with that place.

    5. Joey*

      To me this is similar to an employee wearing a swastika shirt to work and offering to put tape over it at work.

      I’d fire both if they refused to remove them. Covering it up doesn’t mean its still not offensive.

      1. BCW*

        Good point. But I think that is more of a dress code issue that is much easier to uniformly enforce. Whereas to say to the company that you can’t have an offensive bumper sticker is, to me, a bit harder. I think my tattoo example makes sense. If someone had a swastika tattoo, covering it up doesn’t make it any less offensive, but people aren’t seeing it. If you found out somehow, like you happened to be at the beach and saw that person, and you want to fire someone for that, its completely your right. I don’t know that many people would fault you either.

        1. Rayner*

          But it shows poor judgement on your part to have it in the first place. Whether or not you leave it out in the work place, you’re aligning yourself to that philosophy or attitude by displaying it. In this case, it’s misogyny and fat phobia in a nice two for one deal.

          It’s that same thing about how your behaviour away from the company office still has an impact on your reputation, perception, and value within the company.

          I wouldn’t fire them for having it. But digging in their heels, refusing to comply with management, and acting like it’s no big deal to display insulting, misognyistic and fat phobic decals and stickers on their truck?

          Sure. Door’s that way.

        2. Heather*

          BCW, I understand what you’re saying about the difference between activities at work and outside work. To me, the difference is whether it’s just something that could offend people at work and possibly lose the company business, or something that violates a certain group’s human rights (that sounds overly dramatic, but I couldn’t think of another way to phrase it). Like the Confederate flag – that’s a symbol of racism, and I think it’s OK for an employer to object to that even outside the office. But if it were, say, the sticker a friend of mine has that says “My dog bites Democrats” – well, I might not like it personally, but being a Democrat is something you choose, so it’s not an attack on an inborn characteristic that a person can’t change.

          Does that make sense?

      2. V*

        Most people don’t realize that historically swastikas were used as a symbol of good luck in Indian culture. If you go to India, they are still quite prevalent and still viewed as such. Sadly, the Nazi’s stole it and made it represent something evil.

    6. Jamie*

      It seems there really are 2 schools of thought. Some people think that whatever you do at work or outside of work should be able to be policed by your employer.

      Nothing in life is that black and white and this isn’t an either or issue.

      In your example, I would think it’s absurd to fire a teacher for being photographed with a glass of wine (has this happened) but to expect bizarre personal behavior not to impact your job (especially when parking it in their lot) is something else.

      There are very rarely only 2 ways of looking at things. If there were the world would be a far simpler place.

      1. Forrest*

        +1 That was my first thought when I read BCW’s comment – what school of thought do I belong? I support consenting adult’s rights to do legal (and some currently illegal things like smoking pot) activities on their own time.

        I don’t support anyone’s right to create a hostile workplace. Which is what this guy is doing – even if there are no women of size working with him, he’s clearly establishing a hierarchy that he has no right to establish simply because some woman had the “nerve” to end a relationship with him.

    7. Observer*

      You are missing an important point here. His employer approached him because he brought this into work. In other words, this is NOT about what he does on his own time. Now, you can make the argument that his offer to cover it up should be enough, but there is a problem here. For one thing, it does not look like it was made in good faith – he said he would cover it, but he apparently has not done so. Which is not really surprising, as it’s not so easy to cover something that’s on the windshield. So, even if he does cover it, it’s going to be a fairly “in your face” reminder of his behavior. Not his opinions, but his behavior at work.

      If nothing else, an employer has the full right to tell an employee whose behavior *on the job* is legitimately offensive to co-workers to cut it out. And, considering the sexist nature of the behavior, they may also be worrying about harassment issues. If if the OP doesn’t work in a strict liability state, at this point his employer would clearly be on the hook if they didn’t do something about it, since obviously someone complained to the supervisor. Which means they knew about it, and it has become their problem.

    8. Lora*

      Ugh, I have to say I would not necessarily fire him. Not because he’s not a total jerkface, but because all sorts of other things factor in:

      -How easily replaced is he? Some people, the company truly WOULD fall apart without. Has nothing to do with judgment either, it’s a unique skill thing. I have worked with some horribly bigoted asses, whose skills really were worth putting up with their terrible personalities. How much are we paying him, and how much would it cost to get someone else? What about getting a contractor to fill in until we have a new hire?

      -Can I confine him somewhere that he won’t interact with folks much? If the dude can run TIG and orbital welders, electropolish and passivate, he doesn’t need to have judgment. He needs to be able to read a work order and set the gas mixer. If I could shove his lunch tray through a slot in the bottom of the door…

      -What is the work culture specifically in the department/group? Are others similar to him in his group, would they be riled up if he was fired? Do they simply have marginally less obnoxious bumper stickers? If he fits right in and has loads of friends in his group, that’s a cultural problem with the whole group and there are bigger problems to address that firing one person won’t solve. I can’t fire a whole department. I can still make an example of him, but there’s a lot more to deal with in that case.

      1. Jamie*

        Not addressing the OP specifically – but your point about how easily replaced he is should be something all good companies think about.

        You shouldn’t have all your eggs in one basket with any mission critical position. Some do, but it’s a very dangerous game. So maybe they don’t show up with asshattery on their car, maybe they are hit by a bus, win the lottery, move out of town, get sick…redundancies are critical. If you ever find yourself thinking you’d be absolutely screwed without employee X then you need to make sure you have backup.

      2. Anonymous*

        My gosh. It is obvious to me that someone has complained about the truck. It’s only moved to hostile work environment claims if a real person has said they feel it’s hostile. Someone who is, by company decision, more important than Mr. Lift Truck.

        This isn’t about Mr. Lift Truck and management. This is about Ms. Not-Amused-By-Lift-Truck and management. The Company picked Ms. Not-Amused-By-Lift-Truck over Mr. Lift Truck. Why would you devalue and ignore Ms. Not-Amused-By-Lift-Truck so easily?

