my boss holds it against me that I cried 6 years ago, asking to sit in on interviews, and more

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

1. My coworker won’t let me get involved with work that my boss told me to do

My boss decided that I should be a part of the social media team. Like I always do, I learned as much as I could on how my organization uses social media and checked out all the guidelines. I realized some of the stuff we’re doing and posting doesn’t exactly go with my organization’s guidelines. I set up an informal meeting with my coworker who leads up the social media team to discuss this. I even brought a print-out so she could review it. She shut me down and shut me out. Since then, she’s been pretty chilly toward me. She continues to do whatever she likes. In front of our colleagues, she appears receptive to my ideas but when its the two of us, she could care less.

Going to my boss isn’t an option, as she has a very hands-off approach. She doesn’t do conflict management. (My coworker probably doesn’t know what my role is supposed to be, since my boss isn’t one for giving directions of any kind.) How do I handle being shut out by a coworker for a team project?

Well, yeah, if your coworker doesn’t know that your boss has asked you to work on this, it’s not surprising that she didn’t react well to you sitting her down and telling her what she should do differently in work that — as far as she knows — you’re not involved in. Ideally, you would have started off differently — by telling her that your boss has asked you to work on social media with her and asking how you can best become involved.

At this point, I think you need to go back to her, apologize for not giving her the full context earlier, and explaining what your boss has asked you to do. If you continue to encounter resistance, then you’d need to go back to your boss, explain the situation and ask for advice on how to proceed. (And I hear you about your boss, but she needs to know that there’s an obstacle in the way of the work she’s assigned you.)

2. Can I ask to sit in on my employer’s interviews?

I’m 24 years old and have been working for one and a half years in my current career. After graduation, I went to my first job interview and they hired me. I had no chance to do any interviews after my first. I know I’m a little bit lucky, but the problem is that I have a phobia about interviews, and I really don’t have any idea how I passed my first one!

My office is in front of my department head’s office, and I noticed that they are doing interviews monthly. I really want to ask him if it is possible to attend the interviews with them as interviewer, without mentioning the reason behind that. I want to attend many interviews to try to get over my phobia. Can I do something like that? I know he will ask me for a reason but I don’t want to tell him the truth!

Nope, you can’t really ask to sit in on interviews when it’s not your job without explaining why.

But even with an explanation, I wouldn’t ask. If interviewing isn’t your job, your employer is unlikely to want you to spend work time in interviews (particularly in order to increase your skills at interviewing with other employers!). Plus, sitting in on interviews is a semi-big deal; it changes the dynamic with the candidate to have another person present (and candidates will likely direct some of their questions to you, etc.). A better bet would be to practice interviewing with a friend or relative (ideally one with some experience conducting interviews, but that’s not essential).

3. Why won’t the company I’m temping for hire me on as an employee?

I was hired through a staffing agency at a big corporate about nine months ago. My main duties were data entry (writing copy and inserting new products into a database). Soon, I found out that there were many really old, repetitive, and time-consuming processes that took multiple people hours to complete. Because of my background in programming, I was able to automate these tasks to take minutes or even seconds.

But seeing as it is nine, almost ten months in and their workload doesn’t seem to be slowing any time soon, it is kind of disheartening that I haven’t been hired on full-time yet. As a temp, I don’t get benefits or an employee discount, and I don’t get to go to company events and conventions. I know I have added great value to the company, yet they are keeping me on as a temp. I haven’t been compensated, nor have I asked for any, for any of the extra programming-related work I have done. I thought maybe if I did something special and out of my way they that would think I was worth being hired full-time. I am to the point where I have decided to not offer to do any programming or go out of my way anymore because it doesn’t feel like it is appreciated. I have even been told by a coworker that it costs more for them to pay the staffing company than it would to pay me benefits and a higher wage. What’s up with that?

It’s possible that they haven’t hired you full-time because they’re not convinced there’s a long-term need to hire someone full-time for the work you’re doing — particularly when they can fill the need just fine with a temp (and not pay benefits or deal with the hassles that employees bring that temps don’t). It’s also possible that only the second part of the sentence is true: that they’re planning on permatemps, as many companies do. Either way, they don’t feel there’s sufficient incentive for them to take on the costs of making you permanent. That might be a legitimate business decision or it might not be, but it’s hard to judge unless you have the full set of business facts that only they have.

Regardless, though, why not (a) talk explicitly to someone there in a position of authority about your interest in being hired on, if you haven’t already and (b) start actively searching for something else since you’re not getting what you want from them?

4. My boss suggested I take a three-day weekend, but I didn’t know it would come out of my leave balance

In the accounting industry, many firms offer assistance to accountants who are CPA candidates. It is common to pay for study materials and testing and licensing fees, allow studying during the work day when billable work is not available, and give paid time off for exam days. The firm where I work does not offer any assistance. Sadly, I did not have the gumption to negotiate this with my employer. I did ask if it were okay that I study at the office during my down time and was told I had to to study on my own time. I have used PTO for exam days, studied on my own time and paid thousands of dollars for exam materials and testing fees.

Last week, my boss suggested that I “make it a three day weekend. Unless you have some work scheduled.” So I took Monday off, thanked him and mentioned that I appreciated the extra day off to study. Apparently I misunderstood his intentions and recorded it as holiday time, he has since deducted the time from my PTO bank.

While I understand that he isn’t required to give me time off for test days or a day that he suggested I take off, I would like to address the issue. As a result of taking the day he suggested, I have only 6 hours left of vacation/sick time. We earn PTO with OT hours worked which I don’t expect to happen until February sometime. I want to let him know that I misunderstood his intention when I took a day off last week, but also that if I were to get sick in the next few months it’s possible that I may have to take unpaid time off. I also want to mention that by the end of this year I would have taken 5 days of PTO to sit for exams while many firms offer to cover exam days. My boss is fair, sometimes generous, but mostly thoughtless when it comes to HR issues. What might be a tactful way address both the confusion regarding his suggested day off and paid time off for exam days?

Hmmm, yeah, generally if your boss suggests you take a three-day weekend, it means “things are slow right now, so why don’t you take advantage of it by using some PTO?” — not “I’m giving you a free day off that won’t come from your PTO.” I suppose you could explain to him that you misunderstood his suggestion and as a result are worried about your dwindling PTO balance … but you risk looking a little naive and ultimately doing yourself more harm than good. So I’d let this one go, and just address your PTO balance if you do get sick and it poses an issue.

I do think you could have a different conversation with him about how your firm’s benefits differ from industry norms and ask for more flexibility there … but I would make that its own conversation, unconnected to the day you took last week.

5. Manager won’t promote me because I cried six years ago

In 2007, I had been covering up to three full-time positions in our department alone for about a year and a half. One morning, a VP yelled at me and I started to cry. I cried for about ten minutes, had a meeting with my boss, and we agreed I could take a day off. I went to the doctor and explained I was exhausted and got a doctor’s note for five days of rest. My boss and department head expressed a good deal of concern and finally found some help for me in the three roles I was covering.

Fast forward six years. I requested a meeting with the department head to ask what I would need to do to qualify for a promotion. He said that I wasn’t promotable based on that event — that I was unable to handle pressure. I left that meeting, thought for a week and then emailed him a note pointing out that I had $2.6B dollars in assets under my supervision, second only to his liability, and that in just the past year I had completed a graduate degree while working full time and supervising 53 people, while nursing my mom through cancer, and all the while being the top performer in my team and without missing a single day of work. And that it seemed only fair to rethink the idea that I couldn’t handle pressure. He responded by calling me into a meeting, telling me he didn’t like me, that we weren’t friends, that I was cold and distant, and that I should get professional counseling.

Should I go to HR? I don’t think they can change his mind and he was recently given a seven-year commitment and bonus package. So he’s not going anywhere. But it eats at me.

I don’t see much point in going to HR. It’s unlikely they can change the reality that you’re working for a manager who doesn’t like you and won’t promote you. Plus, there’s a semi-high risk that once he hears you went to HR (which he likely will), you’ll just increase the tensions in the relationship. If you want to move up (and maybe even if you don’t), you’d be better off looking for a promotion outside the company, so that you’re no longer at the mercy of this relationship.

Read an update to this letter here.

6. Interviewing on crutches

I have reason to believe I will be called for an interview this week. If they would like to schedule it this week, there is a good chance I will be still be using crutches. If I’m not on crutches, I will still be wearing an aircast. No matter what, I can’t find shoes that I would normally feel acceptable to wear to an interview that fit with the cast. Should I say something when we set up the appointment? Apologize that I might have to wear sneakers (I do have dark brown ones that would match an outfit, sort of)? Even trying to push it off a week, I will probably still need to be wearing the aircast.

Don’t push an interview back over this. It’s fine to wear the dark brown sneakers, and just explain when you get there (at which point it’s going to be obvious why you’re wearing them). If it makes you feel better, you can certainly mention it in advance, but I’d keep it short and light — no detailed explanation is necessary, and you don’t want to make it sound like a bigger deal than it is.

7. How rigid should a store closing time be?

I would like to get your opinion on how rigid a closing time for a store should be, as I cannot figure out what the right thing to do is in the following situation. I am a retailer working in a specialty boutique, where we are open for six days a week (closed Sundays). Often we get customers coming in during the last five or ten minutes that we are open for the day, and, even with informing them that “we will be closing in five/ten minutes” (after they have been properly greeted and asked if they needed assistance, of course), often they will want to stay late.

I see both sides of the situation. They are people who want to come to our store and buy from us, and we want to respect that and give them the best customer service that we can. The flip side is that stores have set hours, and I want to let our employees go home, as I respect the fact that they have lives outside of work and may have somewhere else to be. It happens more than a handful of times a year that our owner will allow certain customers to stay more than 45 minutes past closing. While these customers have been loyal to our boutique for years, I have to wonder if this is fair to other customers. My question is, where do you draw the line between “I’m sorry, we closed at 6” and “Sure, come on in”?

This is really more of a question for a retail expert — which I am not — but my personal opinion is that no reasonable customer should get offended by hearing, “I’m sorry, we’re about to close and I have to let our staff go home.” And from a management standpoint, I think you have more to gain by treating your employees’ time with respect than by allowing the occasional unreasonable customer to dictate your hours.

But if you are going to let customers stay late, you should let employees know up-front when you’re hiring them that this is sometimes a possibility, so they know from the start that they might end up staying later than the times they’re scheduled for.

{ 325 comments… read them below }

  1. Jessa*

    #7 every blog I’ve ever read that was written by or contributed to by retail employees says the same thing: It is not supportive of your staff to let people do that. Either they have to work OT or maybe miss the bus home, or the customers learn they can take advantage of your store and people any time they want.

    It’s not reasonable to do this to your staff unless maybe you’re a pharmacy and then only if someone is desperately ill once in a blue moon.

    It really is incredibly disrespectful to let customers do that. I mean your operating hours are clearly posted, you, I hope give notices that you will be closing. It’s absolutely entitled behaviour and the customer is NOT always right.

    Also it tends to go hand in hand with a management team that supports the customer over the staff – Customer wants x thing which is against policy and makes a huge stink so management says okay sure, instead of no, the staff was right you can’t have that.

    Not saying that your place ends up like that or anything, but it usually goes with a policy of customer always completely comes first even when they shouldn’t.

    1. Lillie Lane*

      I love to shop at thrift stores, and they are notorious for shutting down exactly at, or even before, closing time (occasionally to the point of being rude).

      But I know that, and either plan to be done well ahead of closing or I don’t go in if it’s less than 30 minutes to close. Maybe training the customer to come in earlier will help.

      1. Amy B.*

        Thank you Lillie! That means so much to the workers/volunteers.

        I volunteer at a thrift store and we try to close at exactly closing time. We are usually exhausted by the end of the day and the manager is great about telling people we are closing/closed. We have the same few ladies that come in at closing time EVERY weekend and basically refuse to leave. After the third or fouth, “Just one more minute” from them, I go stand beside them and kindly guide them to the door while informing them of the hours we will be open the next day. If that doesn’t work, my manager is a pit bull.

        1. Canadian mom*

          I too volunteer at a thrift shop and we get this all the time. We even announce to the customers that we’ll be closing in about five minutes, and still get the “I’m almost done” when it’s ten minutes after closing time.

          My guess is that the customers know that we’re all volunteers, there’s no issue of having to pay overtime, so what’s the big deal? But one factor is that we’re a cash-only store and it’s preferable to make the bank deposit in person while the bank is still open, rather than using the night deposit.

          1. Former Agency Recruiter*

            Definitely not just because you’re volunteers…I’m also Canadian and worked for a major bookstore chain in highschool/university (you probably know the one…). Some managers were great about making people leave within 10 minutes of closing…others, not so much. And customers rarely cared, to them, if they got in while the door were still open, we could stay open until they wanted to leave. I heard the words “I’m going to spend a lot of money right now…” as justification for this more than once.

            Something people rarely consider is that just because there are no customers in the store, doesn’t mean that the work is done. We were scheduled for half an hour of clean up/closing procedures after our closing time. If customers don’t clear out the store on time, we’re still expected to stay that half hour to finish closing.

            I used to find justifications for it, but really, I think people are just inconsiderate and entitled based on the fact that they’re spending money.

    2. PEBCAK*

      But are employees expecting to leave as soon as the store is closed? I haven’t worked retail in years, but if you were scheduled 4-Close, and the store closed at 9, you were expected to be there until everything was put away, the register was closed out, etc. So, it might be 9:30 on a slow night, or it might be 10 if the store was really messy. The flexibility was already there.

      1. Anonymous*

        The retail places I’ve worked at lately don’t have flexibility like that – the store closes at 9, you are scheduled until 9, if you aren’t gone by 9 you are in trouble.

        1. AdminAnon*

          That would’ve been nice! I worked retail for 8 years during HS/college/job hunting and I never encountered a place like that. In fact, the majority of my jobs were scheduled 4-close (never an actual end time). The worst was working at a high end chocolatier during the holidays–the store closed at 9, but I don’t think I made it home before 11 from November-January. Of course, that job was very sales oriented, so if there was a customer in the store, we had to wait around just in case they ended up buying something. And we couldn’t start cleaning or taking down the displays (which had to be re-created daily) until everyone was out of the store per corporate policy.

          1. A Bug!*

            Not always as nice as it sounds. In my experience it can mean “You have to do all of your closing tasks by 9 exactly, but you have to be able to process sales until 9 exactly.” Which means, if a customer makes a purchase at 8:59, and you still need to count your till, your choices are to either stay late without reporting it, or get in trouble for staying late because counting out your till takes more than thirty seconds.

      2. MrsKDD*

        True, but the longer a customer lingers after closing hours, the longer you are there finishing up. So what normally would be a closing time of 9, employees leaving at 9:30 quickly becomes customers leaving at 9:30 with employees leaving at 10. Frustrating for both employees who already put in their full work day and want to go home, and frustrating for the managers who have to pay employees the additional time they didn’t budget for in the schedule.

      3. anastasiacat*

        Right, but at a lot of stores you can’t start closing procedures until the last customer has left. So if a customer stays 45 minutes late, you’re now 45 minutes behind with straightening up the store, closing the register down, cleaning, and whatever else needs done before you are allowed to leave.

