open thread

imageIt’s our biweekly open thread!

The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

{ 767 comments… read them below }

  1. Katherine*

    Who here has started their own business, and what is your best tip for someone wanting to do so? I’m getting ready to take the plunge (on the side, not quitting my day job), but it’s rather intimidating!

    1. Josh S*

      Hire (or be VERY good friends with) an accountant/tax advisor. Seriously, if you’re starting your own business there are a ton of things to consider that many folks do not, including:
      -Setting aside money to pay quarterly estimated taxes,
      -Liability, and separating your personal assets from the company’s assets (LLC/Incorporating), and any state requirements associated with that, etc etc etc etc.

      Yes, you can get by without it. But it will put your mind at ease to know that there aren’t any major things you’re forgetting to do that could land you in hot water.

      1. A Bug!*

        Seconding getting professional accounting advice.

        I would also like to add, if it’s applicable to the field you’re looking t entering, to not undersell yourself. It might feel like you’re scaring away business by doing that, but believe me, the only people you’re scaring away are people you don’t want as clients in the first place.

        Second, under-promise and over-deliver. The urge to sell yourself can be hard to resist, because you want your client to expect good things of you, but it’s infinitely preferable to be better than you say than to be worse.

        Third, good luck!

      2. Katherine*

        I have seen this advice before, though I wonder if it’s necessary if I’m starting out very small. Do you know how much an accountant charges on average for an initial consultation?

        1. esra*

          If you’re really small, I’d at least suggest some good accounting software. Quicken Home & Business 2013 I like because it helps you separate your personal + business finances.

        2. AB*


          I opened a business recently, and the advice from a skilled accountant was KEY. I read every book and got software too, but trust me, there will be things that only a good accountant will be able to tell you based on your specific situation.

          The good news is: the advice was ENTIRELY FREE! I didn’t meet in person, only exchanged some calls and emails, and all worked very well. When I asked how much it would cost, the accountant said, I do this so you’ll do your taxes with me and refer me to others (I did both, months later, and again, super smart decision, as what I paid was much less than the tax return my husband and I got back).

          I’m a self-learner, and my husband and I always did our own taxes, even when I had both a full time job and side consulting to report and we were living in two states (a nightmare, but we were able to do it alone). But when you are starting a business, there are a lot of small things you can do to position yourself better — to pay less taxes, and avoid any penalties for not submitting the correct paperwork, so it’s super worthwhile getting help (even if it weren’t free like it was for me).

          My recommendation is to talk to someone in your state who has a LLC or any type of small business to recommend a good accountant. You won’t regret taking this step! Good luck.

    2. RB*

      Write a business plan. I can’t tell you how important this is. It gives you a roadmap and helps keep your eye on the ball.

      If you have never done one, many community colleges offer assistance for free as well as the Small Business Administration.

        1. TheMinion*

          Check out I have been on a rampage of updating my website (I also sell handmade items) and this has been an amazing and refreshing resource for good copy advice. Non boring and non traditional. Not for everybody but definitely a great perspective :)

          1. victopus*

            oh, thanks for this! (by the way, it’s .org, not .com but no biggie). I found it and love it!

    3. Steph*

      I too am thinking of starting a business on the side. So far, I have attended a local presentation by the SBA (federal Small Business Association, see their website, although it is probably shut down right now) and also a regional organization dedicated to helping people plan, start and sustain their small business. These agencies can help you with the business plan, help you really look at the numbers (so often, businesses consume money before they generate it, often for years), help you adjust your niche, define what makes your business distinctive, help you with marketing. Additionally, I am reaching out to the owners of similar businesses in my area- to get their take on what niche I could fill that will complement and not compete with what they do, to hear from them what it takes to do well in this particular type of business, to learn from them what didn’t work and why, and to make alliances/partnerships/positive relationships.
      Best wishes!

    4. danr*

      If you’re not going to quit your day job, be sure to separate the two activities completely. Don’t carry on your own business on company time. While it’s not fair to your day job company, it’s completely unfair to your co-workers who have to listen to your cell phone conversations or take up the slack when you disappear to take the calls.

    5. VictoriaHR*

      Read, read, and then read some more about how to do it, and then when you feel ready just jump in.

      I started my own business a year ago making homemade soaps, lotions, perfumes, etc. This year I’ve been selling at craft fairs and farmers markets, and I sell online too, have my own website and stuff.

      It certainly takes up more time than you think it will. In addition to making the actual stuff, there’s packaging and boxing stuff up for shipping, designing logos and labels, internet marketing like SEO, writing blog articles, finding craft fairs/markets to sign up at (a lot of them are word-of-mouth unfortunately), and keeping track of receipts and legal documents. It can be exhausting. But fun!

      If insurance is not an absolute necessity for your business but is available, consider getting it anyway. It’s not strictly necessary for me, but I get liability insurance anyway to protect my family.

    6. JustMe*

      I actually joined a network marketing company last year after I swore I’d never try another “party plan” again. But my rusty minivan needed replaced, so I needed to make enough for a car payment…and I really liked the health aspects and financial stability of the company, so I took a chance and am so glad I did.

      Fast forward a year, and I make more with my business than I do at my corporate job (yes, I still work full-time and run the business too). It’s allowed us to buy and pay off my “big girl car” in a year, give more philanthropically, help our kids more with their college expenses, increase our retirement contributors and ACTUALLY HAVE a savings account. When I think of where I would be if I DIDN’T take the chance…wow!
      My advice: it’s worth taking that chance!

    7. Broke Philosopher*

      I think when I started being self-employed, I did NOT take into account just how much time I would spend doing unpaid labor, such as invoicing, scheduling, dealing with taxes, tracking my income and expenses, and on and on. I thought I was charging a ton of money, but it did not begin to cover all the time I spent doing the extra work! It helped a lot when I included a baseline of x hours of unpaid labor per hour worked, and scheduled/charged based on that.

  2. girasol*

    a pretty minor question: how do i ask a recent college grad (not much younger than me, really!) employee to stop addressing emails to me with “hey [first name]”? it seems petty, but it feels too casual.

    and also, am i being ridiculous here? is this a common email salutation?

    1. Dang*

      “just a minor note, but I’d suggest changing your salutation style on emails, especially to clients. ‘hey’ is a little bit informal and also, it’s for horses.”

      Maybe not that last part, though :)

      1. girasol*

        i like this, thank you! i do supervise the employee and think this would go over well. he’s very receptive to feedback and eager to learn so i may go this route if my sense that it’s worth addressing is right.

        1. Anon Accountant*

          Please do say something. It’s better to discuss it with the employee now before it paints them in an unprofessional light.

          Confession: My boss does this but in all emails I write, I write it with a rather formal tone.

          My business writing professor always told us with business correspondence to think that your boss’s boss could be reading what you’ve written and write in a manner that you wouldn’t be concerned if your company’s CEO saw your emails. (Not sure if concerned is the right word but didn’t want to use embarrassed).

          1. Ruffingit*

            That’s good advice. People should assume, especially in a business context, that more people are/will be reading the correspondence than just the person it’s addressed to. In that light, being a bit more formal is required.

        2. Ruffingit*

          Your sense that it’s worth addressing is absolutely right! You also have to look at this as reflecting on you since you supervise this person. It’s possible that one day you may need to pass on some correspondence with this person to one of the higher-ups and they may see this as “Wow, you sure have an informal relationship with so and so…” That may not be a problem, but it could be so it’s best to ensure things are done more professionally. And, you don’t want this person to get into the habit of addressing superiors at work in such an informal manner. You don’t mind it, but the next boss might.

        3. Bea W*

          Definitely give him this feedback. It is totally appropriate for you to mention it as his supervisor. I suspect he has no idea that “Hey” is not an appropriate salutation to use in business email. This isn’t something they teach in school. If he’s eager to learn and receptive to feedback, he’ll appreciate the simple tip.

        4. VictoriaHR*

          I’d also recommend to him that he opens his eyes to the way that other, more professional, people do business (such as writing emails) and to style himself after them, if he wants to polish himself professionally. Not noticing that other people don’t do the “hey (name)” thing is a little oblivious, IMO.

          1. AB*

            Excellent point! I actually have a report who used to do this (solved with a brief conversation like Dang suggested, “just a minor note, but I’d suggest changing your salutation style on emails, as ‘hey’ is a bit too informal”).

            But it’s possible it speaks to a larger point of being oblivious, as nobody else in our team use this type of salutation, so if I notice a pattern I’ll definitely address it too.

          2. Broke Philosopher*

            This is interesting to me because in my (very short) professional life, I have noticed that many people use “Hey X” or no salutation. I went from “Dear X” to “Hi X”‘ at some point, though I do try to match the professionalism (being at least as professional) of the person emailing me. Is “Hi X” considered appropriately professional?

              1. thenoiseinspace*

                I’ve just gone through my work email looking for this. I’ve broken them down into several salutation categories:
                1) “Hello, [straight to message]” – only one, a mass email to multiple departments
                2) “Hi X” – three, all from people whom I’ve never met
                3) Straight to message, no salutation – six, all from people in my office requesting something
                4) “Dear X” – only one, from a non-native English speaker
                5) “Hey X” or just “Hey” – literally every other email in my inbox, including those to other people on which I was cc’ed.

                So maybe this is an office culture thing? According to my inbox, “hey” definitely seems to be the preferred salutation here, with “hi” the next most common (other than those within my office). I have heard somewhere that this is far more prominent in the South than in other parts of country, and I’m in Georgia. We definitely say “hey” far more than any other salutation in our speech, so it could also be a regional thing. Anyone else care to weigh in on what your office’s norm is and what part of the country you’re in? And is “hi” better than “hey” in your office?

      2. Amanda*

        I like the last part. I think it’s a good idea to inject a bit of humor into an otherwise awkward exchange. At least I would appreciate it.

      3. Bea W*

        My morning brain is imagining the reply might be “Hey Dang! Tymv 4 ur feedback dude, but u shood no HAY is 4 horses and better 4 cows. People would eat it but they don’t no how.”

        1. Jessica (the celt)*

          Ha! Whenever we’d call out, “Hey!” to my mom, she’d call back, “Straw’s cheaper; grass is free. Buy a farm, and you’ll get all three!” This totally reminded me of that. :)

      4. Vicki*

        Leave out the horses bit.
        Eventually, a grammar pundit (like me) will remind you that hay is a different word entirely.

        Also – ask yourself why does this matter to you?

    2. KarenT*

      Unless the person works for you, I’d let it go. It’s definitely casual but if you’re colleagues I don’t see the big deal.
      If you’re in a formal industry/ office environment I suppose you could make the argument you’d be doing this person a favour by letting them know it’s inappropriate but I’d still say leave it for their manager.

      1. girasol*

        the person does work for me so it sounds like it may be worth mentioning to him as a professional development thing – kindly and professionally. thanks!

    3. Jade*

      All my colleagues and I start emails with ‘Hey [name]’ when it’s just between ourselves. Definitely not to people outside the business/clients though!

      1. EM*

        I don’t think it’s a big deal if the salutation is used for co-workers only; I can see the issue if it starts being used to clients/outside people.

        1. Rebecca*

          I might send an informal message or IM to a coworker, and say “Hey Jane, give me a call when you get a minute”, but I would never, ever send a message like that to one of my accounts.

          And it depends on how formal they are. My accounts overseas tend to be more formal, so I follow their lead, and perhaps use the entire name only, or Mr. Smith. Other accounts are more friendly, and will send me messages that start out “Hi Rebecca”, and I follow suit.

          This issue hits close to home, as my manager asks our clerical staff to send out messages for her, and one of the women is extremely grammar challenged. Her messages typically start with “Hey all” and include “allright”, plus interchangeable there/their/they’re and your/you’re phrases. This makes us all cringe. Manager doesn’t seem to mind, though.

          1. Bea W*

            I have noticed this about my overseas colleagues as well. If I have someone who is more formal in email, I follow their lead and respond in kind. I also tend to be more formal when I am emailing someone I don’t know well, because I feel it’s better to err on the side of being too formal than too informal in a business context.

      2. girasol*

        i think it can make sense to among colleagues depending on the culture, but since this person is still making sense of professionalism (and has requested i give him lots of feedback) i’m veering towards mentioning.

        1. KarenT*

          Definitely! Especially since you are his boss! I didn’t “Hey” my manager until she had “Hey’d” me a hundred times.

            1. Sydney Bristow*

              I hope we feel ok about that! I use it all the time, but I only email colleagues. Many of them don’t use any intro at all and just start with whatever they needed to communicate. I’m normally a bit more formal at first with someone new, but I think office culture plays a big role here.

            2. Bea W*

              It depends on who I am emailing. I use it for individuals within my team and people who also use “Hi”, but if I avoid it if I am sending a more formal email to a group, someone I don’t know well, or someone I know who tends to communicate more formally. I recommend observing others and going with the flow.

              1. Tasha*

                I use “Hi Firstname,” because that’s what everyone else here does. I do call professors Dr. Lastname in emails and in person unless asked to use a first name.

                (The split is about 50/50: professors in their forties and younger seem to prefer a first-name basis with grad students, while senior faculty just go with the last name default.)

                1. Anna*

                  I do this. For outside business connections (we don’t have clients; I’m the Business and Community Liaison) I’ve found “Good morning/good afternoon (First name or Dr. or other similar title)”. I’m not incredibly formal and I would be crazy uncomfortable to address an email as “Dear (Insert name)”, but with connections I have worked with and coworkers (and even my boss because we have a close working relationship) I use “Hi”.

                2. Bea W*

                  One of my former supervisors would only trot out her “Dr.” title in extreme circumstances, and when she did, you knew she meant business.

                  My work involves interacting with a lot of of MDs, PhDs, and ScDs, some of whom are in high positions in government agencies. The only time I ever address anyone as Dr. is if I am contacting them for the first time. I was on a first name basis with all of these people after introducing myself, but some people want to be addressed as “Dr.” by non-doctors and those people tend to get rankled when addressed otherwise. So I don’t risk it on the introduction.

              2. Elizabeth West*

                I say “Hi, Name” too, but when I email clients, I say “Dear Name.” I usually use first names because so many of them are ambiguous that I have no idea if they are men or women. Usually women don’t mind if you say Mr. by mistake, but men seem to get more upset if you say Miss or Ms. I try to make sure I spell the name correctly too. It’s so obviously a form letter that I can at least get that part right.

              3. Ellie H.*

                I do exactly the same thing. People in my organization do a lot of different things. I send a ton of emails to different groups, to several individuals, to individuals, etc. For more formal communications I do “Dear [Job titles],” for more formal to several individuals I do “Good afternoon/morning,” or “Hello all -“. For people I’ve corresponded with a few times in a friendly way I do “Hi – ” but some people always do “Dear -” and for the first email after we haven’t emailed in a while or don’t usually email back and forth.

                When emailing a professor with a formal request or invitation I do “Dear Professor X” or “Dear Dr. Y.” But then usually I immediately switch to first name after the first email received back. Unless it’s someone I email all the time and then I feel OK using first name.

        2. Jen in RO*

          I’d make sure to clarify that it’s not a faux pas to use “hey” in certain situations, but it’s not OK to use it in certain others (with applicable examples). I wouldn’t want him to think he has to use “good day sir” with a coworker!
          (I’m not a native English speaker so I don’t even know what the appropriate greeting would be with a higher-up or client… I’ve always started with “hello” and ended with “regards”, but I worked in informal places.)

          1. Amy B.*

            When I read “good day sir”, I immediately think of Willy Wonka: “GOOD DAY, SIR! I SAID GOOD DAY!”

            In our office, we usually just use the person’s first name. No saluation at all.

            1. Jen in RO*

              I was just imagining a random British gentleman :)

              (I was also kidding in case it wasn’t obvious – I don’t think anyone would ever need to write this way.)

              1. Jen in RO*

                By the way, I looove English for its lack of formal pronouns. It’s so much easier to communicate with higher-ups when you don’t have to think whether you should use “polite you” and seem too naive, or “informal you” and seem rude! “You” is a great word.

                1. Arbynka*

                  Where I come from, we have two “you”. One is singular and less formal (for addressing friends, etc.) and second is plural and formal – for addressing your boss and people you do not know in general. The rule is that you always start with the formal “you”, then the one “higher” in hierarchy can offer to use the less formal “you”.

                2. Bea W*

                  As a native English speaker, I was never sure when to use formal and informal pronouns when learning other languages. English does not have gendered words either. Those two concepts – formal vs. informal “you” and words being male, female, or neuter is very difficult to grasp at first, and I was never certain of “you” except for when talking to a friend. It is not so easy to learn this “you” stuff when you are not familiar with the culture and how people use it in everyday speaking.

                3. Arbynka*

                  I agree. It can be very confusing. I usually just tell people I am helping to learn that the default is formal. If you do not know the person or you are not sure, use formal. I never met anyone who would be offended or upset to have the formal “you” used on them. People might just smile and offer you the use of informal one.

          2. fposte*

            Right. This is a conversation about taking a cue from company culture and starting more neutral until you see it’s okay to be more informal, not a conversation about never using “hey.”

          3. Bea W*

            “Hello” is a pretty safe opener for email in the US. You might go with “Dear” or just the name of the person if it were more formal. I see “Regards” and variations of it such as “Kind regards” all the time in work email. It works in most situations.

            Back in the hay day of snail mail, “Dear” was the appropriate and default salutation, “Dear Wakeen” or “Dear Dr. Teepotts”. It was used for both formal and informal letters. “Dearest” might be used for someone close. “Hello” was not as common, and you would have never used it in a business letter. For formal letters, the closing was usually “Sincerely”. For informal letters it was often “Yours truly”. “Regards” would have fine as well, although maybe not as common as the other two.

            I feel old now.

        3. John*

          Do you use proper capitalization when emailing this person? I notice you aren’t in your post and it would seem petty to me if you complained about my salutation but didn’t bother to use the shift key.

          1. Calla*

            I think everyone understands the difference between posting a comment on a blog and business correspondence.

          2. Brooke*

            I was kind of wondering the same thing. Although I do understand the difference in professional items and comments on a blog, I can’t help but to capitalize and punctuate correctly even when typing informally. It becomes habitual. I was thinking the same thing as John: if I received an email from a boss who did not use proper grammar and he/she was asking me to stop using the word “hey”, I mean, of course I would honor my supervisor’s request, but I would wonder if he/she has taken a look at their own email/documentation.

            1. Calla*

              I have zero problem maintaining different writing styles different places. In certain places (tumblr, facebook) I don’t care about capitalization or proper punctuation, etc. At work or on other certain websites (here, for example, just because most other folks comment that way) I type properly. So I don’t assume that someone who doesn’t bother to capitalize in a comment is going to correct her employee the same way.

            2. Bea W*

              To me these are two separate issues. If my boss asked me to clean up my grammar while not cleaning up his own, I’d notice it. Maybe I’d be annoyed a little, but probably not so much unless he was being personally critical rather than just giving me a directive. I might be more annoyed if I had been told to be careful with my grammar in email and saw him sending out emails to clients with horrible grammar, but it’s not the hill I want to die on.

              If my boss asked me to stop using “Hey” but wasn’t perfect in his grammar, I’d notice and not care so much because it has nothing to do with the behavior he’d be asking me to refrain from.

            3. tcookson*

              I was wondering the same thing, too. I understand that people can be more casual on a blog posting, but most people here do use capitalization and punctuation.

              For me, it’s an ingrained part of my written communication, and I would have to make an effort not to do it; so it does make me wonder how the OP presents herself in writing at work.

    4. CN*

      Wait, what? It’s inappropriate to address co-workers this way? I totally understand for outside people/clients, but reading this blog for a long time gave me the impression that adult co-workers (regardless of where they are in the hierarchy) generally DO address each other by first names, and that using the “Mr./Ms.” can come off as naive.

      I’m specifically thinking these posts —

      — so when Alison talks about not wanting to be called “Ms. Green,” she’s NOT talking about emails? But in the second post, she mentions that it would be fine to use first names in an email, as a job CANDIDATE, no less! And that the number of people who would mind are shrinking rapidly.

      Also I currently work from home for an office and everyone (including my supervisor) emails everyone with either “Hi [first name],” or maybe even just “[First name] –“.

      I’m another recent grad over here trying to learn this stuff too, so this is pretty confusing to me.

      1. CN*

        Just another note — wanted to reiterate that I DO totally understand the need to talk to outside people/clients more formally. But this question was posed specifically in the context of employee-not-to-address-the-supervisor-that-way. If I were in the shoes of the recent grad in question, that sort of advice would make me think it were inappropriate to address ANY higher-up, or perhaps any co-worker even, by first name (and that confuses me for the reasons I stated above).

        1. Jack*

          We all address eachother with ‘hi’ in emails, much like we would do when passing eachother in the hall.

          I often find myself uncomfortable when addressing ‘outside people’ though. Clients are easy, as that’s clearly a more formal relationship, but what about the guy from the office next door?

          I try and take my cues from the person I’m speaking with, but being what I suppose is the equivalent of the office junior, I can’t help but wonder.

        2. Bea W*

          This is one of those things you have to learn from the environment, because there is no one set rule. To start, I would err on the side of not being very informal with a supervisor, and by that I mean using “Hello (first name)” or “(first name)” instead of “Hey”. You can adjust as you learn their style. If your supervisor regularly uses “Hey” or “Hi” you can usually assume it is safe to respond in kind. Also observe how other co-workers who share the same supervisor interact with her/him.

          There are probably some people and workplaces out there where supervisors and other management want to be addressed more formally than they themselves address junior staff, but I don’t think that is very common anymore in the US. You are usually safe matching the style of your supervisor.

        1. Editor*

          I’ve never been in a culture that used salutations in emails. I got a lot of outside emails from people at the various places I worked, and the beginning of the email was like the beginning of the letter. The first sentence would directly address the topic.

          This is also helpful if the preview when an email comes in shows the beginning sentence or two, or if the email list shows more than the sender and the topic line, because it can help prioritize which emails get immediate attention.

          I write formally and don’t ever skip capitalization and punctuation, either in email or letters or blog comments. I think anyone in an intellectual business (teaching, writing, editing, journalism, training, the law, government regulatory jobs, etc.) should write using conventional capitalization and punctuation. In addition, capitalization and punctuation are cues that make whatever is written easier to understand and easier to skim or read quickly — what the writer gains in time by not capitalizing, for instance, is lost in time at the other end when the recipient has to take longer to read the message. Don’t be that person.

          When I send an email application letter, I just start the letter without a salutation if I am sending it to an individual, then I attach the resume and other documents requested. I haven’t received any feedback that this is appropriate, and I have gotten responses and interviews from these applications.

          I do close with something polite that’s relevant — “thanks so much for any assistance you can give me” or something similar, then my first name, then a skipped line, then the signature I’m using with full name, title, and any other info that needs to be there.

          tl;dr — On emails, I don’t use letter-writing salutations or closings such as “sincerely” or “regards,” but do use traditional capitalization and punctuation because it is easier for the recipient to read quickly.