      3. RP*

        If you have people at your company you can’t replace, you are doing it wrong. You are essentially allowing one employee to hold your company hostage, and worse, you’re choosing to be in that position. When you decide to keep the jerk who’s creating a hostile work environment you’re not saying their skills are worth putting up with their personality, you’re saying the well being of the other employees is not worth training someone else to get those necessary skills.

        Hiding the dude away might work as a temporary measure but I don’t think turning him into a “missing stair” is a good idea long term.

        I agree there’s more to deal with if this turns out to be a cultural problem. Things like: “Why haven’t we been enforcing this harassment policy” and “Why do we keep hiring bigoted jerks”.

        1. KellyK*

          When you decide to keep the jerk who’s creating a hostile work environment you’re not saying their skills are worth putting up with their personality, you’re saying the well being of the other employees is not worth training someone else to get those necessary skills.

          Totally agree. It’s not just about putting up with their personality, it’s about losing your best people in other areas who have to interact with them. And, if they’re creating the legal definition of a hostile work environment, it’s a lawsuit risk tool

  31. Brett*

    #3 You said the problem is extended travel? Maybe the training company can break up your training. You travel out for parts of 2-4 different training sessions, giving you time to travel back home in between.
    This increases the cost of plane tickets, but decreases the cost of hotel and per diem. So the extra travel costs to your company might be minimal.

    1. the gold digger*

      How does it decrease the hotel and per-diem costs? I am assuming LW#3 would not be missing any training days, even if they were split up into several sessions. The total cost for hotel room and per-diem remains the same for 10 days of training, whether they are continuous or done in smaller increments.

      1. Brett*

        This is going on the basis that you do not pay hotel for the last day and you pay half day per diem for the last day.

        I will assume 10 continuous days, broken up into 3 days, 3 days, and 4 days.

        With 10 straight days, you pay per diem on 9.5 days and hotel for 9 nights.

        With the broken up schedule, you pay per diem for 2.5 days, 2.5 days, and 3.5 days for a total of 8.5 days. You pay hotel for 2 nights, 2 nights, and 3 nights for a total of 7 nights.
        That’s a day less per diem and 2 nights less hotel. Not enough to offset the two extra plane tickets, but maybe enough to offset one of the extra tickets.

        If the two week training actually has a weekend break (they often do), and you instead break up into two one week sessions, you might go from 11 nights of hotel and 11.5 days of per diem to 8 nights of hotel and 9 days per diem.

        This is not every situation. The half day per diem, in particular, might not work in every situation even though the reduced hotel days will. But every little bit of cost savings helps.

        1. Agile Phalanges*

          Of course, even if this scenario worked with the OP’s medical condition, if he/she lives somewhere like I do, where it takes all day to travel to most cities (that aren’t already within a long day’s driving distance), then each short trip would necessitate an EXTRA hotel night each, beyond what on long trip would. Regardless, though, it might be a solution, if the OP and/or employer are willing to foot the extra cost between them, and it’s compatible with the medical issues.

  32. The IT Manager*

    #5 two weeks in nothing when it comes to hiring. Many hiring processes take months.

    Just so true. Hiring timelines even when they are in a rush to hire are rarely the same for employers and applicants.

    1. Leslie Yep*

      I’m hiring for my first role as THE hiring manager right now (not as a support for the person driving the timeline) and even though I’ve watched a bunch of processes from the sidelines, it is amazing–even as the person literally deciding what’s going to happen when–how many little things delay the process and how much goes in on the back end to make sure the right decision is being made.

      I really wanted to have this person hired two weeks ago (allllllmost to the offer stage right now!) but I can honestly say I could not have moved any faster; yet, here we are!

    2. #5*

      That makes sense – when you’re on the applicant side a few weeks of silence can feel like eons, particularly when it seems so many companies fail to communicate with unsuccessful applicants at all. I think I’m getting tunnel vision on this one.

      I e-mailed them this morning with a short followup. It’s been about 4 weeks since I applied and two weeks since they checked my references. Here’s hoping for an interview…

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I don’t ever expect communication from an application–there are too many other people applying. I DO expect it after an interview, whether it’s an offer or a rejection.

        Granted, if I do get a postcard or something after an app, that’s nice. Oldjob did that, until the good managers left.

  33. pidgeonpenelope*

    #2: Making fun of fat girls? What. Are you in middle school? That sticker does harass and it does make for a hostile work environment. Not even that, you drive around that truck with that sign only to hurt and degrade every female who perceives they are fat and all because you are upset over a break up? And you don’t want to take it off because that 150 dollars is more valuable than to stop being cruel? You’re an ass.

  34. Rebecca*

    #2 – get a clue. I’ve never heard anyone say “oh wow, look at how high that truck is lifted up. I wish my truck was like that”. The comments are more along the line of “what a moron, how unstable must that be, or what a waste of money”. Unless you’re 12, I guess. Oh, and make sure you run right out to get a set of fake testicles to hang off the back, for that extra classy look.

    I hope you don’t fall and hurt yourself at any point, as it won’t only be fat girls who can’t jump out of your truck. Jerk.

    1. VintageLydia*

      The sticker is absolutely offensive, but I have no issue with lifted trucks in the slightest and I don’t see why people think it’s stupid (or more stupid than any other modification one might make.) Husband has a lifted SUV with a winch and communication antennas on it. He’s not a redneck and he’s not compensating for anything, but he’s a former boy scout and son of an under-planner where not having those things burned him in the past. And we’ve used them since in emergency situations, so unlike, say, a ridiculous unpainted body kit on a 20 year old Civic that will never be raced, the mods can serve a purpose even if they weren’t intended to from the beginning.