      4. KellyK*

        But if that time is intended for closing tasks that you can only do when customers are gone, then having customers in until 9:30 means that instead of leaving at 9:30, 10:00 if it’s a busy night, now it’s 10:00 at the earliest, maybe 10:30.

        It might also depend on who’s scheduled for what tasks. You might not need everyone to stay for post-close clean-up.

      5. Elsajeni*

        What these other folks said, plus, depending on where you are, you may not be able to keep your staff there indefinitely — I’m working retail right now, and if I hit 6 hours in a shift, I have to take a lunch break. Non-negotiable. So a normal closing shift at my store is 4:30-10, and I have a hard deadline of 10:30 (or, really, a couple minutes before 10:30) to be punched out and on my way out the door. If we’ve had a busy day and the store is a big mess, it may take us almost that long just for normal clean-up and closing procedures; add a customer lingering past closing and slowing us down, and some of that work isn’t going to get done.

      6. Kelly L.*

        And some places try really hard to not pay their employees for the extra time. Illegal, but it happens, especially to young employees who don’t know their rights.

      7. tcookson*

        In retail stores where I’ve worked, we locked the doors and dimmed the lights at closing time. If there were customers who slipped in a little before that, we let them finish their shopping with the door locked and the lights dimmed and someone waiting at the register and watching them. They would typically wrap things up pretty quickly, and on the occasions when they didn’t they were politely told that the store was closed and we needed to check them out. It was pretty rare to encounter any trouble with that.

        Also, there were a few people whose hours ended exactly at closing time, and they would go home then. There were also at least a couple of people whose closing duties continued after closing time, and they were the ones who monitored any lingerers and ushered them out politely, but in a fairly timely fashion.

        1. some1*

          This is what I did when I worked retail, too. And my boss, who had worked in retail for years and years would pleasantly but firmly say, “I can help you with your purchases now, but otherwise I need to close.”

          Another point: if it’s a retail store in mall/shopping center, not adhering to the mall hours can result in the store getting fined. Although I only saw this happen if a store closed early.

        2. Lindsay J*

          Yes. Most people read hints like this pretty well and act accordingly. Dim the lights (or brighten them if it is a restaurant or bar where the lights are normally dim), turn off the music, start performing closing tasks if they are permitted, close the doors, etc and people usually start getting it. There are still going to be some who are oblivious but who will respond to politely being told the store is close. And there will be some entitled people who want to complain that the store should be kept open because they are about to spend a lot of money, or because it’s an emergency and they absolutely need [thing you sell] tonight, but those people were usually few and far between.

      8. Del*

        When I worked retail, some people were expected to stay late to close, but there were also several who would be scheduled to leave promptly at close, because they weren’t needed for cleanup. Additionally, some stores have a specific night crew for cleaning/stocking/etc who aren’t expected to work while the store is still open. So there’s a fair bit of variance in that kind of policy, and staying open more than 10-15min late can definitely put a cramp in scheduling/payroll.

      9. kelly*

        In last RetailJob when I got stuck closing quite a bit, usually 3 nights a week, the store closed at 9 and the end of our shifts were 9:15 to allow time to get the tills counted down, bags turned into the office and clean up the registers. Most nights, we were out by 9:05 at the latest. The exception was a sale set because ex employers still uses paper signage, a huge waste of paper and personnel time IMO. It also wasn’t 100% accurate and really depended on who was setting the sale. I don’t think ex employer ever used a sales set team similar to Target and Penney’s before Ron Johnson took over. I wished, along with others, that they could have gone to the electronic signage that Kohl’s uses. It would have cost money to set it up and get the technology but it would reduce the time needed to set sales and increase the accuracy by a lot. It would have saved them money by not having to price match incorrect signage that someone missed or a customer moved around to get themselves a better deal.

        1. VintageLydia*

          I used to be responsible for the signage at my old job and it was great on days where I could get it all up before the store opened, but it sucked when for whatever reason they wouldn’t upload the new prices until an hour before the store opens and it’s 2000+ price changes. It was detail oriented work so I couldn’t just pull someone else to help me (you wouldn’t believe how few people understand the concept of “first take off the old price tag, then put on the new one, double checking before you do that the SKUs match and the new tags are put on straight and neat. And then do that over 2000 times!”) Plus I had to print them all on this home office-grade printer and the sticker paper was slippery and never fed right. I probably wasted a few grand a year on miss prints and mess ups.
          I didn’t hate that part of the job if everything went the way it was supposed to, because I could zone out for a while and know I wouldn’t be bothered by my coworkers at ALL. But things went wrong so often, I started hating the job.

          1. kelly*

            You bring up a great point about the cost of maintaining the printer and buying paper, ink and toner for printing signs. Most office quality laser jet printers are intended to last for longer than they usually do because of heavier usage than planned. You would think that the cost of supplies and maintenance for the printers would be motivation for transitioning to electronic signage.

            At my new job, we had a meeting where the director reminded us that due to a tight supply budget, we have to be more efficient with our printing. She suggested using both sides of the paper if possible and cutting back on personal printing because that adds up. The last bit was indirectly aimed at the grad students who are the evening/weekend supervisors and who use staff printers to print out homework. The first tip was aimed at two permanent staff who are notorious for going through reams of paper. One in particular has a bad habit of going through at least one printer a year, when that is not an option with the current budget. She was complaining about the cost of toner for her latest one. I think that there’s enough money allotted in the annual budget so that each person gets a new printer about every two and a half years.

      10. Elizabeth West*

        There might be closing duties that have to take place at 9:00 once the customers are gone, but how are you supposed to do them when the customers are still milling around at 9:30?

        1. Kelly L.*

          This. Every retail or food service place I’ve ever worked, for example, has forbidden running a vacuum while customers were in the building, but if you have to vacuum a huge expanse of floor before you can go home…

      11. Amber*

        At my grocery store the cashiers are just responsible for the tills and collecting the baskets and whatnot, so that’s often what we do. The store closes at 10 but we’re sometimes scheduled for 10:15 or 10:30 because of customers. Yesterday I was scheduled until 10:15 and one of my coworkers until 10:30, and after I went around to collect baskets he asked me if there was anyone left in the store. I’d seen a young man talking on his phone walking in, so I mentioned him, but hadn’t seen any others; still, I went to check, and there’s this businessman in a fancy suit with a HUGE cart full of food items… I was about to clock out and go home, and my coworker did a FANTASTIC job of hiding it, but I’m pretty sure that he was pissed when this man comes up at 10:15 with a GIGANTIC order! It was probably at least $100. Just before he walked up, my supervisor called over the intercom that we were now closing, and then I clocked out and went home, so I don’t know what happened after that. :P But ugh, some people! >_<; I don't mind if they come in at like 9:55 and buy like two or three items and then leave before 10 or something; but it's those people who walk in like a second before closing time and then do their weekly grocery shopping that bother me.

    3. Andrea*

      I agree, and honestly, I can’t even understand people who would expect a store to stay open late for them. Maybe some of them don’t know the hours and somehow didn’t notice them on the door … but if they just don’t care or think they’re special, then ugh. I can’t stand inconsiderate people. I always take note of operating hours (I frequently look them up online if I can’t remember or if I haven’t been before), and I plan accordingly. Sometimes that means I have to go the nice boutique the next day or something; boo hoo. (That said, it irritates me when I’ve double-checked hours on a store’s website/FB page only to arrive and find that they’re closed and the posted hours are different, but this is thankfully rare.)

      My dad used to tell what he thought was a charming story about his father, who was a well-known businessman in our hometown. Grandpa used to wait until Christmas Eve to buy gifts for his four children, and he would arrive when the stores were closing or call shop owners and ask them to stay open because he was on his way. They would, and my dad always acted like, well, of course they were happy to make a sale and they were thrilled to give his father special treatment because he was “important” (um, no, he wasn’t). Finally years ago, I pointed out that this was awful, inconsiderate behavior at any time but especially on Xmas Eve, when those folks were tired from a long day and eager to get home to their families. Of course my privileged and entitled family never thought about working people. They still don’t but at least they don’t tell me stories about it anymore.

      1. Jazzy Red*

        “I agree, and honestly, I can’t even understand people who would expect a store to stay open late for them.”

        Oprah does that. She’s even gotten a BMW dealership to open up for her. She’s really forgotten what being a regular working person is like.

        1. Andrea*

          It’s a good thing I don’t work retail anymore, because now I would be tempted to give the side eye to anyone who tried to stay and shop after closing time and say, “What, do you think you’re Oprah?”

      2. Chinook*

        My mother, who will aften let customers stay a few extra minues, is a Christma Grinch. If you up at her store at 4 pm on Christmas Eve, she will stand on the side of the door and give you directions to the nearest drug store/gas station. December is her busiest month and she is so happy to be out of there that she doesn’t reopen until Jan. 2 and there is not a sale big enough to make it worth it.

        1. Andrea*

          I think that’s awesome. I bet she works hard, and doggone it, she’s going to make sure she gets that time off. Good for her.

    4. Sydney Bristow*

      I only worked retail for one summer, but I used to have horrible nightmares that customers would keep showing up at closing time and since we couldn’t lock the door until they all left, more would just keep coming in.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        OMG me too! I worked at a grocery store for 5 years (17 years ago) and I still have the dream that I’m making the closing announcement and people just keep flowing in, even while someone is trying to lock the door. And they won’t leave, the door never gets locked, and I’m still making announcements and no one comes to the registers. I only have that dream once or twice a year now, but I still have it.

        1. VintageLydia*

          Oh god so do I! And it’s always like 3 am and we closed at 9 and all I want to do is go home and sleep! The least restful dream in the WORLD.

          1. Ornery PR*

            This has been happening to me all week! I wrote a whole blog post on health care reform for work in my sleep the other night. While not at all restful, since I already had written the thing in my head, it took me no time at all to actually write it up when I got to work. Also, I love the advice in this post about making up stories about the people you are helping. I’m definitely going to try that!

      2. Natalie*

        This is funny, because I just had a conversation with someone about this category of dream, but for 2 different jobs. He had been a waiter, and apparently there’s a “waiter dream” (our waitress confirmed it) where you have a never-ending stream of new parties and can’t actually get to serving any of them. I’ve had the “receptionist dream” where the phone will not stop ringing and you have to put everyone who calls on hold.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          “the phone will not stop ringing and you have to put everyone who calls on hold.”

          Sounds like the opening scenes in “Office Space”. :)

        2. Kelly L.*

          I’ve had the waiter dream, and also the fast food cashier dream where we got new registers and none of the buttons were labeled and the lunch rush showed up.

      3. TychaBrahe*

        I worked at a museum, and used to have the same nightmares. People would come in through the doors that we had to leave open so the people inside could get out.

    5. Mike C.*

      Jessa is absolutely right. Retail employees already deal with enough garbage as it is, close the store down.

    6. EAC*

      I have a part time retail job and I am scheduled to close quite frequently. If our store closes at say 8:00 pm, the closing crew stays an hour later to clean and count down the till. Our manager lets customers stay past closing. She will not make an announcement that the store will be closing, nor will she allow the staff to make rounds to let those who are still shopping close to closing time know what time we close. We have quite a few costumers who come in 5 minutes before closing and shop for at least 20 minutes past closing time. At times she has unlocked the door for customers after the store has closed. We had one customer who came in and wanted to shop for furniture and had the staff pulling several pieces for her and from what I heard our manager and supervisor stayed to assist her well past the closing shift. Our manager is salaried but the supervisor was made to clock out at the exact time that he was scheduled to.

      I wish that our manager would not allow this to happen, but she is all about making a sale no matter what.

    7. Rachel*

      I work for CookieButter!Grocery store, and this is quite literally my number one pet peeve. NOTHING infuriates me more than for it to be 9:45, we closed 45 minutes ago, and still there’s that one lady with her OVERFLOWING cart who came in at 8:58 and who saunters up and down the aisles like she owns the place while we’re all working stacks and stocking shelves. Closing at CookieButterStore is 9, but your shift goes until 11 (you come in at 3). It just OOZES with entitlement and is done with such an arrogance – you can tell that they really, truly do believe that they are entitled to stay as long as they want and that our schedules and what we need to get done does not matter, because they are the customer and they are always right. They do it because our store is right on the Canadian border and is PACKED during the day, but apparently they’re “special” and shouldn’t have to deal with the crowds or wait in a line like everyone else. I cannot STAND that attitude.

      Our managers hate it as much as we do but their hands are tied by corporate, and we’re known for CUSTOMER SERVICE NO MATTER WHAT so we have to allow it. But, luckily, they’ll cut us loose from register and take over for us so we can get to work. And I can tell you that my favorite thing to do in the entire world is be the one who gets to stand and guard the door after 9pm has passed and tell people sorry, we’re closed, and that they can’t come in. It is the one time of day I get to look a customer in the face and tell them “no,” and not get reprimanded. It’s especially gratifying when they whine “but I just need miiiiiiiiiiiiiilk!” and I still get to say “sorry, we are closed. We open at 8 tomorrow.” It really, honestly does feel like taking back the power.

      1. Lindsay J*

        I always hated the people who acted like their poor planning was somehow my fault. If you needed milk then you should have looked at the hours and come in when we were open, not fight with me and call me an awful person because I’m denying you your milk when you want to come into my store 30 minutes after we closed and I say “no”.

    8. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      The one retail place I worked had automatic recordings that went over the PA system “The store is closing in 30 minutes, 15 minutes” and so on. Managers would eventually hunt down people after close.

      But I’ve worked at several fast food places, and there was not a single one that allowed you to tell people they needed to leave. As in, you could not tell them “we are closed,” even. There were a couple nights I remember where we’d finish the entire closing process and then the 2 of us remaining would just sit on the front counter and talk while waiting for people to leave.

    9. Anonymous*

      Yes once the register was closed for the night it was locked. You couldn’t reopen until the morning, and you certainly couldn’t take any money out of the closing envelope.

      Once we had a customer who was in the fitting room while we were closing the registers. After she suddenly appeared with stacks of clothes to purchase, she went from register to register but we were all closed. She started to throw screaming fits and security had to throw her out of the store.


    4. My boss suggested I take a three-day weekend

    This! Accounting firms could be cruel with non billable hours. I spent two years at a local CPA firm. At the end of the second year I ended up taking unpaid time off. It was better than sitting on the desk 8 hours without anything to do. Do you work for regional or local CPA?

    1. bert*

      I work at a local firm. There seems to be a generational view with regard to OT earned in an accounting firm. My boss tends to see it as a benefit that we receive PTO for OT worked, whereas I see it as unpaid OT that I should receive PTO for later.

  3. CoffeeLover*

    #7 As someone who’s worked many retail jobs, it’s the nature of the business. Sometimes you have to stay late. Yes, it’s annoying when someone comes in at the last second, but at the end of the day I was hired to help the customer and am paid to stay late. If the customer came in before you closed the door, then there’s nothing to be done (other than telling then your closing and hoping they take the hint). It’s a reality I’m sure your employees are aware of, though it might not hurt to explicitly tell them.

