my manager cites God’s will in response to complaints, a senior coworker’s work sucks, and more

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

1. When a senior coworker produces bad work

I’m an associate attorney working at a law firm (private practice). The nature of the firm’s practice requires a good amount of collaboration among attorneys, and as such it’s very common for multiple attorneys to perform tasks on one case even though only one person is designated as handling the file. There is one other attorney in the office (I’ll call him X) who is an associate senior to me, but not a partner. I have collaborated with X on various cases, and in seeing his work I realize it’s just…bad (things are missing, he didn’t get into the required level of detail, etc.). I have been asked to “fix” things for other attorneys on multiple occasions where X had performed shoddy work on a task in an earlier stage of the case. Others in the office have told me in confidence that X is not well liked at the firm, that at least some people know how bad his work is, and that he was nearly fired once before.

Is there anything that I can do to make the higher-ups aware of X’s consistently poor work without damaging my own good reputation within the company? (This is confirmed – I get consistently positive feedback on my work product and received a bonus and a raise as a result of my last performance evaluation.) I feel it is a detriment to our clients to have me or other attorneys bill extra hours to fix the work that X didn’t adequately produce in the first place. I don’t collaborate with X on every single case, but seemingly every time I do end up working with him, his work product is sub-par. Any suggestions on how to address this, or should I just let it go as outside of my control?

Well, it sounds like they know — if he was nearly fired, someone with authority over him is aware of the problems. And it sounds like you know that other people are seeing the same things you’re seeing. So I’d assume you don’t need to bring this to anyone’s attention — they know.

If that weren’t the case, it could be appropriate to deliver a discreet heads-up to your manager or the firm’s managing partner if you had a good rapport with her — but it sounds like that isn’t going to be new information to them.

2. My coworker’s three kids are running wild in our office and my managers won’t do anything about it

I work at a large company (more than 500 employees in my office, thousands around the world) that values working moms and dads and offers generous benefits for families (like health benefits, flexible schedules, and time off). My department shares our floor with a department led by a very nice guy who I will call Clive. Clive is friendly, smart, and as highly valued and popular as an employee can be within the company. He’s also a working dad, and on days when his kids are off from school, he brings them to the office—all four of them, and all under the age of 12—and works a full day. He does not supervise them while they’re here, and they run wild (they are kids, after all), turning our floor into their playroom.

Needless to say, everything about this situation drives everybody in my department nuts: the disappearance of silence (a quiet work environment is necessary for my department); Clive’s lack of supervision of his children; and his seeming cluelessness about how bringing them to the office for a full workday could be disrespectful of his colleagues’ work.

I’ve discussed this with my own supervisor (and her supervisor as well), but I get the impression that nobody knows what to do. My supervisors are failingly polite, and I think they feel it’s an issue for HR to handle. But is it? And if it is, am I in a position to go to HR about it, or should it be my supervisors?

Your managers are falling down on the job here; this is absolutely something they should be handling. They should be telling Clive directly that either (a) he can’t bring his kids into work (possibly making an exception for very rare emergencies; some places allow that and some don’t), or (b) he needs to closely supervise his kids when they’re there and ensure that they don’t disrupt others, or the privilege will be revoked. (Whether they should do A or B will depend on the type of work your office does and what the culture is.) It’s ridiculous that they’re acting as if they’re powerless here.

However, since they are, yes, it would absolutely be appropriate for you to talk to HR about it.

3. My manager cites God’s will in response to any issues

I have a supervisor who won’t stop talking about God at work. Any time anyone has an issue, she says they shouldn’t do anything about it, as it is God’s will. It makes me very uncomfortable and I do not want to be involved in a religious discussion on the job. Should I go to HR?

Good god, yes. The fact that she’s your manager makes this particularly inappropriate (and that she’s using it to avoid doing her job!), and HR should intervene.

4. Interviewing with a doctor who operated on my son

I have a second interview at a surgery center, this time with a physician who operated on my son 10 years ago. Is it appropriate to say something to the doctor after the interview that we loved her and that she did a great job on my son and that he has had no problems since the surgery? I know it won’t add value to the actual interview but think that adding a personal connection may add to the process. What is your opinion?

I’m sure there are some people who feel differently about this, but I would absolutely mention it. You want to be sure not to let the interview go too off-track into the personal, so stick with just a quick mention of the connection that you feel to her practice because of your experience. Many interviewers would be glad to hear something like that.

5. Can my resume mention a job where I was paid under the table?

I’m handing in my 2 weeks notice tomorrow for my job as a waitress for the past 7 months, where I’ve been working under the table. Stupid, I know, and I do regret it. I live in an area that has a lot of immigrants and international students so it’s very common to work under the table here. I’m currently a second year in college and have asked my friends who have previously worked under the table if they included that experience on their resumes, and they all said that they did with no problem.

I’m planning on applying for an internship, and aside from this job, my last job was over a year ago and only lasted 3 months (tutoring for a quarter), so I’m nervous about the time gap if I were to leave it off. The only other job I worked before that was retail, but it was a long time ago. My boss really likes me and told me he’d be more than happy to be a reference if I choose to list him as one. What would you recommend doing in this situation – citing this job as under work experience or just ignoring it altogether?

It’s fine to include it on your resume. It still counts as work, despite the fact that you were paid under the table. Your payment arrangements aren’t really relevant when it comes to your work history or references. The place where this could potentially become an issue is with a future background check, if there’s no record of tax forms for those earnings — but an internship and other types of jobs you’re likely to apply to while in college are very unlikely to conduct the sort of background check that would turn that up. They’re likely to stick to reference calls, where it won’t matter.

{ 293 comments… read them below }

  1. Feed Fido*

    #1 Upper management generally only cares about results- not who gets the job done. If the system is working, however it does, that is fine by them. Complaining, when in their mind all is fine, makes you appear to be the problem. Sucks- but it is an enlightening lesson, one I try to not forget and apply when dealing with work situations.

      1. Contessa*

        If they don’t change mistakes they see, they could get in trouble for not seeing them (“Didn’t you know this wrong?”). Also, if the work is going out under one person’s name, the client isn’t going to know who wrote what, and may blame the mistakes on that one person, not the associate who did parts of it. You have a responsibly to make sure that what goes out under your name is good.

        Both of those situations have happened to me, although I am anal about fixing everything that goes out under my name. It’s also the only time I ever really get mad at people for their work, if they’re cavalier about quality because their name isn’t on it. Yeah, but you’re risking MY name and reputation!

      2. D*

        No way. An attorney’s is to represent the client the best he or she can. It might be a huge pain for to go through and fix someone else’s mistakes, and one might feel like one shouldn’t have to do that, but the client is the one who suffers in the end if sub-par work goes to the court or regulatory agency or whatever. Risking looking bad to the client or the court just because you’re trying to teach another associate a lesson is a bad plan.

        Also, if there are big errors in this stuff that could reach the level of an ethics violation or malpractice, the office of professional conduct is not going to be sympathetic to an argument that the senior associate was messing up and needed to be taught a lesson so no one corrected the errors they saw.

      3. LBK*

        I would agree with this in other industries but with law the client can get REALLY screwed if things are done wrong. The damage to the client vs. benefit to the company swings pretty much completely in favor of servicing the client in this case. Which sucks.

      4. Cassie*

        It’s such a catch-22 – do you not clean up after other people’s mistakes or do you just suck it up and do it? I’m seeing a lot of that at our organization (not a law firm). It stinks that my boss asks me to swoop in and fix stuff yet lets the other staffer (who made the mistakes in the first place) off the hook. I mean, I would offer to fix these things anyway, but the other staffer is never held accountable for anything.

    1. Stephanie*

      It also seems like it might be in the firm’s best (financial) interests to bill extra.

      It sounds like it is (sort of) handled if they tried to fire him once already. Maybe they’re giving him a transition period (something like “Hey, it’s not working out, but we’ll give you six months to find a new job.”).

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Or they could have given him a probationary period, and now they are amassing a comprehensive record of errors over a specific time period so they can be more comfortable firing him for cause.

        This is a law firm, after all. :)

    2. Elysian*

      I’m going to disagree. In most cases this might be true, but in a law firm, the management is the partners – and their take-home pay depend on the firm’s profitability. The firm can’t bill extra for his work forever. Eventually clients will notice that its consistently taking 2 people a ton of time to “revise” things. So eventually they’re going to have to discount X’s time (if they’re not doing it already), and he’ll become deadweight. It sounds like they know this already, though.

      1. rando*

        They are probably cutting the bad associate’s time already.

        OP, it sounds like this associate will be on his way out. Maybe the firm is giving him a second chance, but if people keep requesting you to fix his garbage then they know it’s not working.

        It’s in the firm’s best interest to have more senior associates do more and more on their own, and start getting their own clients. He does not sound capable.

        1. De Minimis*

          I don’t know enough about how law works [background is in accounting] but I’m surprised someone could get to senior associate and produce such poor work, unless senior associate isn’t a title and just means someone at associate level who has been there a while. Or maybe he is bringing something else to the table that you’re not aware of.

          In any case, it isn’t within your purview to deal with his performance issues, and they are apparently aware of it so I would just deal with it and be extra cautious when working on projects with him.

          1. Elysian*

            In most places I know of, senior associate is just an associate who has been around a while. You can be an associate for up to 7-10 years (before you make partner) and there’s a big difference between a 1st year associate and a 6th year associate. I think most people/firms just use the junior/senior labels to differentiate between the top and bottom of the associate experience pool. It’s not usually a real promotion.

            1. FiveNine*

              Just the opposite where I work. Senior X is a title, and recently there has been a lot of grumbling about someone early in their career who came on board with the “Senior” title over people with literally decades more experience in the field and expertise. It’s the pay rate.

              1. FiveNine*

                (The new employee clearly negotiated a pay rate above the ceiling for people in the same role but without senior in the title. There is already grumbling, like I said, because like you some of the people who have decades of experience in the field think this is only to designate expertise; the crap is going to really hit the fan when they learn it’s about the pay.)

                1. Elysian*

                  Do you work in a law firm? Lots of (though not all) law firms pay by “class year,” so its very lock-step. The only thing you could negotiate regarding pay would be to get credit for something (like other work experience) that would put you in a higher class year. The pay scale is frequently pretty transparent otherwise. Smaller firms might be less transparent, but most that I know of still use some form of the lock-step pay scale, so really the junior/senior label is just to distinguish experience.

          2. D*

            “Or maybe he is bringing something else to the table that you’re not aware of.”

            That’s a thought I had as well, and another reason I wouldn’t say anything to the partners. As a relatively junior associate myself, I know there are lots of things I don’t know about the practice of law, client development, drafting, strategy, etc. So there are times when I perceive something as an error, but it’s really not. Or it’s not as big of a deal as I thought it was. Or I didn’t realize the other person had connections in the community that will benefit the firm as a whole.