    2. Chinook*

      I think the lifted truck thing looks absurd depending on where you are. If you only drive it around the city, it makes as much sense makign a vehicle a low-rider . But, if you are in a more rural area where the roads aren’t always passable or this is a work truck and you are industry where you need a higher clearance, then these mods actually save you money in the long run in repairs.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        You just said what I wanted to say. As a status or appearance-based modification, I always think, “What are you trying to be?” But yeah, on a farm truck that has to go off-road, it’s helpful.

        Truck nutz are just stupid. There is no excuse for that.

        1. Keith Matthews*

          “Truck nutz are just plain stupid. There is no excuse for that…”
          “Gun nutz are just plain stupid…”
          “Fat girlz are just plain stupid…”

          Ad infinitum.

          Ad nauseum.

          1. Jamie*

            I don’t think she meant truck nuts – as in truck aficionados. I think she meant those stupid things some guys put on their trucks that hang off the hitch and look like testicles.

            If I’m right and that’s what she meant I’m with her – there is no instance in which they aren’t just plain stupid.

            Truck lovers themselves are a different story…I’m married to one and he’s just adorable when he lights up talking about towing capacity.

            1. KellyK*

              Yeah, that’s how I took it too. The “have your truck spayed or neutered” sense rather than the “wow, you love your truck a lot” sense. Nothing wrong with the second.

  35. forrest*

    I may not be able to jump but at least i didnt spend $150 on a sticker.

    Disclaimer: i can totally, it was proven with that scientific documentary that white men are the ones who cant.

  36. Joey*

    #2. Look, I know everybody does dumb stuff when they’re young (I hope you are young). But, here’s the thing. This is what it comes down to: is your income and getting fired worth a few laughs with your friends?

    I’m saying this as someone who has friends that always chose friends over work. Those friends are still struggling with their careers.

  37. Hannah*

    Just to reiterate feelings re: #2 –
    There is nothing mature, professional, smart, kind or funny about that bumper stick and those are the traits I want in my employees, my co-workers and, honestly, any person in my life. The bumper stick – and the fact that you think it’s not a big deal – is cruel to women and overweight people and anyone who falls into these two categories plus anyone who suffers from any “difference” no matter how big or small (which, yes, is everyone) may not take offense to it but they will think you are an asshole with terrible character.

  38. The IT Manager*

    #3 Just tell them. With as little medical detail as possible; although, you may need to explain to enough so they understand how you can come to work every day and not appear sick, but can’t make a two week trip. What are limitations? Could you make a one week trip? Could you travel with a family member or someone that could provide the care you need?

    Since you’re hiding your medical condition, right now they just think that you are refusing important training that’s being offered with no good reason. It is understandable that you would want to hide your medical condition, but you cannot any longer. It is impacting your ability to get training that your company wants you to attend. You need to explain that you have a medical reason and your not just being difficult or entitled in refusing to do it the way everyone else does.

  39. Escritora*

    Regarding Number 2, I have a flashback to Judge Bone (Picket Fences). His character said once, “It usually takes me a full five minutes to decide I don’t like someone. With you, I’m ahead of schedule.”

    So, number 2, is there something you gain from giving people a quick and easy way to dismiss you as a cretin? For our part, you’re like the guys who wear their pants falling off their backsides–one look at you and we know you’re a loser; we don’t need to have a conversation with you and give you a chance; you’ve unequivocally announced your character and we can judge you by it with a clear conscience. So again, do you believe you have something to gain by giving the whole world a legitimate reason to decide you’re a loser?

    Some relationship advice: if you react to a breakup by disparaging the opposite sex, you need to accept that you’re the problem. There are no exceptions to this law (Former day job revolved around this). No. Exceptions. At. All. The women you date are variables. You’re the constant. Examine yourself; you’re not a victim or a bystander in your life, and things don’t just “happen” to you.

    On the bright side, openly disparaging women just means that any woman with a brain in her head is going to skip you. Unfortunately, it’s true there are naive/foolish/damaged women with incredibly low standards out there, and that pool will work for you for a while, but trust me, they get a clue eventually (yay!) and then you’ll be back to square one. So save time and fix yourself now.

      1. Escritora*

        Processing petitions for marriage annulments for the Catholic church. Took me a long time to stop wanting to measure people for strait jackets when they announced getting engaged.

    1. Joey*

      Saggy pants=loser? I know plenty of smart, respectable kids that wear saggy pants.

      I made the mistake a log time ago of assuming a co worker was going to be predjudiced based the way he dressed, talked, looked. Fast forward to today: this ex coworker is my financial advisor and has been for some time now.

      1. BCW*

        Exactly. Judging a guy because his pants are too low is just as bad as judging a woman because you think her skirt is too short. You don’t know what they do, how smart they are, anything. One of the smartest most successful guys I know dresses in total punk rock stuff all the time. I know a successful female lawyer who dresses (when not working) what many more conservative people would call trashy. You really shouldn’t do that.

        1. Forrest*

          No, those two examples are not comparable. Its like saying calling a white guy a honky is the same as calling a black guy the nword.

          1. Chinook*

            Forrest, please clarify for me – do you mean to imply that calling a white guy a honky is not a racist insult or that it was? I honestly wasn’t able to follow you line of thinking.

            1. some1*

              I don’t think he’s saying it is, he’s recognized that being called a honky or a cracker is not the same because white people don’t have the same history of being marginalized.

              Along the same lines as saying all-female gyms are sexist, or it’s unfair if a college offers Women’s Studies but not Men’s Studies, or there needs to be a White History Month.

            2. Forrest*

              Its a racist insult but its not on the same level as the n word.

              Black people are victims of our society’s (America) institutional racism. So while honky is offense, it doesn’t care the same weight of history, turmoil, and struggle as the n word does.

              Someone calling me a honky may hurt my feelings but it doesn’t affect my standing in society. I’m still part of the majority that holds the power. Meanwhile, calling someone the nword reminds them about how they’re not in power at all.