    Oh, and I wouldn’t feel bad about the special privileges of certain repeat customers. That’s what loyalty programs are after all! With repeat offenders though, you might want to point it out politely, “Jane come earlier next time so we can take our time to chat! I feel like I have to rush you because we close at 6”.

    As a note, I think Jessa’s response is a bit extreme because I think there’s a difference between letting customers treat your employees however they want (i.e., verbal abuse) and teaching your employees to value the customer and deliver good customer service.

    1. Zahra*

      I agree. Heck, in my student days, I *volunteered* to stay later. The reason? While we weren’t paid to count the till in general (which is illegal in Quebec, but par for the course in retail), if a customer stayed 15 minutes or more, I would get paid until I left.

      However, the other cashiers counted their till and left, the other preparations for closing went on, including shutting down general lighting and leaving on night lighting, which was about 15% of the regular one. It was dark, but not so you couldn’t choose your product.

      It was abundantly clear that we were closed and that, as soon as the customer left, so would we.

    2. Sharon*

      I wanted to comment on this one, and when you mentioned special privileges for some customers that gave me another idea to offer the LW.

      From the letter, she says that this happens mostly at certain times of year. I want to ask, is business rather light in the mornings? If so, why not shift your business hours an hour later during those times of year to accomodate your customers? For example if your normal business hours are 8-5, why not offer special seasonal hours during that period of 9 – 6?

      Also, coming back to the special privilege idea, why not turn those entitled special customers into super-special loyal customers by marketing “By Appt Only” concierge style service? You can play around with pricing on that to see what your market will accept, but if you have a great marketeer on staff they can really turn this into a money maker for you!

      1. Melissa*

        Regardless of when a store closes, there are always going to be stragglers. I’ve seen it in stores that close at 10 or 11 pm. It stems partially from entitled folks who wait until the last minute and don’t see retail workers as human beings.

    3. KellyK*

      I would go way beyond saying it “might not hurt” to tell employees. If you need people to stay late at the last minute with no notice, that is absolutely something you need to be very clear and up front with them about. (You can see from the comments above that not every store does this, so you shouldn’t expect them to just know.) *Especially* in lower paying jobs where you’re likely to have more employees with other jobs or school, or who take public transportation.

  4. Anonymous*

    Most customers who stay past closing time either don’t buy anything or spend a couple dollars in cash after you’ve already counted the till. :(

    1. Zahra*

      A couple dollars in cash are easy to deduct from the till: just remove the amount of their purchase from the till and add it to the day’s deposit (of which you have the total, but haven’t written it down on the deposit slip).

      1. tcookson*

        Yeah, that’s what we did sometimes in the retail jobs I’ve had. We would go ahead and count the till, and the late customer’s order would be counted as a sale for the next day.

  5. EngineerGirl*


    He responded by calling me into a meeting, telling me he didn’t like me, that we weren’t friends, that I was cold and distant, and that I should get professional counseling.

    OK, I’m not sure what to do with this. First off – not promotable because of a single event that occurred in 2007? And even if your email was demanding or snarky, I can’t see a response like this from any sane manager. “I don’t like you” and “get professional counseling”. Really? And since when is being friends a prerequisite for a promotion?

    If you are truly doing as much as you say it is time to polish up the resume. Sounds like you’re employable at a lot of places.

      1. Joey*

        Look, work is a game that you choose to either play or not. You can choose to act like the employee your boss wants you to be OR you can dig in your heels and say I’m me and if they can’t accept me for me its their problem. Either is fine, but if you don’t choose to play you really can’t cry about those that are winning at the game.

        1. Dennis*

          No…there is a middle ground between being an a** kissing suck-up and maintaining your self respect. You don’t have to debase yourself to that point to “win the game”.

        2. AMG*

          I don’t think it’s a game that you are winning or not winning; in fact I don’t think it’s a game at all. Of course it doesn’t hurt to play politics a little, but it is a job with tasks not generally related to putting on a show.

          OP should evaluate what is the best fit for her personal and professional life, and what will help her to achieve her goals. It sounds like she has a lot to offer and that it’s time to move on to someplace where that is valued. This boss doesn’t sound very professional, objective, or respectful. He sounds a bit off, in fact.

          Finding an employer who doesn’t debase the dignity of their employees and runs a business like a business has nothing to do with ‘winning’ or ‘crying’ or anything else that you said, Joey.

          Finally, since when does being a jerk have anything to do with ‘winning’? I find it interesting that you would correlate the two. I think of professioonal success as having the loyalty and respect of my co-workers because I have earned it through doing a quality job with integrity and character.

          1. anon*

            Games are for children… leadership is for grown ups. It sounds to be like OP#5 has some impressive credentials. Not only that, we are all human… it isn’t like he/she cries daily, weekly, or even monthly.
            I once had a guest lecture in college (it was a leadership development consultant) who discussed executive career preparation within companies. In these types of development programs, talented employees on the exec track would be rotated from department to department and receive executive coaching along the way. Guess what… crying was not uncommon, particularly if they were in a role that was not a fit for them, or the role was incredibly stressful (i.e. labor negotiations). So… issues aside that we may not know about, hopefully this poster will be able to apply his/her skills to another employer who will appreciate them more.

            1. Joey*

              Give me a break. If you don’t realize you have to adapt your work persona to your boss’ personal preferences and generally do things not necessarily related to your job duties to get ahead, I’m sorry, but that’s how it works. The person who can best do the job isn’t a shoe in to get the job. It’s the person who can best do the job AND who the boss will want to work with day in and day out. This means the best way to get ahead (ie win) is to do a great job AND have your boss like you.

    1. Lacey*

      Agree 100% with this. I had a terrible boss once (he had a reputation within the industry, I was warned not to work for him – lesson learned) and after about 2 years of just AWFUL working conditions, one day he just came out and said that we did not work well together. I was shocked at the time, but he was right and it marked a turning point. I think your boss saying he doesn’t like you is a similar thing. You can’t really come back from that.

      I don’t think the fault is with you, but if you cannot work with someone, you cannot work with them. I’d move on. Best thing I ever did was leaving that job.

    2. tcookson*

      I got the impression that the bosses think OP #5 has a delicate constitution, not because she cried and took off one afternoon afterward, but because she took five more days off and went to the doctor for stress. I think she could have overcome needing an afternoon to regain her composure, but the additional five days and the doctor’s visit raised red flags with her bosses about her ability to cope with stress.

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        I think after 8 years of apparently incident free work, one could re-evaluate whether an employee is capable of dealing with stress though.

      2. EngineerGirl*

        Except that she was working 3 jobs. They kind of exhaustion takes days to recover from. The manager is utterly incompetent. First, for managing a solid resource poorly and causing burnout. Secind, for being abusive – saying someone needs.professional counseling is unprofessional in itself. Third, for making “liking” someone a prerequisite for promotion – again, unprofessiona. Fourth – for refusing to develop a high producing asset – the job if a decent manager is to correct and guide.

        OP 5 needs to leave. I suspect a lot of the managers “performance” us actually the OP. She’ll get true recognition at a company with good management.

        1. Meg*

          I agree. The OP should find a job that will better develop her skills and treat her decently – not promoting someone because the manager isn’t friends with them is incredibly unprofessional.

      3. The Other Dawn*

        I think that’s just the convenient excuse the boss is using to not give OP the promotion. It’s easier to use that than to come out and say he doesn’t want to promote her because doesn’t like her.

      4. Meg*

        Nope, sorry. I don’t think 5 days is unreasonable considering what she was going through, and even if it was, judging someone based on an incident 6 years ago is absurd. I’m 25, and if my career was dependent on being judged for how I behaved when I was 19 (!!!!!!), that would be completely unfair. People change and grow all the time.

        Furthermore, going to the doctor for stress management is in no way a sign of a “delicate constitution” – it’s a sign of taking your own health seriously.

        1. Jax*

          5 days off for burnout is extreme.

          My husband was in the hospital for 8 days with tears in his intestines and gas leaking into his abdomen. The surgeons wanted to wait and see if it healed itself rather than go in for emergency surgery, which would have resulted in a temporary colostomy. It was tense, stressful, and I even called his boss almost in tears to keep her in the loop while he was drugged up.

          When he got back to work he found out that the higher ups were whispering about him, wondering if this was “for real”, etc. He’s a stellar employee (and a licensed therapist) and we were both blown away that anyone would go there. He was in the hospital! It was life threatening!

          Calling off for more than a day or two looks bad, no matter what the excuse is. It’s unfair and ridiculous, because life happens and people get sick–but it’s true.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            That’s horrible — but that sounds like a problem with your husband’s workplace, rather than something universal.

            I’ve seen many people call out for more than 2 days at a time and it doesn’t look bad unless they’re already perceived as a slacker. Assuming a reasonably functional workplace.

            1. Jax*

              It could be a regional thing. Pittsburgh has blue collar roots, and people still puff out their chests for going into work with the flu or their back thrown out. Sick days are scorned as weakness around here.

          2. Judy*

            The way they shuffle people out of the hospital these days, I’d assume he had several days “sick” at home after the hospitalization also.

            My husband had outpatient hernia surgery, and he was out of work for 6 weeks. Couldn’t drive for 5 of them.

      5. Lindsay J*

        I thought the same. It wasn’t about the one afternoon of being upset, but the five days off afterwards. It’s not necessarily right for him to be concerned about this, and certainly not after all these years when the OP has shown since then that they are able to handle stress, but I could see it throwing up a concern.

        My last job we had a lead who was very competent at her job. However, I would not support her for promotion because the previous year during a busy time (and in a position with less responsibility than she was currently in) she had had an extreme stress reaction and had to be taken to the hospital. During the time I was there she had not shown that she had learned to handle being under stress any better, and I felt like for her health and for the the good of the company I couldn’t put her in a role where she would have more responsibility and have to deal with more stress until she was better able to manage it.

    3. Julie*

      Oh poster #5, I feel your pain! Some bosses make a decision about who is promotion material and who is not, and nothing NOTHING you can do can change that opinion. I’ve been in that boat a few times, and decided in each case to move on (sometimes after several years in a row of disappointment). It has always been to my benefit. I am a big proponent of the clean slate.

        1. Ruffingit*

          I think what abankyteller is getting at here is that the OP doesn’t actually have a phobia. A phobia is generally an irrational fear, in which the sufferer has a relentless dread of a situation. People with phobias do not typically expose themselves to the phobia object or issue and, if someone is suffering a true phobia, they aren’t generally successful in navigating the object of dread without having an anxiety attack. So, the OP likely doesn’t have an actual phobia, but more a general dread/fear of doing well in interviews. I think this is more an issue of the wrong name on the problem.

          1. fposte*

            And I’d disagree. People with actual phobias do indeed expose themselves to the object of their fear if they need to or if they’re trying to get over the fear. It doesn’t have to be a panic attack reaction to be a phobia, and even then, a lesser exposure–being on the interviewing side, not on the interview–is exactly what desensitization is made of. I have no idea if the OP has a clinically diagnosed phobia or not, but there’s nothing in her statement that makes it impossible.

            [Flying phobia for 30 years now, fly several times a year, practiced desensitization by hanging around airports. Xanax works better :-)]

            1. anon*

              Exactly what fposte says. People can vary in how they handle their phobias, and how visibly/dramatically they react to them. Holding some kind of arbitrary “if you don’t react like this then it’s not a phobia” standard is absurd, and trying to tell the OP whether or not they actually have a phobia (or flat-out telling them they don’t know what a phobia is) based on an AAM question is pretty condescending and rude.

              1. straws*

                +1. There are many degrees of reaction to phobias, as well as many ways to address those reactions. You can absolutely treat and recover from a phobia, and that typically involves exposing oneself to the object of the phobia at some point.

                That being said, if the OP has panic attacks at interviews, sitting in on one at work is probably not a good idea for anyone involved.

              2. Ruffingit*

                I meant to convey that the OP may not actually have a phobia. You’re correct that I shouldn’t have said they don’t have one, I should have said it may be something else that is the problem. Wasn’t trying to be condescending or rude.

            2. Elizabeth West*

              Spider phobia, run into spiders several times a year, react by violently smashing them into oblivion while screaming inarticulately like a crazed warrior. There is no desensitization.

              1. Windchime*

                Same here with regard to spiders. It gives me the heebie jeebies to kill them, but I do it. Usually I have to plan out how I’m going to do it (shoe? spray? magazine?), but last year after having found 3 of the big ones in my house, #4 just made me mad. I brushed it off the wall and beat it to death with a broom. Apparently word got around, because I haven’t found one since.

            3. Ellie H.*

              Does phobia reduction actually work? If so, does it work for specific objects that you have a horror of (like phobia of cotton balls or trypophobia), or just with the kind that are about scenarios like flying or heights or drawing blood? I have a pretty intense phobia and it’s of something that it’s pretty easy to come across accidentally in real life. I guess it would be worth it to do if I could get rid of it completely somehow but it’s still really hard for me to imagine a world where I’m not upset by these things.

              1. Natalie*

                It can really work, but I suspect it’s probably most effective when done with the help of a professional counselor. Phobias are in the anxiety disorder bucket (not a scientific term) so if you are interested in dealing with a phobia I suggest looking for someone who specializes in anxiety disorders.

              2. Loose Seal*

                Not only does exposure therapy work well when administered by a trained counselor, it works pretty fast* — as in, you probably wouldn’t need many appointments to start to see some relief.

                *Bit of a disclaimer: the more common your trigger is in your life, the faster you could see results. So if your phobia is riding in elevators, you and your therapist could probably make that happen with little time and expense. If your phobia is flying, you’d have to actually fly at some point, which might be time and cost prohibitive to you.

              3. fposte*

                A friend with a snake phobia semi-unintentionally desensitized herself with some kind of snake-infested app, so it can definitely work with things. I think Natalie’s right in that it’s going to work better under a counselor’s control, because really common stuff (I’m thinking a friend with a dog phobia) means you’re likely to still have uncontrolled exposures that will interfere with desensitization. I think that’s the obstacle rather than thing vs. scenario.

                I completely understand what you’re saying about finding it hard to imagine not finding your phobia object upsetting–it’s kind of like envisioning gravity not working. But phobias really can diminish–my phobia is tons better (like it probably wouldn’t count as a phobia now) just as a side result of flying on Xanax and disentangling the panic from the situation.

              4. Ellie H.*

                Thanks, all! It actually sounds like it could be very worthwhile and something I should seriously look into. Incidentally my phobia is “automatonaphobia” or fear of humanoid things, so it’s basically dolls, puppets, humanoid statuettes e.g. gnomes, and mascots (also to a lesser extent clowns and monkeys). The thing it’s the worst with is baby dolls and humanoid puppets. It has actually gotten worse as I’ve got older and I had two panic attacks in the past three or four months, so it’s getting to the point where it interferes with my life a little bit. I think this is probably because when I was younger I was more often exposed to things like dolls and puppets, so now that I’ve been able to structure my adult life in a way that avoids these things I’m more sensitized to them.

                fposte – I love your description of how it would be like a world without gravity – very astute!