            (Yikes, I’m all over the place today. Now going to go get some actual billing in…)

      2. Ruffingit*

        This. The client should not be paying for this and if they are, the firm has a huge ethical problem to begin with. Eventually clients do start to notice that their legal fees are higher than they should be and the firm could be risking grievance issues and lawsuits over that. It’s really not right in a lot of ways.

        This guy can’t do his job and should be cut loose because he’s harming clients and the firm.

    3. TheSnarkyB*

      Agreeing with Elysian here- they care about money, too, and “bill as much as possible” isn’t the way. It’s about efficiency and working smart, too- using those extra hours to court new clients, etc.

      And Vicki, I see where you’re coming from bc that’s usually our response when someone’s coworker is trying to overcompensate and they’re doing more than they need to. But in this case, it sounds like OP isn’t offering to pitch in- they’re being assigned the work by managers. And the whole firm will suffer AND the client, and the OP, if they just say “no” or don’t point out the inadequacies in the work.

      1. De Minimis*

        I know at my old job they always budgeted “developmental time” into an engagement, which gave them some wiggle room, but it was designed more for new people who were learning the ropes, not for people who had been there a while.

        If he’s messing up the budget to where it’s affecting the bottom line he probably won’t be around much longer.

      2. Leah*

        In many law firms, the “courting new clients” time is generally allocated to partners unless an associate has a connection with the client. Most associates are commanded, “Bill, baby, bill!” to the point that local bars and courts deciding payment disputes have scolded firms for over-billing. Getting paid hourly does not encourage efficient work in the legal sector.

        Also, it is absolutely possible to become senior just by being their long enough and not be bad enough to be fired. I was an intern for a government agency and wrote a response to a motion signed by someone who was a partner at a very fancy firm. Their motion was so bad that it took me (in my 2nd month of my 2L year writing my first civil court motion) about 2 hours to rip it to shreds in a response motion AND the motion signer got a bench slap from the judge who denied it. Its likely that he didn’t actually write it but the motion was only a few pages so there was no excuse for not proofreading it.

  2. Adam*

    #3 As I am practicing Christian, this person would make nervous as all get out. I look to God for a number of things, but not to fix my work mishaps, especially if it could be done via email.

    1. Golden Yeti*


      Constant religious chatter in a secular workplace is bad enough. Besides the obvious reason of everyone’s different and should feel respected, it’s also distracting everyone from the jobs they’re being paid to do.

      A supervisor passing the buck for her own inaction–and onto God, no less–is neglecting the basic duties of her job. Even if she is totally subscribing to a “God controls everything” mindset, I’m kind of surprised it hasn’t crossed her mind that maybe God put her there in that job to actually be helpful to her customers and coworkers. I mean, if her way of relating to the world is putting up her hands and taking no responsibility to help matters, it doesn’t exactly give a favorable impression of her or her belief system.

      And yes, this is coming from a fellow Christian, who is also bewildered and creeped out by this story.

      1. Adam*

        Not that it matters, but I am curious just what sort of office/workplace this is. It likely is a secular one, but I’m pretty sure even most religiously rooted workplaces don’t endorse prayer to fix the broken copier.

          1. Chocolate Teapot*

            Haven’t we had a few stories about religious workplaces before? There was the one about the office chaplain and another company with morning prayers.

            Even so citing “God’s will” as a reason for everything, doesn’t really suggest good management.

            1. Blue Anne*

              >citing “God’s will” as a reason for everything, doesn’t really suggest good management.

              We need an AAM quotes hall of fame. I nominate this for the first entry.

              1. Stephanie*

                Second nomination: “Black magic is just one of many occupational hazards.”

          2. Laura*

            I have threatened to wave a dead chicken over a computer a few times, but I promise I was joking.

            Co-workers threatening to wave me at a misbehaving machine were joking, I hope. (After a few too many times where “show Laura the error” became “the error has vanished”. Heh.)

            1. VintageLydia USA*

              The IT department is like auto mechanics. Problems never ever EVER present themselves in front of them.

              1. Leah*

                We call those “Heisenbugs” because they never occur when attempts to observe it are made.

            2. Adam*

              If waving a dead chicken worked I’d try it at this point. Thank God for new computers and back-up hard drives…

        1. Chinook*

          Re: prayer to fix everything and blame God. I do know of one brother up in Edmonton who was a custodian at a college who was known to resort to prayer AFTER all the usual methods didn’t work. The key was he tried the most obvious solutions and he never blamed God but asked for His help (which usually came through, which is why he is on the road to sainthood).

          It sounds like OP’s boss is passing the buck and I would both be frustrated by her as a boss and insulted as a Christian.

        2. Ethyl*

          I work for a religious organization (in a fairly secular role although there is a lot of praying), and my boss still manages. This is ridiculous, OP!

          1. Stephanie*

            It is projectile vomiting toner while the tray feeder rotates 180 degrees?

            “The power of Christ compels you…to print out this overdue report.”

      2. rando*

        Avoiding decision making by blaming God is an…interesting way to avoid supervisory duties! Do we know this supervisor is Christian or are we just assuming?

        OP, I would present this in a way that highlights how your supervisor refuses to make necessary decisions and how that affects your job. Give examples. Whether the religious angle of her refusal to decide should be a part of your complaint will be dependent on the culture of your workplace.

        1. The Maple Teacup*

          I worked in a Christian non-profit for a number of years. Religion was/is part of their corporate identity. Even in that environment I would have boggled in amazement if my manager had cited “Gods will” as part of a decision making process. Not good! A manager needs to think, solve problems and make decisions. I’d bring it up with someone.

          1. Jessica (tc)*

            The worst for me was when I was working at a church at a position that could have easily employed two people, but instead they hired one part-time person and then tried the old “you can just volunteer the rest of the time you need to complete your work as service to the church” trick (when that would easily put me at 50-60 hours per week anyway). When I sat down to calmly talk to my boss about all of the projects for the week and to ask him how I should prioritize them to get them done within the allotted work time (presenting an example of what I thought were my most important priorities for that week), he told me that there was no priority level, as everything was super important. Everything simply had to be done, and I hadn’t prayed hard enough about it to get it all done. If I would just pray about it, God would show me how to get it all done on time.

            I retorted to my husband later that if I took time to pray about all of the things I had to do while on the clock, I’d definitely not have enough time to get even half the work done. I also had to proofread everything that I was expected to compile and print on our super-special (and expensive) paper from our super-special (and expensive) printer (with super-expensive ink cubes), because the pastors didn’t do that themselves (nor did they have their assistants or their assistants’ assistant do it) and they regularly threw away the 1000+ copies (yep, large church) of something, because there was a missing comma somewhere. The many, many, many instances of wasted reams of expensive paper (not to mention the time it took to fold and the time and supplies to bind everything only to see it thrown away) really just broke the camel’s back. I’m a perfectionist, so I can understand wanting something to be perfect, but when I’m using someone else’s funds in the name of God, some things you just have to let go in the name of fiscal responsibility.

            (And for the record, everywhere else I’ve worked has always commented on how efficient I am and how quickly I get things done. My managers know that my top priority is to get things done quickly, efficiently, and perfectly the first time.)

        2. Adam*

          It wasn’t stated so we’re probably just assuming. I can think of a few other possibilities to explain her behavior, but they’d all be more complicated and less likely than the straightforward she’s a religious person with some questionable ideas.

      3. Led*

        When I pointed out an effective practice from another department that I felt we should implement, my boss said, “We make Fords, not Chevys.”

        Some people just don’t want to think.

      1. Adam*

        Oh you probably could. I tend to reply quickly and without proofreading and I ended up leaving out a few words. :P

    2. KrisL*

      I’m a Christian, too, and I figure God gave us brains and abilities so that we can use them instead of hiding our talents under a bushel.

  3. Ann Furthermore*

    #3: If I were the OP, I’d soon find myself out of a job because I would find the idea of answering everything my boss asked me with some version of, “It was God’s will,” too tempting to resist. Why did this program end in an error? It was God’s will. Why didn’t you attend this meeting? It was God’s will. Why were you late this morning? It was God’s will.

    Seriously though, this is just asinine and I would be high-tailing it down to HR immediately.

    And I know this is probably dorky, but I’m chuckling about a question about a manager saying everything is God’s will being answered with “Good god.” Hee.

    1. GigglyPuff*

      YES! I have huge amounts of sarcasm I had to start cutting back on when I got older, but that would definitely make me want to answer “It was God’s will” to everything.

      To bad this wasn’t closer to April Fool’s, I think AAM should answer everything with, “It was God’s will”.

      1. Aim21les*

        This. I had a supervisor who would use “Gods will” to explain decisions or lack thereof and talk about “prayin on it.” She also had terrible judgement in general. I waited until the terrible judgement would have seriously impacted one of my team and told her I had prayed on it and we needed to do the right thing (in this case the right thing involved following the law.)

    2. LJL*

      The response beginning with “Good god” made me laugh out loud. Was that intentional?

    3. Tinker*

      My college roommate is an evangelical Christian who has long been, across a variety of domains, extremely committed to a particular Christian lifestyle.

      When we lived together, there was a period of time where she borrowed my car to go see her boyfriend. After a bit of this, I noticed that she was leaving the car unlocked when she was done with it — this not being my preference, generally. So I asked her if she could please leave the car locked, and she said something to the effect of “Well, if Jesus wanted your car to be stolen, a few little locks wouldn’t get in His way,” and said that she would be continuing to leave it unlocked.

      So I concluded that Jesus clearly did not mean for her to be borrowing my car anymore.

      1. rr*

        I probably would have tried to get out of living with her as soon as the semester was over, too! What if something from your apartment got stolen because she left it unlocked?

      2. Adam V*

        “I concluded that Jesus clearly did not mean for her to be borrowing my car anymore.”


      3. Ann Furthermore*

        A few years back I had a woman working for me who was a very, very devout Christian. When she hit her 25 year anniversary with the company, our Director, the VP of our area, and the CEO took her out to lunch, which is what they do for everyone. At the lunch, she rather piously stated that she just came to the office every day and did “the Lord’s work.” She was an AP specialist. Prior to that, I was unaware that entering and paying invoices was “the Lord’s work.”

        When she was getting more serious about retiring, my boss and I asked her if she had a date in mind. She told us that she’d promised the Lord that she’d work until her granddaughter (who she was helping out with school expenses) graduated, but didn’t say when that was. We asked her when that would be, and she told us, but I almost wanted to ask her if she’d also told the Lord when the graduation ceremony was planned.

        I probably sound like I’m poking fun at people’s religious beliefs, but I’m really not. I believe in God, but I feel that my faith and relationship with God are very private matters that I don’t discuss with anyone else. My father was a Methodist minister for a few years, and he drilled that notion into our heads. I always find it odd and off-putting when people do stuff like explaining everything as being God’s will or telling everyone that you do the Lord’s work every day.

