I’m asked to cover when my coworkers are on a prayer break, my project was taken away, and more

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

1. My project was taken away with no warning to me

A few weeks ago, the CEO of our small company pulled me into his office and told me I was going to be the lead on a new client account. I was very excited for the opportunity to spread my wings, and I got working on our first project with enthusiasm.

Two weeks later, during a team meeting with the CEO, my manager, and a fellow co-worker, I found out that my manager had been chosen to go on a business trip for the new client. A few moments later, I found out she would be working on a different version of the same project I had been working on for this new client. I was confused about the project’s direction and my involvement at that point, so I asked my CEO if he could clarify whether I was still the lead. Strangely, it was as if he completely forgot our original conversation a few weeks back…and my manager is suddenly the lead!

Never mind the fact that my manager probably asked for the new client for herself when she found out it was being given to me…I appreciate that the CEO can make whatever business decisions he deems necessary, and I am still doing all I can to make sure our first project with the new client goes smoothly.

However, I am really frustrated that he didn’t give me the courtesy of telling me that he had changed his mind about my role. It was embarrassing to find out when and how I did. Is there a way I can express this concern to him? Is it even appropriate to do so, or should I keep my mouth closed?

It’s possible that your boss simply forgot he’d already assigned it to you, or it’s possible something else is going on. In any case, it’s reasonable to ask about it when you’re told X but then Y happens. You want to do it in a way that doesn’t sound like you’re challenging the decision, just seeking clarification and even feedback. For instance: “I just wanted to check back with you about Project X. When we talked two weeks ago, you’d asked me to be the lead on it. It sounds now like Jane will be leading the work instead, and I wanted to check with you about whether there was anything in my approach that concerned you or made you think I wasn’t the best fit for it. If so, I’d really appreciate the feedback.”

Your tone here must be calm and non-defensive; it should signal “I’m concerned about whether I’m doing something wrong” — not because you should assume that you did, but because this makes it a lot more likely that you’ll get the real story than if your tone signals “I’m annoyed.”

2. Was I in the bottom of the pile for this job?

More hyper-analyzing of rejection emails: The phrasing in a rejection I received was, “I am currently considering other candidates for the position.” Does the plural use of candidates mean that I was on the bottom of the pile? Also, it makes it sound like he’s sending the rejection before making an offer. Does that mean he really didn’t like me since if he did like me he’d like to keep me as backup in case their first choice didn’t accept the offer? Most rejection emails I’ve gotten announce that they have filled the position.

I thought the interview went well and that I did everything perfectly, so while I would understand being beat out by someone who was a better fit, thinking that a whole slew of candidates beat me out makes me feel awful and that I’m doing something horribly wrong.

You’re over-thinking it! You could be a strong candidate — even in the top 10% out of, say, 200 or 300 candidates — but just not as strong as the 3, 5, 8, or 10 people the hiring manager has decided to talk further with. Or you could be just as strong as them, but he can only reasonably talk to a certain number of people. Or, of course, it’s also possible that you are indeed in the absolute bottom of the whole pool. But you can’t tell that from this email. It just means that you’re not in the group they’re interviewing further.

3. Will it hurt my chances if I ask for a Skype interview instead of interviewing in person?

I’m working in New York and interviewing for a position in Kentucky. I had a phone interview this morning (not a screening, but a real interview). A few hours later I got a call saying I had interviewed very well, and they’d like to fly me down later this week for another meeting. When I hesitated he mentioned that if that didn’t work we could do a Skype interview instead. I explained that due to a death in the family I’ve taken a lot of time off work lately (and my managers are on the difficult side… but I didn’t mention that), and that I would email him by tomorrow at lunch with an answer.

I don’t want to come across as being disinterested or unwilling to commit, but the truth is that a Skype interview would be a much better fit for me. Do you think it will reflect poorly on me/hurt my chances if I opt for that instead of letting them fly me in?

Well, maybe. It could, or it might not — but there’s no way to say for sure. It’s easier to create rapport and be impressive in person than it is over Skype, and there’s some research showing that candidates who do video interviews are perceived as less likable and are less likely to be hired. That doesn’t mean that that’ll be the case with you — but there’s also no way to really know for sure. If this is a job that you really want, I’d try to go there in person if at all possible. Is there any way to schedule it for a time that minimizes how much time off work you’ll need?

4. My company said they’ll re-advertise the job I want if no one but me applies

I have been doing the assistant cook job at work for about 9 months because another employee went long-term sick. She has now resigned and I have applied for the position. I shall be attending an interview and we will be required to make a couple of dishes in a certain time.

I am the only applicant who has responded and said that I will be attending. I am already doing the job and have proved that I can, but I have been told that if no other applicants come for an interview, they will re-advertise. Why would this be?

Three possibilities: (1) They want to make sure that they’re truly searching for the best person, not just hiring the person who happens to be there (which is actually good practice for many jobs), or (2) they’re just not fully sold on you and want to make sure that they’re comparing you to others, or (3) they don’t think you’re the right fit for the job and don’t want to offer it to you. I have no idea which of these it is, but in any of these cases, the best thing you can do is to do an awesome job at your interview and continue being awesome at work the rest of the time. From there, it’s up to them. Good luck.

5. I’m asked to cover when my coworkers are on a prayer break

I’m working in a support department consisting of 3 employees (including me). My coworkers are Muslim, and every Friday they have a 1-hour break for praying in the mosque. And when they’re going to pray, I’m holding down the fort alone.

Unlike my colleagues, I live the furthest away, use public transportation, and have to switch trains/busses 4 times. Public transportion in my area is quite unreliable, so I’m the one who often arrives late (50% not late, 40% late by 3-10 minutes, 10% late by 40-60 minutes). I always leave home at the same exact time, but sometimes little misfortunes happen when I change buses, which accumulates into one mega time waster.

Once a year, we have a performance review. Is it reasonable to ask my manager to consider this one hour I spend every week covering from my coworkers while they’re at the mosque — when I have the responsibilities of 3 people — to proportionally compensate for my lateness? And if my manager says no, is it fair that I just close the door, hang the phone, and put a “Friday Prayer Break” sign up when the Friday prayer time comes?

No, covering for two people for an hour a week is not likely to cancel out being late so often — at least not unless you’ve talked to your manager and explicitly worked out an agreement that it is. (But you’d want to do that in advance, not wait until it comes up in a performance review.)

The thing is, it either is or isn’t okay to be late in the type of work you do. (In some roles it would be, and in others it wouldn’t be.) If it’s not okay in your role, then you’ve got to figure out what you’re going to do about it — leave earlier? Talk to your manager and work out an accommodation? Stay later to make up for it, with your manager’s blessing? But you can’t just keep coming in late without talking to your manager about it and expect that it should be fine because you cover for your coworkers for an hour on Fridays.

And no, you can’t shut down the office while your coworkers are gone on Friday without talking to your manager about that too.

You need to talk to your manager about all of this and figure out what makes sense.

{ 300 comments… read them below }

  1. Anon*

    #5, I am not sure what kind of work you’re doing that a one hour break would be a huge deal in. But those are two separate issues at play. Your lateness is not excused or accepted because of your co-workers’ right to pray. You seem a bit bitter that you have to hold down the fort for that time while they go pray. It is their legal right to do so, if it is causing you issues, that would be something to bring up with your manager. However, your constant lateness is an issue and something you need to iron out with your manager before it becomes a larger issue that could potentially result in you fired.

    If timeliness is required and you’re constantly late, covering something that is a given legal right does not excuse your own issues. They’re entitled to their prayer break, you are not entitled to be late.

      1. Kara*

        I was thinking the same thing. I understand that they can’t be discriminated against because of their religion, but if the employer wants them to work all day Friday I don’t think they’re excused because of their religion. There are plenty of religious Christians who are made to work all day on Sundays, and if they don’t like it, they can go work for Chick-fil-A or Hobby Lobby. They don’t get an automatic free pass because they want to go to church on Sunday morning.

        1. ExceptionToTheRule*

          If, as a Christian, you want to not work on Sundays due to religious observances, you need to ask for accommodation. That accommodation might be that you won’t have to work during the time that your services are, but you’ll have to work the rest of the day. The individuals in the letter don’t get the entire day, they get an hour.

          1. Chinook*

            I agree, the Muslims are given a reasonable accommodation to attend a prayer service for an hour in the same way I have been given the time to attend Sunday mass or Holy Week services (which occur on the Thursday and Friday before Easter). To not give them this accommodation but require them to work and skip religious services would be discriminatory against those of that faith and would mean the company would not hire anyone of a given faith.

          2. KellyK*

            Right, and it has to be a reasonable accommodation. If you work retail and they’re short-handed, they may not be able to promise you Sunday mornings off.

      2. Joey*

        All 50 states. Title XVII of the civil rights act of 1964. The employer has to prove its more than a minimal burden to deny a religious accommodation.

      3. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Federal law gives workers in all states the right to workplace accommodation for sincerely held religious beliefs, as long as the accommodation doesn’t cause undue hardship for the employer. From the EEOC:

        “The law requires an employer or other covered entity to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices, unless doing so would cause more than a minimal burden on the operations of the employer’s business. This means an employer may be required to make reasonable adjustments to the work environment that will allow an employee to practice his or her religion. Examples of some common religious accommodations include flexible scheduling, voluntary shift substitutions or swaps, job reassignments, and modifications to workplace policies or practices.”

    1. Dave*

      It’s not that it’s a legal right (it is) but that the company provides accommodation for a religious practice, which is FINE.

      The OP takes that as an unfairness, and then brings up tardiness as a balance after-the-fact. It’s crazy.

      If it’s truly a feat of strength to hold down the fort while they’re out, you should attempt to negotiate a raise, or take an hour while the others are at the job. But like AAM says, do it BEFORE you come up with something on your own.

  2. EngineerGirl*

    To clarify, prayer breaks are an approved absence, just like a vacation or a Dr. appointment. Your lateness is not pre-approved, which makes it a very different animal.

    The manager shouldn’t care how you get to work – it isn’t the problem of the business, but yours to own. It is also up to you to raise the issue with management and see if you can come up with a solution to the problem.

    But until you get it pre-approved from management, it will be seen as a performance issue.

    1. jesicka309*

      See, in my mind, doctor’s appointments should happen in your lunch break – if you get an hour for lunch, you use that time for your doctor’s appointment. If you have to take your ‘break’ at 3 to make the appointment, and eat your lunch at your desk at 1, then so be it. I don’t see why OP’s coworkers can’t just use Friday prayer time as their lunchbreak.

      I’d put anything longer than an hour, hour and a half as something you should really be taking leave for. And while prayer time is legally protected, wouldn’t there be an exemption for ‘operational reasons’? If OP was also Muslim, the office would have to close! The ideal solution would be for the OP to start showing up to work on time, and for their manager to start rotating times ie. only one employee can be out praying/at the doctors/at lunch at one time so that there’s appropriate coverage.

      1. Cat*

        Friday prayers happen at a set time so the employees can’t stagger them. And OP appears to be managing fine – your job being somewhat unpleasant for an hour a week doesn’t justify prohibiting people from practicing their religion.

        As to what leave they’re taking, that’s not our concern. They may well be using their lunch break or otherwise making the time up.

      2. Min*

        There’s nothing to say that her coworkers don’t use their lunch hours. Whether or not they adjust their lunch schedules, the result for the OP is the same.

        That said, I totally agree with the comments above that covering for an hour on Fridays has nothing to do with being late on a regular basis. Apples & oranges.

        1. Bea W*

          Plus it has nothing to do with the length of anyone’s commute or how they get to work. So many extraneous details in the OP’s letter!

      3. Ask a Manager* Post author

        The employer is legally required to accommodate the prayer break if it can do so without undue hardship … and it sounds like it can, because the OP covers during that hour. If the OP was also Muslim, then they’d either close for the hour or come up with another system, but she’s not, and it’s not crazy for her to be expected to hold down the office during that time.

        1. BCW*

          Does that mean a Christian could say that they don’t want to work on Sunday’s before 11am or something because they have church services, and the employer would have to accommodate that? I know I’ve had to work Sunday mornings before, not that I’m super religious, but I do consider myself a Christian. I’m not trying to make it a religious argument or anything, but it does seem a bit much

          1. ExceptionToTheRule*

            Here’s the info from the EEOC.gov website on religious accommodation:

            “Religious Discrimination & Reasonable Accommodation
            The law requires an employer or other covered entity to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices, unless doing so would cause more than a minimal burden on the operations of the employer’s business. This means an employer may be required to make reasonable adjustments to the work environment that will allow an employee to practice his or her religion.

            Examples of some common religious accommodations include flexible scheduling, voluntary shift substitutions or swaps, job reassignments, and modifications to workplace policies or practices.”

          2. some1*

            “Does that mean a Christian could say that they don’t want to work on Sunday’s before 11am”

            No, it means Christians can ask for an hour off to go to Church if they are scheduled then. The LW’s co-workers aren’t asking to leave every Friday at noon

            1. Joey*

              Not quite. It means anyone can ask for any type of sincerely held religious accommodation. Now whether it’s an undue burden is another story.