                1. fposte*

                  I think that the brain is hardwired for a kajillion years to believe in the flight impulse, and that the logical brain doesn’t have a prayer of arguing that away. The atavistic brain just thinks the logical brain is stupid and is going to get us killed.

                2. Elizabeth West*

                  Dolls and puppets are a frequent subject of horror films, not that there is anything to be afraid of IRL. Maybe this has to do with the uncanny valley? Brrr….can’t really blame you too much for that one.

              5. Elizabeth West*

                Yes, but I recommend you do it with an experienced therapist and not on your own. It’s a graduated technique, and it really depends on how bad the phobia is, or if it has underlying issues that need to be addressed.

          2. Ellie H.*

            I think it’s pretty common to use “phobia” in a more conversational way, to describe something you are afraid of or have a lot of anxiety about. It’s especially common when it’s something that a lot of people are slightly worried about. If you say “I have a phobia of cotton” then people will understand it’s a real phobia, but if you say “I have a phobia about balancing my checkbook” people will understand you are using it to mean that it is something you find anxiety-producing and aversive. I don’t think it’s a wrong usage so much as a more vernacular use of the word.

            1. abankyteller*

              I disagree, because using it that way makes it more difficult for people with real phobias to have people take them seriously. Too many people use the word phobia as a way to say they would just rather not do something, and it seems like that might be what the OP is doing.

              It’s along the same lines of people saying “no tomatoes on my burger, I’m allergic, but I want ketchup for my fries.” Saying you have an allergy when you just dislike something (even if it’s a really strong hatred; I’m a terribly picky eater, I get it!) makes it more difficult for people with real allergies to be taken seriously.

              1. Ellie H.*

                I can definitely see this point. The “allergy” thing really bothers me as well for the same reason. However as someone who does have a phobia (and I know I’m just one person, not everyone with a phobia) using it in this more colloquial way doesn’t really bother me, and it’s not terribly common anyway. A good example I can think of is “commitment-phobic.” Yes it’s a set phrase but it does imply that the word has a certain secondary colloquial meaning.

          3. abankyteller*

            Yes, I also think it’s an issue of the wrong name on the problem. As I explained below, using phobia to describe something you don’t like to do is problematic for people who have true phobias. Someone with a true phobia might be taken less seriously because “oh I know a girl who had a phobia of interviews, but then she went on one and was fine, so just go and ride that elevator once and you’ll be just fine!” Phobias don’t work like that.

            1. fposte*

              Sure, but people *do* have phobias about interviews, and it’s quite possible the OP has one, and she knows better than we do. So I think your assumption that she was using the word incorrectly wasn’t justified here–it ends up kind of doing what you’re condemning other people for doing, which is belittling somebody’s actual phobia.

              1. abankyteller*

                I absolutely see your point here. The way the OP worded the question, she sounded to me like the type to incorrectly use the word phobia to describe something she doesn’t like or something that makes her nervous, but it is possible, however unlikely, that she actually has a legitimate phobia.

          4. Lena*

            Well, abankyteller definitely needs to be less obtuse in her posts. If what you say is the case, it doesn’t seem like he/she was trying to be helpful at all

    1. The IT Manager*

      I hate to pile on the nick picks for #2, but this wording really bugged me: I really don’t have any idea how I passed my first one!. Maybe you were just trying to convey something quickly, but interviews are not pass/fail. And it could be that your anxiety comes from not really understanding that.

      You were selected for the job on the basis of your qualification some of which were discerned from your interview, but not all. Your interview highlights your experience, education, skills, and fit which is what they are hiring you for for. The best interviewer does not get the job (ideally the most qualified, best fit does) and people who are not hired don’t “fail” the interview. Someone being more qualified than you and getting the job is not even a failure on your part. This not a college classroom where everyone is graded on the same scale and multiple people can get the exact same passing grade.

      That said Alison’s response is dead ne. Sitting on on interviews for your own personal interviewing improvement is a wierd thing to request. Especially because you interviewing better does not actually help and probably could hurt your own company. Until you are prepared to leave, you don’t want them thinking that you’re thinking about interviewing for your next job.

      1. Ashley*

        +1. I came here to say the exact same thing. OP #2, you have to get out of the mindset of pass/fail. Interviews aren’t school exams. You were offered a position based upon what you could bring to the table, not because you studied hard enough.

        I think this mindset can be really common for new grads and those interviewing for the first professional jobs, but break the habit now, because it will only be harmful to your psyche in the long run. I think just changing the way you are thinking about interviews will help calm your nerves about them.

  6. Amber*

    #7 Keep in mind that as a customer, if a store stays open a little late for me it helps to build loyalty, I’m much more likely to return. However on the other side if the store says its open until 9pm and I get there at 8:45 pm and everyone has gone home, that pisses me off and you might lose me as a customer because in my eyes you lied to me.

    1. MrsKDD*

      But unless you get a manager or owner (not a regular employee), chances are at closing time the employee’s number one priority is not building customer loyalty. They’ve worked all day, they want to go home. Yes, some nights it will happen where you have to stay later for whatever reason (like any job in any industry) but the OP’s post gives me impression this is a regular occurrence in their store. While it’s not the customer’s job to respect the employee’s work hours, but it is management’s responsibility to not put employees in a situation where they regularly have to cut into their personal time by staying later than scheduled.
      Side note: I 100% agree with you in saying showing up somewhere during the posted store hours and the place is closed. That irritates me to no end.

      1. Gjest*

        I agree mostly, except that I do think it is the customer’s job, as a part of a functioning society, to respect the employees work hours by respecting the store hours. It’s just rude to expect the store to stay open.

        1. MrsKDD*

          True. After posting I realized I could have re-phrased that to be more in line with what I really think, which is, basically, “stop being a jerk, get over yourself, and leave when the store is closed. Retail workers have lives and families just like you”. But in the interest in diplomacy I chose that wording. Pointless now :) I think if you want to be treated as “special” when you walk in a store then don’t do things like this. But then I also think that people should have to work at least a year in retail the way some countries have mandatory military service, so take that as you will.

        2. ChristineSW*

          Thank you!! If a store closes at 9 p.m. and I show up at 8:55, I can’t expect the store to stay open until I did what I needed to do.

          In fact, I’ve seen this in nearly every job I’ve had so I know it happens in every industry. I *never* call or visit a place near closing time. If I absolutely needed to do so, I’d profusely thank the employee for their time.

          1. Windchime*

            Yes, this. The only time I would come into a store right at closing time would be for an emergency, such as needing to get something for an ill person at the drugstore. Even something like that seems avoidable these days, since many pharmacy-type items can be purchase at 24-hour stores.

            I noticed recently that a local restaurant has posted a sign that says that they will seat guests up to 30 minutes before closing. Which prompts me to ask the question: if a restaurant closes at 9 PM, what is the latest that a person should walk in the door and be seated, without making all the staff stay late? Previously, I had assumed that the closing time had this “buffer” time built in, but now I’m not so sure.

            1. abankyteller*

              I ask what time the kitchen closes and try not to go later than one hour before that time. If it ends up that the kitchen will be closing in 30-60 minutes, I order everything at once so they can clean up. If the kitchen is closing in fewer than 30 minutes I find another restaurant.

              I hope this is an okay practice. I don’t personally know anyone in the restaurant industry to ask.

            2. Elise*

              Most restaurants have a bit of a buffer. The kitchen cleanup takes a long time, so they won’tkeep th

              1. Elise*

                Sorry…cut off there.

                They won’t keep the kitchen open late for you, but diners are used to tables being bussed and and they can do most of the cleanup around you.

                But, you should be sure to tip extra, since it will be more work to clean and check on you.

      1. TL*

        Wait…wait… is it closing on time? :P

        While it’s nice if every once in a while an employee makes an extra effort and stays late for you – it’s happened to me once or twice – for the most part, wanting to close on time is entirely reasonable and I do try to hurry when I hear the 10 minute warning, as do most reasonable people.

    2. anon*

      Is your loyalty worth the extra payroll for them? Are you legit going to switch stores because they asked you to finish up your shopping at closing time?

      I think a lot of people overestimate how much an individual person’s loyalty means to a store, especially the larger stores.

      When I worked retail, my store brought in ~$10k/day on weekdays through most of the year, and more during the holiday season. One person’s occasional $30 purchase meant very little to us and it was hysterically funny to listen to them scream about their loyalty when we insisted on following policy.

    3. Melissa*

      You build better rapport and a desire to keep you as a customer if you respect the retail workers and leave when the store closes. Nobody likes it when their boss asks them to unexpected stay late at work, and retail workers sometimes have to do so without pay. And even if they do get paid, it’s an extra $7-8 for the hassle of potentially missing a bus home, having to arrange an extra hour of babysitting, delaying dinner for their families, or being late to their next job.

    4. annie*

      Or, my favorite, I show up at 8:30 when the store closes at 9pm, but it takes me 25 minutes waiting in line to actually buy my one small purchase because there is only one cashier left to serve a dozen customers while a dozen other employees work on closing duties. (My pet peeve with the Walgreens around the corner!) You better believe that after one or twice of that, I now go the Osco, 7-11 or corner store across the street!

  7. RLS*

    #5: while not having quite as much stake in an organization, I had a similar situation a few years ago and ended up parting ways with a company I loved because of it. It wasn’t a one-time 10-minute cry; I had an extremely sudden, unexpected death of a loved one. I was known for being a cool cucumber and a good egg at work, but when that happened, I was a very different person for quite some time (even with professional help and lots of support from the team). It was sad because I was still the highest performer on the leadership team, by far, but my “aftermath” as they called it spooked the upper management. Prior to the loss, a promotion for me had been discussed and was in the works in the upcoming couple of years, but my bosses who had previously adored me and my work suddenly wouldn’t come near me. I was officially stuck in my position. A year and a half later, we both decided it was best to move on, even after I had recovered from the bereavement. I miss the people, the work, and the environment a lot but I was never happier for something to be over. There were, of course, other big factors but that started the ball rolling.

    #7: I don’t work in retail, specifically, and at my place of work closing time is not actually posted….the general rule of thumb is: if you’re making money, stay open. If not, shut down!

    1. Jen in RO*

      This is ridiculous! How can they hold something like that against you? I’m outraged on your behalf.

      1. huh*

        A loved on died and she reacted as a human being and as a result there was an expectation her employer would be at least accomodating. They weren’t, so they feel judged and blame her.

          1. Ruffingit*

            I’m reading it as the employer wasn’t accommodating to the OP and because they weren’t accommodating and it is generally expected by society that they should be so, they turned it around and made it an issue of the OP being the problem rather than them not being accommodating to a very human experience. IOW, it’s easier to say the OP’s reaction to the death was “over the top” (even when it wasn’t) than to say “As a company, we should have been there for the OP and made it easier for her. We didn’t and that makes us jerks.” They don’t want to admit that so they put the blame on the OP.

              1. fposte*

                I thought it was a sarcastic answer that was responding to Jen but directed at the initial situation.

    2. Andrea*

      I’m so sorry that this happened to you—-both the unexpected loss of a loved one and the managers who failed you. I hope things worked out for you, though, because it sure sounds like you’re an excellent employee and a professional who deserved better.

  8. Miranda Jane*

    #7: I used to work in a cafe and we would have people who did this. During closing (which took an hour after the place closed) we would bring in chairs from outside, close the fridge displays and start cleaning the machines. It was very clear to anyone still inside that they needed to leave, and we generally tolerated them until we had to take out the cash register, at which point we would approach them politely and explain that we were now closed and needed them to leave so that we could secure the shop. That way they didn’t interfere with closing but were able to stay a bit longer. Anyone who walked in whilst we were closing was told politely that we weren’t able to serve because all of our utensils and so on were in the dishwasher.

    1. Anne*

      My favorite cafe goes around and gives people hot chocolates in takeaway cups while they’re letting us know we need to leave, about 5 minutes before closing. :)

      I’m not sure they do it all year round – I think it might be only in the winter. Either way, having experienced it even once, well, now it’s my favorite cafe.

  9. Chocolate Teapot*

    1. Even if the boss is “hands off”, surely it would have been possible to get confirmation that the OP was supposed to assist the co-worker? Admittedly, I would have expected that the Boss would have informed the co-worker that they wanted the new assistance, but reading the stories on here, nothing surprises me.

    1. Elle D*

      My boss has done this before. It’s really uncomfortable as an employee to be put in this situation.

    2. tcookson*

      Also, even if the co-worker had been informed that OP #1 was on the team, it was a pretty poor move by OP #1 for her first interaction with the team to be a confrontation about what they’re doing wrong.

      Plenty of workplaces do things informally in ways that don’t match the written policies, usually because what works in practice changes and nobody bothers to update the policy until some future policy review date. It would have been better if OP had started working pleasantly with the team and then asked about that on the basis of individual practices: “Oh, I thought that we were supposed to do it X way?” and then listen to what the team members say.

  10. Andrea Also*

    “My boss decided that I should be a part of the social media team.”

    Something is off here. Your boss can’t decide you should be part of the social media team and not *tell* the social media team.

    My Spidey sense is suggesting to me that you wanted to be part of the social media team and you got some kind of half nod out of your boss that made you decide you are part of the social media team.

    Okay so you aren’t on the team until:

    1) Your boss tells the team you are on the team
    2) The team asks you to be on the team (and that’s okay with the boss either passively or actively).

    You’ve kinda screwed the pooch on #2 by criticizing the existing material, and therefore team members, out of the box. The last thing you want to do when joining a new team (even if you were officially on the team) is criticize what’s been done before to the people who have done it.

    Unless you can get your boss to put you on the team officially by actually putting you on the team, I’d suggest laying back about six months or so. Build up your personal social media with a well followed Twitter, blogging, whatever. Be smart, engaging, interesting…be ALLISON :)…. and then go back at this again with the attitude of being helpful.

    If you already have a great personal social media following then maybe forget the six months and use that to convince your boss to officially add you to the team…. after which, play nice.

    1. Elle D*

      I just replied to Chocolate Teapot on this, but when I first started reading I thought “Did I forget I wrote AAM a letter?”

      My boss actually did decide I should be on my company’s social media team without anyone on that team requesting additional help or my involvement. I went about things differently than the OP though – I let the team know that I had experience with X, Y and Z in my former position and that my boss wanted me to get involved if they needed assistance – after that, I left the ball in their court.

      This has happened with other projects as well. I did let my boss know that I would like more responsibility so I’m sure she was trying to keep me engaged, but because of the way my job role fits into the company I’d prefer not to force myself on other teams. If my boss asks why I’m not assisting with project X, I let her know the team told me they didn’t need help and didn’t seem receptive to including me. Then it’s up to her to engage with that team’s manager if she really feels I need to be involved.

      1. Andrea Also*

        What a great approach.

        As bosses go, I’m pretty decent but definitely subject to swiss cheese brain syndrome. If you and I had a conversation and you said, I’d like to have more responsibility can I join Project X, there’s a chance that I might agree and then forget completely 1 minute out of the meeting after my phone rang.

        Not that this has ever happened to me before, cough, but theoretically next you email me and say, “What’s up? Project X people have no idea what I’m talking about being a member” and then I apologize to everybody and clarify, in writing, what my intentions are.

