my interview was canceled 10 minutes before it was supposed to start, what to do with company swag, and more

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

1. My interview was canceled 10 minutes before it was supposed to start

Is it a bad sign if my interview was cancelled 10 minutes before the appointment? I was just ready to get out of my car to walk into the building when I got the call. He said, “Are you already there?” I said yes. He said, “I’m sorry to do this, but I am at another location today. Can you reschedule for another day?”

Maybe, but it’s not conclusive. It absolutely could indicate disorganization or inconsideration, but it could also be a one-time fluke. I’d take it as a heads-up that there might be issues with this employer (or this manager) and make it your job to confirm or refute that during the rest of the process.

And if he seems mortified and goes out of his way to reschedule at a time that’s convenient for you, those are points in his favor. If he seemed cavalier and not especially concerned about inconveniencing you, those are strikes against him.

2. Contacted by a company I interviewed with multiple times last year

I’m in a weird situation. A year ago, I emailed you to request some help on a job interview. The employer asked to meet my boyfriend and take us out to dinner to mingle and see what the fit was. Well, I didn’t get the job. They told me they prefered the other candidate.

Yesterday, I received an out-of-the-blue phone call from these people, asking me if I was still interested and saying that a position had become available. I went home to discuss it with my boyfriend, and he said I should at least see where it goes, so I called this morning and set a date for tomorrow to meet with them over lunch. Well, I got online and started looking around to see if they posted the job and they had. They did it this morning. I have already had 3 interviews with this company last year, one lasting almost 2 hours. I had assumed that the meeting tomorrow was to offer me something. Now I’m not so sure. I find it difficult to believe that they would actually make me compete against other candidates again, a year later. I’m hoping they’re just covering their bases. I don’t know though. I wanted to get your take on it.

I would not assume that they’re planning to offer you a job at the lunch. It’s possible, but it’s more likely to be either a real interview or a more casual conversation to reconnect, refresh their memory about you, and explain the role they’re hiring for. Don’t be offended by that — offering someone a job is a very, very big deal, and it’s reasonable that they wouldn’t to offer you a position without having talked in a year and that they want to consider you against other candidates as well. Their job is to hire the best person for the role; it’s not personal. (Plus, you know from their request for a dinner interview with your boyfriend that they take fit very, very seriously.)

That said, it’s also possible that they will offer you a job tomorrow, and the ad is there in case that doesn’t work out. It makes sense to assume it’s the first option I mention, but to be prepared for either.

3. What to do with company swag when you’re leaving your job

Over the course of my time at my current job, I have received several clothing items on which our company’s logo is prominently embroidered. My last day is quickly approaching (thanks for your advice on the transition) and I am left wondering what to do with all of the clothes they have given me. The person in charge of ordering company apparel has no taste, so most of the clothes still have tags or have only been worn once. Should I take them in on my last day and leave them in my desk? Offer them to coworkers? Is it a bad idea to donate to charity since all of the items have our logo?

I wouldn’t just leave them in your desk — that sort of sends the message “now that I’m leaving this place, I want no memories of my time here — these mementos repulse me.”

As for offering them to coworkers … is it likely they’d want them? I mean, sure, if they’re highly sought-after, go ahead and see if anyone wants them. But if they’re typical company shirts, totes, etc., I’d give them to Good Will or another charity if you don’t want them anymore.

4. I caught an employee taking a soda that was meant for customers

My small business offers customers soft drinks while they wait to be helped. I have made it clear these are only for customers, yet I have caught an employee taking a can from the fridge. She’s been on my team for over a year and is proficient at her work. How do I handle this?

Is there any reason not to just let it go? It’s fine to have a policy that the sodas are for customers only, but you can have your own private addendum to that of “but the occasional soda by an employee is no big deal” that you don’t publicize to your staff … because you don’t want to be in the position of scolding otherwise good employees for having a Coke when they were thirsty one day. Sure, if you see someone abusing the policy regularly, speak up. But a single occurrence? You’ll get more good will for just letting it go. (Obviously, if  you have other concerns about the employee, you should address those. But a single soda on its own shouldn’t have to be a big deal.)

5. I feel slapped in the face by my Christmas bonus

In July, 2009, I started working for a very small company. It was me, one other person, and the boss. That Christmas, I received a card with $200. In 2010 I received $300, and in 2011, $400. Gradually the business grew and there were many more employees. In 2012, I received $200. I was disappointed but attributed it to the growth of the company and a Christmas budgeting issue. Now we have 17 total employees, business is better than ever, and this year I received $100. We have one person who started 2 months ago and I feel fairly certain that he would not get less than $100.

I would like to mention that I have always been a part-time employee, the company offers no benefits, I’m a woman, a senior citizen (the oldest employee), and one of my jobs is one that no one else working there can do. Even though the cards always say how much she appreciates me, etc., I feel as though this is a slap in the face and can’t understand why I should have fallen to the bottom of the barrel after almost 5 years. I know others are getting larger gifts or at least the same as last year. Am I wrong to feel this way? How do I handle this or am I not supposed to look a gift horse in the mouth?

It’s not unusual that bonuses might get smaller as the company took on more employees; they now have more people to provide bonuses to, after all. It’s also not unusual that a part-time employee might get a smaller bonus that a full-time employee. Neither of these things are a slap in the face. Plus, given the amounts, these sound more like holiday gifts than bonuses, and in that case it’s really not appropriate to complain that your gift wasn’t enough.

If you’re unhappy with your compensation in general and feel that it’s out of line with the market rate for the work you do, you can absolutely put together a case for why your work deserves a raise. But that’s where I’d focus, not on how much money was included with your holiday card.

{ 250 comments… read them below }

  1. PEBCAK*

    #2 — The OP sounds like she is looking at this as the choice between two extremes: either they offer her the job, or she is back at square one. But it’s really something in the middle. If they put her through the entire process again (3 rounds of interviews, the “fit” dinner, etc.) that WOULD be a little disrespectful of her time (barring a lot of internal change in the company), but I’d expect them to have questions for her, and more importantly, she should have questions for them!

      1. Tina*

        Also agree. I certainly wouldn’t expect them to make her an offer at this phase, but she’s a lot further along than a first-time applicant. I was in a similar situation with my current company – I didn’t get one offer, and the next year they called me and asked to apply for a new one that was a better fit. I still had to go through the interview process, but in this case, I also had the head of the search committee giving me pointers and inside information to prep me, which definitely helped.

        1. cecilhungry*

          Yes, I’d worked for my current employers in the past, on a freelance/temp basis. They called me specifically for the position I am now in. I still had to interview. I think that’s pretty normal. It also gave me time to really consider the position, and ask questions, and consider, in between the interview and the offer, if I really wanted the job (I did). That’s valuable.

      1. PurpleChucks*

        I’m not so sure about that! I went on a few dates my 2nd year in college and we parted on good terms. Five years later, he called me out of the blue and we had lunch. We’ve been together 8 years and married for 5 year now…

        1. Jamie*

          Ha – me too, kinda. Dated in college, parted…married other people and 14 years later both divorced get reaquanited.

          Together 10 years, married 9.

          It happens. :)

        2. PEBCAK*

          Right, people sometimes get back together…the problem would be if he said “I want to start dating you again, but I’m also checking out other women.”

  2. Brett*

    #3 Please offer the clothing to co-workers. Just because you are not required to wear it, doesn’t mean others are not. I am in a situation where we have organization embroidered clothing and my current boss’s boss requires us to wear it. Unfortunately, clothing budget has been thin and that means our clothing is getting threadbare. Handed down shirts from retiring/leaving employees are a welcome boon to our work wardrobes, especially if they came from other divisions where employees do not wear org logos and so the shirts are nearly new.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      I’d say offer it to coworkers if in fact you’re *required* to wear the stuff, because then you might be saving someone money if they lose or damage their company-issued clothing.

      But if it’s just a staff perk, I’d give the clothing to charity. My company used to hand out fleece jackets every year, and I never wanted to wear mine outside the office — I certainly would not have wanted someone’s used one!

      (They were useful, though, when I was running marathons — every year I would wear the fleece over my running clothes, then discard it at the start line. Probably not what my employer intended, I suppose.)

      1. Brett*

        And like I mentioned, sometimes other units in the company are required to wear the clothing even if your unit is not.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I ended up pitching mine because no one wanted it! Not at work, not at anyplace I called. :P I swore I wouldn’t buy any more clothing with logos on it again, but of course, ended up with five t-shirts with Newjob’s logo on them. *blush*

    3. Jen*

      I’ve had to work conventions at past jobs and you had to wear a company shirt and the job was cheap and only gave you one per year (so if it was a five day conference your first year, it was a very gross shirt) so I loved it when I could get shirts off of old employees.

      One slight funny story about this – I went to a very small liberal arts college that is rarely heard of outside of the region. I moved across the country and gave all of my college t-shirts to Goodwill. Then an area “rent-to-own” furniture store started running commercials all the time and one of the testimonials was a guy saying “I bought my couch with no money down and no credit!” and he was wearing my old t-shirt “_____ University, New Student Orientation 1999” – I felt a little bad that it very likely wasn’t how my college wanted their shirt to be featured in an advertisement. Oh well!

    4. MissDisplaced*

      I think if the stuff is unworn (with tags) it should be given back to the company for others to use. If mildly worn, I would ask if they possibly want it back and if not donate.

      These shirts/totes/ etc. are EXPENSIVE to have made (I’m the one that usually orders them) so if you haven’t worn it, I would return.

      1. athek*

        If the shirts aren’t required wearing, do you think there is anyway to politely turn this down? I had a situation where my office bought everyone golf shirts with the company logo. They were extremely nice (I don’t remember which brand anymore, but it was a really good one), but I don’t golf, I didn’t like the style of the women’s version, and it was too short for me anyway. I never wore it and did end up giving it to Goodwill, but I always felt bad about the waste of money.

        1. Jamie*

          Absolutely. I take the company t-shirts even though I never wear t-shirts because someone in the house will wear it while cleaning or whatever, or I can sleep in it if I’m out of jammies.

          But the nicer button-down type shirts I’ve declined, because I would never wear it – ever – and no one in my family is going to wear a dress shirt with my company logo on it. And they are pricey Land’s End shirts – why should they incur the expense?

          I think most companies would rather not pay for something you’d never use.

          I’ve worked some places where you had the option of a tote or lunch cooler with the logo in lieu of shirt – so that’s nice but totally not needed…but if you’d never use it politely declining is normally fine.

          Now if you work for people who are touchy about this or would be offended then just take it, it’s a know your environment thing.