            2. BCW*

              Well, here is my point. My church services are from 9-11. So if I want to go to that service, and my typical work hours are 9-5, then by that logic, I can say I can’t work before 11.

              1. Joey*

                Yep. But be prepared to consider other potential church service times, work other hours that may not be at your desired times, and/or have your weekly work hours reduced by the 2 hours you need to attend church.

              2. Person*

                Yes, you can do that. And if it’s not an undue hardship, your employer must accommodate your request.

              3. Jamie*

                Yes, the employer would have to accommodate your ability to go to church if they could without hardship. Although one would be hard pressed to win a lawsuit (and I know no one mentioned suing – just making a point) if you couldn’t go to the exact service you want but you were able to go another time to meet the tenets of your faith.

                I worked at one temp job where many employees were Orthodox Jews and so work ended early on Fridays and the hour structure was such that it accommodated the Sabbath. If their were just one who practices this part of the faith an employer could change just his schedule to no undue hardship then they are obligated to. But if the job was where there was only one IT, for example, and they were on call for emergencies 24/7, but this person would not be available ever during the Sabbath than that would be an undue hardship to the business and they wouldn’t have to hire someone who couldn’t accommodate a real and crucial business need.

                And for those Christians who truly do the Sunday Sabbath thing where they don’t work ever, because that’s part of their faith, same rules apply. But just being a Christian doesn’t give you a pass on no Sundays – if that isn’t a part of your faith. It’s individual accommodations for how that person practices – you can’t give blanket rules for any sect or religion.

                1. EngineerGirl*

                  Thanks for explaining it so well. I don’t work the Sabbath (all day) but that doesn’t mean I get a “free pass”. I’m in there on Saturday, or at 2am, or whatever. I cover when coworkers have life events. We work it out and it usually works well.
                  But this “free pass” attitude totally fails on so many levels and is so intolerant. Think of it this way – if you said “they ca go work somewhere else” about a black or gay would that be tolerant?

                2. Tinker*

                  We’re talking here, though, about changes to the job schedule rather than mere existence. It’s therefore more likely that the issue in question might have actual effects on the performance of the job that need to be accommodated.

                  If I were to request that my employer block off a chunk of time that I would normally be scheduled for so that I can practice homosexuality, I would think it legitimate for the employer to consider whether I’m actually compelled to worship (regarding what, I shall remain tactfully silent) at that particular time and to call for proportional accommodations from me at other times.

                3. Jamie*

                  The practice of one’s religion has specific legal protections in the workplace. One’s sexual orientation is not a religion so I don’t understand the correlation.

                4. Zillah*

                  @ Tinker – Except that there is absolutely no reason why you would only be able to “practice” homosexuality at a specific time during the week, while there are many reasons a person with deeply-held religious beliefs would not be able to work at a specific time.

                  Muslim prayers take place at a certain time on Friday. That’s all there is to it. Allowing them the time to pray if it does not impose an undue burden on the employer is the law.

                5. Tinker*

                  @Zillah The issue I have here is with the tendency to draw a parallel between religious practices that do directly impact the workplace — such as not working at certain times, or (to take a previous line of discussion) having group prayers before meetings — with the mere fact of existing as “a black or gay”. Those aren’t equivalent comparisons, even if bona fide religious practices should be accommodated providing that they’re not unreasonable in impact — and specifying that those conditions need to be met is not being intolerant.

                6. fposte*

                  I think I see where you’re going–the discrimination issue is pure Title VII, but we don’t often use accommodation language when discussing protections under that act. However, the accommodation issue has also been relevant on the gender front there, and it’s certainly relevant on other hiring-significant legislation such as ADA front and, as somebody mentioned upthread, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

          3. Del*

            As a matter of fact, yes, it means exactly that. I’ve done it before. When I worked a position including weekends, I simply advised my employer that I was not available Sunday mornings for religious observance, and I was therefore not scheduled for Sunday mornings. It’s really not all that difficult.

          4. AdminAnon*

            I worked retail in a largely Christian community last year and when I was hired, the hiring manager asked me specifically whether or not I was able to work on Sunday mornings because so many employees couldn’t. So, in short, yes. In my department, there were 2 of us who did not attend church services on Sunday mornings, so we rotated the schedule (and doubled up during the holidays) until the church-goers could join us in the afternoon. It really wasn’t that big of a deal…

            1. Kelly L.*

              Yeah, I’ve also worked jobs where I worked a lot of Sundays because most of my co-workers were regular churchgoers and I…am not. :D

              1. Chinook*

                I once worked at a coffee shop that had two Muslim girls who loved working Christmas day so that we practicing Christians could attend church. They said they loved the appreciation and tips from customers who didn’t expect to find anything open. If they hadn’t been there, the owner would have just closed for the day.

              2. Simonthegrey*

                Likewise…I am Christian but we did Saturday service in the evening instead of Sunday service…I worked many a Sunday morning so that others could have their church time, and in return, I was always off Saturdays by 4 so I could make it home to change for Mass.

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  I love Saturday Mass! When I bother to go to church, that’s when I go. I like sleeping in on Sunday morning. Plus, it’s usually a tiny bit shorter and definitely less crowded. :D

          5. Chinook*

            Yes, if you practice your faith by attending Sunday services at a certain time, then you would be covered. But, if you can chosen from 1 of 3 times (many Catholic churches have various mass times for everything but Holy Thursday), then it would not be unreasonable for your employer to ask you to attend the one that least impacts them.

            That being said, these Muslims are not getting the hour a week just because they are Muslim but because they are actively practicing their faith by attending regularly and they have compromised by finding a prayer service near the employer instead of near their home, thus reducing the time they are away from work. The equivalent would be me going to the church downtown in Calgary even though I am officially part of the parish in Airdrie because that is where live.

            1. Jamie*

              Right – and specific to Catholics all the parishes I’ve lived in also has a Saturday evening mass which counts for Sunday.

              But for the more devout, who attend weekday mass each day, that would be something those people could ask to be accommodated, because that’s how they practice the faith. (And those are usually wicked early in the am to make it easier to accommodate.) Although, come to think of it, I haven’t known anyone who does daily mass in decades, but they still have them so someone must go.

              There is an honor system involved here and people should keep that in mind because there is no clear cut right way to practice one’s faith – there are so many legitimate variations you can’t codify that…so employers should take the employee at their word that they need X and accommodate if possible and employees shouldn’t ever ask for specious accommodations.

                1. Chinook*

                  I actually do go to weekday mass a couple of times a week and there are rarely more than a dozen of us there unless there is a meeting afterwards (which is why I go. It also gives me a 30 minute buffer.) These daily masses are done at different times and are not obligations (unlike Sundays and Holy Days like Holy Thursday, Good Friday or Christmas). My understanding is that the only ones required to attend daily mass are nuns, brothers and priests, so it could be argued that a lay person’s attendance at weekday mass is not something that needs to be accommodated. But, at the same time, being able to go the same Sunday Service (whether Saturday night or Sunday morning) should be accommodated. Unlike some think, it isn’t an excuse just to sleep in or get Sunday morning off.

          6. Observer*

            It depends on the needs of the job, and what you are asking for.

            To take a real world case – one company refused to hire Orthodox Jews as appliance repair people, because they said that they needed EVERYONE to work on Saturday, and therefore it would be an undue burden to accommodate the religious needs of the Orthodox Jewish repairmen. They got sued and lost.

            The reason they lost is what is important here. What it came down to was that the plaintiffs were able to prove that the claim of undue hardship was untrue. The court wanted to know why Employer had to have ALL of their repairmen on duty on Saturday, and they said that it was because that’s by far the heaviest call day. However, when their repair call records were subpoenaed, it turned out that their heaviest day was NOT Saturday, but Tuesday – and they did NOT require 100% attendance on Tuesdays.

            In other words, the issue was not that they were failing to accommodate religion x vs religion y, but that there was no legitimate reason not to accommodate religion x. I would be willing to bet that if they had refused to accommodate Christians who believe that going to work on Sundays is forbidden, they would have been in the same mess, because Sunday isn’t their heaviest repair date either.

          7. Meg*

            Yes, it does. As long as it doesn’t cause an undue burdon on the employer, a Christian who needs to go to church services on Sundays can request that particular accommodation. I’ve known several Christians who have, and most employers seemed to be fine with it.

        2. Elizabeth West*


          At Horrible Nonprofit Job, I had to cover the phones while almost the entire department took their lunch hours to do aerobics in the basement. It was no skin off my nose to take my lunch a bit later. I didn’t mind because 1) it was only an hour, and 2) if I needed coverage, they covered me. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.

          An hour a week is nothing. But it has nothing to do with the OP’s lateness. That’s a separate problem.

      4. Anonymous*

        I’m confused by why you’re such a stickler for “normal” breaks. If the coworkers and the business have an arrangement for a certain amount of leave, then what’s wrong with that?

        1. Nikki T*

          Yep, I have sick leave and I use it. I would hate having to work through lunch just because I had a doctor’s appointment at 3. Which actually would take WELL over an hour, I work 35 mins from my doctor’s office, I’d spend the entire “lunch hour” driving back and forth.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Yeah, me too. Every time I have a doctor’s appointment after noon, it always takes almost twice the amount of time I thought it would. They get stacked up and run late. So I try to schedule them around 3:30 or 4:00 and then just skip lunch and leave for the day. Unless I’m really sick, and then I’ll take the whole day.

      5. KellyK*

        What kind of leave, if any, they’re using is between them and their boss. They may be making up the time later, they may be using it as their lunch break, it may be a freebie. (The only time it’d be the OP’s concern is if she has to burn leave for similar things, while they don’t.)

        Whatever the payroll says, the OP still has to cover for them during that time, so that should be her focus.

        And yes, I agree with you, she needs to either get to work on time or verify with her boss that it’s okay that she doesn’t.

        Incidentally, I would *love* to have a doctor’s appointment, ever, where I could be gone from work only an hour. (My “close” doctor’s appointments are a twenty-minute drive.)

        1. Windchime*

          My doctor is only a couple of miles away from where I work, and I still can’t get in and out in less than an hour because I usually have to wait for awhile once I’m there.

          1. Anonymous*

            I have never waited less than an hour for my doctor either. Appointment at 11? Maybe she’ll see me by 1, maybe not!

            I always take the whole day off for doctors appointments.

      6. The Clerk*

        Which doctor do you use where you can drive there, fill out all the paperwork they give you, wait to be seen, be seen, be “checked out,” and drive back to work inside of an hour? And is this a well visit or is something actually wrong?

        1. LisaLyn*

          Especially if every working person who goes to that doctor also is trying to get there during “normal” lunch hours…

        2. Jamie*

          Yep, I’ve never understood this…but then I don’t have doctors where delays aren’t far more common than not.

          The same way lunch hour interviews baffle me. Even if you could get there and back and do the interview in an hour, the risk of the interviewer being delayed or running long is so great I would think it would add a whole new layer of stress to an already stressful situation.

          1. AdAgencyChick*

            One of the reasons I’ve stuck with my podiatrist is that I am almost always seen within five minutes of walking in the door. I’ve NEVER had that happen before, and probably will never have it happen again with any other doctor!

            1. Judy*

              My OB was really great about that… unless she wasn’t. So as long as she didn’t have to run to the hospital to deliver a baby, I was pretty much seen within 5 minutes of my appointment time. So the appointments with her were either entry to exit 20 minutes, or took forever.

              But in the 10-12 appointments for each pregnancy, I would say only one of those was a long one.

              1. Judy*

                Oh, and I should say that her office would call if she was late, so the one time that was long was when I was actually in the office for a long time. If she was called out earlier, and they knew she was running 45 minutes late, they would call.

                Her office was in the medical complex attached to the hospital, so she could run indoors, across the raised tunnel and be in the right area of the hospital in about 3 minutes. (She delivered my 2nd within 6 minutes of being called.)

            2. jesicka309*

              I’ve never had a regular doctor’s appointment where I didn’t have to wait more than 10 minutes.

              But everyone is proving my point. If you KNOW that your doctor’s appointment is definitely going to take more than an hour, why are you scheduling it during the day? Book it for a Saturday morning or after hours, or take some leave (sick or annual).

              1. abankyteller*

                What doctor sees patients after business hours or on Saturday mornings? I went years without seeing a doctor because I didn’t get the benefits of time off and couldn’t afford to take a day off for an appointment. My dentist is open until 7pm two evenings a month but I’ve never heard of a doctor staying open that late or opening on Saturday! I need to see your doc!

                1. jesicka309*

                  Haha yes you do. I actually have an appopintment this Saturday.

                  But if you cant get appointments after hours, take leave. That’s what it’s for.

              2. Bea W*

                Not all offices have weekend and evening hours or it can be stupid hard to get those hours. I HATE being up early but actually like the ridiculously early slots. I’ll take an 8 or 8:30 am appt then go straight into work, late but at least I don’t have to make a trip midday.