        I believe every word you are saying but am having a hard time following a functional work environment where a boss can’t be counted on to clarify who is supposed to be on what team.

    2. Colette*

      Yes, criticizing the approach based on documents that may no longer be accurate wasn’t a good approach, not to mention that it’s naive to think that you know how to do someone’s job better than they do when you have no actual experience. It would have been much better to ask questions and explain what your boss asked you to do (and why, if you know).

      1. Ashley*

        #1 – Hey guys, I’m the person that originally submitted the question. Here are somethings that were left out. There are certain nuances that weren’t fully captured about my job and the circumstances surrounding my addition to the social media team. A part of my job is performing outreach and education. My boss and my coworker (the one in question) were the ones who interviewed me. They knew when they hired me that I had a ton of social media experience and specifically said in the interview that they’d like me on the social media team. When I started the job, I was added to the Outreach and Social Media committee. So my presence and expertise was not questioned when it came to social media.

        Cut to 5 months later in my new job, my boss finally does add me to the social media team (Facebook). In my organization, its completely structured, my addition had to be approved on all kinds of levels. So its not like she randomly decided or I just decided to put myself on the team. Throughout this approval process, my boss included my coworker on the email exchanges so she would know what was going to happen. It took about 3 months before I was officially added as one of the content creators for our Facebook page.

        During that time, my coworker and I were still cordial and we got along quite nicely. We even talked about a lot of ideas about content and things we could do. And that’s when I started looking into my organization’s guidelines.

        Imagine my surprise at the cold shoulder when the official word comes down that I’m now a content creator. I went into the meeting thinking it would be like every other time before. We’d bounce some ideas of and hammer out the details. Instead, it didn’t go like that at all. She later apologized for the rudeness but she gave no explanation as to why.

        Since then, like the post indicates, we don’t bounce off ideas any more and she just does whatever she feels like.

        Going to my boss about this is a non-starter, she doesn’t get involved at all. Even when its warranted.

        1. Ruffingit*

          Any chance you can approach the co-worker with something like this “We’re no longer collaborating the way we used to with bouncing ideas off each other. It seems you’d rather I not be on the team. Am I understanding that correctly?” If she says no, it’s fine you’re on the team, etc., then a conversation should ensue about what your role is in her view because her just doing whatever she wants regardless of your input makes no sense. Might be better at that point to say “It’s clear my input is not necessary since you’re not interested in implementing any of it so perhaps it would be better if I removed myself from the team…”

          Seems confrontational, I know, but calling someone out on their behavior and just putting it on the table sometimes works. It may be that you do get eliminated from the team, in which case you’re in the same spot you are now so no harm, no foul. Or, it may be that calling her out and laying it all out honestly gets her to stop being a jerk. Either way, you can at least feel like you’ve done what you can.

        2. Colette*

          This is quite different from the original question, but I still think that starting on a project by setting up a meeting to talk about how they’re not following the guidelines isn’t a good way to start that relationship. It probably would have been more productive to say something like “I’ve reviewed the guidelines and they say we do X, but it appears we actually do Y – can you confirm Y is the right way to go?”.

          Having said that, you can’t undo that initial conversation.

          I’d suggest tempering your enthusiasm and making sure you’re clear that you want to learn from her (because she is, after all, the expert on how things are done in your organization). If you think there is room for improvement in how the organization is doing things, you can suggest changes, but:
          – suggest one change at a time, and give it time to take before you suggest another
          – listen to any objections (and consider whether they’re valid)
          – be prepared to explain why making the change will help.

        3. Kayza*

          I find this very confusing. You have tons of social media experience and you thought that meeting that you essentially set up to tell your colleague what she is doing wrong was going to be like all other meetings, including “bouncing ideas around”? I can’t imagine that working in social media, and I can’t imagine it working in real life, either. And that’s even before taking into account that this was apparently your first meeting after the new role became official.

        4. Kou*

          I see what you were probably trying to do with the whole printouts of guidelines thing, but you have to understand that was a bad way to start. You came in new to the team in your very first meeting and told her she was doing things wrong, and then even handed her a paper and pointed out where you figured she was doing things wrong.

          Unless your explicit instructions going in were “they’re not following these guidelines and we want you to help them do that,” there’s no reason to assume that guide is important or necessary. The team that’s been working on the project is more likely to know which bits have wiggle room, or may have already made agreements where they had a better plan that didn’t fit in there, or the guidelines could be outdated, or any number of things. It’s strange and presumptuous to jump in on that foot, and a little condescending to accompany it with handouts. Turning back to your boss to complain about her is not going to improve this situation.

        5. Andrea Also*

          Hey Ashley,

          Okay this is way different from the original question.

          * Everybody knows you are on the social media team.
          * You are an official content creator on the FB page.
          * I am going to infer that you are indeed posting then, yes? You are creating content and posting?

          Is this part the problem then:
          “she just does whatever she feels like” ?

          If you haven’t been put in charge of social media, this may be the best outcome you can expect. I don’t hear you saying she is impeding you from writing and publishing your own content.

          FWIW, social media falls under my umbrella. We have multi contributors across platforms but one person who is in charge and one (loose) editorial calendar that is followed. I believe it’s suboptimal to have multiple people going in different directions while customer facing, but if there is no one person in charge, I don’t see how that’s fixed.

          Or, maybe your co-worker doing what she feels like doing is her doing her job the way she is supposed to be or as she understands it be.

          Anyway! If your job is outreach and education, and you’re a content creator, have at it. Post some great material, get engagement, maybe repurpose your content on other platforms. It doesn’t sound like (now) your co-worker is standing in your way so much as she wants to do her own thing.

    3. Anonymous*

      I think even if the boss actually said, “You are now on the social media team” and actually didn’t tell that team, assuming all those things were completely correct as is.

      This was a horrible approach.

      I’m going to find out what’s wrong and go criticize the people who are actually doing the job.

      Step 1 should have been talk to the team lead.
      Step 2 should have been listen to the team lead.

      I have people come up to me often who say “You should do XYZ.”
      I want to say, “Oh that’s so cute, have a cookie you read ProductX 101, now go away.”
      I want to say, “Let me tell you the 300 reasons I can’t do it that way and do it the way I do it. I’m happy to consider what you have to say but first you have to understand I’m actually the expert on what the real restraints and limitations are and I’ve tried a lot of things so listen to me and then I’ll be happy to entertain anything you think is still valuable.”
      I actually say, “Great, thanks for your input.” And then mentally check them off my list of people who might have valuable input in the future.

      1. Lindsay J*

        Yes. I would get frustrated at one of my old jobs because people would start and say “We should really do X, Y, or Z, instead of A,” and then get upset and say that we didn’t listen to their input when we continued doing A.

        The thing was that X was just completely, ridiculously impractical. Y was the way we had done things in the past, but A was more efficient and thus we switched to A. Z was an idea we had considered, however when we went and put serious thought into how implementing it would affect our entire workflow it turned out that Z would not actually be an improvement over A after all. I would explain all this to the employee coming to us with ideas and still get told that we were just stuck in our ways or just dumb. I really wasn’t stuck in my ways – I recognized that the way we did things just didn’t really seem to be the optimal way and was open to new ideas. The new idea just had to be practical to implement and be an improvement over the old way and none of the new ideas ever fit those criteria.

  11. Amy B.*

    Please don’t beat me up too badly for being grammar girl here; but the phrase “could care less” is like nails on a chalkboard to me. Unless the writer is indicating there is still some level of care that could still be given, the phrase should be “could not (couldn’t) care less.” These things bother me. Perhaps I should get some help for that.

    1. Andrea Also*

      Dunno, I’m starting to get immune to stuff like that. It’s all a losing battle — the dictionaries are turning against us.

      Which begs the question:

      Is it them, or is it us?


      (I trust you get the joke.) :)

    2. Person*

      Language changes over time. “Could care less” has become an idiom, even if it’s not logical. You can’t honestly say that you’re confused about what the writer meant.

      Another example of an idiom is “raining cats and dogs.” Also not logical, but we all understand what it means.

      1. Anne*

        But “raining cats and dogs” does not mean, by the actual logical definition of the words, the opposite of what is actually happening. When you say “raining cats and dogs” it doesn’t mean “oh my goodness, cats and dogs are mysteriously appearing and flying up into the sky!”

        Whereas when you say “could care less”, you are actually saying the OPPOSITE of what you mean. It’s not an idiom or a metaphor or a subtle shift in language. It’s just wrong.

        I’m with Amy B. on this one. It drives me nuts too.

        1. Person*

          According to Merriam Webster, an idiom is “an expression that cannot be understood from the meanings of its separate words but that has a separate meaning of its own.” I’d argue that fits.

          Maybe colloquialism is a better word for it, but the point is that we all understand what the phrase means. The combination of words now has a meaning separate from the individual words themselves.

          And I realize the irony here–I’m being obnoxious about something I think is obnoxious. So I’ll stop being obnoxious now. I just woke up on the wrong side of the bed and wanted to express my irritation about a pet peeve of mine (grammar police, who were expressing irritation at a pet peeve of theirs).

          My apologies, and please carry on.

          1. Jen in RO*

            But the “couldn’t care less” form CAN be understood from the meanings of its separate words, I think that’s why most of us hate the “new” version of this phrase.

        2. LeeD*

          “Literally” now also means “figuratively”, according to several dictionaries. I think “could care less” is a battle you’re not going to win, but you might literally blow a gasket trying.

          1. Anonicorn*

            “Literally” now also means “figuratively”

            I literally die inside every time I encounter this.

            1. Cat*

              I’ve never really understood why this one bothers people so much. Not only is it established English usage dating back centuries, it’s also kind of a nicely wry way to emphasize what you’re saying while also tipping to the absurdity of it. (I.e., since the listener knows your head didn’t literally explode, you’re both using an evocative turn-of-phrase but also cuing everyone that you know you’re being a bit over the top, which can be quite useful.

                1. Cat*

                  No, I got it – I just assumed you were expressing real frustration at the use of the word; apologies if not!

        3. fposte*

          “Head over heels” means the opposite of what it’s supposed to mean (and in fact transposed eons ago).

          I like “could care less.” And I will wave my PhD in English in the face of anybody who suggests it’s because I’m uneducated.

          1. Anne*

            I don’t like “head over heels” either. I remember trying to figure it out when I was a kid and deciding it was a silly phrase. :P

            1. fposte*

              Me too! And yet it’s a great example because most people are so used to it that they don’t think about it.

            2. Ellie H.*

              It’s the same in Russian, actually, which I was incredibly confused by the first time I saw that. I never realized until this minute that “head over heels” is exactly the same way. So it’s amusing, but not at all surprising that it registered to me as weird in Russian but not in English.

              1. fposte*

                Yeah, Jen in RO was making me particularly feel for the folks who were dealing with these things in a second language. “It means X. Except when it means the opposite of X. Good luck!”

            1. VintageLydia*

              All language changes tend to be that way, though. The upper crust is and always has been so preoccupied with keeping things “proper” and formal, so the lower classes and youth are the cause of almost every shift in language. IIRC, I heard on NPR that teenaged girls and young women are the most prolific in coming up with new turns of phrase and therefore are the most linguistically important segment of the population.

              Linguistics are very much a trickle up phenomenon.

              1. fposte*

                Sometimes, but actually it’s the middle class that tends to be really concerned with doing things “properly”–the upper crust doesn’t care because it doesn’t have to. It’s kind of like U and Non-U–the non-U usage is always going to be more formal.

                1. VintageLydia*

                  True! I guess when you’re already at the top of the pile with next to zero chance of falling down, you can do what you want.

              2. Elizabeth West*

                Formal writing is about setting standards so everyone can understand what is being said. Technical / instructional writing in particular depends on clarity and correctness, not only of the material, but on how it’s written–bad grammar, poor word choices, and spotty punctuation can change meaning. In some cases, this can actually be dangerous.

                1. VintageLydia*

                  But these types of idioms and phrases are almost exclusively in more informal speech. If they start showing up in contracts and instructions, then yeah, complain away. But as someone already pointed out above, few of these phrases are that new. It’s just the past few decades there has been a LOT more informal speech put to writing than ever before thanks to social media.

          2. Ruffingit*

            I’ve always thought of “could care less” as having a sarcastic twinge to it. As in “I could care less (but not sure how that’s possible since I don’t care at all now).” When I hear that phrase, that is the way I take it.

      1. Andrea Also*


        We are losing on “fewer” and “less”. It makes me insane to hear them used incorrectly except…the grammarians and dictionaries are no longer uniformly in our camp.

        Which begs the question:

        Are we really just old people yelling for those kids to get off of our lawn?

        (I am oh-so-slowly giving up on “begs the question” after a decade of warfare. :( )

        1. Cat*

          “Fewer” and “less” has never been a straightforward dichotomy – and for good reason; a lot of things can’t be sorted according to the “traditional” rule. (I won’t post links to avoid moderation but Language Log has some intelligent posts on the subject that are easily googleable.)

        2. plain jane*

          I am almost resigned to “fewer” and “less”.

          What I cannot cope with is “weary” and “wary”.

          1. fposte*

            Oh, yeah, the leery/wary morph into “weary.” That’s exploded in the last few years, at least in my experience; it’s like it hit a tipping point and leapt into normal use.

            1. jennie*

              This one really bugs me because sometimes it can make the sentence ambiguous. Are you tired of it or suspicious of it?

            2. Anonymous*

              Ugh, that really is the worst. My current linguistic pet peeve (after many, many years of “percentages over 100% when not mathematically appropriate”).

            3. Contessa*

              I thought the use of “weary” was just one friend of mine not knowing the word, but in the last year, it’s EVERYWHERE. I can’t stand it . . .

            4. Ellie H.*

              I see it all the time too. I think another reason for it might be that “wear” is pronounced the same as the “war-” in “wary.”

              One of my personal idiosyncracies is that I have a tendency to replace all prepositions with “of” (mostly where you’re supposed to say “by” or “about” instead). As in “bored of,” “nervous of,” undoubtedly some weirder “of”-isms I’m forgetting now, etc. I usually don’t bother to correct this in colloquial speech but I have to remember not to do it in work email or whatever. I know it’s not incredibly uncommon but it’s a little less precise.

        3. JMegan*

          My mother is very big on “begs the question” as well. Apparently it means “avoids the question”, rather than “prompts the question”, which is how it’s usually used. I think she knows it’s a losing battle, but she’s still fighting!

          1. esra*

            It would be a winning battle if people described more like you did here. Instead it always seems to be 3-4 not terribly clear paragraphs on the true meaning.

            1. fposte*

              The problem with a short description is that the phrase means what it meant in Latin, not what it means in English (it involves neither begging nor questions), and that it’s additionally got some specific philosophical meanings that most of us don’t care about. But the meaning isn’t even simply “avoiding the question”–it’s a circular reasoning fallacy, like “Chocolate teapots suck, because they’re absolutely terrible.” Okay, but why do they suck? “Because they’re terrible.” Why are they terrible? “Because they suck.” The internet has been a real boon to this logical fallacy, as you can see in just about any comments flame war.