        2. FiveNine*

          My current employer is the only employer I’ve had that asks employees via an email with a response button whether they’d like this or that apparel item with a company logo and if so in what size. Really, it’s such a waste to not order what’s wanted (when clothing in particular isn’t required work-wear).

    5. Vicki*

      I’ve kept my company shirts and such from every company I’ve worked at, and happily wear it all.

      In the Sillycon Valley, it’s much more fun to come to work wearing shirts with a different company’s logo. :-)

  3. Just Sayin'*

    4 – Keep your client refreshments separate from your staff stock. Out of sight, out of mind! I’m an office manager and my coworkers love to snack. I know that if I kept everything in one place, there’d never be anything around for meetings. So, I keep a secret stash of bottled water and light snacks just for clients. I get teased about it (people know I hide stuff, but they don’t know where it is–and never will), but, for me, it’s the easiest way to prevent snack-raiding.

    1. Anon*

      I got the impression this was something like a small fridge in the waiting/lounge area of the business, where customers can help themselves to a beverage while they wait for whatever, not something that the boss wants to be personally bringing and handing out to customers.

      1. V*

        ^ Yep. My bank does this with a Keurig, they have the little display with the machine, k-cups, etc. My adorable bank teller told me she isn’t allowed to touch the coffee :(

      2. Nancie*

        This. Every car dealership I’ve ever been in has coffee (and often sodas and bottled water), in the sales area. If it’s accessible to the customers, it’s automatically accessible to the sales people — if it’s not directly accessible to the customers, then the sales people are the ones offering the drinks.

      3. Gene*

        One of my favorite clothing shops in Seattle has a vintage fridge stocked with beer for the customers. I make sure to shop there regularly when I’m in town. :-)

        1. Tami Too*

          I had a similar experience at a Ted Baker store in Las Vegas at the Forum Shops. They offered free martinis to their customers!

        2. Gene*

          I know this will disappoint many of the readers.

          The shop is Utilikilts in Pioneer Square. Most of the female side, and the less confident males just went, “Doh!”

          I’m in Everett and get into the store three or four times a year.

          1. Julie*

            I’ve been there, but I don’t remember the beer! I don’t drink beer, so I probably saw it and forgot about it.

  4. Mela*

    #5 – I mentioned this a few open threads ago, but my bonus a few years ago was a tiny nylon bag with a company logo on it, a bandaid, and two aspirin inside. A “first-aid kit”, they called it. This year, I got a card thanking me for helping the company progress. I don’t want to be the proverbial starving kid from China, but any cash at all would have been better than what I’ve gotten over the years. :)

    1. D*

      It doesn’t feel good to get less of a bonus each year, but lots of companies feel the need to reign in the holiday spending. Being a contractor, I’d maybe get a card or Schwag, like a cheap messenger bag with the company logo all over it (that I’d eventually haul to the Goodwill), and this year I got a $25 gift card. This year’s gift card is my best Christmas gift ever. Back in the 90s I got of completely worthless stock options from a couple of employers, one of which never went public. As a full-time employee (as a trainer at a corporation) they never gave us bonuses and instead we’d get to go to a holiday party at the boss’s house which was mandatory and after work hours, and get to play training games (because you can never have enough training games). Our Christmas gifts were what we scored at the white elephant.

    2. ella*

      I (and everyone else that I work with who has the same job/hours as me) got $15 this year!

      I know part of the OP’s concern is the shrinking amount of the bonus, not the amount on its own, but I would’ve been ecstatic to receive $100…

      1. Heather*

        Is it me, or does that seem like the equivalent of leaving a 10-cent tip in a restaurant to punish the server? I mean, if they’re that pressed for cash, just take the staff to an inexpensive lunch instead!

        1. Anon.*

          I think you’re right. It does seem excessively cheap to hand out $15. Don’t go spending that all in one place now. Having a lunch or some holiday even would be more a bit more festive, but it may be a situation where people can’t get the same time off. But, I’ve worked at a place where I’d take $15 over a team lunch.

          1. Artemesia*

            well $15 is better than say a $15 gift card to Nordstrom or Neiman Marcus which I have heard some companies doing; not exactly clear what use one can make of that.

            1. Ruffingit*

              LOL, yeah. I mentioned this in another thread at some point, but it’s like people who give you a $25 gift card to Red Lobster for a family of four. You can’t even get salads for four at Red Lobster for $25. It’s kind of like saying “Here, let me pay for 25% of your dinner…”

              1. Jamie*

                That’s why gift cards are such a win-win for the store or restaurant – it gets you in and you either go over the gift card and end up spending more in a place you might not have gone to, or you leave a balance on the card and don’t go back and that adds up.

                Genius really.

                1. fposte*

                  It used to be an even better deal before the states started telling merchants they have to hand ’em over as unclaimed property after a while.

    3. Anon.*

      I think the ‘first aid kit’ gift has got to be one of the worst gifts ever. There’s one thing of not being able to offer much of a holiday bonus, but that’s just downright cheap. I’m sure you and your co-workers were wondering why they even bothered at all.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Yeah, seriously. If the choice is the bandaid and aspirin first-aid kit or nothing, choose nothing because it’s otherwise just insulting.

        1. Anon for this*

          I haven’t received a bonus for several years (my old boss gave me one every quarter for almost two years, so it was a bummer when things were reorganized and I got a new boss). My company pleads poverty, but then they send us the reports that show exactly how many millions were made in profit during the year.

          And while I’m complaining… I’ve been at the same company for over 10 years, and for the 10th year gift, you could choose from a catalog of items (jewelry, printers, clothing, etc.). I was excited because it was a pretty big selection of good stuff. I was thinking about what to order when they said they were changing companies and the system would be off-line for a month. So I waited, and it’s been over a year, and they can’t figure out how to give me back my points so I can order something from the new vendor (with a much smaller selection). :( I really need a printer now, so I’d like to be able to use my points to get my “gift.” I’m very angry about it because I’ve complained to the “awards” department and asked about it several times, and they just say it isn’t worked out yet. They don’t seem to have any shame at all that their system isn’t working and that they don’t seem to care. My manager asked about it because I complained to him, and his inquiry didn’t amount to anything. I’m especially frustrated because I don’t know who else to talk to in order to get some action. Now that I’ve worked myself up, maybe I’ll scour the company intranet site and figure out who to email about it.

    4. Nancypie*

      For people who get a Christmas bonus (I don’t get anything, money or merch), is this the only bonus you get? Because I’m reading this thinking how nice to get one at all. But then I get a nice bonus every march, tied to the previous years earnings. And I would have similar reactions if THAT bonus suddenly became lame without explanation.

      1. Jamie*

        I’ve never worked anywhere where it was called a Christmas bonus – we’ve called them year end bonuses and the timing just coincides because of the fiscal year following the calendar.

        But in my industry typically yearly merit bonuses are common for management positions, where for the floor level operators it’s a pretty even split between year end and quarterly.

        Once I got a mid-year bonus in addition, as a thank you for a particularly grueling project that was a bfd, but I don’t expect that to happen again in my lifetime.

        1. Nancypie*

          That’s basically what my march bonus is, part of my compensation package that is calculated after performance reviews, etc. I am viewing “Christmas bonuses” as something else, a gift that’s not an expected part of compensation. I realize not everyone has something similar, and I am very grateful that I do. If THAT bonus was smaller than expected, it would be discussed as past of an annual compensation meeting.

          1. Jamie*

            For us they are given at the same time, but they are totally separate.

            Cash gifts are given in years where we’ve been particularly asskicky and they are the same for everyone from the CFO to the the entry level employee who started last week. No merit involved. Those are gifts – you get them or you don’t and it’s just a right place at the right time kind of thing.

            Bonuses are based on an evaluation of your work. So even though for us they hit on the same check, they are completely different. And for the gift I think gratitude no matter if it’s 10 bucks or 4 figures is in order because it’s a present with no strings and no ties to you personally or what you accomplished.

  5. Erik*

    #3 – I’ve just offered it to co-workers or donated to Goodwill. Otherwise, I just find a dumpster nearby and get rid of it discretely.

    1. Vicki*

      A _dumpster_???

      For __clothing?!?!?!__.

      Please. Stop doing that. There are people in the world who need clean undamaged clothing.

  6. Jen in RO*

    I don’t get what’s wrong with company t-shirts etc. I just wear stuff like that around the house… OuOr is it a matter of hating the company and not wanting to be reminded of it?

    1. Erik*

      For me, I’ve discarded swag from companies that I didn’t want any reminders of. It helps to clear the mind.

      1. Gilby*

        I have shirts from former companies I wear around the house. Nice and comfy !

        And….. I have others that now belong to Goodwill…. Easter Seals etc. Don’t want any memory of the one place but I am sure someone can use a shirt that is still in good shape.

        1. Artemesia*

          I used to do a fair amount of consulting for small colleges giving workshops and such and one of the things they usually gave me as a thank you was a swag bag containing a Tshrt and coffee mug. I use the shirts as work out gear. (but then I am old and long married and not trolling for dates at the gym in which case, I’d definitely find gear that was more fetching)

    2. Emily K*

      I choose my around-the-house clothes not based on “this isn’t something I’d wear out of the house” but rather “this is exceptionally comfortable, much more so than typical clothing!” I’ve got a small collection of lovely soft t-shirts and comfortable shorts and fleece pants, so I don’t have much need for any more “around the house” clothing. And my closet is stuffed to the gills, overflowing drawers and on the rare days that all my laundry is done there actually aren’t enough hangers for all my clothes. I would thrift donate any clothes that aren’t either 1) something I’d wear out or 2) extremely comfortable.

      1. Jen in RO*

        My around-the-house/sleeping clothes are usually men’s style t-shirts (as opposed to ladies/fitted t-shirts). I don’t like how they fit me, but they are comfy, so I just wear them where no one can see me.

    3. Judy*

      It sounds like they’re button down or polo shirts, not t-shirts.

      Once about 10 years ago we got t-shirts, and were required to wear them one day for a photo-op. Yet they did remind us that salaried dress code was no jeans, and no shirts without collars. The production people got to wear jeans. We had to wear them with shirts under them and khakis. The only other t-shirts I’ve gotten from the company have been “wellness swag”, like you take in a form saying you’ve been to the gym x times so far this year, get a shirt with ” fit challenge 2007″

      As an employee, I have only worn the company button down or dress shirts when I’m representing the company. Job Fairs, campus interviews, etc.

      1. Jen in RO*

        Oh, I hadn’t considered that they might not be t-shirts! In this case… yeah, I get what OP is saying.

      2. the gold digger*

        The polo shirt that they only order in men’s sizes and that I have to cut the bottom half off so I don’t have 40 pounds of shirt to stuff into my pants. This is a custom that needs to die a fast, painful death.