      2. Ruffingit*

        Addressing by first name isn’t so much of a problem (can be though, depends on the tone of your workplace), I think it’s more the “Hey” part that is an issue. It’s not a good idea, especially early on in your career, to get in the habit of being so informal with superiors. Some people don’t care, but others do, so it’s better to err on the side of caution and not use informal slang like Hey.

          1. Ruffingit*

            Yes, both Dear and Hi are fine. I can’t speak for other cultures, but in America “hey” is extremely informal and not something that is used in business communication for the most part. It’s something you say to friends as in “Hey, how’s it going” it’s not something you use in business.

            1. CN*

              That’s so strange! My perceptions on all of this were way off and different. To me, “Hey” was informal, yes, but “Hi” is almost just as informal (similar to what Bea W describes below). And simply “[First name],” with nothing attached (like ExceptionToTheRule describes) would’ve seemed to me the MOST informal because of how rushed it seems, reserved for inter-office only where people understand that people are busy.

              It’s all so confusing!

              1. Ruffingit*

                It can be very confusing, certainly. This is why it’s better to do two things:

                1. Be overly informal at the beginning stage as in “Dear Ms./Mr.”

                2. When you’re in the job itself, take note of how things are done and follow that. Some managers don’t mind being addressed informally or by their first names and you’ll figure that out if it’s the case. You can ask co-workers about it if you’re unsure. But basically, once you’re in a job, you will know what lingo is appropriate based on that job.

                General rule is to be formal until you learn otherwise.

              2. fposte*

                “Hi” is informal; “Hey” is slangy and informal. (I do really like “Hey,” so that’s not pejorative.)

              3. Bea W*

                That’s an interesting take on using only the name. I see it as neither formal nor informal, though perhaps sometimes a bit abrupt.

                When I was growing up, “Hey” wasn’t a greeting, it was a way to get someone’s attention. Depending on the context, it could be perceived as rude. “Hi Wakeen!” and “Hey Wakeen!” did not mean the same thing. Usage has changed, and “Hey” is like the informal way of saying “Hi” which is the informal way of saying “Hello”.

                Olden Days of Yore
                Jane: (calling from down the hall) Hey Wakeen!
                Wakeen: What?
                Jane: Can you grab the latest TPS reports off the printer please?

                Jane: (meets Wakeen in the hall) Hey Wakeen!
                Wakeen: Hey Jane! What’s up?
                Jane: I just finished those TPS reports. What’s up with you?

                “Hey you!” has taken a similar additional meaning “Hey you!” (A rude way of getting someone’s attention) and “Hey you!” (A greeting between friends).

                1. Jamie*

                  Right. I’ll say “hi” to anyone – but “hey” means we’re friendly and it’s almost always accompanied by a smile and expression indicating I’m glad to see you.

                  Hi or hello might well mean the same, or just that I need so say something so…here is a neutral greeting which satisfies social obligation.

        1. A Teacher*

          If you have a boss that wants everyone to know they have the “Dr.” before their name it can be a problem. In our district anyone with the “Dr.” wants to be addressed as such but then seems to have a problem when I respond with “Hi Dr. C” and end with “Thanks, Miss M”

          If you want formality then expect it in return, that’s my only rule when I send and receive emails

      3. Bea W*

        I grew up in the time of old school formal business letters. I am totally uncomfortable with cold correspondence related to a job application that doesn’t start with Mr/Ms. Once I’m engaged in a dialogue and get a sense of the communication style, I am fine going to first name…although probably never “Hi” as a job candidate. “Hello” is fine in the right context. “Hi” is too informal for me when I am trying to demonstrate to someone that I can communicate in a way that is appropriate for a business environment.

        It is confusing! It changes depending on the job and business. Some fields and employers are more formal than others. Some people are more formal than others. An older person used to formal style of written business communication that was prevalent prior to email might be uncomfortable with a less formal style. You really have to be observant and adjust accordingly. I do err on the side of more formal when I am unsure. I figure better to be too formal and dial it back than too informal and risk offending someone or appearing unprofessional.

    5. ExceptionToTheRule*

      I’ve always found the safest, least likely to cause offense salutation in an inter-office email is to simply use the person’s first name.

      “Wakeen, I’m just checking on the status of the chocolate teapot spouts.”

      The likely reason he’s using “hey, Wakeen” is because that’s how he’d greet Wakeen in person if he were walking up to him to ask a question.

      1. Fee*

        I have to say personally I hate receiving emails addressed this way. It might just be a cultural thing, but at my old job whenever you got an email beginning ‘Name….’, you probably weren’t going to like the rest of the email. It’s used more frequently where I work now and I realise it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in for a scolding, but I still find it jarring .

        A fairly senior manager at my current job signs every email:




        As in ‘xoxo’. It drives me bonkers.

        1. MP*

          Yes, this. I received two emails starting with “MP, ….” from my boss today and both had a tone that didn’t make me feel good. I couldn’t tell if she was just being formal or was actually annoyed with me. I thinks it’s because I use that salutation when I’m really pissed at people.

    6. BCW*

      I mean, as we have seen on here, everyone has their own pet peeves. Personally I think if its just an email to you or others in the office its not a big deal. If it were addressed to clients that way, I think it would be more of a problem. But I address a lot of my intra-office emails, including to my supervisor like that. If thats the type of thing you want to bring up, you are within your rights to do that. But just know you will probably be looked at as a petty stickler.

      1. kristinyc*

        Wait, seriously?

        EVERYONE in my company addresses each other (and customers, and external vendors) with “Hey First name,” in emails.

        The tone of our brand is pretty casual and friendly in general, but is what’s so bad about that? Even if it’s a serious email between people within our company, I feel like the “Hey” at least gives it a more calm tone and lets the recipient know that you still like them even if you’re giving them negative feedback.

        1. annie*

          You are not alone. We also always say “hey” or “hi” with each other as well as external people. Big city, small business, informal.

        2. Ornery PR*

          I think this is regional, too. I work in a small company in semi-big city in the West, and everything here is so much more relaxed and informal than the type of professional etiquette rules/preferences I’ve read about in the comments on this blog. I’ve never been employed at a place where “hey firstname” or “hey nickname” of even the CEO wouldn’t be acceptable. Being aware of your culture is important.

        3. Andrea*

          Geeze, I use “hey” all the time, never a second thought to it.

          If I think about it, I guess it’s my soft way of asking somebody to do something for me, internally and externally. I like a collaborative atmosphere.

          “Hey, shoot me the Chocolate Teapot report when you get a sec? I need to do teapot projections by the end of the day.” means “Dear Fred, Compile and send me the Chocolate Teapot post haste. Sincerely, Blah blah”, but it feels different.

          Maybe it’s just style or maybe it is the hundreds of emails I send in a day, but being formal with anybody within my organization would be just weird. I am pretty sure we never use first names in address either.

          Externally goes from moderately formal with new customers or vendors to “Hey GF! What’s your best price on 5000 Chocolate Teapots? I have a hot opportunity!” to a close vendor.

          So odd to me that someone has a problem with a coworker using “hey”.

      2. Forrest*

        For real. I think addressing the “hey” makes you seem as if you don’t understand real problems. If my manager brought that up, I’d seriously side eye her.

      3. Bea W*

        It could be that the company culture isn’t informal enough for “Hey”, in which case the supervisor should do the employee a favor and clue them in before they inadvertently offend somebody. There’s nothing stickler about it.

        Even if it’s just something the supervisor personally doesn’t like, some people just don’t like being addressed at work by co-workers as if they were a buddy passing on the street. It’s no different than when someone keeps calling you by a nickname you don’t like and don’t use, and you ask them to please call you by the name you use for yourself. It’s not being “stickler” or uptight to request someone address you differently.

        Wakeen: Hey B-man!
        BCW: Hey Wakeen! Please don’t call me ‘B-man’. I don’t like that name. I prefer ‘BCW’ or just ‘BC’.

        1. BCW*

          I disagree, I think it is being a stickler. Now as I said, its in her right. Just like if my boss wants me to call her nothing but Mrs. Smith, thats her right. But I do think its kind of a petty thing to be worried about.

    7. BCW*

      I wrote this question to Alison, and haven’t heard back, since I”m sure she is busy. But since the outcome will probably happen sooner than later (like Monday), I thought I’d open it up to everyone.

      Long story short, my company is being bought out. Its probably being finalized last week, and the new company will be interviewing us to see who they want to keep and who to lay off. Based on certain meetings, questions, and comments, I have the sense (in fact I’m fairly certain) that my manager is going to try to make herself look more important by minimizing the impact me and another of my colleagues have. Certain very successful projects were my idea, and I executed them, but I feel like since she technically “oversaw” them, she will be taking credit.

      When I have to fight for my job, how can I make it clear that I actually was in charge of the things that I feel like she is going to start taking credit for? I don’t want to necessarily bash her, both because I like her as a person, and it could come back and bite me in numerous ways. However, I need to fight for my job, especially if my true impact will be diminished. Any ideas?

      1. fposte*

        Say it. Know your project narrative, use the right verbs, and specify the actual tasks you did and changes that happened as a result of your work. The person who says “I was in charge of the teapot redesign” is less convincing than the person who says “I implemented the change of design to oval spouts from coordinating the spec drawings to tweaking and approving the prototype to cutting the ribbon at the rollout.” At least overtly, ignore your suspicions and avoid any appearance of a pissing contest. If it works in the narrative and you think it appropriate, you can also specifically identify the contributions of other people, such as your co-worker in the same position as you.

        Good luck!

      2. COT*

        Would it help to list (perhaps write it down in advance) exactly what you yourself did for each project? That way you’ll be prepared to describe your specific contributions.

        Also, what about some phrasing like, “Since I was working on x, y, and z for this project day in and day out, Jane’s oversight was really helpful to me” or something else that emphasizes how much time you spent and how your boss’ role was more advisory?

      3. danr*

        While this is going on, don’t listen to vague promises from the new company or boasts from your coworkers about being ‘guaranteed’ a job.
        Present yourself at the interview as if you are applying somewhere else. Make the best case for yourself, and don’t worry about what the other folks do.

      4. LD*

        I agree with the suggestions to list your projects and the tasks you implemented. Also, you could start out with something like:
        “I proposed that we implement Chocolate Teapot marketing strategy 2013. That strategy was approved and I created the project plan and implemented steps A, B, C, and D. Results were X, Y, and Z. Manager was very helpful in supporting my efforts and my suggestions throughout the successful implementation of the project.” Or something like this that gets at your being the one who came up with the ideas and then worked to get them accomplished. Good luck!

      5. Joey*

        The best thing you can do is talk about the details (ie. your specific role), your thought process/decision making rationale, the feedback you received on the ground, the role your supervisor played, and lessons learned. If she wasn’t “in the weeds” she’ll have a harder time speaking to those details.

        Additionally Id talk about other examples she may not be aware of that paint a picture of you as a project manager.

        Obviously don’t bash her, just make sure you communicate exactly how she helped/collaborated with you.

        And you like her really? My wife has a so called friend like that at work. Someone who will stab her in the back in a heartbeat if it benefits her. Nice as can be to your face, but turn your back on her and she’s looking out for número uno at the expense of everyone else.

    8. HAnon*

      It depends on your line of business. I find that a lot of my clients don’t like stiff, formal emails (I should note that I’m not emailing A-C level execs usually, but rather small – medium size business owners). I’m more likely to being my email with “Hi Jane,” or “Good morning Dr. X.” Friendly and informal without being too casual… :)

    9. Zed*

      To me, correcting this would seem petty, overly picky, and more than a little pompous.

      “Hey [first name]” is a very common email salutation. Would you also object to “Hi [first name]”? That’s what 99% of people I correspond with use, and it’s what I use when emailing my boss, my coworkers, other faculty, and students. If my boss told me I had to start my emails to him with “Dear [first name],” it would be as weird as if he asked me to address him as “Mr. [last name]” or “sir” in daily life.

      IMO, if you’re worried about the way he writes to clients or people outside the organization, address that directly. Perhaps offer to share some emails with him so that he has some examples? Otherwise, let it go. It’s not “Yo, boss.”

    10. JenTheNiceHRGirl*

      I would just casually mention it. I would suggest that the next time you are speaking with her that you just add “oh and by the way, I know that you are new so I just thought that I would share a tip with you, try using a more business-like salutation, it will help you to establish a professional reputation within our company/or help make your e-mails look more professional/polished, etc… “. Something to that affect.

    11. Anonimal*

      I consider this to be personal preference…to a degree. Between colleagues, even with a few of my bosses, I often address emails as “hey…”. I wouldn’t with my big big boss or president but internally, it’s always fine. I give my folks the heads up on the formality required here.

      But even with some outside people, I’ll use “hey”. I’ve usually got a long relationship with them and know it’s alright.

  3. Dang*

    Ahh I was just wondering if this was the week or it was next week!!!

    I have a question re: references. My references have been checked twice now (I think) for jobs I wasn’t offered :(

    The recruiter I worked with last said my refs were among the best she’d heard in her 20+ years of recruiting, which made me feel good. However, I’m getting nervous that my lovely former bosses are going to start getting annoyed if they continue getting calls and I’m paranoid that they’ll get lax about responding (two of the three are MD researchers so they are super busy and can be hard to get in touch with; I give the interviewers heads up about this and suggest emailing them to set up a time to talk).

    Is reference burnout a thing? These people are lovely, but I don’t want to wear them out on the reference checks!

    I love to give references, but then, I’m not crazy busy and I’ve never had to give multiples…

    Honestly, it’s a little bit embarrassing to have them keep getting called.

    1. majigail*

      After 5 times for the same former employee in a really short time span, yes. But twice total? No, that wouldn’t bother me. What bothers me more is when people let me know that they’ve put me down as a reference, and I never get called… making it kind of awkward when they ask if anyone’s called.

    2. COT*

      Given that your references are clearly enthused about you and probably see you as one of the best of the best, I wouldn’t worry too much yet. They probably really want to help you move forward in your career! Being called twice isn’t a huge deal. Of course, you can always ask employers not to call them unless you’re one of the finalists (which it sounds like you are already doing). You can also be apologetic to your references and keep them updated on the job hunt. Good luck!

    3. Lynn*

      If your reference are truly excited about you and your work, I would think they’d feel worse for you not getting the job than inconvenienced themselves. At least, that’s how I’d feel.

    4. Felicia*

      I really hope it doesn’t happen to you, but it did happen to me! My references were contacted 6 times in 2 months, and like 3 times on top of that in the past year, and one of my best references said that it was just too much and she didn’t want to be a reference for me anymore:( . It also means that I was a finalist for 6 different jobs in 2 months, and I didn’t get any of them which is really depressing:( Plus I lost a really good really relevant reference, although I have others. So it’s a thing, but it probably won’t happen to you after only 2 times.

  4. Dang*

    Random question: I just posted two posts and one is ‘awaiting moderation.’ What does this mean? The other one, a response to someone else, went through without a hitch.

        1. Josh S*

          There are some things that flag your comment for moderation including links, some swear words, and some flagged keywords that are frequently used by spammers.

          Alison is pretty good about getting legit comments moderated and live in a fast time frame.

          1. jesicka309*

            Huh. Mine has nothing like that at all.

            Isn’t Alison away this month though? She may not be around to moderate!

            1. Jen in RO*

              I posted a reply with a link yesterday and it did appear in a couple of hours, so someone is moderating the comments.

            2. Ruffingit*

              Alison chimed in on a post yesterday so although she’s on her honeymoon, she’s apparently checking in from time to time.

  5. Marina*

    Good timing! I had a question come up the other day about exempt status.

    So I have a new supervisor, and she has changed our department policy on schedule so that all exempt employees have to work at least 40 hours but may work more. But a coworker from another department told me that exempt employees can’t be required to be butt-in-chair for 40 hours if there’s no work to do, that we’re just supposed to get the work done and it doesn’t matter whether it takes 30 hours or 80.

    Functionally it doesn’t actually matter–there’s almost always about 45 hours of work to do in a week. But it’d be awfully nice to leave early on the occasional slow week, rather than try and keep my braindead self busy.

    What say you? Who’s right, my supervisor or my coworker?

    1. KarenT*

      Unfortunately your supervisor is correct. Being exempt doesn’t mean you can leave when you want. Your employer can absolutely require you to be there at certain times.
      I think where your co-worker may be getting this from is that if you do work less than forty hours in a given week they still have to pay you for the whole week.

      1. KarenT*

        That being said, ethically I agree with your co-worker. It’s only fair that if you work 80 hours when you need to that they’d let you only work 30 hours if you only had 30 hours worth of work. But alas there is no such law!

      1. Katie*

        I’ve always been salaried. In my experience it works like this: sometimes, my workload fits into the standard 40 hour workweek, which is great; sometimes it’s too much, and I have to work nights and/or weekends; sometimes I don’t have enough work to do, and have to pretend I do.

        It’d be great if exempt employees could just live when their work is done. In my experience, I’ve never been comfortable doing that. And even during periods with low workloads, I’ve put in the face time.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I’ve always been hourly; one advantage to that is I rarely have overtime, because most employers don’t like to incur it. I’m not on call; I don’t have to be connected when I’m not at the office.

          With this job, I can pretty much manage my own time, as long as I’m available when people need me. I still work 40 hours to get my full paycheck, but if I need to leave early and go to class, it’s not a huge deal and I don’t have to beg for permission. Not much happens in that last hour of the day anyway.

    2. Jamie*

      As others mentioned of course they can require regular hours.

      And I would be very concerned if anyone’s job which was slated for approximately 40 was running an average of 30 hours per week. That’s a signal that maybe there is a problem with over-staffing or some jobs shouldn’t be full time.

      That is if a job is consistently being accomplished well and in full under 40. If there is a lot of extra time put in some weeks there should be flexibility on slower weeks to let people cut out early.

      If you start nickel and diming salaried people’s time in chair they may start to do the same and that’s rarely in the company’s best interest.

      1. Marina*

        Yeah, unfortunately that’s what I’m finding myself doing. :( It’s not good for my morale or productivity and I know I need to cut it out.

    3. fposte*

      What your co-worker might be thinking of (or confusing herself with) is the fact that they can’t dock your pay for taking a day off if you’re exempt.

    4. Layla*

      Not from the US but I believe your colleague is thinking of “consultant ” rather than “exempt”

      1. Jen in RO*

        Orange kitty is making me want to go home and cuddle with my own cat. (And then admire my new scratch marks, since he doesn’t like being cuddled on my schedule.)

  6. jesicka309*

    Wow an open thread that doesn’t have 500 posts in it!!! What a miracle!
    Next week is my final week at old job, and the week after I start new job.

    I’m starting to get super nervous and second guess my decision to quit (though I’ve hated this job for so long). I got my contract in the mail yesterday and all I could do was nitpick (I get paid monthly now?? 38 hours +2 reasonable what does that mean? Do I get parking? But I’m entitled to company car if I like? Arg confusing.)

    Plus this is the first time I’ll be working in my field due to a shift in my career. I’m terrified I’ll disappoint them all and get sacked before my three month probation is up.

    I’m going to go read through the archives and ‘imposter syndrome’ articles. Any words of advice/wisdom/happy thoughts are much appreciated. :)

    1. Jen in RO*

      Relax! They hired you, so they think you can do this. No one will expect you to know everything on your first week, it will be exciting to learn all the new stuff, and you *do* have what it takes to do the job. Good luck!

    2. Sydney Bristow*

      Have you ever had the experience when you decide to change your hairstyle and get it cut but then the week of your appointment you think your hair has never looked better? I think it is a “graduation goggles” phenomenon that happens before making a change.

      Ask your new employer all your questions though! Hopefully that will help too.

    3. Nodumbunny*

      This is entirely normal and it will all be okay. I do this every time I start a new job and if you’re fairly early in your career and haven’t changed jobs much, it can really be fairly nerve-wracking. After doing it several times, I know how I’m going to feel (like an imposter) and I know I can ride it out and all will be fine. Be nice to yourself – give yourself a pep talk, do stuff this weekend that you find relaxing and fun, plan to wear whatever makes you feel kicka$$. And good luck!

    4. pghadventurer*

      The first week of a new job is always stressful. A million questions run through your mind: Am I doing ok? Do they like me? Do they think I suck? Am I asking too many questions?

      Try to just be ok with feeling out of place. After a few weeks, you’ll find your feet.

    5. fposte*

      Oh, I had missed this news! Congratulations, jesicka–I know you’ve been looking for a change for some time.

      I totally understand your thoughts–for me, the time when the decision is made but hasn’t been implemented is the worst for stress. But you’ll be fine. This is normal change anxiety. And now’s the time to leave. The new job doesn’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to be perfect at it–it’s still time for it.

      1. jesicka309*

        Thanks. That’s very good advice – the people who hired me know how little direct experience I had, and won’t expect me to be perfect. They did a whole bunch of behavioural questions in the interview, so they’re more worried about how I’ll fit into the department long term as opposed to how quickly I’ll pick up specific tasks, which is good to know. :)
        This is my first job out of uni, and while I’ve hated it for a long time, it’s weird to be leaving – especially because no one from my team has quit in 18 months, so even my team doesn’t know how this all works!
        :) Thanks again.

    6. danr*

      Monthly pay is actually good. You need to figure out your weekly cash expenses and still pay the bills. Work it right, and you’ll find that you are spending less than you earn. It’s a shock at first, but doable.

    7. danr*

      Take another look… there are 516 now, or where when I began scrolling down to find this post… [grin].

      1. jesicka309*

        Thanks! Seeing you finally get a job after looking for so long helped me through those last couple of months searching. It was like “see, there are jobs out there, and you could be so happy!” :) So thanks for motivating me (though you probably didn’t know it! )

    8. Not So NewReader*

      ug. Waiting is hard. You don’t know what it is you don’t know. So the mind runs amok- picturing this, that and the next thing.
      Take control of the things you can control. Got your clothes picked out? How about meals? Is there any materials you need to gather for your first day?
      If this is not enough to keep your mind occupied then can you read online about your company and learn more? You can put pencil to paper and make a list of all your questions. No, you probably won’t use the list. This is just to help your mind from wandering all over the place.
      You could attempt writing a budget plan. ( I know I always forget the bills that occur once a year- car registration, driver’s license, etc. ) But you could start this just to help use up some nervous energy.

      I think the number one thing that pulls me back is to get together with family or friends. They are constants in my life and this has a calming effect.

      1. jesicka309*

        I’ve already done the budget plan, thankfully. I got my tax return last week and immediately saved most of it for bills/Christmas. I’m a little worried about the transition from fortnightly to monthly payments, but I’m expecting a huge payout of leave from my current role which should cover me.
        Thanks for the kind words though – I’m planning on enjoying a big glass (bottle?) of wine on Friday with my partner and friends to celebrate finishing up here.

  7. melody*

    How do you all feel about Bruce Springsteen? I’m listening to a live album and just so in love with everything. The rawness, pure passion, enthusiasm – of Bruce and the E Street Band – ay ay ay amazingness. I’m sure I’d pee myself with glee if I actually went to a show.