    3. Iain Clarke*

      I can be a bit pet-peevey too about many things, but this one I solved for myself:

      Think of it as shorthand for:

      “I could care less (but not by much)”.

      So it’s a marginally nicer version of “could not care less”.


      1. Cat*

        I think of it as a sarcastic version. “I could care less, but it would take too much effort to bother.”

        1. Loose Seal*

          This is exactly what I think when I hear “could care less.” My head replies, sarcastically: “Well, then you just go ahead and care less!!”

        2. Ruffingit*

          I just posted the same thing above so it looks like I’m not alone in this. Glad to know that. The phrase I could care less has always just seemed a sarcastic reply to me. That’s how I hear it when it’s stated.

    4. Anonymous*

      Don’t worry, I was debating whether I should point this out! It drives me nuts. Could you care more? Or are you at the limit of caring? GRRRRR

      1. Person*

        When trying to decide whether to correct someone’s usage or grammar, you should ask yourself four questions:

        1. Is this person a student of mine?
        2. Is this person a child?
        3. Is this person an employee of mine whose job requires proper grammar?
        4. Is the suggestion a constructive one to a person who might be embarrassed by the mistake, and is the suggestion made in private?

        If the answer to all of those questions is “no,” then you should not point it out.

        1. Anonymous*

          Well the problem is when often ppl use the wrong saying or word (such as above) it completely changes what you mean.

          1. Elysian*

            In the past I got all bothered by the use of poor grammar. Then I saw xkcd comic number 386 (since I can’t link) and now I just think of that and go to my zen place.

          2. fposte*

            Did you misunderstand the poster and think she meant something entirely different, though? I don’t think most of us did.

            Additionally, AAM has been pretty clear that correcting her material is okay but correcting the OP’s isn’t, because it discourages people from writing in.

            1. Anonymous*

              Listen, I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but just b/c I understand someone who says “it’s a mute point” doesn’t change it from being wrong.

              But I get that this is my pet peeve (and I generally just quietly simmer) and I think my frustration just stems from the sloppiness I see creeping into writing more and more.

              1. Cat*

                I’m going to propose a possible framing for you: people are not more sloppy in their use of language, written or oral, than they ever were. There’s plenty of evidence that different kinds of slang, idioms, and outright mistakes have been with us as long as language, written and oral, has been.

                What has changed is that you’re now seeing worlds more informal writing than you ever had before. It used to be that your exposure to informal English was almost entirely through speech, probably (unless you’re quite young). People certainly use the same sorts of idioms and make the same sorts of debatable errors in informal conversation as they do in informal written communication – however they’re less noticeable because (a) it goes faster; (b) you can’t see whether they’re really using a homophone and, anyway, varying accents and pronunciation muddles things; and (c) you’re also relying on visual cues and cues from the person’s body language and tone of voice, so you’re not judging them purely by the language used; the particularities of it thus take on less importance.

                The Internet has changed that – we’re now bombarded by many, many more examples of casual language usage in writing. It is what it is. But it doesn’t represent the decline of people caring about formal language; for that you actually have to look at formal language usage to reach any conclusions.

                1. Iain Clarke*

                  Very well said. It’s a bit like the world seeming far more scary nowadays. No, it’s safer [*], but you get to hear about all the scary stuff, not just the local ones.

                  [*] Assuming US / North europe. The above statement does not apply to readers in Syria.

                2. Elizabeth West*

                  Yeah, but when it shows up in what is supposed to be professional writing (not a letter written to a blog, or comments, etc., but actual articles in major publications), then it cheapens writing in general. It’s already hard enough to make any money doing it, let alone when the quality justifies the rapidly-shrinking pay.

                3. Cat*

                  Elizabeth, I’m not sure I follow that logic – if some publications are poor quality (and they are) and people like us avoid them (which we do), doesn’t that just make it easier for well written, quality writing to capture the market? I feel like the bigger problem is the willingness of many people to distribute high quality writing on the Internet for free.

              2. fposte*

                Sure, but you just said the problem was it changed the meaning. And if you understood the meaning, then that wasn’t a problem.

                I mean, I correct stuff for a living; I get that there are rules. But they don’t really apply to correcting people on a blog, especially when you understood their comment, and the uses you don’t like don’t necessarily occur because people know less than you.

              3. A Bug!*

                Listen, I don’t mean to belabor the point, but did you know that it’s not actually a physical requirement for you to point out errors when you notice them? Sure, it’s wrong. But that doesn’t mean you literally must alert the writer to them.

                If the error creates a genuine confusion as to what the message coneys, then sure, clarify the point. But to go out of your way to correct someone’s language when it doesn’t change the reasonably-understood meaning of the message? That’s a habit of tedious people.

                I’m a fan of Miss Manners, and there is a piece of advice that comes up on a regular basis, in response to someone who has written in asking about how to correct someone’s behavior (or seeking validation for a correction already made). The response is, “Gentle reader, it is exceedingly rude to correct anyone’s behavior but your children’s.” And I hate to break it to you, but that goes for correcting others’ language, as well.

                1. fposte*

                  Yup. I like Person’s pre-correction checklist above–it covers possible job situations where it makes sense to correct as well, like the “library/liberry” situation that got discussed on AAM a year or so ago.

                  As Liz said so nicely in the costume thread, you can be right and still hurt the discourse. Corrections hurt the discourse, even if they’re given with the notion of improving it.

              4. TychaBrahe*

                For me, it’s a sad reminder that people don’t read nearly enough. You cannot possibly confuse “aisle” and “isle” when you’ve read pirate stories and romances. You confuse them when you’ve learned the bulk of your language through listening.

                1. VintageLydia*

                  What’s funny is the opposite problem. I’ve read so so so many more words than I’ve actually heard, so I mispronounce things ALL THE TIME.

                2. ThursdaysGeek*

                  @Elizabeth West: I shook my head and sat up. There was debris from the shipwreak all around me on the hard sand beach. Close by was a shopping cart, and I could use that to pick up other items to help me survive. I pushed the cart down the isle.

                3. ThursdaysGeek*

                  @Elizabeth West – You made me laugh, and reminded me of a poem from my childhood:
                  Little Miss Muffet
                  Sat on a tuffet
                  Eating her curds and whey.
                  Along came a spider
                  And sat down besider her
                  And she smashed it with her spoon.

              5. Windchime*

                It’s kind of like when people use shorthand like “b/c” instead of typing out the word “because”.

                There are tons of typos and mis-used words out on the Intranets these days. The comments on this blog are generally very well written. I’m impressed at the level of thoughtful, well-written dialog here, so it’s easy for me to overlook typos and mis-used words for the most part. Also, I’m sure that my posts have plenty of errors!

                I usually just let it go, even when someone writes a post that I literally (and I truly mean “literally”) cannot understand. Those types of posts are very, very rare here.

                1. Editor*

                  Typos happen. I have gradually weaned myself of the habit of proofreading and editing the world.

                  A tactful reader should be reluctant to infer that every writer yearns for lectures about minor errors. Being reticent is preferable to implying a writer is incompetent.

    5. V*

      The could care less/couldn’t care less thing used to bother me, but I did some research on it at one point and found that the phrase “I could care less” originated as a sarcastic question, as in “I could care less (about this trivial issue)?” It was popularized by British fighter pilots in WWII to show bravado, ex. “I could care less about the terrible weather? Let me go fight.” In the sarcastic question format, “I could care less” makes sense.

      1. Anonymous*

        What drives me crazy nowadays is using “loose” instead of “lose”. I never used to see this, and now it is done incorrectly almost all of the time.

        No one seems to know the difference between “your” and “you’re”, and they don’t know the difference between “their”, “they’re”, and “there”.

  12. Michele*

    #7 while it has been quite some time that I have worked retail every store I have worked stayed open until the last customer was out the door. I have worked in small boutiques, the mall, and stores on 5th avenue in NYC. It didn’t matter what time the customer came in we stayed open. One person generally helped the customer while the rest of the staff worked on closing duties. This included locking the front door/rolling the gate half way down when we were considered officially closed, counting unused registers, cleaning, etc. It is good customer service and being chased out of any store would make me re-think doing any kind of business there again.

  13. Observer*

    #1 – the one whose being frozen out of the social media team. You may very well be right about the team’s materials not following the company rules, but it strikes me that your social media manager may have a very good reason to worry about your involvement in the team. Here’s the thing – Social media does not just involve broadcasting information you want to get out, it also means actually engaging with customers, some of whom are not going to be on the same page with you or your company policies.

    So, how are you going to react when you get this kind of stuff? Are you going to try to be positive and empathetic, or are you going to throw the rule book at them, and in general just provide a negative response? Given that the very first thing you did when you joined the team was to find out what was wrong with the team and then give the team lead a lecture, even though you are not in a position of authority, I can see the other person not wanting you involved.

    At this point, you need to find some way to reassure your colleague that you can bring some positive energy to the table, not just fault finding; that you are willing to act as a colleague rather than as the supervisor (your unsolicited meeting and “discussion” accompanied by a printout of everything that is out of compliance is supervisor not colleague behavior); and that in any case, you know hot to appropriately engage outsiders.

    This is not a small thing. Some of the biggest social media disasters I have seen (often big enough to have off-line effects) have been due to just the type of attitude you seem to be projecting.

    1. Ashley*

      Hi, thanks for your feedback. I hear you and your comments. I have since apologized for my behavior and my coworker has apologized in how she handled the situation.

      Since this talk, despite my efforts to recover from by big misstep, I still feel like there’s a bit of a cold shoulder on her part. My question to you is, how does one go forward at this point?

      1. fposte*

        What does “cold shoulder” mean in terms of work? Does it mean that nothing you say will ever be implemented? What exactly is the process for deciding what will be implemented and who implements it, and who officially has authority over that? Does she say things will be changed and then they’re not? Can she give some specific deadlines for those changes?

        Right now it sounds like you’re kind of operating as a consultant and she has the final say, and she doesn’t want to change anything. Absent managerial input, that’s going to make it tough for you to have an effect. Is there anything you can do to be more clearly her ally, then? Can you go out for coffee and talk about the obstacles and challenges the media team is facing, and invite her to share what she’s seeing as the priority rather than the consistency you’re promoting? Maybe there’s back-end stuff that’s crazy messed up or something.

      2. B*

        This is one of those things that will just take time. You made a huge misstep so now the only thing that can start to repair it is time. There is nothing else to be done, you have apologized, she has apologized. It’s just patience, being open to listening to what she has to say, and taking things in stride.

        1. Ellie H.*

          I’m no social media expert but it doesn’t necessarily seem like a “huge misstep” to me. It seems clear that the LW could have approached the new strategies for collaboration in a better way, but also that the co-worker could have reacted better, and perhaps that she should have had a more reasonable idea of what to expect, based on earlier indications that the LW was going to be much more incorporated into the social media team in the future.

          1. B*

            I’m curious. How could the co-worker have reacted better? The OP said here are all of the things you are doing wrong, here is why they are wrong, and here is how I am going to do it all correctly. I would consider that a huge misstep when you are coming into a new department and know nothing about it.

            1. fposte*

              But that doesn’t mean what the OP was saying was wrong, either. Even if the co-worker isn’t thrilled to hear it, she needs to either contextualize why that can’t be a priority right now or discuss the work of compliance, and not just freeze the OP out on the work she’s supposed to do.

              I get why the co-worker was unhappy, but it’s still not right for her to do her job poorly as a result, and that’s what’s happening here.

            2. Ellie H.*

              The thing is that it’s not that the OP knew nothing about that department; she had been specifically hired for her social media experience and had been previously included in other aspects of social media work in the company. While the coworker may not have had an extremely explicit “announcement” from the boss that the OP was officially added to the social media team and would now be doing X and Y in addition to Z, it seems clear that from previous communications – the OP wrote “Throughout this approval process, my boss included my coworker on the email exchanges so she would know what was going to happen” – that the coworker should have been aware that the OP was being added to the social media team, so she shouldn’t have reacted with such surprise. Again, the OP could have prefaced the meeting better and that would have likely produced a better outcome, but it’s not the worst thing in the world that she didn’t.

              It’s one of those situations where two people acting in a less than ideal way produce a bad outcome, whereas if one person had acted less than ideal way but the other person had acted ideally, the outcome will be fine- just a bad interaction of factors.

          2. Diane*

            I agree. I feel like too many people are assuming the OP forced herself into a situation, when in fact she clarified that she asked why practice differed so much from policy after she’d been invited to contribute. There may well be backstory–maybe her coworker felt challenged because she knew she’d deviated from policy and didn’t like feeling “caught,” or her coworker expected the OP to contribute content but not address the higher-level decisions, or she suddenly felt territorial, or any of a hundred possibilities.

            Anyway, even if the OP had made a giant mess (which I don’t think she did), let’s answer her question.

            [clears throat]

            Sit down with the coworker and clarify the scope of each person’s responsibilities.

            Discuss the most effective ways to communicate about problems, gaps, ideas, and feedback.

            Agree to periodic feedback sessions, preferably over delicious coffee.

            Refer back to the agreements whenever things get weird.

  14. Observer*

    #5 who wasn’t being promoted, because f a crying incident.

    You are not being held back because of that one incident. You are being held back because your boss doesn’t like you. There is nothing HR is going to do for you in that case, unless you have solid reason to believe that it’s about your being a member of a protected category, and it doesn’t seem like that.

    That incident is nothing but an excuse.

    You really only have two choices. One is to see if you can get a lateral transfer which will allow you to grow within the company down the line, or to start looking for a new job.

    And, yes, it stinks.

    1. some1*

      +1. There’s no reason for any boss to bring up the stuff he did (like that he doesn’t like you). And I’m sorry this happened to you.

    2. fposte*

      I agree with this. The six-years-ago thing is just the peg they’re hanging it on. I also think mentioning the graduate degree and the mom thing weren’t likely to help and were probably best skipped–this is about your fitness for promotion, so your personal life doesn’t belong in there. I understand why you felt the need to include them, but it’s basically playing into their hands in a way you want to resist.

        1. fposte*

          I get that the OP felt the need to justify herself, but it’s the basic political error of accepting the premise of the question. Reject that premise!

  15. KellyK*

    For #7, it depends on a lot of things. To start off with, are the customers who stay late actually purchasing enough to cover the extra pay for the employees who have to work later? (Either right then and there or over the time they’ve been loyal customers) Are you going to lose good employees because (for example) they keep missing the last bus home?

    I think that if you’ve *already* closed, it’s more than reasonable not to unlock, stop what you’re doing, and let latecomers in. If they were there already at closing time, then a few minutes’ grace would probably be expected.

    Forty-five minutes after close is beyond what I, personally, would call reasonable, and way past what I’d ever expect as a customer. The hours are posted, and my schedule is not the company’s problem. Like other people have said, I do get annoyed at places that close *earlier* than their posted time.

    The only thing I would say really firmly is that you owe it to your employees to make your expectations clear to them. If they might be required to stay an hour over with no notice, that’s absolutely something they should be aware of before they take the job.

    1. SB*

      Also, if you expect employees to stay late for customers, you should allow overtime. Many retail establishments have a no overtime policy. In college I worked at several different retail establishments, from small boutiques to large department stores and each and everyone had a policy that any employee accruing over time would be warned first and then fired. I cannot tell you how many retail employees flouted employment law by clocking out and continuing to work for fear of being fired.