              Similarly, saying that judging a guy wearing his pants too low is the same thing as judging a woman by her skirt length is not comparable. There is a lot going on behind the scenes when judging a woman on her clothing – institutional sexism, if you will. No one would dare say a guy was at fault for being a victim of a sexual violence because his pants were too low, you know?

              That said, judging a guy for wearing his pants low could be a reflection of racism or classicist. But its still not comparable to judging a woman’s outfit.

              1. Jamie*

                That said, judging a guy for wearing his pants low could be a reflection of racism or classicist.

                I see more saggy pants on middle and upper middle class white teenage boys these days than anything else – I don’t think it has those connotations anymore. It’s more like when long hair on men in the 70’s went from just being a hippie thing to more mainstream.

                1. Escritora*

                  Thank you. It’s not racist to not want to see other people’s underwear. It’s not like I’m fond of that look on one group and not on another. Showing your underwear is tasteless regardless of whether you can claim a societal grievance/injustice.

                2. Forrest*

                  You’ll also note that Jamie said ” I don’t think it has those connotations anymore” meaning that they once did.

                  I think you should read what people are saying before you quickly comment to justify why you hold viewpoints that, while may not be racist or sexist, are certainly stereotypical and not in the least “judging people by their character” like you’re trying to claim.

                  In other words…why are you so defensive?

              2. Escritora*

                Racism is a fairly stupid accusation, since every person I know who disparages that clothing “style” is black, including those who grew up in the pre-Civil Rights era like my grandmother, and those who didn’t, like me. If anything, I would say it’s racist to assume that black people are supposed to identify with, and support degenerate behaviors just because a given person engaged in them is black. I’ve had this assumption made to my face by white liberals, and black Al Sharpton types. Good for amusement, usually. Obviously, YMMV.

                For the record, just as I disparage a man for wearing pants so low you see his underwear, I also disparage a woman who wears a skirt so high you see her underwear. It’s almost as if–instead of being whatever mindless -ist/-ism you wish to ascribe to me–I have issues with “behaviors” or “character” traits. Judging people by the content of their character is a thing I do. YMMV.

                1. Forrest*

                  I didn’t make any rascism accusation. My comment clearly says: “That said, judging a guy for wearing his pants low could be a reflection of racism or classicist. ”

                  The rest of your comment isn’t a reflection on my point what so ever.

                2. Forrest*

                  Also, you’re contradicting yourself there when you say you disparage people by their clothes and then say you judge them by the content of their character.

                  People’s clothes rarely say anything about their character. Certainly, women wearing long skirts are not automatically of better character than women wearing short skirts. The men wearing suits who ran Eron and stole money from many hard working people are certainly not of better character than the high schooler who wears low pants but volunteers in his spare time.

        2. Escritora*

          The kid who graduated 3rd in my high school class wore his head shaved everywhere except the top. The top part was a long ponytail that went to his waist; he sometimes tucked it into his belt. The belt of his pants. That he wore on his butt. I never knew what his underwear looked like. That’s as it should be.

          In college, a classmate and I kept blowing the curve for the rest of the class because we had the top grades in our English class and the professor decided everyone should just match our standards. The kids called us “Mr. and Mrs. Perfect.” Mr. Perfect was a cool quiet guy with an orange flaming skull tatooed on his arm. I do not. I also don’t know what his underwear looked like. That’s as it should be.

          As I said to Forrest way below, certain choices highlight certain character traits. If someone shows up dressed like a skin head, he’s telling you something about himself. If people show up wearing gang colors and dressing like everyone in that posse, they’re telling you about themselves. If someone only wears flats and horn-rimmed glasses, she’s also telling you about herself, as is her friend who only wears Manolos and contact lenses.

          It’s not all one way–the fact is, the way we *choose* to dress, and the thoughts we *choose* to put on our clothess/trucks/lawns are signaling devices. It doesn’t take a Sherlock to see this. Rail against it if you want, but I’m willing to bet my mortgage payment that you don’t show up for job interviews wearing jeans with holes in the knee and a T-shirt with paint splattered on it, with gold fronts in your mouth to complete the look, nor would you hire someone who did.

          1. BCW*

            Maybe I wouldn’t hire them for a job if they wore that to an interview, because an interview is a time to put your best foot forward. However if I saw them on the street I wouldn’t judge them like you seem to do.

          2. Forrest*

            I’m so confused. You list several examples of people who dress a certain way that would normally have them dismissed by society due to certain stereotypes…but you’re using them as examples as people to break those stereotypes.

            But all people who show their underwear are painted with the same brush of having no self respect and should be written off as having poor character?


            …honestly, I think you just have an unhealthy obsession with underwear. And that reflects on you way more than it reflects on people who picked the wrong size clothing and then forgot a belt.

      2. Jamie*

        I’m with Joey on this.

        On going argument with my youngest that a size 30 waist shouldn’t be buying size 34 pants – and I am so sick of seeing 3 inches of boxer above his belt.

        And he’s a good, decent kid…he’s just a teenager and it’s a thing. He hikes them up to “grandpa height” for work. Hee.

      3. Escritora*

        If you know saggy pants dudes–I’m talking about the kind of sagging where you see their underwear–who are literate, articulate, capable of showing up for work on time and haven’t been in and out of jail (the saggy pants are a celebration of prison culture, if you don’t know) and don’t have multiple baby mamas all over town, congratulations, you have found yourself a four leaf clover. I have never seen that four-leaf clover, but I reserve the right to assume that a guy who identifies with prison-chic may not be a winner in life.

        1. Escritora*

          I guess the comments are too deep in to let me reply to Forrest, but quickly–I’m not contradicting myself when I say that I judge people by their clothing and their character–if you deliberately present yourself as a certain way, that’s a statement of your character. Show me that you’re a fan of prison culture, and you’re telling me about your character. Show me that you don’t respect yourself enough to cover up your underwear, and you’re telling me about your character. Put up a sign disparaging fat people, and you’re telling me something about your character.