        1. Laura*

          Our company once ordered polo shirts for a our company conference (they loved to waste money on crap like that) and I ended up with a men’s XXL shirt (as did many other people because they didn’t bother to order very many regular sizes). So not only was I wearing an uncomfortable, ugly shirt, but I looked like an idiot.

          1. Tina*

            Our office manager recently ordered us new t-shirts, that we wear to a couple specific events only. However he didn’t bother to actually check sizes with any of the women, and several of us on the larger sizes ended up with shirts that barely fit or didn’t fit all all! We felt rather awkward and self-conscious about the whole thing. And now I have to point out that mine shrunk in the wash (on cold, and didn’t dry it), so what would you like me to wear?

            1. PersonB*

              Omg, my current boss likes to award me with company polos (helpful since I must wear them and the variety is more fun than standard issue). He will give me anything from a ladies xsmall (my size) to men’s xl.

              I just wear them anyway. My job isn’t customer facing, I can’t move up in the company, and it’s just not worth it to point out that the shirts drown me.

          2. Wren*

            I’m a very large woman, so I would have killed for a chance at an XXL. When the only option is a ladies large, I just have to pass. I couldn’t get my shoulders into a large, much less my chest!

          3. Twentymilehike*

            Hahah. I used to have the opposite problem. My male boss throught all women wore smalls and extra smalls. It took a woman partner buying into the company to finally get mediums and larges!! They were mostly Ts and tanks and some polos for trade shows, but i only wore them to work. My coworkers and I were like family, so when I left I brought a lot of them in that didn’t fit or were barely worn, kept the ones I liked, and then donated the rest. At trade shows friends of the owners always wanted to hang out and help (attractive industry …) so they liked to have a random collection of shirts on the semi.

            So I agree with those that have said to offer to coworkers as long as it would be appropriate considering the culture and condition of the clothes.

        2. Katieinthemountains*

          Ha ha yes, I waited years for the soft button ups with the company logo to come around as the Christmas gift again, but the men’s small is so long I wear it with the cuffs folded back and buttoned that way…it’s a perfect maternity shirt, but as soon as the baby comes, I’ll get rid of it.

          1. AnotherAlison*

            LOL. . .I did that exact same thing at a previous job. Engineering firm. Project team polo shirts (supposedly “gifts”) were always mens’ large or bigger. I left about 8 months post-maternity leave and gave the shirts to Goodwill, but they worked well for maternity time.

            (Just an aside, the few times they’ve ordered separate womens’ shirts, they have been a fashion disaster. I am quite happy with my current department Ogio jacket, though, and even wear it outside of work.)

            1. Stephanie*

              An internship I had in college gave us fleece jackets. We were all kind of horrified when we were told we’d get jackets (I pictured a windbreaker with a giant logo on the back). They actually ended up being nice fleece jackets (in a dark color) with a very subtle logo. I still wear it at times as do the other former interns.

        3. Stephanie*

          Oh but “women’s fit” polos aren’t any better. My college department ordered polos and bought women’s fit ones for us. They were boxy and had this weird short V-neck (which lead to a button-up). And if you were anything over a C-cup, the shirt barely made it to your waistband. That went straight to Goodwill. I hope there’s a child in Malawi enjoying a polo that says “[University] Mechanical Engineering and Material Science.”

      3. AnonEMoose*

        If they’re button down shirts, check with any friends or relatives who have young children. Adult size button down shirts can make great paint/other messy craft smocks for kids.

        Or if you have any friends who work in day cares, or who teach younger kids, maybe they could use the shirts for that purpose in their classrooms.

        1. HM in Atlanta*

          +1 – I am always looking for people getting rid of these shirts for my sister (the kindergarten teacher).

      4. RubyJackson*

        Cut off the sleeves and sew the collar up. Then, attach some handles and presto! a reusable grocery tote.

      5. Julie*

        The “wellness swag” reminded me – there’s a team at my company that – for some reason – had a big pile of money (this was several years ago, but still), and they were into fitness. So if you needed gear for running or other exercising, they just gave it to you. I got a really nice “performance fabric” long sleeved top and running pants (like tights), as well as a little fleecy beanie that works great under a second hat when it’s really cold or by itself for moderate temps. It’s really expensive clothing, and I use it a lot, but I wouldn’t have bought it for myself, so I really appreciate it. That team also organized several running workouts for anyone who wanted to join them. I was never able to make it due to the starting time, but it was nice that they were trying to make it easy for people to exercise on the company dime.

    4. Sascha*

      Sometimes you don’t get the option of a t-shirt, in my case, we got hideous button-downs. I would have loved a t-shirt…I work at a university and regularly wear school t-shirts. But the button-downs they picked were cheap, itchy fabric and did not fit well (and shrunk in the wash). So I’d definitely not wear that around the house, or at all.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I saved some stuff that I could wear under something else or around the house, like a polo. But the stuff from Exjob didn’t really fit the bill–we’re talking oxford shirts with a HUGE logo that couldn’t be removed or covered up, and these awful short-sleeved cotton shirts that I just hated because they were so cheap and fit badly. I hated to pitch them but no one wanted them.

    6. Laura*

      Any company shirts I’ve received have been itchy and uncomfortable (and frequently the wrong size). I also just don’t wear crew-neck shirts or polo shirts period.

    7. ThursdaysGeek*

      I still wear various OldJobs shirts to CurrentJob, under a sweater. Only the collar shows (if polo or collared), and I need layers to stay warm enough.

  7. Tinker*

    3 — My dad has a shelf with a huge number of company logo baseball caps for companies he used to work for. None still exist. It’s the Shelf of Doom. Depending on your industry — oil is very reliable, for one — that might be an option :D.

    1. Anonymous*

      Yes! I have a “3D resume”, which has mementos of every job I’ve ever had. Even the not-so-good ones. I suppose I’m a half-full glass type, but even the bad jobs taught me something.

      I pick the thing that represents that job to me, then yard sale the rest. For career day one year (we are education) I brought in my “resume” and it was a giant hit.

  8. Jack the Brit*

    #4 – For goodness’ sake. It must be nice not to have anything more meaningful to worry about.

    1. Anonymous*

      Seriously. I would add that nit-picking good employees is a very effective way of losing them or at minimum, putting a serious dent in morale.

      Example: I worked for large company A and we were bought by large company B. Our location kept the fridge stocked with milk (on the company’s dime). One of the memos that went out from company B once they acquired us was that “office milk” was only to be used in coffee, it could not be used in cereal/oatmeal. We’re talking a company worth hundreds of millions of dollars and probably a savings of $300/year on illicit milk usage. The morale hit from this type of pettiness (and there were more examples) doesn’t seem worth the minimal savings they got.

        1. Amy B.*

          For anyone that does not know what a bellend is, do not search for it at work. NSFW! Our internet security office probably has my computer on super surveillance now.

          1. Daisy*

            Oops sorry, didn’t realise anyone would need to do that! (As a term of disapprobation, it’s quite mild!)

            1. fposte*

              I don’t think that one’s escaped the UK yet. Maybe AAM will be its way to international usage!

      1. S*

        I agree! Don’t mention the Pepsi.

        I worked at a small office of a very large contractor. My office had 8 employees which included 2 managers. In 2010, the corporate office announced layoffs (email) and as part of the cost cutting measures they would stop providing employees with bottled water and coffee. Up to that day, I had no idea that the larger offices provided water and coffee until I saw this email from corporate. I had already worked for my company 3 years and we always had to bring in our own water and coffee!

    2. Ashley*

      +1. Even better, how about giving your employees some reasonable limit like “hey, these are really for clients, but one a week/month or so would be fine. Please make sure they don’t disappear too fast so that we don’t run out”. This would prevent the need to slap the adult hands found in the cookie jar. Feels more respectful.

      1. the gold digger*

        Exactly. If you are buying these sodas in bulk, getting them on sale so it comes out to about 35 cents a can, how much of a budget hit is it for employees to drink them? Can’t you just say you are going to spend $10 a week on employee pop?

        My former employer didn’t have free soda, but they had free coffee and free milk (which I used for my oatmeal). My husband’s employer has free soda and free snacks. My current employer has free nothing and there isn’t even any diet Dr Pepper in the machine today, so I am cranky about that.

        It’s a cheap thing to provide and it makes you look like you’re not a grinch.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Free snacks would be nice. We have free tea (iced and hot), coffee, and cocoa. The vending machine is not free, but I would be happier if it had healthy food in it. It’s kind of ironic that we have all these health incentives but then the machines are full of chips, candy, soda, and pastries. I would like to have one of those food machines that has milk, fruit, and sandwiches in them, if they still exist.

          1. Judy*

            We got one of those when they reduced the cafeteria services here. They still make them. It’s a turntable with maybe 10 or 12 shelves, so you can rotate it, and then when you put in the money, the door to the right shelf opens it.

            1. RJ*

              We affectionately call that the “Wheel of Death.” It has some good stuff in it, but I’m not eating a $1.50 vending machine tuna salad sandwich!

            2. Elizabeth West*

              I LOVE THOSE. That is exactly what I’m talking about.

              Of course, I remember them mostly from speech tournaments in high school, and the food is probably not as good now as it was then. Or else, I was just hungry. :)

          2. Donna*

            Our vending machine is full of healthy items personally requested by several employees, and they NEVER buy them, they sit there until they reach their expiration date, I would be happier, as one of the people who does purchase from the vending machine, if they put in snack I would actually eat, instead of the gross ‘healthy’ items. Who eats Veggie Chips?!? No one here, as the same 6 bags have been in the machine for the last 4 months.

          3. Twentymilehike*

            Omg we just started getting a fresh fruit delivery … You’d love it. We get a giant box of random fruit weekly and our office manager keeps bowls stocked throughout the office so we always have fruit to snack on :)

        2. Twentymilehike*

          This is kind of what I was thinking. If there are a lot of employees the could just have a vending machine like in my building where the sodas are only 25 cents. And when we have an office party they collect quarters from petty cash to get sodas.

          Coffee though … That’s a whole other of story ….:)

  9. Maggie*

    #4. Is it possible the employee had an upset stomach & took the soft drink to try to settle that down?

    1. V*

      I had this thought too. It sounds like it’s a one-off situation, and not an actual recurring problem. At my old job, we had a fridge full of soda that was mainly meant for clients and meetings, but I could never see the Soda Police coming out if someone took a can every now and then.

      1. LabRatnomore*

        We have free fountain drinks at my company (which are way cheeper than cans if you have that volume to afford the machine). We also keep cans of soda and bottled water in some meeting rooms and near HR. Ocassionally employees grab a can because of time limitiations or convinence and the soda police don’t case them down!

