5 more reader updates

Here are five more reader updates.

1. The corporate chaplain who was roaming the office praying

I am not sure if something was said to him or not but he hasn’t been really initiating conversation lately. He still comes around about once a week and passes out scripture cards (which is awkward in itself) but I don’t feel as though he is going to back me into a corner, anymore.

I liked your advice that perhaps this company’s culture isn’t a fit for me and I agree it isn’t. Unfortunately, I live in a very small town and my career options are limited to say the least.

2. The reader whose male coworkers expected her to answer the phone, order supplies, order lunch, etc.

As for an update on this issue, well, it’s an interesting one. I’ve taken the issue straight to the lunchroom, and chose to bring awareness about it using humor. It seems to have worked. And now I field any inquiries of this kind with, “I have no clue, but when you find out I’d like to know too!”

I actually had an opportunity to tell a workmate’s wife about it, and I joked about how her husband had asked me where the cleaning supplies are kept. We began laughing and joking about it, and she took the opportunity to rib him about where they keep the supplies at home. Everyone seemed to have a similar funny story to share about their domestic responsibilities and the different roles we all play and who is accountable for what…and as a result we all know that our supplies are kept under the sink in the kitchen. It was easy to joke about so it really broke the ice.

There is still one woman here who really plays into her role as everyone’s mother and office frau. She would do the dishes and clean up after all of us full-time if we let her. But what can ya do! Not everyone subscribes to the plight of the female in a male-dominated environment.

More interestingly, is that morale is so low at the office right now and the manager’s have all but checked out from the human side of management. In fact, our Cultural Leader (read: head honcho) actually told us all that karma is the new manager. More on this as it unfolds…

3. The reader who hadn’t heard back from her internship about a start date (#3 at the link)

As it turned out, they didn’t expect that the fall semester is starting so early (most elementary/high schools started the week after my college, and the state university in town didn’t kick off for another two and a half weeks). They were kind enough to rush the background check for me, so I could start on the first day of the semester.

After some background check and training adventures, an office move (thankfully only across the hall), and lots of interesting projects, my chief attorney mentioned that I should apply for the first permanent position that comes open, so that they can keep me on board! I’m really excited about the opportunity, and I hope that an opening will come up soon. Oh, and to those who dissed my notion of “dream job” — this position ended up being even better than I imagined. Sometimes dreams may just come true, I guess — I hope it happens for y’all, too!

4. The boss who kept making out with his girlfriend at work

Well as it stands, nothing has changed. I had a second conversation with the GM, he acknowledged that it should have been addressed but did nothing about it again. Then I decided to just go to the source and have a one on one conversation with him. It actually started out as a more casual conversation, then I mentioned how we are uncomfortable going into his office when she is always there and he stated he did not want to make us uncomfortable and acknowledged that she often overstays her welcome. However, since then she has been in there just as much as ever. When I walk past the office and she’s there (which is almost always), I just keep walking. Ignoring it seems to be the only way to make it go away. There has been talk around the office about bringing this up to someone higher on the food chain, but I think the general feeling is it just doesn’t seem worth it.

5. The reader who had a bad gut feeling about a job

As I think I mentioned in the comments on my original question, they made me an offer within hours of the interview, which in this context was another red flag rather than a good thing. I decided not to take the position; I think they were somewhat taken aback but no one interrogated me or made things awkward. I was able to frame it, both to them and to the person who’d recommended me, as an issue with skill fit.

Sadly, as is so often the way, as I had no further contact with them, I can’t say for sure if I was right about the red flags. I can say that I didn’t regret that choice at any point after making it, even though, as it turned out, I was then out of work for six months. I was lucky enough to be financialy secure for that time – in fact, I was able to be a bit more picky about applying, which probably lengthened the time span – and I took on some volunteering projects and freelance work that I geniunely enjoyed. The time off was really good for my mental health, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I’m happy to report that I have now just started at a new job on a year’s contract.

As an aside, having been at the new job for two weeks, I am currently kind of terrified out of my mind because there are so many things to do and remember and be responsible for, and I have crippling imposter syndrome, and a part of me wants to run for the hills – but it’s a totally different feeling from the “no, no, this is a terrible idea” reaction I had on that other occasion. It makes me want to square up and beat the terror into submission rather than give in to it. :)

{ 35 comments… read them below }

  1. thenoiseinspace*

    #4 – I empathize with our situation – it’s always awkward. And while I wouldn’t actually do this, I’d be tempted to frame a large picture of of her and hang it on the wall with the caption “Not-Quite-Employee of the Month” or something. Just to see if she’d get the hint.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          It was the “Cultural Leader” that threw me. What’s that supposed to mean? Person in charge of organising trips to the Opera and Ballet?