          As to your point about how what I said “could be” construed as racist, I addressed that: It’s an unequivocally stupid construal. I’m stumped by the notion that an intelligent, rational person would actually think that someone who doesn’t like seeing someone’s underwear is motivated by classism or racism, as if a preference for not-seeing stranger’s undergarments is inherent to class and race. It’s a preference that crosses time (see Cicero’s rant about some guy giving a speech bare chested) and race and culture and generations: black white, Asian, Hispanic, young or old, rich or poor, all of them share my take.

          I had a coworker at a restaurant once who was an old black woman who would threaten the guys who dressed that way. She would threaten to put her hands in their pants if they didn’t pull them up. I guess she got away with that because she was old, tall, and strong. Make a case for why this is hatred is based on accident of birth and I will withdraw my claim that it would be stupid for someone to claim it’s “racist/classist.”

          1. Heather*

            You said that you’re not basing your opinion on classism, but you said in your previous post that it’s extremely rare to find people wearing saggy pants “who are literate, articulate, capable of showing up for work on time and haven’t been in and out of jail.” I don’t think you’ve got the Martha’s Vineyard set in mind there, so it sounds pretty class-based to me.

          2. Forrest*

            I’m stumped about how the length of someone’s skirt says anythign about their self respect.

            If anything, one might think that the shorter the skirt the less fucks someone gives about what others think of them and thus doesn’t spend their time trying to define their self respect on the bases of someone else’s character.

            A person’s clothing says nothing about their self respect. There are women who lack self respect and cover themselves up because they’re ashamed of themselves. There’s are women like the lawyer BCW mentioned that wear short skirts and have great self respect because they know their self worth isn’t based on what other people think of them.

            You’re bringing your own viewpoints and using them to define people. Which is totally your right, but you thinking women in shorter skirts or men in baggy pants have low self respect is no better than OP#2 who thinks fat women can’t jump.

            Again: The men wearing suits who ran Eron and stole money from many hard working people are certainly not of better character than guys like Justin Bieber who supports numerous philanthropies.

            And just to be clear for everyone else: I get not wanting to see someone else’s underwear. I don’t get deciding you know anything about a person from a flash of underwear other than they need a belt.

          3. Forrest*

            While I’m waiting for my comment to get out moderator, I have to know what people are suppose to do wtih the story of sexual harassment you end on there? Are people supposed to fall down and say “well of course this has nothing to do with racism since Escritora was able to talk about a black woman who hated it!” instead of being in disbelief that a woman was allowed to threaten and sexually harass men because she was old, tall and strong?

        2. ThursdaysGeek*

          I’ve met several of those four-leaf clovers: teens in our church youth group who go through the saggy pants phase. I give them a hard time about seeing their underwear, but they are good guys, literate, hard workers who I expect will grow up to hold jobs and stay out of jail. It’s a dumb style, but for teens I know, that’s all it is — a style. And dumb is just my opinion about that style, but the teens themselves? They are great kids, no matter how they wear their pants, and that’s not just my opinion.

          1. Jamie*

            Yep – I have one at home. And he’s better be able to hold a job and stay out of jail because I don’t even like mingling with strangers in my real life…can you see me in a prison waiting room? I’d be the one covered in bubble wrap and slathered with antibacterial lotion trying not to touch anything.

            It’s just a phase and it’s all of them. He’s a skater – it’s a uniform: 203 inches of boxer showing, jeans, wide belt, Vans, T-shirt. I drive home from work and see half a dozen just like him – hate to admit that sometimes it’s hard to tell which one is mine at a distance.

            So while I do wish he’d hitch up the pants, he’s a great kid – he’s honest and decent – I think I’ll keep him.

    2. P*

      I agree with all but the saggy pants. A sticker that explicitly states your terrible opinion is very different from wearing an article of clothing that states, well, nothing besides that you liked the way it looked. As a smart, competent person with a tattoo I wonder what other traits you’re incorrectly judging.

        1. P*

          What? I don’t identify tattoos OR sagging pants with prison culture; I didn’t mention prison culture at all.

          I mentioned tattoos because they’re another aesthetic choice that people often judge: that someone with a tattoo is a loser, or uneducated, or whatever other assumptions you might make.

          Aesthetic choices like these have literally nothing to do with how smart or capable or hard working a person is, nor do they convey any specific opinion or character trait.

    3. Jamie*

      So, number 2, is there something you gain from giving people a quick and easy way to dismiss you as a cretin?

      I don’t know what he gets out of it – but the world gains something. Back when I was dating I used to wish men came with warning labels…and now that my daughter is out there I wish for this even more. I think it’s a public service that he’s allowing decent women to self-select out of involvement with him.

  40. Jessa*

    Alison I’m going to call you on number 1. In the past you have clearly said that sometimes when people “take on the duties of another position, particularly a manager,” what they are actually doing “are the day to day necessary things to keep the place going,” and NOT, “the actual business of managing and all the detail work that goes with that true job.” It’s one thing if you’re doing your own work and the reports the manager does, it’s different if you’re managing the department, determining priorities, setting goals, managing and growing employees, etc.

    What OP1 needs to do is figure out what it REALLY was that manager did all day besides the bits and bobs that got dropped in their lap when the job was empty. Because if that was ALL they did, they didn’t NEED a manager. Nor did they need to replace the OP with someone else.

    1. Jessa*

      Oh FYI those quotes are paraphrases of prior comments, but kind of the way I read what you said in the past.

      1. Jessa*

        And now I’m gonna eat my words because I presumed x was a manager role and reading on it might NOT be, you can whap me with something now Alison.

  41. Anonicorn*

    Regarding #3:

    I work in an environment where anything less than extremely professional is not acceptable.

    I’m confused about how an employer can be “extremely professional” but would potentially discriminate against an employee with a medical condition.