    2. Chinook*

      I thought the same thing. I was in charge of client drinks and had been known to sneak a ginger ale or cranberry juice if someone asked since these weren’t available in the vending machines (because 7up is not ginger ale).

    3. Steve*

      Or is it possible the employee brought in a Coke of their own and put it in the fridge earlier? Or Maybe she bought it at a machine earlier and didn’t drink it at the time. I’ve done that a lot – sometimes things come up and you save it for later and want it to still be cold.

      Does your office provide coffee and tea to employees? If so, maybe it’s a nice gesture to allow non coffee and tea drinkers access to other company supplied drinks and you need to rethink your stand on offering a 50 cent drink every now and then.

      1. Emily K*

        It very well may be cost-prohibitive for a small business owner to provide sodas to all employees, depending on how many employees he has and how small his margins are. Another option could be to sell the sodas to employees at cost. An old volunteer gig that I had did this on the honor system – the fridge was regularly stocked with Pepsi, and there was a coffee can with a slit cut in the lid next to the box. If you wanted a Pepsi, you dropped 50 cents into the coffee can. Much cheaper than a vending machine (where I think 12oz cans now go for $1-1.50), but you didn’t have to actually leave the site/go to a store/buy in bulk to get that price.

        If the boss didn’t mind picking up a couple extra cases and trusted the employees to use an honor system like that, it wouldn’t cost him anything and still feels like a small perk to have on-site access to single sodas at bulk purchase price.

        1. AdminAnon*

          That’s exactly what we do in my office. We’re having the predictable problems with people not paying all the time, but so far we haven’t ever come up short enough to justify discontinuing the program. I’m not a soda drinker myself, but it seems to be pretty popular among the rest of the staff.

        2. ThursdaysGeek*

          We did that at an old job, with the addition of a paper taped to the fridge for people to write IOUs on. So if they didn’t have change on them, then could write that they owed it. I never saw any evidence of anyone abusing that (either the available pop, frozen lunches, chips, nor the can filled with change.) Sometimes people owed quite a bit before they paid, but they still eventually paid, and without coersion.

    4. Anonicorn*

      She could have had a headache and needed the caffeine. Or simply wanted it and didn’t see the harm.

      It’s different if she’s gulping down half the stock every day, but it doesn’t sound like that’s the case.

      1. fposte*

        “She could have had a headache and needed the caffeine.”

        But to be fair, that doesn’t give you the right to take something that isn’t yours. I totally agree that the manager should let it go, but because it’s not a big deal, not because it’s okay for employees to help themselves whenever they have a caffeine headache.

          1. Colette*

            But that still doesn’t justify taking something that’s not yours. If she suffers from migraines and soda works for her, she should have change for the vending machine/bring in a can of soda and keep it handy.

            I mean, I agree that it’s not a big deal and that it would be nice if her employer offered soda as a perk to their employees, but that’s up to them, not me.

            (I once had a friend who, when she was at my place, helped herself to a banana. I did not think “of course”. I thought “that’s kind of nervy – why didn’t she ask?”)

          2. Holly*

            Exactly. Would you rather the employee had taken the coke and staved off a migraine, or have them get the migraine and have zero productivity that day?

            1. KarenT*

              If we’re going to follow that line of logic (and we have no idea if the employee had a headache), then why didn’t she just ask the boss? If the boss was clearly there since she saw the employee take the pop can.
              “Hey boss, I’ve got a bad headache. I know the pop is for customers but would you mind if I grabbed a Coke to stave off a migraine?”

              1. KarenT*

                Which Khilde clearly posted below! The downside of commenting without hitting “refresh” first!

            2. fposte*

              I’d like to be asked, if I’m the one who’s paid for the drink she’s taking. And if this happens once a week, I’ll go with “take the PTO and bring your own next time.”

              As I said, I don’t think it’s good management to fuss about taking one can of pop, but I also don’t think it’s right for an employee to assume it’s okay to take stuff that’s not hers without asking, whether she has a migraine or not.

          3. khilde*

            And even if the migraine was the issue and caffeine was the answer, why couldn’t the employee just have told the manager later or at the time she took the pop? In that particular instance, I think that could have headed off a lot of the hand wringing and assumptions on everyone’s part. If the migraine is legit and that’s the solution (which I’m not arguing!), then it seems to me this conversation could happen and end of story:

            Employee to Boss: “hey, I’m experiencing a crushing migraine, pop helps it and it was just easiest for me to grab one from the fridge. I’ll replace it.”

            Boss: “Thanks for letting me know.”

            I don’t understand all this posturing on both sides if it’s an easy, valid explanation like this.

            1. khilde*

              Well, and even better, the employee could acknowledge that she understand the policy but in this particular moment she just needed relief, etc. etc. I think an acknowledgement on the employee’s part that she doesn’t make it habit would help a lot, too (this is all assuming a headache was the reason she took it. Could be a million other reasons, though!)

              1. Jamie*

                Agreed – if it’s a headache just ask – a reasonable boss would tell her to grab a soda.

                It’s not a big deal, but why break a rule and make people wonder when it’s so easily avoided.

                FWIW we have free soda and bottled water and all they ask of the employees is that you replenish the fridge when it’s running low from the stash less than a foot away from said fridge and that’s still an issue.

                It’s free – it’s a perk – it’s too much trouble to put some in for others so they don’t drink warm soda? I am one of the 3 people who restock and it’s irritating.

        1. Anonicorn*

          I was adding an alternative hypothesis to Maggie’s upset stomach theory, but my point was that taking a single soda, for whatever reason, is definitely not a big deal.

          Particularly because this employee is “proficient at her work,” which potentially means she has a good relationship with her boss, she possibly assumed OP wouldn’t mind for just this one drink and didn’t need to ask because that’s just the way many friendly relationships work. Some people are more open with things like that and others aren’t – no right or wrong to it.

  10. Re # 3*

    Re number 3, depends on your job but donating to goodwill etc is expressly prohibited at some places and people have been written up for it – a security issue – a person buys the shirt, then walks into the building with no i.d. but people let them come in with them because, hey, they’re wearing a company shirt. I would just ask HR what the rule is. Of course, it depends (don’t want to sound paranoid here!)

    1. Laura G*

      Agreed. And when I worked for the electric utility, there were concerns that people could get a hold of branded shirts and use them to scam people. So I would check before giving them to Goodwill. I know it’s a waste, but there’s some places where they just get trashed.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        That’s a really good point. It’s even possible that a person could buy a used utility company shirt at Goodwill and then use it to scam their way into someone’s house!

      2. Twentymilehike*

        That’s a valid point. I worked at a big retail chain one time and they provided logo shirts. When we quit we had to give them back. Thought I can’t fathom how anyone would have abused a shirt from this place–like you’d get away with impersonating an employee when only 2-5 ppl were on shift at one time.

    2. WIncredible*

      Yeah, but, if they are no longer an employee — who will the company punish? And if they are still an employee and they are donating the cruddy shirt, what does that tell the company?

      As for entering without ID, that is a security issue, not a swag shirt issue.

      Many lessons to be learned here.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Maybe there’s no one to punish, but this could explain why no one wanted my logo-ed shirts. Their policy not to take them could have been because of security concerns.

        At Newjob, you don’t get in without a badge, regardless of what you’re wearing, so that’s not a problem.

        1. Windchime*

          Same here. I work in a somewhat sketchy part of town , and I love that my office is behind two locked doors that are only accessible by someone with a badge.

    3. louise*

      Good point. My husband complained the other day that he has two expensive Carhart jackets (totally not his preferred style) that he’s stuck with from when he worked for a local alarm company. I said he should take them to Goodwill and he looked at me like I was crazy. I hadn’t considered the possibility of someone posing as an alarm tech to get into someone’s house until he pointed that out! I just thought a cold person would be glad to see an expensive jacket for a good price. My faith in humanity takes another dip… :)

      1. Ash*

        Is there any way to remove the logos? If they’re iron-on, I’m sure there’s a solvent of some kind you could remove. If they’re embroidered, you could always get one of those seam pullers…

    4. Gene*

      I work for a municipality here in the Great Northwet (.85 inches of rain in the last 24 hours). Employees who work in the right of way and in dirty jobs are provided with city logo uniform shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, etc. We just recently had a policy come out that they are not to be donated to any charity and it’s all a public perception issue. Even if the wearer is not claiming to represent the city, they are still seen as doing so. The policy is now to destroy unwanted city logo gear or use it for other purposes.

      A couple of recent things probably brought it up, one involved public drunkeness (an actual city employee) and the other was a worker at one of the local “Bikini Barista” stands wering a modified city t-shirt.

    5. Mints*

      Yeah, my job that involved childcare and a kind religious oorganization had a big speech when the tshirts were handed out (they had the name and staff on them). We were told not to wear them after work, and if you’re wearing the shirt at lunch, you’re still representing the company so no smoking swearing etc. And after you were done working there, you were supposed to donate it to recycling (not Good Will) or turn it in to rags for cleaning, or you could wear them, but basically only for cleaning or sleeping.
      It was a big deal, I think it was even in the employee handbook / contract

  11. Re # 3*

    Sorry, didn’t mean some companies forbid giving to Goodwill, I meant they forbid giving company logo wear to Goodwill!!! Oopsie.

  12. Not So NewReader*

    Shrinking bonus. We have the right to have whatever emotion we chose on any given matter. But some emotions don’t serve us well.
    I have seen that shrinking bonus happen myself. If I focused on my disappointment with that bonus, I could end up convincing myself that the company hated me and I needed to quit the job.
    OH, this is not good.
    Reality is to use our bonuses as a measure of worth and a measure of how our companies value our efforts does not hold up well. We also have evaluations, random kudos and special assignments that telegraph what a company thinks of us.
    This is kind of like the person who says “My SO did not buy me the $400 gizmo I wanted for my birthday so I am having a hard time with my relationship with SO.”
    There is more than one aspect to any relationship.
    I can see where a shrinking bonus could be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Context is everything. If there are numerous other problems going on then maybe it is time to address these problems. Or maybe OP should have abandoned ship years ago. No way to know for sure.
    But if everything else seems to be going okay, then dwelling on the size of the bonuses will not serve anyone well.
    I would advise OP to figure out is this truly a bonus question OR are there other subtleties running in the background that make you uncomfortable? It could be that there are other things going on that you just hope will go away eventually. But those things are not going away. In this case a shrinking bonus is a symptom but not the illness itself.

    1. Writer of #5*

      Imagine you’re a kid at Christmas and one of your siblings gets
      a laptop computer from a relative and you, and your other siblings
      receive $25 gift cards. This could cause some friction in the family.
      Business relationships can be worse. If everyone receives the same thing, whether it be a box of candy or $500 – that’s a gift – and that’s okay. When each person receives a different amount, then, to me, it becomes a bonus, because thought has gone in to what each person should receive That has to be based on something. I think that most people would want to know what that something is. That’s where the problem lie.