              3. KellyK*

                I’m assuming that you’re in good health, and you’ve never had to see a specialist. You make your appointment when they can see you. Or you do without.

                If you have a doctor who sees patients on Saturdays (and you don’t work in an industry where you have to work Saturdays), you’re lucky.

                Also, what leave people are taking has no impact whatsoever on the issue, which is coverage. If Bob has to cover the office while Susie is at her doctor’s appointment, then he still has to cover for her whether she used a sick day, took time without pay, or made up the hours.

              4. Natalie*

                Unless you’re somehow the boss of all of the people commenting here, I don’t see why you care when people schedule their doctor’s appointments.

        3. hospital anon*

          The only way I am able to see a dr in 1 hr or less is that I work in a hospital and most of my drs are just a 5 minute walk away (mammogram takes me 1 minute to get there!).

          1. NylaW*

            Exactly this. And while I might be seen within an hour, that almost never means I’m in and out and back to work in that hour.

        4. ExceptionToTheRule*

          I can see my personal doctor that fast and my orthopedic doctor even faster, but I live in a small city without the type of traffic nightmares that are frequently lamented here.

      7. Oh hush up.*

        Glad I don’t work for you! As current pregnant lady I’ve got lots of doctor appointments, and a lot take longer than an hour simply cause it takes time to get places. When I can teleport there and guarantee they aren’t running behind then maaaaaybe it will be under an hour. I’ve got sick time to use for doctors and still take my break for lunch.

        1. Judy*

          As I said above, my OB’s office would call me if she was running more than 15 minutes late about 30 minutes before the appointment.

        2. jesicka309*

          That’s what sick time is for. I have an issue with people who take more than an hour and a half to see a doctor without taking leave. Again, if you know that seeing the doctor will blow out longer than wthat, you should take leave instead. Two hours or more ends up being a quarter of an 8 hour work day…that’s a lot of time to miss on a regular basis.

          I’m also not a boss – but as an employee it irks me when I do the right thing, and other people abuse the flexible lunchtime system by taking hours and hours off to do non-urgent things like scheduled appointments.

          1. Bea W*

            The point of flex hours us to be able to take those couple hours and making up the time which means coming in early or staying late the same or another day. I’m sure there are a small subset of people who take advantage, but in it’s those people who should get dinged for it, not the rest of us. I normally work more than 40 hours as it is. If a coworker who arrives to work after me or leaves before me is going to assume I’m gaming flex time if I have an appointment, that’s their issue to fix in their own head. Most people really are grown-ups with flex time.

            1. jesicka309*

              I’m sure they’re important, but ‘scheduling’ an appointment implies that you’ve preplanned the time to go to the appointment. So why not preplan it to be outside of work hours if you can?

              1. Chinook*

                Jesicka39, even if schedule an appointment, that doesn’t mean appointments are available when I am not working. In fact, if a schedule an appointment with my doctor, it is only during regular business hours but, if a drop in the one night a week she covers walk-ins, I can see her.

              2. Observer*

                Because they CANNOT. I can’t imagine where you get the idea that just because a meeting is scheduled, it can take place at a time that is out of work hours.

                Most people who make appointments during work time, do so because that’s what is possible, not because they are slackers. Lots of doctors don’t make appointments outside of business hours. And often, even if they officially are, the after hours appointments wind up having very low availability. As for government offices, out of hours appointments probably wouldn’t happen even in fantasy land. Even real emergencies often have to wait till standard business hours. eg Even if a child is deemed by Child Protective Services to be so much at risk that he needs to be taken from the parents at night, the child cannot be processed till 9:00 the next morning. And there are plenty of situations where you don’t have too many choices for a whole host of other reasons.

              3. Jamie*

                Sure, if they can. The problem is most time people can’t.

                Even those doctors that offer later hours it’s a limited number of days per week and those are snatched up fast. I can get in my gp within the week during the day, if I tried to get his one evening a week or one sat per month I’d have to schedule months out. Just not feasible In most instances.

              4. KellyK*

                We’re agreed on the “if you can” part. You just seem to be assuming that you always can, and that it’s better to let a medical issue go untreated for a month or three if that’s the first 4:30 appointment you can get.

          2. Observer*

            “Scheduled appointments” are hardly necessarily “non-urgent”. Most Dr. Appointments, for instance, DO tend to be urgent, even if they are scheduled. The reason it’s an appointment rather than a walk in is to make (almost) sure the doctor will see you, and to LESSEN the amount of time you wind up waiting.

          3. KellyK*

            So people who have combined leave (vacation and sick in one pool) and chronic illnesses should never get a vacation because they’ve used it all on doctor’s appointments? (And to add insult to injury if they have to stay late or go in early to still get their work done, they should have to *still* use leave for hours they didn’t miss?)

            I don’t understand, unless you’re stuck covering for someone who’s at the doctor’s office and it’s impacting your own work, what concern it is of yours what arrangements other people are making with their supervisors to get their medical issues dealt with.

    2. Bea W*

      This. The OP is also not being asked to work an extra hour just hold down the fort for an hour during normal work hours. In many offices this can mean just continuing about your own business and attending to anything urgent that comes up or answering the phone on occassion. It’s not actually picking up the work other people are doing.

    3. The IT Manager*

      Precisely. Your co-workers have an approved one hour break and they may be making up that time in some way. Your boss has made accomidations by ensuring that you are on duty during their prayer break.

      What you’re saying with your percentages is that you arrive late for work on unknown schedule for about 52 – 100 minutes every two weeks without any pre-approval. Your variability seems to make it impossible to ensure coverage for your late arrivals. These are absolutely not the same thing. Are you making up the hours you’re late everyday?

      I understand the difficulty of relying on public transportation, but your boss would be well within legal and even ethical rights to demand that you start showing up on time. Your long commute is not an excuse for such unreliability. It’s possible that the work will allow for accomidation, but if someone has to be in the office for coverage your variable lateness could be a serious problem that covering a planned abscense of your co-workers does not make up for.

      1. jmkenrick*

        Exactly. Even if they were taking the time off to play with puppies – if it was something that they had discussed and organized with the manager ahead of time, then it’s not really any of your business.

          1. KellyK*

            I would too, but it would be contingent on covering for me for an hour at a different time so I could go play with the puppies too.

  3. Jessa*

    OP 1, I would not be surprised that you were out of sight out of mind and the boss just responded to your manager with “sure you can have that” without realising what it really meant after that. Your manager may have asked for it. Or it’s also possible that the scope of the project changed. I think Alison is right although I might not ask if there was something you should change but approach it as to what boss wants you to do with whatever work you’ve already done on the project, or maybe what they want you to do instead of project now that Jane is in charge. For all you know they have something else they want you on.

    Also, I know I have a lot of problems with indirect requests and things. So I’d also go back in my mind about that week and make sure you weren’t given mixed signals about it (Like being in charge til Jane got back from something in order to move it forward, but understanding it was really her thing.)

  4. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*


    I have been the boss in #1 multi times, sorry about that. :( Mostly because when I am dealing with many moving parts in pulling larger things together, I forget to remember the human element. I forget I had conversations and/or forget to keep everybody looped into developments as they would be ideally.

    I have worked on fixing this in myself, but did it again in the last year. We had spent over one year working on winning particular contract. After the contract was won, I told one of my people that I wanted him to lead up the in bound on it so here’s the heads up as to what is coming down the pike.

    It was a 10 minute conversation.

    Then came two months of implementation hell where it became clear that the contract was mostly useless, what looked like it would be high volume streamlined business was going to be low volume pain in the ass business. I was completely disgusted with the whole thing and threw it off to somebody else to finish implementation. She chose to be the inbound lead herself, out of the goodness of her heart, because this was going to not be fun stuff.

    Going all the way back to the guy in the 10 minute conversation a few months before, nobody told him any of this. So his feelings were hurt when the official announcement came out of who was doing what on launch date.

    Which, is my fault.

    Anyway it was easily patched because we’ve got good communication lines (when it doesn’t depend on my remembering something!) He came to me within minutes of the announcement, I apologized and explained and all was well.

    Especially when it turned out the contract business was even nastier than the bleakest projections. :)

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Oh and p.s. on the LW , I think the CEO made a two step gaffe here. Giving you the client without talking to or going through your manager, is not a good thing to do.

      If he did clearly give you the client before talking to her or looping her in, that’s stepping on her and over her and a reason for her panties to bunch.

      Yes, I have done this also, sigh. :( But not in quite awhile that one.

      If you want to pursue this further, you could frame it as a question – was there anything I did that made you change your mind about who would handle the client? What can I do better to get the next opportunity?

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          Oh dear. It’s a bit of a mess.

          Wakeen used to work for Chocolate Teapots Inc., but then he broke out on his own. There was a bit of back and forth, finally an agreement that he’d stay out of the *chocolate* teapot business.

          So it’s mostly carob & vanilla chocolate over here, since vanilla chocolate isn’t actual chocolate.

    2. OP#1*

      Thanks for your perspective, Wakeen – it helps to hear what might have been going on from the CEO’s point of view.

  5. Erin*

    The slightest of nitpicks: There is a closing quotation mark missing in your first answer. Now off to read the comments!

    1. Anonymous*

      Two can play the grammar nitpick game; your word ‘there’ following the colon should not be capitalized.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit*

        That’s a stylistic choice, not a grammatical rule.

        In fact, if you were to follow the strict rule, it would be the opposite of what you’re saying: You DO capitalize the first letter after a colon if the post-colon phrase is a complete sentence (as it is above, and here).

      2. Anon*

        I’ll never understand why people nitpick on AAM’s grammar. Nothing is being lost in translation from a missing quotation. Let’s give it a rest people…

        1. Person*

          Agreed. I haven’t been keeping formal statistics, but I think I see it more here than on other sites. What is up with that?

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Well, to be fair, I’ve said that I appreciate corrections to typos, etc. in my own stuff (just not when it’s to other commenters). I like to have the post itself typo-free; in comments, it doesn’t really matter.

            1. Person*

              This makes sense. Both that you want typo-free posts and that folks feel free to comment on typos because you’ve said that in the past. Now I guess I have to go back to solving other mysteries…

              1. Erin*

                Normally I’m not one to criticize, but Alison has made it clear that she welcomes corrections. That particular typo was one that made me confused as I was reading her answer, so I thought she would appreciate a heads-up.

      3. ellex42*

        The capitalization, or lack thereof, of the first word after a colon is currently a hotly debated matter in modern grammar, and highly dependent on whether one is using British English or American English.

        1. Chinook*

          And, if you are Canadian, the use of American vs. British grammar rules is irrelevant as long as you consistently follow the same rule.

        2. TychaBrahe*

          There was going to be second Revolution on the subject, but there were enough of us Americans wanting to maintain the Oxford comma that the no-cap forces were in disarray and couldn’t organize a proper fight on the subject.

        3. Harriet*

          That explains it! I was ready to get hot under the collar about it emphatically NOT being correct, but if it’s another of those wacky across the pond things, I shall wind my neck in.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            If I’m remembering correctly, it’s also an issue of AP vs Chicago. AP capitalizes it if it’s the start of a complete sentence, but Chicago only does it if it’s the start of TWO complete sentences.

            I generally prefer Chicago, but I’m with AP on this one.

  6. thenoiseinspace*

    4 – There’s another possibility. I work for a university, and we’re required to interview at least three people for each position. While well-intended, the rule does also mean that if only one or two people apply for a job, we’re stuck – we literally cannot proceed until we have at least 3 candidates to interview, even if we only have one applicant and s/he’s perfect.

      1. LisaLyn*

        Yes. We have exactly the same rule at the university I work for. Maybe it’s an academia thing, but yeah, we have to scrounge up at least three people to interview or no dice.

    1. Joey*

      Inefficient and flat out dumb to interview candidates simply to meet the 3 person rule when you may have no intention of hiring them.

        1. thenoiseinspace*

          Agreed. It drives us crazy. We’ve had two positions open for months, and because the salary is so low for one in particular (again with the academia thing – the salaries are low, and this one is definitely below market value), we’ve only had one applicant. We’ve reposted multiple times, but no luck. And we can’t even more forward with the one candidate we DO have. It’s a terrible system for everyone involved.

          1. Joey*

            What a good opportunity to try to justify raising the salary and/or doing away with the 3 person rule (at least an exception to it.)

            1. thenoiseinspace*

              Hahahahaha! “Raising the salary”…

              Seriously, don’t you think we’d do that if we had the money? It’s not like we LIKE paying such a low wage – we want better candidates and we know that this salary won’t attract them. We’re a PUBLIC UNIVERSITY. There’s no money for anything. We’ve only just come out of a hiring freeze, and there have been no raises for anybody in the whole university system for over 6 years. My boss argued with the financial department for quite a while just to get it as high as it is (yes, it was originally going to be lower.). Money isn’t going to just appear out of nowhere – we have a budget whether we like it or not. Stop acting like that makes us the bad guys.

              1. Anonymous*

                If you can’t afford something close to a market salary, you might be better off not hiring now. It’s notoriously difficult to get rid of someone at a university if they don’t turn out well. Paying someone far below market wages is pretty much a recipe for getting saddled indefinitely with someone sub-par in the role.