    1. Jessa*

      Boss – Employee we need you to take training x to keep your job. It is a requirement of the job.

      Employee A- Boss I cannot take x because of y medical reason.

      Boss – Employee we can spend up to $5000 on reasonable accommodations to assist you in being able to do x, what can we do for you to help you do x?

      Employee A- Boss I cannot do x.

      Boss – X is a major requirement of the job, we’re sorry.

      That’s how. Just because an employee has a medical condition does not mean they are not required to perform the basic job duties.

      I have many as I’m sure long time readers know. I was in a job where a minor (5 minute part of an 8-10 hour day) part of the job involved lifting a large box (once to bring it near my desk and once to put it back, and once in a blue moon bringing out a second box, but rarely.) I cannot lift large boxes. The reasonable accommodation was someone else was tasked to bring my box with theirs. When they complained the boss explained that I cannot lift due to an injury. I gave permission for them to explain this. Reasonable, free to the company I did the other 95% of the job. And I occasionally brought cookys or something nice for the people that assisted by moving the extra boxes, or stayed late to cover for them if they had to leave, or in other ways “paid back” the help.

      If however my job was to move boxes, and I got injured after having been DOING the job for awhile and the company had no other jobs that did not involve moving boxes then I would have lost my job. They do not have to invent a job I can do nor accommodate 95% of my work. On the other hand if they had forklifts, I could have asked them to accommodate me by getting me a lift licence and not having me lift by hand. And if that was reasonable (they had openings and this was not a crazy expensive process,) they could do that.

      1. Anonicorn*

        I understand the training situation. It’s pretty common that training is only offered in one location. But it’s this part…

        I have not told my management of this problem because doing so could directly affect my employment (even though it is not supposed to).

        …that seems unrelated to this particular training situation. I probably should have included that before, and maybe I’m misunderstanding.

        1. Laura*

          Disclosing that you *have* a medical condition that means you can’t do X doesn’t necessarily = disclosing what the condition *is*. For instance, I have ADA accommodation for a medical condition. None of the materials I submitted to my employer to receive the accommodation mention the nature of the condition, just the activities it limits. Additionally, I have a little card from the gov’t that goes with my handicap placard which says only that it’s a disabled person ID and not what the nature of the disability is.

          OP #3, I recommend asking your dr. for a letter (you may need to draft something so they know what you need) that just says, “OP #3 has a medical condition that requires she not be away from home for more than 96 consecutive hours [or whatever works for you].” If accommodations could be made but the nature would give away information you’re not comfortable disclosing to your employer (like the dialysis, for example, or chemo treatments, or whatever), just add “without medical approval” to the end.

          If the issue is that *any* ongoing medical problem will cause issues for you at work, then I’d say you have a different problem with the company.

    2. KellyK*

      I didn’t think it was the *employer* who was extremely professional, but that that was what was expected of employees. And that “don’t have a personal life or medical issues that may ever inconvenience the company” was an implicit part of their definition of professional.

  42. Kate*

    #2 seems to be this morning’s hot topic, so I’ll add my opinion to the mix. I think the fact that there were complaints to HR is telling. When I worked in manufacturing, occasionally someone would sport a tasteless/offensive bumper sticker on their car. Most folks would see it, figure out whose vehicle it was, shrug, and move on, maybe passing a comment about it. I think most people would think that it’s tasteless/offensive , but not necessarily motivated to complain. UNLESS, the person with the sticker was disliked for some other reason or combination of reasons. If he’s been a jerky co-worker ( and something tells me this guy might be one) I’m sure people wouldn’t hesitate to complain, if only out of spite and revenge.
    I’ve actually seen this happen over a t-shirt worn by someone. It was offensive, he was warned about it more than once and he ended getting fired because he refused to not wear it to work. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief, because he was THAT guy.
    Also, I don’t know how old the poster is, but in a pissing contest with HR, you ain’t gonna win!

  43. The Other Dawn*

    “I am waiting on what will be decided but what do you think I can expect?”

    I think OP can expect to come out of his house or job one day and find his truck trashed. What a tool.

    1. some1*

      Big windshield decals are illegal in a lot of states. I want him to get pulled over by a female cop.

      1. Chinook*

        If fate has a sense of humour, the female cop will have a larger bone structure than average and yet be very fit (i.e. think peasant farmer who can throw a cow over shoulder large not a steady diet of dougnuts and ice cream large).

        1. anonymouse*

          For the record, not everyone who is overweight has a steady diet of doughnuts and ice cream.

          1. KellyK*


            And the flip side, not everyone who has a steady diet of doughnuts and ice cream is fat.

            1. Jamie*

              Ha – this. My size 4 daughter lives on a steady stream of oreos, milkshakes, and candy and has never had to watch her diet in her life.

              My mom lived primarily on junk food and candy and was always 10 lbs or so underweight…but she couldn’t gain no matter what she ate and she ate a LOT.

              Don’t even get me started on my sons and brother, none of whom have more than a 30 inch waist all of whom eat whatever they damn well please.

              Now I’m resentful of my own family – stupid DNA skinny gene bypassing me out of spite. Ugh.

          2. Chinook*

            I agree that diet is not always the cause of being larger than avergae which is why I stated larger bone structure than average and yet be very fit (i.e. think peasant farmer who can throw a cow over shoulder large…

            I was wanting to create humour by having somone who is healthy and large be the one to rain karma down on him in the form of many, many tickets (because there is almost always something that can be found if the cop looks hard enough). And, if not, she can definitely take her sweet time checking to ensure that the window sticker doesn’t block his view in any way, shape or form.

            Bonus karma points would be when she gracefully leaps into his truck to ensure he can see out from inside.

            1. KellyK*

              I liked your joke, mostly. I love the idea of karma in the form of a heavy female police officer.