      I have a sister and a daughter who have always done well in business and are adamant about me speaking up and finding out why my “bonus” keeps dropping. I know it’s not my performance or my value to my employer. So then what is it? I am not good at speaking up and will usually just internalize things while I notice that those who speak up usually get what they want. This is true in business as well in personal relationships. The demanding person “gets”, while the laid back person becomes the one who doesn’t get, because they “understand”.

      I wanted the consensus to be that I just “let it go” because I don’t really want to ask about it. That seems to be the consensus in the few replies here, but, as an older person, I realize that has been a problem for me all of my life.

      My employer is still in the learning process and just starting to implement certain business practices that are necessary when running a larger business. We don’t have an employee handbook or reviews as of yet. I haven’t received any kind of raise in over 2 years. That will be my next quest.

      I do love my job but I need to know that I am being treated equal to those who work with me. Changes are sometimes made when people speak up. Not speaking up can be misconstrued as acceptance.

      1. BCW*

        Maybe I was a bit harsh below. Do you know for sure, or just strongly suspect that others got more money? Are those people part time like you or full time? Their jobs are definitely different, so that could be a reason. Like it or not, company’s have a hierarchy. Some people are going to be more valuable to a company. Its why a sales guy bringing in millions of dollars can get away with a lot more than an admin assistant can, even if he is kind of a jerk. He is worth more to the company. Regardless though, this seems to me more like a “Gift” than a performance based “bonus”, and because of that, in my opinion, bringing it up is petty and tacky.

      2. AVP*

        But how do you know that the other employees didn’t also get $100? (Or $200, if they’re full time and TPTB wanted to reflect that difference.)

        My company always gives a different amount every year, but it’s more about the state of their finances than anything having to do with our performance or who they like more. And having a good year doesn’t necessarily correlate to big gifts – the end of year cash stuff is usually more about cash flow and taxes than overall year-end numbers.

        1. fposte*

          That’s what I wondered. It seems weird that employees are telling each other how much their bonuses were (and I wouldn’t take it as gospel, either).

          1. Jamie*

            Good point – ime people tend to keep that to themselves – I can’t imagine comparing bonuses the way kids compare tests scores in lower grades.

    2. Jamie*

      Reality is to use our bonuses as a measure of worth and a measure of how our companies value our efforts does not hold up well.

      This. And it’s why it’s so important that if everyone’s is lower due to financials, or whatever reason, you have to tell people this. Because if everyone was cut it’s not personal – if yours is lower you may think there has been a drop in your currency with tptb.

      Bonuses are tricky because they are a tangible aknowledgement that you’re valued – but there are so many other factors such as financials and a fair division of the bonus pool. If I got $X last year and $X-Y this year it may well be because my performance slipped. So talk to me about that.

      But it may also be that my performance was just fine and they are still pleased – but everyone got less. Or maybe I was just fine but someone else hit it out of the park and was super exceptional this year and my manager had the same bucket, so their extra resulted in others being less…or whatever.

      No manager should talk about other employee’s bonuses, but letting people know whether it’s them or due to financial constraints is fair and helps avoid paranoia and/or resentment if it’s not warranted.

      1. BCW*

        In your 2nd example though, its kind of forcing the managers hand to say, well you were fine, but Jane was a lot better, so she got more, when its not the managers place to say what Jane got

  13. Anonymous*

    Regarding shirts with logos – some patience and the judicious use of a seam-ripper on the embroidery will yield perfectly usable shirts. Maybe a lot of patience! But if you’re home watching whatever it is you watch on a weeknight, you could be picking out embroidery at the same time and end up with shirts you’ll continue to wear.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Depends on the fabric and how big the logo is. I’ve done this with small ones and it works better on something like a chambray or oxford shirt. When I did it on a long-sleeved knit polo, I ended up with holes. I did like the shirt and wanted to keep it, so I tacked a large applique over the holes.

    2. amanda*

      Definitely do this! I’ve found $130 Patagonia jackets at Goodwill for $4 with corporate logos sewn on the elbow. About 10 minutes with a seam ripper turned it into something wearable. Also works with pharmaceutical logos.

  14. LisaLyn*

    OP1, as usual, I agree with Alison. I’d keep an eye out, but if the manager goes between two locations, I am betting he was thinking he’d arranged to meet you at one place and then realized he’d told you the other. I can see that happening without frightening levels of disorganization!

  15. Jubilance*

    #3 – What’s wrong with keeping them? That’s what I did. You can wear the tshirts for working out or sleeping. The polos or button up shirts can be layered under sweaters so the logo isn’t visible.

    1. Sascha*

      Nothing inherently, just a preference. I hate my company shirt because it’s crappy fabric, so I don’t want it touching my skin. Also it shrunk when I first washed it so it’s very uncomfortable.

      These shirts can also be used for things like cleaning, we have a stock pile of company clothing in the garage.

      1. Elle D*

        Ditto. The shirts my former employer used to order were very unflattering to my body type so I am relieved I never have to wear them again in public. They were dry-fit fabric, so I sometimes wear mine when I’m doing DIY projects or other labor-intensive chores around the house since I don’t care if they get ruined.

    2. TL*

      I won’t wear my company t-shirts out of the house, ever – I work in the research division of a hospital and the only people who recognize the name are very sick people. It can lead to unexpectedly heartbreaking moments in the grocery store or airport.

      So I tend to get rid of them if I get them (but I don’t buy them, either.)

    3. fposte*

      My resistance is that I have too much stuff and am already making sure more things go out than come in. This would just add to my outgoing burden, and if they couldn’t be donated they’d end up in the trash.

  16. LV*

    #4 sounds like a villain from a modern-day adaptation of a Dickens novel. “A hard-working employee I otherwise have no complaints about had the nerve to drink a soda!”

    If you notice that it’s an on-going issue and it starts to affect the business’ bottom line, then of course address that with your staff, but seriously – one employee. One soda. One time. Let it go.

  17. Piper*

    #3 made me giggle. “The person in charge of ordering company apparel has no taste.” If you’ve ever been in charge of ordering company apparel (I have), you’ll know that it’s nearly impossible to find stylish options for corporate clothing. Women’s options are boxy and unflattering and men’s options are just…standard and boring. Taste really has nothing to do with it when you’re locked into those awful options. Trust me. I’ve been the person ordering those hideous things.

    1. Jennifer*

      You should see the work shirt they got us. It seems oddly sports like and the top of it is cut like a sports bra. Why? I have no idea. And it’s in a weird fabric…god, it’s ugly. I only wore it on the day they forced me to and then wore my jacket buttoned up for the rest of the day after the group picture.

    2. louise*

      There are actually some fantastic options now! I’m in the decorated apparel business and now that I have access to tons of suppliers, I’m mystified why all my previous corporate clothes were so awful. Budget, probably~the nicer things are a little pricier, but if the employees will actually WEAR the nicer stuff, I think that makes them more economical than a cheaper item that the employee tosses at the first opportunity.

  18. BCW*

    Wow, employers must be being awesome lately, because most of these letters are pretty petty to me (aside from #1).

    #1 Its very frustrating, but without context, its really hard to say. What was the job/company? Its possible that he got called to the other location that morning for something and had every intention of being back, but a bigger issue came up. Or he is bad at scheduling. Just check it out and see.

    #2 Oh no, you got called out of the blue for a new job, and are would be mad if they don’t offer it to you immediately? As someone who is looking for a job now, I’d love to get called out of the blue by someone, even if its to just discuss an open position. And you get a free lunch out of the deal. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

    #3 Take it with you, and throw it in a dumpster when you are out of sight if you want.

    #4 You are that mad about a can of pop? Do you get equally mad if they use company paper and print something for personal use as well? Come on, it happened once. They were thirsty, or had an upset stomach. This is an overall good worker. Talk about nit-picking.

    #5 This is the pettiest thing of all. I have NEVER in my life, whether it was part time or full time, received a Christmas bonus, and you think its a “slap in the face” to get $100. Get over yourself. Be thankful you have a job that does ANYTHING special for you over the holidays. Be thankful you have a job.

    1. Joey*

      #5. Ah, but consistently giving a Christmas gift sets an expectation. If you see that gift consistently decline in value when the company is doing well its only natural to be disappointed. It doesn’t make sense to the employee- they figure the company is being cheap since there’s no logical explanation. Is it so unreasonable to have those thoughts? I’m not sure “consider yourself lucky” does anything to explain the declining gift.

      1. Laurel*

        I’m with BCW. Isn’t a bonus just that, a “bonus”? Given that a bonus isn’t required, I think an employee should accept what they’re given and be grateful. And the argument laid out by Joey, that giving a bonus of a certain amount each year sets an expectation – well, that just suggests that bonuses are a bad idea! I don’t like the OP’s tone in this. It’s petty to get worked up over what essentially amounts to a gift, and it’s even worse that the OP is concerning him/herself with others’ bonus. I’m going to be a hard-ass on this: If you don’t like it, go elsewhere.

        1. Ann O'Nemity*

          Clark: Yeah. Thanks for telling us. I was expecting a check. Instead I got enrolled in a jelly club. 17 years with the company. I’ve gotten a Christmas bonus every year but this one. You don’t want to give bonuses, fine. But when people count on them as their salary, well what you did just plain…

          Rusty Griswold: Sucks.

          1. Heather*

            Thank you, Russ. :D

            But this is perfect & EXACTLY why I’m on the OP’s side. Sure, in this case it seems like more of a gift than a performance-related bonus, but like Joey said, it’s only human to wonder if you did something wrong when the amount goes down.

            Imagine you had a wealthy aunt who gave each of your 5 siblings $500 as a wedding gift, and then gave you $150. Obviously you’re not entitled to anything at all from her and should be grateful she gave you anything, but given the pattern she’s already set, I don’t think it would be at all unreasonable if the smaller amount made you wonder if you’d offended her in some way. Of course, you should keep that wondering to yourself. You can’t ask her about it, and you DEFINITELY can’t kidnap her from her happy holiday slumber up on Melody Lane with all the other rich people… :)

            1. khilde*

              “Imagine you had a wealthy aunt who gave each of your 5 siblings $500 as a wedding gift, and then gave you $150.”

              Oh, this makes me cringe at myself from many Christmases past. I was newly married and celebrating Christmas with his extended family. The patriarch and matriarch of the family are wealthy farmers, though you’d never know by looking at them and their surroundings. There are 5 grandchildren in the family, including my husband. He’s the oldest, though all are within a few years of eachother. In other words, we were all college age or just out of college starting out lives. The other cousins got these handy appliances and nice gifts for their homes. We got a snowman decoration with little battery-operated fiber optic eyelashes and hat.

