I don’t want to drive an oversized company vehicle, security guard is addressing me by my first name, and more

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

1. I don’t want to be the backup driver for an oversized company vehicle

A couple years ago, I agreed to be trained (by a professional) as a backup/substitute driver for an oversized vehicle my business utilizes. At first, I thought it would be a fun change of pace compared to my daily desk job duties, but I’ve grown to dread it and become anxious every time I’m asked to drive. A couple of very minor accidents have occurred while I’ve been at the wheel, and I worry that one day something more serious might happen.

My manager is aware of these incidents and my increased dislike of driving, and her response has been “how can we make this easier?” or “there’s no one else who can do it.” Since we can’t make the vehicle smaller or the streets wider, I feel like it’s hopeless. Just practicing more isn’t going to cut it either, in my opinion. My manager says they will ultimately train more people, but they’ve yet to pursue it and we’ve recently been left with a number of staff vacancies. The other day it occurred to me that even though the business’s insurance would cover an accident, if it was deemed my fault, I could end up with a traffic ticket and a black mark on my DMV record, right? This is just going to make me worry even more! How can I successfully back out of an assignment like this?

“I appreciated the opportunity to give it a try, but after the several accidents, it’s clear to me that I can’t safely drive this vehicle. I’m not comfortable risking my safety and the safety of others, or the black marks on my driving record, so I need to permanently step down from doing it.” If she pushes back, say, “I understand, but it’s become a safety issue. We need to get another backup trained, because I’m not comfortable doing it. I’m sorry about that — I wish I were.”

2. My manager asked if I don’t respect her because she’s a woman

My current manager and I do not get along very well, and there is definite tension. My performance, though, is consistent and is definitively better than most, so there is no risk of me losing my job.

During my end of the year review, however, she asked me, “Do you not respect me as your manager because I am a woman?” I was totally taken aback by the question, but answered the question honestly (no, gender has nothing to do with it). Is she allowed to ask me those kinds of questions? If no, what is my recourse as an employee? Should I be doing anything to log these types of incidents?

Yes, she’s allowed to ask you that. I’m not sure what she hoped to gain by it — it’s fairly unlikely that you’re going to tell her that you don’t respect her because she’s a woman, unless you’re seriously an ass — but there’s no prohibition on her asking, nor any reason for you to log the incident.

Also, for whatever it’s worth: Answering “gender has nothing to do with it” is as good as saying “I don’t respect you, but your gender isn’t the reason why.” That’s not likely to help the relationship. And I wouldn’t assume that there’s no risk of you losing your job despite your performance; people can and do get fired all the time just because their boss doesn’t like them. And even if they don’t get fired, they often lose out on growth opportunities, end up first on layoff lists, and other bad consequences. If you can’t repair the relationship, I’d make sure you’re at least looking at other options.

3. Security guard is addressing me by my first name and I don’t like it

I am a contractor and the security guard at the company singles me out every morning by saying good morning and using my first name. I try to ignore him, but he stands in front of the door I need to pass through. Now odd people I do not know are addressing me by my first name. I do not like it. Also, he shows up in different parts of the plant. I feel like he is keeping track of me. I am considering contacting my contract company. What do you think?

Is it possible that he uses your first name because he’s friendly and it’s common to address people by name, and he shows up in other parts of the plant because he’s a security guard and it’s his job to be moving around? And that other people are addressing you by name because that’s friendly behavior in most workplaces? Unless there’s more to this than what’s here, I don’t see how you could complain about this without looking pretty out there.

4. School fired me and is holding final paycheck until I complete student narratives

My husband and I worked at the same school. For whatever reason (they did not give us one), they let us go on the last day of the semester. They do not do report cards in this school; they do narratives – a very long process and many hours of work. My husband and I had started the narratives on our personal computer, which died before finishing the narratives. We recognized this might happened and so had emailed them to our work email accounts. When they fired us, they took our keys, badges, and locked us out of our email. We have no access to the narratives.

However, they say that until we finish our narratives, they will not pay us our last paycheck. We are required to print the narratives – about 3-5 pages each on every child – but they have taken the ability to print at school, leaving us to do this with our home printer and ink — which we need now to find new jobs with. Are we honestly required to spend another 4 or so hours to do these narratives when they have fired us?

They cannot hold your last paychecks. They’re required by law to pay you for all time worked, regardless of whether you finish the narratives (and your state law will tell you how soon you must receive those checks; generally it’s going to be within two weeks). However, you should finish the narratives anyway, because it’s the right thing to do for your students, but they should pay you for the time that it takes to finish them — and obviously they should give the files you need to finish them.

You should each contact them (separately, not as a unit) and say this: “I’d be glad to finish the narratives, but I need my work files to do so. Please email me the file titled ____ and I’d be glad to finish these up. Can you confirm that you will be paying me for that time, as required by state law? I’m also assuming that I’ll receive my last paycheck by ___, also as required by state law.”

(Google “last paycheck” and the name of your state to find out what their time limit is on that.)

5. What is this interview question getting at?

Why would they ask “What part of your house is the most organized?” during a retail interview? And “What is the least organized, and why?”

They probably have a theory that your answer will give them some sort of insight into your organization/cleanliness habits, and they’re probably looking for people with tendencies toward neatness.

{ 313 comments… read them below }

  1. Dang*

    OP 3: what would you prefer? Scowls? Silence? I am seriously confused.. I like it when people remember my name and are friendly to me..

    1. Jen*

      He’d prefer what I prefer – for the security guard to stand up on his desk and scream “Oh Captain, my Captain!” – I mean honestly, isn’t this what we’d all prefer?


      1. Amy B.*

        I have always wanted my own theme song played when I entered, like on raslin’. Some pyrotechnics would be nice, too.

          1. Sarah in Boston*

            Oh Elizabeth! It makes me so happy to know that someone has ordered that shirt. I’ve watched the video for it and cannot justify it for myself (wearing once is just not worth it for me and that’s what would happen). Now I can imagine you out there rocking out.

    2. Allison*

      I generally want people to be neutral to me, if not a *little* friendly. the OP seems to be implying this guard is way more friendly than they would normally expect, and that’s a bit off-putting. I’m curious if this guy treats everyone this way, as the OP did feel singled out by the behavior.

      1. EngineerGirl*

        I would find it concerning – especially if the OP was young female and the guard male. Blocking the doorway is intimidating behavior. I’d do the following in escalation:

        When called by first name, look at the guard and state ” I would prefer to be called Ms OP, thanks!” After a few times of non-compliance state “I’ve asked you to call me Ms OP – is there a reason you’re not doing that?” Then tell him that being called by your first name is a problem and that you really must insist that you are called Ms OP.

        Door blocking – head on. The next time he does it look him in the eye and state nicely ” Is there a reason you are blocking the door?” If there is no legitimate reason I’d raise it with your work contact – let them know you are having problems getting into the facility.

        A lot of this is male on female intimidation. Standing up for yourself (nicely!) usually puts an end to it. If not, you can let management know that you’ve already tried to deal with it in a most professional manner and it still isn’t working.

        1. Laurel*

          I didn’t read anything about door blocking. The OP said “he stands in front of the door I need to pass through”. I interpreted this as “he’s posted at the door I’m using, so I can’t really avoid or ignore him”. I just didn’t get the sense that the security guard was being deliberately obstructive. Can the letter-writer clarify? At any rate, I’ve always believed that the most respectful thing you could ever call someone was their name. So, I just don’t get it. Frankly, I’d be a bit put off by anyone who requested I address them by “Mr.” or “Ms.” so-and-so. Sure, I’d comply, but I’d also think they were wankers.

          1. Jamie*

            I agree with all of this. The door is where he’s stationed at that time. And while it’s within the OPs rights to ask to be referred to as title_lastname…I have to say there is no way I could hear someone doing that in 2014 and not consider them completely insufferable. Unless I had to, I’d probably stop acknowledging them at all.

            Unless it’s an adult correcting a child, that is, because not all adults want to be on a first name basis with the under 10 crowd.

            1. Elaine*

              I think it depends on the work environment. I’ve worked in some places where everyone calls everyone by the title, unless they are close work/personal friends.

              If the standard is to be more formal, and the guard is being more personal, that could be the reason OP is unhappy.

          2. E*

            To be honest, that kind of “I’d prefer to be called Ms. P.” sounds condescending like people of the security guard class can’t call the person by their first name, and oh, the office cleaners can’t either. And even if I didn’t see it that way, like if I was a coworker and I heard that, I’d think it was bizarre.

    3. Elaine*

      Is #3 Alison response supposed to say “look petty” rather than “look pretty?” I mean, the OP *might* be really pretty…

    4. Not Quite Jane*

      I’m not OP#3 but have a similar situation. In my building the guards have a front desk that they sit at. One of the guards has singled me out. I walk past that desk probably 8 or so times per day. Usually I’m with a colleage (also a woman). Every time we walk past he’ll say “Hi Jane” to me and either “Hi” or nothing to my colleague. Every single time. I’ve never heard him speak to anyone else in the building the same way or call other people by their names, and it’s off-putting. I usually respond “Good Morning/Hello” or something about the weather (it’s hot today, it’s cold in here etc). I initially didn’t know how he knew my name but working one Saturday I found out. They have an office as well as the desk. I had to go in and see him about something and he showed me how he can watch anyone where there’s a security camera. Most doors need you to swipe your access card and when that happens the person’s name and picture come up on the screen. He said he’s been watching me although I don’t think he had any idea that it was creepy. I think if he’d only started calling me by name after this it wouldn’t have been so disturbing, but obviously he’d been keeping an eye on me beforehand.

      The first thing I did was check with HR about what information security has access to and it’s basically our name, company and access levels. Nothing personal (whew !). I’ve done nothing else and it hasn’t escalated. I avoid working on the weekends and if I have to I try and find out beforehand which guard will be on duty. So far I’ve been lucky and it hasn’t been him.

      He’s backed off somewhat but still that greeting, using my name, every single time. The weird thing is – my colleague will chat to him, meanwhile I’ve gone around the corner to the lifts or outside, he knows her name (she told him) and even though she chats more to him, I’m the one slated for the “special” treatment.

      I’m a full time employee and very trusted by my employer, I am one of the few with 24/7 access so I don’t believe there’s a chance of them asking security to keep an eye on me.

      I can also see the point that if I took this to HR it would look petty. It’s his job to watch people coming and going on site, especially after hours, he’s friendly, he’s never done/said anything inappropriate – so what’s the problem ? It is very hard to explain sometimes and reading this back I can see why people may not understand how uncomfortable it can be.

      1. Another Emily*

        I wonder if he doesn’t know your colleague’s name and is to embarrassed to ask since he’s chatted with her a number of times. I’d make a point of using her name in the conversation a few times in case that is so.

        As for the rest I have no advice, but it seems you have a gut instinct that he’s being overly friendly with you and you don’t like it. I certainly wouldn’t ignore that feeling. The steps you’ve taken are certainly appropriate too.

  2. Ughh*

    #3 – are you trying to say you would like him to call you Mr./Ms. _________ or just not call you anything at all? The tone of the question seems a bit “snobbish” to me. It would be a bit weird to have people you do not know call your name but I wouldnt have a problem with the security guard ..

    If anything I would want to be friendly with the security guard, never know when you might need him.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      If he’s being overly friendly to the point of creepy, then I can understand it, but the OP doesn’t clarify one way or the other. I think what EngineerGirl suggested above is good, if it’s really bothering her. But otherwise, I’d let it go.

      1. Jamie*

        If he’s overly friendly to the point of creepy the name thing still doesn’t factor into it.

        You’d address that by bringing up the creepy stuff he’s doing, calling her by name isn’t creepy, it’s normal social behavior.

        (And I’m not a fan of NCIS, but my husband loves it and can I say I was so disappointment when I was first promoted to director and the entire world didn’t start addressing me as “Madame Director.” Lauren Holly was so much better at commanding respect than I am! (kidding, btw :))

  3. KarenT*


    If the OP is not used to being called by his or her first name I suspect the OP is not North American.

    1. De*

      Either the OP is used to something different (like me) and now in North America or she’s in a different country where this is not normal and thus doesn’t realize how this comes across to most readers here. If a security guard at my work did that I would find it very strange, at least. Would be great to know in which country she works.

    2. CK*

      I was about to raise this point as well – different cultures have different norms, and addressing people by first name is not the norm everywhere. OP3 is probably from somewhere where it is considered impolite to be on a first name basis with coworkers, and so, finds this odd and doesn’t like it.

      That being said, this is definitely the norm in North America, and it sounds like people are trying to be friendly. It’s probably best to find someone you can talk to and trust locally to help guide you through other cultural differences to head off any other unexpected issues.

    3. Jen in RO*

      I hope this is the case and OP isn’t just a rude jerk.

      (Either way – I think OP *is* overly annoyed even assuming s/he is from a country where this is unusual. I would find it weird that the security guard suddenly started talking to me in second person – familiar rather than second person – formal, but I would just ignore it, not write to Alison about it.)

      1. Neeta (RO)*

        I suppose it depends on the OP’s age.
        I am fine with being called either Miss or by my first name, but I can’t really imagine my mother liking to be called by her name, in similar circumstances.

      2. The RO-Cat*

        Yeah, in many places in Romania – that I know of – a guard suddenly greeting you “Hey, John!” instead of “Hello, Mr. Smith!” would be regarded at best as lack of judgement (many would take it one step further and see it as lack of consideration or plain impolite).

        That said, I think there’s maybe some background we’re missing here.

          1. The RO-Cat*

            No, I wouldn’t write. But the social norms are not that rigid here. I imagine there are cultures where norms might be way more inflexible.