    1. Rebecca*

      LOVE HIM and have since High School :) I still turn the car radio up as far as I can stand it when “Born to Run” comes on.

    2. E.R*

      I love, love, love Bruce Springsteen. I had a professor in university who always went on about Bruce, and I would internally roll my eyes and think, ” music for old people”. When Wrecking Ball came out in ’08, I gave it a listen, and then went back and listened to all of his albums (which takes some time) and read his most recent bio. And went to my first Springsteen concert last year. Now I’m the one telling everyone Bruce stories and making analogies to his songs, whilst they roll their eyes, because they dont know what they’re missing. Completely changed my life.

      1. LCL*

        Oh, Born to Run, the guitar solo, the whole song still thrills me.
        I still cry everytime I hear “the River”, and I can play it.
        A lot of Bruce’s simpler songs (not the operatic stuff) is really simple to bang out on guitar-‘Pink Cadillac’, ‘Goin’ down’ and etc. Never been fortunate enough to see him live, but he was on youtube the last time I looked. Check his performance of Bad Moon Rising-he botches the verses, everybody botches the verses on that one, it’s deceptively simple.
        Was he the male voice on the duet with Patti Smith of ‘Because the night’? I can’t check now, I never visit youtube during work hours because it’s too seductive.

      2. Emma*

        My conversion experience happened upon hearing “The River” and “Atlantic City.” Great, visceral songs.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I used to have a MASSIVE crush on him, but it’s mellowed. I still like the music–but most of what I have is on vinyl and I need a new turntable and needle. I think I’ll get the one that lets you rip records to the computer. :)

    1. Jamie*

      Some comments – with links or certain words go into moderation where Alison, or someone in her stead, has to approve them …then they post.

  8. Simon*

    When applying for jobs in other cities, is it ever okay to address in a cover letter or email that you’ll be in a particular city during a certain time period in hopes of being considered for an interview? I’m going to San Francisco for a vacation in early November. I figure while I am there, I am available to be interviewed in person for any opportunities there.

    1. WWWONKA*

      Even though some advise says to use a local address and be available at any time I think you should just be humble about it. Something along the lines of “although I have not relocated to ______ as of yet, I will be in that area between x and y. I would look forward to interviewing/meeting with you should the opportunity arise.

      1. Tina*

        I do think it’s ok, and actually encouraged to do that. It may be a question of wording – you don’t want the employer to think that you’re presuming you’ll be interviewed just because you’re in town. But I think something along the lines of what WWWONKA said would work.

        Plus, some employers find it encouraging to know that you have already been to that area and know what it’s like, it’s another potential factor in cultural fit for the job and company.

    2. Jen*

      I have done this before and it worked out very well. I have moved twice in my life and both times I did this and was able to score two interviews for each visit.

    3. ExceptionToTheRule*

      I would be more inclined to interview an out of town candidate if I knew they were going to be in town because I don’t have a budget to bring people in.

    4. Sabrina*

      I *think* Alison says to do this in her book. I could be making this up. But basically says to say in the cover letter “I will be in town X dates and available to meet with you” or something along those lines. She says to then plan to be there, but don’t actually book anything unless you hear back. Of course your situation is different because you’re going whether or not you have any interviews lined up. I think I may start to do this too as I’m hoping to move to the Chicago or Milwaukee area, but I don’t have enough PTO time to be there all the time. My cover letter does say that I plan to pay for all travel/relocation expenses though.

    5. A Teacher*

      My best friend just got a job because she was able to interview in Illinois when she was visiting her parents. She was already home so the organization was willing to meet with her when she was here.

  9. Tammy*

    A lot of job hunters seem to want to hear from employers if they were weren’t chosen for a position and think it’s horrible when employers don’t notify them.

    I’m the opposite. I think it’s annoying to get the rejection e-mails. Anyone else feel this way, or am I weird?

    I’ve been taking Alison’s advice and immediately moving on once I apply to a job or after I go to an interview. I assume I’ll never hear from them again and completely dismiss them from my mind. It’s nice to not be anxiously waiting to hear back from anyone.

    But I feel like crap when I get the rejection e-mails, and I’d wish they’d just not bother sending them.

      1. Bea W*

        Yes! It’s closure. Rejection sucks, but I find it easier to put that job possibility behind me and move on. Otherwise you’re left guessing for a while if you’ll get an offer or not, and although I continue looking, I find that mental wondering about interviews distracting.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        YES. I didn’t care if it was just an application–they may have received hundreds, and if they didn’t even see mine, it’s not a big deal. But an interview? You bet I wanted to know one way or the other. If a company I interviewed with didn’t get back to me, especially after follow-up, I wrote them off and never applied there again.

    1. Lindsay J*

      If I’ve interviewed I would rather get a timely rejection letter than not hear anything.

      If I’ve just put in my resume I don’t really care one way or another.

      It did annoy me when I got a rejection letter from a place I had a phone interview with about 6 months after the interview happened. At that point it was just like, “Well duh. Why even bother sending this?” That interview did go particularly badly though – apparently I just didn’t sound enthusiastic enough about being a bank teller and needed to be called out on my lack of enthusiasm in the interview. I may not have been so annoyed by the rejection letter if I wasn’t annoyed by the interview to begin with.

      1. Amanda*

        Timely is right. I also got a rejection email after I had moved on and found it annoying (although it wasn’t even as long as six months)! I also found it annoying because it was a weird, very stiff hybrid email that was very obviously sent to all candidates whether they had just submitted an application or actually had an interview.

    2. Sabrina*

      I like to know, if I’ve had an interview. One time though I got an email plus THREE phone calls rejecting me. From the same person. I was like OK, I didn’t get the job, thanks for calling to tell me AGAIN. Like really, were you trying to drive the point that I didn’t get the job home that badly that you had to call me three times?

    3. some1*

      For phone screens &/or in-person interviews with outside organizations, I would expect a rejection email.

      For internal positions, I believe the Hiring Manager owes the candidate a face-to face conversation. I know some people don’t like this because if the Hiring Manager asks to meet before the hire is announced, the candidate gets her hopes up.

      However, I worked at an org where two friends and colleagues interviewed for a promotion and didn’t hear boo about the position until the head of the dept sent out an email announcing the outside hire. I just think you owe present employees the courtesy of letting them know they were passed over beforehand.

      1. WWWONKA*

        I applied for an internal position and found out in front of a group of peers that another person got the job. After I left my bosses office he followed me out and I was literally attacked verbally. It was obvious that favoritism was involved, the guy that got the job had no experience, barely a high school GED and was known to hang out drinking beers with the “gang”.

    4. Rayner*

      I think it’s important though – I’d rather find out that I’ve been rejected through a email (relatively nice) than to never hear back. It shows a lack of respect for my time and efforts on the part of the company I’ve researched, written a cover letter for, maybe even gone through a frustrating application process online for, and sent a CV in for a job they want filled.

      It’s rude not to at least acknowledge that and let me know what’s happening.

      I think you’re not actually moving on completely if being told nothing is better to you than a definitive answer, to be honest.

      If you have moved on, then a rejection letter is confirmation that you did the right thing by putting it out of your mind and continuing to look in other places. If they don’t send a letter, then you still did the right thing by moving on anyway.

    5. Felicia*

      I don’t want to hear from employers to be rejected after an application – i agree, that’s pretty depressing.

      What I hate, and what i think most people are referring to when they talk about this is going in for an interview and then never hearing anything even if the interviewer says youll hear back from them either way. 80% of the time when i have an interview they don’t get bakc to me, and i hate that

    6. RedStateBlues*

      I’ve come not to expect any further communication if I’m rejected, so its not a big deal anymore. However, being a man of my word, I get HIGHLY irritated when someone states they will “let you know either way” and it doesn’t happen (which is probably 95% of the time).

  10. Megan*

    What everyones best excuses for job interviews? I’m going too need a lot of excuses in the coming months.

    I work in a busy customer service role were it’s really hard to get a day off at short notice as we need a certain amount of people there to deal with the public, which is fair enough, but makes getting time off for interviews difficult.

    Also the location and hours of my role mean it’s impossible to schedule interviews for before or after work.

    I recently got a call for an interview and was given a few days notice. Requested the day off but got declined as there was already too many people away.
    My boss said I could have any day the next week off, but not on this week because we were too short staffed.
    Contacted the interviewer to request a date change, they would accommodate but only on this one particular week (as they wanted to make a decision by the end of the week) so I couldn’t reschedule it for the next week when I could get time off.

    In the end I cancelled the interview. I’m not too worried about this particular one as I didn’t think I had a huge chance of getting the role (under experienced), but it would have been great interview practice.

    It was either cancel it, or call in sick (which I feel too dishonest to do), or tell my boss it was for an interview. I’m sure I would of got time off if I had of been honest that it was for an interview but I don’t feel like letting my boss know yet.

    What would you have done?

    1. KarenT*

      I either would have called in sick or faked a dentist appointment. Yes it’s dishonest but sort if an expected lie when people are job hunting.
      I wouldn’t tell your supervisor the truth unless you have an awesome relationship.
      You’ll always likely get little notice for interviews, so it’s definitely time to get creative!

      1. WWWONKA*

        If it is tough to get a short notice day off I would not give any notice and just call in sick. I also would not let anyone to know I was looking.

        1. Megan*

          I’m not sure about calling in sick. I’m fairly young and have not had many jobs so therefore don’t have many references. I need an offer conditional upon a good reference from my current boss. I would worry the interviewer and/or my boss would realise (when doing the telephone reference check) that I faked a sicky to go to the interview.

          1. AdAgencyChick*

            I think if you have an otherwise decent relationship with your manager, and you don’t do it too often, you’ll be all right — this is simply so common an issue that if your boss ends up getting called as a reference and he says “But she had an interview and pretended she was sick!” the reference checker will probably think, “Don’t we all?”

            A few years ago one of my direct reports was interviewing, and it was fairly obvious to me that he was — he would come in to work dressed better than normal, called out because he was “under the weather,” etc. When he gave me notice, I knew it was coming (especially because we were underpaying him, which I tried to change before he quit but was told no by TPTB). He was a great employee, and I wouldn’t think twice about giving him an excellent reference — in fact, I’ve tried on multiple occasions to hire him back. So the fact that he told me THAT lie doesn’t factor into my opinion of him at all — it’s simply an unfortunate necessity of the way our interviewing system works.

            Now, if he had been calling out on a regular basis — that is something I’d remember unfavorably.

          2. some1*

            Meh, your boss might think that, but there’s plenty of reasons someone might call in sick and be fine the next day: menstrual cramps, migraines, “digestive issues”, insomnia the preceding night, etc.

            Not t0 mention, the hiring process can take a long time. By the time a new employer got to the reference-checking stage, it could be weeks or months after you took your “sick” day.

          3. Malissa*

            So you are expecting your boss to be a reference? I would come clean with him, then. He’s going to find out you are job hunting sooner or later.
            If you do want to keep it secret see if you can flex your hours a bit. Take a long lunch and stay later, swap hours with a coworker, etc…

    2. LMW*

      I try to just say “I have an appointment” and follow that up with “it’s personal” if asked…but I’ll admit that sometimes I say “doctor” or another white lie to make it easier.

    3. Lisa*

      I dress to the nines on days when I actually go to the dentist. I like keeping my boss on his toes. Really messes with the office manager / tattletale, when she asks why I am not in my usual jeans. I stoically look straight into her eyes and say ‘dentist appt’. No smile, nothing. hehe

    4. Jillyan*

      So, here’s the thing. This was me a few months ago and where I work, if you call in sick and they find out you’re not you can get fired (and truth be told they have a generous sick day policy so I get that they would expect employees to keep it honest.) I had to use half of my vacation days and thankfully was never asked why (although Im sure they knew.) I ended up using 10 total half vacation days over the span of 6-7 months because so many of my interviews were 2nd or 3rd round (there was even one 5 round interview that got taken by the lead interviewer’s best friend- what a waste of time. the person they hired is horrible in their job! but i digress)

      After a while my supervisor (who was the most inept, rude, and volatile supervisor I have ever had) told me that I would have to put in my request for half vacation days 3 weeks (!) in advance. Luckily, the people who hired me were accommodating to my schedule to the point where they scheduled two of the three interviews after work hours.

      Anyway, what I’m trying to say if you have to be more selective in the jobs you interview for since you can’t take time off easily. I made the mistake of taking time off to interview for jobs that weren’t the best match for me but I should have been more selective. If a company wants you and they know you’re working, they will do their best to work with your schedule. It’s shocking how many people lie and use sick days for a job interview but that’s because truthfully their managers are not open to their taking time off. Be honest, be selective, and good luck!

    5. anon*

      I pretty much always call in sick that morning the day before because my company is weird about vacation days on short notice. Not that they aren’t approved, more that everyone is super nosy and wants to know everything you are doing.

      I have usually tried to schedule my interviews first thing in the morning so I can go into work after using the following excuses which I think are more understandable on short notice – emergency dental appointment for chipped tooth, car wouldn’t start and have to have it towed this morning, landlord called and the gas/electric/plumber has to be let in for an emergency situation, relative had emergency requiring me to pick them up from work/school/mechanic/airport, credit card number got stolen and have to go sort it out at the bank.

      1. Bea W*

        I’ve used the first thing in the morning tactic saying I have an appointment. Luckily I work in a field where time off isn’t hard to come by, and if you’ve been a decent employee you’re not likely to get the 3rd degree. So I have very rarely fibbed outright.

        I did call in sick once on a day I had an afternoon interview, but I was actually sick and would have called in even without an interview planned. I had started a new med the night before and had a bad reaction which took about 48 hours to completely resolve. I did go to the afternoon interview but I felt like crap. I didn’t get that job. It was a difficult interview and my head was not up to it.

    6. AmyNYC*

      If this is retail or similar, say you’ve take up a new class or have a new standing appointment and aren’t available Tuesday afternoons (or sometime – juts block off a few hours a week). This gives you some regularity to hopefully interview in that time, and use excuses for ones that can’t meet then.
      I’ve used doctor, dentist, running an errand, plumber/super/handyman/cable/internet needs to be let into the apartment, leaving early for kids play at school, parent teacher night….

    7. EM*

      If it’s short notice in the future AND something you really feel like you want/have a decent shot at, I would skip asking for the day off and just call in sick the day of.

      I know it’s technically dishonest, but it doesn’t sound like you have many other options.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I can’t tell by your description but can you ask for one regular day off each week? For example if you knew you always have Thursdays off then you could use that for your interviews. Not a great solution- but it helped take some pressure off of me at one point.
      You can say that you use the day off for car repair, doctor appointments and all that stuff in life that seems to require time off from work.

    9. RedStateBlues*

      I think many people understand that “Dr’s appointment” is code for “I’m going to be late/absent for reasons I don’t care to share”.

      Good move on the cancellation by the way. If it really is that hard to get a day off on short notice, you’re really going to have to pick your spots.

      1. Jen in RO*

        I’m also in a different time zone (and continent), and I love the 8 a.m. posts, even though there’s usually just a few of us around :)

        (I think “my” 8 a.m. posts show up around midnight Alison’s time.)

      1. JessA*

        I’m just curious…why is everybody up so late? I have tomorrow off, but I normally have a weird sleep / insomnia schedule.

        1. Lindsay J*

          I have bad insomnia. I came home, slept from 11PM-3AM. Then something woke me up and now I’m probably up for the rest of the day.

  11. Anonymous for this*

    Any tips for dealing with a coworker who is absolutely driving you up the wall? I have someone I have to work with 4 days a week who’s That Coworker. I won’t get into details, but let’s just say that any normal human being would be driven wild by what he does.

    It’s clear nothing’s going to be done about him and attempts to ask him to knock things off head on haven’t worked. I’m already applying for jobs elsewhere. But in the meantime, any coping tips?

    1. Lacey*

      I have the exact same question, was literally scrolling down to post that. My co-worker has just given up, she has been hopeless at this job from day one (both recruited at the same time for the same project). Her checking out mentally has a major impact on me, as the same amount of work has to be done, its just that now I’m doing much more of it. I’m very frustrated, and don’t know how to address the problem. I need to get on with her, I’m really relying on her to continue pulling her weight, and I’m not her supervisor, so I don’t know how to discuss it with her without alienating her. Our manager is in another country and appears to have given up managing her.

      I’m looking for a new job, but meantime I need to find a way to deal with this basket case of a colleague.

      Sorry to hijack your question, but maybe someone will have some great tips!

      1. RB*

        Go to your boss and ask advice on how to handle it. Frame it in a way that says “my co-worker is unable complete her share of the workload and while I don’t mind assisting when necessary, this is a pervasive problem. Can you offer some guidance on how to address this with her in a professional way that keeps our working relationship solid”.

        This will tell your manager you are willing to step up and take action with the additional plus of alerting him or her that there is an issue that needs to be addressed.

        I’ll keep my fingers crossed that you are supported.

        1. Rebecca*

          This will work if you have a competent manager. Otherwise, you’ll just end up doing the work and the ineffective employee will just continue on, with less work to do, shielded by the manager. I know. My manager protects her friend this way. She even goes to the extent of monitoring her work, and either completing tasks herself, or assigning them to other people, as well has having other colleagues sit with her to make sure she does things correctly. She has “managed” her friend this way for 17 years.

          1. Ruffingit*

            Wow, I’d be pissed if any friend of mine expected that kind of treatment at work. The friendship would be over because I would refuse to shield/protect someone whose work ethic was that poor. I guess I should be grateful that I know how to choose good friends. And that I don’t manage any of them. :)

      2. Trillian*

        I suspect you already know the answer, if you’re a regular, which is to insist (as best you can) that your manager manage. It is your manager’s responsibility that the work gets done. Therefore if you cannot finish your work in a reasonable work-week* and without excessive stress, lay it out for your manager and ask them how to proceed. Don’t pick up any of your coworker’s work without being asked; make them request it of your manager every time. Then go through the “If I do X, Y, and Z, then A, B, and C will not get done, and here are the consequences for not doing A, B, and C; how would you like me to proceed?” routine. And make sure you have directions documented.

        * If the work still fits in a regular work-week, and you aren’t stressed out, then I’d say endure it – it’s inequitable, but you’re getting experience, and neither your manager or coworker are. They’ll be left with each other when you’re gone.

      3. E.R*

        I, too, have the same problem, and I don’t think there’s anything I can do about it. My boss is aware of it (we’re a very small company, and annoying co-worker and I are the sales team, so you can very much see the results). Terrible co-worker came in with with much fanfare two months after I started, he’s paid more than me, and was assigned our “best” accounts, and has produced almost nothing in terms of sales. I struggled when I started this job as well (there is a huge learning curve and not much support), so a part of me is sympathetic to him although he’s been terribly condescending to me since he started. I’m conflicted because we have a big deadline coming up for which he has produced nothing, which leaves a huge burden on me to make up the difference (and it’s a BIG difference). If he were just a humble, kind, and genuine person, I would go to the end of the earth to help, but he’s just …. awful. If he produces nothing for this deadline again, there’s a decent chance he will be let go (so I wont have to deal with him anymore) but it also means we will be struggling in the short-term financially, because, well, he produced nothing. So I’m just taking a wait and see approach. Anybody ever been in a similiar situation?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Can you be a superstar just doing your own work? Sometimes the answer is to just do your absolute “bestest” with what you have been assigned to do.
          If you have an idea that would help the company push revenue upwards, now might be a good time to mention it. Make sure that the idea stands alone- it does not put down your cohort in any manner. It is just plain a good idea.
          Later, when the boss says “E.R.’s idea helped out when the revenues dipped.” You can nod and admit you were concerned that is why you offered this idea. Never say why you were concerned.

      4. Not So NewReader*

        Lacey, very early in my work life, I worked with someone who pointed out that the problem with people who slack off before quitting/firing is that their coworker has to take up the slack.
        In other words, the slacker does not impact the company in any manner. The company never feels any pain from the slacker’s lack of attention. The only one who is impacted is the person working closest to the slacker.

        So what does this look like in conversation?

        “Jane, I understand that you have totally had it with this place. I get it. I don’t blame you. But you know what? I still need YOU. The company will never notice that you aren’t pushing yourself along- the only people impacted are the people working beside you. I am going home feeling like I am falling-down-exhausted. Can you please help me with some of this? I totally get where you are coming from, but I have no say in any of this stuff and the work still needs to get done, I really need your help.”

        1. Lacey*

          Thank you, that is awesome advice. I think you’re right, I need to sit down with her, go through all the extra work I’m doing and allocate it between us. There is so much to do, I just can’t do it all on my own, and if she doesn’t come to the party I’m going to hit the wall soon. She just spent two days at a conference that is totally unnecessary for us to get our project done, simply because she was invited and she felt like it. Apparently she ‘told’ our manager, I have no idea why our manager said it was ok, she missed another deadline yesterday so its not as though she is ahead and has capacity. Meanwhile, I spent those two days working my arse off. My resentment is really starting to affect my attitude to work, and to her.

    2. Trillian*

      It’ll depend if the behaviour directly affects the work, as opposed to indirectly by its effect on you. If it directly affects safety or compliance – eg, not following safety rules, violating confidentiality, or making inappropriate jokes – your bosses need to know, repeatedly if need be. Be sure of your facts, though – check the handbook. If efficiency or quality, tell them, then leave them to figure it out. If it’s interpersonal, disengage. Be civil, busy, and bored with all the antics. You’ve heard it all before, yawn.

      1. Anonymous for this*

        It does affect things–he’s snapped at customers before, does things that are clearly incorrect, messes major things up…but the bosses know, and haven’t done anything. I’ve spoken to them, I know they know, for whatever reason they’re not managing him.

        I don’t understand it, but it is what it is. I’d just like any tips people can give for tolerating it.

    3. Also anon for this*

      I feel your pain. One thing to remember is that this person is driving Everyone crazy. So at least you aren’t alone. The most effective strategy I’ve found with my crazy coworker is avoidance. I avoid talking to her, looking at her, hearing her (seriously, I brought a white noise machine into my cube because just hearing her voice was sending me over the edge). It’s hard when our work overlaps, but I just try to be as numb as possible.

      One of my closest friends is one of those people who can get along with almost anyone. Her tactic when she doesn’t like someone is to pretend like they are her BFF. It’s a mental exercise for her, not a literal exercise where she asks them to lunch all the time or something. She swears by it.

      Ugh, hang in there.

      1. Anonymous for this*

        I would love to do that. There is literally no way to avoid this coworker. I must work with him–i.e. we are on a team together and that involves spending at least 6 of our 8 hours together at work.

        Probably the thing that I find most difficult to cope with is that he talks *all the time*. Literally I have started walking away mid-sentence or just not answering him because it’s the only thing I can do, and he just carries on as if I’d responded. I’m one of those people who needs a bit of breathing space at work.

        1. EvilQueenRegina*

          That sounds pretty much like my situation – I have to sit opposite this woman I really can’t stand all day and can’t easily get away from her.