              But the way you phrased it really strongly implied that fat only and always means “lives on donuts.” That’s why I used “fat” rather than “large” to make it clear that I wasn’t talking about bone structure, but actual adipose tissue. It’s not just that people have different frame sizes, but that there’s more than diet and exercise that affects the amount of fat you have on your body. (Genetics, medications, illnesses, fast or slow metabolism, previous diets, etc. etc. etc.) There are fat athletes and thin couch potatoes; there are fat vegans and thin junk-food junkies. (The reverse of all of those is true too.)

              Not trying to pick on you, because it’s a total side note in this conversation, and the joke was funny. It’s just a stereotype I’m not terribly fond of.

    2. BCW*

      Yeah, he’s been called every name in the book. Why would he want to do that and just open himself up to more piling on? I’ve gotten piled on even after I said I didn’t agree with what he said, but agree that he has a right to do what he wants with his property. He’d be crazy or super ballsy to comment on here.

      1. Forrest*

        You realize by using phrases like “piling on” you’re not really keeping to your theory of individual rights, right?

        You have the freedom and the right to state your opinion, others have the freedom and the right to respond. And each independent response to your initial comment brings up different viewpoints.

        You don’t get to come here and state your peace without people replying to it. You just don’t and its problematic that you refer to people interacting like that as piling on.

        1. BCW*

          Forrest, you have made it crystal clear that you don’t like anything I post, which is totally fine. And trust me, I can take anything you can throw at me. But if you could read into my point and not just see that “BCW commented, time for me to say something else” you’d see that I was giving reasons why the poster probably would not come on here.

          As for the piling on comment, its you aren’t a fan of my choice of words here. But my comments on this thread seems to have gotten some heated responses, many from you.

          So yes, I believe is this guy did come on here and even try to say anything, he’d be insulted some more. So again, why would he come on, which was the original point of this post? Oh yeah, you didn’t actually address what I was commenting about, you just decided to attack my POV again.

          1. Forrest*

            I read your comment, and I didn’t disagree with it. And no, I don’t disagree with everything you post. I do find some of it to be problematic and short sighted yes so that’s why I response.

            But with a lot of your “woe is me” comments like this one and others you’ve made before, you seem very upset that people reply to your comments with disagreement. I appericate you for speaking your often minority opinions but I just shake my head when you get so upset when people don’t agree with them or they spark a large discussion. (Especially when you know its most likely going to be unpopular!) And then you characterize well written/thought out comments as “piling on”?

            1. BCW*

              I’m not a woe is me person at all. In fact, when people make good points, even if they are against what I said, I will acknowledge that. I don’t mean piling on in a way like I can’t take it. But I do mean it in a way where when I do disagree, people often twist what I say around to make me sound like something I’m not, then it turns into me not defending my point of view, but my character. I actually like these discussions, because a lot of the time, the opinions are far from my own, so its nice to understand where people are coming from. But, on occasion I do feel that when I express where I’m coming from, and I have a dissenting opinion, its met with “well your experiences are no more valid than mine” when thats not what I was saying at all.

              So maybe that wasn’t the best choice of words. When it comes to this point though, yes, people on here completely attacked this guys character, which I don’t find to ever be a useful thing to do if you are trying to teach someone why their actions were wrong. Which I’ll reiterate, I do think his actions were wrong.

              1. Forrest*

                For what its worth, I didn’t think you were identifying with or defending the OP#2’s stance.

            2. fposte*

              I disagree with BCW a lot, and I don’t think he tends to sound upset at being disagreed with. I also think that piling on is a fair characterization of the response in this post–I mean, if a cascade of 300 people saying that your question makes you sound like a moron isn’t piling in, I’m not sure what would fit the term. I’m not seeing it as a grave injustice in this case, but I would agree that it’s not something that would make an OP come back.

  44. Leslie Yep*

    OP 4, I work at an organization that is somewhat controversial in our sphere. I always really appreciate it when I interview candidates who ask about that controversy to understand what it would be like to work here. We have a reputation for having drunk the Kool-Aid, but in all honestly, one of my favorite things about my job is how thoughtful, introspective, and critical all my colleagues are–we constantly ask ourselves if we’re doing the right thing, and although we mostly answer yes, there are completely reasonable people who would answer no.

    So when a candidate acknowledges that there are many different opinions about our work, it says to me: This person takes this issue seriously, they know how to listen respectfully to people who fundamentally disagree, and they won’t get here and be shocked by the fact that we need to be smart, critical stewards of our mission (kind of often).

    You’ll of course want to consider the vibe of the particular workplace. But I imagine that if they find it really shady that you would want to walk in with eyes open about their current challenges, you might actually not want to work there!

    1. Anonymous*

      Do you work in the education world? My organization – a large education nonprofit – could be described in much the same way.

      1. Leslie Yep*

        Sure do! In our world there are actually a few of us given the often odd bed-fellows of the education reform movement.

          1. SameAnonymousAsAbove*

            Absolutely. I work in leadership development in the ed reform movement; our opponents always accuse us of being conservative/corporate/etc. If only they knew – literally every young person I work with is a liberal Democrat who disagrees with their party on just this one thing.

  45. TRB*

    #1 – I feel like this could be my manager. I was brought on in a junior role to help and I think he’s bored now that I took over the duties he was swamped with. I’m also in the position to move up to near his level (I’d still technically report to him. But also, this isn’t a typical manager role. It’s more like he knows more than I do about the industry so he’s teaching me what to do but then I take it from there. Maybe call it my extended trainer?). That said, I will be in his and your situation very soon and I think I’d agree with Alison’s advice. Keep creating projects for yourself within reason and slowly take on the skills and miniprojects of the position above. Also, suggesting new ideas or more efficient processes can help as well.

    Apologies if I’m redundant, I skimmed over the comments due to the #2 sticker craze.

  46. Anon*

    #2….. I’m really confused. I’m a pretty darn hefty girl and have never had an issue getting into any large vehicle… including raised trucks, large vans etc. If anything, I have an easier time because my legs are stronger after having to carry all this darn weight around.