            Still, I think we don’t have all the relevant information yet (OP might just be thin-skinned; or they might have a personal history where this behavior raises all the alarms and for good reason. We just don’t know which is which).

    4. Bea W*

      Yes this one struck me as odd. Aside from the name thing, it us the man’s job to know who’s in the building, who works there, and to walk around. It’s also his job to stand at the door and monitor who comes and goes. This is normal security guard behavior, not creeping. I wonder if the OP is also new to this experience as well or comes from a place where guards do actually track people in an oppressive way.

      I suspect she also has a visible ID badge in this kind of environment, which would help explain how people she doesn’t know, know her name. Again, very normal in a secure wirk environment in the US. I’m curious for more background.

        1. Jazzy Red*

          Better than “snakes on a train”! I’m so afraid of them that even typing the word makes me shiver a little.

          Now “drinks on a train” would be fantastic!

          1. Bea W*

            Some days they really ought to hand out drinks. If we have another snake incident, I don’t want to know about it. Ignorance is bliss.

    5. Camellia*

      Not necessarily. I’m from North America (mid-west) and if someone I do not know and to whom I have not been introduced suddenly addresses me by my first name I find it very disconcerting and off-putting.

      As a new badge-wearer many years ago, the first time it happened I was in a retail store running an errand at lunch time and I realized they had looked at my badge and gotten my name. I found that so icky that now I always make sure my badge is turned to the back.

      In a company setting, the OP said “..[he] singles me out every morning”, which sounds like she is being treated differently than others and doesn’t know why.

      She also says, “…now odd people I do not know are addressing me by my first name” and she is not comfortable with that. As noted in my first paragraph, neither am I.

      However, OP, I counter this by stopping and saying something like, “Hi, I don’t believe I know you,” and offer my hand for a handshake. That prompts the other person to introduce themselves and, if they don’t offer, I ask them about where they work, what they do, etc. That accomplishes several things: I have shown the person that I am not timid or scared or intimidated by them (even if that was not their purpose), I now know who this person is and a little about them, and I have a better feel for whether they were really trying to be creepy or not.

      As for the security guard, you already know what his work is. So if he is calling you by name, and no one else, I would look him firmly in the eye and say, “I notice you are not calling other people by their names, why did you start doing that with me?” Whatever answer he gives, he at least knows that, as I said above, you are not timid or scared or intimidated by him. If he gets all defensive and says he didn’t mean anything by it, just being friendly, etc, simply reply “Oh, okay, that’s good to know. You can’t be too careful in this day and age.”

      Either way, don’t allow anyone to make you feel bad or guilty or out-of-place-doesn’t-fit-in for taking action to make yourself feel comfortable. It is attitudes like that which make a women get into an elevator with a man when she is not comfortable but doesn’t want to offend him.

      1. Anonymous*

        >“Oh, okay, that’s good to know. You can’t be too careful in this day and age.”

        So we should just go ahead and make the friendly guard feel uncomfortable. Cause that’s what polite people do to others.

        1. LadyTL*

          If the guard if making the OP feel uncomfortable repeatedly, they aren’t that friendly in the first place. Also it is not anyone’s job to let themselves feel uncomfortable because someone wants to act like they are being friendly (even if they actually aren’t.)

          1. Jen in RO*

            That doesn’t really fly. I see this argument all over the place and… really? If I say “howdy” to someone, and it just so happens that the person was abused by someone who also used “howdy”, it’s my fault, even though I had no idea that a simple word would trigger the person?! We have no clue what the guard is doing and why he’s doing it, so I don’t see how we can generalize to “they aren’t that friendly in the first place”.

            1. LadyTL*

              This isn’t a single thing though. This has apparently gone on long enough the OP is actively trying to ignore the guard who persists in making a thing of this. Short of being incredibly socially ignorant, there is some sign of the guard making the OP uncomfortable in how they are addressing them. This is more you noticing you are upsetting a person by saying howdy to them and then continuing to do it even though you know it upsets them. It stops being “friendly” anything when you repeatedly upset someone or make them uncomfortable.

              The OP might be stuck up for not wanting to be called by their first name, or just may not be used to it but the guard is just in the wrong for making a point of calling them by first name every time they come in despite signs it is making the OP uncomfortable.

  4. Kinky Kurly*

    I’m legitimately perplexed by #3. I can’t figure out if:

    a. You’d just prefer he call you Mr./Ms.
    b. You’d prefer he not say anything to you at all. If this is the case, why?
    c. There’s something about the security guard that does not sit well with you. If so what?

    I agree with Alison. If you bring this up without a legitimate reason for not wanting this man addressing you, you run the risk of looking odd at best, pretentious and maybe even paranoid at worst. You may even lose future business with this company.

    1. Jennifer*

      Or (d) it’s weird that he specifically knows YOUR name when it is unlikely that he would know it. Or (e) that he specifically uses YOUR name but isn’t doing the same with everyone else.

      I second “needs more information” here.

      1. Grace*

        Concur with Jennifer. We had a security guard cause problems for the women employees and clients in a high-rise building. Everybody initially thought they were the only ones and were embarrassed to say anything. Turns out that women were fretting about using the lobby – because of his conduct (the only viable entry/exit for the building). It turns out it had been going on for years. He lost his job for it.

  5. HM in Atlanta*

    #3 – Is it that the security guard only does this with the OP? Is the company culture very formal (and everyone is addressed more formally)? I’ve worked places where formality is the norm, and this would stand out as awkward.

    The other part of the question is more concerning to me. The OP has to see this particular person in order to get in the building/can’t get past him/her, but the security guard can then follow the OP around the location? This seems the odd part.

    1. fposte*

      I really wanted to know if he only does this with the OP too. I could see where the info provided is totally innocuous, and I could see where they’re really problematic.

      On the innocuous side, I wonder if OP hasn’t realized that she’s at a first-name institution generally, and if other people aren’t using her first name because that’s what they do around there rather than because of anything the security guard did.

    2. Bea W*

      I doubt she is being followed. I suspect she sees him while he’s making his regular rounds. Standing at the door, especially at start and close of business would also be part of his job. If you’ve ever worked in a secure building, this is pretty standard. No one gets in without passing the guard. Personally, I prefer a friendly greeting over the silent stare. A greeting conveys “welcome, I know you work here and aren’t up to something hinky.”

        1. MaryMary*

          I wondered about this too. It could be the company has had issues with contractors or temps in the past, and security was asked to keep closer tabs on them than they do on permanent full time employees.

      1. Jamie*

        A lot of times security guards take turns manning the doors and walking around – maybe she gets there while it’s his hour or whatever on the door and she sees him later as he’s making rounds and someone else is on the door.

    3. BadPlanning*

      Or does the OP walk in with 95% men, none of whom are addressed and yet the security guard yells out, “Hello and Good Morning, Mary!”

      1. BCW*

        Just curious. Where did you get that the OP was a woman? I think that leap is completely coloring your view here.

  6. Anon*

    OP # 3 – Why are you being so rude? One of my pet peeves is when I greet someone and they ignore me! There has to be more to this story then what’s in the letter and if so, please do tell! Otherwise, you’re coming across like an elitist snob which is more of a problem then a friendly security guard who’s greeting you every morning..

  7. Natalie Anne Lanoville*

    Re OP 3:

    I feel that some responders are being too hard on poster number 3. Yes s/he could just be someone who’s a bit elitist or has unrealistic expectations, but s/he might actually be trying to verbalise a legitimate gut feeling, which may be based upon past negative experiences, or may be because this security guard is engaging in harassing or grooming behaviour.

    Poster 3, is there any reason why it would not be appropriate for you to simply approach the security guard, say, “Hello Mr X, I’m Miss/ter Y. It’s lovely to meet you Mr X, I’d appreciate it if you’d call me Miss/ter Y in the future.”

    As for other folks, I’m assuming they know your name because of hearing it from the security guard and not because you work with them? I’d find that disconcerting too (depending on where you work). I don’t know if there’s anything you can do about that.

    And just so we’re clear, the way *I* read the original post (and full disclosure, I have been stalked several times including by people I worked with), for a staff member who’s on duty in a single location to repeatedly show up for no reason in different parts of a workplace and specifically address one person by their first name is exactly how a stalker or boundary pusher would behave.

    That’s *not* to say this is the explanation, but it is not unreasonable for someone to consider it as a possibility.

    1. CLM*

      I agree with Natalie. What I got from it is OP #3 feeling this behavior is a little too friendly bordering on *creepy*. The name-using on its own could be innocent, but the name-using *and* the security guard showing up all the time at the OP’s work is giving me alarm bells.

      OP #3, I suggest you document all of these events happening, so you have a record and a trail.

          1. Grace*

            Me 3. We had a security guard cause problems for the women employees and guests/clients in a high-rise office building. It turns out he’d been doing it for years and creeped out many women, to the point that they dreaded using the lobby (only way of entry/exit).

    2. another anon*

      This is exactly the vibe I got from this letter. There is some gut feeling the op is getting about this guy, and the means of address is just the easiest way they can put their finger on it. The book THE GIFT OF FEAR by Gavin deBecker is a great book that tells us to trust these gut feelings and how to disengage from people who could potentially become dangerous. OP, if you feel threatened by this person, please give that book a read.

      1. Zillah*

        I second that recommendation. This was certainly a vibe I got. Of course, maybe the OP is just a snob, but add me to the group that’s puzzled by the reaction to the OP.

      2. Kiwi*

        I was thinking the exact same thing – Gift of Fear. It’s great to be “nice”, but sometimes “nice” has to come second to listening to your “creeper alert” and acting accordingly.

    3. The IT Manager*

      I am going to +1. I actually get two very different vibes from the letter.

      1) LW is snobbish as is annoyed that a security guard is calling her by her first name and now other people are doing it too.

      2) But there is a hint with blocking her entrance and showing up at different places in the plant where she is that he might be paying a bit too much attention to her. This is only a hinted at in the letter.

      I recommend LW figure out which it is, and then react appropriately which in both cases, I think, is to tell the security what you want him to do or stop doing. If you are concerned about sexual interest/harrasment please make sure that he

      1. Bea W*

        She doesn’t say he blocks her enterance just that she can’t avoid him because he stands in front of the door, which is where he’s supposed to stand so that he can monitor who comes in and stop anyone who shouldn’t have access to the building or assist visitors.

        1. The IT Manager*

          True, true. Which makes my point that this is a letter and we don’t have the whole story and interpret these letters through our own lenses.

          I get two vibes from the letter, I do not know which is right, but the LW is getting jumped all over for the one interpretation where she is in the wrong. I’m just pointing out there is an alternate one.

        2. Kat A.*

          Actually, in the many places I’ve worked security guards do NOT stand in front of doors. It’s a fire code violation.

          The fact that the OP brought up his standing in front of the door so he/she would HAVE TO acknowledge him tells me that it’s not something the guard does to others.

          OP: Please document what’s going on. Tell a spouse, a family member or friend in case this guard pushes boundaries further. I don’t think you have enough to mention it to a supervisor yet — unless the guard is not suppose to leave his post and stands in the way of the door only for him/her. But be prepared.

          And trust your instinct that gives you the creeps about this guy.

          1. Bea W*

            Not literally in front, but at the door or close to it, within visual range. Some stand outside. Some stand inside. It depends how far their desk is from the entrance. If your building has a security desk right inside the door, they don’t have to stand around. It also depends how “secure” the building is. Some buildings have guards but more for safety than controlling access to the building. Other places have controlled access and do have guards physically monitoring the entrance. Our guys have a huge desk with monitors but there is also usually one who physically stands in a position where he can monitor the doors. There is always one standing at the electronic gates (the lobby is open to the public so office space access is controlled by access cards at gates like you’d see in the subway) even though the desk is maybe 20 ft away. They patrol the office space regularly. Visitors are required to have an employee escort at all times. I’ve never been to our plants, but I would expect even more watchful security there.

            We don’t know the details, but I’m assuming if there’s a guard posted at the door and walking the building, we’re talking a place with restricted employee access and sensitive information, not just a security guard hired for general safety.

    4. BCW*

      Here is my problem with that. He is a security guard. Most security guards make rounds, so they will probably see MOST employees at various times through the day. I’ve worked at big places (like major theme parks) so I know that there is a tendency to see certain people, like security guards, throughout the day. Look, I know I get picked on a lot on here for not being as “sensitive” to how women in the workplace feel, but really, if now a guy calling you by your first name give you a creepy vibe or a bad gut feeling, then I think you may be taking stuff a bit far and should just chill out a bit.

      1. De Minimis*

        I’ve worked in plants before that had security and it really depends, a lot of them I’ve seen usually only had the security guards at the front to where it would be odd to see them anywhere else, so I can understand why the OP may be bothered by it.

        1. bad at online naming*

          Yeah, one of the pieces of information that is missing here is what this security guard’s normal role is – the previous secure facility I worked at had different types of guards, and it would’ve been unbelievably weird to see one of the door guards anywhere else ever, since they were supposed to be, y’know, on the actual door at all times.

          Like, they probably would’ve gotten written up (or even fired) for abandoning their post sort of weird.

          (Since the door was near the lunch facility, they wouldn’t even have been walking to/from their lunch break, either – although come to think of it, I wonder if they had their own break room since I never saw one of them in the lunch facilities, and I had really inconsistent lunch hours so I wasn’t just missing them every day… huh.)

          1. Bea W*

            My building the guards switch off duties throughout theday. So it is totally normal to see the same guy in the lbby or the desk or the upper gates or doing a walk through of the office space. They also test the elevator emergency call system on a regular basis, so you’ll see the same people doing that. It breaks up the monotony of the job.