        1. Tinker*

          Yeah, I was raised Methodist also, and my theological views are kind of complicated but I definitely have the cultural value drilled in that it’s Not Done to make a show about religious stuff in public. When I was in school, I found stuff like prayers before football games to be kind of weird on that account.

          It was a real culture shock to get more directly exposed to what seems to be the more modern Evangelical thing that’s very intentionally public — a lot via that roommate, actually, who kind of blew my tiny little mind with some of the stuff she’d do.

            1. Tinker*

              I think much past that point it starts to touch on religious and social divisions a bit too much, as well as into some of the more personal details of her life. One story that’s probably a bit more about me than her, though, is the incident of the Demon Detection Radius.

              My boyfriend and I were in the room one evening talking about the latest thing that had gone wrong with his computer, and he commented that it had been possessed by demons. My roommate replied that it was not so possessed, as she would know if it was.

              Well, I was intrigued. I’d heard her mention before about casting demons out of a guy behind the Starbucks, but that was a person rather than a computer, and she hadn’t mentioned how she found the demons in the first place.

              I asked her if she’d really know from here, since the computer in question was over in the other hall and hence a fair distance away, was the campus network involved, was there a particular distance at which demons could be perceived — at which point my boyfriend and I started working out an experiment to determine her Demon Detection Radius, provided of course that we could locate a known-possessed computer.

              She was offended by this, stating that we were making light of her beliefs on the matter — which, although the effect was probably somewhat irreverent, wasn’t really my intent. It’s just that we were engineering students, and when presented with information about a previously unknown phenomenon, we proceeded to start figuring out how to study its properties…

              It turns out that although I wasn’t really all that aware of it at the time, a lot of my college friends are the pagany energy worker sort, so I probably could have managed to get ahold of a suitable occupied-by-extracorporeal-entities computer if I’d done a little asking around. Alas for lost opportunities.

        2. EngineerGirl*

          This probably comes from the Bible verse Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men”. So that would mean all work you do is eventually for the Lord.
          Different people are motivated by different things. This Lady is motivated by honoring God. Your motivations are different. If you can publicly speak your motivations, why shouldn’t she be allowed to speak hers?

          1. Ann Furthermore*

            I never said that she wasn’t allowed to do that. She was (and still is, I presume) a very devout Christian, like I said, and she was open about it, but not in an offensive way. But if she’s allowed to voice her motivations, then I am allowed to find her doing so to be odd and off-putting.

            There were times when she was very judgmental of others, but I suspect this had less to do with her religion than with the general kind of person she was. She was quite vocal with her opinions that the world was going to hell in a handbasket, and in her estimation this was due to many things: people having tattoos and piercings, people being Democrats, people living in sin and having children out of wedlock, just to name a few things on a very long list.

          2. Sr. Specialist - IT*

            Thank you EngineerGirl. As a practicing Christian, I believe that God wants us to handle our business to the best of our ability; not throw our hands up at everything and say, “it’s His will”.

            I also respect others wishes in that I do not force my views on anyone. With that being said, it gets kind of irritating that people are generally able to openly express their secular views but anytime someone says their viewpoint is related to God, everyone piles on.

            There’s no difference in saying you are waiting to retire so that you get the most out of your pension vs. waiting on instruction from the Lord. Yes one is more common and tangible but as long as she is not breaking any rules or violating laws, what’s the point of bringing up her beliefs as an example @Ann Furthermore?

            1. Ann Furthermore*

              I have no issue with anyone’s religious beliefs, or how they choose to practice them, until they try to impose something on me.

              But like Tinker said, I was raised to believe that one’s faith and relationship with God is a very personal, private thing, and not something you go around talking about (outside the context of church, Sunday school, Bible study groups, etc). My father felt very strongly about this, and any time he saw any type of celebrity use their fame as any kind of pulpit, he felt they were guilty of the worst kind of hubris. And now, any time I see anyone do that, I hear my dad’s voice in my head asking, “Who are you trying to convince? Me or you?”

              But that’s just me, and everyone has their own take on things. People with more evangelical points of view feel differently, which is fine, but it’s still something that I, personally, am going to find to be off-putting.

              I worked with a guy for a few years who had a very different take on religion. He and his wife did not attend any specific church, because they felt that organized religion is in general pretty corrupt, and that only a small portion of monies that are tithed actually go to help the needy, so they did their charity work at a local or individual level. But he and his wife had read the Bible, and interpreted for themselves what they believed it meant, and then tried to live their lives accordingly. This meant that they stopped celebrating Christmas, stopped taking their kids trick-or-treating each year, and a few other things, and in my view, that was extreme and unnecessary. BUT I respected his point of view, because he put alot of time, effort, and prayer into his version of his faith (for lack of a better way to put it), and then tried his best to live his life accordingly. We had many interesting debates about religion, and though we disagreed on many things, we also agreed on a few key points, but at the end of it all we were still friends and colleagues that respected each other.

              I also have a friend who is a very conservative Christian, leans WAY to the right on political issues — pretty much the opposite of me. We have very spirited debates about many things. I don’t agree with all his religious beliefs, but I again, do respect him because again he is a person that really takes what he hears in church and from his Bible study group to heart, and tries to live his life according to Christian values.

              I do agree with you though, that God wants us to take care of ourselves, and that He does appreciate people who exercise common sense and use all the means at their disposal to take care of themselves. With regards to the manager who’s dismissing everything as being God’s will, I have a visual of the supreme being throwing up his hands and saying, “Really??!!”

              1. Editor*

                There’s an old Saturday Night Live sketch about a woman who prays about everything — I don’t recall exactly, but something like “Please, Jesus, let the kettle boil soon. Please, Lord, let me not spill the tea when I pour…” She goes on and on, so Jesus drops by to suggest that she ramp back the prayers. Then Jesus has to deal with an almost hysterical reaction — “Don’t you want me to pray? You don’t want to listen to me?”

                Conversation about religion always involves sensitivity to other people’s degree of sensitivity. It’s hard to navigate that ever-changing divide. It’s kind of like a tide line — we know where the beach is, we know where the ocean is, but the tide line is a little different each time and so knowing where the tide line is all the time is harder than one might think.

              2. Tinker*

                One of the things that still puzzles me a little along those lines is that the question of overt public expressions of faith seems to always get framed as a conflict between Christians and the irreligious or sometimes members of non-Christian faiths that involves the other person presumably objecting to the faith itself, not just its expression.

                The weird thing to me is that, at least as I understood it growing up, the reasoning behind being private about one’s faith was based on the assumption that pretty much everyone around you was Christian (although perhaps of different denominations and levels of commitment) — you didn’t get into that outside of church because of the risk of being seen as bragging, or making someone feel bad about their degree of piety, or touching on an internal theological conflict about which other people sometimes felt strongly.

                It’s much the same as why one was reticent to bring up politics at church — there, the common element was faith and people might differ on political affiliation, so you didn’t bring up the thing that might cause strife with the people that you’re meeting on another common ground.

                I think the mainline churches, or at least the ones in the smaller Midwestern and Southern cities that I grew up in, had a lot of focus on norms related to maintaining smooth interactions in a smaller community. The Evangelical approach seems a bit more like theological engineering to me — looking up the equations in the Bible, plugging in the numbers, and that’s what the answer is and you stand by it in the face of conflict.

                Maybe that sort of background is more uncommon than I thought it was, and granted the mainline churches are shrinking — but there are still a lot more of them than athiest/agnostics or Pagans, after all. I don’t quite get the deal there.

          3. Jamie*

            Different people are motivated by different things. This Lady is motivated by honoring God. Your motivations are different. If you can publicly speak your motivations, why shouldn’t she be allowed to speak hers?

            There are plenty of secular motivations that aren’t socially acceptable to express either.

            Personal topics can make others uncomfortable and religion is a personal topic.

            1. EngineerGirl*

              I disagree. She stated her personal motivations at a lunch honoring her. If not there, then where?

              1. Jamie*

                It’s still a work lunch with colleagues – not family and personal friends.

                As to where, I’m baffled by anyone who would be compelled to find a venue for their personal motivations for working – but pretty much anywhere it was appropriate to talk about personal matters like religion.

                If the reason someone worked so hard and did such a good job was because they see how others live on less money and can’t imagine going through life with the standard of living of some of their co-workers it would not be appropriate to say at this luncheon.

                For every person who feels they are doing the Lord’s work there are others who feel exactly as I described above – not every thought we have needs to be uttered to an audience of coworkers.

                And frankly, outside of management as a retention strategy who asks anyone about what motivates them to work? I would assume most of us work because we need to support ourselves – our other motivations whether it’s financial comfort, ego, self-esteem based on career success…none of that dirty laundry needs to spill out when people are trying to have a nice lunch and get back to work.

                1. EngineerGirl*

                  We do work for money. But that said, I can’t see working in any industry other than Aerospace. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. And I’ve taken less lucrative jobs that stay in space rather than a higher paying job that is in internet technology.
                  I’m not sure it’s dirty laundry. You may not care, but this lady’s bosses absolutely should care about what drives her. That is just basic good management. And the lunch was for **her**.

      4. Aisling*

        I probably would have told her “Jesus helps those who help themselves”, and also concluded that she couldn’t borrow my stuff.

    4. louise*

      /And I know this is probably dorky, but I’m chuckling about a question about a manager saying everything is God’s will being answered with “Good god.” Hee./

      Yup, it’s dorky–and so am I; I think I got to her answer and said out loud “Ha! I see what you did there.”

    5. NutellaNutterson*

      The OP’s question made me think of that old joke about the man in the flood waiting on God to intervene, and after he drowns, he meets God, who of course says “I sent you a canoe, a life raft, a helicopter…”

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        At the risk of being labeled a blasphemer, I will say that this pretty accurately sums up my feelings about God. When I hear or read stories about people refusing medical care because they feel that God will provide, I think God is up there thinking, “I provided science!”

        1. Laufey*

          Let’s be labeled together, Ann.

          I have always been mystified by people who think that God and science can’t co-exist. Yes, I can tell you the physics behind the colors of a sunset, and the chemistry and biology behind trees coming to life every spring, and the origins of half a dozen meteor showers. That doesn’t make it any less miraculous or wonderful.

          1. Jamie*

            This is what I believe as well. I don’t need others to share my beliefs, but I am always just a little puzzled by why the believe they can’t co-exist.

            Babies are created because of cellular mitosis. That doesn’t mean there weren’t people involved who didn’t take some action (deliberate or accidental) to start that process. One doesn’t preclude the other.

        2. Stephanie*

          A year or two ago, a snake handler preacher in West Virginia died of a snake bite, maintaining that God would cure him. I believe he even lost a finger due to a snake bite.

          To me, at least, it seems like God also invented doctors and anti-venom for a purpose. At the very least, seems like preacher would be better alive serving parishioners versus being a martyr.

          1. Stephanie*

            Actually…I’m confusing my snake handling preachers. One died in Kentucky earlier this year. He had a reality show on National Geographic.