      1. KellyK*

        Yeah, that’s just insane. It should go completely without saying that if you expect extra work, you have to actually pay for it, and it’s really sad that “punish people for not working for free” is considered a valid business strategy.

    2. exretailer*

      In my years of retail I never had a straggler spend enough money to justify keeping the place open. Usually they’d either buy nothing or buy something cheap, and harass the staff while they were at it.

      One place I worked a woman slipped in unnoticed as the store was closing and was locked in the store overnight. I bet she checks hours more carefully now.

  16. Rindle*

    #4 – If my boss told me unsolicited to “make it a three-day weekend,” I would not expect to be charged PTO. I mean, it wouldn’t even have crossed my mind. After all, if I wanted to take vacation, I would ask for the time off. And FWIW, I’ve worked for a broad spectrum of companies and managers. That said, I don’t think there’s anything you can say or do here without it reflecting poorly on you. I think you just have to take it as a lesson learned – about assumptions, negotiating, etc. I’m sorry!

    1. The IT Manager*

      I agree. If without any prompting from me my boss suggested I take a three-day weekend, I would assume that my boss was giving me an extra, free day off and not suggesting to me how to use my available PTO. I would see it as (1) admitting that there was no work for me to do in the office so I might as well not be there or (2) some sort of compensation/reward for all my hard work. Especially in the context of studying for a certification exam on my own time that will benefit the company.

      So I do not think LW#4’s misunderstanding is wholey her fault or an outragious assumption. That said, I think AAM’s suggestion on what to do to probably right.

      LW#4 you have two separate issues. The misunderstanding and loss of one day of PTO is minor in comparision to the fact that you feel your compensation is not in line with market standards. I think you need to pick one of these to fight. If however it is company standard not offer financial assistance and time off to study for the exam then more gumption to neogoiate before the offer would not have made much difference.

      TL;DR: I don’t think the misunderstanding is your fault, but there may be nothing you can do about it.

      1. De Minimis*

        Smaller firms tend to do this more than larger ones. I agree, I wouldn’t have expected it to come from my leave either. But I also agree that there probably isn’t much you can do about it.

        At a lot of firms you have periods where there isn’t as much to do, especially as a junior associate. I was allowed to study for the exam in the office, assuming there wasn’t anything else going on, but not all firms do that.

      2. bert*

        Yes, It was naive of me to assume it was a free day off. I was thinking the best of my boss and thought he was being generous. In the past he has offered a day off and it was not taken from PTO. It is more common for him to offer a day off near a holiday. 4th of July “Eve”, Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve for example. Also, I would rather choose which day I use PTO for rather than be told that I should take it on a particular day. For instance I could have taken that day tomorrow, the day before my exam.

        The reason I was thinking of approaching both issues is that if I did not have to use PTO for exam days I would have an additional week of PTO available in the case I were sick, etc.

        Another issue is that I am sitting at work most days with very little billable or productive work. It definitely irritates me that I could be studying instead. My coworkers sit at their desks and study for continuing education paid for by the firm. I haven’t pushed the idea because my boss didn’t like it form the beginning. I got the impression that he wasn’t allowed study time at work several decades ago when he sat for his exams.

        1. dejavu2*

          My first job out of college had a terrible PTO policy. I remember they described it to me as “competitive,” which in the decade since I’ve determined is code for “horribly out of sync with industry norms”. One morning I was really sick, and I called my supervisor to ask what I should do, since I didn’t have any PTO available. She was uncharacteristically sweet on the phone, and told me to stay home and we’d “work it out.” Turned out that meant I got docked for a day’s pay.

          Your boss needs to realize it’s no longer 1953, or whatever, and it’s insane that they’re expecting you to pass the CPA exam without providing you with any compensation or support. But it also sounds like (and I’m not an accountant, so I may be wrong) if there’s so much down time, your firm might be experiencing some financial distress.

          Based on the info in your letter, if we were friends, I would advise you to actively seek work elsewhere. Good luck.

          1. bert*

            We are tax focused so we work ungodly hours (80+ hours a week) during tax season and are slow the remainder of the year. We expect to be hiring another person soon, so I don’t believe we are in any distress.

            I HAVE been looking for another job. Although, I am picky because although I think my firm is absurdly behind the times in some areas (employee benefits), I don’t want to jump ship just because of PTO or study policies. I have considered a different job because my firm is not in alignment with similar firms (pay, benefits, required tax season hours, training, etc.)

            Unfortunately, in our field we are expected to be extremely flexible with our time. During tax season we are not allowed a day (or night) off unless we are extremely ill. I took Easter off last year and was given “stink eye.” I knew this when I entered the field, but expectations can be warped beyond what is reasonable.

            I have decided not to say anything about any PTO issues. I don’t think there is a way to frame it to my boss that won’t make me appear to be whining about time off. As a side note, I’m not terribly upset about taking unpaid leave if I were sick. My boss does not like anyone to take unpaid leave. (Even if it means sitting at desk with no billable work). As soon as I finish my exams I will devote more time to finding a position elsewhere. There are other issues I just “deal with” that are lame. No one issue is enough to switch jobs, but all together are enough to have me aggressively looking.

            1. De Minimis*

              Try to stick it out through this coming tax season, then maybe look during the summer. It sounds like you’ll have two tax seasons under your belt at that point, which is basically 2 years of experience in the tax accounting world. I agree that it’s best not to bring it up anymore, it will probably be viewed as complaining.

              If possible, it would be best to pass the exam and get your CPA license, then start looking. I’m sure you could find a firm that was somewhat more with the times. It’s a shame this one is so inflexible, usually people like working at smaller firms due to better flexibility in scheduling.

        2. Rindle*

          I really don’t think it was naive, *especially* if your boss has done the same thing in the past and not charged your PTO. If you’re right that he feels this way because he didn’t get study time back in the day, I think you might want to be extra careful. There’s such a typical and unfortunate human tendency to think, “I had to walk barefoot uphill in the snow to take my exam, why should Bert get all these fancy accommodations” (or whatever).

          If you’ve only asked once (a while ago) about being allowed to study at work, and if things are truly slow, you might consider respectfully asking again. That’s the most important thing right now, right? Preparing for the exam? (As opposed to arguing to get 8 hours’ PTO back in case you get sick.) Because when you pass, you can start looking for another position at a firm more in line market standards (and a supervisor who is maybe a better fit for you).

          1. bert*

            I agree Rindle. It’s not worth fighting about. They haven’t had a CPA candidate at the firm before. Everyone already has their CPA (they are mostly older.)

            I do feel that he want’s to make it as hard as he perceived his experience was. I also have the impression that I am meant to somehow “earn it” by doing this with no assistance. And yes, things are truly slow. I hinted the other week that I had nothing to do and could use my time in other ways. He promptly gave me administrative tasks to help out (usually the job of our “so so” receptionist.) Other CPA’s in the firm don’t have to do these tasks when they are not busy.

            1. De Minimis*

              He sounds like kind of a jerk, honestly. Most firms want their employees to be licensed because they can start doing more in-depth work, gaining experience, and bringing in more revenue. They will do whatever they can to make it easier for the new people to pass the exam. But them not having had a candidate before explains a lot. I guess that is one of the pitfalls of working at some smaller firms–sometimes these are not set up well for new employees.

              This should be the prime opportunity for you to get some sections of the exam out of the way if not the whole thing, hard to believe your boss does not realize that.

              Hoping that once busy season starts you’ll at least get more experience. Unfortunately you probably will need to put the exam on hold until after that. Good luck!

    2. Jen in RO*

      I would’ve figured that it’s a “free” day off too.

      And now I’m starting to worry that the day off the entire company gets next Friday will come out of my PTO…

    3. EM*

      I agree as well. I was thinking, “Well, geez, I guess I am naive too, ” because I don’t think it would have occurred to me that the boss would deduct PTO if he was the one who suggested a day off and phrased it like the OP described.

  17. Allison*

    From the customer’s standpoint, I’ve never felt offended or put out when someone said “we’re closing.” There have been times where I’ve been in a store, heard the announcement that the store was closing in 5 minutes, and made my way to the door, or till if I was gonna buy something. If someone said “hey, we’re closing, could you please wrap it up?” I would be okay with it. If I approached a store and an employee said “we’re actually closing now” I’d say “okay” and go away. Why? Because they should be able to close when they close, and I’m not entitled to take advantage of people just because “I’m the customer and it’s their job to serve me.” I certainly wouldn’t stop going to a certain store over it.

    Don’t get me wrong, bad customer service exists. But cashiers rolling their eyes at me, asking personal questions about my lifestyle when I buy energy drinks, or yelling at me for not hearing them the first time they asked a question is bad customer service; asking me to leave at closing time isn’t.

    1. SB*

      Thank you! I’m sorry, but I find it terribly entitled to say a store that wants to close on time when I’m still wanting to shop has bad customer service and would lose my business.

      People forget that they are not the only special snowflake in the world, and if one customer thinks it’s OK for them, then 10, 20, 100 other customers probably feel the same way. Your extra 20-30 minutes isn’t built into the employee’s day. I promise you that most retail stores DO NOT allow employees overtime. That employee is expected to clock out on time and have their work done, and it is because of customers like you that employment laws are flouted. In many retail establishments, if employees clock out late or accrue overtime, they are fired. Also, if employees do not close the store properly, they are fired. As a late customer you are putting the employee in an impossible situation. Either they wait for you, get all the work done and clock out late; they wait for you, and don’t get all the work done; or clock out, wait for you and get all the work done all while illegally not getting paid because they fear losing their jobs. So, maybe you should rethink what you’re demanding as a “loyal” customer. Is the price of your loyalty really worth that person’s livelihood?

      1. Allison*

        “Overtime” in retail doesn’t work the way people seem to think. Yes, you are legally obligated to pay hourly employees time and a half if they go over 40 hours per week, HOWEVER, most retail employees aren’t scheduled for that many hours, so that extra time doesn’t actually pay at a higher rate.

        1. SB*

          Having worked in a number of retail places from small boutiques to large department stores. Yes, many retail establishments do not schedule all employees at 40, but most retailers do have several employees at or close to full time. It would be impossible to have only part time employees. And any number of employees are scheduled close to the full time cut-off, so 35-38 hours. And frequently those hours are spread out over 5-7 days, so if you’re closing every day for 3-4 days, and you have customers staying in the store 20-30 minutes past closing every day (and then must tack on extra time for closing), you can easily reach over 40 hours.

    2. PPK*

      I’m with you — if it’s closing time and I’m meandering about, I don’t mind if they let me know it’s closing time.

      There are a couple local businesses in town that I often can only visit close to closing time, but I’m careful to keep an eye on my watch and wrap things up by closing time.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Me three. I like to go to the flea market, but if I get off at five and they close at six, that’s not enough time to enjoy my wandering. So I save it until the weekend and go during the day when I can meander to my heart’s content.

  18. kdizzle*

    #6 – Have no fear; When I was interviewing on crutches, I had my best string of interviews / job offers of my career.

    I had knee surgery for a torn ACL (an unfortunate flag football injury in my alumni league), and still had a giant brace. It was a great ice breaker…people were able to learn several personal facts about me right away and I was (I assume) very memorable. As I recall, I wore skirt and a pair of very comfortable gym shoe / flats that were clearly not interview attire. In fact, the doctor told me I no longer had to wear the brace two days before my last interview. Since I was still walking like Frankenstein without the brace, it just made sense to leave it on so people could tell there was an obvious injury to my leg.

    1. Andrea*

      I’m glad this worked out for you and hope it does for the OP as well.

      …that said, now I’m wondering if there is going to be a new trend of perfectly healthy and non-injured interviewees showing up with crutches they don’t need. (Hey, it could happen—-it’s even a little less nutty that a lot of the gimmicks out there.)

      1. Amy B.*

        Don’t steal my idea! I’m pretty sure I have an old knee brace in the attic and I just found my old crutches in the closet. Time to dust off the resume… Just kidding, just kidding.

      2. Windchime*

        I’m not looking for a job right now, but since I’ll be wearing a huge brace until January, maybe this is the time I should start exploring options. Do I get extra points if I come in on my knee scooter? :)

    2. Kate*

      Thanks I’m expecting this to be my only interview while on the crutches but it’s good to know it may make me memorable :)

      1. Steph*

        I’m a bit late to this discussion, but I had my first professional job interview while in a knee-high walking boot and crutches (in the summer in Virginia, no less). It was for a position working with students at a university, which means it was a full day (9-5) interview. It was a great conversation starter, and certainly made me memorable when I returned to start working there! I honestly can’t remember what shoes I wore, but I’m fairly certain it was a skirt suit and either my most nondescript sneakers or some sort of flats. Everyone was so understanding that the footwear really wasn’t an issue. Good luck!

  19. Allison*

    #4 – This happened to me too! I requested four days off in September (Tuesday-Friday) from my boss. He approached me and told me that if we weren’t busy, I could take Monday off too. I had absolutely no issues with coming in that day, since I was saving my days for the rest of the year very carefully, but since he approached me, I agreed. I put in some extra time the week before, and sure enough, my boss texted me Monday morning and said “I think you’re feeling sick…enjoy your vacation!” Since everything was so up in the air I didn’t plan anything and just puttered around all day.

    Come to find out, my boss docked me a sick day for that day. I’m annoyed, because he wasn’t clear about it up front and now I’m out of sick days for the rest of the year. I haven’t said anything, since I felt like it would make me sound naive to approach him about. But I will definitely get the particulars next time a day off is suggested, such as: “Will this come out of my PTO? Because I’d rather save that for when I need it.”

  20. Yup*

    #5 As I read the first part of your post, I wondered if the dept head was one of those work overlord robots who expect employees to leave everything personal — including bereavement and serious illness — at the door, and be 100% about the company 100% of the time. (Unreasonable, but it happens.) In which case, it’s probably not salvageable: he’s (wrongly) tagged you as “unreliable” and if seven years of high performance hasn’t changed that, then I don’t know what would.

    But this part: “He responded by calling me into a meeting, telling me he didn’t like me, that we weren’t friends, that I was cold and distant, and that I should get professional counseling.” Whoa. Those aren’t constructive criticisms of your work or skills — that phrasing sounds personal and a bit vicious, frankly. If this is how he talks to his employees, I wonder whether you want to work for him at all?

  21. Ashley*

    #1 – Hey guys, I’m the person that originally submitted the question. Here are somethings that were left out. There are certain nuances that weren’t fully captured about my job and the circumstances surrounding my addition to the social media team. A part of my job is performing outreach and education. My boss and my coworker (the one in question) were the ones who interviewed me. They knew when they hired me that I had a ton of social media experience and specifically said in the interview that they’d like me on the social media team. When I started the job, I was added to the Outreach and Social Media committee. So my presence and expertise was not questioned when it came to social media.

    Cut to 5 months later in my new job, my boss finally does add me to the social media team (Facebook). In my organization, its completely structured, my addition had to be approved on all kinds of levels. So its not like she randomly decided or I just decided to put myself on the team. Throughout this approval process, my boss included my coworker on the email exchanges so she would know what was going to happen. It took about 3 months before I was officially added as one of the content creators for our Facebook page.