          Talking is a big part of the problem – D talks all the time and quite a lot of it is about such things as her daughter getting into trouble at school in 1991, pulling her ex husbands to pieces (she’s been divorced from the first about 20 years and the second’s been dead about 10 years), sharing too much information about her ailments etc. Once she loudly announced in the office that she’d suggested to her most recent ex that they get the handcuffs out and he refused. She sits opposite the window and spends lots of time staring out of it and then giving a running commentary – I really don’t need to be interrupted to be told that someone with green hair has just walked past. The other day when I was busy I did try and say that I didn’t have time for it and her response was “You’re not the only one working here, you know!” Although when she’s just sat there chatting it can feel like it.

          Yet despite talking to me about the above, when it’s a genuine work matter like asking if it is okay to have leave on a certain date or go on her break she makes a big point of only asking M (our other coworker) if it is okay and ignoring me.

          She also under performs and it reached the point where the majority of the team either avoid asking her to do anything at all or give her something so basic my uncle’s pet guinea pigs could do it – our manager then implemented a policy where all requests for work had to be sent to a central inbox and in tray, but even then she either doesn’t touch these at all or cherry picks the most basic tasks. She then turns round and bleats to our managers that she’d like to improve her skills and nobody gives her a chance but then when she is given that chance, either doesn’t follow through with this or moans and groans about how she wishes she’d never started it.

          Our manager has been made aware of this by various people for over two years but only started taking it seriously once someone used the words “formal complaint”. I don’t know what’s going to happen next – a meeting had been arranged with the person who made the complaint but some emergency meant it couldn’t happen that day, it was rearranged but I don’t know when to. I’m not betting on it actually getting resolved though.

          I do try to treat the ex husband related chat etc as white noise but am conscious that if I tune her out altogether I might tune out something I genuinely need to know for work. Any tips gratefully received.

    4. Joey*

      Yes-don’t let it drive you up the wall. Expect the behavior and let it be a special treat when its not there.

      Go around her as much as possible and when its affecting work calmly and objectively ask your supervisor for guidance on how to handle the hurdle.

    5. Felicia*

      I have a coworker who’s driving me up the wall to for so many reasons! I can’t stand her:) I am a little comforted it’s not just me.

  12. A Bug!*

    Okay, call-back to an off-topic thread in another post last week:

    Regarding “dream jobs”, we all know that it’s not a healthy way to look at potential jobs for a whole host of reasons, but let’s take the reality out of the equation here. If you could define your own job, all practicality aside, what would you choose?

    1. Lacey*

      Bestselling novelist. I’d be able to work from home, wear sweatpants everyday, have an excuse for reading an unlimited number of novels as a requirement to be good at my job, earn a ton of money, and mnore importantly, do something that I absolutely, 100%, love doing.

      1. AnonHR*

        Similarly: (paid) Book Review/Pop Culture Blogger

        Sweatpants, tv, books, movies, writing, snuggling with my cat, sleeping past 6, and saving the gas money!

      2. Elizabeth West*

        A) You stole my answer!
        B) earn a ton of money
        Seriously, that would be nice.

        Read this:

        I still want to do it myself, even after Brian’s post, even after writing books while working full time and going to school and trying to keep up with two blogs (not very well), and endlessly querying (it’s like job applications), and doing the work even when it’s not coming out the way I want and is like the WORST AND LONGEST HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT EVER. And even knowing that if I DO publish one of them, the real work will have only begun–there will be hustling and marketing and posting and speaking and blah blah blah. Because I have accepted that I am a writer and I can’t be anything else. :)

    2. Anonymous*

      It’d be my current job- for more pay and a Mon-Fri schedule. That’s a pretty good place to be in, when I think about it.

      1. Jen in RO*

        I would probably be in a job very similar to mine (pretty good place to be, indeed!). I lucked into this career path (tech writing) and I love it! I’m in my first month at a new job and it feels pretty great so far, but to make it even better I’d need to get some training in a lot of different things (XSLT, OOP, scripting, anything to make my life easier), I’d have a lot of helpful coworkers willing to teach me these things, and I’d be very involved in all the development discussions so I could schedule my work even better. Not applicable to my current job, but in the future, I’d like to do less writing and more editing, that’s where my heart really is. (You’re allowed to laugh, but I really do love editing.)

        On a more personal level, I’d like to hang out with the girls more! I used to be on an all-female team in my previous job and, while I’m not a girly-girl, I do miss our conversations about clothes and nail polish…

          1. Rana*

            I love editing as well. Both my own stuff and my clients’. There’s something very satisfying between taking a piece of writing and polishing it up, isn’t there?

            1. ChristineSW*

              I’ve been told a couple of times by a colleague that I’d make a great editor. What *exactly* do editors do?

              1. Rana*

                It depends on the nature of the editing. Proofreaders have a sharp eye for typos, misplaced commas, etc. Copyeditors are great at correcting grammar, and the better ones are also skilled at keeping the “voice” of the author as they do so. They will also pay attention to things like consistency across a document, whether it’s the color of a character’s eyes, or the spelling of a brand name. Developmental editors are the big picture folks; they look at the structure of a book or argument and think about things like organization, supporting evidence, plot holes, and the like.

                (I myself do a bit of all three, but my strengths are as a copyeditor for style and consistency, and as a developmental editor.)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I edit and am studying tech writing too, but I have a job so I can live while I write books. This job is pretty sweet, though. :)

          I do like editing too, and revising! It’s writing first drafts that chaps my cheeks. UGH!

      2. Lindsay J*

        My job, but in a management role and for more money. I’m hoping they send me and one of my managers to one of the next stores they open up. I really love my job and people I work for.

    3. Amy B.*

      I would get paid for my volunteer jobs (feeding the homeless, working in a thrift store, volunteer coordinator/project leader, non-profit board member, outreach committee member). I wish those positions paid what my “real” job does, because I LOVE all of those jobs.

    4. ExceptionToTheRule*

      I’m pretty content where I am and doing what I’m doing, but I would love to get off the night shift & work days. Except that in my business, nights is what the key/best performers works.

      Maybe I should start sucking…

    5. Rebecca*

      I would socialize stray cats and dogs so they could be adopted into a loving family, and help to rehab injured wild animals so they could return to their natural habitat.

      1. Bea W*

        I have done this as a volunteer. I would go to the local SPCA on behalf of another rescue org, set up a couple pens in a back room with toys and litterboxes, and play with the rabbits, since their own volunteers were focused mainly on the dogs and cats, and the rabbits didn’t get the exercise time they really needed.

        It would be great to be paid for it. We now have our own shelter, but we can’t afford to pay people with cash for snuggling bunnies. It is its own reward of course, but it doesn’t pay the rent.

    6. Ruffingit*

      College career counselor. I love working with students, being on a campus, and I’d like to dispel many of the myths that we’ve discussed here so the students can go out into the job world that much more prepared.

      1. some1*

        I thought about becoming a high school guidance counselor because two of the ones at my old high school were absolutely terrible.

    7. Betsy*

      I would choose a job similar to what I have now, but treating me more as an adult — letting me work from home, trusting me to get my work done without needing to tie me to my chair for hours, fewer meetings about process and procedure, etc.

      Overall, I like what I do, which is design and build web applications, but around 50% of every day is spent either rehashing old conversations or sitting at my desk browsing the internet because someone else is preventing me from moving forward.

      I want to give my company 100% while I’m there, and deliver quality, but I wish less of my time was spent on driving, waiting, and repeating conversations.

    8. Sascha*

      I’d captain a super nice boat in Hawaii that does dinner cruise trips up and down the coast of Kauai.

    9. themmases*

      I’d be a public health researcher in a university with a really good funding administrator and at least the part-time help of a grant writer. Basically I want to keep my interaction with budgets to the absolute minimum.

      This one might be possible, actually– my department does not have a funding administrator and keeping track of grant funding just falls on the research coordinator. I didn’t even know that managing just those types of funds was a job until I was job hunting recently. Now it makes so much sense and I can’t believe any place that otherwise had its act together would let, say, NIH money be managed by the person whose job it is to write research plans and recruit subjects.

    10. Anonadog*

      **Nerd alert**
      Professional genealogist. I love researching my family history, and I wish I had more time to do it and help others do the same.

    11. KarmaKicks*

      It’s been my lottery dream to open a bookstore. I’ve got such grand plans for that place…all the way down to what the front door would look like!

      1. coconutwater*

        My husband and I have a similar ” lottery winning” dream…. We would open combination coffee shop / bookstore, that had a small stage to be used for small acoustic acts and authors doing book signings……

    12. danr*

      I had my dream job… periodicals indexer. I got to sit and read all day (and get paid for it!), and I mostly read stuff that I was interested in anyway. Of course I did have to assign subject headings and stuff, but the research on new headings was also a big plus. This was just at the start of our company’s computerization and that was part of the dream job too.
      I thought I had my dream job in my first job, but that one turned into a nightmare.

      1. Anonymous*

        I was a periodicals indexer for a while too! I was always exra-careful when working on the really interesting articles. Read them thoroughly to make sure that they were classified right.

        I fondly remember the day they made “Permafrost” a LOC term. I could finally stop calling it “Frozen Ground.”

      2. Rana*

        Getting to read books I’d never think to pick up on my own is one of the big perks of indexing for me. I love the challenge of learning a new topic and figuring out how to “translate” it into index form – if that makes me a nerd, so be it. :)

    13. nyxalinth*

      Videogame tester. Yes, that’s really a thing, and not as fun as it sounds, but I would like it. Part of the job involves doing some pretty repetitive stuff, but gamers are pretty well versed in trying all manner of weird things out in games just in the normal course of playing. I’m not strongly money motivated beyond having enough to support myself and have some nice things, so pay isn’t an issue. Plus, no customers, no getting yelled at, and no call metrics.

      1. Claire MKE*

        One of my friends worked as a video game tester! He had to play the Dora the Explorer game in Swedish

    14. Lizabeth*

      I think I have my “dream job” now – a great boss that watches my back and interesting variety of work that challenges me. BUT, I’m underpaid for what I do, the powers that be (not my boss) are behind on paying bills 90-120 days AND they’re combining another division with ours WITHOUT a transition plan in place and getting rid of the person that would be the most helpful for that transition and adding significantly to everybody’s workload. The only thing that will be keeping me going is
      “what goes around, comes around”. I’ve been out there long enough to see that happen several times now and it’s a comfort that the PTB will get theirs in the end. And if my boss leaves, I’m gone too…

    15. Cath@VWXYNot?*

      Having had a job where I liked the people but not the work, and then a job where I liked the work but not the people, I now have a job where I like the work AND absolutely love the people! So I’m pretty happy.

      The only major problem with my job is that it’s very mentally demanding, so I come home with little to no mental energy and motivation to work on my own personal writing projects in the evening. After a particularly tough week (hello, September – November grant deadline cluster!), it’s pretty hard to summon the requisite mental energy on the weekends, too.

      So, my “somewhat realistic” dream scenario would be to do my current job 3 days a week, and have 2 days free to work from home on own writing projects. That would be AWESOME.

      “Somewhat realistic if I decide I really want to do it, but am currently ambivalent about it” dream scenario: run for office at either the local or the federal level. I’d love to be a local MP, or preferably science minister (not so realistic, I know).

      “Dream” dream scenario: I still want David Attenborough’s job, and probably always will. That or astronaut.

      1. Manda*

        I’d love to be a local MP, or preferably science minister (not so realistic, I know).

        If that ever pans out for you, please ensure no more Experimental Lakes type fiascos in the future.

    16. LD*

      I’d like the job I had before the economy tanked, program development and management for corporate Organization Development and Leadership and Management development. I LOVED my job.

    17. Katie in Ed*

      I’d be a white male university professor in the 1970s who would use research funds to pursue frivolous pet projects after writing one book that cemented my authority in my field.

      1. Jamie*

        The only time I’ve ever wanted to be a man in when buying clothes for formal occasions.

        One trip to one store. The biggest questions are black, gray, or navy and picking out a tie. Done and done in under an hour.

        How formal? A suit covers it. Buying a dress and trying to find something not only flattering but is it dressy enough? Too dressy? Asking other women what they are wearing so you don’t err too far on one side or another.

        Don’t even get me started on hair, make-up, nails, and shoes.

        It’s not fair. And men, I don’t care what you look like in street clothes …you don’t have to be good looking to be hot in a suit. Any guy on the planet, put them in a suit and instant James Bond. It’s ridiculous.

        1. Rana*

          No kidding. I remember when my brother came out for our wedding – he was my best man – and he didn’t have any dressy clothes. So we went to a Men’s Warehouse, and within 15-20 minutes he had the whole deal – shirt, suit, socks, tie, even shoes – plus a tailor to make sure everything was custom-fit.

          The closest I ever got to that was buying a suit at Ann Taylor, though I had to take it to an independent tailor later to get the cuffs of the pants hemmed.

    18. Jamie*

      I have been thinking about A Bugs question off and on all day and I think I have it.

      Youtube is filled with massage and reflexology demonstrations…my dream job is to be one of the models? Living test dummies? Whatever, to lay there and have people give me massages while I make well into the 6 figures for this.

      That is my dream job.

      1. Jamie*

        Wait – no – I hate being on camera. I want to be one of the pre-taping models where they practice. No cameras, no talking, no stress. Maybe this headache would finally go away.

    19. Rana*

      I’d probably want to keep doing my current job (I freelance, and there’s much I like about it) but have enough regular clients (good ones) that I can make a decent living at it.

    20. Professional Lurker*

      Petting kitties and baking brownies/cookies. Unfortunately they’re kind of mutually exclusive, since people don’t appreciate cat hair in their baked goods.

    21. Manda*

      I’d be some sort of a data analyst, preferably in market research, but I could probably enjoy that type of job in any industry. I’d be swimming in data and graphs, and I’d spend most of my day just crunching numbers. I would never have to do customer service. I would do most of my work on my own. I’d work something like 10-5. Screw this early morning, 8 or 9 hours a day crap. I’d have a modern office with a window, a super comfy chair, and a local thermostat. I’d work with a bunch of nerdy goofballs who get my sense of humour and who I get along well with, but I’d never feel pressured to attend any work-related social events. And of course, I’d make enough money to live comfortably and still put some into savings.

  13. Lindsay J*

    Help! My two managers are both sensitive people – more sensitive than I would like if I were promoting people to management, to be honest. I don’t know if it is the artistic temperament or what. Matt gets his feelings hurt easily, and Leslie’s initial response to any criticism is to deny it or to become defensive. Matt and Leslie don’t communicate well.

    Matt and I are close and Leslie knows this.

    I’ve encouraged Matt to communicate better with Leslie but it hasn’t worked. He holds back when speaking to her in a way that he doesn’t with me, which means that the issues they are having don’t get resolved.

    Leslie pumps me for information about Matt and makes passive aggressive comments to me about him. For example, she has asked me if I know why he stopped going to church after only going one week (don’t get me started about church down here). She has asked me if she is going to hurt his feelings if she undoes one of the changes he has made at work. And this week she left something to be done at work with no note before her two days off and said she was going to see if he was smart enough to do it on his own and then asked me not to repeat that comment to him.

    I wish I could lock them in a room and force them to communicate better, (or fight it out Thunderdome style). I can’t though. I know it is mostly not my issue to solve, but I wind up feeling like a little kid with two parents in the midst of a divorce the way they keep on bringing me into their arguments.

    So far (other than one early time when I gave Leslie information that I thought I would want to know in her shoes about Matt) my solution has been to just keep my mouth shut, deny to each one that the other has ever said anything about them, and go about my day the best I can. Any other advice?

    My job is actually great other than this (and this kind of makes the issue seem worse than it is. Other than one day about a month ago when things came to a head and made me want to quit this is actually mostly a minor annoyance rather than a major issue.) And this issue will likely solve itself in several months when one manager or the other is tasked with opening a new store and transferred out. But until then some advice or coping strategies would be nice.

    Working with my fiance for 6 years wasn’t as personally frustrating as working with these two.

    1. ExceptionToTheRule*

      If you decide that you don’t want to be a shoulder for Matt & Leslie to vent on, then tell them that. Just simply say: “I’m sorry your having trouble with Matt/Leslie but I can’t be in the middle of it anymore.”

      Wash, rinse, repeat and eventually they’ll stop coming to you because there’s no pay off.

      1. Lindsay J*

        I don’t mind the venting so much. I do mind the being pumped for information and the passive aggressive comments.

        However, I think they are tied together and stopping the venting is probably the best way to stop the other stuff. So this will probably be the tactic I use.

    2. fposte*

      Yeah, I’m with E. I saw “I’ve encouraged Matt to communicate better with Leslie” and thought that that’s a habit you’re going to want to break even if you’re close with Matt–*especially* if you’re close with Matt. It’s not just about not talking about Matt to Leslie, it’s about not talking about Leslie to Matt. This might be a case for the classic baffled “Why are you asking me?”

      1. Lindsay J*

        Yeah, I definitely need to be better about doing this. It has been my intention to just stay out of everything completely. However he and I share a lot of the same frustrations so it is difficult to resist the temptation to vent to each other.

        The encouraging him to communicate with her better was an attempt to steer him and the issues back towards her and away from me (and was part of a bigger talk I had with him about negativity in general) because so many of their issues would be solved if they could both communicate openly without getting their feelings hurt. However that wound up backfiring and I’ve tried to stay away from saying anything that could be construed as advice (or saying anything to one about the other at all) since then.

        1. Malissa*

          Refuse to be in the middle. I’ve been in a similar situation. Two co-workers, much animosity. One talked to me and valued my advise one was passive aggressive. I constantly said to both of them, “you don’t need to ask me about this ask her.” I would not tolerate negative comments from either about each other.
          Every comment got met with a “wow”, “I’m sorry what did you say?” or a stare that said, did you really just say that?
          One day they tried to have me decide about a new filing system that they were both involved in. My response was, “I really don’t care how you file it as long as you can dig it out when I ask for it.” This forced them to actually work together.
          The issues went away. Sadly since I left and can no longer referee I hear the situation is actually getting toxic. But it was good for a little while.

  14. Katie*

    Just need to vent about recruiters:

    A headhunter found me on I did two phone screens and submitted a phone sample. We scheduled an in person interview and decided we should prep for the interview. I followed up to schedule a prep session, then followed up again, nothing. Then I get an email the week of the interview saying that I’ll receive an update. More silence. The scheduled interview date came and went.

    I didn’t have my heart set on the job. I have a job I like, and I’m actually pretty busy now, and an interview would have taken time out of my day. But I’m just annoyed. They pursued me, then pretended like we didn’t have a date set.

    1. nyxalinth*

      Yeah, sometimes they’re pretty bad about keeping people up to date. I think some people take the route of “When I have something to get back to them about, I will.” and since they never hear anything, they never say anything, as opposed to “well, I haven’t heard anything more, but I’ll take a moment to let Katie know that.” it sucks mightily!

      I had this last December. turned out when I contacted the recruiter that his manager was waiting to hear from Job and for them to get their crap together, but it just sort of poofed into the ether.

  15. Holly*

    Long time reader, first time commenter. I just wanted to thank Alison. I got offered a job that I really want yesterday. It wouldn’t have happened if I’d not read so much excellent advice here – the amount of interviews I’ve got has skyrocketed since I started doing what you advise. Thank you!

  16. Carrie in Scotland*

    Does anyone have any advice? Replenishing the communal milk (a certain amount of us pay into a fund, which gets used to buy milk, tea bags, coffee etc) but TWICE this week us admins have gone to for our tea break and had no milk in the fridge to use! Twice in 4 days!! (can you tell I’m a bit miffed at this?) so…any advice? You’d think that the last person who finishes it would buy more but it doesn’t seem to working that way..

    1. Amy B.*

      When it is everyone’s responsibility, it is no one’s responsibility. This is why our office took out the coffee maker. Now we have a hot water machine. If you want coffee, you can make instant or use a French press. People bring in their own creamer (which usually gets “stolen” by others). I think there are whole website devoted to this one topic. I’m sorry to see it is apparently a universal problem.

      1. Rebecca*

        We put our names on the creamers in the fridge. This didn’t stop one of my coworkers from sampling them all! I was getting coffee, and had my creamer in my hand, and she said “I tried that, and I didn’t like it, plus did you look at the ingredients?” She went on to say that out of all the creamers in the fridge, she’s decided she likes her own the best.

        I have the same problems at work – someone uses the last coffee filter/paper plate/coffee packet/shelf stable creamer/whatever, and does not tell anyone. Once we had to beg for coffee filters from the gas station down the block. It’s not unusual to go for coffee and find about a quarter of a cup cooking in the bottom of the pot, with a fresh filter basket and pitcher of water all ready to go.

        Same deal with toilet paper in the bathroom.

        I view it as a lack of respect toward your fellow human beings.

        1. Jen in RO*

          Wow. I think I would have been too shocked to say anything… I like that she felt the need to tell you that the creamer she had been stealing was crap!

          1. Rebecca*

            LOL – she’s our office Food Police! I call her Dr. Oz girl. She’s always on some health kick or another. I told her to leave my creamer alone, and oh, by the way, you eat snack cakes every day, so what’s the difference?

          2. Tina*

            I once had a bag boy at the grocery store go “oh, that’s totally gross, who would eat that?” while I was checking out with my food. I just looked at him. Especially since it wasn’t even anything unusual or exotic – it was a frozen Pizzeria Uno’s pizza, and he had no idea what they looked like before they were cooked lol.

              1. Jamie*

                Oh this reminds me – and it’s work related.

                My youngest is works part time bagging groceries at a chain grocery store (largest in the area) and he’s so ready to quit because, while they’ve always had to ask everyone if they’d like help with their groceries (even if you’re able bodied and only buying a pack of gum) they are now required to ask THREE times.

                So all customers at this store have to refuse help to the car thrice before they get out the door. Baggers feel stupid, customers resent getting pestered, and if they walk away before the third time they have to follow them to ask again.

                They actually had a meeting to train the employees on how to annoy and stalk the customers.

                So at work someone asked me about this, because they know he works there, and asked if it was a new thing or just a couple of annoying baggers because she’s not shopping there anymore because it’s creepy.

                I’ve begged her to send an email complaining.

                Is this a stupid policy or what? Who the hell wants to be badgered when you’re leaving a grocery store.

                Anyway, son of mine is not so much a people person (he’s polite and pleasant, but not chatty) and this much forced salesmenship has got him considering quitting every single day.

                And he really wants to just walk and make a statement about it, but as I’m his mom I can’t not try to save him from quitting without notice. But he’s a teenager and not thinking long term.

                Anyway – goes to show some policies drive away employees and customers. Starting this week they will get written up if they aren’t asking 3 times…so he may end up being let go since he just can’t bring himself to be that irritating.

                (although he has no problem annoying me, and will ask me 300 times for something he wants and is never deterred by a “no” – unfortunately I’m not his only customer at work.)