    6. Abradee*

      The only experience I have with religious organizations is 12 years of Catholic school. I can only imagine how each of my teachers would have reacted if I told them that it was God’s will that I not complete an assignment.

  4. Editor*

    #3 — No one even has the backbone to email Clive and say, “Can you keep the kids in your office, since we’re working on deadline over here?” No one has the nerve to say, “What are you bringing in (crayons, coloring books, video on a laptop with headphones for kids, Legos) to keep the kids occupied the next time they’re off school?”

    Co-workers might want to consider donating some books and activities to him so he gets the idea. “Here is a puzzle for you to keep in your desk for the next time the children are here and need a quiet activity in your office. What else will you bring in to keep them busy?”

    If people complained about specific problems with the kids each time he brought them in, he’d get the idea. The people at his level should be ashamed of their lack of resolve, but I wonder if this is one of those, “we don’t want to imply a father who’s trying hard is a bad parent.” The thing is, if the people complaining focus on specifics without saying stuff like “how can you let your kids…”, then there’s no shaming involved.

    Stick to the facts and use “I” statements: “Clive, I can’t concentrate when your middle child yells to his brother right next to my desk. Could the children stay in your office?”

    I would question the family-friendliness of this company, though. To me, on-site daycare is the ultimate measure of family-friendliness. A program (indoor day camp or craft camp with paid supervisors) to serve all employees who have children at home on non-school-days could solve Clive’s problem and help other parents, too — employees could suggest that to HR.

    But ultimately, someone needs to get a spine and talk to Clive, because he needs to stop disrupting the entire floor.

    1. Editor*

      Oops. Clive is #2.

      #3 is someone who’s let the theology of predestination take over her reasoning. I guess she hasn’t heard that God helps those who help themselves.

      More seriously, she needs to stop the constant references to God. Whoever explains this may have to get into some explanation of the ways freedom of religion and freedom of speech don’t apply to her behavior in a workplace.

      1. EngineerGirl*

        The constitution and the employer determine this. This is a separate issue from the non-management that the manager is doing. Blaming God or blaming the computer, she isn’t doing what she needs to do to manage.

        BTW, “God helps those who help themselves” is nowhere in the Bible. Zero, nada, zip.

        1. Editor*

          “God helps those who help themselves” is a proverb. If it had been scriptural, I’d have given the citation.

          1. lachevious*

            Well the idea is from several cultures… as it states in the Quran, Chapter 13:11: “Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.”

            Sorry, atheist that hearts studying world religions.

        2. Anonymiss*

          No offense, but are you only here to point out our heresy and/or scriptural inaccuracies?

          I wasn’t expecting that. But then again, nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

          It just feels like to me that your whole point here is to sow disagreement, be confrontational/judgmental to others, and just generally troll around. If it is so, please refrain – we are aware that we are sinners, and that our religion (or lack thereof) is likely offensive to some group who believes differently, no need to point that out. Otherwise – happy commenting.

          1. lachevious*

            Hi Anonymiss – just FYI, calling commentors trolls is really frowned upon here by AAM…

            I think if you read more of Editors comments you’ll see that he or she is an excellent contributer.

    2. Nina*

      The OP said that Clive “leads” the floor, so maybe he’s a team leader or something? If he has any supervisory power over his coworkers, that could explain why they haven’t said anything to Clive. But his managers and supervisors have no excuse.

      I’m also wondering if his supervisors are neglecting to talk to him for fear of spoiling the company’s family friendly image.

      An onsite daycare would be awesome, but with 500 employees and Lord knows how many children, I can’t imagine how long it would take to set that up, plus expenses. And the OP said they have thousands of worldwide offices, so word will spread and employees at those offices will want the daycare option as well.

        1. LV*

          My favourite professor in undergrad told me that he put his child on the university daycare waiting list the moment his wife found out she was pregnant. Their daughter was a year old before she got a spot!

          1. Meg Murry*

            At the local Enormous State University, I had friends who got calls 3 years later from the University Daycare saying “do you still want to be on the waiting list? We’re not offering you a spot, just trying to cull down the list to remove people who don’t want to be on it anymore.”

          1. Stephanie*

            Unsure. The one at that job wasn’t free, but could be paid for via payroll deduction.

          2. Darth Admin*

            Depends. The one where I work isn’t free – in fact, it’s INSANELY expensive, to the point that we couldn’t afford it.

      1. Judy*

        Well, the two companies that I’ve worked on that had “onsite” daycare outsourced them to a provider. And they were “onsite” as in they shared the parking lot. It was more like they were an outlot at a mall, out near the road, while one of the company’s buildings was further away from the road.

        I believe the hospital that my sister works at with “onsite” childcare (24 hr or at least 2 shifts I think) the childcare is in the professional office building, not actually in the hospital.

        I do know the waiting list was very long at any I know of.

      2. Lynn Whitehat*

        Once on a plane, the woman sitting next to me had built a career out of setting up things like medical clinics in dangerous workplaces. It was very interesting. At one point I asked her about branching out into setting up day cares inside workplaces (normal ones, not dangerous ones.) she said “good God, no! The liability eats you alive!”

        1. Elizabeth*

          I was part of a group that was tasked with looking at it here one time, as it is the number one request from our employees (hospitals are 24-hour operations, and night-shift nurses have an awful time finding childcare). We discovered that it was going to be virtually impossible, since many of the state regulations for healthcare facilities were in direct conflict with those for daycares. We wouldn’t be able to house it in any building owned, operated or maintained by the hospital, as they were considered part of the hospital.

          We ended up making lists of local daycare facilities with their hours and policies and giving it to anyone who inquired into an on-site facility. Our HR department now keeps the list reasonably current (striking out those who have gone out of business, for example).

          1. Judy*

            The hospital my sister works at has a day care in the professional building right across the street (with a walkway) where some of the doctors offices are. I have no idea if the “Medical Professions Building” is owned by the hospital or not.

        2. S.A.*

          This made me think of irresponsible parents who refuse to vaccinate their children. I would not want children anywhere near me when it comes to work.

          Oh the liabilities I can think of….

    3. Rayner*

      Also, I disagree that it’s appropriate to give him presents. Clive is an adult, with children of his own. Giving him recommendation to do it is one thing, but OP and coworkers should not make the day care for him.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I see your point, but certainly parents with older kids will still have puzzles or other quiet games gathering dust in their closets or basements. I’m sure they would find it much easier and preferable to bring in a couple of those rather than to go over the heads of the managers and get HR to force the managers to do something they’ve refused to do so far.

        1. neverjaunty*

          This is stepping over the broken stair. The problem is that Clive doesn’t know or doesn’t care that his kids are making it impossible for everyone to work. Turning to desperate babysitting measures will not fix that.

          1. LBK*

            Oh wow, I’ve never heard that “stepping over a broken stair” expression before and now I think I’m going to use it every day. Thank you for introducing this into my lexicon!

              1. neverjaunty*

                Caution that much of the site is NSFW, as you may have guessed from the title.

          2. The Cosmic Avenger*

            Actually, the actual problem is simply that these kids are making it impossible for some people to work as effectively as they usually would. Clive is only relevant to the problem in that he has more influence over the kids than anyone else at the office. Making Clive the crux of the problem comes from thinking about it in personal terms rather than looking at it objectively, which is also evident by your subtle use of hyperbole (“everyone” and “impossible”).

            Besides, if there’s an actual broken stair, are you saying that you put your foot in the hole when you come across it? Or do you step across it until you can fix it somehow?

            1. Diane*

              Everyone is so used to the broken stair that they step around it automatically, and they no longer notice it enough to fix it.

            2. neverjaunty*

              Clive does not simply have ‘more influence’ over the kids; they are HIS KIDS. And yes, it is Clive who is the problem here. Clive brings his children to the office; Clive fails to supervise them or provide them with activities to keep them from disturbing others; Clive apparently expects his co-workers to provide some level of babysitting; Clive has failed to make alternative childcare arrangements, either outside of work or by lobbying for some kind of on-site care facility. Board games or toys may distract the kids once in a while, but they do not address the problem, which is that OP #2 and co-workers are not getting their work done because Clive is offloading the care of his children onto them during work hours.

              Regarding your swipe about not being ‘objective’ or taking things in ‘personal terms’, whatever that means, it was OP #2 who actually said that “everything about this situation drives everybody in my department nuts”.

      2. Editor*

        Sorry. I wasn’t thinking of presents so much as hand-me-downs — stuff other parents had that their children had outgrown. (The word search book where only the first five pages were worked, a puzzle for an eight-year-old that someone’s 12-year-old now disdains, the used box of crayons accumulated by merging five boxes of crayons into one, where there are four burnt umber crayons intact and no black crayons at all, and so on.)

    4. Sunflower*

      I think the someone needs to be a manager or HR. Once kids are involved, things get tricky and people can feel uncomfortable. OP did the right thing telling management and they are the ones sitting back. If I was OP, I’d go straight to HR and tell them not only about the kids problem but about the manager’s refusing to do anything about it- it doesn’t sound like they’ve talked to HR about it yet they’re saying it’s HR’s problem to handle.

      I would however recommend OP try to be part of the solution but not by giving gifts. Maybe see if there is an empty office on the floor and ask HR if they can set it up into a type of play room? That way other parents can feel ok bringing kids in too?

    5. cv*

      I think I would start by asking Clive to keep the kids in his office for a specific reason and short time period, like a conference call where I needed quiet in the background. If a few people did this over the course of a day, he might start to see that his kids are actually disruptive. That’s a pretty passive way out, though, and doesn’t really address the problem.

      It’s a tough issue because you don’t want to set a policy that penalizes the parents whose kids act appropriately. We had three different employees at my last job who sometimes brought their kids in. One stayed in her mother’s office and worked or played quietly. One was younger and more disruptive, but was only ever there for an hour or less at a time as a bridge between child care or activities. The third was loud and there for the whole day on several occasions, and made it really hard to get work done. I finally offered up my Netflix password and set her up on a spare computer whenever she was in the office. Netflix still thinks I like SpongeBob.

    6. thenoiseinspace*

      I’m going to take a slightly different side to this. I was, temporarily, an “office kid” for a while when I was in elementary school. School got out at 2:30-ish, my dad worked until 5:30 or 6, and we lived over an hour and a half away. There was nowhere else for me to be during those few hours. Granted, I was just one kid (groups are louder), and I’ve always been a quiet person and made an extra effort to just read quietly and not interrupt people, but it IS difficult having to sit in the corner and be quiet for several hours every day.

      Eventually, the problem was solved when someone found an unused loading dock in the building. They put a card table, metal folding chair and an old tv in there, and that ended up being the “kid room” ( a few of my dad’s coworkers starting bringing their kids in too soon after the new setup.)

      I know this kind of solution isn’t feasible for most companies, and I’m not saying that companies should be required to provide space for kids. I’m just asking that people keep in mind that it’s hard on the kids, too. Nobody likes to think that they’re a “problem that needs to be dealt with.”