        2. Judy*

          Most places I’ve worked with card access would have a guard at the door area handling the door during the busy times, so you wouldn’t have to guess that everyone needed access. (And to defeat the double door, usually both can’t be open at the same time, so if you swiped your card to open the second door and someone opened the first door, you couldn’t get in, and if they held it, your entry would time out.)

      2. Anonymous*

        I’m confused because you’re making it sound like somebody giving someone the creeps is just a “woman thing.” There are many men who get the heebie jeebies too. People in general can just give out a certain freak vibe without doing anything particularly weird. And it never says the OP is a lady anywhere in the note, so maybe it’s a case of a guy giving another guy the creeps?

        However I don’t even read the letter that it’s about feeling stalked or creeped out; I read it as a respect issue #3 feels is present (and perhaps we’re missing a piece of the puzzle from this letter, so that’s incorrect). I think since the guard is being nice I might let it go, but if it bothers them, then the OP should just kindly tell the guard what to call them and maybe even explain that people they don’t know have started calling them by their first name and it’s uncomfortable for them. If the guard is as nice as he seems, this won’t be an issue.

      3. Zillah*

        Is there a reason that you put “sensitive” in quotes? It confuses me.

        Also: a bad gut feeling is often based on a lot more than the person is able to actually verbalize. Just because this is all the OP – who is not necessarily female – can pinpoint does not mean that this is all that is giving them this feeling, or that they would react this way to everyone using their first name.

        1. BCW*

          I put sensitive in quotes because I’ve been called a lot worse on this board because I have a different opinion a lot of times. Sexist, misogynistic, etc. So sensitive was my nice way of addressing all of those things.

          However here is the thing, the letter never even mentions a bad gut feeling. The OP says that they don’t like it. So we don’t even know if the person is getting the creepy vibes or just is full of themselves. Thats my point there is so much we DON’T know that the “he may be a stalker” thing is a bit much to me.

          1. Zillah*

            How was it your nice way of addressing all of these things? I still don’t understand. Why does the word sensitive need to be in quotes to express that many people here feel that your opinions are often insensitive to women?

            As far as the letter goes… no, it doesn’t say, “I have a bad gut feeling.” However, the OP seemed to me to be expressing a sense of discomfort, which IMO is pretty much the same thing. I’m confused about why it’s overkill to assume that the OP’s discomfort might be justified but not overkill to assume that the OP is full of themselves.

            1. BCW*

              If you are still confused, there is no point in me trying to make you get it. You are determined to disagree with me on this point, so thats that.

      4. KimmieSue*

        BCW – I’ve disagreed with you at times in the past. On this topic, I completely agree. I’ve never worked anywhere, that using first names was not the norm (I’m in the USA).

      1. Michele*

        +1. That is the way it was at my old job. One security guard stood at the door and greeted everyone that arrived and yes sometimes he would greet you by first name. 2 security guards sat at the front desk to check in vendors/guests. It was also very common to see them walk around the halls checking on conference rooms etc. I get the sense that the writer might not be used to this type of security.

    5. Kelly O*

      I’m sorry, I just find this ridiculous.

      It’s a security guard. The security guard’s job is to know who is coming in and out of a particular space. The guard knows this person’s name, and says hello.

      There is nothing in the OP’s question that implies “creeper” and to assume that someone is stalking because they call you by your first name is just a bridge too far.

      Try saying “hi” and finding out the guard’s name (provided he’s not a creeper, of course, and that I’m not misinterpreting it.) The guard probably has on some sort of identification anyway.

      We tend to think of the people in these roles as “invisible” and it seems nice that this person is trying to be friendly with people coming and going. I guess I don’t see the harm in that.

      In another thread, people went on about “being nice” – it’s my personal opinion this is one of those times that being nice is probably more appropriate considering the circumstances as described by the OP, and personal experience in similar situations.

    6. Bea W*

      I’ve been stalked as well. In both cases they did not behave like security guards. They were more intrusive than that and the behavior was targetted to me only. Unless the guy is doing this only to the OP, it sounds like normal security employee behavior. It is their job to watch, keep track, and be aware of what people ho works in the building. That’s what they get paid to do. It’s important to take a reality check. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. If all he does is greet her, watch the door (jhis job), and walk around the plant (likely also his job, not to mention all the other workers who walk different places) that’s not really weird. Being greeted by your first name in passing by co-workers is also not weird, and the way the OP perceives that suggests to me she’s either experiencing a culture shock or tends to be suspicious and anxious of people for some reason or both, but nothing close to stalking.

  8. LadyTL*

    In regards to #3 I’m more skeeved out by the fact the guard won’t let her in the building unless she acknowledges him in some way. Though with more information it could be fine. (Like it’s part of his job to check everyone in).

    But you know it’s not actually that rude to not want to be called by a specific part of your name. It’s more rude to persistently use a name a person doesn’t want to be called by. I prefer to be addressed by my last name but settle for my full first name. I’m really only comfortable with my husband using the shorter version of my first name. No one has the right to just use whatever name they want with someone even if it is part of their name. Some people just don’t use parts of their legal name and there is nothing wrong or out of place about that (at least not where I am in the midwest).

    I think if the OP hasn’t already directly told the security guard (and who ever else) to stop using their first name, they should try that and if that doesn’t work or makes things worse, then try going to management about the behavior.

    1. Kit M.*

      Yes. I think OP#3 buried the lede. If the security guard is blocking the OP’s way until he gets a greeting, that is definitely reason to feel harassed. It’s inappropriate no matter what the OP’s behavior.

    2. BCW*

      Where did you get he is blocking her entrance? It says he stands in front of the door which she enters. Isn’t that what a lot of security guards do?

      1. The IT Manager*

        It says he stands in front of the door which she enters. Isn’t that what a lot of security guards do?

        Not necessarily. Most stand off to the side of the entrance often at a desk. LW didn’t say near, by, next to the door LW enters. She said in front up. Sure sounds loike blocking to me. It could be security guards job to block the entrance from everyon until he sees ID, but maybe now.

        1. A Cita*

          But “in front of” is short hand for near, next to, off to the side, a few feet in front of, and all sorts of other places that don’t indicate blocking when giving directions or descriptions of locations. Without more info, we really just can’t know.

          There’s a lot of assumptions that are being read into the OP (the OP being female, the guard being creepy*, the guard blocking, the OP being a snob), and we can’t know. We really need follow up.

          *(Although, obviously the assumption of the OP being female and the guard being creepy tells more about the crap women deal with than what’s going on here–which is interesting and banal–the banal bit speaking to how entrenched the crap is.)

          1. EB*

            The point about assumptions is good – I assumed the OP was male or that the OP was not familiar with local culture because the letter written was complaining that multiple employees in a company were calling OP by their first name (the security guard and “odd people” [interpreted as “people I don’t know”] in the company).

            As a result I didn’t read the letter as a poor young-person being stalked and unable to properly articulate their fear, but as somebody upset people dared to call them by their first name – *chuckle* shows what kind of things you can read into scenarios on the internet.

        2. Jamie*

          He may need to see ID or make sure people are wearing the proper badge before being let in.

          If he were blocking the door so she would have to talk to him that’s certainly creepy. But if a building has official guards stationed at the doors it’s often because they have protocol about how is let in – in which case you can’t have people just blowing past.

      2. Dang*

        Yeah, I’m wondering if I’m reading a completely different letter than others? I guess I could see a case for her feeling threatened but that’s reading beyond the letter, I think…

        A security guard sits/stands in front of some entrance, no? I don’t see this as him blocking entrance until OP acknowledges him. I read this as “I’d just ignore him but I walk RIGHT PAST the door..”

    3. BCW*

      Also, as for it being rude to be called something you don’t like, yes and no. If there are 100 people in this building, and he calls them all by their first name, including the big wigs, then here comes “Elitist Contractor” who demands to be called Mr/Miss Contractor, well yeah, that is a problem I think. You do have to look at the culture of where you are and not think you are more important than others.

      1. FiveNine*

        I got the sense it was the opposite. That the guard is being overly familiar and calling the OP by her first name while men are not singled out that way, or if they are greeted they certainly are not called by their first name — and on top of it, OP feels that this has lent to others whom she doesn’t even know not just casually greeting her with her first name but inappropriately knowing her first name in the first place.

        1. BCW*

          Again people are jumping to the conclusion based on nothing in the letter that the OP is a woman. Regardless though, we don’t know what it is. It could be like you are suggesting, that the OP is the only one being called by the first name. It could be that the OP just things they deserve to be addressed more formally. My reply was just that you do have a right to be called what you want, but only as so far as the culture of the place allows that type of thing.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            And I’ll add that if the security guard really is giving the OP a creepy vibe, that’s important — but her letter doesn’t focus on that; it focuses on behavior that sounds pretty innocent, which gives the impression that the OP thinks those things are inherently problems (even without a creepy vibe), which they’re not … which makes it seem less likely to me that there’s a legitimate issue going on.

          2. KLH*

            Seriously? I expect we’re all concluding the OP is a woman because unwanted attention from a man to a man would probably have to turn physical before a man had a problem with it. While as a woman, I have had many instances of men trespassing over my boundaries and exhibiting behaviors of standing too close, telling me to smile, and criticising me for not being nice, and for daring to say “No. Your behavior makes me uncomfortable. Stop it.”

          3. Jamie*

            I agree with BCW on this – I only referred to the OP as a woman following the convention of using my own gender when the OP’s is unknown.

            A man, just as well as a woman, could be offended by being addressed by their first name. If there were creepiness afoot I assume that would have been the crux of the letter.

            With the information we have I don’t see this has a gender issue – even if the OP is a woman that doesn’t make her gender relevant in this.

            1. Bea W*

              Same and so many of the writers are women. That’s my default thought. Could easily be a he, but since Alison has refered to the OP as she now, i’m guessing she is correct.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Oh whoops, didn’t mean to imply that, just doing my standard “she/her” when I don’t know. I just checked the name on the email, and it’s a unisex name, so I don’t know!

    4. Ann Furthermore*

      I didn’t get anything from the OP’s letter that the security guard is blocking the entrance.

  9. hamster*

    OP3, my father always says that greeting a person is not mandatory. Answering a greeting is ,whether you are the President and the one greeting you is the janitor. So keep that in mind. If for some reason you feel that he is not following the right protocoll , reply him hello Mr.LastName” if he doesn’t take the hint tell him “where i’m from ue adress the ladies as MS Lastname”

    1. Lacey*

      I love that idea, my problem is that I’m absolutely shocking at remembering people’s names. I mean, even if I do know their name, in that brief second between someone greeting me by name and me having walked so far past them that to say hello I’d have to yodel, I just don’t remember names. I struggle with my kids half the time, its nothing personal.

      So I just end up saying a very cheery hello and hoping that will do.

        1. fposte*

          And I will strongly disagree with that being any kind of a rule. You don’t have to answer strangers who greet you on the street, you don’t have to answer your phone, you don’t have to answer your doorbell. Somebody talking to you does not confer on you an obligation to respond.

          Now what he’s probably getting at is that it is rude to directly cut people you know when they greet you, and there I’ll agree unless you have a genuine reason to deploy a direct cut. But across the board to everybody? Nope.

          1. Jamie*

            Phone, door, strangers – absolutely agree.

            When I agreed below it was in the mindset of people with whom we work, or are legitimately crossing paths.

            Some guy in the street or next car saying hello – I don’t acknowledge. My mailman, someone at work, the clerk at a store, a waitress says hello and I’m obligated to greet them back or I’m rude.

            1. fposte*

              Right–where it’s situationally reasonable for you to be greeted, it’s a snub if you ignore someone.

      1. hamster*

        I think the intention matters. After all, we’re not in the army to wear out position on the sleeve. It’s the courtesy of answering that counts :)

    2. Jamie*

      my father always says that greeting a person is not mandatory. Answering a greeting is ,whether you are the President and the one greeting you is the janitor.

      This is exactly how I feel, although I’d never put it into words. Hamster’s dad articulated this perfectly.

  10. Poe*

    #1: Whoa, you have actually had accidents in the company vehicle and they STILL want you to drive it?! That is scary to me, to be honest. My car was once forced off the road by a company vehicle (which did not stop), while waiting for the tow truck to arrive to pull my tiny car out of the ditch (no damage, TG) I phoned the company. The guy was no longer permitted to drive company vehicles and because of the business type, that seriously limited his work (I had a friend whose husband worked there), but they had zero tolerance for stuff like that. I’d be pretty concerned that your company doesn’t care about the safety issue.

    1. LisaLyn*

      That’s what I was thinking! I’ve known people who worked for places as drivers and an accident is something that could, first time, get you fired. Of course, their primary job was driving, but still … I’m surprised the OP wasn’t relieved of her duties after the first time.

      OP, I feel for you. I would be the same way. I am an ok driver, but I do not drive large vehicles and I could see being really stressed out. Use Alison’s script and I think they’ll have to see reason!

    2. ExceptionToTheRule*

      To me it would depend on what a “very minor accident” is. Did the OP turn too tight and drive over a curb or side-swipe a concrete traffic barrier? One is something I do in my POV at least once a week (and at the same damn corner every time…), the other is something I’d consider taking the keys away worthy.

    3. Rayner*

      The OP described them as ‘very minor accidents’. I’m thinking dinks in the paint at worst, maybe a chipped windscreen from a stray stone. Having that kind of incident can be off putting especially for a driver who is not confident, but it’s not ‘oh my God, get off the road, you terrible driver!” kind of bad.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Yeah, I had a supervisor whose car was hit by a box truck while she was on an errand and if I remember correctly, the company the truck was from actually disciplined or fired the driver. She was very lucky to only be moderately injured–that accident could have been fatal. The OP’s supervisor could get the company in massive trouble by ignoring the potential liability.