                1. Rana*

                  Ugh. I agree that’s a really stupid policy. One thing I appreciate about the employees at our local grocery is that if you say, “No thanks, I’ve got this” they smile and let you do your thing (even when 8 months pregnant!).

                  I suggest that your son come up with a “script” that allows him to make the three requests without having to think about it too hard; the less thought he puts into the new policy, the less annoying it will be.

                  For example, “Can I take your bags out for you? No? Are you sure? It’s no trouble for me to carry them out. Okay, but if you change your mind, I’d be happy to help you out with them.” might meet the letter of the law without being too weird.

                2. Cath@VWXYNot?*

                  Ugh, that would drive me nuts both as a customer and as a bagger. I hope lots of people complain.

                  The people at our local stores only ask once, but they HAVE to ask everyone, every time. Even if I’m buying one carton of milk and putting it in a pannier while wearing my bike helmet and jacket/pants, they still have to ask me if I need help getting everything out to my “car”. This makes no sense to me either.

                3. ExceptionToTheRule*

                  There’s a grocery store where I live that will not let you push the cart out to your car. It is company policy that an employee push your cart out and load the bags in your car. If you refuse, the poor kids can get in trouble.

      2. Lisa*

        That is why, you need to send out reminder invites (do a recurring invite so that 2 persons bring in milk on Monday).

        If you have 8 people, this works out nicely so that people only bring in milk, once per month – any extra people can get creamers, etc.

    2. Tina*

      Is there an office or informal policy for this communal fund? Maybe people aren’t sure who’s responsible for buying it? It’s not unusual for some group/shared situations where everybody thinks someone else will handle it.

      I think you could probably send around an email proposing a more organized system so as to avoid that situation in the future. I can see why you’d be annoyed, but I’d hope it can be an easy fix just by reminding people. Not always, but hopefully.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        In the case of my office, tea, coffee and milk are all provided (but it’s the UHT stuff which gives tea a funny taste).

        We do get regular visits from the milk fairy though, who has a habit of leaving the almost empty bottles in the fridge and not replacing them with fresh ones.

    3. Cat*

      I dot think having whoever finished it buy new milk is going to be workable. And it’s not (just) because people are lazy. It’s because most people don’t have jobs that allow them to run out and buy milk as soon as they finish a container. At best you’re looking at their lunch or after work which means you’re out of milk for a Hal day to a whole. And at that point not only have you been without milk for quite a while, enough time is past that the random chance finisher is going to feel disconnected from their act of milk finishing and probably forget.

      I think you have two options. Either it should be part of someone’s job to get milk on a regular basis – ie before it runs out – and they buy it on the clock or you have a regular rota that, again, is set at a frequency to replenish the milk before it runs out. I prefer the first option. Simple and not subject to either freeloaders or forgetfulness. It’s what we do at my office and it works fine.

      1. Cat*

        Actually, there’s also a third one, if your company won’t fund my preferred option. Find someone who will be the designated milk replenisher in exchange for getting fund dues waived.

      2. Jen in RO*

        In my company, someone just buys a ton of milk (20 cartons or so?) every Monday. But it’s a bit different from OP’s, since our milk is paid by the company and we have an employee who is in charge of office maintenance, so she also does the shopping.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          Yes, that’s similar to what my office does.

          I also noticed that there is a colleague who regularly has cereal for breakfast in the office, but uses the company milk on it. Does anyone else have a similar situation?

          1. Colette*

            I have a glass of milk after I go to the gym, and many of my coworkers have milk on their cereal. Since the company provides the milk (and other beverages), I can’t imagine why that would be an issue.

    4. Colette*

      Can they buy more milk on site? If it requires them to leave work, go to a store, and come back, that can range from not possible due to work/other commitments – there are days this week when I definitely did not have time to go/stop for milk – to simply forgetting because they couldn’t do it immediately after they used the last milk.

      Of course, my response to this would be to just stop using milk so that it wasn’t my problem.

    5. Anonadog*

      Our company used to buy real milk and creamers and keep them in the fridge for general employee use. But when people started talking entire gallons home, they switched to powdered creamer. Who takes home/steals whole gallons of milk from the office??

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Mine just buys creamers. We don’t keep milk, etc. around because Facilities cleans the fridges on a regular basis, and an email comes around to let you know when. If you don’t get your lunches, leftovers, and condiments out before then, they go in the trash. Containers and all.

        It was the same at Exjob. The contracted cleaners would just toss everything once a month or so.

      2. Esra*

        I used to work in an office for a very large corporation. We had creamers. Every day one woman on our floor would go to the kitchen with her extra large travel mug and fill it with 2% milk, one creamer-sized packet at a time.

        People are nuts.

    6. danr*

      Set up a rotating schedule to buy milk… or always be the one to buy it. My wife did that since she was tired of being first to the office and having no milk for her coffee. She figured that as a professional, she had to set an example for the rest of the office.
      It didn’t work. When she went on vacation, no one stepped up and bought the milk until they remembered that milk buyer was on vacation.

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        I asked the question.

        My office is right in town, nearest shop for milk is less than 5 mins away from the office. My annoyance is with admins (since it is usually us) being stuck with the job of fetching it. Now, many people in the office use it, from managers, to people I do admin for, to the office manager etc. And I certainly don’t mind getting it if it’s near the end. What I do mind is going for my tea break/going for tea and not finding any!!

        I eat cereal at work but I bring my own milk as I think it’s unfair for me to use communal milk.

        I’m not sure what creamer is?

        1. Carrie in Scotland*

          Oh and we pay into the fund/communal milk on a monthly basis. Someone (my manager at the moment) looks after the money but she doesn’t want to do this anymore so is looking to “hand it over” to someone else (won’t be me though, I do stationery orders)
          Those who don’t, bring their own milk in.

          1. Chocolate Teapot*

            I think creamer is the stuff you get in little pots at motorway service stations to go in coffee?

        2. Jamie*

          Creamer is used colloquially to describe Coffee-Mate type non-dairy creamers. Usually when referring to actual cream or half and half we specify.

          And I cannot believe how annoying the whole creamer aspect of office life can be in almost every workplace in the world. Ugh.

          Our old Office Manager used to buy it, new Office Manager won’t but she’s supposed to monitor it and make arrangements for someone to pick it up. But for the last several months regular creamer is as rare Hello Kitty footie pajamas in a board meeting.

          We have 5 bottles of creamer in there now, all in varying degrees of cloying sweet flavors. Half and half? Regular creamer? Far too pedestrian…but there is a market since when I brought my own in it would disappear quickly.

          I just bring my own coffee in now and drink tea or water at work. And I don’t love tea…I’ve tried…but the chemistry just isn’t there between us. So with every sip I resent my lack of coffee more.

          We have flavored coffee available in Keurig cups…so do we need flavored creamer, too? I submit that we do not.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            But for the last several months regular creamer is as rare Hello Kitty footie pajamas in a board meeting.

            HA HA HA HA HA HA HA
            You would totally wear them, wouldn’t you?

            *i would too*

      2. Cath@VWXYNot?*

        Our “milk club” at work has a schedule that gets printed and stuck to the front of the fridge – everyone’s assigned a month where they are responsible for buying milk and taking their receipts to the coordinator for reimbursement. I did actually have to run to the store (it’s a block away) earlier this week when it wasn’t my turn; this month’s buyer is on vacation and forgot to arrange cover (and these grants aint getting written without tea). However, the system usually works remarkably well – and I’ll get her to cover for me when I’m away for a few days in December, which is my month.

    7. EvilQueenRegina*

      In my previous job, this caused a big fuss – we had one person who collected the money from everyone every month and then went and bought the supplies, but she got fed up with people whinging about the selection of biscuits provided. It got to the point where she decided that she’d hand over the responsibility to the next person who moaned. This person was not very happy at this saying she didn’t have time to take it on (which in fairness was the case) and wouldn’t do it – it ended up with everyone just bringing their own milk for about a month until someone else agreed to take it on. It did happen at times that someone would finish the last of it without saying anything. Where I am now, we just take turns.

  17. Sandrine*

    I was going to post a super long question, but then figured nah, I’ll try to be concise for once.

    You have a Friend. Friend has issues. You try to help every once in a while but the difference between the two of you means you are much more enthusiastic about certain things and more lenient in life in general.

    What do you do when YOU are the one ending up in a dire situation (depression) and the next time Friend has an issue, she talks about your “so-called depression” just because you didn’t respond to a situation the way she wanted ?

    Some people call it attention seeking, I don’t know what to think. I did send an e-mail today, ten days afterwards, because I value this person and the friendship and I wasn’t going to “let things end” on such a note (that is, if the friendship needs to end, I’ll need closure) .

    But I’m still confused. I am, in fact, depressed at the moment and I’m going through a roller coaster of emotions everyday, which I sort of “have” to hide because this is not something people are used to seeing. I don’t get why someone would try to look down upon my issues when I try not to as much as I can because I know that my mountain maybe someone’s little hill and vice-versa…

    Anyone with anything to say on the matter ?

    1. Brett*

      People respond poorly to mental illness. “So-called depression” reflects on how the your friend feels about mental illness, not how she feels about you. The why can be a wide range of reasons.
      Maybe your friend is scared of mental illness, or maybe she thinks that people fake mental illness as an excuse, or maybe she had a bad experience with a family member or another friend who had a serious mental illness.

      Either way, you should be figuring out what you are going to do to get professional help for your depression. You sound capable of getting help on your own, which is a great benefit that some people with depression do not have.

      1. Sandrine*

        The thing is, Friend is suffering from something herself, so she knows what it all means. Except it’s more around anxiety in general than depression, and it does a lot more harm than what my thing does.

        I am actually getting it treated, so to speak, but it’s probably a mild one, and my current trip is clearing my head so it will help out a lot in the long run, too (I have this “get out of your usual place by going far” thing in my head haha) .

        I think I might have been less shocked if she wasn’t being treated for issues herself, to be honest. I mean, it’s one thing if someone is completely ignorant (you can forgive a slip up, I guess) but if it’s someone who *knows* that sometimes you just get issues…

        Thank you for your encouraging comment :)

        1. Angst*

          I had a friend like this once myself. Although she seemed to want to make an effort to care about others, her problems (severe anxiety among others) overshadowed everything. She was very “me focused” and I realized after awhile that she was not the person I needed to turn to for assistance with my depression/anxiety issues. Like you, I handled them fairly well, but there were times where I needed the support and she just wasn’t there for me.

          That friendship ended for other reasons, but in your situation I would ask you to look very closely and with as much objectivity as possible at this friendship. What is good about it? Why do you want to be friends with this person? What does this relationship bring to your life?

          Quite often, people do not stop to really examine whether something has outlived its usefulness. It may be that the friendship is worthwhile and you do want to keep it, but don’t do so because it’s the status quo. Really look at it and see it for what it is and isn’t.

          And…if you decide to keep the friendship, talk to your friend and let her know how you need her to support you, that you were hurt by her comment about your depression. If she can’t give you what you need when you need it and you can’t talk to her about that, then it’s not really a friendship worth keeping. I say this as someone who has experienced anxiety/depression that needed to be treated with medication. The last thing you need when you’re going through that is people who are not there for you and/or downgrade your problems.

          1. Sandrine*

            Well, turns out my story already has a semi happy update, because she replied to my e-mail and while she was pressed for time, she apologized for what happened and said she hates making people feel that way. Since I have to “transcribe” from French it’s kinda hard to say exactly but it made me feel much better about the whole thing already.

            And yes, she is, in fact, very much worth it. There is something about her that I think is amazing, but she hasn’t discovered it yet.

    2. chewbecca*

      I’m glad your story has a “happy” ending. I’m mostly just here to commiserate with you. I know how hard it is to hide what you’re feeling when you’re going through a depressive episode, and being afraid to say something in case someone cries attention seeking.

      Depression sucks. I hope you kick it in the behind.

        1. Sandrine*

          Thank you :)

          Being on a trip in Japan (been dreaming about it for about 15 years now) is helping lots, actually. I’m not feeling as bad as I’d been over the past few weeks, and I even found an item from a series I adore (from here) which made me jump from excitement (and apparently, this is a nice distraction from ankles that hurt from walking too much haha – except it usually means “Get distracted by the shiny, empty your wallleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet”) .

          I’m crossing fingers. Not all hope is lost. Even at work I still have time to apply for an internal promotion when I get back (of course I HAD to check my pro email while on vacation) so it makes me happy, too.

      1. Lindsay J*

        I suffer from depression myself, but I was wondering if you (or if anyone else) had any strong opinions about what someone could do to help you while you’re in the midst of a depressive episode.

        One of my friends just confided in me today that he can feel that he;s starting to sink into a bad depressive state. He and his partner are in bad financial shape right now and I’m almost positive that he’s not medicated at all nor getting any other type of treatment because of that. I told him the usual – that I’m there for him, and that he can give me a call day or night if he needs anything.

        However, I also know that when I’m bad, that I wouldn’t have the capacity to actually call somebody and be able to articulate what I need from them, so I don’t know whether just knowing I’m available whenever helps at all or if it is just empty words/an empty gesture.

        1. Sandrine*

          I think knowing people care and are there is empowering, so to speak. Sometimes you know they can’t do anything (I mean unless they’re the luck fairy and help out with things like winning the lottery, maybe ?) but knowing they’d be willing to if they could is just… I don’t know, heart melting or something.

          I could probably myself go to great lengths for some people (which is probably why I got depressed in the first place as I forgot for 30 years that there was a “me” around in there that needed attention too) . Anyone who needs me, I’ll do my best.

          One nice thing is people being honest, too. If they can’t handle me at some point, they should say so. If they don’t know what to say… they should say so. Even that can help. Of course saying it without sounding exasperated helps a lot. I guess that’s how I didn’t sink down to the lowest level, but am still not quite out yet.

          While I do have weird friends, I have pretty good ones too, thankfully.

        2. Angst*

          I’ve found support groups to be very helpful. It’s good to be able to talk to people who also suffer from the same thing and who can provide hope for the future because they’ve gone through it and come out the other side. DBSA (Depression Bipolar Support Alliance) is a national group and one that I’ve found helpful. They provide free therapy groups. Google DBSA. Perhaps you can suggest that to your friend. Also, do things to get him out of the house. Take him for coffee (you pay) and just let him talk. I know that was sometimes helpful to me when I was depressed.

  18. MP*

    My company is going through layoffs. I’m on a contract so I can be let go without notice at any time, so it’s like I’ve been mentally preparing for a layoff since my contract started a year ago. So I’m just wondering in case they DO lay me off, what questions should I make sure to ask HR and my manager prior to leaving? (Vacation payout, references? What else?) If this were to happen, there is a good chance I would be asked to stay until the end of the year, not escorted offsite immediately. I’m in Canada if it matters.

    1. some1*

      I have only been laid off once (from an American company), but I actually felt like it was the one thing HR did correctly. They explained vacation payout & references to me and also included the details in the severance letter. I was encouraged to apply for unemployment “right away” (which I took to mean they weren’t going to fight me on it, and they didn’t), but I can’t remember if they gave me unemployment info or if I found it online.

      My other non-HR tip would be to keep the bare minimum of personal items in your workspace, in case you do get walked out right away. Don’t keep any personal files on your work computer and the rest of it (coffee mug, pictures, plants, any trinkets you like to keep on your desk), I’d only keep what you could pack up within a few minutes and take out in one bag or box.

    2. Rayner*

      Check your contract now for any information, and if you have a handbook too because those are the best places to start. If you don’t understand it or can’t find information, make a list and go and ask HR or your manager immediately, so you can start to make preparations as soon as you get the information that you’re leaving.

      Don’t necessarily rush into it now, unless you’re getting strong signals that they’re focusing on you for the next layoff or they’ve told you. Just make inquiries as you get the feel of the situation but don’t leave it too late.

      Ask questions about your final paycheck, any expenses that need reimbursing (on both sides) such for equipment, fuel, office supplies, parking tickets etc. How will it be paid? Will it be on your last paycheck? Or as a separate lump sum?

      Also ask about vacation and sick day payouts, and any other benefits that may stop or be returned, such as company cars, bus or rail cards, permits for parking, gym memberships etc.

      What about any insurance through the company? Will it lapse immediately after you’re laid off, or after a set period of time afterwards?

      Ask about what happens if you’ve submitted a claim (health insurance or reimbursement or anything else) in November but it hasn’t been processed to by your last two weeks? How does it work if you’re no longer employed by the company?

      Also consider asking about how you go about returning things like keys, cards, parking permits, and other things that you might need to get out of the building on the last day if you’re not escorted out.

      Don’t bank on being asked to stay to the end of the year, so focus on immediate things first. Make sure that you’re trying to pull together your finances, any forms that need sending in for money back or payments, making sure that you won’t have a mad ass scramble if you’re asked to give two weeks or even escorted out immediately.

      Also, make sure that you keep the amount of personal stuff in your office to a minimum as well now. You don’t want to have to spend an hour packing it up when you’ve just been laid off, and having to deal with other people seeing it.

      And start job hunting!

    3. Anonymous*

      Ask about transitioning your work.

      I have only been laid off once (and thankfully, I knew I was in good shape financially) so one of my first questions was about who would be picking up my work so that I could transition it professionally. I have to say, this question absolutely floored the manager who was stuck with this very difficult task of letting people go. I don’t think anyone I worked with wanted to let me go, and this decision came (from much higher up) as a surprise to them. It took a week of my 2 1/2 weeks of notice for my bosses to figure out who was going to cover for me.

      The miracle of this question is what it does for your reputation. You establish yourself as a professional who accepts that these things happen – it’s nothing personal – and wants to handle it with grace and concern for the impact to the business. In my case, I also followed up with everyone who would be affected by my departure, put everything in order, and conducted training sessions (including question time) on how to handle various parts of my job.

      The then-unanticipated outcome was that I received a slew of unsolicited email and phone calls thanking me for the best, most professional response to a layoff they had ever seen. There were also some surprising offers to serve as a reference (including job leads).

      That isn’t why I did it – I really was concerned about making sure my responsibilities were handled – but my reputation is solid gold with everyone who knew me at OldJob because of this.

  19. $.02*

    Why do women were short skirts and try so hard to pull it down? It’s uncomfortable to me as a man when I see a lady try so hard to cover up and I can’t help but look aside.

    1. Sandrine*

      You should see Japan right now. Heaps of short skirts and heels so high you wonder how those nice ladies stay up. It’s so bad that they have “upskirt” placards on escalators so ladies pay attention to perverts o_O !

      1. Anonymous*

        Because they pick an immodest article by choice and then squirm to cover up?

        I’m not hurting anyone with my nose picking either…

        1. Calla*

          As Anonymous below said, sometimes this can happen by accident. And I may not be thrilled by seeing someone picking their nose but I wouldn’t say “As a lady, it offends me when I see a gentleman picking his nose.” It doesn’t call for the dramatics.

          1. Sandrine*

            I don’t see this as dramatic.

            See, in the street, I don’t care about how anyone is clothed. I may just notice how some people are dressed and “comment” about it in my head. Sometimes it’ll be “Oh my, cool hair!” or “OH MY THIS LADY IN A KIMONO IS SO CUTE” (happens often here on vacation) or some other variation.

            And sometimes, you will see very pretty girls with very skimpy clothing (that fits them very well, that they can pull off, but still, it’s rather skimpy compared to what we’d wear in Europe, for example… even though it’s still quite hot outside) and you start thinking about it.

            Then you realize that in Asia, they wouldn’t dream of wearing a tank top cause the neck and arms are too sexy but legs are ok so they might wear a mini skirt with a sweater, but not jeans with a tank top. Oh well.

            Anyway, I did have a point here, and I don’t see dramatics. Uncomfortable doesn’t mean offended. And I, too, get uncomfortable, doesn’t matter if it’s a lady or a man. Immodest is immodest and I wish I didn’t have to look away every three seconds just so people won’t think I’m a perv!

            (I made the point about Asia because cultural differences make things funny at times. My sister had to explain the “sexy” thing to me again and we were both wearing tank tops at the time and I had to laugh :P )

            1. Calla*

              The language of the OP is very gendered and prim which is why I’m calling it dramatic. It’s one thing to say “I don’t get why women wear short skirts and then try to pull them down, why not just wear a longer skirt?” It’s another to say “As a man, it makes me uncomfortable to see a lady do this” (with the implication of “Ladies, please dress like a proper lady.”)

              1. some1*

                “As a man, it makes me uncomfortable to see a lady do this” (with the implication of “Ladies, please dress like a proper lady.”)

                Or the implication that “ladies” need to dress (or act) to meet the approval of men. We don’t, but society tells us that from the time we are old enough to pay attention.

                1. Calla*

                  Exactly. (If I could edit comments, I would have amended that to “Ladies, please dress properly to cater to my comfort.”)

                2. Anonymous*

                  What about the alternative: “As a man, I am more likely to be accused of sexual harassment if I pointed out my discomfort, so I’m writing about it on AAM”

                3. Forrest*

                  Then you go to HR or your boss and say “Jane always wears what I consider to be inappropriate attire. However, I feel uncomfortable discussing it with her. What do you advise?”

                  They either tell you to get over it, this isn’t a nunnery, or talk to her if there’s enough complaints.

                  AAM has written enough on this topic – people have no excuse on how to deal with it.

              2. the gold digger*

                Yesterday, I sat down on the bus and the guy across from me waved to get my attention, then, after pointing at my knees, mimed pulling his coat closed and then pushed his knees together.

                I looked down – my skirt was to my knees. Because the bus seats are designed for people three inches taller than I am, my feet cannot rest flat on the floor, so I have to push up with my toes. I don’t worry about keeping my knees together.

                But this guy seemed to think I was being immodest and he was offended! At first, I was concerned that I was being immodest. Then I became angry that a total stranger was trying to control my behavior. Who the hell did he think he was?

              3. LD*

                Sounds like you are interpretating the original question as a put-down of women. The problem with communication is people interpret the words differently. I didn’t get any kind of condecension or drama from the question. And as to interpretation again, I don’t see anything wrong with the word “lady.” I don’t see that word as offensive or condescending and it confuses me that people do. My particular interpretation is apparently entirely different. Maybe the questioner is particularly old-fashioned, or maybe not. I don’t think it’s possible to tell from the question.

                1. Jamie*

                  I didn’t read any sexism into the comment either.

                  When I watch the Big Bang Theory I always think Howard’s pants look uncomfortable because they are so tight…so I thought he was just wondering why some women would wear things that are clearly uncomfortable.

        2. Forrest*

          Insert long comment about how nose picking and shaming women for wearing short skirts are no way similar because one contributes to rape culture and institutional sexism and the other doesn’t.

          Also, skirts ride up.

    2. Anonymous*

      Some pencil skirts have the unfortunate tendency to be a reasonable length at the beginning of the day, but walking around the office causes it to creep up, even with slips.

      1. Anonicorn*

        Yes. Or you find a skirt in your closet in a rush and wonder, “Why haven’t I worn this in like a year?” And then you remember why.