    Just lost as to why this sticker makes any kind of sense at all.

    1. some1*

      Nice call. Though in fairness, plenty of common sexist phrases don’t make sense. I’m thinking of the always-classy “If you can read this, the b*tch fell off” t-shirts that get marketed to motorcycle guys.

  47. Anonymous*

    I was just wondering whether I’d really been unforgivably profligate spending $150 on a Nook tablet. #2 must be my sign from above.

      1. Pussyfooter*

        + A MILLION!!!!!
        Is B&N *trying* to immolate itself, or what?!
        I want to work in a bookstore and love illustration and the biggest brick and mortar business around keeps undercutting its attractive aspects to go after crazy marketing targets!
        So frustrating :'(

  48. Tracy*

    Letter writer #2 is a troll, isn’t he? Please say he is. I hate to think such an ass could be employed when there are so many folks out there looking for a job.

    1. Brightwanderer*

      Ha, if ever there was an AAM post that deserved the That Bad Advice treatment, this is the one. :D

    2. Natalie*

      Aw, sweet! Every time there is a messed up letter here, I’ve been waiting for That Bad Advice to answer it.

  49. Brton3*

    To #6 – My last position was the first time I had an assistant and my biggest challenge in being a manager was not oversharing my anxieties with her. My job was extremely difficult, with unrealistic expectations and goals, taking on other people’s jobs when they left, and dealing with a theatrically abusive boss. I think I shielded my assistant from these problems, and I know she loved her job and really liked me as a manager. But keeping my troubles bottled up when I was working with her was REALLY hard.

  50. Not So NewReader*

    So OP 2, you have not come back on the blog. Just as fposte and others predicted. It didn’t just rain here, it was a monsoon. Makes you want to walk away from us, right?
    And that is what your bumper sticker does to other people. They just want to walk away from you.

    Right now the biggest issue you face is your failure to follow your boss’ instructions. This is similar to you are out driving, suddenly a police car turns its lights on. You decide not to pull over- after all, you are certain you did nothing wrong. So you keep driving.
    Now you have two charges against you- the first charge which might be debatable and the second charge which is NOT debatable. You will be charged for evading an officer. You have just gone from molehill to mountain in one quick step. Likewise here, molehill to mountain via one bumper sticker.
    I think your silence caused the pile-on to triple. I hope your silence means you are thinking this over and/or having that bumper sticker removed.

    1. Pussyfooter*

      …..or it was a troll who thinks it has brilliantly tricked us all (snickering under it’s bridge)…..never mind that we can know it’s a troll and still speak to the issue raised.

      (Really, NotSoNew? I’d have expected the thread to grow if the poster chimed in? You think the opposite. Hmmmm)

  51. E*

    BCW. Thank you for saying you would remain calm and rational if you saw an offensive sticker. You set a good example. I too would just ignore an offensive sticker. I actually have seen offensive stickers on cars in the work lot. I just figure if people want yo let the world know they are hateful people, I appreciate the warning. I will sure to stay away from jerks like that. I personally do find that sticker offensive. I do think OP 2 is a jerk and an idiot. The manager should write him up. Then the next time he does something, which will probably be the next day, write him up again. Third time he screws up, then he’s gone. People like that always end up committing other offenses. He will end up creating a situation that he cannot escape from. What the manager could do is have a talk/speech in front of all employees discussing how it is improper to have offensive items in the workplace and specifically mention “such as stickers on vehicles” but not mentioning OP by name. Everyone will know who it is. Everyone will know management is aware. Once other employees see eyes are on OP, then they will rush to report any other improper actions to management. Then when OP eventually gets fired for his next bad decisions, which won’t take long, OP could not say he wasn’t warned (in front of witnesses), the other employees will see management was “forced” to do it. OP will have been given 3 chances. Management will look reasonable, and in case of a lawsuit, they have written warnings, plus witnesses who can testify that all were told they shouldn’t have offensive stickers. No need to fire immediately, just take steps towards it. The OP will probably screw up again and quickly.

    1. RP*

      “Once other employees see eyes are on OP, then they will rush to report any other improper actions to management. Then when OP eventually gets fired for his next bad decisions, which won’t take long, OP could not say he wasn’t warned…”

      That is wonderfully cunning! You’re right, if he is willing to get fired over a sticker then he is definitely doing or will eventually do something else stupid and against company policy.

  52. Bystander*

    4. Can I bring up my concerns about a company in an interview? Politely ask and see what the company has to say. Better to ask questions before you are hired instead of finding out the hard way later. Lots of companies have turnover for many reasons – not all their fault, but it does not make one feel comfortable. Do you know anyone in the company or have connections with reliable people that do? If so, ask them too.

  53. Bystander*

    1. I got promoted and now have less work to do! Congrats on getting a promotion. It is hard to retrain yourself after being a workaholic to do less – but do you need to do less or can you do an even better quality job now that you have more time to do it ? Are there any other “X”s around that you can confer with ? I agree with AAM – be creative and create jobs.

  54. Frankie*

    I realize this comment isn’t at all constructive, but #2’s ex is better off! She dodged a bullet with that one.

  55. CrabbyK*

    While I think having an offensive sticker on his truck was in bad taste, I support that guy’s First Amendment rights. I don’t have to like what he was saying, and I think his offer to cover up the sticker after HR talked to him was the right choice. It did not need to be elevated beyond that.

    Consider the larger framework here, folks. It may start as a restriction on an offensive bumper sticker, but what’s next? Being asked to remove a bumper sticker because someone at work doesn’t like the candidate you support? “Offensive” is hard to define and could easily lead to censorship or worse.

    1. Jamie*

      First Amendment rights protect you from the government censoring your speech – it’s not immunity to say whatever you want without consequences.

      His first amendments rights weren’t violated.

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