                1. thenoiseinspace*

                  We know they’re not going to be top-notch. We only have so much money, and we really need someone in the position. It’s that simple. We’re well aware that the person will “grow within the position.” The problem is that we can’t move forward with the candidate we have because of the 3-candidate rule, and we can’t get a higher salary approved to attract more candidates. It’s a bad system and I really wish we could change it, but we’ve tried and no dice.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I would be tempted to make friends apply for the job with no intention of being hired, just so you could meet the 3-candidate rule, make the hire, and be done.

                3. thenoiseinspace*

                  That would be a better solution, in my mind, than interviewing people who don’t really have a shot. Having been in the job market so recently, it honestly feels a little cruel to me to get their hopes up and spend time and effort preparing when the decision has kind of already been made. :(

                4. Natalie*

                  Since you’re required to do the interview, do you know anyone new to the workforce that might find a practice interview useful? Then your dummy candidate is at least getting something out of the deal.

                5. KellyK*

                  Yeah, I love the idea of either getting a friend to interview as a favor or talking to someone who’s fresh out of school or unemployed who wants the interview practice. Much better than wasting a real candidate’s time.

              2. Joey*

                Sure, but that doesn’t change the fact that the longer you have a budgeted position vacant the more salary expenses you save.

                I’m simplifying here, but leaving a 30k/year job vacant for 6mos creates $15k that’s not going to be spent. Obviously this only works the following year if your budget increases or you make adjustments to offset.

                1. Observer*

                  For people who work in that type of workplace, your assumption that appropriate adjustments or raise in budget are remotely likely sound like something out of an alternate reality.

                  You’re lucky if your budget increases as much as inflation…

                2. Rana*

                  Unfortunately, you’re talking academia here, and the public variant of it no less. It takes a lot of fuss just to get a position approved in the first place, let alone trying to change things later. Keep in mind that the people making candidate selections are often not the people making decisions about openings, let alone the people who have the authority to allocate funds for the process. Authority is diffuse, rule-bound, and stingy, particularly when money or new FTEs are involved.

                  Basically, to make the “simple” change you’re suggestion, it would probably have to go through several committees, each with their own agenda, and each requiring a bunch of tact and trade-offs. Academic processes are more like diplomatic endeavors than the activities of a single unitary entity.

              3. PuppyKat*

                “Hahahahaha! “Raising the salary”… Seriously, don’t you think we’d do that if we had the money?…. Money isn’t going to just appear out of nowhere – we have a budget whether we like it or not. ”


                1. Rana*

                  I suspect it’s because, if you’re in academia, what he’s suggesting is so out of the general realm of the possible that it’s a bit like suggesting that someone who can’t find affordable housing locally should consider traveling to the other side of the globe because the cost of living would be cheaper there. It’s neither as easy nor as straightforward an action as he’s assuming.

  7. Just a Reader*

    40-60 minutes late 2 days a month, without knowing it’s okay with your manager, is a lot. The prayer break has nothing to do with the LW’s inability to get to work on time.

    1. Diet Coke Addict*

      Yeah, 40-60 minutes late once every two weeks is….a lot. Given the breakdown, for every two weeks, that’s five days getting to work on time, four days being up to 30 minutes late, and one day being almost an hour late. That’s about three hours of missed time versus the coworkers’ two (one per Friday). But even if all other things being equal, this is not an equivalent issue. Having prayer time is not equivalent to being late because of whatever reason.

      1. Tinker*

        Yeah, I think I’ve been over an hour late probably — like 3-5 times in my entire career so far, I’d guess. Mostly due to unusually severe winter weather during periods where I’ve had a long commute — once because I forgot my company laptop at home and while I crossed the threshold on time I had to turn right around and go get it (over an hour round trip), and once because I got a speeding ticket on the way to work >_>.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Winter weather is a pain. I live on a side street, which doesn’t get plowed at ALL. I’ve been up to 30 minutes late because of it. But I called first, because I was front desk and someone had to get the phone before I got in.

          My boss at Newjob lets me manage my own time, and I’m not on the desk, so I leave a little closer to 8:00 because the commute between 7:30 and 7:50 is horrendous. So many big trucks–and I end up being late anyway. I just stay past my leaving time and it all evens out.

        2. Veg*

          Right, but that’s with you driving. It’s a lot different to rely on public transit than it is to drive. With driving you can leave 5 minutes earlier to avoid lateness or take a quick detour around an accident. With trains/buses/streetcars, creating a ‘safety net’ of time can require leaving way earlier than usually necessary (30-60 mins+, depending on frequency of transit), and if there’s an accident you’re totally stuck, with no way to divert around a traffic snarl.

          1. fposte*

            Yeah, I’ve had issues with just two transit legs, neither of them buses; I think it’s the four transit legs that really kills it here. That’s just too many moving parts to reliably work, which is why it doesn’t.

          2. Tinker*

            Well, if I took public transport then I’d never have arrived at all, considering there was none. There’s a point when a given mode of transportation is no longer viable, and being consistently and often substantially late probably crosses that point for most jobs.

            1. Veg*

              Oh, I agree that a 4-stage public transit commute is clearly not working out well for the LW and needs to be reconsidered, but my point was that comparing your frequency of lateness to hers is like apples to oranges because you have a lot more control over your commute than she does.

  8. Finbar*

    Gosh. I really can’t stand it when folks are chronically late. What’s so hard about leaving home a little earlier. What’s the harm in getting to work a little earlier?

    1. BCW*

      I get really annoyed with chronically late people too (mores so in my personal life) however we don’t really know the exact circumstances. One of the easier trains to my job comes once an hour. It usually gets me to work about 5 minutes after my “start” time. Luckily, where I work, thats pretty flexible . Yes, getting to work 15 minutes early doesn’t hurt, but if it came down to getting in an hour early everyday, if she couldn’t also leave an hour early, I could see that getting annoying really quick.

    2. Anonymous*

      In some cases I really do understand it happening with public transit. Here in DC (not exactly a small town) the Metro can be incredibly unreliable, and I got to the point where I was routinely allowing myself 90 minutes for a nominally 45-minute commute and STILL coming in late at least once a week. Back when my hours were more fungible it wasn’t that big a deal because I could make it up on the other end or on other days when I didn’t hit massive delays, but now that I have a child my mornings and evenings are orchestrated down to the minute with who is in the shower when and daycare drop-off and pick-up, so if my train goes FUBAR or traffic hits a snag, welp, I’m just going to be late for work and I still have to leave at the same time as always.

      Metro-North using New Yorkers can relate to transit that was fine suddenly being a pile of crap for the next year or two, too. On two lines, now.

      1. Sara*

        I live in NYC, I dont’ drive and I have always allwyas always taken public transit. and in the 10 years since taking it, I’ve been late to work/school maybe 5-6 times (not counting being late for social events :p) It’s not that hard to get there on time. So, yes, I can understand being occasionally late for work because of transit, but the amount that OP is talking about? no way….Unless there’s some kind of arrangement, I think these two issues have nothing to do with each other.

        1. BCW*

          I think NYC and other places are a bit different. I live in Chicago, however I work in the suburbs. If my job just required me to take public transportation within the city, then yes, I agree that its fairly reliable. Most trains/buses here come roughly every 5-15 minutes, so you usually won’t wait longer than 20 for one. However, as I mentioned, some trains that go to the suburbs do only go every hour. Then some of the buses out there are once every 20-30 min. So if the train is running late for whatever reason, then because of that, you miss your bus transfer, that can be almost an hour right there.

        2. Zillah*

          I agree that the two issues have nothing to do with each other, but as a fellow New Yorker, I feel like you’re making your experience universal where that’s not really warranted or accurate.

          Public transportation in New York varies greatly depending on where you are. It’s great that the trains/buses you take are dependable, but not everyone is so lucky.

          My brother was generally 45 minutes once or twice a month in high school because the train and bus he took could be very unreliable (and were crowded to boot).

          I know that one of the buses in my neighborhood that I often rely on to get to the subway is awful – it’s not uncommon for me to wait 45 minutes for it to show up, even though it’s supposed to come every 10-15 minutes.

          And once you start getting into commutes with multiple transfers – yeah, it really can be a problem. It’s great that it hasn’t been for you, but… not everyone is that lucky, especially once you get out into the boroughs.

          1. Sara*

            I get what your’e saying. I’m normally the last person to make my experience universal–however, chronic lateness is still a problem, and having been around those kind of people all my life, I just don’t have too much sympathy–its careless and disrespectful.

            On that topic, I’ve lived out in the boroughs all my life, 4 different neighborhoods, and always had to take multiple bus transfers and I have more than my fair share of delayed trains, buses that were supposed tos how up every 10 minutes but came 45 minutes later in a bunch or came 3 minutes early so left waiting for the next one 20 minutes away…..so I know how shitty commuting by public transportation can get, and I totally sympathize…but again, it goes back to the attitudes behind being constantly late.

            1. Zillah*

              It absolutely is, especially when you don’t have a job that fairly flexible (which the OPs may or may not be, though either way, they do need to clear this with their manager).

              I’m just pointing out that depending on where you live in New York, your experience can be radically different. There are certain buses and lines that I take which are very reliable. There are others that are not. It’s great that you’ve managed to arrange it so that you’re almost never late, but for some people, it really can be “that hard.”

          2. Observer*

            I live an NYC, so I know what you mean about uneven service.

            The High School experience is different, because a high school student cannot be reasonably expected to drive. However, with an adult in a normal working environment, it’s usually legitimate for an employer to say “It’s not my business how you get to work.” Especially, since the employee is coming late EVERY OTHER DAY. Once every other week it’s 40-60 minutes late (10%). That’s a lot of late time. Now, for some positions, that’s no big deal, but in a position that apparently needs fairly steady coverage that’s a really big deal, and it’s on the employee to deal with it (or start looking for a better job.)

            1. Zillah*

              I completely agree. The 40-60 minutes is honestly what really gets me – five or ten minutes is one thing, and I think a lot of employers would be willing to overlook that, but 40-60 minutes late once every two weeks is a very different animal.

      2. Zillah*

        O/T, but –

        The Metro-North incident was a tragedy, and I expect the Hudson line to fail to go into Grand Central for at least another couple weeks and to experience disruptions when it comes back, especially if it turns out that there were issues with the track itself (though that’s looking less likely at this point).

        However, estimating that that will be the case for the next year or two is overstating it a bit. A garbage train also derailed near there in July, and service was back up within a week or so with minimal issues.

        There are just too many people who ride it for the shuttles from Yonkers and the Harlem line to really be a feasible solution in the longterm unless they have absolutely no other choice, and thus far, it does seem like problem was either with the train or human error, not the tracks themselves.

        Again, that’s totally O/T, but the ‘year or two’ estimate just stuck out to me, and as someone who uses that line and is therefore staying very up to date with what’s happening, I thought I’d point that out. :)

        1. Sara*

          I hope you were OK and you didnt’ know anyone on that particular train. I read about it and it’s just so scary…..felt the same way when I read about the SI ferry crash years back.
          I’ve taken the Metro north a few times and I love how fast and on time it is but I have no idea what’s been going on, when there was a power outage a few months ago? the MTA actually wrote as an alternative to NOT go anywhere…..like…really now?

          1. Zillah*

            Thank you for your kind thoughts! Thankfully, yes, I was okay, and as far as I know, I didn’t know anyone on the train. I actually live in the city, but my boyfriend lives on that line and uses it to commute in several days a week. I’m glad he was with me when we heard about it – otherwise, I would have been panicking.

            I love Metro-North, too, honestly – like you said, it’s fast, it’s dependable, and the trains typically run fairly frequently. The Hudson line is great that way, especially if you’re close enough to get to an express stop like Tarrytown. Miles better than NJ transit, which I really despise because it runs so infrequently when it isn’t rush hour.

            This is really getting to be a problem, though. What concerns me most is that the garbage derailment in July and this derailment over the weekend occurred in almost exactly the same spot. That’s indicative of a bigger problem. :\

            (And I know, I loved the alternative of “Just stay home.” Ummmm what? At least they honor the Hudson tickets on the Harlem line, so that’s at least an option if you can get to a station.)

            1. Observer*

              Apparently the driver was going close to three times the speed limit. If that’s common practice, then I’ll bet that that area is the scene of lots of accidents – it’s a fairly narrow turn. I can’t imagine what they guy was thinking, going to fast. It’s stupid enough in a small car, but in a locomotive with a train of large cars behind?! Insanity. And, criminal, in my opinion.

              1. Zillah*

                Actually, it was a locomotive with a train of cars ahead, not behind – he was in the front, but he was remotely operating the locomotive, which was pushing the train.

                It’s obviously not common practice, since the only two accidents I can think of like this are the garbage train in July and the Metro-North train this weekend. I’m not sure why he was going that fast, but I’m sure the investigation will give us some answers.