    1. tcookson*

      I am dying to find out how karma is as a manager . . . now we will need updates on the update, please!

  2. Bluemeeple*

    #4 – “Ignore it and it will go away” is wishful thinking, especially in cases like this. Ignore it and they will think nothing’s wrong and just keep at it. Ew.

    Back in high school – which is the last time I regularly had to walk into a room where people were making out – I always asked a friend to come with me for moral support. Perhaps whenever someone needs to speak to the boss, you can go in pairs? And also ask her to leave during the conversation, as others suggested? Maybe if this happened often enough, he would get the picture. If nothing else, you’d be able to talk to him about work matters when you need to.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I agree. And I think […]and acknowledged that she often overstays her welcome. means he knows it’s not what he should be doing. He just either doesn’t care or doesn’t have the balls to do anything about it, perhaps for fear of upsetting the new girlfiend.

      No, fiend was not a typo. Anyone who would make out with her bf in his office, in front of his employees, clearly has no sense of decorum.

  3. nyxalinth*

    #3 Keep us apprised if we continue to be wrong about that! It’s good to know you found something that you really love.

  4. LizNYC*

    #4 I know I’m being snarky, but the next time I needed to speak to the guy, my email would probably start out with “When you come up for air, I’d like to discuss…”

  5. Ruffingit*

    #5: So important to listen to gut feelings. I would have saved myself quite a bit of trouble if I’d done that with some jobs. I can still remember filling out the paperwork for a job and thinking “I don’t want to do this, I don’t want to be here.” I ended up leaving that job 6 weeks later, it was a cesspool of total dysfunction. Had I listened to my gut, I could have saved myself that trouble. On the plus side, I did end up making a very good friend there and she’s still a friend to this day so silver lining. But as a general rule, yes listen to your gut instincts!

    1. Pamela*

      I wished I listened to my gut instincts when I took this job I have now. The interviewer was the manager of the department and he criticized my resume content unfairly and bad-mouthed other people in the company. They also called me within an hour of my interview to offer me the job. I should’ve listened to my instincts that said not to take the job, but I was blinded by the salary amount.

      He criticizes me unfairly, is an over-sharer, and an all-around jerk. Not a lot of people here like him…I’m slowly finding out. So, it’s nice to not feel alone in that viewpoint at least.

      No matter how nice your coworkers are or how much you like a job, a bad manager can make it not worthwhile.

      I wish I could quit. I have to endure bi-weekly performance reviews with him and I am breaking out in hives after every one because of the stress and anxiety of his criticisms. I am seeking work elsewhere, but I live in a area that is primarily manufacturing and I would have to commute up to an hour+ away just to get a similar paying position – or even just a similar position in my field. It’s starting to feel like the commute would not be a hardship after having this job…

  6. PPK*

    OP#4 Could you try an alternate route of having her step out of the office whenever you need to discuss work? It’s still a pain, but it might drive her away or drive the point home to boss that he has to kick her out.

    For example, come into his office “I’m sorry, this is company confidential” and then wait until the girlfriend leaves. If she doesn’t take the hint, then “I don’t feel comfortable discussing this with people outside the company.” Wait. If she doesn’t leave or he doesn’t ask her to leave, follow up with that you’ll come back later.

  7. Anonymous*

    #3, I’m really glad that all of this worked out. I would like to say that the urge to drive people away from using terms like “dream job” is often out of caution more than jealousy or scorn. Alison’s already covered this very well before (https://www.askamanager.org/2013/01/stop-thinking-youre-applying-for-your-dream-job.html)- your experience is phenomenal, very exciting, and also absolutely not the norm. I don’t think anyone was dissing you- I think they were urging caution and care.

    1. Dan*

      Yup. I applied for my dream job about five years ago, and was even called for an interview. I was ecstatic. Until I showed up onsite and everybody looked like they’d rather be elsewhere. So much for the dream job! They didn’t extend me an offer either.