    5. Jennifer*

      Yeah, I had a friend who had a driving job and he got fired for having an accident/scratching the bus, so I’m surprised that the OP’s company isn’t already ticked at her for the minor accidents.

  11. Lacey*

    Regarding #3, I’m curious – why doesn’t this get the response that a lot of questions get, which is along the lines of “they can ask you to do pretty much anything they want, and if you’re not comfortable doing it, you need to decide if you want this job”.

    I think its a great answer, I’m just wondering what makes this different from other questions from people who are asked to do something they don’t want to do.

    Does the fact its a safety issue mean that there is some legal basis for the employee not having to perform the task (yes, I went there), or is it just that this is really a situation where an employee should push back as hard as they can?

    I’m not from the US, so I’m just curious about where the line between what a boss can require and what they can’t require is drawn.

    1. Chris80*

      I was wondering this, too. The company presumably spent money training the OP to use the vehicle & there is an expectation that s/he will make use of that training to help the company out when needed. You would think the company wouldn’t want someone driving their vehicle that seems to be a liability to them, but they haven’t shown any interest in relieving the OP of the responsibility. Would refusing to do it actually do anything other than putting the OP’s job at risk? Unless s/he is very valuable to the company for other reasons, I’m not sure flat-out refusing to do it (even politely) will do the OP any favors.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        I too am curious about this, even though I very much sympathize with #1 (because I get anxious thinking about driving a *normal*-sized vehicle for work!).

    2. Rindle*

      The difference is that the OP isn’t asking if it’s legal for them to make driving a job requirement. S/he is asking how to “successfully back out of an assignment like this.” They could respond exactly as you suggested, and then OP will have to make that decision.

      1. Lacey*

        Yep I get that OP isn’t asking if it’s legal, but they are asking if they can get out of doing something that is apparently (now) part of their job. I can think of loads of questions along those lines (do I have to train new people, do I have to answer the phones, do I have to clean the kitchen etc) and the answer is usually as I outlined above – sure you can try, but if you don’t succeed you are pretty much stuck with it.

        1. Samantha*

          I feel like this is different than the other examples you mentioned. In those cases, the OPs just didn’t like doing the tasks they were given and/or thought the tasks shouldn’t belong to their position. In this case, the OP has safety concerns, which are legitimate given she has had previous accidents in the company vehicle. I’m surprised the company isn’t more concerned about this. What happens when the next accident isn’t minor, and it comes to light that the company is aware that the OP has had previous accidents in the vehicle and has done nothing about it? Since she is a backup/sub driver it sounds like this isn’t a major part of her job. If she does well in the other aspects of her job, it makes sense to me that the company finds someone else to be the backup driver.

      2. Chinook*

        I think that OP #1 may also have to accept that the only way to successfully withdraw from the driving duty is by leaving the jib. True, it is now a safety issue but, at the same time, if this is a job requirement, her lack of confidence may mean that this job is not for her. Allison, is there a specific reason that I missed that you didn’t mention this?

    3. Del*

      I think the distinction here is born out of a couple points.

      1) Safety. If the OP can’t safely drive the vehicle, then that’s a bigger issue than “they don’t want to.”
      2) It sounds like this is an extra assignment, not “well this is part of your job now.” The OP says it’s a change from regular duties. And there’s more wiggle room to back out of extra assignments than there is to back out of core job duties.
      3) It sounds like the OP is asking for the wiggle room between rolling over and doing it and saying “I quit.” Which really isn’t unreasonable.

      There’s not necessarily a legal issue per se, but the fact that the OP can’t safely drive the vehicle and wasn’t hired to do so is strong incentive for the business to go along with letting them back out.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      1. She has legitimate safety concerns. It’s eminently reasonable to push back against doing this, and she should.

      2. She asked how to push back. She didn’t ask if they could make her do it.

      They can still require her to, but the situation isn’t to that point yet.

  12. Apollo Warbucks*

    #1 I understand why you do not want to drive the vehicle anymore, and I hope your manager does as well, but there is something to consider when you have the conversation with your manager and that is the cost of the training, and the limited use of that training the company has gotten from that training.

    Where I used to work for a DIY retail store in the UK (a bit like home depot) and they provided fork lift truck training and it was a condition of taking the course that you worked for at least 12 months after the course so the company got some value from the cost of providing the course. Now I work for an accountancy practice and they have similar arrangements in place for the professional qualifications they pay for.

    I’m not suggesting that’s a reason to make you drive the vehicle if it is unsafe but, from your managers point of view, they might not want to see the money wasted, so it’s something to think about when you approach the conversation.

    1. Mike C.*

      Why is the money of any concern when the employee is clearly a danger to themselves and others when operating this equipment?

      1. Colette*

        What would it do to your professional reputation if you asked for a training course on X, was sent on it (at some expense to the company) and then said, “Oh, I don’t want to do X anymore”?

        I don’t think the cost is the only relevant fact, but it is important to acknowledge the impact of not driving anymore. Depending on the time and money involved, this may be a significant hit to the business.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Yes, that’s a good point, but if it’s something people have not ever done before, there’s no guarantee that training will make them an expert at it. As Dave points out below, you could have several people take the same training and get wildly different skill levels even afterward. They really should have pulled her off it if she’s having accidents.

        2. Mike C.*

          I’m not really concerned about professional reputations when someone who is uncomfortable and possibly unable to safely operate a large vehicle is simply being told to “tough it out”.

          If someone is injured or killed by this person, you can’t “tough it out”. This is a much, much more serious issue than cost or professional reputations.

          1. Colette*

            I agree she should ask to stop if she’s not comfortable and believes it’s a safety issue – I just think the professional way to do that is to also acknowledge the impact on the business.

      2. Apollo Warbucks*

        I wasn’t suggesting that the cost was more important than safety,
        but rather there has been a cost incurred by the business to provide the training and the employee might want to take that in to consideration when working out how to phrase things when they talk to their manager, so they can show the manager they understand the consequences of not driving and the impact that it has had on the business.

    2. Dave*

      I would add that a good manager understands that training is a crapshoot. We brought half a dozen long-term contractors on a couple of years ago for a general labor oriented position. Things changed and we needed forklift operators as well. Of the six, 2 are very good, 3 are alright in a pinch, and 1 is too unsafe to operate it. We do not hold it against them. That said, if we were to hire people now, we would go into it requiring forklift experience and expect them to be very good operators.

  13. Melissa*

    #3 ” …. looking pretty out there.” AAM, did you mean to say “… looking petty out there.” ?

  14. ABC*

    What do you mean “singles me out” ?Are you the only one he uses first name for? What do you mean when you say “odd people”?
    If he is not supposed to be around the areas you are in, but he is then there is cause for concern. We dont know these details so I am not sure all these snarky remarks out here are warrented.

    Next time he bars you way, do not given and greet, ask politely to pass. Do not respond for any overture, but be polite.
    If it persists, and if you feel its increasing why dont you speak to someone in the facilities/security management and see if you are over-reacting?

  15. Not So NewReader*

    OP 1: In NY that black mark does go on your personal license. Hopefully, other states put a little more thought into their laws.
    I am also wondering about your vehicle insurance as I am sure the insurance company sees that you are not in the standard class for regular drivers.
    These two factors are something that the boss needs to take into consideration.
    My heart goes out to you, frankly. because I could not do what you are doing. I would panic and lose my sense of spatial relationships.
    Yes, do tell the boss that you cannot do this. Present it in the context of “it is in the company’s best interest that we fix this now.”
    Perhaps they can hire a part timer or temp person just to drive the vehicle until they figure out their next steps. There are plenty of people out there that can handle the vehicle and would not mind the work, foisting it on you is so unnecessary.

    This is not much different than making a person climb a ladder that does not “do” ladders. The company is only setting itself up for a problem.
    On the good side of things, it sounds like you have a decent boss? If so, that may work FOR you. When you go in to talk with her line up your suggestions on what to do. Perhaps you can help find a part time driver or find a place that will loan your company a driver. Part of the problem maybe that no one has time to look for solutions. (I’m just guessing here.)
    So yes, you might use your own time or your own connections to find solutions but that to me sounds better than spending even one more day driving that TANK.

    (My husband got offered jobs because he did not mind driving. The offers came WHILE he was working, customers could see he did a lot of driving. Take a look at the person who brings the mail/bottled water/office supplies and see if they would like to pick up a few hours. Or maybe they have a coworker that would do it in a heartbeat.)

    1. ano*

      OP 1: In NY that black mark does go on your personal license. Hopefully, other states put a little more thought into their laws.

      Thr reason it goes on the drivers record is that its the drivers safety that is in question not the costs etc. If its down as not their fault then insurance costs less. If its down as their fault then insurance costs more to cover the ‘risk’.

      Unfair if its only to do with the fact it is a much bigger vehicle that caused the issue but understandable!

    2. AF*

      I was wondering about the company’s insurance on the vehicle as well. Their premium could go up from all the accidents, and possibly be non-renewed if this continues. I’m just surprised that OP 1’s boss doesn’t appear to be worried about the financial implications. Not to mention that it’ll likely affect the OP’s insurance premium too. OP, it may be worth talking to your own agent for some advice that you could take to your boss.

  16. ConstructionHR*

    #3 Maybe the OP’s last name is Btfsplk or Mxyzptlk or some such & the guard doesn’t want to miss pronounce it.

    1. Jen in RO*

      But in that case, wouldn’t it be easier and less potentially offensive to say “hello”, with no name? (Yes, it’s always possible that the guard doesn’t think that using the first name is a problem.)

    2. ellex42*

      My last name is pretty hard to pronounce, so I usually tell people to just call me by my first name. However (depending of course on whether first or last names are appropriate for the circumstances and environment), I fully expect to called by my last name until I’ve actually made that invitation.

      Without more information, we can’t know if the security guard calling the OP by their first or last name is appropriate for the situation.

      1. A Teacher*

        I’m always okay with formality between colleagues (including boss to employee) as long as it goes both ways. So if the security guard wears a badge that says “John” or “Sally” you would still need to learn their last name in your scenario until it was mutually decided upon that you could both go by first names.

        From what the OP wrote, I don’t see any pressing issues, but then I’m not there to see if she’s actually singled out.

  17. Not So NewReader*

    #2 and #3:

    People reach out in ways THEY know how to reach out, NOT in the ways we think they should. Yes, this can get annoying sometimes. And we have to hang on to the idea that others are doing what they know/perceive to be the thing to do.

    #2- Is there any possible way that this question could have been the boss’ way of starting a conversation to solve the real issues? I can see the next question being “Okay so if you are okay with a female boss and that is non-issue, then what are the real issues?” I would at least find a way to express to the boss that you respect her as a fellow human being. She either does not see that OR she does not understand the tension between you and she is grasping at straws to find answers.

    #3. When ever a contractor comes into where I work I do two things. I learn a) if it is okay to allow this person to have access to non-public areas and b) I learn the person’s name. At least their first name. Asking for last names sometimes comes across as creepy.

    One town I worked in had an inspector that was… okay sticky fingered. So although this man had to inspect the building by law, he could not be trusted not to walk off with the merchandise. The boss would assign one of us to follow him around. I went to work for other places and other companies were doing the same thing- following this guy around. So apparently this guy did not have a good rep.
    After a while companies got to thinking that it was just a good idea to check on contractors and inspectors across the board. It could be that you are working for one of those companies. The company got burned by one contractor so now policy is that the security guard has to check on you periodically. If you act angry with him that will only lend credence to the idea that you might be up to something nefarious.
    I think you have allowed the situation to fester too long. Just ask him. “hey, every where I go, there YOU are. What is up with that?”
    Be prepared for any answer. He might say “We have some real creeps working here, so I just thought it would be the right thing to do to check on you once in a while. If I am making you nervous I will stop right now.”

  18. Hugo*

    #1, I’m surprised they actually still have you driving after more than one accident, even though minor. You should probably not be driving in a commercial capacity.

    Have you attended any official Dept. of Transportation training? Does this particular vehicle require a CDL? Exactly what type of vehicle is it?

    1. Rayner*

      Having a very minor accident (or even or two) as the OP described it is not a huge big red ridiculous siren to most bosses to get them off the driving rotation, particularly if there are few enough people as it is. No rational boss would give them a ban from driving based on a few very minor incidents.

      I’m talking the kind of accidents that never really even get reported – tiny dents, that kind of thing is what I mean.

      Like: “Oh, damn, I just clipped the lamp post!” versus “Ah, boss? I just crashed into the lamp post.”

      1. Zillah*

        IMO, it should be if they’re also expressing concerns about their ability to operate the vehicle.

  19. ano*

    5# – They are looking for you to give an answer and explain why… “The airing cupboard, small space and need to be able to find sets of sheets that match quickly as well as towels, tea towels etc.”

  20. Rachel*

    #4 Please do the narratives! 4 hours of work is not a substantial barrier to the potential harm not doing them could have on your reputation and future references. Yes, as AAM states, they SHOULD pay you for it, so invoice the school. I would not expect to reimbursed, but I would do it anyway for the sake of the students and my future reputation. Paper and ink are much less expensive than a bad reference which prevents you from getting a great job.

    I probably spend at least 4 hours every year writing reference letters for my former students. I don’t even work at the same organization, and somehow it gets back to them that I serve these students. I have had it come up in reference checks. So consider it a win-win for the students and your future prospects all for the low price of 4 hours of work!