      1. The Real Ash*

        It’s not the coworkers who are making this difficult for Clive and his kids, they just want to get their work done in a kid-free environment, and they have every right to want that. Trying to elicit compassion for the children completely misses the point here, which is that they do not belong in the workplace every day at all, let alone when they are in a loud, disruptive group.

      2. Nina*

        That’s an interesting point, though. Even children who will sit down and play quietly are going to get antsy after several hours. Eventually, they’ll want to get up and move around, or in their case, run around. That’s one problem with children being in the office all day instead of a few hours.

      3. neverjaunty*

        The kids are not the problem. Clive is the problem, and he’s not doing his kids any favors by letting them think their behavior at work is appropriate.

    7. Artemesia*

      unfortunately the real need here is not for coloring books, but for a policy to ban kids in the office for extended periods. I had my daughter come to my office occasionally after school when she was a young teen, but I had my own office and she could do her homework quietly at a table in my office and not terrorize the rest of the place. Others occasionally had kids around on days they were off school but people didn’t bring small kids in or allow them to run around unsupervised.

      Management really needs to step up on this one; perhaps they are waiting until one of the kids is injured or injures someone else and they have a lawsuit to face.

      I don’t get offices that allow this sort of thing to get out of hand with kids or dogs. 4 kids running amuck should have been nipped in the bud the first time it happened. He needs to be told to line up a sitter for days school is out since he obviously doesn’t have the sense god gave a goose.

    8. Mary*

      While bringing books, toys, etc. for the kids is a good idea, Clive should be doing this. The fact that the kids are 12 years old and younger means these things will not keep them occupied for 8 hours. Kids need to run around. Clive is being cheap in not finding daycare for his kids. There are millions of parents in his situation and they seem to manage to find daycare. He has no excuse.

  5. Joy*

    #3 – Alison, I just love that you started your reply with “good god!”

    Are we sure the “issues” this manager is responding to are work-related issues? It would still be inappropriate, but more typical (in my own experience), if people mentioned personal issues (health, dating, etc.) and got this response from a very religious manager… but work issues!?

    Either way, I’d start job hunting and go to HR. Probably in that order.

    1. Vicki*

      Alison’s response was one of the reasons I love reading AAM. (And so wish this blog had “Like” buttons”).

    2. Kate*

      #3 – I also think it’s possible that the issues the OP is referring to might not be work related. Perhaps I just don’t want to believe we live in a world where someone would use this to abdicate responsibility in a work setting.

    3. BB*

      I’m thinking they’re related to work since OP sounds like she is forced into this situation of hearing this. My guess is if it was related to personal things, she would just stop talking this manger about personal issues

  6. Nina*

    #2: This would drive me insane. Four kids running rampant in the office? No way. Is there an empty office/board room where they can hang out? Or (if he has one) stay in their father’s office?

    Playing Devil’s Advocate for a moment, Clive could be thinking that since he’s surrounded by working parents, they don’t see his children as being disruptive, it’s just “kids being kids” and the ruckus is just “white noise.” He can ignore it and figures others can do the same. I would be pulling my hair out, personally.
    If his superiors are still ignoring your pleas, I would go to HR.

    #3: That’s messed up. She’s basically using a religious message as a get-out-of-jail-free card to avoid confrontation. What’s really worrisome is that if this manager tries that after making a serious error. I don’t know if the OP’s business works in customer service, but imaging telling a customer that something went wrong with their account/product because “it’s God’s will.” Just no. Talk to HR.

    1. Ben*

      Nina, our floor of the company has cubes, open spaces, and offices with doors. Clive has an office with a door, while his kids are off in the open spaces (or playing tag in the hallways). I think your devil’s advocate view is spot-on. Our office culture is lax enough—and his subordinates have acted as willing babysitters and activity leaders during the workday—that he thinks it’s not a problem.

        1. Ben*

          I’m not sure. But it comes down to knowing that your kids are out of school and not deciding to also take that day off—or work from home—to be with them there.

          1. Judy*

            Or use childcare. Not only does the place my kids go to for before and after school care have “snow day care”, “spring break camp” for school age kids, but our local Y, and for spring break even our museum and zoo have day camps.

      1. BB*

        This is why HR or a manager really needs to speak to him. I understand that the staff probably wants to be sympathetic to him but the fact that people are partaking in this shenanigans is only reinforcing him thinking it’s okay!!! Ah go to HR right away- manager’s are definitely falling flat on their duties here.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Oooh, the fact that his subordinates are doing child care makes this even worse. HR will not like that. Those are people who are likely to feel pressured into it and like they can’t say no

        1. WorkingMom*

          Agreed, while I feel for single parents and how challenging it must be – that doesn’t give them the right to skip childcare like other parents.
          On a side note: I have a coworker who occasionally brings her daughter to the office – usually for a short period, 2- 3 hours max. She occupies her with making artwork for other colleagues, drawing on her mother’s dry erase board, etc. Sometimes, she brings roller skates and skates around the office. It’s quite genius – she’s not in the way at all, it’s adorable, quiet, and keeps her occupied when she gets tired of sitting still and drawing. Mom win on that one! (We have a *fairly* casual office, the roller skating thing might not fly everywhere – but as Alison always says knowing your culture is key. For our culture, this works really well!)

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Yes, and they may feel concerned and want to make sure that unsupervised kids don’t get hurt. But it’s not their responsibility!

          *is the one who always ends up pulling some kid off/out of something at get-togethers because the parents abdicate*

  7. James M*

    #3: Assuming “God’s will” refers to the Judeo-Christian God (it’s hard to tell from your letter. “God” is just a job description, after all) just cite Galations 6:7 the next time your boss tries that excuse.

    I’m not trying to start a dogma fight; turnabout is fair play.

    1. Laufey*

      Well, technically, citing Galatians 6:7 would only work for the Christian God, since Galatians is part of the New Testament and not part of the Jewish faith.

      But still, a very apt quote to throw back at the preaching manager.

      1. rr*


        And “Judeo-Christian god” is generally a bad term to use in general, because the Jewish god is singular (a point so important, it’s recited in each of the daily prayers) and the Christian god is a trinity.

        1. Laufey*

          Eh, without meaning to start a theological discussion on AAM, the Trinity is still one God, just three parts. The Trinity is a complicated idea far beyond my ability to discuss articulately, but it’s still a singular God.

        2. Leah*

          Also, leaving things to “God’s will” is pretty uncommon in Jewish theology. Even among the most fundamentalist groups, we don’t have a counterpart to groups that forbid things like medical care because they interfere with “God’s will.”

          The closest to this sentiment I’ve come across is b’ezrat hashem which is used in the context of “God willing” or “If all goes well”. I have heard “Hashem will provide” when a couple decides that the husband will spend most of his time studying religious teachings while the wife has many children, but that probably wouldn’t come up in a workplace.

          Also many Jews operate under the assumption that non-Jews have no idea what we’re talking about when we say things like that so they’re generally said to people who are likely to understand the context and the Hebrew. There are a few terms and idiomatic expressions in Talmud that I think are really useful but have don’t have a great English-language counterpart so I don’t use them a work since I can’t imagine anyone learning [Talmudic] Aramaic just because.

        3. H. Vane*

          And some of us Christians do not believe that God is a trinity at all. But not going to jump into a debate on that.

    2. The Real Ash*

      For those who don’t want to search (and also don’t have the book memorized): “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” (NIV)

    3. lachevious*

      Or toss a little Job her way :) I heart theology.

      Job 13:4-7
      As for you, you whitewash with lies; worthless physicians are you all. Oh that you would keep silent, and it would be your wisdom!
      Hear now my reasoning, and listen to the pleadings of my lips. Will you speak falsely for God, and speak deceitfully for him?

      1. Adam*

        I love the book of Job for the imagery alone. Describing the sheer awesomeness that was Leviathan and how God could put it on a leash. Powerful stuff.

  8. HR "Gumtion"*

    #5- Definitely include the under the table experience. As I’ve told hundreds of seasonal employees, this information is only going as far as there employee file, and I don’t work for the IRS.

    1. FiveNine*

      Except in virtually all service-industry jobs anymore they do a credit check — this can be working for a call center, or at Target, etc. It’s under the inane idea that anyone who handles small-money clerk-type exchanges (this does not apply to high-finance types on Wall Street or white-collar jobs) has to be checked and if they have any blemish on their credit they aren’t trustworthy with money or don’t know how to handle it.

      OP is usually fine if she is applying for another restaurant, or if she’s going into a professional white-collar job. In the future, after time has passed, she can just leave the job off. If she’s applying right now for a call center position or at a big box store, for example, she’ll know there will be problems if/when they ask for permission to run a credit check, and they will.

      1. Elysian*

        I’m not sure that employment-related things would come up on a credit check though – unless employers have some kind of more comprehensive credit check than the ones I can run on myself. I just see my lines of credit – certain bills, credit cards, loans, etc. It could definitely be an issue on a more traditional background check, though, especially if you want to work for the government.

        1. Sunflower*

          I know when my landlord ran my credit he could see my last places of employment.

          1. Elysian*

            I looked at a copy of my most recently run credit report, and it looks like there can be employment history, but doesn’t have to be. It’s in the “personal information” section with all your addresses and things like that. Mine doesn’t have any employment history, and I’ve definitely been employed. I wonder how that would get reported… Either way, I wouldn’t think its a big deal if there is or isn’t something on there, as long as there’s not something that is actually incorrect. (Says you worked for Company A when you never did, for example.)

            1. Persephone Mulberry*

              Most likely it happens as a result of listing your employer on a credit application.

          2. Chinook*

            The only time I saw a credit check for myself it listed an employer from 5 years earlier and nothing since then (even though there had been 2 or 3). I think it only registers on the credit check if it is listed somewhere that ran the credit check (like a bank or car dealership)?

      2. Sunflower*

        I’m not sure I would call it a blemish though because it’s not the same as defaulting on loans or writing bad checks. This is just me but if I credit checked someone and a job they said they had didn’t pop up, I’d ask about it and if they said they were paid under the table, I wouldn’t hold it against them- especially if it was a serving job.

        In this case though OP is applying for internships so I don’t think she has to worry.

        1. Persephone Mulberry*

          If I were credit checked and a job I had didn’t pop up, and my potential employer asked about it, I certainly wouldn’t reveal I’d been paid under the table. You might get a, “hmm, that’s interesting” from me, and if you pressed the point, a lecture on how credit reporting agencies are simply aggregators – they don’t care if the information they have on file is complete or even particularly factual, unless someone brings it to their attention that it’s not.

          1. Dulcinea*

            Me neither! Instead I would play dumb, say “Gee, that’s odd….here’s the number from my old manager, you can talk to her about it.” Because you know that the manager isn’t likely to admit to breaking the law, either.

            Also, I am not sure where the credit reporting companies get your employment info but I don’t think it is from the IRS; there is a special form you have to fill out for the IRS to release your tax info to someone else and I have never filled one of those out for Equifax/TransUnion etc.