                1. Observer*

                  Train of cars in front is even worse…

                  The latest I heard was that the speed limit changes fairly drastically in that area – he was only “slightly” over the limit a few miles back. And he apparently “zoned out” or nodded off for a minute or two – just long enough for disaster.

                2. Zillah*

                  Yeah, it’s definitely worse. Ugh.

                  And yes – the speed limit was 70 mph shortly before the turn, and then dropped to 30 mph at the turn. 82 mph is still too fast when the speed limit is 70 mph, but I feel like this illustrates that it might be a good idea to have the speed limit fall more gradually.

            2. Anonymous*

              In the broader scale of things, I’m pretty sure New Yorkers (including commuters from nearby) are far more at risk of getting hit by cars than by problems with the trains.

              But the drip-drip-drip of a death in traffic every couple of days (plus dozens injured) over and over again is not as dramatic as the train derailment.

              I’m not familiar with the details of car-pedestrian accidents in other parts of the US, but suspect the situation is similar.

        2. Anonymous*

          I was thinking actually of this being the second incident — I have friends who commute in from CT every day and are still complaining about wretched service from the incident earlier this year.

          (NYC totally has its act together WAY over DC in this regard. We are *still* in “recovery mode” and manual control from the accident on the Metro’s red line in 2009, which was the final straw that made my Metro commute to that job routinely take the better part of two hours. Using the Metro in DC really makes me miss living on the faraway end of the 1 train way up at Dyckman St.)

      3. themmases*

        I live in an area of Chicago that is very well served by public transit, and I agree with this as well. Even for a 2-mile ride, there was a period where my bus would always come 5 minutes before I could leave, or 20 minutes after, and I would routinely just work late because there would be nothing for me to do if I left. My office moved and I now use a great express bus, but I work unconventional hours: 7-3:30. If I come in or leave even 20 minutes later, that “great” bus is much less reliable as the crowding gets pretty dramatic. If I added transfers to that trip, I’m sure people with cars would think I was a flake, too.

        The OP should really talk to their boss about what’s going on and what they’ve already done to try to be more reliable. Sometimes going earlier, before rush hour really begins, can help because there are just fewer variables. If that will make the OP early sometimes, perhaps the boss would give permission for them to work on personal stuff at their desk until starting time or even start and leave early on those days. If the OP doesn’t have to be the first one in, this might not even be a big deal as long as the boss knows about it.

    3. Brett*

      “What’s so hard about leaving home a little earlier. ”
      If the OP has 4 transfers, you are probably talking leaving home 3-4 hours early.

      And that opens up a whole different question… what happens when the employee shows up for work 2 hours early?

      I have had employers who would write employees up for showing up that early (and since they were in the middle of nowhere, where the options were to come in or mill around outside, there was no way to hide that you were showing up that early).

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Public Transport can be a law unto itself, and much as I would love to, I can’t make the bus go any faster!

      2. KellyK*

        Yeah, that’s a good point.

        What was the rationale there? Were they afraid of having people claim unauthorized overtime?

        1. Brett*

          Yes, they wanted to keep people from clocking in early, but they also believed it looked bad to have employees on site off the clock (it was service industry, just that all the customers drove there). And to be honest, it did look bad.

          1. KellyK*

            Okay, that explains it. Seems to me that the reasonable thing to do would be to have a little breakroom where people could hang out, away from customers, if they need to come early. Especially since it doesn’t sound like the kind of job where coming in late is okay.

      3. Observer*

        Oh, wow. Writing up employees for coming early? It seems pretty obvious that if they were “milling around outside” they were coming by public transport. Now, it’s not the employer’s problem how the employee gets to work IF THEY ARE BEING REASONABLE. But, if you don’t want people to show up early and stand outside, you had better be flexible about people coming late!

    4. Zillah*

      I don’t know – I understand it in a lot of situations.

      Public transportation can be very unreliable, as can traffic – I’ve been in situations where the connections I made could make the difference between a commute being 45 minutes and a commute being an hour and a half. There was literally nothing I could do if I got to work early; I couldn’t even get inside. That was fine when I had to wait fifteen minutes; it wouldn’t have been if I had to wait forty-five.

      That’s not to say that if my being exactly on time was important, it wouldn’t have been my responsibility to do so – as it was, my boss was fine with it if sometimes I was fifteen minutes late, because the work didn’t require a perfect 9-5 shift – but I do want to point out that sometimes it’s not just “a little earlier,” and sometimes it can be difficult.

      It’s also worth pointing out that for some folks, leaving home a little earlier can be hard. They may have children or other responsibilities, or they may have a disorder like AD/HD (which frequently leads to chronic lateness, and it can be very hard to work around that). That’s not to say that it’s not still their responsibility to get to work on time if their work requires it, but I do think a little compassion is in order, rather than just diminishing all possible problems with timeliness with “Well, it’s not that hard, get over it.”

      1. Jamie*

        ADHD isn’t a pass on lateness, adults with ADHD should have organizational plans in place to accommodate any issues. Meds are a really personal thing and I’d never recommend them for anyone else, but a good tip for those that take the longer acting ones that take like an hour to kick in is to get up early, take it, go back to sleep for an hour. They kick in just as you need to wake up.

        And I do see what you’re saying and it’s hard, but transportation issues are never the employers problem. If people have unreliable transportation then it’s always going to be a problem if they are on hard scheduled shifts. My opinion is employers should be flexible when possible as many jobs don’t need solid start/end times – so giving people the leeway to get there between 7:00-9:00 and leave between 4:00-6:00 would be a nice thing to do when there is no downside. Firm start times to the minute without a business reason don’t make sense to me.

        But there are some jobs you just cannot be flexible. Reception, customer service, sales, shift work…you just can’t accommodate that because there is a business need that things be covered during specific times.

        If public transportation is that unreliable it’s not really tenable long term to expect lateness like that to be tolerated.

        1. KellyK*

          Yep, all of that is true.

          I think the employer’s main responsibility as far as transportation issues is to be really up front with their employees about how rigid their start time is, and to make it clear when you take a job whether they need you there at 8 on the dot no matter what, or some time between 7:30 and 8:30.

          The other thing is that if your start times are rigid, and you need people to plan extra time to make sure they’re there it’s pretty unfair to then write them up for being in the building early, like another commenter mentioned. (Unless you have some major business reason for doing so, like a security concern. And even at that, you should let people know that not only can they not be late, they can’t be early either.)

          1. Jamie*

            Totally agree that the employer absolutely should be clear about times and access up front.

            In most cases I would think early isn’t an issue, but it can be in manufacturing. Often the night shift is really small with one supervisor and only some sections of the plant open. So you’d either have people for hours in unsupervised sections of the plant (safety issue), starting work early (labor issue), or hanging out in the area where others are trying to work which is a huge annoyance and possible productivity issue.

            But yes, if they don’t want you there before a certain time you need to know that when you take the job if transportation is an issue.

            And it’s not just public transportation that causes these problems. If you’re on shift work and getting a ride from someone else you can’t expect your employer to change your schedule (if it’s inconvenient) just because your ride works different hours. Same thing with leaving…as someone who closes the office more often than not I don’t want to stay longer than I planned just because someone’s ride doesn’t get off work for another hour. If you ride share and might miss the office closing cut off you need to have a plan B.

        2. Zillah*

          Oh, I’m not saying that people with AD/HD don’t have to find a way to work with their disorder, nor am I saying that people don’t have a responsibility to figure out some way to get to work on time if it’s necessary that they be there at a specific time.

          I just took issue with the wording, “What’s so hard about leaving home a little earlier.” It may well be necessary, and if it is, you need to either find a way to make it work or find another job, but the oversimplification bugs.

          1. Jamie*

            I agree it’s not always that simple, but I just disagree with ADHD being the reason why. It’s a pet peeve, I hated it when my kids were small and other parents would blame their kids behavioral issues on ADHD when I had three kids with it who weren’t out of control.

            And I’ve seen it in the workplace as a kind of shrug what are you gonna do excuse for sloppy stuff, late work, late to work, faulty memory – etc. I have organizational issues and ridiculously bad short term memory and you would never know it to work with me because I address that with my own countermeasures before it bleeds onto anyone else. I know you weren’t shrugging it off – but I’ve seen it.

            I auto-clench when I see it offered up as a reason when it doesn’t need to be. The reason someone with ADHD is late is the same reason anyone else is late, they didn’t show up on time. The fact that it may be harder to show up on time and maybe they need to create a stricter morning routine is true, but not the employers issue ever.

            I just feel like I need to defend the reputation of ADD because I truly, honestly see it as a gift. I hate that it’s even called a disorder – IMO and it’s not. Channeled correctly (which is key) the energy and hyper-focus brought to the table by someone with this kind of different thinking/chemistry is a super power.

            If I had a magic wand and I could fix everything wrong with my life, I’m keeping my ADD and I would hope my kids would keep theirs. Yeah, they say disorder…but I’m still seeing gift.

            1. Zillah*

              For the record, I have AD/HD, too, and I also have some real issues with the way it’s presented as being a disorder.

              I do think that some aspects of it can be very problematic to a person’s ability to function in the real world, but I also think that many of those issues could be alleviated if there was more focused at working with the condition and maximizing your strengths, rather than minimizing your weaknesses (if that makes sense).

              The way my AD/HD was dealt with when I was younger contributed to a lot of self-esteem problems that I think could have been quite avoidable if people had focused on all the positives and not the things I struggle with.

              So yeah. I get it. And I agree that it’s not the employer’s problem; it’s my responsibility to either find a job where being a little late isn’t a big deal or make sure that I’m on time. I just have an issue with it being portrayed as *easy,* because it isn’t – it’s still a major struggle for me, and it’s a struggle for reasons that are clearly related to my AD/HD.

              It’s still my responsibility, and I own that. However, I resent the implication that it’s “just not that hard.” Yes, it is that hard.

              1. Jamie*

                I do think that some aspects of it can be very problematic to a person’s ability to function in the real world, but I also think that many of those issues could be alleviated if there was more focused at working with the condition and maximizing your strengths, rather than minimizing your weaknesses (if that makes sense).

                So much this – and what you mentioned also about finding a job that is suited to your strengths and where you can work around stuff that’s harder to manage.

                I am very lucky in that I have a job with a tremendous amount of autonomy and flexible hours and work space. For example this morning I’m spending a lot of time on AAM while doing some routine hard drive wiping, reformatting…and I can do this without guilt or recrimination because I put in 17 hours this weekend and more late last night working on development projects…the recipients of those newly developed reports are very happy and couldn’t care less if I did them sitting at my desk or finishing up in bed with a VPN at 1:00 am.

                I had a long term temp job once at a university in disbursement and reconciliation where I had to start and leave on the dot each day, official breaks and lunch – no mental breaks to reboot, I did the same thing every day for 8 hours. We all sat in cubes and wore headphones. I managed by sheer force of will because I needed the money – I was absolutely miserable. My accuracy rate was excellent because I’m weirdly focused on detail, but I was so clenched and tense all the time I felt like I was in a cage…and I was unhappy at home because I knew I had to go back.

                It’s how a lot of kids feel in a traditional school environment, I know mine did…it’s hard to succeed in an environment that exacerbates your frustrations and doesn’t always recognize your very real gifts …so I totally get that.

                That’s why I’ve told my kids from the time they were little that they have to learn to the deal with being in the box and being able to manage in a paint by numbers environment…because that’s how everyone starts. If you succeed in finding your niche where you can have a huge role in shaping your own environment and schedule.

                Then it’s awesome – because if you can be a good performer with all the constraints …once you can throw the shackles off where it’s about what you can do and what you bring to the table you can clear the bars in street shoes because of all the conditioning.

                But while I do think it’s important for everyone to find a fit that works with their strengths it’s even more important for people like us – because it can be the difference between being a miserable good employee and a pretty happy high performer.

                1. Zillah*

                  Absolutely! I’m actually just finishing up grad school this year (hopefully), and I’m hoping that I can find a job in my field that’s reasonably flexible and plays to my strengths. As long as I’m interested in what I’m doing, I’m usually in pretty good shape.

                  I don’t have children, but if I do, I’d honestly kind of like them to have AD/HD – there are some major downsides, but I think that many of those can be mediated if you teach people as children how to follow their strengths and, crucially, *not* letting them feel guilt or shame about characteristics that simply don’t conform to the norm but don’t hurt anyone.

                  For example, I am kind of messy. People pulled the, “Why can’t you just” for the first fifteen or sixteen years of my life, and now not only am I kind of messy, but I also see things like my clean laundry in my laundry basket rather than in my drawers or some books on the floor as a source of overwhelming shame, which leads to lots of anxiety, rather than just something that it and really is not that big a deal.

                  (I am perhaps still a bit bitter, which is part of why I tend to react very strongly to, “It’s not that hard.” Hard doesn’t mean that it doesn’t need to get done, but yes, sometimes it *is* that hard.)

        3. Bea W*

          Alarms. Lots and lots of alarms. Every 30 minutes AFTER I get out of bed.

          When you’re an adult and know you have ADHD, you either learn how to get your butt out the door or you don’t stay employed.