              I am not an ungrateful person by nature. I was a little shocked by my own inward reaction to this, but I felt totally slighted and hurt. I needed a handheld mixer, dammit! I could have used one!! Anyway, we may have actually gotten something else in the mix but I can only remember this snowman. God I was mad for a year or so.

              But now? I could weep at my selfishness. I kept the snowman. I bring him out every year and it nearly takes my breath away when I am reminded of how entitled I felt and my childish thoughts at the time.

              Looking back, I’m sure it all evened out somehow. Maybe we got a really large wedding gift. Maybe they slipped my husband some cash on a random visit sometime. Or maybe his cousins always got larger gifts than us. I’ll never know why. And in the end, does it really matter?

              I understand if the money was part of base salary and you relied on it for food, shelter, heat.. But it is a bonus after all. I will never begrudge someone an initial emotion to the situation. It happens. But where you go from here and how long you hold onto the grudge says more about you than anything.

              Just like the handheld mixer vs. the fiber optic snowman. At the time it seemed like THE BIGGEST DEAL. But it wasn’t. I don’t know what the biggest deal is, but I know that a snowman and $100 bonus isn’t it.

              1. going anon*

                When I was growing up, I was the second grandaughter on my mom’s side. My older female cousin always got (what I thought were) better gifts than me from our Grandma. I know she also got bday presents from her and I did not. I was inwardly jealous and resentful.

                Now that I’m grown, knowing certain serious financial issues my parents had when I was growing up, I realize there’s no way my Grandma wasn’t giving my parents some serious assistance (no one has confirmed this for me, and I have never asked anyone, I just don’t see any other way my parents made ends meet at certain times). I feel the same way about my hurt and jealousy back then. Yeah, I didn’t get a Barbie dream house, but it was nice having that heat, electricity and a place to sleep inside.

              2. LD*

                You make an excellent point and it’s a credit to you that you learned from it instead of continuing to be hurt or resentful on behalf of your husband. Thank you for sharing a really good reminder that gifts are gifts, not entitlements.

      2. BCW*

        I get what you are saying about setting expectations, however I still think its petty. If I’m used to my mom giving me $500 every year on my birthday, and one year she gives me $200, I think its petty to be angry about that. Point is, its a gift. No one has to explain why the gift is different from year. Plus, the OP doesn’t really know the financial state of the company. Yes they may be bringing in more, but for all she knows they are expanding next year, and had to make some cutbacks in order to do that. If they reduced her salary, that would be different.

        I just think its poor planning to count on a bonus as part of your salary as “Ann” said below. Thats why its a bonus and not salary.

        1. Joey*

          The difference is your mom is giving it out of love. The company is giving it mostly as a retention strategy whether they say so or not.

    2. Jennifer*

      Yeah….I can’t help but want to growl at anyone who complains about their Christmas bonus. I’ve never gotten one and never will. Not even the fruit of the month club membership.

    3. Writer of #5*

      Maybe if you had received a bonus the last 5 years you would feel differently. You already sound angry that you haven’t.

      1. BCW*

        See I’m not angry that I haven’t received one. I accepted that a long time ago. If I were ever to get one though, I’d be greateful for it, no matter if I thought it should be more. However, its annoying when people who get perks complain that they aren’t enough. Its like a rich kid getting a car for Christmas and being mad that they got a 2013 model and not a 2014 model. To someone who got no car, it just sounds petty.

        1. Joey*

          That’s sort of like saying its petty for you to have any complaints about your job or your compensation because plenty of people would be happy to be in your place.

          1. BCW*

            Its just a difference of opinion. When you are talking about work place injustices and things of that nature, I’d never say just be happy you have a job. However this is talking about work place perks that are still there, just lessened. I think its a bit different. I understand your point, I just don’t agree.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I agree strongly with BCW here. A bonus is a bonus. It’s not a guaranteed part of your compensation. And different people get different bonuses based on differing factors, like job, performance, etc.

          OP 5, you sound like you’re determined to hold on to being angry about this, but there’s no good outcome that will come from that. Your choices are:
          a. look for a new job
          b. stay and stew over this
          c. ask to revisit your compensation if you think it’s under-market
          d. let this go

          I’d do D and maybe C if you think you’re under-paid. If you’re otherwise unhappy there, you could do A. But how on earth is B a good choice over a gift given once a year?

          1. AnotherAlison*

            Agree a bonus is a bonus in the OP’s case, but I disagree universally.

            A competitor’s compensations system is 60/40 salary/bonus. If I can make $100K here and $60 there with a $40 year-end bonus, I darn well am going to be counting on that bonus. It might be $30 or $50, and I’d be conservative with my expectations, but it’s not a bonus. . .it’s deferred compensation. They would have no staff left if they paid people only the salary portion.

          2. Nonnie Moose*

            I’m curious and trying to make I’m following along correctly.

            Given that stance, what is your view of companies who give bonuses but small annual raises, claiming that the bonus (not the raise) is the actual compensation for a job well done and the company’s means of retention?

        3. Writer of #5*

          I’m not talking about a gift between 2 people. Many schools today do not allow kids to bring party invites for only a select group of classmates. They must invite the whole class or invite who they want privately. No one wants to feel like they have been overlooked for some reason. It’s human nature. The rich kid who complains about a gift of that size is a brat…and I’m sure the parents would have already known that. The apple doesn’t fall far… I’ve learned that no ones problems are petty. They may seem petty to some people but they usually stem from an underlining issue…like insecurity or not being invited to a classmate’s party 50 years ago. We all have something from the past that can trigger our thoughts and actions today.

          1. fposte*

            Sure, but that’s not your company’s problem to solve. I definitely agree that if a company is going to give out variable bonuses they need to be straight about the structure, and your company hasn’t done a good job on this, but they don’t owe more of an explanation to people who had a bad grade school experience.

            And you’re still, it sounds to me, dwelling on why you’re mad rather than what it is you want to do. Not what you want *them* to do–what do *you* want to do? Do you want to ask them if the smaller bonus signals they’re unhappy with your work? Do you want to ignore the bonus and ask what possibilities are available for a raise? Do you want to look for another job? I get that what you really want is for it to happen all over again and differently, but it’s not going to.

            What I would suggest avoiding is the triple whammy: not saying anything about it, stewing with resentment, and staying where you are. Then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy–the stewing employee is unlikely to be the employee who merits a raise, but she then stews further, and so on in an often avoidable spiral. Find a way to move on from this one way or another rather than letting it sour your days.

            1. khilde*

              “Sure, but that’s not your company’s problem to solve. ”

              Bingo. It sucks, but…Bingo.

              OP#5 – I do agree with you that it’s WAY more about the $100 cold hard cash. It’s what the $$ represents and the dynamic surrounding the relationships and past events that are all tied up in this scenario.

              I think Alison & fposte gave you some good suggestions for going forward. And I don’t think you’re wrong for feeling the negative emotions you’re feeling. But if you can’t get past it and find a way to come to terms with it, then I do think that’s problematic for you.

              I’d hazard a guess that you feel it’s more about the relationships you had when it was just the four of you starting out the business and that you feel your value to the company is communicated via your bonus, which is maybe why you’re feeling upset by the decreasing bonus size….?

              1. Heather*

                I agree with fposte & khilde – the company didn’t handle it well, but the OP needs to either let it go or talk to the boss about whether the smaller bonus is related to performance or money issues.

                And for the record, my company has a pretty good way of handling bonuses – they’re considered part of your compensation package and you have a target amount that is adjusted based on your performance and the company’s. We get it halfway through first quarter, so it’s not tied to the holidays, and it’s not called a bonus, it’s called “short-term incentive.” (They probably should have given the acronym more thought, though…it makes me laugh to hear people talking about “when I get my STI.”)

    4. Jamie*

      This is the pettiest thing of all. I have NEVER in my life, whether it was part time or full time, received a Christmas bonus, and you think its a “slap in the face” to get $100. Get over yourself. Be thankful you have a job that does ANYTHING special for you over the holidays. Be thankful you have a job.

      You can apply the be thankful to have a job advice to anyone who has a workplace issue, because technically we’re all better off than if we had no income.

      Which isn’t fair – sure the OP shouldn’t complain about bonus woes to friends who are out of work, but there is nothing wrong with asking for advice about it.

      Like it or not for companies that give bonuses they are statements – so if the statement is that everyone is less this year because less money then fine – not personal. But it’s not out of line to wonder if it’s personal.

      If bonuses aren’t common in your industry that’s one thing, but if it is common practice they are generally used as thank yous, as retention strategies, and to send a message. If my company didn’t do bonuses because money was tight I would have no sympathy for those grumbling they were cheated or deserved one, because they are discretionary and unless it’s part of your compensation contractually and they have incurred an obligation then you shouldn’t spend a dime before it hits your bank because you cannot count on it.

      But if my bonuses were shrinking and it wasn’t a company wide thing, you bet I’d be worried about my status. If it were me I wouldn’t approach my boss about the bonus itself, because I’m not going to ask someone why they didn’t give me more of something they aren’t legally obligated to give me at all, but I’d definitely reassess my performance and check in with him to see where he was at regarding my work. Because I’d see it as a wake up call.

      I don’t know anyone who is accustomed to getting merit bonuses who doesn’t see it as a reflection of their worth to the company. And it’s not uncommon in some positions for a bonus to be 10% or more of salary…even for non-contractual merit bonuses. So there are situations where a sizable cut does affect yearly salary in a real way, so while it’s not owed you’d certainly have every right to be curious about the change.

      I think the OPs situation is weird in that it’s in the amount of what is considered a gift, but it varies per employee which gives it an element of merit bonus.

      1. Judy*

        As a senior level engineer I get a bonus based on formula.

        There’s a company multiplier, that measures how well the company has done in sales, cost cutting metrics, etc. It has varied from .25 to 1.25 in my 13 years here.

        There’s a personal multiplier, that is based on performance reviews. With forced rankings, 70% of us will have a 1 for a multiplier. 5% (or more) will have no multiplier, 10% (or more) of us will have .5 multiplier, (no more than) 10% will have a 1.5 multiplier and (no more than) 5% of us will have a 2 multiplier.

        Target bonus is a percent of salary based on job classification. At my level of senior individual contributor, it’s 20% of salary.

        It’s quite a lot of money some years. In our budget, it’s a note, because my husband and I have agreed how we would spend any money like that, basically about percentages to savings, extra house payments, etc.