          2. Tinker*

            I’ve never worked under the table, and my credit report is pretty much borked regarding employment history — it mentions my first employer, who I left in like 2006 or so, has a line to the effect of “(a misspelling of my alma mater’s name) Student”, and… that’s it. Nobody’s brought it up to me, and if they did… shrug.

            I’ve got a theory about why it’s like that stemming from my rather sparing use of credit, but I wouldn’t necessarily go spelunking for it to some employer person I’d just met or confess my past misdeeds re: paperwork (which are legion, although not of the tax-related or particularly intentional variety). Credit reports are flaky sometimes. Surprise factor nil.

  9. bob*

    “Good god, yes” Haaaaaaaaaa! I see what you did there!

    Should “god” be capitalized? Discuss…

    1. FD*

      It depends!

      In a monotheistic setting, God is often used as a form of address and a proper name. (This is partly because at least in the Christian and Jewish context, the name of God was seen as sacred and not to be said in ordinary settings.)

      In a polytheistic setting, god is usually not capitalized, as its not usually specific to one individual and generally not used as a form of address. When it is used as a form of address, there’s usually a modifier thrown into specify. “Zeus, God of Thunder,” etc.

      /end pedantic tangent

      1. Chinook*

        To further FD’s pedantic tnagent – in the Judeo-Christian context (or more specifically Christian context because I believe Jewish tradition doesn’t allow for one to speak God’s name), “God” is His proper name and, as such, follows the usual capitalization rules. But,w hen you are talking about “god(s)” as a set of beings, then it is not capitalized. It would be like calling your pet “Dog” instead of “Boweser.”

        1. lachevious*

          Whenever I have seen Jewish people refer to god in writing they use YHWH, L-rd, or G-d. There are more variants, I’m sure. I think it’s neat, but to me it’s just a word (atheist that just happens to love learning about religions).

          1. rr*

            The more religious the Jews are, the less likely we are to use the tetragrammaton (YHWH) except as part of praying, and definitely not writing it out. And you’d never say “Jehovah”: pronouncing the tetragrammaton does not happen, you say “Adonai” (my master) whenever the tetragrammaton is read outloud. And the idea is, the name is sacred when written and when spoken. There are differing opinions on English translations and words used instead. Some hold that you should use a dash to avoid writing out the English term (G-d), and some are okay. There are people who would disagree with me writing “Adonai’ above and have it be “Adoshem” instead, to avoid saying the title. The common term to refer to the Jewish deity is “Hashem”, lit: the name.

            Basically, Jews avoid taking the Lord’s name in vain to the point where we euphemise our euphemisms ;)

            1. lachevious*

              This is great information! I don’t know many (if any) Jewish people. I’m surrounded by Baptists and Catholics :) The little I have learned is all self-study, but I find religion fascinating.

            2. ella*

              I love the idea that names are sacred and have power (which also lives in so many myths and folklore of non-Judaic traditions).

          2. MentalEngineer*

            More atheist theological pedantry for you:

            A seriously practicing Jew would be highly unlikely to refer to God as “YHWH,” as this comes far too close to the English transliteration of the Hebrew spelling of God’s name. If you tried to pronounce it, you might accidentally say God’s actual name, which would violate the commandment against taking God’s name in vain. This is why the Hebrew equivalent of “YHWH” is pronounced “Adonai,” which means “Lord.” Using L-rd, G-d, etc. in English is just icing on the cake: “God” isn’t God’s name, so there’s no actual prohibition against saying “God”. It’s just a reminder not to say God’s actual name and a way of showing extra reverence for God by extending the prohibition beyond its literal bounds.

            In my experience, “YHWH,” Jehovah, etc. are mainly used by Christians who think they are getting in touch with the Jewish roots of their faith by using the “correct” name for God. This disregards the fact that there is now *no* correct pronunciation of the Hebrew name of God, since (according to Jewish tradition) only the High Priest ever knew what it was and the last one of those died during the Bar Kochba revolt, when the Romans destroyed the Second Temple. (Heck, one of my religion classes at Jesuit high school did this, and they’re supposed to be the smart ones.) This is merely one of many reasons why Jews who know their own theology look upon this variant of Christian with charitable bemusement.

            1. lachevious*

              Charitable bemusement is a great term! I hope I didn’t come across as a know-it-all, I am anything but! I was just saying what I have seen around the internet (as far as writing the name of god).

          3. KSM*

            Jewish tradition is different. The names themselves are holy, so you only say/write ‘Eloheinu’ or ‘Adonai’ in the context of prayer/teaching about prayer. They avoid the tetragrammaton (YHWH), because Adonai is actually an acceptable-to-pronounce substitute for the Tetragrammaton, which would only be said aloud once per year by one person when the Temple was standing.

            So in order of descending holiness:
            Various mystical names
            Adonai (“Lord/master”, plural, replacement for the Tetragrammaton)/ Eloheinu (lit ‘our god’)
            Lord/God (for some)
            Hashem (lit. ‘the name’, replacement for all of the above)/L-rd/G-d

            The reason for omitting vowels in L-rd, G-d is that one the name of God is written on paper, the paper must be buried instead of being thrown out/recycled. To avoid the effort/hassle/possible for inadvertent blasphemy, L-rd and G-d are used.

            1. anonymous*

              That makes me wonder about the internet, where things are just combinations of 1 and 0. Is deleting a file the same as discarding a paper document?

  10. Sophie*

    I thought my firm was like OP#1’s- it seemed like a woman in my office, who was senior, was completely incompetent. Everyone lower down knew, but it felt like the higher ups were clueless.

    I was very frustrated, as she was very good about making noises about how awesome she was, and then I was afraid that people were believing her.

    I later learned that the higher ups were very aware, but they couldn’t be bothered actively doing anything about it, and she just never received pay raises. She eventually quit.

    There’s a lot going on behind the scenes, and if he’s nearly been fired before, I am sure they’re aware of it.

    In my experience, while law firms do care about billable hours, they also care about the quality of the product going out, and having to fix people’s mistakes.

    1. Windchime*

      We have a manager like this at work, and it’s mystifying. He roams around all day, chatting with people or he works on personal projects on his tablet while his work computer is idle. He’s a laughing stock amongst the people on my team. Nobody, including his own team, knows what his actual work responsibilities are. It’s so confusing how this person still has a job when the company keeps going on and on about how tight times are. The higher ups are either completely unaware or unconcerned.

  11. Jake*

    God’s will… The last time I heard that phrase was when my wife’s grandmother said my wife’s ovarian cancer was God’s will at a Christmas party. Let’s just say that people don’t use that phrase around me anymore.

  12. Andrea*

    If I worked with Clive, I would absolutely be on my way out the door. I can’t tolerate noises like that, especially when working. And if this workplace values working parents so much, then why don’t they have an on-site day care? If he’s such a great guy, why isn’t he thinking ahead and making other plans for the days when his kids are out of school (like the other parents presumably do), and why isn’t be being considerate to his coworkers by eliminating this noise in the workplace? He sounds like an ass to me; doesn’t matter how nice he is around the water cooler.

    1. Eden*

      I do notice parents can be very blind to the annoyance factor of their children. I used to work where bringing kids in for these reasons was frequent. My personal favorite is when the child can’t be at daycare/school because she’s sick, so instead of staying home with said child, co-worker brings sick child in so she can snot all over everything and infect the entire office.

      1. Sunflower*

        I used to work in a resultant where things were loud and people were always moving around. Kids were extremely distracting and parents didn’t even seem to notice. When you asked a parent to watch their child because we didn’t want them getting hurt, sometimes they’d look at you like you told them to throw them in the street. Some of them couldn’t fathom how their child was distracting(or endangering everyone in the restaurant) . I mean, do you really want your kid running around near people carrying heavy plates, knives and lots of glasses? No I don’t think so

        1. Windchime*

          I actually quit going to one of my favorite local restaurants because one of the wait staff started bringing her child in. Three times in a row was enough for me; the child would run through the restaurant screaming, or would come and stand at the edge of our table and stare at us while we ate. Mom would eventually come and lead him away, but a few minutes later he would return. He was a cute little thing and too young to know better (and definitely too young to be hanging out in a boring restaurant all day), but we still quit going because it was so annoying.

          1. Andrea*

            I just quit going to this lovely local candle shop for this same reason. After about the sixth time of the owner’s kids screaming and running around in the little store, I just decided not to go back. They were old enough to sit still and read or color or whatever, too, and I’m sure they were bored to tears, but it was just intolerable. I really loved those candles, too.

        2. thenoiseinspace*

          Yes! I had that same problem when I worked at a hibachi restaurant (the kind where the light the grill on fire and cook at your table.) As it turns out, small children are just entranced by fire. Yet parents were always so insulted when we asked them to stop the toddlers from crawling onto the grill. “Excuse me, ma’am, could you please keep your baby away from the OPEN FREAKING FLAME in front of you?” Seriously.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I think people like that think that 1) kids have more self-control than they do, and 2) anything anybody says is an attack on their parenting. Which in many cases, needs one! :P

            1. lachevious*

              I agree with #1 at least – #2 usually is delivered in an attacking manner. I don’t mind reasonable people making reasonable requests, but I don’t need the eye-rolling, the exasperated sighs, the glares. If I can’t settle my kids down I apologize profusely t o anyone around and try to get them calmed down or away as quick as possible.

              People that give “advice” to strangers about how to deal with children they know nothing about is rather silly and generally not helpful, or desired. What works for one kid rarely works for another.

              Just be compassionate and patient – it’s worse on the parents than it is on the observers.

              Ha – okay seriously now, I’ll drop it – I am sure the thread is dead by now anyway. Happy Cinco de Mayo!

      2. Ann Furthermore*

        I’m actually hyper sensitive about my daughter being annoying and obnoxious around other people. We took her to a rodeo with some other friends, and she had lots of fun and behaved pretty well, but started getting whiny and cranky when she got tired at the end of the day. The plan was for us to go out for dinner, but we bowed out. Then one of our friends kind of razzed me for being anti-social. I told her that we didn’t think anyone else wanted to have dinner with a cranky, whiny, tired 5 year old, so we decided to spare everyone from that.

        1. Mints*

          Yeah, I think this really varies. Some people are just more self-aware, and will notice when their kids are getting rowdy.

          Like one time I was walking on the sidewalk near my school (a college town) behind a mom with a stroller and a kid about four. The four year old was walking the way kids do when they’re excited (half skipping, arms flailing) and the mom said “could you walk closer to me please” son said “why” she said “well some people don’t really like kids and I don’t want you to bump into anyone.” It was considerate of her, since the sidewalks were so crowded. So yeah, this varies

          1. lachevious*

            Wow, a story where a parent did the right thing. Imagine that.

            Maybe it’s like Amazon reviews – people only speak up when it’s really good or really bad. Guess that’s what happened here.