          1. Zillah*

            Yes, lots of alarms are useful.

            As I’ve clarified to Jamie, at no point did I intend to imply that having ADHD meant that you didn’t *need* to be on time – I only took issue with the assertion that “It’s not that hard.” For some people, it is that hard – that doesn’t mean they don’t have to do it regardless, but diminishing the reality that it is difficult bugs me a lot.

    5. Anonymous*

      I had a coworker a couple of years ago who was always late to work. We worked in shifts, and she came in after me. I wouldn’t leave until she arrived (yay for more money on the clock but boo because I wanted to go home). One day she came in around 40 minutes late; her usual was about 20. Anyway, she came in all flustered, apologizing about how she had gone home from her first job and simply fell asleep on the couch. She usually got home from her job about 15 minutes before she had to be at this job. And she only lived around the corner, less than 10 minutes in the car from driveway to parking spot.

      And she didn’t get reprimanded. The boss thought it was funny.

    6. Amanda*

      How do folks with jobs like receptionist, teacher, shift worker, who have transportation and traffic uncertainty as a part of their commute handle it? Do you leave a two-hour buffer every single day?

      1. doreen*

        Depends on the commute- I drive to work and have always left myself an extra 30 minutes for getting stuck behind a garbage truck or school bus or just heavy traffic. Traffic has made me late about 5 times in the last 10 years. ( I’ve been late more than that, but it wasn’t because of traffic ). You don’t have to leave a long enough buffer to be on time every day no matter what but there is a buffer that will get you there on time 90% of the time. If you’re late 50% of the time it’s not that the bus is late or that traffic is bad , it’s that you need to take an earlier bus or acknowledge that the traffic is heavy but normal.

          1. doreen*

            I’ve had different jobs- in some my coworkers covered for me , and in others I’ve been required to be available 24/7 by phone so I covered for myself. I do want to point out I explicitly said I have been late more than 5 times in 10 years – the other times just weren’t due to traffic. If you have to leave two hours extra in order to be on time 90% of the time , that’s just what your commute is. It’s not the hour that it takes when everything is perfect but makes you late half the time.

        1. cncx*

          This is the perfect answer. My commute is supposed to take 35 minutes on paper in public transport. However, there are three legs in that commute, i make it maybe twice a month in 35- the normal commute time for me is closer to 50. So i leave the house an hour before my shift starts, because the commute is what it is, and if the stars align perfectly for all my buses to line up, then i grab a coffee on my way in.

      2. Jamie*

        I’m not sure how accurate they are in less urban areas, but in Chicago you can turn on the tv and get traffic updates and forecasts well before dawn, not to mention any number of radio stations giving it every 8 minutes. And there is the internet and apps which are accurate.

        If your job is particularly time sensitive checking to see what’s ahead of you on the road is a good idea.

        1. Bea W*

          The problem I found with traffic reports is that they don’t account for any backup on surface roads, and I can’t count the number of times I’ve been stuck in traffic on a major highway, turned on the traffic report to find out WHY I’m sitting in traffic, and heard either nothing or that traffic was supposedly okay when it clearly was not. So basically, if you stick with the rule, “If traffic looks bad, leave early. If traffic doesn’t look bad, leave early.” you’ll be okay. :)

        2. TL*

          Yesterday a drive that should’ve taken me between 15-45 minutes took me over two hours. For no particular reason, nor was there anything on the streets or radio that pointed to a reason for the delay.

          On my way to my final. Where I deliberately left an hour and a half early so I would have plenty of time to get there and a little extra time to study.

          Sometimes traffic just sucks for no reason.

          1. Anonymous*

            There is a reason, or more accurately a cause – it’s just that you don’t know what it was.

        3. jesicka309*

          My car commute is long enough that sometimes, I’ll hop on the freeway and it will have green/yellow on the radar signs/the radar app on my phone all the way to work! But 30 minutes into my drive, all the signs have changed to red, and the traffic has turned into a car park. There’s nothing I could have possibly done – everything was telling me it was smooth sailing! :( And what should take 45 minutes blows out to an hour and ten, or worse. But if I leave just 15 minutes earlier, I get to work 45 minutes early – I start at 8 am, so that’s a 7.15 arrival. That’s damn early.
          Commutes are the worst.

      3. some1*

        Back in the dark ages when I was a receptionist, I didn’t have a cell phone but my boss knew I took the bus (employer didn’t pay for parking which was expensive), so she did a walk-by of the reception desk at my start time just in case.

        But I allowed myself 40 minutes for the 25 minute commute just in case.

      4. Sorcha*

        I’m a teacher, and I use public transport to get to school every day. I don’t leave a two hour buffer, but I leave home early enough that I get to school 50 minutes or so before classes start. That way if there are delays I will almost always still be in plenty of time. I then have 5o minutes in my classroom to get set up for the day, deal with emails, speak to colleagues etc.

        In 13 years of teaching I have been late enough that I have missed the start of classes only twice, and both times it was due to over-sleeping/alarm clock failure not to traffic problems.

        On those occasions, one time I didn’t have a class first period, so no one needed to cover for me, and the other time a colleague took my class for ten minutes until I arrived.

    7. Felicia*

      I have a chronically late coworker too…at least half an hour every day, adn it annoys me so much, especially since she has no consequences for it. And our busses and trains come frequently and don’t have delays that are THAT bad on a regular basis. I take the subway too, and i’m never as late as she is. 10 minutes late every once in a while, even once a week, makes sense when taking the subway here. But although she makes excuses for how late she is every day, it’s not reasonable because she COULD leave 3o minutes earlier and be on time

    8. TychaBrahe*

      When I lived in California, leaving home a little earlier would have just gotten me to the train station earlier. I rode the first train in. If it ran on time, I got to work on time. If it was more than 10 minutes late, I hopped in my car. As long as I was on the freeway by 5 am, I’d be at work by 6.

      But if there was debris on the tracks, or if there was a broken gate and we had to go stop to have our conductor raise it manually, or if vandals left shopping cards on the tracks and we ruptured a brake line going over them, or if a drunk drove onto the tracks, we were stuck while the issue was dealt with. Often we’d be stuck between stations, with no way to get on or off.

      I was probably significantly late two or three times a year. However, my company was compensated by the Air Quality Management District because I rode public transportation, so they put up with it. I’m not sure what they would have done if I’d ridden the Riverside line, though; they were consistently 10-15 minutes late, because the lines were still owned by Southern Pacific, who gave their freight trains priority.

      Shopping carts, by the way, make a lovely musical sound as they break up under the train.

  9. BCW*

    #5 I can understand why you would be frustrated. I’ve never experienced it first hand, but I know how I feel about the smoke breaks that smokers get, and thats only 5-10 minutes at a time, and usually not the entire rest of the department. I’m not very familiar with the details of the Muslim faith, but does this break have to be done at the same time, or could they alternate when they go so you aren’t alone all the time?

    With that said, these are 2 completely separate issue. 10% of the time being an hour late is actually pretty significant. That comes down to once every 2 weeks you are coming in an hour late. Even when a place has soft starting times (everyone starts at 9, but people stroll in anytime between 845 and 930), an hour seems a bit excessive that often. I also take public transportation, so I know how a missed transfer can work, and how the variation sucks when you leave at the same time every day. I don’t know what type of work you do, but how set are your hours? Could you just make it so you work 8 hours from the time you arrive everyday?

    1. saro*

      Many Muslims go to the mosque on Fridays and pray together. Friday prayers are special in that they are usually done together. What I found striking was that the LW didn’t complain that ‘holding down the fort’ was difficult or that she could not handle it, just that she was doing it.

      1. bearing*

        Yeah, I’m afraid it really reads as whining “just because they’re religious they get a break that I don’t.”

        OP, look at it this way. As an employee your job is to help your employer’s business run smoothly (which includes “legally.”) The employer has to make reasonable accommodations for religious practice — you can look up the relevant laws yourself and satisfy yourself of the wording — suffice it to say that there is flexibility in exactly how an employer accommodates employees. If the employer and the employees who are seeking the accommodation have amicably reached an agreement where the employer is content that the accommodation is reasonable and those employees are content that the accommodation removes undue burdens on their religious practice, then the “accommodation problem” is solved.

        Now is where your job comes in: Your job description now includes working solo for that one hour on Fridays, because your boss figures that’s how he can make this reasonable accommodation. Alison has explained that job descriptions can change at the discretion of the employer, as long as you get paid for the hours you work.

        It’s not your business what the employer has negotiated with other employees, as long as it’s not part of a pattern of illegal discrimination. If you don’t understand that the law requires reasonable accommodations of religious practice, it can appear that the employer is “discriminating” against you and in favor of the Muslim employees because of their religion. In a sense the employer is; accommodation requires discrimination in the strict sense of both words. But in this case it isn’t illegal discrimination. Accommodations that are meant to comply with one part of the law do not constitute illegal discrimination under another part of the law. (Of course it can be tricky for an employer to navigate between the twin requirements of accommodation and anti-discrimination — which is one reason why I would recommend you assume good faith on the part of your employer in the absence of evidence to the contrary.)

    2. FiveNine*

      Worse, OP is late a full 50 percent of the time (by OP’s own estimates). It’s just that it’s a full hour late about 10 percent of the time.

      I have been there — for 15 years I didn’t have a car and relied on public transit. And I don’t mean this to sound harsh, because I understand the frustration: From the employer’s end, there is a reason so many either ask in interviews or post in their want ads that the candidate must have reliable transportation.

      1. ChristineSW*

        From the employer’s end, there is a reason so many either ask in interviews or post in their want ads that the candidate must have reliable transportation.

        Not to open a whole can of worms, but while I completely understand the reasoning, this puts people who CAN’T drive and have no choice but to rely on public or other alternate transportation. Traffic where I live is ridiculous, but if given the choice, I’d almost rather deal with that than deal with the unpredictability of transit delays.

        1. Joey*

          I think everyone understands, but that really has nothing to do with whether it’s operationally feesible.

        2. Zillah*

          It really does, and it can be especially frustrating when the public transportation you would use *is* reliable.

      2. E*

        It’s also tough to judge the reliability of the transportation. I live in the greater Boston area and I am one MBTA train (plus a bus if I am feeling lazy) away from my work place. If I leave when I need to, train delays might make me ten minutes late. More than that can happen but is pretty rare. If I have something like a meeting at 9, I plan to get in at 8:30 and that works.

        If my trip involved four buses – to be honest, I would probably move. I realize not everyone can afford to or is able to do this, and I don’t mean to sound obnoxious, but there are parts of the city that I knew when I was job searching that if I ultimately got a job there, I’d move. It’s incredibly difficult to count on buses reliably and to count on multiple transfers reliably, and that can be a lot of time outside in inclement weather. It depends on where you see yourself long-term, but if that was my regular commute and I was in a position that I saw as a career position, I’d be looking at changing my housing and/or acquiring a car.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Yes, that was my issue when I was job hunting and living with an old, unreliable, POS car. I kept looking as close to my house on the north side of town as possible, but then I would get interviews for jobs on the south side–at best, a 25-minute drive through town; at worse, up to 40-45 minutes (weather/rush hour). The better jobs were the south side ones. :(

          I had about given up, but my parents helped me get a better car. Without it, I probably wouldn’t have applied to Newjob. As my brother said, “Now when someone asks you if you have reliable transportation, you don’t have to lie.”

          I still would like to move. My neighborhood is getting crappy. But I can’t until I can fix my crumbling bathroom, which will probably take forever, and/or find a place with a fenced yard so my strictly-outdoor kitty can come with me.

          1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

            Your cat obeys fences?! Is it magicked? I’ve always presumed that I’d have to give an outdoor cat free reign, that nothing could fence them in.

            1. Susie*

              I have three that obey fences. It took some time to train them but whenever they left the yard they were banned from outside for two weeks. Their desire to be outside trumps their desire to be out of the yard it turns out.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                I can’t do that with Psycho Kitty–she is strictly outdoors. I do grab her (if I can) when there’s a tornado warning, but she tells me about it until the all clear sounds. She used to sit under the chair and bawl, but now she walks all around the house yelling the entire time.

                If I had a bigger house, I’d force her inside, but my house is tiny and there is no way to get away from the bawling.

            2. Elizabeth West*

              Well, not really–she goes under the west gate into the front yard and hangs out in the neighbor’s yard sometimes. The point of the fence is so no dogs can chase her. She has that retreat.

          2. E*

            When I was job hunting was the one time I really wished I had a car. I can generally get where I need to go with public transportation, but there’s something to be said for not toting all of your stuff to an interview in the rain. There were a few jobs that I would have moved and/or gotten a car if I had gotten them, but I couldn’t afford to get a car in the middle of unemployment.

            I am also impressed that your cat obeys fences! I’ve taken my cats out into our fenced yard and stopped after having to retrieve them from neighbors’ yards twice.

    3. Anonymous*

      Fridays are the “Sabbath” of Islam. My apologies if that is the incorrect word as I do not know its proper term in Islam. It is like how Christians go to church on Sundays, and Jews go to temple on Saturdays.