    1. fposte*

      Totally agreed. And surely they’re not all half-done–there are some that were finished and some that weren’t started. Get the unstarted ones (and only slightly started ones) done and be prepared to do the others from scratch again if need be. Yes, it’s a pain, but so is explaining why you failed to deliver end-of-year reports for your students in a job interview.

      1. Anon1*

        Assuming that the deadline for the reports is after the teachers were fired, I have no problem not doing them. My own motto of your lack of planning doesn’t constitute my emergency comes to mind.

        More fundamentally, once someone is fired, they have basically zero obligation to their old employer (with some NDAs, and similar as exceptions). Any unfinished tasks belong to your employer. Very different than if you are quitting where you should try to wrap up or at least tell your employer how to wrap up loose ends.

        Reputation wise,both of them have been fired without notice or explanation. I cannot see a good reference in these circumstances. Most likely a name, title and years of service only.

        1. fposte*

          It’s not so much preserving a good reference as avoiding being a horror story if you want to stay in the same field. “Never handed in grades before they left” is a bad tagline.

          However, I think there’s a bit of a middle ground as well–the OP can provide cursory reports rather than 3-4 page assessments.

        2. Beebs*

          Depending on how the pay is structured, compensation for grading might already be built into that last check. At my school, instructors are paid an hourly rate for time spent in the classroom–it’s pretty high (can be upwards of $100/hr) because they don’t get paid separately for prep and grading time. So if they were let go after classes were done but before the final reports were completed, that last check might include grading time. (Which is a long way of saying they might not be entitled to extra pay for completing the grading, no matter what.)

          That said, of course the school can’t hold the final check, no matter what.

          And that said, to my way of thinking the OPs should still complete the final reports because the kids deserve it.

    2. TL*

      I don’t think writing reference letters is the same as completing the report card equivalent. People can reasonably expect a boss, teacher, or other person to write a letter of reference if they’ve left to the job, to write it on their own time, and to not get paid for it. I’m sure it looks good on your reference checks, but I can’t imagine not doing it (if you honestly don’t feel you can write a letter for said students) would ding you.

      I would expect to get paid for finishing out the report card thingys. And to make it clear that I was expecting my last paycheck by X date, as required by law, and it would include hours spent on report card thingys.

    3. Anonymous*

      Does preserving reputation really have any weight here? Regardless of whether they do these reports, is the school really going to be usable as a reference? They fired her without warning, won’t say why, and are trying to withhold her last paycheck. They seems risky at best.

      Moreover, both OP and her husband are suddenly out of work and missing a paycheck. I think they are correct to I’d want to prioritize their time and resources job searching. Writing recommendations is important, yes–but “for the children” doesn’t trump securing one’s own livelihood.

      (Also, is it 4 hours total or 4 hours per student? Assuming a standard classroom size, 3-5 pages per student seems too much for 4 hours. Unless the lost files were already mostly done and there’s just 4 hours of work left after recovering the file. I have no idea how involved the reports are, but the OP was describing them as significantly individualized.)

      1. thenoiseinspace*

        That was my thought as well. If they’ve both been fired at the same time with no stated reason, something bigger is going on here. I doubt the reputation is salvageable.

    4. Judy*

      Can the OP not get the files from the sent folder of their email?

      I used to do it all the time when I was secretary for a committee at church. I would email the minutes from the last meeting to the pastor and the church secretary with a note to print them out to put in the meeting packets, and the secretary wouldn’t. I’d get to the meeting, and have to go in to her office, get on the internet and print out 10 copies. Then I started putting it on a zip drive, and also sending an email the morning of the meeting reminding her to print them out.

      1. Anonymous*

        Not necessarily. Perhaps she emailed them to herself using her school account for both sent and receiving (it’s possible if she can access her school account at home).

      2. Ann O'Nemity*

        It sounds like the OP is locked out of the school email. If they emailed the narratives FROM the school account and TO the same school account (emailing themselves), they wouldn’t have access to the sent folder.

    5. Windchime*

      Also, I was thinking that if the OP from #4 emailed the unfinished narratives to her work account, then they should still be accessible from her home email account in the “sent mail” (assuming s/he keeps sent mail).

    6. Del*

      Four hours of work when you’re not sure if you’re going to get paid or not is pretty substantial, actually. Once they are fired they have zero obligation to perform any further work for their former employer. If the school wanted to make sure those narratives were completed, then they should have waited on the firing until the narratives were delivered, frankly. If it’s that important for the students to get the narratives, then the school should have waited (naturally, unless the OP and/or her husband were engaged in the kind of massive misconduct that warrants immediate removal – but in a case like that, the school should treat it as a “hit by a bus” scenario and have someone still on the payroll handling any residual work).

      Reference letters aren’t something you’re doing for the organization; they’re something you’re doing for the individual students as a favor. Grading is part of the job and only pertains so long as the job lasts.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        If the school wanted to make sure those narratives were completed, then they should have waited on the firing until the narratives were delivered, frankly.

        That was my thought, too.

    7. Rayner*

      Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeh, I agree with the anon, Del, and noiseinspace actually.

      Four hours (at least. I’d say there’s at least six hours in there each, when they get formatted, and reviewed as well) work is pretty hefty, especially when both partners are supposed to do it – that’s a full day’s work between them. And that’s not accounting for the time spent printing and the cost (3-5 pages per child, and I know of schools where there are 32 children per class= 132 pages x 2), the money and time spent driving the documents to school etc…

      That’s not insignificant in time or money, and it’s kind of unfair to expect them to do it off their own backs when they’re already going to be tight for money while looking for work.

      Also, this school was willing to boot these two teachers out at the end of a semester – not at the end of the year, but a semester – with little warning and still had the audacity to ask them to work off the clock for more work? What kind of reputation are they trying to salvage here?

      Teachers do repeatedly go above and beyond for their students, but the point comes where they have to decide “actually, is what I’m putting into this worth what I’ll get out?” when they’ve already lost their jobs, and have to search anew.

    8. Zillah*

      I think the difference is that you’re not looking for a job midyear at the same time that your spouse is, and in a profession in which (IIRC) most hiring is done in the spring for the coming fall. The school gave them no notice, and they have to make a living.

      I might agree if the OP only had about four hours total to do, although even then, I would raise a fuss about being paid for my work and getting access to the work I’d already completed… but 3-5 pages per student seems to me to indicate much more than that.

  21. Brett*

    #1 I am actually a backup driver for a large vehicle (just below requiring commercial license). Once you are trained, the only way to get out of it is to get more people trained. Nearly all of our trained backups have had minor accidents (especially in training), and more practice really does help a lot. The company insurance covers the vehicle and the backup drivers, not your own insurance. I cannot speak for certain of every state, but odds our your personal insurance premiums are safe. Ask your workplace insurer to find out. Clearly some state are different if NY puts the accident on your record. (It takes a lot more than a minor accident to get on your record in our state.)

    But anyway, trained is trained. Get someone else trained and you will move farther down on the backup list. At some point your training will expire as well; our insurer has a requirement of a certain amount of driving every year and a certain amount of training every few years even though it is not a special license class vehicle.

  22. Chriama*

    I’m surprised no one has responded to #2 yet. Your job is almost definitely in danger. Confronting you outright about *why* you don’t respect her is one step away from terminating you for insubordination. Lack of respect is an issue that shouldn’t come up between two reasonable adults, and I know the instinct is to assume she must be the unreasonable one, but maybe just stop and see how *you* can change your actions to accommodate the relationship. After all, it’s your job on the line (and a bad reference can haunt you for ages).

    1. S.K.*

      Agree. It’s a lesson that often has to be learned the hard way – no one thing (short of nepotism or something unethical like that) is enough to ensure that your job is safe if there are other potential red flags out there. There’s also no way of knowing how this relationship might be affecting your reputation or prospects around the company (or around your industry, depending on how tight a community it is).

      There is also a potentially enormous difference between the OP’s characterization of the situation (“we don’t get along very well, there is tension”) and the question the supervisor asked, which was about RESPECT. A good supervisor will be able to manage someone who they don’t see eye-to-eye with, if their performance is worth it – but a percieved lack of respect can sink even a top performer.

    2. BCW*

      I agree. I’ve definitely had managers (2 at the same job) I didn’t respect, and it was fairly obvious to everyone. It had nothing to do with her gender though, more the way she handled things. In fairness, I don’t think they respected me much either lol. Thing was I was in a more contract position, and I headed them off at the pass by telling them I didn’t want my contract renewed. I think that actually made things easier because we stopped pretending and just got through the time we had left. But yeah, OP your job is definitely on the line here. While its very possible she has earned her lack of respect, your choices are to either play ball or find a new job.

    3. Ethyl*

      Yeah and plus, something about the way the OP was SO SURPRISED that she would ask and that he asked if it was *illegal* AND the fact that he is SO SURE that his job is safe because he i just that awesome makes me think maybe this is, indeed, about gender. Just somewhere in the OP’s subconscious instead of being right there on top of their minds all the time.

      1. LisaLyn*

        I think that may be why the manager brought it up, as a way of getting the OP to think about his/her own attitudes and where they are coming from. I agree with everyone that thinking that your job is completely safe is naive at best.

        Also, we don’t know if OP2 is a man, because I’ve seen women have a hard time showing respect to women in positions of authority, too. Just a side note.

        1. CAA*

          Yes, this is what I was coming here to post. She asked the question because she thinks it’s possible that the reason for your poor behavior towards her is that she’s a woman, and that you may not be self-aware enough to know this about yourself.

      2. thenoiseinspace*

        See, none of those things say “sexist” to me. You can be arrogant without being a sexist. But I do wish we knew why the manager asked if it was gender-related – clearly, something had to happen to trigger that comment.

          1. Zillah*

            … Or maybe it’s a problem she’s frequently bumped into before, which makes it a bit different than simple “insecurity.”

        1. Ruffingit*

          Maybe, or maybe it’s just that the manager is delusional and thinks she’s totally awesome and therefore the only thing that could cause someone to dislike her is her gender. I’ve known managers who truly wondered why they had trouble with their subordinates, it just has to be gender (or some other external characteristic). It couldn’t possibly be that the manager sucked at managing, was horrid to get along with, etc. No, no, that can’t be it because manager is AWESOME in their own delusional minds anyway.

        2. Jamie*

          I disagree that something had to happen to trigger the comment.

          Sexism is absolutely an issue with some people, and that’s wrong – but it’s just as wrong to assume it’s sexism until proven otherwise and unfortunately that happens too, sometimes.

          And maybe she wasn’t even assuming that, just trying to find out what was up, in a clumsy way.

    4. Graciosa*

      If your manager thinks you don’t respect her, you are not competent at your job. Facilitating the smooth running of the department is part of your job. Supporting your boss is part of your job. Demonstrating respect for her position is part of your job. The fact that she asked this question – and the way you answered it – are major red flags.

      I believe you are assuming that your performance in some other task (finance, computer coding, whatever) is enough to offset your lack of performance in these critical areas. It isn’t. If I can find someone else who will be able to do those tasks and make my life easier, why would I keep you? If your lack of respect is obvious to me, it is probably obvious to others. This is damaging to my department and my ability to do my job – more so if I fail to deal with it.

      Your boss is trying to deal with it directly by discussing it with you. If this is not productive, a smart boss will find another way to eliminate the problem.

      You are assuming you can’t be eliminated if you perform your task work. You can. You are also severely underestimating the damage that can be done by a superior who doesn’t like you. That arrogance may be tainting your interactions with your boss. The smart thing – and the right thing – to do is to find another job as soon as possible.

      1. BCW*

        I disagree with the first part. You can be very good at your job without respecting your manager. If it becomes insubordination, thats an issue. But you can do everything they ask of you and not respect them.

        1. Elizabeth*

          Graciosa said something slightly different, though – not that you aren’t doing your job if you don’t respect your manager, but that you aren’t doing your job if your manager *thinks* you don’t respect her. You don’t have to be a yes-man (or yes-woman), but to be successful at your job it helps if your manager feels like you’re both on the same team. Making it known that you don’t respect your boss won’t do you any favors with that boss.

          1. BCW*

            Yeah, but my point still stands. My boss could do damn well that I don’t respect her, but I don’t think it makes me any less good at my job. It can definitely make her want someone else in there more, and make my job less secure, but it doesn’t mean you aren’t doing your job well

            1. Colette*

              You might be doing your tasks well – but she can’t count on you to represent the department, or make things run smoothly, or simply not undermine her when you get a chance.

              That’s not the same as doing your job well.

              1. LadyTL*

                Respecting you boss has very little o do with any of those things. I’ve worked in several jobs where the manager was petty and played favorites and so I didn’t respect them at all (and I’m fairly sure they knew it since I was never one of their favorites) but at the same time, I was the one they called in when someone called off. They knew even if I didn’t respect them personally, I came in on time, did my work right and basically could be trusted.

                Lack of respect doesn’t cause any of the things you claim it will in a good employee, it will in a bad one. Or conversely a bad manager will see those things when they aren’t happening because of a lack of respect.

                TLDR: Lack of respect doesn’t automatically mean poor job performance.

              2. A Teacher*

                I teach in a district where a lot of people don’t respect our central administration. Most of us still do a pretty good job with pretty limited resources. I don’t have to like or respect my boss to do a good job. Many of us that are in that position, have our own standards that we hold ourselves to.

          2. JFQ*

            Have we not seen enough bad manager stories here to allow for the possibility that a boss’s paranoia about respect is not justified? Still, more detail would have helped–does the OP not respect his boss? Has she dealt with other issues in the past that would put her on high alter for a certain form of disrespect?