      3. The Real Ash*

        Not just blind to the annoyance factor, but offended that anyone could think their precious offspring could possibly be anything less than perfect.

        1. lachevious*

          Ouch, guys. I have never met a parent that felt that way about their kids, and wasn’t completely mortified when our kids act up in public. I am sorry you all see it differently and have had crappy experiences with parents and kids before – but we do the best we can.

          I have two boys, and I am hyper-aware of the noise and the running around, and I do my best to keep them quiet and in line. Children aren’t tiny, programmable, predictive robots – sometimes they do what they are going to do in spite of our best efforts. No one is perfect all of the time.

          If my kids have a melt-down I have been known to drag them back to the car and take them home, groceries or no groceries.

          We don’t go to movie theaters unless it’s a kid’s movie, we don’t go out to eat at restaurants that are meant for an older crowd – but good grief. Chill – you were all once tiny tyrants, too – lest you forget.

          1. The Real Ash*

            Chill – you were all once tiny tyrants, too – lest you forget.

            That still doesn’t excuse bad kids’ behavior and the parents that let them get away with it. Just because we were all children once doesn’t mean that kids get to act up whenever they want and parents don’t have to control it.

            1. lachevious*

              Nothing excuses parent’s that don’t take responsibility for the actions of their children – my point was that there is no such thing as having 100% control of your child 100% of the time.

              That doesn’t mean parents should let them run wild, it means observers should have some empathy.

              As annoyed as you are to witness it, the parents I know are that times a million and do the best they can to keep their kids from being a bother.

              What more can we do? Muzzle them? Lock ourselves away from the world so as not to disturb the peace and quiet?

              1. Coffeeless*

                Somehow, it seems I always get this answer when somebody’s child is tearing books off shelves and throwing them, or screaming at the top of his lungs while mom ignores him in favor of her tablet. “They’re KIDS what do you want me to do?”

                1. lachevious*

                  What answer, Coffeeless? That nothing excuses a parent for NOT taking responsibility for their kid’s behavior or that there is no such thing as having 100% control of your child 100% of the time?

                  Because I believe both are accurate.

                  I get the feeling that I am not being heard/understood – or that you all really freaking hates kids – and their parents. Hopefully it’s the former – but it’s a weird vibe I’m getting here.

            2. Stephanie*

              Screaming bugs me (ok, who doesn’t it bug?) , but I try to give parents the benefit of the doubt.

              My younger sister’s moderately autistic (i.e., she’s fairly verbal), but it’s not always immediately apparent. Thing is, something will set her off or overstimulate her and this will result in a screaming fit. As an adult, it’s a little more apparent she’s disabled, but it wasn’t always immediately apparent when we were kids. Yelling at her would make it worse sometimes by “rewarding” the behavior with attention. So usually we would just run away in embarrassment as quickly as possible and let her get the fit out. Of course, this wasn’t always possible.

              Not saying every bratty kid acting out in public has a developmental disorder (or that OP’s boss should let his kids run around the office), but there’s sometimes more to the story than simply poor parenting and bratty children.

              1. Jean*

                On behalf of parents and other relatives of people with not-immediately-apparent disabilties, thanks for saying this!

          2. Eden*

            Then you are not part of the problem we’re criticizing. But I promise you, there are parents out there who aren’t doing as good a job as you are at paying attention to what their kids are up to while they’re in public.

            1. lachevious*

              I am sure there are – but I don’t judge. If I see a kid throwing a fit at the grocery store or where ever I just feel bad for the parents.

              Again, I don’t think kids belong in the workplace. The only time I come close to judging is when I see grown-ups lose their temper towards a child in a violent way, or are indisputably neglecting their child (ignoring a temper-tantrum does not count as neglect).

              1. Loose Seal*

                But that’s just one fit in a grocery store. Of course, it’s easy to sympathize in that instance. If Clive’s kids were mostly self-contained and one afternoon one of them was rowdy, we probably wouldn’t be reading this letter because the OP would be sympathetic and realize the kid was having an off-day. But Clive’s kids run around as loud nuisances every day and he doesn’t seem to attempt to supervise them. At what point do you stop saying “kids will be kids (or tiny tyrants, if you prefer)” and start concluding that it’s actually bad parenting?

                1. lachevious*

                  Well, again – I have said that kids don’t belong in the workplace. I also said that nothing excuses the parent’s that don’t take responsibility for the actions of their children. My comments here were directed at The Real Ash, about parent’s thinking their kids are perfect, etc.

                  Clive is obviously not doing his part as a parent by continuing to allow his kids to be a disturbance in his workplace – that much is obvious. He doesn’t even seem to care that his kids are bugging everyone and running wild.

                  I was merely rebutting the comments from people talking about out-of-control kids in other non-work environments. Myself and the other parents I know would remove our child(ren) from situations/environments that they are not behaving appropriately in – but, sometimes that doesn’t happen fast enough to please everyone.

          3. EmmBee*

            There’s a difference between a kid having a standard meltdown in public and a kid whose parents let him do whatever he wants, though. We all know kids aren’t perfect robots, but I’m sure we all have stories where parents really fell down on the job in public because they don’t see anything wrong with little Susie screaming her head off and knocking over store displays.

            Fun fact: I was once alone in the clothes store I worked at as a teenager. A mom came in with her kid (around 5); the mom was busy shopping so the kid made her way to the dressing room to make funny faces in the mirror. Cute! Except then she kept banging the mirror. I warned her and her mother that the mirror wasn’t super steady (it was a small mirror hanging on the wall, not a full-length) and asked her to stop hitting the mirror. Her mom ignored me. I asked again the next time the kid did it. They both ignored me again.

            Then the mirror fell on the girl’s foot and she howled. The mom sure paid attention then. (She also tried to sue us.)

            1. lachevious*

              For every crappy parent with an out of control kid story there is also a story of a parent with a kid that was acting up and the parent took charge/responsibility. I think we can all agree about that.

              I only spoke up because a few comments were getting rather snippy and there weren’t many people speaking up for the parents that do the right thing.

              1. Leah*

                The sad paradox is that the take charge parents are the ones who end up hearing these stories because the crappy ones have either wandered off or tuned it out because “clearly” these stories didn’t apply to them.

                I have met those parents and they’re generally also the ones to whom it wouldn’t occur that an adults-only place might exist.

                1. lachevious*

                  I agree, Leah. Even at the kid-friendly places we go to, the kids still need their parents supervising them – the ones that don’t seem to give all parents a bad rap.

          4. Aisling*

            I have never met a parent that felt that way about their kids, and wasn’t completely mortified when our kids act up in public.

            I work in a public library. Out of control kids happens nearly everyday, unfortunately. We never blame the kids – they are just being kids, after all – but we absolutely talk to the parents and ask that they stop their child from running, grabbing books off shelves, standing in the lobby and screaming, etc. And oh, you would have thought we just kicked their dog. And, as some have said, they figured it was our job to make their kids behave. Ha!

            1. Coffeeless*

              Yeah, almost universally, the reaction is “why are you bothering me about it?”

              1. Aisling*

                Exactly. I’ve never understood the parents who just sit there while their 4-year old is running in circles around them, screaming. We have to mention that it’s probably bothering other patrons, and they always get so mad at us!

                1. lachevious*

                  Obviously we disagree about what is more common – parents that take responsibility for their children or parents that don’t. Again, it sucks that so many of you have had such crappy experiences.

                  Do you have kids? Do they ever misbehave in public?

                  Parents and caretakers do get desensitized to a certain degree to the noises their children make – maybe you guys are noticing it and getting annoyed with it so much because you don’t have kids, or aren’t around them much? Not being snippy – just kind of taken aback that so many of you are so sure that most parents don’t care about their kids acting up.

                2. Loose Seal*

                  But once desensitized, the parent/caretaker doesn’t actually notice the ruckus, right? So it’s not much of a leap to think they don’t care — how can you care about something that you don’t notice? Because, in my opinion, a parent who does care tries to see their kids’ behavior in public through the eyes of other people that the kid might bother.

                  I don’t expect kids to be perfectly behaved at all times. None of us were born knowing that the library needs an inside-voice; we all had to learn it. I do, however, have a problem when the adult in charge of the kid isn’t correcting the kid, up to and including removing the kid from the building.

                  (Also, please stop asking people if they have kids as if they only have the right to comment if they’ve raised some of their own. People are saying rowdy kids bother them in public when it doesn’t appear that the parents feel any need to stop their behavior. That’s an opinion people get to make regardless of whether they’ve had kids.)

            2. Nina*

              Sadly, at oldjob at the airport, I would see it both ways. Either parents who kept their children close by, or kids who ran everywhere, bumping into people and colliding into luggage, and their parents did nothing.

              I once saw a child about four years old who screamed her head off for a solid thirty minutes, while her father just calmly read his newspaper and ate his sandwich. Every few minutes he would mutter “You really should stop that,” but to no avail. Eventually she was cried out and just started beating her fists into the carpet. It was more depressing than anything else.

              1. lachevious*

                This is to Loose Seal – ran out of room up-thread!

                The keyword to my statement about parents becoming desensitized was that it occurs to a certain degree. Obviously I (and other parents I know) absolutely do notice when our kids act up in public, and we handle it – not ignore it. As I said before, i have been known to leave the grocery store or wherever with my kids if they do not calm down. If, as it sometimes happens, we are not able to dash out of wherever we are before offending others, I apologize profusely to whoever is around and do the best I can to get out of wherever we are as quickly as possible.

                We don’t even go to places where kids aren’t expected – so no fancy restaurants, no late movies, etc, because we don’t want to be the family that pisses everyone else off. My boys are generally well behaved, but they are still kids – and sometimes they are gonna sit and scream in spite of your best efforts. So we deal. You deal. That’s life.

                All we ask for in return is a little empathy and compassion.

                It seems that this topic has gotten less compassion from people than any other I have seen discussed on this website – and I am rather disappointed.

                For as much as you all rally behind people with allergies, introversion, sensitivities to all things real and imaginary, there is very little compassion for parents and our awful awful children who ruin your good times.

                You guys really need to get your priorities straight, get some real problems to stress about, as this is easily solved with common sense – which seems to be lacking here.

                So, there’s that. I’m kind of over this blog, definitely this topic.

      4. Artemesia*

        Absolutely. My personal favorite was the bosses top assistant who brought in a child with chicken pox to an office with an elderly secretary and a pregnant secretary. I did not have authority over this assistant, but the boss was out of town so I just assumed authority and told her she had to get this highly contagious child out of the office where she was putting these others at risk and any client or other worker who might come by. This stuff is contagious for a couple of hours after the sick person leave the room. No one’s job is so important they should inflict sick kids on other people.

        I babysat my grandchild a couple of weeks ago when she was home sick — ended up with pneumonia and antibiotics (which magically worked thank god) as a result and nearly missed a major event in my honor as a result. Now, I chose that. But inflicting it on someone who didn’t choose it is unconscionable.