        1. Forrest*

          Heh. Then you’re like “I’m going to donate it but first I must wash it.” And then it wonders back into your closet and in six months you go “Why haven’t I worn this?”

        2. Natalie*

          I started putting those clothes in a special “tailoring” box because I often bike to work and change at the office. I brought too big or too small clothes more than once.

    3. Jen in RO*

      $.02, My guess is that they put the skirt on without realizing it’s that uncomfortable, or they do realize and they think it looks so good it’s worth it. In my opinion, it does *not* look good at all to be pulling on your skirt all the time, oh well, to each their own.

      Calla, I don’t know what $.02 meant, it would make me uncomfortable because I would be putting myself in their place and disliking the situation.

      1. Ellie H.*

        I agree too. I do think the original comment sounded a little dubious but it does drive me crazy to see girls pulling down their skirts or dresses. I don’t wish they would wear longer skirts, I just wish they would stop pulling them down! Short skirts are fine in an informal setting, I am a big short skirt fan (and wearer) myself.

    4. Kelly L.*

      Why do men sit with their knees 10 feet apart on the bus/train? It’s uncomfortable to me as a woman when I see a man try so hard to show off the size of his package and I can’t help but look aside.

      1. Malissa*

        That reminds me of a time I was treated to a ten minute show of a guy playing with his balls. I finally looked at him and said, they aren’t going to fall off if you quit touching them and if you aren’t sure about that you should go see a doctor.

      2. Rana*

        Hee. I have to admit that one of the quiet pleasures of being pregnant is that I have to sit wide now to accommodate the baby, so if one of these wide-sitting dudes is on the El next to me, he just has to lump it.

        Sorry, dude, your invisible giant balls are trumped by my actually giant uterus and fetus. Plus, she kicks.

      3. Kou*

        I think you are an extremely fortunate woman to not see this all the time at work. With pants that are too small. From men that come and sit *on* your desk to talk to you.

        There is at least one of these fellas everywhere I’ve ever worked, usually many. We’ll talk at length about how this lady’s neckline was just a little low or that lady’s skirt is just a little high, but no one ever talks about this epidemic of spreadlegged, smallpantsed men.

        1. Anonymous*

          Yes, OMG! WHY! I had a coworker who would scoot way down in his chair, lean back and spread his legs open SO WIDE and it was like he was pointing his junk right at you all the time. So weird.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      This cracks me up.
      I can remember growing up my mother would say that your clothes should stay in place. A proper fit does not ride up or ride down. Additionally, your clothes should not make noise. NO clunking chains, and nothing hanging loose that hits things as you walk by.

      I used to think “Mom, who writes your stuff?!”

      But I find the advice is helpful when I am in a group of people I do not know. I don’t want to fight with my clothes on top of everything else I am doing. It breaks my concentration. And if I am in a formal setting with attorneys, accountants, etc I feel more like I fit in with the group.

      F0r the most part, though, I don’t think too many people care about this stuff anymore.

      But I am the same way about food- no lobster, no spaghetti if I am dining with people who are not good friends. I don’t want to fight with my food, either. It has very little to do with sexuality and everything to do with looking silly.

      1. Bobby Digital*

        I learned that “no noise” rule the hard way: by playing Seven-Up in second grade while wearing one of those swooshy Starter jackets.

  20. a moment to whine*

    Three days this week, I worked 5am -9pm assisting another department at the request of my manager. I am dreaming that today he will tell me I can go home early.

    1. Amanda*

      That’s well over a standard work week crammed into three days. Crazy! Drive safe on your way home.

  21. ursula*

    Which kind of lawyer do I start with to figure out this situation? I have income as an independent contractor. I charge clients by the hours of work I do toward their project. My long-time romantic partner is not a U.S. citizen; he lives in his country most of the year. I am a U.S. citizen and I live in the U.S. most of the year. He is capable and competent to do the work I do for the clients. When he is in the U.S., could I have him work with/for me and thus could I charge clients for both his and my hours? He is not likely to pursue U.S. citizenship. Wondering if this is first a question of immigration/working status or if it is for someone who understands self-employment. Thanks for your advice.

    1. ExceptionToTheRule*

      I’d look for an immigration attorney personally. Most of them are familiar with the ins & outs of what you’re asking about.

    2. Anonymous*

      This has less to do with citizenship and more whether he has authorization to work while he’s physically in the US. If he’s coming on a tourist visa, the answer is probably no, but +1 on the immigration attorney suggestion

  22. Amanda*

    Dammit, had a phone interview earlier in the week and blanked on sending my thank-you notes until last night. What is wrong with me?!

    Got up early today and got them sent out so they should be waiting in the inboxes when people get to the office. And they were thoughtful notes. But still, I can’t believe I did that.

    My timeline for hearing back is next week, so I doubt they’ve made final decisions yet. But I’m worried that I look flakey, especially since I had an earlier incident where I forgot to save the job description, it was taken down and I had to ask for it again. How much is this going to mess up my chances?

    1. Jen in RO*

      I think you’re stressing too much, really. I doubt they will care about the delay (honestly, I think very few people send thank-you emails, so you will stand out in a good way even if you were a few days late).

    2. adrienne*

      You had the interview earlier in the week and sent them today? I think you’re fine. As long as they were well written, a day or two isn’t a big deal.

  23. Curious*

    Why is it taboo to be interviewing for other jobs or talking about leaving in some work-places but not others.

    Ok, I only work in a fast food kitchen but it’s not just the regular kitchen staff, but also our managers who will openly talk about job-hunting and say things like “if all goes well, I’ll be giving my notice in a couple days” and “can’t wait to get out of this place” etc.

    No one acts surprised about this, and staff will openly talk about it in front of the managers, and managers will openly talk about it in front of other managers/staff as well as the store manager.

    It’s also common for people to talk openly about how much they hate their job. It kind of throws me off especially when a manager is saying things like that to us.

    So my question is.. why would it not be taboo to talk about job hunting here when it is in other work places. Or possible, since we’re able to, what’s stopping people in other work places from being honest if they are job-hunting or dislike their job? (though I do think saying at work that you hate your job is weird).

    1. Anonymous*

      It sounds bad, but it’s the difference betwen professional/”career” jobs vs. part-time gigs at a fast-food joint.

      1. Curious*

        but it’s not part time, I work on average 40-45 hours a week. Many people have been there a good number of years. Though we have a lot of people come and go within a short time-frame, once people hit the 6-month mark they tend to stick around for at least 4 or 5 years (exception is part time people or students). It may not be ‘professional’ but it is not a ‘part-time gig’ for most people there.

        I understand when part-time or younger staff talk like this but it still strikes me as odd for management and people who have been there nearly a decade are like this.

        1. Curious*

          also, it doesn’t answer the question of why people would feel uncomfortable to say they’re job searching if they’re in a ‘career’ type job. Obviously everyone job searches and almost no one stays in the same job forever, so it seems weird to create a culture where you have to keep something that almost everyone needs to do a secret…

          1. Jen in RO*

            I don’t think it’s lack of comfort – I think it’s lack of job security. People just assume that they will be “managed out” once they say they are job searching, and in many places that would be true.

            In my last job (pretty negative environment), all my team openly said they hated the job, and I interviewed semi-openly. However, our boss was not in the same office, and he did not know about the job searching until I (and another coworker) quit.

          2. some1*

            The reason I have never mentioned it is because A) I don’t want to be forced out before I’m ready to get tasks taken away from me or freezed out for good opportunities, and B) my pride would be pinged a tad if I had to tell my co-workers that I interviewed for something and didn’t get it. And if I was in an unhappy situation, I’d be afraid that my sup would assume that no one else would hire me so she has no incentive to make my work situation better for me.

        2. Kyle*

          I used to work in the restaurant industry for a few years before getting a “career” type job. And in the restaurant I was in it was definately accepted to talk about job searching among many of the coworkers (and less so with the management but also not taboo). I think one of the reasons – in the food service or other service industries – that it is acceptable to talk about leaving, or the excitement with leaving, is because of the lack of benefits with working in that industry. You likely dont have any insurance or paid time off so it is easy to be open about the desire to get a job that does.

          Also I have worked in “career” jobs now for a few years and can say that I have been in offices and situations where it as accepted to speak openly about the idea of leaving or job interviews, and in other offices where it is a really bad idea (because of hostility and being managed out). I think a lot of it depends on how management reacts to employees who leave. If they get irate and write them off as disloyal the other employees will understand that they should never speak about their job search, whereas if management is genuinely happy or encourages this type of talk then it will continue.

    2. Bea W*

      Presumably, there aren’t the same going over to competitor issues with fast food kitchen work, that exist in the corporate world, especially with more highly skilled positions that are harder and more expensive to fill and your employee is taking their specialized skills and experience gained working at your company to one of your competitors.

      I think some of it may be a cultural holdover from back in the days where employees stayed with the same company most of their career and that kind of loyalty was more or less expected.

      Then there are that small percentage of people that just take it personally. There was a recent post on this same subject.

    3. FD*

      There’s an expectation that those kinds of jobs tend to be short term (as in, usually under 5 years), so it’s more normal to be open about job hunting, I think.

  24. plain jane*

    I work directly with a key client contact. I have several direct reports, a couple who are quite junior. They work directly with the key client contact’s reports who are at a similar level. The project is quite complicated & with incomplete documentation, so it is difficult to transition any team members on either side.

    One of my direct reports indicated that they didn’t feel comfortable working with one of the client team any more. She indicated that she wasn’t interested & was in a committed relationship, and he indicated he was lonely & continued to ask (e.g. “I know you have a bf, but we could just meet up for dinner?”).

    I spoke with the client lead and indicated that we’d have to switch out this key support person from the project entirely unless the client’s team member stopped all contact. It was a very awkward conversation for everyone, but it did work out (apparently the person had a history of problematic communications, but it had never been officially escalated), and the key client contact made sure there was a buffer at all times (including at the more social gatherings we had).

    But it still bugs me. Was there a better way to handle it?

    1. adrienne*

      Could you have just switched her out without explanation, or by saying something like she was needed somewhere else within the company? If not, and you needed a reason, it doesn’t sound like there was much you could have done.

    2. some1*

      I don’t think so. It’d be one thing if your report was just vaguely creeped out for no specific reason, but your client’s behavior was egregious and repetitive enough that it needed to be addressed. I doubt your client would hold it against your company.

    3. Ruffingit*

      I think you handled it quite well. I think the fact that the client’s team member has a history of problematic communications means that something needed to be said here. You did so and I’m betting it has helped everyone because it needed to be known that this man needs to be counseled, reigned in, etc. It’s better to have the awkward conversation than to have a case of sexual harassment, stalking, etc. You did the right thing. Bravo!

    4. COT*

      I think you did a great job. There’s no reason why you, your employee, or anyone at your company should feel embarrassed that you openly raised this issue and expected your client to resolve it. If anything, your client should be embarrassed that they hadn’t yet dealt with this serious issue on their staff. Don’t fall into the trap of letting you or your employee feel ashamed for the harassment she received and was rightfully offended by.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      One more vote for well done, Plain Jane.
      I am betting Alison will say you handled it perfectly.
      It’s not an easy conversation. No matter how you dress it up, no matter how carefully you chose your words- it’s just not a pretty conversation.
      Please stop feeling bugged about something that is not yours to be bugged about. The client was out of line, your employee asked for help and you did what you had to do. Your employee probably thinks you are awesome and your boss probably thinks you are a heck of a diplomat.

  25. Beth*

    I am looking for another job because my manager is thoughtless and rude. He is making rude, thoughtless comments to me. And a few weeks ago he unfairly chewed me out about anything and everything he could think of, primarily because I declined to go to training out-of-state for some really crappy system. (My fellow coworkers in my department have also declined the training – the systems are that bad.) I have personal reasons for why I didn’t want to to do it which I explained to him (and left out the crappy system part) and he essentially tried to bully me into it. The whole exchange was incredibly verbally hostile. He is not a pleasant person and I could go on for hours telling stories…and I’ve only worked here for several months. I have decided I can’t take it anymore and I need to look for a new job. I am breaking out in hives from the stress and anxiety from dealing with him. I’ve handled difficult people before, but this one takes the cake. I feel kind of stupid too, because I saw his overall poor manners and communication skills in action during my interview and it was a giant red flag. I ignored it because of the salary amount.

    Anyways, because I am in IT, I help out other people in other departments, in-person, with issues and I am looking for references. I’ve made some good relationships so far. This is my first real IT job and I could use some fresh references. How do I go about asking some of these people, including department heads, to be references for my job search? FYI: They do not like my manager as well for similar reasons like mine. He is rude to a lot of people.

    P.S. Before anyone says, “go to HR”, I don’t believe HR will be any help. I’ve already had a negative experience with them and I do not believe they will be helpful.

    Thanks for any help…

    1. The Dream*

      Without intimate knowledge of your company’s culture I would proceed with extreme caution when tipping off current employees especially mangement. I learned the hard way that people you think you know and trust are only looking out for their own interests and will use situations like this to make them look good. Others just have a hard time keeping a secret and will spill the beans and mess things up for you.

      I too had a bad experience with HR whoand I was a popular and highly skilled worker and they still hung me out to dry. I did however reach out to former mangaers who had worked for the company I left. They were more than happy to help me. :-)

      1. Pamela*

        Thanks for the reply! :)

        I believe two people that I have in mind wouldn’t tell and are professional enough to not be petty and use it to their advantage. They know my manager and have been victim’s of his rudeness before. They think I am the nicest person in the whole IT department and only call me when they have issues. They have in a half-joking way told me I could hide out in their department to get away from my department if I wanted. So, I think they would understand…

        I had HR tell me that a meeting I was having with them was confidential. So, I discussed an issue and asked some questions about company policy. Well, I know it got back to my manager who pretty much told me that he knew my issue. So much for “confidential.” So, I don’t trust them now. They are not on my side. Thankfully, the issue was a small thing that any new employee would have and it didn’t make me a target.

        1. The Dream*

          I hope it works out for you. We seem to be kindred spirits in a way. I was also very popular in my IT department. Even though I had not worked the company’s help desk for many years, I would still get calls from people because of my “desk side” manner and the considerate approach I took to resolvng their issues. They knew that even if I could not resolve their issues, I would make sure that they were taken care of. Taking care of “my people” was my calling card of sorts. Unfortunately that company’s culture had become toxic and I knew I was not going to survive the mental cases they were allowing in mangement. (my story is added later in this thread – enjoy)

          1. Pamela*

            Thanks! I do like my job and everyone else except most of those in my department. Management too is also to blame for a lot of the problems here. My manager actually doesn’t have the technical expertise to be an IT manager.

            I’m still going to try and feel out my possible references more before I ask..just to make sure it’s a good idea.

            Thanks for your help and for talking with me a little. :)

            P.S. Sorry for the name change, first post I decided to use my middle name because of paranoia but then by second post I realize how my paranoia was stupid…lol

            1. Joey*

              Okay let me clue you in on a few things:

              1. How can HR keep problems you want solved confidential? I mean, they have to look into them which includes eventually talking to people with knowledge.
              2. Why in the world would you report a problem to HR with a problem that you don’t want them to do anything about?
              3. Did you forget that HR works for the company and not you personally? This means that if they find a problem that can or is negatively affecting the company they are paid to do something about it. This means they have to tell people what you told them regardless of whether or not you want it kept confidential.
              4. Which means when HR says something is confidential what they really (or should) mean is confidential to the extent possible. This means people are only told on a need to know basis.
              5. This doesn’t make them necessarily bad. This probably means that you didn’t understand their role. You probably thought they were there to help you. They’re only there to help you if and when it helps the company. And they’ll help the company even if you don’t want them to.

              1. Pamela*

                1. It wasn’t a problem. It was a question that they could answer – there wasn’t a need to consult with anyone else.
                2. See above.
                3. Never said I thought they worked for me personally. You are making assumptions. You should stop that. I never expected anything to be confidential, but they told me that this meeting was confidential for me. THEY TOLD ME. I didn’t ask for it. THEY told ME. (Not yelling, bold is not available.)
                4. My manager was definitely, positively not on that need-t0-know list for this question I had.
                5. No kidding sherlock. I understand their role completely. I didn’t appreciate being LIED to and told my meeting with them wouldn’t make it to anyone’s ears that it didn’t need to be and then have my manager the next day talk to me about it. That’s just a seriously crappy HR department. I was really glad I was smart enough to not talk to them about the real issues I was having with my manager.
                6. I’m going to clue you in now: You are not in my shoes, you don’t know the whole story in it’s finite details. You really shouldn’t make assumptions and proceed to tell someone you’ve never met that they are ignorant.

                1. Jamie*

                  I know you weren’t yelling – but you can bold here.

                  Instructions are in the how to comment side bar.

  26. anonymous me*

    Should I run?

    The company I worked for recently went under; I was there 17 years. Since I just came off of a 17-year stint at one company and in general have been working non-stop since I was 16, I had decided I want a few months off to regroup, clear my head, etc. Plus, I have a few surgeries to get through and my health is my focus right now. Well, my former boss passed my resume on to this company, even though I told him I wasn’t ready to start looking yet. I figured, OK I’ll go check it out.

    So a few weeks ago I had my first interview in 17 years. I’ve been reading this blog for awhile so I wasn’t too worried about making a good impression. And since I wasn’t seeking out a job, I was lukewarm on it anyway. During the interview I made it clear (several times) that I wasn’t ready to start working until December 1 because of the surgeries. Things went well and I received an offer the next day. The way we left it is that they will bring in their second choice as a temp until I’m ready in December. If things are going well with the temp I won’t have a job, but if they’re not happy, I’ll be coming on board, which is fine with me.

    Now that I’ve had time to digest things, I’m thinking about all the things I’ve read in this blog and am wondering if I’ve seen some red flags. I’m not sure if it’s cold feet or that I’m just not “feeling it” with this company, or if there really are signs I should be paying attention to. I think the biggest thing for me was that even though I had made it clear I wasn’t ready to start yet, and why, I was asked at least three times if my surgery dates could be moved. I was asked again when the offer was made. It kinda turned me off. I got a definite sense of desperation. I know they needed someone ASAP due to some important deadlines with a certain agency, but usually explaining that someone has been hired and will start on X date is enough to satisfy this particular agency. They just want to know that something is going to happen at X date and they’re OK with that.

    Then there was the interview with the owner. She told me a few times she sucks at interviewing and basically it was just “tell me about yourself”, leafing through their annual report, and showing me all the tchotchkes in her office. I met with a few other people who actually explained the job. No one asked me any questions beyond “when can you start”. Both of these people held the same kind of job I had recently so maybe they didn’t feel the need to probe since they already knew the type of work I was doing?

    Beyond that there’s nothing else I can point to. No one seemed stressed or overworked. Everyone I met was friendly (and I met everyone in the building). I don’t know, maybe I’m reading too much into it or I’m having cold feet. Any thoughts?

    1. adrienne*

      1. In terms of the timing, it totally depends on the industry. In mine, if we were to have our dream candidate say they couldn’t start for two months, we might not hire that person. If you know that the specific agency actually wouldn’t care, that might change things… but otherwise, I think when a job is posted and through a hiring process that may have already been 1-2 months before you get there, it makes sense for them to want you to start sooner.

      2. I’m a little confused. Are you saying that you didn’t have any interviews where they asked you anything substantial, or just that the owner didn’t ask anything substantial? Sometimes owners/higher-ups only interview for personality/to meet someone, so it would make sense that it was just a chat.

      If your gut tells you to run away though, that’s definitely something to pay attention to. Is there a way you can meet/talk to any other people there now that you’ve gotten an offer?

      1. anonymous me*

        They basically only had one other candidate. I did offer to spend a couple weeks at home during my recovery getting up to speed with their policies, procedures, etc. Part of the job would be maintaining their policies. I do understand the need to get someone soon, but I guess what bothered me was that I had said several times that I’m having surgery, it can’t be changed (due to insurance deadlines), and they still pushed it. As a former manager I can see both sides of it so I’m torn between the manager view of it and the employee view.

        None of them asked me any questions at all. I met with three people: the owner and the two people who would likely supervise me, although it wasn’t actually clear if I would report to them or simply be working with them.

    2. Jen in RO*

      I don’t think 1 is a reason to be terribly worried. I think they are just hoping that maybe, maybe you can start earlier and make their lives easier. For 2, if no one asked you more in depth questions, I’d be a bit worried, but not excessively… maybe your former boss put in a very good word for you?

      1. anonymous me*

        “maybe your former boss put in a very good word for you”

        Now that you mention it, I believe they are going completely off the recommendation my former boss gave. Thanks, I didn’t think of that. :)

  27. Ruffingit*

    What makes a bad workplace for you? Some things are obvious, but I’d like to hear stories about things you thought were red flags/deal breakers or things you’ve seen at work that made you want to leave.

    1. some1*

      – tolerating harassment (sexual or otherwise)
      – threatening to fire people in meetings
      -inflexible PTO policies
      -managers who encourage their reports to tattle on each other
      -managers who refuse to let people go for fireable offenses because they are wimps or don’t want to pay to find/train someone else
      -managers who freak out about employees being a few minutes late once in awhile (barring something like shift work, or a reception or help desk position where a you need a behind in the seat ready to answer the phone)
      -when managers act like they got dumped when you resign

    2. Ruffingit*

      I was in one place where people were hired at a high hourly rate, but given no training at all on what they were supposed to be doing. This was a job where people worked with a proprietary software that was sold to companies in a particular industry so there was no way they could know the rather complicated software without being trained on it. And yet, the owner of this small software company would hire people almost randomly off the street to work there, give them no training at all, pay them a high hourly wage, and then complain when they weren’t picking things up fast enough. It was really weird.

    3. Jen*

      The things that have made a bad workplace for me are:

      -Screaming bosses. I have had bosses who just scream and throw tantrums and yell until someone is crying. It’s terrible for the obvious reasons.
      -No growth. If I am at a place, I want to know that there’s some growth for me, some ability to add new skills and responsibilities
      -No communication. Having bosses who do not talk to you or respond to your meetings or show up when you make a meeting.
      -Low pay. There are some places that have just paid a terrible salary and it’s pretty easy to walk away.

      1. JulieInOhio*

        At OldJob, relatively NewBoss once said to me, “I really like working with you. You don’t sulk or whine when I yell at you, you just go do it.” I rolled my eyes once she left; what kind of a compliment is that?!? Now at NewJob and very much enjoying not getting yelled at.

    4. Yup*

      Ohhhhhhh, the list is long. To paraphrase the Tolstoy line, happy workplaces are all alike but every unhappy workplace is unhappy in its own way.

      If I had to boil it down to one core thing, it would be workplaces that don’t have pride in themselves and their employees. If people are viewed as cost centers rather than assets, if coworkers are snide or disrespectful to each other, if the physical space is unsafe or unhygienic (I worked in an office with a vermin problem), if the work product is sloppy and no one cares, if managers scream at people or contact them regularly on vacation, etc.