  23. JW*

    I’m glad others have commented about OP #3. Seems like a jerk to me… a security guard saying good morning? How lovely!

  24. EJ*

    I am idly wondering if the polarized responses to #3 (OP is rude vs. The guard is a stalker) are a result of differences in assumptions of the gender of the OP.

    1. S.K.*

      I think that and the cultural issue make it a letter we simply need more details on. The whole “first name or Mr/Mrs X” issue is something that I’ve seen LOTS of people be scandalized by, on both sides, in both professional and casual settings. People need to realize that it’s something that isn’t universal.

    2. BCW*

      Good point. I don’t think it ever states the OP is a woman, but I think people just assumed that and therefore gave the possible stalker thing credence because of it.

      1. Dang*

        I assumed OP was a man from the way it was written, which might be why I completely missed the potential creepy vibes.

        1. De Minimis*

          I admit that if I read it as being from a male OP I start thinking of it more as maybe some kind of bullying/weird intimidation thing on the part of the guard, and maybe less creepy/stalkerish.

          Not to make light of it, but it kind of reminds me of the Seinfeld where Jerry got pulled into a feud with Elaine’s doorman.

        2. Bea W*

          I pictured a woman and did not get creepy vibes, just a guy doing his job and an OP who has no idea what to make of it.

    3. Mints*

      Yeah I first read it as OP being rude, because that rings true for my personal experience. The security guard at my job is female, and I never get a creepy vibe from her, but she seems bored, and when people stop to say hello our chit chat she seems happy to talk. I make more of an effort to say hello to the building staff than the professional staff I might run in to. So my reaction was “get off your high horse Mr. Prissypants.”
      Then I saw the comments that the security guard might be a man who’s singling OP out and never the other workers, and my reading is now really undecided.

      1. Zillah*

        I’m pretty sure the security guard is a man – “he” is used to refer to the guard multiple times in the letter.

    4. Jen in RO*

      I’m female, I assumed the OP is female, and I felt the guard was vaguely rude at most, not creepy.

    5. ella*

      I’m wondering if it more reflects the previous experience of the commenters. Someone’s who’s been creeped on at work in the past is a) more likely to be a woman and b) more likely to read creeper behavior into ambivalent posts like this one.

      1. Amy*

        I assumed OP was a woman. I’m also a woman, and have experience of being creeped on and literally stalked by a fellow employee. I still thought the OP sounded like a rude jerk.

  25. BCW*

    #3 You just seem a bit high and mighty to me. This person is trying to be friendly and you need to be addressed a certain way. But the fact that you try to ignore him is what really gets me. Personally when I worked at big places, when various people were coming in and out, I was happy that security knew exactly who was who. Showed they were doing their job. As some people said, it may be a culture thing, since I’m not sure where you are from or where you are at. However, if its the US, unless you are a doctor, first names are a very normal thing to call someone.

    #4 I’m going to go a different route here. I taught for years myself, and if my company fired me, then said they’d be holding my check until I completed certain tasks, they’d first hear from my lawyer, and next once I got that check, I still wouldn’t do it. People mentioning the reference thing, if they fired you midyear for no reason, your reference with them is already tarnished. To fire a teacher mid year is SO much of an inconvenience to all parties that they have to THINK there is a good reason. If their logic is that good, you aren’t getting a good reference. Is it better for the students? Absolutely, but sometimes I think teachers have this unfair expectation on them to be totally selfless. While teachers are some of the more selfless people out there, the time you spend doing those narratives is time you could be spending finding a new job (or relaxing, travelling, whatever). If you want to be kind, then yes, I think its fine to work out some kind of contract type pay to finish those, but I don’t think you owe it to anyone.

    1. The IT Manager*

      You have point, but in this case that’s these teachers are screwing over the students as well as screwing over the school.

      It does sound like the school handled this wrong; they probably should have waited to fire them until they got student narratives.

      I’m not saying the school in in the right, but your solution makes the students and their narratives collateral damage.

      1. BCW*

        Well, possibly. There is so much about this situation we don’t know. It depends on the ages of the students. When I taught, it was 8th grade. These kids (and a lot of their parents) didn’t really care about their grades by this point in the year because they were basically biding time until high school. Now it was my job to make them still work, which I did, but if they didn’t get their report cards and comments from me, it wouldn’t have been that big a deal to them.

        I just don’t see why, even if the kids are “collateral damage” which makes this whole thing sound far more serious then it is, that people would expect the teachers to do all of this for free. If this were just about any other job in society, if a persons place of business fired them today, but said they still had to do hours of work to get their check, I doubt most people would side with the company. But again, they think teachers should just out of the kindness of their hearts? Just like anything, teaching is a job and way to make money. These teachers probably already spent their own money on hundreds of dollars on supplies and worked tons of hours for a 40 hour a week check, but now people want more.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          I agree with you. To me, the school messed up by not waiting until all the semester’s duties were finished. It’s the school’s responsibility, and if they are not treating the terminated teachers fairly (paying them, making it easy for them to access the stuf they need), how can they expect them to cooperate?

          When I was a kid & again in grad school, I went through experiences where a teacher was fired mid-semester. Someone else (in elementary school, it was a former teacher for the school; in college, an administrator) stepped in and finished the work. If there’s no recorded evidence of what the kids did, other than the semester-end narratives, this is a really weird school. Is there nothing else the school can use to develop an evaluation for the kids — a 1st quarter narrative? Mid-terms? Written reviews of their papers or whatever? Seems to me, the administrator needs to gather up what’s there and finish the job him/herself.

        2. Rayner*

          This something I find bizarre about American schools (and increasingly, UK ones too).

          Teachers are expected to pay out of pocket for supplies, for extras in the classroom, for rewards and things to motivate the kids and it’s allowed. They’re allowed to put in extensive overtime for marking, for decorating classrooms, for trips, and coaching kids through the endless reams of tests, and everything else and nobody bats an eyelid. It’s normal. It’s perfectly reasonable, many people would say.

          Any other profession, any other job in the world, where they were told to provide extensive equipment, supplies, over and over again, for the benefit of customers/clients and not be reimbursed for the time or the money, and everybody would hit the roof.

          But because these people educate the future of a nation, it’s reasonable?


          OP of #3, you owe these kids nothing but your absolute sympathies if the school still demand that you write the reports without payment and hold your final checks hostage. You won’t be getting a reference. Something gone rotten at that school, and you’re out the door and in the cold. If they can’t figure out a way to be reasonable and do this legally, you have to back away.


          1. Rayner*

            and that should be ‘encouraged’ not allowed to put in overtime, and it’s often (read: usually) not paid, either.

            1. fposte*

              To be clear, the overtime thing is about being an exempt employee in the U.S, not being a teacher. But the paying for your students thing still sucks.

            2. LCL*

              I am an American and I don’t understand it either. I think it is appalling. And yet people here often say that teachers’ unions have too much power. If you are expected to work for free day after day, your union should be figuring out how to stop that.

              In my fantasy world, somewhere a group of teachers will try work to rule for a semester.

          2. A Teacher*

            Grading papers, being on committees, calling/emailing parents, creating prezis and/powerpoints, creating worksheets, writing tests, assessing data, attending meetings, cleaning our classrooms, making copies, fixing things in our classrooms, learning how to use new technology, downloading and streaming videos to enhance your lesson, writing lesson plans and aligning to common core/state standards, documenting and keeping copies of documentation, figuring out how to differeniate a lesson so that I can reach 6 kids on IEPs for 6 different things, 4 kids on a 504 for 4 different things, and the other 25 at various levels (my highest student reads at a graduate level and in the same class I have a girl with a 3rd grade reading level). This is just what I can think of as I sit here on my duty free 25 minute lunch. I can’t possibly get all of it done in my 45 minute prep–I do my best but it doesn’t happen. The thing is, I like my job and most of the stuff I listed, well I have a system for it. Stuff gets done because teachers can be good multitaskers. Last year supplies out of pocket cost me over $800. I also have to use my own personal laptop because the filters on school laptops make doing much prohibitive and the laptops are at least 7 years old that we can get.

          3. Jennifer*

            It’s because schools have zero money for anything any more. If the teachers want those things, it’s their problem to have to pay for it because things like Kleenex have long been budget cut out.

        3. Elizabeth West*

          I have to agree with this. The teachers no longer work for them for whatever reason (I would love to know what that was), and they owe them nothing.

          I’m going to pull out the “hit by a bus” thing. If they were in a plane crash or some accident that took a long time to recover from, or precluded them from coming back at all, the school should have a way to cover that. Trying to force them to finish the work after firing them? Nope. Even if the firings were justified, nope.

        4. Zillah*

          Totally agree, especially considering that the school has clearly made the relationship with both the OP and their husband incredibly antagonistic. Firing them midyear in a profession where it’s often difficult to find a new job midyear, holding their paychecks, removing their access to relevant documents, and then expecting them to put hours into doing these narratives pro-bono rather than do other things like search for new employment?

          No. Just no.

    2. Ann O'Nemity*

      I had some similar thoughts about #4. Is the OP going to paid for the time spent on the narratives? It sounds like perhaps the narratives are due AFTER the last day of the semester, ergo after the OP was terminated. If this is the case, the OP should definitely push for some sort of contractual arrangement to complete the narratives. It’s not fair – or legal – to expect a terminated employee to work for free.

      1. fposte*

        Though I’d like to know if, as suggested upthread, the semester’s pay is expected to conclude grading/reports here, since it does in some places. (Still stupid of the school to terminate before getting them, though.)

        1. Ann O'Nemity*

          As I noted to Joey downthread, I think this depends on the contract. (If there was a contract.) Did the contract include the narrative requirements? AND did the school district pay out the full contractual amount?

          On the other hand, in non-contractual jobs, you wouldn’t expect an employee to work without pay – even if the employee hadn’t completed overdue work. You wouldn’t say, “Bob, you’re fired. But before we pay you what we already owe you, we need you to finish that overdue project on your own time.”

          1. Zillah*

            Yeah, that could be a sticking point. If it’s in the contract, I suspect they’ll have to finish it.

    3. Ann Furthermore*

      I wouldn’t do it for a formal reference, since as you said, any reference from them is probably not worth much anyway. But professional communities are much smaller than you think. So often, you interview for a job, or put out feelers, and it turns out that someone knows someone who knows someone who used to work with you, and that informal reference check becomes part of the selection process. If your reputation is that you are a person who fulfilled your obligations to your students, despite being suddenly let go, it will speak to your general character and commitment to the job. On the other hand, if you’re the teacher who left their students hanging with no evaluations, that won’t be a point in your favor.

      You’re right that the expectations placed on teachers are often unrealistic, but in this case, what happened is not the students’ fault, so they shouldn’t be penalized.

      1. Colette*

        And, if 30 or 60 or 150 students don’t get their narratives, you’ve expanded the number of people who won’t recommend you from the staff at the school to the staff + parents.

        1. PEBCAK*

          If I were the OP, I wouldn’t do them, because then maybe at least a few of the parents/voters would realize that charter schools are not the magical saviors of public education as they’ve been told.

      2. Joey*

        That’s crap. If anyone leaves them hanging its the school, because they didn’t have anyone employed to write them. The teacher can’t leave them hanging because she’s no longer a teacher at that school.

      3. Ann O'Nemity*

        “…what happened is not the students’ fault, so they shouldn’t be penalized.”

        How far should we take this line of reasoning that teachers should take responsibility for the failings of school districts? If the school doesn’t fires the teacher and withholds pay, “it’s not the students’ fault” – so the teacher should work for free to finish year end grading. If the school doesn’t provide supplies, “it’s not the students’ fault” – so the teacher should provide them.

        1. A Teacher*

          Well with common core, we are held accountable for ALL students to be engaged ALL the time. Please tell me that as a worker you and your co-workers are engaged and not sidetracked 100% of the time. If a fight breaks out, it often becomes “why did you let it happen, why wasn’t the student engaged?” Supplies–one parent said “if you expect my child to write notes, you should supply the paper and pencil.”

          1. Joey*

            There are reasonable people and then there are crazies. Reasonable people don’t expect a school or teacher to provide every single school supply your kid will need. That’s definitely a crazy.

            But I do agree that teachers should be intervening when a student is not engaged. For me the key would be that you’re actively taking steps when you see signs of disengagement. If its a one off thing or you can show you’re actively taking steps to engage a student I would be satisfied. But Id still ask the question

    4. Grace*

      I see it a little differently. We don’t know if OP #3 is creeped out by the guard and being singled out. Our high-rise office building had a creepy guard who did very similar things, who creeped out women employees and women clients/guests (including making advances), for years. Everybody thought they were the only ones and avoided the lobby as much as possible and the whole thing got reported when it a bunch of women didn’t want to use the lobby for a simple errand – all because they didn’t want to deal with the creepy guard. It turns out it was a huge problem — for years — and he lost his job for it.

  26. thenoiseinspace*

    #5 – I’ve had similar questions and I hate them! In one interview, the HM asked me how I arranged the folders on my computer. I explained my system of divided by category (event, article, etc) and then chronology. She replied by asking me exactly the same question again. I explained again, using different words and going through the steps of exactly how to move folders on a computer. She replied by asking me the same question for a third time, adding “in general” to the end. I answered with”Well, I’m a big fan of the alphabet.” I never did figure out what she wanted from that question.

    1. Mike C.*

      Stupid interview questions piss me off to no end. They basically tell me that the interviewer doesn’t respect my intelligence nor my time.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Ha ha, great answer!