          1. Jamie*

            I meant to add this. It’s often noted that most of us in the US don’t have employment contracts, and while it’s true we don’t have the same kind common elsewhere, I’ve never worked anywhere (although my list is small) where there weren’t contractual obligations owed me spelled out in the cover letters.

            1. Judy*

              In the engineering jobs I’ve had, I’ve always had either a bonus (paid to me) or profit sharing plan (paid in company stock in a special account) that was similar (percents based on salary, personal performance and company performance). The percentages changed, but it was always spelled out in the hiring documentation and the employee handbook.

        1. Jamie*

          Oh absolutely – those are totally different and actually a part of owed compensation.

          I had a plan like that at a former job where my bonus was 20% of salary for my position and there were criteria for where my metrics needed to be on specific line items to get 100%, 90% etc. So if they decided not to pay me what I was owed due to this agreement based on my published metrics they’d have been in breach and I could have sued.

          Totally different than discretionary bonuses – you should be able to count on that (based on the criteria) the way you would any other part of your salary.

          1. Judy*

            Well, you can’t really count on it because the company could have a bad year and have a .25 company multiplier. One year I got the highest performance review level, which gave me a personal multiplier of 2, the company didn’t meet their metrics on lots of things, so we ended up with a company multiplier of .25. So what could have been a $$$ year for me was a 10% bonus.

            Other years, I’ve gotten the personal multiplier of 1 or 1.5 and the company’s done fine, and had a much larger total bonus, 20, 25 or 30%.

        2. RJ*

          I know this isn’t the point, but it’s befuddling my feeble brain. What’s the difference between a 1 multiplier and no multiplier at all?

      2. Xay*

        Agreed. My current employer is the only job where I have received annual merit bonuses. My bonuses have varied in size depending on company revenues and changes to the bonus formula, so I haven’t taken it as a reflection of my work when my bonus was small last year. If my company had not been so transparent about how bonus decisions are made and how amounts are calculated, I would absolutely be concerned.

        Your employer is not your parent, your relative or your significant other. I don’t expect my loved ones to show their appreciation of my work and value in cash – that is a reasonable expectation of my employer because compensation is a key part of the employer/employee relationship.

      3. AB Normal*

        “But if my bonuses were shrinking and it wasn’t a company wide thing, you bet I’d be worried about my status. If it were me I wouldn’t approach my boss about the bonus itself, because I’m not going to ask someone why they didn’t give me more of something they aren’t legally obligated to give me at all, but I’d definitely reassess my performance and check in with him to see where he was at regarding my work. Because I’d see it as a wake up call.”

        That’s precisely what I was thinking. I always negotiate salary with disregard for bonuses, which I also recommend my friends do, because it’s never fun to get a drastic decrease in bonus one year when you count it as part of your salary, as some of my colleagues do. However, I definitely pay attention–if bonuses are used as retention / performance reward, then getting less (if not a across the board reduction) would definitely make me reassess my performance and take steps to figure out what’s going on and how to improve from there.

  19. Lia*

    #1, my second interview for a position was cancelled the day before with a note that “we will try to reschedule ASAP”. It took them almost a week to contact me, but long story short, I will be celebrating my one-year anniversary here next week. It can work out — emergencies happen!

  20. The IT Manager*

    I’m betting that there may be more to letter #4 that many commenters are making. (And commentors are making up a lot of excuses for the LW’s employee and one for the LW.

    This company policy has been made clear. This policy would not have been made clear if it weren’t necessary ie there’s been a problem in the past with employees taking customer drinks and costing the buisness money or emptying the fridge so customers don’t have any drinks available or whatever. It”s a perfectly valid policy that you’d hate to have to police too closely.

    I wouldn’t punish good employee, but you might remind them about the policy. Just because of the slippery slope. Especially if good employee or other employee noticed that you noticed employee taking the soda and did not appear to do anything about it.

    1. Gilby*

      I agree with The IT Manager. Although I wouldn’t make a big deal out of it this time, the policy is in place for a reason.

      Maybe a quick email stating the rules for the pop might be a good idea.

      I am having a hard time understanding why posters are making excuses for the pop taker. They took against company policy.

      If it was your pop you’d be pretty irritated if it was gone because someone else decided ” they were thirsty”.

      You can’t take pens, legal pads, copy paper from the company so why is this OK?

      AGAIN… no I am not saying to make a big deal out of it but bottom line, the employee was wrong to do it and there is no excuse for it.

    2. BCW*

      Yes, the policy is clear, but sometimes its about picking your battles. Most companies have a policy of not allowing office supplies to be taken home, but how many of us have taken pen’s and stuff like that home with us (accidentally or not). This probably wasn’t an accident, but is it worth making a big deal out of? Of all the things that cost companies money, I’d think one employee taking one pop is high up there.

  21. Ashley*

    #4 – This is why I don’t do Christmas cash. If you do it once, you have to maintain or increase the amount forevermore or risk your employees being really upset and hurt. Since I don’t know what the finances look like three years down the road (nonprofit), and negative emotions are typically stronger than positive ones, I figure that it’s a net loss if there’s even one year in 5 when amounts are low.

    1. Joey*

      Nope. It just has to make sense. If the gift gets smaller employees want to understand why. If it doesn’t make sense the. You’re absolutely correct.

      1. BCW*

        I guess though I just don’t get why people think they are owed an explanation for the size of a GIFT. Again, if you said “there will be no raises this year” I get that you want to explain that to your employees. but its a gift

        1. Joey*

          Its human nature. People come up with their own explanations when they don’t understand the rationale behind a company decision. And I don’t know many people who wouldn’t conclude the company was getting cheap if they can’t think of a rational explanation for a gift that gets smaller every year. An really there’s no such thing as a gift from a company. When a gifts purpose is mainly to ensure you feel well compensated its really not a gift at all- its a compensation strategy.

        2. Writer of #5*

          When each one is different then some thought has gone into what each person should receive. That’s a bonus because it’s based on something. A gift should be the same for everyone.

          1. AnonAdmin*

            No, the bonus should be based on the factors (the “something” you refer to) and thus not the same for everyone, as those factors will almost certainly vary from employee to employee. I would advise that rather than stewing, you ASK the person who gives the bonuses why yours in particular has decreased.

          2. EntirelyOutThere*

            That is like saying that when families give something larger to one person and give a smaller trinket to someone else, that is a bonus? Most things aren’t inherently equal, particularly not gifts. There is no rule that is stated that gifts for all employees need to be the same amount. White elephant parties and so forth, the gifts given are varying value and not equal. It doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with you and may have more to do so with the company’s finances as has been stated before.

            I find it odd that you’re deadset on calling it a bonus rather than considering the other possibilities. You’ve stated yourself you’d prefer to let it go, do you want us to validate your stewing? You seem to want the approval to hold a grudge against your employer for this. Why not just let it go? It was given in the holiday spirit or worse case, if you are an introvert that is hung up on these sort of issues, just ask?

            The atmosphere that will result because of your chosen mentality will not end well.

    2. Noelle*

      My last job (at a nonprofit) gave everyone a small bonus and it was always the same, even when they could have afforded a lot more. I didn’t really expect a big bonus because it was the nature of the industry. At my current company they gave very generous bonuses to begin with. They’ve gotten much smaller over time, but they’ve always explained why (budget cuts, unfortunately).

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yeah, it’s the explanation that is key. Exjob did bonuses too (they were affected by your own stuff like tardiness, etc.), but if they couldn’t give one that quarter or if it was smaller, they always explained why. And we got to see the numbers so we knew they weren’t just blowing smoke up our skirts.

        1. COT*

          Then ask for it! It sounds like this bonus issue has really affected your self-worth, at least as it relates to your job. But your boss isn’t a mind reader and might not see this the same way you do. So if you really need more reassurance about your performance or how appreciated you are, ask for a check-in. Don’t make it just about the holiday gift, but about how things are going as a whole.

          If you really can’t drop this from your mind, then you need to take action to do something about it. Wallowing won’t make you happier.

  22. Noelle*

    #5 – At my last job my boss was constantly talking about their “very generous Christmas bonus,” often as an excuse why I wasn’t getting a raise. Christmas rolls around, and I get….$100. I was there three years and everyone always just got $100 though, so at least it was equal. There are some companies that really don’t do bonuses well, don’t take it personally.

  23. some1*

    I have to echo that you should drop the issue about the employee taking a pop, although I do understand why it upset you because you have made it clear the pop isn’t for employees.

    Many employers figure that once in awhile someone will use the printer to print out a recipe, run a personal card through the postage meter , take a two dollar box of pens home, make a five minute personal long-distance phone call, or have their Amazon package delivered to the mailroom where staff has to spend time sorting and delivering it, and it’s peanuts in actual cost. You wouldn’t treat these instances the same as someone ordering expensive toner for their home computer or running 200 wedding invitations through the postage meter.

    1. Ruffingit*

      Yeah, I’m with you. Let your employees have the small perks of doing the things mentioned (once in awhile postage meter use, box of pens, etc.) because it doesn’t matter in the long run and it’s sort of an unspoken fringe benefit you can give your employees that won’t hurt you. It’s one thing if people are abusing this and your costs are going up substantially because of it. In that case, you can talk to them about it, but one can of Coke? Move on.

  24. Holly*

    4 – This sounds like my company – stingy as all hell about giving employees anything, to the point of policing anything that comes out of the kitchen. I mean, we bring in our own coffee, tea, even ICE, and the coffee makers are employee owned; the water filter hasn’t been changed in years either. Once in a blue moon I’ll take a small bottle of water out of the giant bin labeled “for guests” because I figure that if you’re not going to give me a working water filter, you can suck up a .50 bottle of water.

    My point is, look and see how you’re treating your employees. Maybe it’s time to let a one time can of Coke go.

    1. khilde*

      Hey – so do you really transport ice with you every day? I have an unfortunate love of fountain pops – in the cup, with the ice. I have experimented and tried various ways to replace that same “feel” of the cup of ice with pop with not much success (because it takes too much time for me to leave the office and drive to the gas station where I get my cheap refills!). We don’t have an ice machine at work, and we only have a small dorm fridge in my office (and as we know, those things suck at making/storing ice cube trays. Actually, last time I looked, the “freezer” area was a huge block of ice! I should just start chipping it away, ha).

      ANYWAY – how do you store your own ice, if you really do?

      1. Laufey*

        I’m not Holly, but I have a cooler lunch box – one of the ones that look like oversized bags – and when I used to bring ice to work with me, I’d double bag ice inside of plastic bags (in addition to the ice blocks I put in there for my food). It didn’t last all day, but I’d usually be able to have an iced soda after lunch.

        1. khilde*

          Thanks, Laufey! That’s kind of where my mind was headed as I think about giving it a shot. But double bagging the ice is smart. I probably wouldn’t have done that extra step, so thanks.