      The good tends to flow when a workplace believes that the work itself is important, and that the people who do it are valuable and integral to success.

    5. Jamie*

      Lack of civility. I’m not looking for warm and fuzzy feelings from everyone – but people are are blatantly rude and those who actively demean other people.

      Lack of resources. Everyone should have the tools they need to do their job properly and people shouldn’t have to use their own equipment or macgyver stuff just to accomplish things. Never happened to me, but I’ve read about it here and I would be immediately out the door.

      No accountability. People have to own their actions and if there are never any consequences to being a lousy employee and making other people work harder to carry you…then management needs to lose all their top performers and live with that consequence.

      1. anonymous me*

        Lack of resources is a big one, especially in a very small company. My company went under recently and it was really tough the last few years in terms of computer equipment. We were waiting for a capital infusion and couldn’t really go ahead and purchase new computers for everyone. Couldn’t hire a proper IT person either. I bought new computers as the old ones died. As an amateur, untrained IT person, it was incredibly frustrating to have to deal with systems dying, peripherals failing, error messages that would pop up because certain programs didn’t like windows 7 64-bit, other issues happening with the core processing system, which was being sunset in a few months, etc. All this while having to take care of all my other responsibilities, which had nothing to do with IT.

        1. Jamie*

          I don’t envy you having to troubleshoot IT on an budget.

          Companies need to understand that if you have a reasonable turn over schedule for equipment you don’t have the added expenses you incur when you need to replace machines immediately and the subsequent downtime.

          1. anonymous me*

            This experience has made me very paranoid while looking for another job. At my first interview (in 17 years, no less) they described part of the job as being the person who calls whoever needs to be called when IT systems break. If a printer acts up and I know the fix, fix it. Otherwise call the vendor. I kept asking if I would be expected to do a lot of troubleshooting and fixing. I probably asked about 10 times in 10 different ways. And I explained to them why. They probably had something to say about me after I left. LOL The role is more of an information security/IT role. Not as many hats as the company I’m coming out of, but the company has the same number of employees.

        2. Rebecca*

          Great point. When my employer was purchased by a bigger company, they axed our IT people. The closest live IT person is hundreds of miles away. We have to try to troubleshoot our own issues, or put in a help desk request (if they answer it at all, we still have to troubleshoot), and finally, if things are really bad, they will hire a local person to come help us. It’s awful, and unfair to us.

          And, in nearly 3 years, 1 of my help desk requests was answered. With a question. I don’t even bother any longer. I use Google, figure out what’s wrong, and if it’s something an Admin needs to correct, I bring out the admin user/pw that I’ve written down when I had to fix things previously, and just do it myself.

        3. Ruffingit*

          YES! Lack of resources is horrible. I’ve worked in places where computers were basically on life support, they were so old and clunky. And power cords to plug them in were nowhere to be found. But, there was a bucket of power cords with labels that said “Doesn’t work.” I have no idea why they kept those when they didn’t work, but it was such a disappointment to think you’d found a power cord you could use and then to see that label. So yeah, up-to-date equipment is a must.

    6. Jen in RO*

      Negativity. Lack of communication. Managers that are unwilling to fire incompetent people. Yelling and belittling, although I’m lucky I never had to deal with this.

      1. The Dream*

        Echoing the above sentiments and to add:
        Managers who lie to your face and then don’t own up to it.
        Leaders who punish reports based solely on hearsay.
        An HR department that does not deal with legitimate issues but railroads good workers,

    7. A Teacher*

      1) Managers that create drama or try to get other subordinates to “tattle” on each other.
      2) Micromanaging
      3) Managers that take credit for your work
      4) Backstabbing (see one)
      5) Unfulfilled promises by company owner and then a lie to cover up said promises

    8. Colette*

      Decisions being made based on emotions, without considering whether they are actually feasible.

      If you’re going to dismiss everything that we know about how things work & what gets results, you’d better have more than a happy/optimistic feeling that the other path will work.

    9. Kelly L.*


      “Surprise” performance reviews; i.e. they don’t tell you about an issue when it happens, but save up the grudge for six months and then lecture you about it in your performance review when you don’t really even remember it anymore.

      Treating employees like kindergartners–this is mostly a call center issue IME, with things like closely monitoring people’s restroom time.

      Filthy working conditions. A major rodent or mold problem can sap morale more than you might expect, especially if no one ever does anything about it or takes it seriously.

    10. Mints*

      Oh this is the conversation I went from “I’m not loving my new job” to “I hate this job” (as well as verbatim as I can remember):

      How was your weekend?
      Good! (:
      Did you do anything for Easter?
      I just went to breakfast.
      Did you go to church?
      Ooh, you’re going to hell! haha
      ….oh. (turn back to computer)
      I’m just kidding! Haha!
      (nod, begin typing)

      1. Pamela*

        My manager approached me and said in a mean tone: “I’d ask what you’re doing this weekend, but you’ll just say ‘nothing’.”

        I’ve never said, “nothing” in reply to him. I haven’t spilled every last detail of my weekend, but I’ve always said something. Apparently, my life isn’t exciting enough for him.

        I started yet another online job search after that conversation.

    11. Elizabeth West*

      –Everybody is rude.
      –Terrible managers.
      *Letting their buddies get away with stuff
      *Blanket policies instead of dealing with problem people
      *Illegal or unethical behavior
      *Yelling or throwing/breaking things
      *Not training people, then getting mad because you don’t know what to do
      –Can’t get the things you need to do your job.
      –End up doing a job you weren’t hired for instead of your own.
      –Abusive coworkers or clients.
      –These days, too much physical work (specifically lifting).
      –No PTO; barely any PTO and you have to be dying before they let you take it.
      –Crappy pay you can’t live on.
      –Working nights or weekends (deal breaker for me; some people might think this is fine).

      I have experienced all of these!

    12. Brton3*

      Lack of civility (and it’s cousin, constant drama) are the huge problem spots for me. Screaming, blaming, instigating and/or escalating conflicts. Unless you are a heart surgeon or a fire fighter, it is unlikely that anyone is going to die because you promised that report to your boss on Tuesday but needed until Wednesday morning to finish it.

      The other big one would be micromanaging of your time. I’ve had bosses who micromanaged the work product, and went through a dozen revisions of everything, but I could not handle a job where I had to explain myself and get permission (as opposed to just mentioning it) if I need to run out for 15 minutes on a quick errand, or take a brief personal phone call.

    13. Felicia*

      No training for something I had no experience in (and said that I had no experience in), and then getting reprimanded when I didn’t do it perfectly the first time. Or doing something that would be right in most other work environments, but there’s, let’s say, a very specific format or something in this organization, so told i’m stupid and lazy for not magically knowing about this format or not asking – well how am i supposed to know that i’m doing something wrong if you dont tell me the requirements? Not telling me specific requirements that are important, and then yelling at me for not doing it 100% perfect.

    14. NBB*

      In addition to the serious things already mentioned, like yelling or harrassment, my personal preferences would exclude workplaces that:

      – Have “open” work areas. With no privacy or buffer from other people and their noise. Sounds like a nightmare to me!
      – Are seriously behind in technology. Do not use up to date software, and/or have archaic and restrictive IT policies. For example, the job that used dot matrix printers or the one that banned all internet.
      – Offer very little PTO, and are super strict about exactly what time you arrive and leave each day (if you are salaried). And give you a hard time if you ever want time off.

    15. Lindsay J*

      Managers that refuse to terminate or even discipline incompetent employees.

      Managers that yell, demean, and generally use intimidation to get what they want.

      Cultural fit that is just all wrong – my last job I was 27 and was one of the oldest people that worked there. Everyone else mostly lived with their parents and were discussing getting their driver’s licenses and prom dates while I was worried about working enough to afford to live on my own. We just couldn’t relate to eachother and I was the odd person out. Also differences in communication style. I am a blunt person and would prefer bluntness in return. I can’t handle beating around the bush – if I screwed up tell me.

      Managers that lied to other members of management, and/or took credit for work that other people did.

      1. Rebecca*

        My manager thinks it’s neat to hire people who are completely unqualified to give them a chance at a job with benefits and a 401K plan. I kid you not. One shining example was the 19 year old waitress from a local restaurant. Boss thought it would be cool to hire her for our office, despite the fact she had no experience with Microsoft Office, AS400 computer systems, accounting at any level, customer service, etc. – all things she would need to do. Poor girl lasted 3 days.

        We’re dealing with another “don’t you think it’s neat” hire now. She’s not working out, and now boss is talking about letting her go. So, now we’ve wasted 8 months trying to train someone to do a job that she is struggling with, all because our boss thought it would be “neat to give someone like her a chance”.

        1. Beenthere*

          Wow. That’s ridiculous. But I can relate. I worked for a small business where the owner routinely hired people who were completely unqualified. Example – the guy she hired to be the business operations manager. She found him at her country club. He was the golf pro. Had no experience in the office/business world. And yet, his job was to manage the business. He lasted less than a month before returning to the golf course. There were many examples like that. It was as though the owner just picked up random people off the street. I used to think of her as a corporate pimp because of that.

    16. Rebecca*

      Managers that treat employees like they are attending grade school, instead of working for a corporation. If you have a problem with Jane, don’t punish the whole department and make stupid rules to address Jane’s shortcomings. Address it with her.

      So infuriating to have to sit through 30 minutes of whining to the entire group about something 1 person does. And you know what? That 1 person is sitting there thinking, why, that’s not me! Ugh!!!

      1. Felicia*

        I had to sit through a meeting like that on Friday! it was all about how we (6 of us) need to make sure we’re on time every day, and 5 of us are always on time, and 1 is 40 minutes late every day. She must know she’s late but she obviously doesn’t care. Can’t wait to see if she’s on time when we’re back from the long weekend though, she’s never been on time before so who knows if she can do it.

  28. nyxalinth*

    Those of you with pets, do you say silly things to them? sing to them?

    I tell my cat “You’re a kitty!” and make up silly songs.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I have cats. Lots of cats. When I’m mad at them I call them choice names, which I can’t write here. And every cat has some variation of their name as a nickname. For example, Reilly is Snots O’Reilly. He’s a fluffy persian with a very flat face, hence “snots”. Anyone who owns a persian probably knows. Max is Maxi Poo (hubby calls him Maxi Pad) and Bailey is Bailey Boo. Thomas is Tommy Boy. Etc.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I do talk to them and I often wonder if they’re sitting there saying, “Shut the f*** up lady!”

    2. Ruffingit*

      Yes, constantly. Pretty sure my dog (who is my baby, my furbaby if you will) thinks I’m insane, but she loves me anyway :)

    3. Elizabeth*

      My cat can be completely silly all on his own without any help from my husband or me. Ever seen a 16-pound cat act like baby kitten?

      We do talk to and with the kitty all the time. I listen to news most nights while I’m fixing dinner, and he will sit in the window and listen with me. Then we’ll discuss what they have to say. I would love to know what he’s really saying!

    4. Calla*

      When I had a cat, I made up a song for her. (It was a rap, actually. I was in high school, that’s my excuse.)

      Now I just lavish my girlfriend’s cats with adoring babytalk even though I know that if they are probably judging me. “Who is the prettiest kitty in the world LOOK AT YOUR PERFECT FACE oh Princess Fluffytum I LOVE YOU.”

    5. Anony1234*

      I have a couple of different breeds of dogs, and they actually answer to the breed if I call them as such. I have a min pin, and I will say, “Where’s my min pin?” And she’ll come over.

      And they have multiple nicknames – and they know theirs.

      1. Kelly L.*

        My dog of many years was a rottweiler mix, and so many of my default “dog squee phrases” are centered around rottweilerness. I catch myself sometimes telling a yellow lab “Awww, whooza fuzzy fuzzy muttweiler?” or the like.

        1. Jamie*

          I have a rott/boxer mix now and he’s the sweetest most gentle giant in the world. I am completely in love with all things rottweiler since meeting him.

          1. Kelly L.*

            They are giant snuggle bugs. And mine “purred” with this kind of rumbly noise when she was happy. Adorable.

            1. Jamie*

              Mine snorts when he’s sleeping like you’d swear the was a live pig in the room. But he’s so sweet he makes even that sound adorable.

    6. Jen in RO*

      I turn into this: My cat is kind of aloof, so I’m sure he’s just sitting there going “WTF?!”. I talk to him a lot, usually intelligent things like “who’s the most fluffy-wuffy-adorablest cat”? He’s not even that fluffy, but I swear my brain malfunctions when he’s around.

      My boyfriend sings to him… One of the tunes is “Bad cat, bad cat, whatcha gonna do”, to the tune of “Bad Boys” (the Will Smith song), and I still maintain that *talking* to the cat is not as bad as *singing* to the cat.

      1. Bea W*

        I like bunny butts and I cannot lie! You other humans can’t deny when a bunny hops in and sits in a place where that round thing’s in your face you get sprung, wanna touch that fluff cuz you see that butt is stuffed, big and round and flarin’, so cute and I can’t stop staring. Oh bun I wanna get on the floor wit’cha and take your picture. My friends they just don’t get it. I see bunny butt and I have to pet it…Bunny got back!

    7. B*

      “You’re a puppy!”
      “You’re a kitty!”
      “You’re wearing a hat!”
      “You’re wearing your backpack, let’s go to school!”
      “We’re going on a vacation!”
      “You’re not going on a vacation!”
      “You have paws!”
      “You have a belly!”
      “Mommy is insane and speaks to her animals in high-pitched tones!”

      1. SleepyKitty*

        I like to sing ‘Psycho Kitty’ to the tune of the Talking Heads’ ‘Psycho Killer’ when my cats run around like crazy.

    8. Anonadog*

      Semi-related: The other day when I looked out my front window, I saw the woman across the street “dancing” her cat and singing to it. By “dancing,” I mean holding the cat up under her arms and wiggling her around. Ha-larious! I’m sure most pet owners do silly things from time to time, but probably not in their open window at night with all the lights on.

    9. fposte*

      There’s a great scene in Ann Hodgman’s memoir “House of a Million Pets” where she’s singing the doggy song to her dogs as they’re in the backyard and she doesn’t realize there’s a utility guy up on the pole listening to every idiotic word.

    10. Jamie*

      My cats enjoy puppet shows…there is nothing more entertaining then folding socks and deciding to do an impromptu performance.

    11. Bea W*

      Duh! Of course! Isn’t this a requirement for having a pet?

      I love it when I am visiting a friend who shamelessly behaves this way with her cats. She doesn’t judge me when I wander around her house absently mindedly singing about them.

    12. A Teacher*

      Yep. I also foster dogs so they get the same silly names and nicknames. I’m currently about to take on foster number 18 and she’s got the name “Girl” so I’m running a competition with my friends to come up with a new name…ah pet people.

    13. FD*

      I sing and dance around to my dog along with the music I’m listening to when I’m alone in the apartment. He always looks very confused about it.

    14. Sascha*

      Absolutely, I will do the “you’re a kitty!” to my cats, I dance with my dogs, I recite the imagined inner monologues of the fish…

    15. Cath@VWXYNot?*

      I once read about a survey in which something like 90% of pet owners “admitted to” talking to their pets. I was like, “10% of people don’t??!! I just can’t imagine not talking to my kitties, and I also talk to my friend’s pet frogs.

      I sing various songs to my cats, changing the words for them, and occasionally get slightly more cultured: “Two kitties, both alike in lack of dignity, in fair Vancouver, where we lay our scene. From ancient grudge break to new craziness, where kitty paws make human floors unclean”.

      1. Cath@VWXYNot?*

        p.s. the cats seem to like it. My husband laughs at me, but I’ve heard him telling them what good little schnugglepusses they are in a silly voice when he didn’t think I was home.

        1. Jamie*

          You should hear my husband talk to the cats when he thinks no one can hear.

          He does this high pitched baby voice with some kind of weird accent where he reads aloud the “menu” as he’s feeding them and embellishing the culinary delights as if they are at a Michelin Star restaurant.

          It is hi-larious.

          If you could see my husband – big old blustery cop, old school Polish-American, serious Chicago accent, swears like someone is paying him by the word…but those fur babys turn him into a giant marshmallow peep. It’s awesome.

    16. Susan*

      I work at a company that makes a virtual world. I will often run meetings in this virtual world, which involves using a headset + a push to speak button. I will often click the button on for the duration of a meeting and use the headset mute to control when I am on/off (it’s easier). I leave the meeting, go to another location in the world, speak button still on. I have a habit of always leaving my headset on, even when not in meetings. Sometimes the mute button gets turned off. And I’m WFH with my kitties.

      All that to say – I’ve had times when I call out “Who’s a kitty?”. And realized that my coworkers could hear me.

    17. Claire MKE*

      Oh, all the time. I call my roomie’s cat Princess Baby or Bad Baby, depending on how she’s behaving. Also Logie, LoLo, and Lolita (her name is Logan)

    18. Jazzy Red*

      I talk to my dogs all the time. Before I got my dogs, I talked to myself all the time, so this is probably saner.

      When we’re in the car, I usually make up little songs about where we’re going and who we’re going to see. They’ve never complained, so I guess it’s all right with them

      Oh, and whenever I have to take either one to the vet, I talk to them while we’re waiting. I usually tell them how good they’re being and how much I appreciate it, and that nothing bad is going to happen. My boy dog knows I’m lying, and tries to hide from the vet when she comes in. He’s had lots of unpleasant things happen that caused him pain, so the vet’s office isn’t a happy place for him now (although I bring treats and everyone there gives him some).

    19. Elizabeth West*

      I call Pig, my kitty, various names like Piggins, Small Baby, Little Kitty Widdershins (I have NO idea where that came from) and sing her a little song about how she is a little mew mew. Yes, I’m a total goofball.

      Whenever there is a meteor shower, I lie on the patio to look and she comes over and walks around and around me like “Why iz u lyin dere, hooman? You okay?”

    20. Diane*

      My puppy answers to “Here kitty kitty puppy!” and anything in baby-talk.

      I seem to say weirder things to her than to the cats because the cats look at me with disdain if I don’t use my normal, adult voice. Unless I’m talking about treats. Then baby-talk is fine.

      1. Jessica (the celt)*

        While I would love to be a cat owner right now (apartment living does suck for a few reasons), I just sing silly songs all the time whether I have a cat or not. Now, I just sing them to my husband. We were watching Adventure Time awhile back, and he said, “What’s up with them just singing random songs about what they’re doing?” He paused for a second and turned to me suddenly to say, “It’s like living with you!”

        I said, “That’s the sweetest, most romantic thing anyone’s ever said to me!”

    21. Lindsay J*

      I sing my dogs a variety of songs that I make up. They’re usually to the tune of popular children’s songs.

    22. Rebecca*

      Guilty as charged! I talk to them, make up songs, kiss them on top of their heads, etc. I have a black lab (he’s blind now with cataracts), 2 elderly tabby cats, and I’m fostering several young cats that were dumped off in our neighborhood. I love them all to pieces!

  29. Christine*

    I need some advice on references. A couple weeks ago, I had an in-person interview for a job, and I thought the interview went very, very well. Yesterday, the hiring manager e-mailed me asking for references. I looked at what I had for references and realized that I only had two people who weren’t currently working with me– I don’t want anyone in my current office to know I’m job searching. I have a former co-worker who would make a good reference, and I e-mailed her yesterday afternoon. I still haven’t heard back, and I’d like to send the hiring manager my references sometime this morning.

    Is it going to seem like too few if I only send two references? Especially if they’re two references who worked with me in a different capacity than the job I’m applying for? One was an internship supervisor and one was a former professor/freelance client. (I’m only a couple years out of the program where I had this professor, so it’s not like I’m reaching REALLY far back for an old teacher.) I’d really like to include my former co-worker, but if she doesn’t get back to me, I feel like I’m stuck with only two.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I think two is fine. Each time we’ve hired, candidates typically average 2 to 3 references.

    2. pghadventurer*

      Why not submit the 2 you have for now, and indicate you’re waiting on a 3rd to respond? I think they’d be understanding of your situation.

  30. Audiophile*

    I figured I’ll pop in before it gets crazy.
    I have an issue that may or may not require the labor board, but I’m not sure if it’s worth the hassle, I saw the update from the reader who went to her state’s labor board, didn’t seem overly positive.

    1. fposte*

      I think labor boards are incredibly variable from state to state, so I wouldn’t let that stop you at least connecting with them. You can always find out what costs you’d be on the hook for and back out before incurring them if it comes to going to court.

      1. Audiophile*

        IF I can back out, I might be more willing. I think I will wait until I’m leaving for a new job, to file a claim. Just because I’m weary of filing a claim, while I’m currently in the position. I know they can’t fire me for making a complaint but there can certainly be consequences.

  31. BCW*

    I have a general question for those of you who do hiring, or even if you just have feedback. I’ve done hiring once, but its not enough to really understand this.

    I feel like when you interview someone, you may not know right then if you want to hire them, but you know if you don’t want to hire them. So if someone clearly isn’t a good fit, why string them along? I’ve had interviews where I know its a multi-step interview process, and I don’t hear back for a couple weeks. Then I followed up, and got “oh, we are still interviewing, and will get back to you with next steps”. Fine, but then no next steps come and then I eventually find out I didn’t get it, or just assume so because I never heard. But I feel like they knew from the beginning I wasn’t getting the job, so why not just say that. Again, I understand that sometimes you aren’t sure. But if you are on the fence, why not at least bring me back in for another interview. If you clearly know the answer is a no, then tell me, especially when I ask you about it. Its one thing to ignore someone, but to tell them you are still considering them just seems mean.

    1. Beth*

      I agree. If someone clearly isn’t a fit, they shouldn’t be strung along. I know of others who do that because they are afraid “no one better” will come along. Personally, I only hire the BEST person for a position. So if I do a round of initial interviews and don’t find some potential “bests”, then I repost the ad and get more candidates. I will always tell someone a no when I feel they aren’t the best. In the interest of not crushing someone’s feelings I don’t blurt it out at the interview but I do let them know within 48-72 hours of the interview.

    2. fposte*

      Some of that might just be process–the state controls when we’re allowed to reject people, for instance, and even outside of that it’s pretty common not to reject interviewed candidates one by one. But given that some of the organizations you’re talking about never communicate at all, I think that’s just another flavor of “sometimes companies just suck at communication.”

    3. Jamie*

      Some of this is just not wanting to burn bridges with candidates who you might want to re-visit if you don’t get someone who is a better fit.

      It’s not the same thing as being on the fence – just not wanting to cut bait before you know who else is out there.

      I know that sounds harsh, but it’s not personal…interviewing is something a numbers game.

      1. BCW*

        See, I could get that, but I think there are certain people who they KNOW they aren’t hiring, yet they still won’t just tell them when asked.

        1. Sascha*

          In my experience, it’s due to process. I work at a state university, and I’ve been in interviews where I knew within a few minutes I wasn’t going to hire someone, but we are required to ask the same set of questions to every candidate, and treat them exactly the same in as many respects as we can.