      While Alison’s answer makes perfect sense, this does seem like one of those “What kind of tree are you?” questions. I had a great answer for that one (which was designed to screen them as much as me), but no one asked. I was very disappointed!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I was going to say “A mallorn tree.”* If the interviewer knew what that was, especially if that were the manager I would be working for, I would know that we were both nerds and I’d probably get along very well with him/her. :)

          *For non-nerds, a mallorn tree is the Elven tree species in The Lord of the Rings.

    3. Mints*

      I’m guessing they just wanted to see how organized you are in general. It seems hard to interview for retail tbh. They want people who are both obsessively clean and eternally cheerful, things that are more about character than work experience

    4. Sydney*

      I ask questions like this when I’m hiring for positions that require organization skills. I like to see if they actually are an organizer, or if they’re someone who just shoves things in a drawer but it *looks* organized because there’s no stuff on the desk.

      But I would take your first answer about dividing by category, and probably ask why you did it that way. I’d also ask about how your desktop icons are arranged and why. For me, it’s about finding out a) if you’re full of crap, and b) why you do things that way. It tells me a lot about how you’re going to work with my systems, etc.

      1. Anonymous*

        I don’t suppose “I don’t organize, I search” would pass muster. Good thing my job doesn’t require me to be super organized. :)

  27. PoohBear McGriddles*

    OP#2 is probably on the hot seat due to tensions with the manager, regardless of the reason. If the reasons he doesn’t respect her are things she can change, then some honest feedback may be useful. Probably better to phrase it as “Here is what I need from you…” rather than “This is why I don’t respect you…”, but it sounds like that ship has already sailed.

    OP#3 mentioned being a contractor. Maybe that is why the security guard takes an extra interest. His showing up at other places in the building may be a coincidence, too, as he may be responsible for security of the entire facility and not just the front door. If he is singling the OP out for special treatment – even among contractors – then there may be a problem.

  28. Ethyl*

    OP #1, while I certainly don’t think you should be forced to do something that makes you that uncomfortable, it may be worth asking yourself if some/all of your fears are really reasonable. Some of what you said sounds an awful lot like how my anxiety sounds. For example, you don’t say what they are, but “minor accidents” that are not serious enough to have this job taken from you may not be leading up to some major catastrophe (goodness, I run over curbs like once a week!), for example. And you say flat-out that more training or practice won’t work to make you more comfortable, but why not? Have you tried, or have you just decided that it won’t work?

    Another good question to ask yourself — Do you have lots of anxiety in other parts of your life, too? If so, you might want to consider talking with your doctor. Good luck, and I hope you and your manager are able to work something out and that you don’t have to find another job!

    1. Joey*

      I’m also curious why the op thinks practice or more training won’t help. It’s almost like she just doesn’t like the idea of driving the vehicle. It’s not out of the ordinary to have very minor accidents while learning how to drive a big cumbersome vehicle. I’ve seen people hit mailboxes, slightly dent a bumper, scratch the sides of a vehicle, etc. Granted its not par for the course, but it doesn’t mean you can’t become a good driver. To me, its similar to any task that you aren’t good at- you attempt to do everything you can in a reasonable amount of time to become better before you throw in the towel.

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        Sometimes when people get it in their heads that they absolutely can’t do something (especially with driving), it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

        1. Ethyl*

          Yep, and if the OP is in fact struggling with an anxiety or related disorder, that can easily become this doom spiral where The Thing takes on this huge insurmountable level of importance and stress. I do think though that more practice in a safe environment could go a long way towards improving things if the OP hasn’t already decided they are doomed.

      2. Lindsay J*

        To play devil’s advocate, though, sometimes it doesn’t help.

        Part of my duties at my old job were to drive one of the company vehicles around the park to collect money. The size of the vehicle went down the longer I worked there – we went from a work van, to a regular SUV, to a mini-van.

        I never did quite get the hang of it and had a reputation for being an awful driver.

        The first year I crashed the vehicle twice and had to be drug tested and lost my license and had a 3 day suspension the second time. I think there were some years were I didn’t have an incident, but I think I had at least a small incident more years than not.

        Part of the number of issues I had was that I reported everything – scraping the curb, dinging a garbage can, etc – as the paperwork I signed when I was licensed required me to. Others were not as diligent at reporting when they crashed.

        The other part was that I just wasn’t good at it. I have no spatial sense, I have a bad astigmatism that affects my depth perception, and I was just unable to accurately judge how easy or difficult it would be to maneuver the vehicle in and out of tight spots. I would be okay with my route until something got moved (garbage cans, dumpsters, picnic tables) or somebody got lazy and left palates out where they didn’t belong or something and my usual route was blocked and I was forced to adjust.

        10 years of practice didn’t help. I don’t think another 10 years would have made much of a difference. My employer judged that they would rather have me do the task anyway because my speed outweighed the small damages to the vehicle. I never stepped down because I rather enjoyed driving the vehicle because I didn’t feel like I was risking life or limb of myself or others. No matter what I did I never would have been good at it.

    2. Zillah*

      I can see your point, but even if this is based around anxiety, anxiety could also impact the OP’s performance, and that’s also an issue that won’t be fixed overnight.

  29. Laura*

    #3 – The OP says that the guard “singles them out” – does that mean he isn’t greeting other employees who come in the building (as in, the OP is standing in a line with a group of employees and is the only one who gets greeted) or that the OP doesn’t see him greet other employees?

    If he’s greeting everyone, it’s probably to be friendly and let people know he’s aware of who comes and goes.

    It’s also possible that the guard IS giving the OP extra attention, but not because he’s “stalking” the OP. If there have been any reports of inappropriate or criminal behavior, he may have been asked to keep an eye on certain people.

    1. Hous*

      Yeah, the “singles me out” interested me as well. That being said, it’s worth considering if there’s a reason the guard knows your name in particular, I think. The security guards at our front desk greet me by name and no one else that I’ve ever witnessed, but for a very obvious reason: I had to sign in and get a name tag every day I worked there for a year while I was temping. Not surprisingly, they learned my name very quickly and still remember it.

    2. L McD*

      Yeah, my first thought was – it’s quite possible the OP is being singled out, but for a reason. If they’ve been refusing to greet the guard from day one (and it’s a normal/expected thing at that workplace) the guard is probably concerned about their behavior. Of course, it’s also very possible the guard is being creepy and weird, but there’s absolutely no way to tell from the information we have.

      Either way, it might be worth discussing with someone at the workplace who’s experienced, trustworthy and been there long enough to understand the culture. Not necessarily management, but possibly – if that makes the most sense. But rather than framing it as a complaint, just explain the situation. Voice your concerns and let them give their opinion on what’s happening. Focus on the fact that he’s barring you from entering the building unless you return his greeting, and that you feel he’s following you. Unless you’ve asked him to call you by something other than your name and he’s ignoring you, that’s not relevant. Someone else who’s familiar with the workplace will be more able to judge what’s happening than strangers on the internet.

      As for the name issue, simply return his greeting and ask him politely to call you by your preferred name or title. This may or may not address his other behavior, but that solves at least one problem.

    3. AVP*

      I wonder if the OP and the security guard have something in common that other co-workers don’t share? Such as, being part of the same racial minority or ethnic background, both being from the same city, etc.

      I’ve worked in places before where I’ll walk into a building with co-workers and the security guard will remember their names but not mine, and they’ll explain “oh he likes me because we’re both from Jamaica,” or “Oh yes we both grew up in Istanbul and he could tell because of my unusual name. He always says hi to me.” I can totally see that happening, but I would also understand if the OP feels awkward about singled out this way for a reason like this.

      (That said I would just say hi and wave back, but then again my two favorite people to run into at work are our building super and the woman who cleans the office. They are the best.)

  30. J*


    I feel like this was a prank question. Who would be offended by this? I believe that we’ll soon see a post from an unnamed security guard asking why a coworker screamed at them as he/she greeted said coworker one morning.

    1. FiveNine*

      I truly got the sense that OP is a woman who clearly says the guard has singled her out to call her by her first name in front of everyone when he doesn’t do it to other people, and that not only does this make her uncomfortable but now there are people whom she doesn’t know who feel free to inappropriately call her by her first name (or even know her first name when they shouldn’t). Yes, to me it definitely came off as something to be taken aback by and offended by, frankly.

      1. BCW*

        Aside from the leaps you took from information that wasn’t there (OP is a woman, no one else is called that, etc), I still don’t get it. If this person is a contractor, their security clearance may have been different, so he just remembers their first name for any number of reasons. Again, nothing to be offended about. Aside from that, if you are working somewhere, would you really be offended that other people in the company know your name? If I worked somewhere and I just saw a random person start showing up, I’d be curious about them too. Once I got the name, I may say hello to that person by name. To be offended by that sounds beyond petty. If the OPs problem is that people “beneath” them are addressing them, then take it up with those people.

        1. fposte*

          Well, it’s not a leap to think the OP might be a woman, any more than it’s a leap to think he might be a man.

          The problem here is that there’s not enough information. It’s a scenario that could indeed be creepy, in a way that many of us have experienced; it could also be perfectly friendly, in a way that many of us–save for the OP, apparently–have experienced. Maybe the OP will give us more information, but until then, I think it’s reasonable to consider both scenarios plausible.

          1. bad at online naming*


            There are just soooo many scenarios that this could fit that more information is needed to narrow the list. Speculation about what other ingredients are needed to complete a possible scenario isn’t really leaping.

      2. De Minimis*

        That was my interpretation of it too, although the fact that we have to interpret it in the first place is the main issue. I agree, I would find it offputting and possibly creepy. It doesn’t sound like it’s just the guy being friendly or trying to do his job.

  31. Anonymous*


    I’m curious if the last paycheck is not already including the work for the narratives. How else is every other teacher being paid who also have to write these narratives at the school?

    But yes, you should write the narratives. It’s not fair to the students as they are not the ones who fired you (hopefully). After all, who do you expect to write the narratives instead of you?

    1. BCW*

      Most teachers are just paid a couple times a month, so its not like you are being paid for a “pay period”. But for your question its like this. Report cards (or narratives in this case) are due January 15. You are working on them up to that point, but they aren’t due until then. If you are fired January 10 and they aren’t done, then no, you haven’t been paid for that. You were paid for any work done through January 10 (as would be the case in any project done for a company). So, with that being said, the other teachers were working on it because they expected they would still be employed when the narratives were do. No different than if I had a project due on Feb 1, but got fired today. It would be pretty ballsy of my company to tell me that they aren’t going to pay me for the work, but I have to finish the work on that project.

    2. Joey*

      I get the compassion for the kids, but the job is an agreement to do work in exchange for money. When an employer severs that agreement it’s pretty ballsy and downright unreasonable to go back and say “oh by the way, we don’t want you back, but we do want you to finish that project you were working on from home. And, we’re going to hold the money we owe you hostage until you comply.” That my friends is crap. I don’t buy the “do it for the kids” argument either because there is no obligation to the job after you’ve been fired. At this point its the schools responsibility to “do it for the kids.”

      1. Rayner*

        Pretty much this.

        It becomes the school’s responsibility to deal with the children’s reports after they’ve fired the teacher, however they want to deal with it. Not the fired people’s job.

        Comparison – would you ask Ana who just got fired from her accountancy firm to still write up the files and ledgers from her thirty best clients, just because they liked Ana?

        Uh, no.

        Those files become the business’s responsibility, not Ana’s.

        1. John B Public*

          I’d go one step further: the narratives were always the school’s responsibility, and management delegated it to each student’s teacher. When the teacher is fired (or gets hit by a bus) the work still has to get done, but the work is no longer delegated and must be either redelegated or done by the former teacher’s manager. In this case the person who originally was supposed to do it is technically available, but nobody works for free.

          OP, submit a proposal, including a list of required materials to be supplied by the district (like access to your work email) and a consulting fee. Make sure you charge triple what you used to get, because you no longer get benefits like health insurance or pension.

      2. Mike C.*

        Bingo. You can’t pay the rent with “do it for the kids”, and frankly teachers are already crapped on as a group “for the kids”.

        Frozen wages for years on end? “For the kids”. Pay for supplies out of pocket? “For the kids”. It simply never ends. No one ever offers to pay a teacher’s rent “for the kids”, and then they take all the blame for the 7-8 hours the kid is in school with no comment as to the remainder of the day or any other outside influences.

      3. A Cita*

        Yes. The only one who is screwing the kids is the school. If the kids need their narratives from the fired teachers, then the school is responsible for making sure that happens. And making sure that happens doesn’t mean withholding a paycheck and not paying for the time. The school chose to be a jerk by choosing this route instead of the legal one. The school is responsible. Poor kids, indeed. Take it up with the school, not a fired former employee.

    3. JMegan*

      The narratives are not the OPs’ problem any more, as they are no longer employed by the school. The OPs should have no further expecations wrt the school at all, other than receiving their final paycheques. The school made the decision to fire them at that particular time, so the school needs to deal with the consequences of that decision. I agree with the others who say “for the kids” doesn’t pay the rent!

      And to the OP (and your spouse) – what a lousy thing for them to do, to fire two people in the same household at the same time. I would say you owe them nothing, based on that alone!

      I know it’s easy for me to say that you’re well rid of these jerks, when I’m not the one without a family income, but truly – you’re well rid of them. I hope you can both find new, well-paid employment with people who respect you, very soon.

      1. Joey*

        Why is it jerky to fire two family members from the same household at the same time? Are you suggesting that deserves consideration. When you choose to work for the same employer you take that risk willingly. And I would argue more so in a school that has contracts that are and aren’t renewed all at once.