      One of the 5 pillars of Islam is to pray 5 times a day. Depending on which sect a person is, s/he might pray less at around 3 times per day. They have certain times each day; in an Islamic country, they have the “call for prayer” which is announced over loud speakers in the cities and towns. That’s how everyone knows when to stop and go. I’m sure they go when a service is being held at the local mosque. There is one not far from me, and during Friday afternoons, you will see a lot of cars there.

      I am not Muslim, but I teach World History in which this is a part of the curriculum.

      1. Amanda*

        And not all Muslim practice or pray regularly. There are plenty of Muslims who are akin to Christians who only go to church on holidays.

        I just wanted to add that because there’s a common misconception that all Muslims are super devout.

      2. TL*

        In my experience a lot of-for lack of better term- mildly practicing American Muslims may not pray 3-5x a day (or pray at all during the day) but still go to Friday prayers.

        1. saro*

          Or are like me and pray at home but avoid the mosque (for the same reasons Christians avoid churches). :-)

            1. saro*

              Hahaha, I know. I grew up in the ‘Bible Belt’ and I bonded with my friends who chafed under their church’s drama.

              Judgey McJudgersons and Bossy McBossersons ruin it for everyone!!

  10. Jamie*

    If it were me I’d have a discussion with the boss about a more flexible start and end time, if feasible in the job so there is a bigger window in which to not be late.

    Although jobs that require coverage, as this does, tend to have less inherent flexibility.

    Tbh they are covering for the OP when she’s late, and that’s more annoying because you never know when it’s going to happen until she’s just not there.

    And unless the OP is running around like The Flash and forced to maintain the work load and productivity of 3 people during that hour, she’s not doing the work of 3 people…she’s doing her work which, for that hour, is covering her department.

    1. Brett*

      It’s a support department, so there is the possibility that the OP is doing the work of 3 people during that time. The prayer would come at noon, a peak time for support calls in many industries.

        1. Jamie*

          Right. I understand it might be busier and if there are unrealistic expectations then that’s a conversation she can have with her boss. But she’s not doing 3 hours worth of work in one hour.

  11. Anonymous*

    #5 It’s far worse to be chronically late, public transit or not, than to take a scheduled 1-hour break once a week to practice religion. Those two are so far apart that I’m wondering if the LW is slightly bitter about something else.

  12. Sara*

    Hey, is anyone else being taken to a page to enter a code before hteir comment can be posted? I’ve tried to post as anonymous/with my name and it still asks me. this hasn’t happened to me before…..

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Okay, if anyone still receives it now, please let me know! I’m hoping it’s fixed but want to know if it’s not.

        (We’re been experimenting with different levels of protection from spammers. The most recent setting might have just been too high since it was giving the captcha to legitimate commenters.)

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Damn! I think it might just take a little bit of time for the settings change to propagate, but it should definitely be gone by the end of the day, and hopefully within a few hours. Thanks for bearing with it meanwhile!

            1. ChristineSW*

              Yup, I’ve been getting it too. Thanks for looking into it so quickly. I figured something was up.

            2. Jamie*

              I had it earlier – but it seems to be gone last 2 posts.

              They need to change the message that the captcha gives, because it instructs the user to run antivirus and check for malware – not saying that it’s not always a good idea, but the inference is that it’s a problem with the posters computer and not site security settings.

  13. Anonymous*

    I think part of the OP’s issue with respect to co-worker prayer breaks is the perceived unfairness of having other employees get a “benefit” (not having to work for an hour) at the expense of the OP (who feels covering that hour is an imposition).

    Others have already pointed out that religious observances that can be accommodated by the business are in a different category, so I’ll address another topic. OP, I think you’ll be happier in the long run – and be a better employee – if you focus more on what you can contribute to the business yourself rather than monitoring treatment of other employees and comparing it to your own.

    I completely understand this tendency (also being human), but it does change your mind set, and that can have an impact on your performance and productivity. How would your work be different if you thought of these prayer breaks as opportunities to demonstrate how effectively you can handle the office on your own, or to put in some quiet time (with no distracting noise from your co-workers) on a key improvement project?

    How you choose to think about this will make a difference to you (although not to your co-workers, who probably don’t care) so choose carefully.

    1. Joey*

      Eh. Fairness is based in part on how we’re treated in relation to others.

      I’d look at it more as a benefit you have access to if needed just like everyone else.

      1. Lisa*

        Would OP be given an hour to practice their religion? I assume yes, but OP appears to want to that hour of time for commuting vs. use it for religious purposes. OP prob thinks that those co-workers are getting paid for that hour, but maybe they aren’t. The employer allows the time to be taken, but doubt that they are paid for not working and that hour is prob deducted like OP’s late times.

  14. Camellia*

    #5 – Who is covering for OP when she comes in late? Is it the same two that she is covering for on Friday? So…two covering for one’s unexpected and unscheduled lateness, and one covering for two’s planned outage…sounds like a fair exchange to me.

  15. Jubilance*

    Regarding #2 – am I the only person who doesn’t even read the rejection emails? I really just skim them, because to me, regardless of the wording, I’m not the chosen candidate, so I’m not really concerned about the wording. I’m talking about those emails that often come from an automated system, and it’s the only communication you receive after you submit an application. In that situation, the reason I’m being rejected doesn’t matter considering that I haven’t even received a call/email for a screening or interview.

    I don’t really get the desire to “read between the lines” for every little thing in the job search. It’s been my experience that job hunting is like dating – those who really want you will let you know pretty quickly & definitively, and anything less than that is a sign that they aren’t that into you. Why stress yourself out trying to understand “why” when at the end of the day it won’t change the result?

    Am I alone in this line of thinking?

    1. Amanda*

      I think I was unclear in my question. This was after an in-person interview, and from what I understood, there was only one round on interviews (it’s a fairly low-level position). If I make it to a last-round interview and get rejected, I hold out a little bit of hope that the person they made an offer to won’t work out and I’ll be next in line, so that’s why I was overanalyzing whether I was at the top or bottom of the pile. I know it’s still crazy but not as crazy as picking apart a post-application rejection email.

      1. some1*

        “I hold out a little bit of hope that the person they made an offer to won’t work out and I’ll be next in line”

        Then I would definitely email back with a thank you & tell them you’d like to be considered for future positions. Then put it out of your mind. That way, if the employee they pick doesn’t work out, or a lateral position opens up, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

        1. Ruffingit*

          Yes, this is absolutely the way to handle this. Much better than reading between the lines because it accomplishes what you want to accomplish, which is letting them know you’re interested in working for them should a position become available.

    2. Ruffingit*

      I’m with you. I just don’t read that much into it. If it says “We’re considering other candidates” I take that to mean that…well, they’re considering other candidates. Face value in other words. And really, it doesn’t matter if there is some kind of hidden message in there because I won’t ever know what is going on entirely on their end. I take what they say and move on. There’s no real way to question it anyway without looking desperate or weird to the hiring manager so I don’t bother.

      For a dating analogy, it’s like if someone tells you they want to see other people. “So, do you want to see a lot of other people or just one? Is there someone you have in mind? Is it possible you won’t want that and you’ll come back to just dating me??” Really?? Take it at face value. They want to see other people means they don’t want to be monogamous or in a relationship with only you. Handle that knowledge as you see fit, but it is what it is.

      1. Amanda*

        Well, the dating analogy isn’t an exact parallel here because dates don’t pay your rent. If a guy told me he wanted to date someone else and then came back and said “she didn’t work out, will you date me?” I’d say “lost your chance buddy,” even if I were still single. But if an employer went with someone else and then came back to me and said “it didn’t work out with the new hire, are you still interested,” and I were still unemployed, I’d say “heck yeah!” (well I wouldn’t say that specifically).

        1. some1*

          “If a guy told me he wanted to date someone else and then came back and said “she didn’t work out, will you date me?” I’d say “lost your chance buddy,” even if I were still single.”

          Good for you, Amanda, but unfortunately, a lot of people would gladly take that ex back knowing full well they were left for someone who didn’t work out.

          1. Amanda*

            To be honest though, this applies more to casual dating/flirtations than actual exs. If my boyfriend of two years broke up with me and then tried to get back together, I would hope I would turn him away, but I can’t say that I wouldn’t be at least a little motivated to try and work things out.

        2. Ruffingit*

          It’s not an exact parallel for every part of employment, certainly. As you demonstrate, if an employer comes back with a job offer, sure you’re likely to take that since you’re getting the benefit of a salary from it.

          My analogy is specific to not reading between the lines, but rather accepting at face value what is being said. If someone says they want to see other people, they mean they want to see other people. If someone sends an email saying “We’re interviewing other candidates” then they mean they’re interviewing other candidates. In either case, there’s really no need to try and read between the lines. Accept it at face value.

          Now, if the company comes back to offer you the job because first candidate didn’t work out, take it. If a guy comes back to offer you the “job” of being his romantic partner because someone else didn’t work out, please run in the other direction. Definitely not the same scenario.

  16. Colette*

    #3 Is this the final stage, or just one of many planned interviews? I think it’s important (on both sides) to meet in person before accepting a job, but it may be disruptive to your current job to make multiple trips.

  17. some1*

    Regarding #5, I’d let it go. The prayer accommodation to me is like the accommodation new moms get to pump at work (though that usually doesn’t take an hour at a time, but it’s usually every day).

    Just because I don’t need either accommodation doesn’t mean I’m going to get annoyed at my co-workers who exercise their rights.

    1. Natalie*

      Agreed, I like to think of it like sick time. It’s not really a “break”, in the sense that the co-worker is relaxing or goofing off or what have you. It’s just a period of time that they need to attend to something else, and that happens to fall during the typical work day.

  18. Gale*

    #5. I HATE the “My public transport commute is hell!” excuse for being late several times a week. I have zero sympathy for it.

    I ride the most unreliable train line in my city. The carts are old and break down, they are sometimes so crowded you can’t get on and there are 17 stops between my home and work. Not to mention the delay of people who pay their fair with nickles….

    Regardless, I leave my house 45 minutes earlier than what is needed for a “normal” commute time to work. Does this mean I am 45 minutes early to work 90% of the time? Yes. But on days when the trains are severely backed up or I just can’t get on, I have enough time for a back-up plan.

    Plan accordingly. If your commute is really so horrendous (but not so horrendous that you can’t wake up earlier) then buy a car or…I don’t know…MOVE!

    1. KB*

      I live in a city with some of the most notoriously bad traffic in the country, and very, very poor public transport (to the point that it’s almost non-existent). The areas closest in to town are either too expensive to live in or are high crime areas (with very bad schools). Options are not great. Even if I left home 45 minutes earlier than it would take on my “average” commute day, I would be at least 30 minutes late 2-3 times a month. There have literally been days when it has taken me 4 hours to drive 30 miles. Most work places here simply live with it as a fact of life. Some retail places have stipulations that they can only have so many people per department that take public transit. I have seen offices advertise schedule sensitive positions, like receptionists, with distance requirements (such as, they are only considering candidates that live within a 15 mile radius). I have encountered any number of people, who upon first moving here, had little sympathy for “traffic” or “someone was on the train tracks again”, but change their tune very quickly when they realize sometimes you can do absolutely nothing about it no matter how well you plan.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Wondering if you live in my town. LOL! I get what you’re saying, but I think the difference for the OP is that she knows she’s going to be late by 3 – 10 minutes 40 percent of the time. Given that, she can make a general plan to alleviate that. She’s late by up to an hour 10% of the time so half the time she’s working, she’s late. That really is a ridiculous amount of time for an employer to handle.

        She needs to better plan by either moving closer to work if possible (take on a few roommates), be searching hard for a job closer to home, or leave with several hours to spare to handle the public transport issues. This may mean she gets to work an hour or two early, but if that is the case, find a coffee shop or something to hang out in with your laptop or a book. It’s just the nature of using unreliable transport to work. I’ve been there so I know of what I speak. I gave myself tons of extra time to ensure I wouldn’t be late and when it ended up that I had a lot of time to spare on the back end (getting to the destination super early), I brought my laptop, answered emails, read the news, had some tea, relaxed a bit before work.

        1. Amanda*

          I don’t see 3-10 minutes as being noteable, unless her position requires butt in the chair (or butt in front of a classroom, or butt on rotation checking patients). The 40-60 minutes late is more concerning, IMO. That really shouldn’t be happening more than once or twice a year, max.

          1. Ruffingit*

            3-10 minutes might not be notable if it wasn’t happening frequently, but in this case she’s late by that amount of time 40% of the time and the other 10% she’s late by a lot of time. If it happens often as is the case here, it becomes notable in my book.

            1. Amanda*

              But if you work in a normal office and the employee doesn’t have a job like receptionist or CSR and the gets their work done and is fine with staying after 5 to finish things…what’s the purpose of insisting they walk in at 9am instead of 9:05?

              More than 20-30 minutes is different because coworkers won’t be able to find them to ask questions they need answered, etc.