          Also, even if *I* know I wouldn’t hire someone right off the bat, I don’t know about my colleagues. Our hiring team consists of my manager, me, and my immediate coworkers (2-3 extra people). There have been situations where half of us wanted to second interview someone, and the other half didn’t, and we were gridlocked for a while. In one situation, our VP even told us we had to interview someone who had no business even applying for our team, because he was buddies with her dad. There’s just a lot that goes on behind the scenes.

    4. Joey*

      I agree they should tell you if they know right off the bat, but it can be complicated. Especially if you’re not their top choice, but still very good. They may not want to tell you “no” until the 1st pick has accepted and passed the background etc. I know it sucks, but I bet in some of those cases you might be the backup plan.

  32. Anony1234*

    How do I know if I’m burned out?

    To begin with, I’m not overly enamored with one of my part-time jobs. It is not in my field, and it is a $2 over minimum wage paycheck each week. I can’t ask for a raise because it is union-contracted. One coworker refuses to relinquish a day shift if someone needs it, and another coworker plans their social life on days they have to work. And the manager just let’s it all happen. So needless to say I’m fed up, and I feel it affecting me physically now. First I used to complain to family and close friends. When I have more or less accepted it as “it is what it is” (a phrase I loathe), I noticed that I must have just internalized it and now my body just wants to sleep more and more; for example, I don’t have work today and instead of getting stuff done that I need to do in my personal life, I’m ready to crawl back under the sheets, like I did yesterday. I will show a bit moodiness when I have to get ready to go to work. Furthermore, for a few years, I got away without catching a cold; I’ve gotten two thus far this year.

    Are these signs of burn-out? If so, how do I combat it when the external factors cannot be changed until I get a new job?

    1. COT*

      Sounds like burnout to me. Try to focus on other things in your life that can boost your mood and energy (exercise, time with friends, a new hobby, etc.). If your life is filled with satisfying things and this job is just one little black spot, it’s a lot easier than if you let this bad job make your entire world seem crappy. Keep it in perspective, leave your work at work, and give your mental energy to the better parts of your life.

    2. Jazzy Red*

      I think it is burn-out, too. However, I notice you call it “one of your part-time jobs”. How many jobs do you have? Are they consuming all your time, or do you have free time for family, friends, and fun? If these things are missing from your life, even small annoying things become great big problems (although I still think you’re burned out with that particular job).

      If you absolutely need this p/t job until you can find another one, keep telling yourself that you’re one day closer to your escape. Keep looking for something better, and make time for family, friends, and fun. You need to balance out all the cr@p with some good times.

      1. Anony1234*

        I have two part-time jobs and one volunteering job. One job and the volunteering are within my field, and I’m hoping the skills and experience I gain with them will contribute to my next job (hopefully full-time). The other is a specialized retail job I fell into just so I could get a paycheck. I’ve done well with it as I learned a great deal; my manager, after all, has told me so. However, he needed a degree in this particular line of work and he must approve everything before the customer purchases the item(s). He even says I should get the degree, but I watch him and see for myself it is not something I’m interested in. I’m sure I can get the degree fairly easily if I wanted to, but I don’t. Therefore, there is no growth in this field for me unless I get the degree. I already have two degrees, just in a completely different field. If I am to grow in this company, I would have to switch out of this department into another and try to go from there, and usually that’s to go upwards into a managerial job; to reiterate, I cannot become a manager like my boss due to the degree and thus the law. It’s more or less now a dead end and time to move on. Plus, compounding it especiallywith coworkers who play by their own rules, particularly with the schedule, and a manager who lets them, I’m done. However, in other companies, the job is full-time, but seeing how there is no growth potential here, I fear there wouldn’t be any in another location even if the pay is multiple-times better with benefits.

        My other job, teaching one course at a local cc, does consume time too outside the classroom, but I enjoy it. I am always trying to find new ideas for lesson plans. Of course there are stresses with it, but I know I can grow with it. The same with my volunteering.

  33. Skye*

    I was almost harmfully pranked at work by a visitor. Thankfully, the prank was not harmful insomuch as the device used was not electrified at the time, and because it didn’t actually touch me. It did scare me, and all I could do was fall down and laugh, because the only *other* thing I could have done was get really, really mad.

    Unfortunately, nothing was really said to the visitor about it because I wasn’t harmed. But the visitor hasn’t been back, so there’s that at least. (I found out afterward that the prank was intended for my manager, and that the visitor has done things like this before.)

    1. Jazzy Red*

      How odd.

      I sure hope that’s not a job requirement for you. If it is, perhaps you should be looking for a better job.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Does the manager know about this latest episode?

      I am not big on pranks because at some point it stops being funny.

  34. Anonicorn*

    OK, I really need help and advice about a coworker. I can no longer objectively identify legitimate problems verses my growing dislike for him, as much as I try to keep the two separated.

    “Bob” was hired for my team 8 months ago against the advice of myself and my other team member, “Sally.” We identified shortcomings in his samples, his writing, and his software skills – all major parts of this position. However, we did attempt to make the best of it by creating software demos and additional training manuals, etc.

    Bob did make some progress for the first 3 months. But Sally and I had to keep explaining the same things to him repeatedly – even simple things like “put all your work on the network drive, not on your hard drive.”

    He received a project in June that would take either Sally or I about two weeks to complete, so we anticipated maybe 3-4 weeks for Bob. Unfortunately, it seemed like the slight bit of progress Bob had previously made just vanished and the same mistakes he was making his first 3 months started showing up again. The project had major errors in it even after Sally and I reviewed it with him multiple times.

    Bob was not finished with this project by August, so we brought it to our manager’s attention near the end of that month, asking what more we could do and if she could help us train Bob. Because, hey, maybe we’re bad at training and it clearly isn’t sticking with him. She said she suspected something like this and would set a deadline for him.

    It’s October and Bob is still not finished with the project that he started in June. This one project is the ONLY thing Bob has to do. I never really questioned my manager’s judgement until this whole Bob issue.

    So aside from being bad at his job, he’s also a strange person, which I can normally overlook but this seems different. I have a weird gut feeling about him. He makes, what seems to me, subtly sexist comments – frequently referencing the “alpha male” and dominance when people are talking about their pets or spouses. Or he’ll say “a guy would have done this” or “well I don’t do that because I’m a guy.”

    One day when Sally and I (both of us are younger ladies) were alone with him in the break room, he said, “so you’re both girls – what can you tell me about hair coloring.” Sally did not seem disturbed by this comment, but I sure was. So I can’t tell if I was taking it the wrong way.

    But I definitely think a comment he made toward another young female coworker was totally inappropriate. This particular coworker is a few months pregnant (i.e. not really showing). She told me she walked into the break room where she saw Bob making coffee. The first thing out of his mouth was, “So you’re getting big.” She didn’t say a word; she just left. And he never apologized.

    So my question is, since we’ve already addressed performance issues, should we mention any of Bob’s comments to my manager? Or suggest that our pregnant coworker do so? Like I said, I can’t really tell if I’m overreacting to some of Bob’s social weirdness because of how I feel about his skills.

    1. BCW*

      I’d leave it to the performance issues. I think some of his contents may be being taken out of context, even if they weren’t worded well. Alpha males exist in nature. Its a fact. The hair color comment; If I had questions regarding hair coloring, I’d definitely ask a woman in the office over a guy. Again, he may have worded it oddly, but maybe he was trying to be funny. Its like if a woman c0-worker came up to me and said “you’re a guy, what can you tell me about fantasy football”, I wouldn’t be offended by that comment. Thy you’re getting big comment, again, not worded great, but I’ve seen women say and do far worse to pregnant women (rubbing their belly without permission). Again, not excusing it, but would you have been as bothered if a woman said that? He sounds like he may be socially awkward, or think he’s funnier than he is, but not sexist.

      Is it an office of all or mostly women by any chance? That could also make it a difficult thing to deal with for him. I know the first time I had a job like that, it was a big learning curve. I was used to sports teams, a lot of guy friends, etc. So maybe give it some time.

      But from the outside, it does sound like your negative opinion of his work is affecting your opinion of him as a person.

      1. Anonicorn*

        Yeah, I suspected this might be the case.

        Is it an office of all or mostly women by any chance?

        Spot on. It did cross my mind that he might be reacting to that. He came from an IT-ish environment where I can only assume there were more guys around. I want to think that this shouldn’t impact someone’s behavior, but I know that’s being unrealistic.

        1. BCW*

          Yeah, I think it works both ways. If you take a woman who is used to working around all women, throw her in a department with all guys, she will probably be a little awkward in their eyes as well. I understand that this stuff would be a lot easier to digest if he was a super star, but him being bad at his job is your managers responsibility, not yours. It sounds like you have raised this issue, so there isn’t much more you can do.

    2. Anonadog*

      Bob sounds very awkward and I do detect a sexist undertone from what you’re describing. But given your manager’s bad judgement in hiring Bob, she sounds predisposed to like Bob for some reason. The manager may not take it well if you talk to her about these comments.

      My personal approach is to try to address things like this myself before going to my manager. The Carolyn Hax “Wow” comment works wonders. I also say “What do you mean by that?” and just let the person dig themselves into a hole.

      If that still doesn’t work, or he follows up with some more ridiculous comment, I would talk to my manager.

    3. fposte*

      He doesn’t sound socially acute, but none of that part of it is particularly egregious, so I’d let it go. The performance issues are his manager’s responsibility–are they impacting you enough that you need to talk to her about what to do without that project being completed? Basically, what do you want to have happen here?

      1. Anonicorn*

        We need him to start performing so that Sally and I won’t have to carry his share of the work. We’re going to be very busy in the next few months, and he hasn’t proven that he can complete a project correctly within a deadline, and without the major revisions that Sally and I will be too busy to make.

        Admittedly my fears are completely speculative; it’s certainly possible he will be able to work quickly and work well, but he hasn’t proven that so far.

        1. Ruffingit*

          Unfortunately, there’s very little you can do here. Your manager needs to be managing this guy and she is not. Both you and Sally can go to the manager together and say “We’re concerned about Bob’s inability to complete the projects timely. Neither Sally nor I will have the opportunity to assist him in the coming months as we’ve been doing. What can we do to handle this situation?” Something to that effect. That forces the manager to give you an answer, anything from “Do nothing, I’ll take care of it” to “I expect you to look over his shoulder and do all his work. Don’t have time for that? Too bad, make time.” The latter is obviously a horrible scenario, but can happen.

          There’s also the matter of simply letting Bob fail. If his work doesn’t directly and significantly impact yours, then let him flounder, it’s not your problem.

          Whatever happens though, you have limited power here. Your manager has to step up and deal with this. If she won’t, then you have to deal or leave. Unfortunately.

        2. fposte*

          That’s pretty much up to your manager, and there’s not much you can make her do. Does she know that Bob’s two months behind (and does that slow you up, or is it just something you’re aware of?)? Is the level of Bob support you have to provide still egregious or has your manager picked it up?

          Basically, the personal stuff isn’t worth reporting, and if his underperformance is now inconveniencing the manager rather than you it’s time to let that go as well.

    4. Betsy*

      I really, really, really wish I had an answer for you, because I wish I had an answer for me, too. I think if you DO want to bring up the non-performance issues, it can be in terms of team dynamics.

      “Hi, Joan, I wanted to talk to you about something kind of awkward. I worry that Bob isn’t integrating cleanly with the team. I’m not sure how much of it is about the performance issues, and how much is just different values, but there are definitely tensions right now.”

      Because I have a theory, which is this: if Bob were a great employee, the social weirdness probably wouldn’t bother you nearly as much, and there would probably be less social weirdness.

      Bob probably knows you don’t like him much, and he probably knows he’s not doing well at his job, and he’s trying (awkwardly) to fit in. You, in turn, are receiving his efforts uncharitably, because, frankly, the guy is a pain in your butt. Both sides of this are understandable, and if this is really happening in the middle of your team, your manager probably should know about it.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      To me he sounds awkward- like he does not have a lot of experience working around women.

      Some of this could also be chalked up to he thinks he is on the outside looking in. He knows he is not part of the group.

      I think that you should just focus on your own working relationship with Bob and not anyone else’s. If he says something that makes you uncomfortable then be ready with a simple “hey, let’s not go THERE.” type of answer.

      Of everything you said the thing that jumped at me was the thing about male dominance and being a guy. He probably has some definite notions about what a man “should be”. Those notions may or may not work well in real life. I would just redirect the conversation to a neutral or work related topic.

      If you hear comments that are blatantly wrong- comments about women or whatever then, yes, report those comments.

  35. PEBCAK*

    I got headhunted for a position (as in, they found my resume through a trade association and called me out of the blue) and went in for an interview, just to check it out. All they asked me was what questions I had for them. This morning, they sent a rejection notice. WTF?

    (This isn’t really a question, just venting).

    1. Ruffingit*

      That is bizarre. They didn’t even bother to interview you and then rejected you. OK then…weird.

  36. Mints*

    Could I get some inspirational stories from people who had really stupid jobs right out of college, and are now in jobs they love?
    Preferably sort of recently so they don’t all end–But the economy sucks so bad now, I pity all you recent grads.
    The worse your old job, the better I’ll feel!

    1. Beth*

      Right out of college I worked for a nonprofit based in the basement of a convent, where sometimes my paycheck would bounce. 25 years later I’m a senior executive at a healthcare company that’s doubled in size in the last 2 years and will triple in size next year. It gets better.

      1. AVP*

        I graduated with a BA in 2006 but I work in an odd field and had a lot of trouble finding a fulltime job, so I did a lot of freelancing. It was horrible, and I was horrible at it.

        a) I spent all the money I earned and never thought that I should save some for times when freelance work didn’t pop up. And forget taxes.

        b) I am terrible at pitching myself and was too embarrassed to call anyone and ask them to hire me.

        So I ended up with the worst of the worst jobs…pay was deferred (not legal), projects completely falling apart, terrible managers, etc. My last one, which is the only one I remember clearly, I was asked to make decorations for the halloween party and they had to go through 3 levels of corporate approval before being allowed to be displayed.

        Finally I saw a different way in to the type of job I wanted and really went for that. 5 years later I am in a MUCH better place. Success story! So my one piece of advice is…if you have an idea of where you want to be in a few years, try to examine all of the ways of getting there, even if they might seem “below your degree” or just not like something you might want to do. Stepping stones.

    2. Heather*

      Disclaimer: this was in 2006, which for all I hear now might as well have been in 1950. My temp job at a non-profit had ended s I took the first one that came along-at a call center. It ended up going perminant, but I continued to look in the nonprofit sector.
      Two years later, I got a job in my field, used the skills I learned in the call center, and have gone on to work in my field and also work on my master’s degree.
      That help?

    3. BCW*

      My first job out of college was with a company called DS-Max. They are a complete and total scam. Maybe scam is harsh, because in theory you “can” make money, but its really bad for a lot of reasons. Google “DS-Max Cult” and you will understand. The worst is that when you realize its not going anywhere, they basically shame you into staying. I remember them saying repeatedly “If you aren’t making money here, you are either lazy or dumb”.

      I wouldn’t say I “love” my job now, but it does get better. A lesson that I learned though, is that never take a job on the spot. Take a night or 2 to think it over, and make sure its gonna be good.

      1. VintageLydia*

        Oh god I “interviewed” with one of those groups. I thought it was weird they called me less than hour after I applied, so I googled them. Bullet dodged.

    4. Jen*

      So many bad jobs! I was a journalism major and the only job I could get right out of college was a low paying PA job where I just pointed at the camera that the news anchors were supposed to look at. It paid pennies and I had to pay $500 to join a union. Then I made no money at all working at an office where everyone screamed at each other and threw things when they were angry. From there I got a job doing the most terribly boring admin stuff in a two person office with a guy who only got his job because his dad was on the board. He was terrible. I had a few mediocre jobs in between but now am at a really awesome job and I love what I do and who I work with and they’re paying for me to get my masters degree (100% paid).

        1. ExceptionToTheRule*

          It’s all fun and games until you point at the wrong camera and have the anchors & the director screaming in your ear.

          1. Jen*

            Ha! Yes! I would do this way more often than I’d like to admit. In fact, my mom started to say things like “They kept messing up and looking in the wrong camera, was that you?” And I’d have to say “Um, yeah.”

      1. LD*

        I did that job right out of college, too! I learned to count down from 10 with both hands from little finger on right to little finger on left. Funny to remember…and harder than you might think…haha!

    5. pghadventurer*

      Had a job working for an online university recruiting students for a school with a 9% graduation rate.

      It was terrible. When I worked the hard sell, I got good numbers but felt like a sleazeball. When I toned it down, I was given the worst leads (i.e., the same people the school had been calling for 5+ years). No matter how much these people said they weren’t interested, and would never be interested, we were told not to delete their numbers and the system would recycle them back into the calling rotation in a few months. Many of these people got called 3 times a day until they picked up.

      I now work in the sustainablity office of a local government body, and I love it!

    6. Dulcinea*

      When I got out of law school I took a job at a small firm that paid me as if I was an independent contractor, but I absolutely was not under any reasonably definition of that word. I made so little money I qualified for state-assisted health insurance. The boss was a micromanager from hell. I also hated the practice areas of the firm.

      I finally resigned when the boss asked me to agree to a compensation arrangement where my hourly rate would vary based on his discretion after reviewing my work. As in, at the end of the week he would look at what I had accomplished and decide how much to pay me for it.

      I spent several months broke and unemployed and finally had to take a job as a telemarketer…for some people that might not seem so bad but it was hell for me, although I was good at it and the people were pretty nice. I stayed there about 3 months until…

      About 6 months ago I got hired at a legal aid organization, doing specialized work in exactly the practice area I wanted to be in, making a decent salary, with wonderful bosses and coworkers. And I DO use some of the skills I learned as a telemarketer (mostly reflective listening and persuasion). Obviously no job is perfect and I have days where I am frustrated with clients or opposing counsel but I NEVER wish I had a different job.

      Hang in there! And try to make the most of whatever job you have, you never know when something will come in handy later.

    7. AnonHR*

      I graduated in 2009… which was the bottom of that curve you see in the “this is how bad the economy tanked” charts :)

      In college I was lucky to get a part time HR Assistant in my field that I loved but I in no way/shape/form could survive on the income once I graduated and I didn’t have the option of moving back in with my parents. I got a full time job making a low hourly wage as a COBRA Administrator. My first week they stuck me at a desk in the back of cubicle farm in the basement of a office complex, which is where the office was located, and all I did was stuff envelopes and glue the flaps shut. For 8 hours a day. It was in the middle of a lot of legislative updates, and they didn’t have mailing equipment that could handle the notices that had to go out because they were too many pages long. Als0, they didn’t have a printing system that could handle sorting. We had about 90 companies, including manufacturing and schools that had done layoffs, so there were a lot of them. From there on out, I split my time half-and-half between envelope stuffing, and taking “customer service” calls from people who had recently been laid off and missed a COBRA payment only to find out they have no options to get back on the benefits at that point. Oh, we also helped one HR department lay off half their business, while their company was working with us to basically then replace the HR department (our business was full service). That felt awesome. We needed more employees, but they wouldn’t hire them, and I didn’t know anyone, including managers, who weren’t working overtime and overwhelmed to either the point of tears or medication constantly. To add insult to injury, we were a small, very profitable business (see: understaffed and low paid workers), and the owner cared a lot about fitness, so he tried to encourage a lot of fitness programs, so we were on “Best Local Places to Work!” lists all the time.

      I was there a year before my job search paid off. I got a new job where I can see the sun at some point every day, I doubled my pay, have real responsibility, and don’t generally feel like I spent a lot of money on a degree I didn’t need :). Sometimes you have to put in your time, but you’ll get there!!

      1. Mints*

        Oh god, the seeing daylight bit really hits home. It just started being dark when I leave the house, and yesterday I saw the moon was already up when I got home. Part of the suckfest is my horrible commute, and I barely see sunlight on weekdays. Family even told me I’m looking pale. Geez

    8. LMW*

      In 2002 (which was also a rough time economically), I used my overly expensive BA to land a job as a receptionist in a medical clinic within a huge medical complex for $10.20 an hour (I live in a mid-size city, so not exactly compatible with the cost of living here). Really really boring, so I spent a lot of time helping out the admins by calling our state’s low-income insurance program and trying to get them to actually process claims appropriately so kids with birth defects like spina bifida could actually get their surgeries in a timely fashion. Depressing view into the insurance industry, our research doctor was angry with me because I wouldn’t go to the lab with the research bunnies, and I couldn’t even afford to move out of my parents’ house and into a shabby apartment with multiple roommates. 1 year later a got a job in publishing, and 10 years later I’m actually making really great money doing work that I love.

    9. Brton3*

      My first job out of college was great but my first job out of grad school was abysmally bad. (This was just when the economy tanked.) It was at a nonprofit org where the executive director was truly a wack-job, and woefully unqualified to boot. I am amazed the organization still exists, and has even thrived, despite her mindblowing incompetence. I felt like I was on a ship with no rudder. Even though my boss was amazing, she got no direction or support from her boss (the ED) and got sabotaged at every turn. It was hugely demoralizing. There were also legally questionable things going on (improper use of grant funds, for example) that were further demoralizing.

      But I sucked up every good thing I could from that job. I worked so hard to be proactive, and I got a bunch of new grant funding, and implemented a couple fundraising ideas that were quite successful. So bang–specific accomplishments for my resume. I also took advantage of my boss’s tremendous mentoring skills. And, as bad as the org was, it is quite well-known in my field and so just having the name on my resume made people think I have experience with “the real thing.” And finally, I got very valuable experience dealing with unhinged, unqualified upper management.

      1. Brton3*

        I guess I should add that it turned out so well. That job was desperate for anyone they could get, and it paid so poorly, that my title and responsibilities were higher than my qualifications would suggest. I went straight from that job to being development director at a very high profile organization, and then from that job I went on to my current job, also as development director, at my dream organization. Sometimes it feels like a fairy tale, but boy I went through a lot to get here.

    10. Windchime*

      My very first job ever was painting goat pens at the fairgrounds. That was when I was 15, though.

      I didn’t go to college until later in life, but my real first professional job was (supposedly) “on-call”, only I worked 40 hours a week from the beginning. It was supposed to be a job doing data entry and “special projects” in a medical facility, only they didn’t always have enough work for me so they would loan me out to the materials management department and I would end up doing boring jobs like folding towels and filing invoices. I really thought I had made a terrible decision to work there, but that place ended up being very good to me and was a good stepping stone to my current career.

  37. Anonadog*

    I am so jealous that Alison’s cats are getting along. When I got my kitty a “friend,” I followed the standard advice for introducing them, but things did not go well. Resident kitty did not take well to her friend. After six months of trying, I had to find New Kitty a new home due to the constant fighting. It was so painful.

    I wish my kitty would accept a little Olive!

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      Yeah, we have cats that have to be kept separated: the bully cat in the kitchen area, chicken cat in our bedroom, pee cat outside. It’s a pain having cats that are mutually exclusive.