        1. BCW*

          As I mentioned, in teaching it is a HUGE inconvenience for everyone to replace teachers mid year. Its not just getting someone new in to do the job. Kids behavior goes to hell, as do their grades usually. To do it without giving a reason is crazy. I wouldn’t think it needs to be taken into consideration at the end of the year, since in theory you know that you may not be asked back. But to do it mid year to a married couple seems a bit suspect

          1. Joey*

            Exactly. All the more reason to believe it was legit. Wouldn’t most schools do everything in their power to wait until the end of the school year. Just because they weren’t told doesn’t mean they have no idea why they were fired.

            1. BCW*

              I’m sure there was a reason. How legit it is varies (administrators are some of the shadiest people I’ve ever met, which is a big reason for unions, since crony-ism is rampant in the school system). However, they weren’t even given a reason. That is a problem.

            2. De Minimis*

              I think it’s best to just wait until the end for a lot of reasons…even in college I had a prof who was informed mid-year that his contract wasn’t going to be renewed, and he phoned it in the entire next semester….even gave us all an A on one of the last regular exams in order to reduce the number of people taking the [optional] final exam.

              It was bad too because it was a really important class as far as fundamental concepts.

  32. Ann Furthermore*

    #1 I do sympathize, because it can be really intimidating to drive a large vehicle. My husband drives an absolutely enormous pickup truck, which I have to drive on occasion if he takes my car in for an oil change or to get repaired. I really hate driving that thing. It’s freaking huge, and I always feel like I’m taking up both lanes on the road when I drive it. It sits very high off the ground, so to get into it I have to put one leg up and plant one butt cheek on the driver’s seat, and then grab the steering wheel to pull myself the rest of the way in. And forget going through the drive thru, or stopping for gas, because there is just no way I can judge how close I am to things like when I’m driving it. When his truck and my normal sized SUV are parked beside each other, my car looks like what his car eats for breakfast.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      One of my former coworkers drove a pickup like that. When I had to get a ride from him one of the many times my old car’s battery died in the cold, I felt like I was riding in a monster truck!

  33. Sunflower*

    #5- I would answer with whatever room is the room you spend the most time in. Something like ‘For the most part my house is pretty organized. I would say my kitchen is the most. I cook a lot and it’s easiest to get stuff done the quickest when everything has it’s place. My basement is the most unorganized. I rarely use it and don’t have a lot down there. I wish everywhere in my house could be organized but there’s only so much time in the day’

    This can also display that you understand prioritization and time management.

  34. PoohBear McGriddles*

    Re: #5

    The mother-in-law suite looks like a tornado hit it, but the BDSM dungeon is immaculate!

    1. Rayner*

      looool, perfect. Now poop in a plant pot, and then follow up with a picture of yourself, and a large box of chocolates personally delivered to the CEO’s desk, and you’re 100% the best applicant ever!

  35. Ruffingit*

    #3 – Seriously?? You’re bitter because people are addressing you by your first name. Frankly, with that attitude, you’re lucky they call you by your name rather than a string of expletives.

  36. Allison*

    For OP #3, I’ll give him/her the benefit of the doubt and say it’s totally legit to feel a little weirded out, maybe it’s just a gut feeling, I dunno. I think it may be worth asking others if he’s that friendly with everyone. He may be known for always greeting everyone enthusiastically by their first name, but maybe not. That may be information you can glean just by casually bringing it up, and if it turns out his behavior is different with you, I’d mention that concern to someone whom you trust.

  37. Joey*

    Now that I reread #4 there is one scenario where I think you should do the narratives. And that would be essentially if they were included as part of your last check. In other words if they were holding up their end of the contract then you’d need to hold up yours regardless if they told you before you completed what was agreed to.

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      Yes, I agree. If the OP was working on a contract that spelled out the narrative requirement, AND the OP was paid the full contractual amount, this would be one reason to do the narratives.

      In my own teaching experience, the responsibilities (and pay) extended 2 weeks beyond the last day of the semester. If you were fired on the last day of the semester (effective immediately), the school district would be breaking the contract and not paying the full amount. If the OP is in a similar situation to what I described, the school district is essentially asking the OP to work for free.

  38. KS*

    Hi! I’m the original question asker for #1, sorry I don’t have time this morning to go through each discussion and answer questions individually, but here’s a few more details.
    1) driving is like “another duty as assigned” type thing – it’s in my job description, but it’s a very minor thing and doesn’t tie into what I do on a daily basis.
    2) I have to do it like 10-20 times a year so it’s rare but not so rare. Everybody, including myself, sort of forgets about it until I suddenly have to do it again, and then there’s ‘nobody else that can do it’.
    3) The accidents include clipping a stop sign one time. Another time clipping the trailer hitch on another company vehicle – that vehicle had no damage but I left a scuff along the side of the vehicle I was driving.
    4) There is the possibility of having to parallel park it one of the places I need to drive and so far I’ve always had enough room to pull in, but I honestly don’t think I’d even try to parallel park it. I guess if it boiled down to that I would probably leave and tell my boss there was just no way I could stop there.
    5) It’s the size of a large camper, so it’s big, but not large enough to require a commercial license from the DMV
    6) My manager is really nice and my employers are pretty great. I think we just need to find a way to explain it so everyone can “save face”

    Thanks for the feedback so far! The advice Allison gave is good, I’ll just have to force myself to do it. I never tell my boss I can’t or won’t do something because personally it feels like me saying that I refuse to try harder or something. However I realize there is a difference between public speaking being hard but needing to force myself to do it anyway – if I bomb then I bomb but the world won’t end vs forcing myself to drive when there is a chance that if I bomb doing that, someone will get hurt.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Those do sound pretty minor. Could you maybe explain your misgivings to your boss and ask if you can practice a little bit on company property, so you get a better feel for the vehicle? That might be a good compromise. Plus, it makes you look good, because you tried to come up with a solution rather than just saying “I don’t want to.” (I understand though; I wouldn’t want to either.)

    2. Jennifer*

      I think if I were you I’d really plug, “PLEASE TRAIN OTHER PEOPLE ON HOW TO DO THIS” more than anything. If you are literally the only person around who can do it, they’ll probably still make you do it until there are other options. I run into the same issue at my work with what I’m supposed to be “backup” on. I suck at it, but when there is nobody else around to do it, they stop caring that I am terrible because I am better than absolutely nothing.

      1. Harriet*

        Yeah. It might be that there’s someone who camps in a motor caravan or who rides horses and is used to a horse box or some other person who drives an unwieldy vehicle already who’d be glad of the break from the office every few weeks.

        1. Poe*

          I had to come to the conclusion that I could not work in horses because I can’t drive a horse trailer/horse box. I can happily haul an empty trailer, or an RV, or a boat on a trailer, but if you put some valuable living things inside the trailer I have a complete breakdown. Some people just can’t do it mentally.

    3. holly*

      if you are having issues like running into things/not parallel parking, maybe they can give you more training with a professional driver? those are things that would definitely fail you on a regular driving test ;-) also practice.

  39. Malissa*

    #1–Do you drive the Wiener Mobile? Because I’m picturing something like that. Unless you drive ginormous vehicles every day, driving one occasionally really does suck.
    #3–I’ll say the poster is very right to be creeped out. I’ve know people who do creepy things that if talked about would sound like very normal things. I once worked with a guy who was being “helpful” by volunteering to move heavy boxes for me every chance he got. On the surface this sounds helpful and many people would be jealous. But in reality he was leaning in just a hair too close and looking just a bit too hard at me. But just by watching him you wouldn’t see that.
    Sometimes people are just scumbags and/or creepy. Just watch a few episodes of Criminal Minds and you’ll get an idea.
    #4–They suck.

  40. webDev*

    #2 I think the question was asked rhetorically, and it does not sound very positive for you. Take AAM’s advice and update your resume. Good luck.

  41. James M*

    #3. If I were a security guard and I noticed a contractor trying to ignore (avoid?) me or acting suspicious in other ways, I would make the effort to let that person know that I’m keeping an eye on them by greeting them personally in a friendly manner. Would I be a creep… or just doing my job?

  42. Julia*

    For number 5: I am a retail manager and I love this question! I am going to use it in interviews from now on. We value neatness and organization very highly, I’d say it came right after customer service. I’ve had associates supposedly “straighten” a department and not really have a clue as to what we want. The standards have to be communicated clearly but the associate has to have personal standards, too.

    1. Rayner*

      Don’t. Use. It.

      It’s weird and gimmicky. If someone says the office, are you going to think it’s better than if they say the shed, or the kitchen? What happens if they say “my wardrobe!”

      There’s not much that you could learn from the question that you couldn’t also learn from asking them questions about previous experience, and perhaps showing them a real example.

      1. BCW*

        Agreed. Just ask what you want to know and don’t be all gimicky. If you want to know how neat and organized they are, just ask. I’ll be the first to say I’m not the neatest person, but I’m very organized with what I do. Aside from that, how someone keeps their house isn’t necessarily how they’d keep their professional space.

      2. Sydney*

        Actually you can learn a lot from this question if it’s asked in a way that gets more than a one word answer. If the person just says, “living room,” then yeah, not much to learn. But if you follow up with asking how and why they organize the way they do, you can learn a lot.

        1. Rayner*

          But how you organise a house/apartment/dorm room has very little to do with how you organise an aisle or display in a store, and that’s where you need to focus as a manager.

          “I organise the kitchen with the spices on the rack, the dry food in the pantry, meat on the lower four shelves of the fridge, vegetables on the upper -”

          “That’s nice. You’re going to be working in the clothes department.”

          See how that’s just plain weird?

    2. Rayner*

      Also, if your associates aren’t getting how to do their jobs appropriately, either you’re (as a business/their manager) explaining exactly what you want from them and how to do the job precisely: dust along the top of the shelves, straighten all the cereal boxes, make sure all the food is evenly spaced along the shelves,mop the floors in the aisles – or, they need an improvement plan/encouragement to meet targets. And that is on their manager to help them with.

      It’s nothing to do with if they’re tidy or not at home, or how they answer that question in interview. Set the standard, explain how to meet it, and if they don’t, you need to decide if you want to keep asking them to improve or let them go.

      Asking them “Which area in your house is tidiest?” is not going to help you with that.

      1. De Minimis*

        From my time in retail, although cleanliness/neatness was important, the top priority was that as much store space as possible be put to use for merchandising, display, etc. Things needed to look orderly and presentable of course, but that was really just the beginning.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I honestly don’t get it. If I say living room and the correct answer is bathroom do I not get the job? That might sound humorous but these questions throw me.

      With the way the question is framed the person is going to name a room in his home. Is that what you want?

      I think it would be more to the point to ask a person to talk about previous retail experience and what s/he did to keep the store crisp and neat. One of the things that I’d be looking for a person who indicated they straightened things as they worked. If it is someone who was applying for their first job I would ask what type of tasks they helped family or friends with that involved organizing/sorting/straightening.

    4. ella*

      Here’s my problem with the question: I am neat at work. I’ve worked retail for 10+ years. I know how to keep a floor looking presentable, I know how to attractively display merchandise. I know how to keep my POS tidy so that the next person to use it doesn’t have to clean up after me. Same with the break room.

      But my room, in my house, that nobody else goes in, and I don’t have to worry about anyone else having to navigate? Is messy. It’s not filthy, there’s no dirty dishes, but I have a lot of stuff and not a lot of furniture so stuff exists in piles. I know where everything is, but it looks like chaos to the untrained eye. This is also true, though to a lesser extent, in the rest of the house. How I behave at home isn’t indicative of how I’m going to behave at work. They’re separate environments with separate expectations.

      1. Kerr*


        Also, retail employees are often either young people living at home or with roommates: they don’t have the luxury of maintaining their own bedroom, living room, kitchen, dining room, parlor, and heirloom rose garden with accompanying shed. They may not have much room to create and maintain a great organizational system (and yes, I speak from experience!), so you’re going to get answers like “well, I keep my sock drawer neat”.

    5. Poe*

      Don’t use this question. My house constantly looks like a hurricane hit it, but when I worked in a retail bakery all of my displays were perfect. Why? Because we had photo cards for each display (chain bakery). When the displays were first set up, the manager would take a picture and print it out on card paper. Then we just made it look like the picture on our floor sweeps every hour. Nobody had to think twice, and the displays always matched with the chain’s merchandising standards.

  43. MaryMary*

    OP3: Not to minimize any potentially creepy vibes, but security guards are always on my list of coworkers to be extra friendly to (along with receptionists, admins, office managers, and the maintenance and janitorial staff). It’s handy to have the security guard know your name if you have to get in the building on a Saturday or leave at 10pm to find you have a flat tire.

  44. Anony*

    Re: 3. Security guard is addressing me by my first name and I don’t like it

    OP I think there is something wrong with you if you think it’s wrong to say hi to someone and use their first name.

  45. Kerr*

    Echoing others who would like to hear further details from the OP for #3. I got a younger female employee/male security guard vibe, not “wow, how snobbish!” (And others have listed valid reasons that don’t involve snobbery on the part of the OP.) I may be reading my own experiences into that, of course. I’ve been in situations before where someone is acting “friendly”, but there’s just something…off.

    The “singled out” wording is what concerns me. Hopefully the OP will read some of the suggestions about why the security guard might be legitimately focusing attention on him/her, and see if that’s a reasonable interpretation here. The comments about standing in front of the door, calling him/her out specifically by name, and being around other parts of the plant – all of those could be either very legit or very creepy. If the OP is the ONLY one addressed by name in a group of entering employees, for instance, that’s weird. And if the guard is actually standing in front of the door, instead of just by the door, and only does it when the OP is arriving, that’s VERY weird.

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