              1. fposte*

                I think Ruffingit is talking about it being a problem with this employee because of the general lateness pattern, while you seem to be talking about a hypothetical employee coming in 5 minutes late. I actually agree with both of you–for a non-time-linked job, I don’t have any problem with an employee who turns up five minutes late (they mostly get to set their own start and end times anyway in my office), but if an employee is late as often or more than she’s early, five minutes is a problem because it’s part of an ongoing issue.

                1. Amanda*

                  I still say that if I were a manager and I had an employee come in at 9:05 often, but she finished her work and did it well, left after 5 most of the time and was on time for important things like staff meetings or appointments with clients, the 5 minutes she was late wouldn’t bother me. And I still don’t see the purpose of enforcing a strict 9am (or whenever the office opens) start time if the job doesn’t require it.

                2. fposte*

                  Then I guess I do disagree with you :-). To me if you have a flexible start time then you have a flexible start time, and that’s fine; if there’s something specific that flexible means in your office–20 minutes leeway, whatever–that should be clear, too. But absent that, there’s no reason to consider somebody who comes late half the time as not having a problem on some of those late days, because what the pattern reveals is an underlying structure that doesn’t work for the planned hours, and that’s significant information.

                3. fposte*

                  Oh–no, actually, I kind of misread you, I think, in that you’re still talking about a hypothetical employee, and I’m talking about the pattern the OP describes.

              2. Colette*

                If the job is from 8 – 5 (or whatever) and flex time isn’t an option, being late 50% of the time is an issue, even if there’s no easily discernible reason why she needs to be there right at 8. She’s being paid to be there, and her employer has the rot to expect her to be on time.

                I agree that it’s nice if there is that slight flexibility, but it’s not mandatory.

                1. Ruffingit*

                  Yes, exactly this is what I’m saying. If you have a job that is flexible, then it’s no problem. But, if you have an employer who says you need to be there at 9 a.m. and you’re consistently late on a regular basis, that is a problem. You can argue that you shouldn’t HAVE to be there at 9, etc., but that is not the job. The job is be there at 9. If you don’t want to accept that and you want flex time, get another job.

                  That is something Alison talks about often here – the job is what it is. If what it is isn’t acceptable to you, then get another one. When you own the company or are the manager, you can set the schedule as you see fit. If you’re not either of those things, then you accept what is offered or you leave. Being consistently late when you know that isn’t what you’ve agreed to in this job is a problem.

                2. Amanda*

                  I do agree with you that if the employer requires it, you have to put up with it or find another job. But I still think it’s dumb and not how I would choose to run an office myself (unless of course, there was a compelling reason for it).

              3. Observer*

                And in many offices being “fine with staying late after 5:00” (or whenever it is) is totally unhelpful. It’s not necessarily arbitrary – it depends a lot on the job and on the circumstances (and on the track record of the employee).

  19. Z*

    #3: I would encourage you to go and interview in person. For one thing, don’t you want to get a sense of the work culture and environment? Also, what about the area? Sure, you can’t really get a truly good feel for things in a 24-36 hour visit, but you can at least get a sense of whether the move would be the right one.

    1. Ruffingit*

      Agreed. And perhaps you can schedule the interview on a Friday afternoon or Monday morning so you can leave Thursday night or Sunday night and miss only one day of work.

      1. #3*

        Exactly what I’ll be doing. I decided to go in person, and I’ll be flying out there on Thursday night for a Friday interview.

        Luckily, I’ve spent some time in the area, and really like it, but Z is right about the need to get a sense of the work culture and environment.

        Thanks for the feedback!

  20. Ruffingit*

    #5: You live the furthest away, you use unreliable public transportation to get to work, and you always leave at the exact same time every morning. Those things make up your major problem: either move closer, find a better mode of transportation, or leave the house with a ton of time to spare. That last one sucks if you’re having to leave the house at 5 a.m. to ensure you’re on time at 8 a.m. or whatever, but it’s life with public transportation. There really isn’t an excuse here for being late often. You know the elements at play in your getting to work on time so you’re going to have to start sucking it up and dealing with those. Your co-workers and their prayer time has nothing at all to do with this.

  21. Amanda*

    #2 here, it seems I was unclear in my question. I received the rejection after an in-person interview and I was under the impression that it was the sole round of interviews. I always hope that if I am rejected at that stage, that I might still get a chance if the #1 choice doesn’t show up on the first day or something, so that was why the wording of candidate(s), instead of “we have selected a candidate” upset me so much.

  22. Jen in RO*

    I sympathize with #5. In the end, it boils down to one person covering for 2 others an hour every Friday, and two people covering for one person for an hour a couple of times a month. The boss probably wouldn’t see it my way, judging by the majority’s opinion in this thread, but I think it’s fair to let the OP be late once in a while if s/he covers every Friday.

    (And, unless the OP works as a call center rep, receptionist, or something similar, who on Earth cares if s/he is 10 minutes late? Especially since there are other employees there? I am so glad the culture here (in both my country and my company) is not that focused on the time you get to work…)

    1. Amanda*

      I agree with you on the second point. If the employee is getting their work done and there’s no job-related or logistical reason why they need to be in their seat at 8/9am on the dot, it feels infantilizing to make a fuss over <10-15 minutes.

      1. KellyK*

        I do too. Sure, the employer is totally within their rights to say “8:00 AM means 8:00 AM, period,” but the real question the employer *should* be asking is whether there’s anything not getting done that should if someone walks in at 8:03. If there’s not, then why make a fuss? It’s a rule for the sake of having rules, like having a dressy dress code for people who never see a customer.

        1. Colette*

          Maybe they want to have a daily staff meeting at 8:00, or they have found that when people come in late they don’t often stay late, or the company owner likes to see people in their desks at 8, or the person with the key wants to go home on time so no one can stay late.

          If the OP doesn’t think the reason is a good one, she can bring it up, but she’s not in a particularly good position to do that based on being late 50% of the time.

    2. Chri1S*

      thanks Jen, for your kind words; It’s nice to hear someone thinks it’s understandable for me to be late once in a while

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Well, now, come on — I think most of us, if not all, think it’s okay to be late once in a while. What’s at issue is being late as much as you said you generally are!

  23. Simonthegrey*

    I’m not defending the OP who is late all the time. However, when I was on a study abroad, we lived in London along a rail line that closed down at 1am and didn’t have a train until 6am. It’s possible that where OP lives, the first public transit – bus or rail – doesn’t start until a set time. Maybe s/he can’t leave earlier because there simply isn’t an option. It’s still very inconvenient, and obviously OP needs to communicate that and try to find other accommodations ( a start time that is a little later and goes a little longer in the day, perhaps). There just might be an extenuating factor.

    But then again, where I live now, public transit is essentially non-existent outside of one bus route, so that’s a whole different issue.

    1. fposte*

      But it also needs to be recognized that sometimes it’s not going to work–that the employer can require a position to be held by somebody who is there on a reliable schedule.

  24. Elysian*

    #2 reminded me of a question I’ve been wondering – do employers ever use different form rejections for different sets of candidates? I’ve gotten some letters that were extremely flattering of my qualifications, and I’ve always wondered if it was just their general form letter or if they were really that sorry they couldn’t interview me.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Some do. I usually use one letter for people rejected without an interview and one for people rejected after an interview. Sometimes I split that latter group up into rejected after phone interview vs. in-person interview, depending on the context.

      And if someone is particularly outstanding or we had a particular rapport, I might customize the letter a little bit.

      1. Elysian*

        Neat! I’m going to keep on believing, then, that the company who said “With your outstanding qualifications, we are sure you’ll find a rewarding career opportunity.” was telling the truth. Taken with the rest of the letter, it was the sweetest rejection I’ve ever received.

      2. Amanda*


        Also, how many people do you typically bring in per interview stage? Do you bring in more people if you skip the phone screen and go straight to an in-person interview?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I never, ever skip the phone screens. They save a huge amount of time in culling the pool before we get to in-person interviews.

          Number of people interviewed depends on the context. For phone interviews, I’d ideally do 10-15, but it can be more or less depending on the role. For in-person, I’d do 3-5, but again, it can be more depending on the role (especially for more senior positions).

          1. Amanda*

            Why do you think employers do skip the phone screen? I’ve gone to the in-person interview without a phone interview in probably half of the positions I’ve interviewed for since early 2012. I don’t mind it when it happens since I feel much more socially awkward on the phone than in person, but I wonder if it means anything.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Mainly I’d guess it’s lack of understanding of how incredibly helpful they are in cutting the pool down. Once you do them, you can’t help but see how much time they save!

              1. some1*

                They save the candidate’s time, too. I went to an in-person interview with no phone screen only to find out the role would have been a step back for me, which wasn’t obvious from the job description.

            2. Anonymous*

              The person doing the hiring might also be socially awkward on the phone. I would rather talk to 100 people in person than 100 on the phone… *shudders*

              1. Ruffingit*

                Me too. I really hate the phone interviews, but I get how they can be helpful to both interviewer and candidate. Still, not my favorite thing to do.

            3. Sydney*

              I skipped the phone screens when I was hiring for a restaurant because we didn’t get enough applicants at one time that it was necessary. We were always hiring so it was easier just to call them for the first interview if we were going to call them at all. Restaurant applications usually fall into 3 categories: 1) forever workers who’ve worked lots of places, and 2) kids who will move on, and 3) no experience. If you think they’re good in person, maybe talk to references (IME, restaurant references are often a mixed bag of unhelpful and impossible to track down…when a manager loves a staff member, they keep that staff member).

              I do what I consider a light phone screen when hiring for a CSR-type position. I ask basic questions to get a feel for the candidate’s communication skills. If they sound good on the phone, they get an in-person interview. The reason I don’t do a more thorough screen over the phone is that most of these people are great talkers and can BS their way out of a toilet. You need to test them on the skills they have and see if their self-assessment matches yours. They’ll tell you they’re the best, they’re never late, great customer service skills, and so forth. But most of them aren’t the best, and that’s why they’re applying for a $10/hour CSR job with no benefits.

  25. Anonymous*

    #4 – a different view but an important one.

    “Three possibilities: (1) They want to make sure that they’re truly searching for the best person, not just hiring the person who happens to be there (which is actually good practice for many jobs), or (2) they’re just not fully sold on you and want to make sure that they’re comparing you to others, or (3) they don’t think you’re the right fit for the job and don’t want to offer it to you.”

    Or 4) – you’re good at it, but they’d rather keep you back, at a lower salary expectation, because they’re betting on you accepting being passed over, and they’ll hire someone new – because they’ve go you in reserve if it doesn’t work out. They view this as a win (go figure).

    If possible – express hope that you’d like the position. If they pass you over, it’s “find another job and give ’em the dropkick time.”

  26. Chri1S*

    Hi, I’m the OP

    Thanks for the responses

    So the working time is started at 7:30, but unless there’s something urgent the office let staffs to do whatever they want (have a breakfast, socializing, or… start working) until 8:00, that’s when everybody have to start working

    I usually left home at 5:40, if everything went normal, I usually arrived at 7.10-7.20, so by what I describing not late is an extra 10-20 minutes

    I’m not asking my manager to cancel my lateness, but let’s say in 1 week my total time of being late is 2 hours, then my late is substracted by, let’s say 50% of the friday prayer break time (2 – 0.5 = 1.5 hour); Oh and we don’t work on saturday or sunday

    They still get lunch break after the prayer break, what kind of irritate me is the other 2 moslems in the other building rarely if not ever, go to pray on friday, so maybe I’m just bitter about getting the “wrong” moslem colleagues

    So yeah, I just decided to leave home 20 minutes earlier, now I arrived at 6:45 to 7:10 an extra 20-45 minutes for the office, I just wondering whether arriving early will score some points

    It’s not that I’m going to get any serious trouble, because actually a lot of staffs came later than 7:30 from time to time, it just affects the year end bonus

    And I’ll just shut my mouth and work my best and hope my manager make the best assesment

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Not everyone worships in the same way. Think of the Christians you know — some probably go to church weekly and some rarely or not at all, right? It’s no different here.

      I think you’ll be better served by keeping the prayer breaks out of this entirely because it’s not really relevant.

    2. Chri1S*

      so arriving between 7:31 to 7:50 is kind of “you might have to skip breakfast if you haven’t”, while arriving after 8:00 is “LATE”; But it does affects year end bonus

      1. Chri1S*

        I would like to add about this small misfortunes ended in mega time waster I described

        -I arrived at the bus shelter 2-5 seconds late, the bus went away, and the next bus is 15-20 minutes

        -Sometimes, I actually can board that bus if it’s not because this people walking slowly, blocking the path, or they take a long time at the ticket booth for whatever reasons (asking direction, give big money, searching for money in; or they are blocking my way because they don’t want to board a bus that already didn’t have an empty seat and by the time I’m able to pass them, the bus door already closed

        -lots of bus passing but I can’t board them because they are already full, the first bus that I can board arrived 15-20 minutes after I arrived at the shelter

        -I board a bus which is driven by a stupid driver, ram straight through an obvious catastropihc traffic jam, instead of taking the alternative route like the bus behind it

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