      2. Holly*

        Some people bring in giant fountain drink cups full of ice, some people buy their own bags of ice or do a pool for bags of ice, and others, like me, have their own ice trays. It’s so ridiculous.

        And yes, my company is extremely stingy.

      3. LD*

        I have used those double-walled plastic tumblers with tops to transport and keep ice at the office and they work remarkably well. The ice stays mostly frozen for a few hours. I’ve even left the cup with ice in the small dorm-size office refrigerator and it has kept cold enough for the ice to stay completely frozen till lunch time.

    2. Ruffingit*

      Wow, that is seriously messed up Holly. It’s all crappy, but you have to bring your own ice too?? Geeze, your employers are stingy jerks.

  25. OP #2*

    Hi, I’m the OP for #2. Thanks for your response Alison! I really appreciated all the help I received last year as well. I think my email came across as frustrated because my intial reaction was to say no to the interview, but after discussing it with my boyfriend I became curious as well. I can see how they would want to see me again. I just took it really personally when I didn’t get the job last year. I was actually a little personally offended, like a kid who made a new friend and then the friend pushed them and said I’m not your friend anymore lol. I see what everyone is saying though, and I definitely need to be more appreciative and just look at this as a possible opportunity. I’m happy in my current position, so if it doesn’t work out, it will be fine. Thanks for everyone’s help. If something strange happens during the lunch interview, I’ll be sure to post it. Happy Hump Day!

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Good luck with the job OP#2! I hope they do make you a great offer this time.

      Remember, it could be that it’s their policy to post jobs publicly, even if they already have plans to fill the position with you.

  26. Ruffingit*

    #5 – I think the issue here may hinge on the fact that the OP is part-time. It seems she’s looking at it as a “But, I’ve been here longer” kind of thing whereas the business may be looking at it as wanting to give larger bonuses to their full-time employees because those people are working more during the year. It’s not a loyalty thing per se, it’s more of a “let’s reward the people more who work full-time.” And, I can see the argument for doing that.

  27. Anonymous*

    4. One thing to consider if you’re going to take AAM advise and let it go – how will other staff react?

    I work in food-service and I know that if a staff member takes a drink without permission at our store and doesn’t get in trouble, other staff will flip out. “why is [x] allowed to have a drink when no one else can?!”

    But that depends on how strictly the rule is generally enforced and the attitude of other staff.

    For a one-time offense, I wouldn’t recommend any form of formal discipline (by the way, at our store, this particular offense would count as ‘theft’ and be grounds for instant termination. Though realistically we would probably just be given a written warning unless it was a repeated offense)

    But if you want this rule to be enforced, you should say to the person that you saw them take it, that if you catch them doing it again, you will give them a warning or whatever appropriate disciplinary action your workplace would normally impose for this.

    And if you choose to let it go, then you need to be willing to let it go for everyone if you see others doing the same thing.

  28. Anonymous*

    Ugh I feel for you, OP#1, the same thing happened to me. It was about an hour before the interview, but I was already on the train and about 10 minutes from the office. No explanation (I would have felt better if they had told me she had an emergency) just a mild apology. I had wasted the whole day before prepping, and the whole morning getting ready and taking the train in (I was living about an hour away with family at the time, with plans to move to the City once I found a job). They did reschedule for a week later. I unfortunately did not get the job.

  29. Sunflower*

    I have a hard time understanding certain company swag. My boyfriends company always give great stuff- jump drives, outlet/car chargers, water bottles- things people actually use or can give to others to use. Certain people in the org might have a use for button downs and tee shirts but for most part I find people just throw that stuff out.

    1. Ruffingit*

      Agreed, it would be nice if companies would give out things that are helpful. But a lot of times, they give out the cheapest things they can get like low-quality shirts, pens that are cheap to order in bulk, water bottles that easily break. I’d take a jump drive over that any day.

  30. Writer of #5*

    Thank you, everyone, for your comments. My sister and daughter love me and don’t want me to get less than I deserve like the mother who rushes into school to complain to a teacher that her child was the only one who didn’t get a party invite. They are obviously biased because it involves their sister/mom/child. You all made valid points and I will
    take them all into consideration

    1. khilde*

      Hmm, curious… Are your sister and daughter making a big deal out of the bonus? As in, it maybe wasn’t a huge problem for you until they found and then started adding in their opinion, which swayed your opinion? Complete speculation on my part and I ask because I have been in a situation like that before. Something kinda bothered me, but not enough to get my knickers in a knot. But then someone close to me got worked up on my behalf, urged me to go in guns a blazing, and before I knew it I was in a frenzy myself even though I wasn’t inclined to be in the first place. Just curious.

      1. Jamie*

        This. My husband resents some things on my behalf way more than I do…and it absolutely makes me feel much worse about the situation.

        He does listen though – all I have to say is “not helping” and he stops – it’s a helpful shorthand.

  31. Jill*

    #5….you keep referring to the money as a bonus. Other posters are referring to it as a gift. I think instead of stewing over whether it’s because of your performance or your age or your part time status….just ask. “I couldn’t help but notice that the end of the year money I’ve received has gone down quite a bit since previous years and I’m wondering if you can tell me why”.

    You might find out that it is really a gift – and all they can afford and based on your PT status. Or you might find that it really is a bonus and that have performance issues to work on or there was less profit this year than in the past.

    Just ask!

  32. anon-2*

    #4 – yeah, we had that happen – once, someone put out a tray of bagels – and when all started munching, someone put up a sign

    “These bagels are for the accounts receivable group ONLY!”

    Actually, free soda for the staff might be a nice way to build morale.

  33. anon-2*

    #1 – shades of “The Company Men” – where Ben Affleck flies from Boston to (Detroit? Cleveland? I forget) at his own expense, while he’s unemployed, for an interview — and ends up getting stood up.

    Sometimes it’s a mistake, but when I was out of work, I had an interview with a “head game player” – who stood me up three times on telephone interviews. This was the same guy who asked me to stop my job search – I was his #1 candidate but he wanted to keep looking, but could I stop my job search while he spent three months making up his mind?

    Duh, yuh, right.

  34. DM*

    I once was extremely sick and forgot to cancel an interview and the candidate showed up. It was a total fluke as I got sicker than I ever was, went to ER and was in a medicated fog, missed 3 days of work and forgot to check my schedule during that time since the recruiter was unaware and scheduled this. To show the applicant I was extremely sorry, I offered to meet her at a Starbucks near her home or office when we rescheduled so she didn’t have to take a half day and commute to our office again. I still felt bad about it but at least was able to show her I was sorry and make it more convenient. The interview went well after that and I don’t think she held it against me or the company as she was still interested.

  35. BW*


    Maybe more people would start getting the lovely surprise/gracious gift/UNEXPECTED EXTRA MONEY–aka Christmas bonuses, if their employers weren’t afraid of generating precisely your kind of thinking…

    I can see why an employer would not want to start giving out Christmas bonuses, for fear that once they start, people would then expect and feel entitled to it.

    Sure, it’s not unreasonable to wonder why your bonus might be less from previous years, but the appropriate reaction to that is to ask your employer whether they have concerns about your performance (without even bringing the bonus into it). Not stew in anger/unwarranted resentment.

  36. glennis*

    An interesting question about company swag. We required our operations staff to wear company shirts, and because they worked out of doors in all weather, we provided them with jackets, too. Our managers wore business attire, but since they, too, sometimes worked out of doors, they were provided with warm jackets with the company brand. The brand was very discreet.

    They were quality jackets, and I had no problem wearing mine for recreational use, taking a hike or such. I was proud, in fact, the organization was well-liked.

    But I had a management level co-worker who retired, and she had one of the jackets, which she liked very much. Even though she had worked there for almost 20 years, she felt it was unethical for her to wear it if she wasn’t employed any longer, and even went so far as to try to find a tailor who could take out the embroidery for her.

    I thought this was quite odd – she had no problem wearing the jacket, which she quite clearly earned and put to good use while working, yet she thought it was unethical for her to display the brand while not at work. Has anyone ever encountered such an approach to this issue?

    1. Josh S*

      Seems to be a stretch to me, but I can see the reasoning–

      “The company provides these to its employees so that they can be representatives of the company/brand, and so that the employees can receive the benefits that the company/brand has among the community. I’m no longer a representative of the company/brand, so I shouldn’t be ‘acting’ as if I were by wearing the jacket, nor should I be accumulating the benefits of being affiliated with the company/brand by wearing the jacket around town.”

      The company probably doesn’t care one way or the other, since they would probably be happy for this manager to continue to associate with the company/brand informally even after employment had ended. And really, swag is swag–it’s such a small thing that it seems overly self-conscious to be that concerned about.

      But I see the reasoning, as much of a stretch as I think it is.

  37. Cassie*

    #4: Are you sure everyone knows the policy? Is it possible some people (such as newer hires) don’t know? I would probably just reiterate the policy to everyone without making a big deal about it. You might still have 1 or 2 people who take drinks out, but most people will probably be deterred if they think they will be caught.

    I’m going to assume that this fridge is used only for client refreshments – if it was just a regular fridge that staff could use, the OP probably wouldn’t assume the drink was from the client stash.

    We’ve had signs put up that coffee was only for faculty and staff, and another time when one staffer told a faculty member that coffee was only for staff (NOT faculty). I hate that exclusionary mindset. The dept is paying for the coffee from dept discretionary funds – why restrict it to just faculty and staff, or just staff? It’s not like students are lining up by the hundreds to get a cup of black coffee. And what about guests and visitors? Is that the type of atmosphere we want to project?

  38. Vicki*

    #1 – At least you got a phone call.

    I once arrived for an interview and the receptionist went looking for the manager, came back and said “He doesn’t seem to be in today.” He had forgotten completely about the interview.

    They found someone who gave me a tour of the company. When they asked if they could reschedule, I smiled and thanked them and said “no thanks.” (Driving to the interview was bad; the commute would have been unacceptable.)

  39. EvilQueenRegina*

    #3 – I used to have a job coordinating a handyperson service, and the handymen had a company uniform which they were supposed to hand back if they left.

    One day, our manager heard that someone who wasn’t one of our handymen had been seen at a service station wearing one of the sweatshirts, and she made a big deal out of it. She’d been given the person’s registration number, the last three letters of which happened to be the same as a big local company, and had someone ring that company quizzing them about what uniform they wore and whether any of their vehicles had that registration. Most of us thought it was excessive at the time, I have to admit I don’t think anyone else thought about the possibility of a faker wearing it to try and gain access to properties.

    It eventually turned out that the man seen was a handyman who had long since left and failed to turn in his uniform. Our manager went to him to ask for it back and he told her to get lost.

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