      But I landed at a company that I’m generally very happy with, and is 100x better than my “dream” job. Admittedly, we’re going through some tough times (laid off 10% of our workforce in the last year) so it’s not pie-in-the-sky dreamy anymore.

      I have a job that I’m really happy with, get paid nicely and am treated well. Is it perfect? Heck no. And that’s where the caution comes in. There’s no sense in building up for a big let down.

    2. FD*

      It’s the same reason I get really wary when people talk about their SOs as a ‘perfect boyfriend/girlfriend.’ You figure there has to be some rose colored glasses there.

      1. Anonymous*

        I’m with you there. Optimism is very endearing, but it’s also a barrier to seeing potential red flags.

        1. Gjest*

          I think it depends on how you define “dream.” Personally, sometimes my dreams are good, sometimes fun, sometimes weird, and sometimes scary. So yeah, I am working at my “dream job” right now.

    3. VictoriaHR*

      Agreed. Absolutely nothing is perfect. OP #3 will find out eventually something that’s not-so-perfect about his/her dream job. Perhaps he/she already knows something that’s less than perfect but is choosing to see it as so minor that it’s not worth mentioning (i.e. maybe the toilet paper runs out too often in the restroom, or someone occasionally steals soda from the break fridge, or they require you to use PTO if your kid is sick instead of flexing it/coming in early to make it up)

      1. Nusy*

        There are many things that are less than perfect, true… Some attorneys are overloaded, yet have the attention span of a moth; some of the clerical staff is prone to mood swings; I feel personally terrible for the amount of trees I murder daily with the waste of paper; and recently, my office was moved across the suite, away from my attorneys, and I still don’t have a phone in my new place.

        On the other hand, the kind of work I do, and the people I work with are just amazing. I’m still interning for no pay, but – county bureaucracy willing – we plan to transition my internship into a paid position once the semester is over.

        I never thought of “dream job” as something where everything is just perfect, nothing ever goes wrong, and your sodas are respected in the fridge; but rather as something where I do what I enjoy, with people I enjoy being surrounded by, and things don’t hit the fan at every other second – and this job is true to those criteria so far!

    1. Trillian*

      Shame a memo can’t go around announcing the installation of a new security system with CCTV. Maybe you could arrange to leave an article or two on hidden surveillance in workplaces lying around. Or, alternatively, the chaplain from #1 could make a visit …

      1. Ruffingit*

        LOL at chaplain making a visit :) Seriously, if we could combine some of the letters, we could solve nearly all the workplace problems.

  8. E.R.*

    #5 Just sending some empathy on the new job imposter syndrome. I’m 9 months into a new job and just starting to come out on the other side of that, so I know how intense it is when you’re in it – hang in there!

  9. tango*

    OP #4, it seems to me that it’s your bosses job to tell his girlfriend to leave. He won’t. Maybe because she sounds very very needy if she needs to hang out at his job all the time verses having a life/interests of her own until he gets off work. As such, he probably gives in since it’s so much easier than dealing with her insecurity and whatever else after duty hours. I kinda feel sorry for the guy. Number 1 that he’s such a wuss and number 2 that he’s got that kind of girlfriend who doesn’t realize what she is doing is so wrong and/or is so needy that she doesn’t care. And since you can’t get rid of her, I’d try as best as possible to see some sort of snarky humor in the whole situation. And sorry, I don’t think anything will change until his boss make it so.

    1. tcookson*

      And doesn’t the initial thrill of constant kissing wear off at some point??! It seems like it would just taper off by itself, eventually. Apparently not “eventually” enough, though.

      1. Jamie*

        Thank you for saying this because if being this infatuated indefinitely is normal then I really need to reevaluate my marriage.

        Don’t get me wrong, I love him…but I have no desire to hang out with him at work smooching all day. I have things to do.

  10. JenTheNiceHRGirl*

    It was great getting an update on #2. I was curious how that one would turn out and I am glad that the situation seems to be improving. This reminds me of a company I worked for several years ago. My boss was the biggest offender of treating any random female as if they were his personal assistant/cleaning person. Once day we had our new, female VP visiting from our out of state corporate office. He didn’t recognize her, assumed she was a temp, and when he saw her in the hallway he handed her an envelope and said “I need you to overnight this for me… and walked away!!”. The VP just stood there all confused… then she looks at me and says “who the hell was that?”

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