    During that time, my coworker and I were still cordial and we got along quite nicely. We even talked about a lot of ideas about content and things we could do. And that’s when I started looking into my organization’s guidelines.

    Imagine my surprise at the cold shoulder when the official word comes down that I’m now a content creator. I went into the meeting thinking it would be like every other time before. We’d bounce some ideas of and hammer out the details. Instead, it didn’t go like that at all. She later apologized for the rudeness but she gave no explanation as to why.

    Since then, like the post indicates, we don’t bounce off ideas any more and she just does whatever she feels like.

    Going to my boss about this is a non-starter, she doesn’t get involved at all. Even when its warranted.

    1. Anonymous*

      Have you tried asking your coworker what you could help with? What she is doing? Why she is doing it the way she is doing it? You keep talking about bouncing ideas. That may not work in an environment where you need immediate response and consistent presence. So instead of trying to bounce things, try to ask some questions in a genuinely interested way.

      1. Ashley*

        You raise a good point. I haven’t asked her why she is doing it the way she is doing it. When I say she “does whatever she wants” she is reposting a lot of content that other organizations are doing vs. what our organization is doing (e.g. our events, workshops, cool finds in our collections – I work at a library).

        I have asked in the past what she needs help with or her thoughts on what she wants to post in the future. This is when I get the cold shoulder. By cold shoulder I mean, she’s very abrupt gives short, curt answers in the yes or no variety. This is a big contrast from how she normally is which is very warm and friendly. Prior to this, she’s one of the few people in my office that I felt comfortable talking to about a variety of things. It seems when it comes to this she doesn’t like me involved.

        I find, however, since I’ve been on the social media team that my colleagues are frequently coming to me with new ideas rather than my coworker. Again, I don’t know if its my personality or what.

        1. Anonymous*

          Does she have a plan? Is she too overworked to be able to take on the internal items? (Which may be the case of why you were asked to join the team.) Are there things she’d like to be able to do that she can’t because she doesn’t have time and now you are coming in and doing the fun and interesting work and that’s frustrating her?

  22. Rich*

    OP 3- Sometimes companies won’t hire temps to full-time because they don’t see a need for permanent hire, yes; other times, companies find it cheaper to go with temps because they don’t have to worry about benefits or unemployment (which can also cost them more money if they let you go after having you for six more months and you file).

    OP5- Run. If your manager doesn’t like you, and is holding a grudge about it for six years, you’re better off finding another job without a glass ceiling.

    OP6- Don’t worry about it too much. Make sure your sneakers are clean, and your interviewers will understand.

    OP7- It’s not fair to the staff. Why have business hours posted if they can be so arbitrarily rearranged? The best way to address it would be to say something like, “Hey, Jane, while I understand these customers are loyal to us and we want to accommodate them as much as possible, it’s becoming counterproductive to obligate the staff to stay so late.” If there have been staff complaints about this, cite those, too. The idea is to spin it as both staff morale and profitability; say the purchase is $300, how much of that money goes to paying for the lights, the staff’s extra time, etc.?

  23. Juana*

    #6: I interviewed for my current job in an aircast boot, a light grey color that completely stuck out against my black suit. The hiring manager noticed it before I could say anything, so I said something like “Oh, it’s embarrassing because I don’t even have a good story. I’m just a klutz.” There was some joking about stories I could make up to explain the injury, and it didn’t come up again. So just wear the aircast or crutches and don’t worry!

    1. Kate*

      I’m #6

      Luckily mine isn’t large so I can put it under my pants but I just can’t really get shoes on. It might actually be fractured and I’m getting more X-rays this week. In that case I will have something larger I assume.

      I don’t have a good injury story either. I just fell down some stairs. I am also interviewing at a medical office for a desk job so I’m assuming they won’t blink an eye at the crutches.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I’d actually NOT put it under your pants — as someone pointed out above, you want them to see it and know what the situation is and why you’re wearing informal shoes!

        1. Kate*

          It’s pretty tight fitting, but I guess I could switch to a skirt with tights. I haven’t fully picked out an outfit yet so I will work on it. Thank you!

    2. Gene*

      I interviewed for a job involving lots of field work while in a wheelchair with the elevated foot in a fuzzy slipper. The ankle damage from a motorcycle collision wasn’t bad enough for a cast, but there was no way a shoe was going on that foot.

      I was offered the job too.

  24. Barolo Boy*

    #7: I worked in a higher-end family-run wine shop for several years, where long-time customers (20-30 years) would often come in 15 mins before closing. And we had to lock the doors at a certain time per city law, because we sold alcoholic beverages. We also sold other, non-alcohol merchandise, and sometimes they were looking for that merchandise. But NO receipts could be time-stamped past 10pm.

    Either way, at 15 minutes before closing, I’d walk the store and announce the closing time. I also informed any customers walking in the same thing. Long time customers (that we recognized – very important to remember) always understood so they would leave a credit card # (often it was on file anyway), take the merchandise and we would just ring it up the next day.

    Quite frankly, it was tough luck for anyone who didn’t understand, be they long or short time customers.

  25. April*

    #4 – I disagree completely with AAM. Companies, and managers, are so different that there the generalization isn’t accurate. In the past 20 years of work, about half of my employers would have meant to take PTO time, and the other half would have been giving it as a reward. BOTH would have offered it in the same fashion.

    Use it as a learning experience and know that you need to clarify exactly what he means in the future.

  26. D*

    #7 : I’m also a manager of a retail store. If this is happening frequently, I think a better alternative is to be open late one or two evenings each week. It takes the stress off of your staff trying to get the customers out of there, and it gives your customers the ability to shop there after work. Everybody wins.
    And I’ll add – people who work retail pretty much always want more hours. You’ll definitely be able to find staff to work an extra hour or two each week.

    1. B*

      I agree with you partially. If there are a lot of customers coming in late then yes, have a day or two when you are open late. Then your employees can also say “I’m sorry we are closing at 6 today but on such and such we stay open until 8.”

      As for the , always want more hours. That is not true. For a large organization probably, but for smaller stores not so much. There is a lot more stress and exhaustion. They just want to get home and have their own time. Staying late is beyond frustrating and can be quite cost ineffective.

      1. Allison*


        If someone depends on their job to pay the bills, then yes, more hours is usually better. However, if someone is working multiple jobs or balancing work with school, more hours may not be all that welcome.

        1. exretailer*

          And by more hours they usually want more shifts, not staying an extra hour some nights and missing the bus.

  27. Katie the Fed*

    #5 – I’ve totally been there. I got way too emotional one time in the office when I had been working 13 hour days 7 days a week and my dad was in the hospital. My boss was one of those people who gets a single nugget of information about someone and that’s how he remembers them forever.

    So for years I would hear about him making comments about me being “too emotional” or “unable to deal with adversity” after ONE FREAKING INCIDENT.

    So I moved on. Funny thing, I met up with him a few weeks ago to catch up and he made a comment about how good it was that I had matured so much and he used to be concerned with my inability to deal with adversity, and he was so glad I’d taken his feedback to heart. He will NEVER be able to recognize that it was one incident compared to a career of professional behavior – the only way he can rationalize it is that I must have improved and it must be because of his wise counsel.


    1. fposte*

      Which gives me a cynical thought: while I suspect the OP’s situation is beyond repair, in a similar situation, it might be effective to deliberately create the narrative your boss thrust upon the situation.

    2. Jennifer*

      When I got called for my first job interview, I had just been dumped out of the blue by my boyfriend and had been wandering around the house for days in a zombielike state when I answered the phone. While I did get hired at that job…and hired again a few more times to make it more permanent… I never did hear the end of how I didn’t answer the phone that day in a perky manner. Specifically, one time, that day. I didn’t want to tell her why I had answered the phone in a flat manner, but eventually I had to tell her that I’d been dumped right before. But that didn’t make a difference. When she laid me off, she brought it up again–and at that point I’d been working there for 2 years.

      I hate to say it, but sometimes you fuck up once and you will never, ever, ever, ever hear the end of it, it scarred the other person for life, and they won’t let you forget it. The OP has my sympathies, but she’s doomed here and needs to leave.

      1. some1*

        Your old boss is a tool. If you answered the phone in a “flat” way, or even in a confrontational manner that put her off and she wanted to know why, she could/should have immediately said, “Did I catch you at a bad time?” or not hired you at all.

        She is probably one of those people who tells people close to her that she’s not mad at them when they screw up only so she can bring it up in every fight from then on.

  28. Sarah*

    #7, when I worked at a retail store our policy was that anyone who was in before the second that our store closed could stay until they were done. However, we’d start closing as soon as the doors closed, as closing down our store generally took two hours no matter how speedy we all were. (Three-story super busy store.) I thought that policy was fair to both us, the staff, and to the customers.

  29. Riki*

    3 – In addition to all the reasons given, remember that this company is basically leasing you from the placement agency. Their contract with the agency probably states that you are contracted to work for X amount of time, at Y rate and Z mark up. If the company decided to hire you directly before the end of the contract, they’d likely still have to pay the balance remaining on the contract, plus a kill fee. It’s just a lot easier to let the contract run its course.

  30. OP#7*

    OP#7 here. I appreciate all of you who have written in to the conversation, and Alison for posting my dilemma! I have always worked retail at this one particular store so I am not aware of other stores’ policies, from a management standpoint, nor have I received any “formal” training in school in retail management (other than reading books and columns like these).
    One last related situation I would like to pose– what about the customer who calls 20 minutes for closing to say that they are “on their way but stuck in traffic” and can we “please stay open for them?”
    Thanks everyone!

    1. Rindle*

      I really think it depends on what kind of retail store you’re talking about. If it’s a chain that has stores in a thousand malls, forget it. If it’s a super upscale boutique that stocks about 15 dresses that cost $1200+, employees work on commission, and this is a customer who drops $5k a month, that’s a different story.

    2. VintageLydia*

      If it was a loyal customer who was usually pretty mindful of the time, I’d consider it. You could also ask what they intend on buying so you can have it all up front for them and they just have to pay (unless it’s a lot of stuff. But if it’s something like a single bag of dog food or whatever, fine.) But I’d still really only do that for regulars who were otherwise pretty respectful.
      But even then that would depend on a lot of other things (mostly whether the employees CAN and WANT TO stay late, as well as whether you can afford paying them for the extra time.)
      It’s like that old phrase: A lack of planning on your part isn’t an emergency on my part. If you can accommodate it, go ahead. If not, well, they knew what time you closed.

      I ran into this a lot. We’d be closed and the doors locked, but the customers outside will see the customers inside in line and start stamping their feet and cursing (!!!) at us because we wouldn’t let them in. “Well, your register isn’t closed yet!” they’d yell, but since it was supposed to already be closed, I had very little sympathy. But if someone came up all apologetic I’d consider letting them in. Sometimes they felt so bad they’d be in and out faster than people who came in before the store closed.

      1. Allison*

        You hit on a good point: if you let some people shop late, it’s hard to keep others out. I ran into this at my college’s bookstore, we would stay open for people already in the store, but then people would come in after close and get mad that we wouldn’t let them in as well. Best not to poke holes in the flood gates.

        1. VintageLydia*

          The customers in line were nearly always people who were in the store before closing, but people coming up after hours didn’t seem to care about that :/

        2. Layla*

          Not from the US , but over here the shutters are closed part way for the bigger stores.
          May be open only to let customers out.
          Security stops those who try to duck in.

          I’m guilty of trying to gain entry to a store that may be closing. Usually before their stated hours, they start employing measures such as partially closed doors.

    3. MrsKDD*

      I have no advice, but I just can’t believe there are people that would have the nerve to make that request. As some one mentioned earlier, perhaps if you were a pharmacy or something similar then yes, I could see someone being desperate enough to make that call. I would never in a million years call up a retail store and make that request; I can’t wrap my head around anyone being so entitled.

  31. PoohBear McGriddles*

    When I worked retail (eyeglass shop), we regularly had customers show up in the last half hour before closing. Because of the nature of the business, it’s not like you can just run in, grab something and head to the register. What normally happened was they would rush to make a selection, then deliver a sob story as to why they needed their glasses made that night. Usually we tried to accommodate, even though it meant staying 30-60 minutes past closing time.
    To make matters worse, their rash decision making often led to buyer’s remorse over frame style or something, resulting in a remake the next day!
    I think whoever came up with the phrase “No good deed goes unpunished” worked in the optical retail industry.

  32. Lils*

    #2 OP: I would say there is one situation in which this would be appropriate, and that’s if your workplace uses hiring committees. These are common in academic settings. You just tell your supervisor or whoever’s in charge that you’re interested in serving on a hiring committee whenever an appropriate one is formed. they usually need people from different departments or perhaps to balance out a committee that needs more diversity. You’ll get to see the hiring process from beginning to end, including most of the interview. If they don’t use hiring committees at your job, perhaps they do in other organizations in your life, like your church, volunteer organizations, etc.

  33. periwinkle*

    OP#3 – Document the programming-type work you’ve already done there, add it to your accomplishments on your resume, and start job searching. That includes within the company, of course, by talking with your supervisor about your interest in staying with the company.

    You can keep going above-and-beyond without receiving any reward like extra compensation or a permanent position. You can do just the data entry job they’re paying for, which limits your future resume-worthy accomplishments from this position. Not an easy choice, is it?

    Yes, it costs a lot to lease you from the staffing agency. If you’re earning $20/hour, the company is probably paying about $34/hour to the agency. But on the other hand, the company isn’t paying for any benefits such as PTO or health insurance, isn’t paying UI or the employer share of federal deductions (something you don’t notice until you’re self-employed!), and can get rid of you with zero notice or reason. To them, your position calls for flexible hiring.

    So, talk to your boss *and* start nosing around for other job prospects. Even if your boss thinks you should stay as a permanent employee, there may be barriers to creating the position which cause delays in the hiring or, 6 months down the road, “sorry but they decided not to approve the position after all.”

    Yeah, been there, done that. I was a temp HR assistant and had to listen to employees bitching because they didn’t have enough accumulated PTO to take the long vacation they wanted. Hard to be sympathetic when I didn’t have any PTO at all because I was still waiting for the permanent position to be created… (it took months, but did finally happen)

  34. Harriet*

    OP3, keep going above and beyond. While my long term temp assignment was deeply frustrating, I’ve found that companies really respect a list of achievements that come with demonstrable evidence that you did them on your own initiative. Good luck!

    1. Kerr*

      +1. Also, you want to have an enthusiastic reference, and not leave them with the impression that your awesomeness petered out.

  35. Bea W*

    #3 – Budget issues are a big driver there. These are sometimes temporary and when resolved those temp positions may be converted, and sometimes a company makes a decision to only hire contractors for certain jobs forever and ever.

    My company has instituted a hiring freeze. So while we’d love to convert our temps to FTEs, we’re just not allowed to do so. As in your case, there is no shortage of work, just shortage of a willingness from the Big Decision Makers to allow the addition of more regular employees while the current quarter’s numbers are down.

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