    2. Ben*

      Andrea, on-site daycare is not currently an option at our office. Enough parents implicitly understand that the workplace is not a playground for their children. Unfortunately, Clive doesn’t. And he’s senior enough that the people around him can’t/won’t say anything to him about it because they work with him on a daily basis as direct reports.

      1. Andrea*

        Yeah, I get that. I probably shouldn’t have put that daycare suggestion, anyway. It’s really not the employer’s responsibility to provide child care; it’s nice for parents when they do, I suppose. In any case, it sounds to me like he is taking advantage and may well know how annoying and loud his kids are, but he also knows that no one is going to do anything about it. I bet the other parents are really irritated—after all, they have somehow managed to make sure that their kids are taken care of and not in the workplace. I’m sorry you’re dealing with that. I’m not around kids very much, and I’m not used to their noise (plus I’m kind of hyper-sensitive to noises in general, especially shrieking and shouting, because I have insanely sensitive hearing), so I would not be able to function well in that environment at all.

        1. Windchime*

          I have extremely sensitive hearing, too, and the thought of 4 kids running shrieking through the office all day is enough to make me want to pack up and work from home. It’s shocking that management is OK with this–and they are signaling by their lack of action that they are absolutely OK with this, no matter how dismayed they may seem.

          My manager sometimes brings his pre-teen daughters to work on days where there is no school. They spend their time in his office creating art on his whiteboard or, if he needs the office for a private meeting, in an empty cube reading on their iPads. Nobody minds because they are so quiet and well-behaved.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            At Nonprofit Job, my supervisor (who was also a friend) brought her then-teenaged daughter to the office one day and put her to work! She helped me with my filing and we actually had fun.

            1. Chinook*

              I have mentioned before that my Mom has a family store. When she is “stuck” babysitting her grandchildren (under age 5), she has been known to put them to work in the store sorting hangers or other odd jobs at their height in exchaneg for lunch at a fast food restaurant. We all learned very fast that, if we couldn’t entertain ourselves quietly, we woudl be put to work.

          2. Sunflower*

            It’s funny because I keep hearing about how people can’t get their kids outside because they’d rather be sitting around playing on their ipads. Then you hear about being in an environment where you want the kids to stay put with an ipad and they won’t. Ironic.

          3. ella*

            I wonder if Clive’s coworkers started requesting to work from home on days the kids were going to be in the office (or just calling in sick), if it would get upper management’s attention…

  13. Aunt Vixen*


    I’m not sure why, but it feels important to me to point out that “working under the table” strikes me as the wrong way to phrase it. I’d say OP#5 is working off the books, or is paid under the table – but working under the table sounds like a whole different set of job tasks than serving drinks, if you know what I mean (and I think you do). Mind you, I’m not judging this type of work – so I’m not sure why I feel like whoa, I don’t think that’s what you mean! Still, though.

  14. kdizzle*

    Me: “The copier is out of paper.”

    Boss: “That is God’s will.”

    I can see how that would get strange after a short while.

    1. Andrea*

      See, now I’m thinking that it seems like a handy excuse I can tuck away and use when needed.

    2. Kelly L.*

      “Well, tell God to get in here and load some paper into the machine. I have to print 200 flyers by noon.”

      1. LBK*

        I laughed so hard at this image. Especially because I’m pretty sure printers were created by Satan.

    3. Can'tNotSayIt*

      Ohhhhh there are some things about this I don’t think I could leave alone.

      Me: “Ed is watching porn in our shared office again. It’s very distracting, and frankly I’m offended by the whole situation.”

      Boss: “That is just God’s will.”

      Me: “Does it matter that it was gay porn? How does your God feel about that?”

      Then Boss can implode like a robot who cannot compute as she tries to mesh her disdain for performing her job with the homophobia I’m assuming she has in my mental skit.

    4. Lora*

      I would just never stop laughing.

      That said, when someone comes to me with a particularly horrific problem, I have been known to observe a moment of silence. Mostly in remembrance of the innocent time when I thought things were going smoothly.

      1. Colette*

        That said, when someone comes to me with a particularly horrific problem, I have been known to observe a moment of silence. Mostly in remembrance of the innocent time when I thought things were going smoothly.

        That is awesome.

    5. thenoiseinspace*

      Oh man, I’d probably get in trouble really quickly.

      “The printer is jammed again.”
      “That is God’s will.”
      “Nonsense. Low toner, jammed paper tray – this has St. Peter written all over it.”

      1. Kelly L.*

        Jesus might be really popular though, especially in the late afternoon when people go to the water cooler and find it’s full of wine.

  15. Camellia*

    “God’s will…” reminds me of a manager I had for, thankfully, only a few months. His response to most things was, “You need to be more open-minded.”

    After provoking two senior people into yelling during meetings he was rotated out and has since left the company.

    1. Mike C.*

      I cannot stand people who tell me to be “more open minded”. It’s usually code for “accept my perspective without any supporting evidence and without dealing with any evidence to the contrary”.

      It doesn’t happen often, but it’s usually said by people who believe in conspiracy theories, haven’t thought about their particular situation out, or just aren’t used to being challenged.

      1. Jamie*

        Yep – that’s exactly what it means and has probably never worked in the history of ever.

        Presenting a cogent counter point in a reasonable manner is a far better way to get people to consider another point of view.

        It’s in the same vein of telling someone to calm down or relax. That’s never worked – those people need to stop doing that.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Can’t resist:

        “Don’t keep your mind so open that your brains fall out.”

  16. KellyK*

    2 – If you haven’t already, you might want to talk to your supervisors about the impact on your work. They feel powerless to do anything about Clive’s kids running wild (which they shouldn’t), but they might still be willing to make some changes that allow you to get work done. Is there an empty office or conference room where you could sit to get away from the distractions, for example?

  17. Elkay*

    #2 The evil part of me says encourage everyone to bring their kids in but Clive would probably think it’s great that his kids now have playmates. If HR are evasive is it worth bringing up insurance issues? With kids running around surely there’s a risk of them running into something/breaking something.

    1. Loose Seal*

      Ha! I thought all the other employees should bring their kids in too and have a free-for-all! Surely after doing this for about a week a message from the higher-ups would say that no one could bring in their kids? Then I thought it was probably too passive-aggressive. But if I were the OP, my patience for this would be pretty thin already and if the managers won’t manage Clive on this issue, then they should expect everyone else to take advantage of the free child-minding.

      1. lachevious*

        Haha I like that idea! And make sure to have tons of silly string for the kids to play with while they are going all Lord of the Flies :)

  18. GigglyPuff*

    Since no one else mentioned it, and they usually get caught early, for #1, shouldn’t the last sentence be ” isn’t going to be new information TO them”?

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      I caught that too, but it was early and I didn’t have enough coffee in me yet to motivate me to point it out. So thanks. :)

    2. GigglyPuff*

      On another note, how do others italicize/bold text? Was going to try and do that, but wasn’t sure how or if the comment box accepted html coding? Just curious

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        Yes, you can use html.

        I still need someone to tell me the coding for quotes!

        1. GigglyPuff*

          Hm, do you mean when other people reference other posts, I would have just assumed they copied and pasted, then formatted it…but could be wrong.

          So a follow up: can I just add the tags around what I want to italicize or do I need to add html tags to the beginning and end of the comment as well, so it recognizes the formatting tags as html? It’s been a while since I used HTML and it was strictly for programming/metadata purposes, so the basic rules of how to use for things like comment boxes have completely escaped me.

        2. Elsajeni*

          I still need someone to tell me the coding for quotes.

          Is that what you mean? If so, the tags are [blockquote] text you want to quote [/blockquote], except of course using angle brackets.

        1. GigglyPuff*

          Ha! Thanks, and now I feel like my librarian research cred just went out the window. I think this is the first time I’ve ever asked something without trying to find the answer myself, lol.

  19. KellyK*

    3 – I really want to hear more about this one! I couldn’t tell from the LW’s post whether the supervisor is talking about God’s will to avoid fixing problems that she should be dealing with, if it’s just her default advice about life situations, or if she’s not giving her subordinates actual guidance on how *they’re* supposed to fix problems.

    Talking with HR makes sense either way, but if you’re going to her with a problem and she’s responding with “It’s God’s will,” I would ask further what she wants you to do, and if the answer is “Nothing” or “Don’t worry about it,” point out the consequences and make sure she’s okay with them.

  20. Celeste*

    #3 Clive needs to be spoken to about finding another way. I’m certain that nobody else brings their children in for the day when there is no school. I personally am not and have never been allowed to do that. One of us will use paid leave to cover it. In the absence of paid leave, since we have no family in the area, it would then fall to see about a sleepover with a friend the night before or a drop off for the day if a parent will be home. If I had to, I would take unpaid leave though it would hurt, simply because my workplace doesn’t allow it.

    School breaks can be easier to cover as the local Y very often has childcare service. Otherwise, he can look for a babysitter to stay with the kids, through church, neighborhood, school friend contacts, or a sitter service.

    I’m not being harsh, I’m just saying that the workplace itself is not set up to handle children in it. There are hazards such that a child can get hurt (paper cutter!) and a child can do damage (printers, computers). Others need to get their work done, and you also want supervision. You do not even want to think about your child being enticed into a room with a locking door with someone, or wandering outside. Unfortunately the 12 year old is not old enough to babysit so many younger kids alone at home. In time that may be more of an option. In the meantime, this man needs childcare. Single mothers figure this out, and single fathers can, too.

    1. Celeste*

      He really does need to find a solution. With four kids, they will not always be in the same school building, and are subject to different days of no school. It’s going to be a recurring issue, so he needs a solution. I hope you can go to HR yourself and ask that Clive be spoken to so he can get something going. I’m not sure it’s worth saying anything to Clive if his manager(s) won’t do anything, unless that is you want to share some ideas with him on how you handled the same problem. It may be as simple as he is not good at networking with other working parents to know how they handle it.

      1. Ben*

        Excellent points. I’ve spoken to my supervisor about it again this morning and they said they would step up and speak to HR.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Given that they seem bizarrely helpless, I wouldn’t necessarily trust them to paint a full picture for HR (like mentioning that Clive has subordinates doing child care for him, which is a pretty big deal). So if the problem continues after they talk to HR, don’t hesitate to go yourself.

  21. Sunflower*

    #3- Obviously very bizarre but this isn’t even about religion. This manager is avoiding tackling problems and I’d be especially worried if these issues are things directly affecting employees. This is the same as her saying ‘The universe will work it out’ or ‘Everything happens for a reason’. No need to even say ‘You can’t say God’s will’. Something like ‘There are issues you’re aware of and you aren’t being proactive about fixing them’

    Also is she saying this to avoid tackling issues or does she honestly believe that the best way to handle problems is to let god/universe take the wheel? Regardless, it’s something HR or her manager’s need to know about

    1. Elizabeth West*

      That was my take on it. It reminds me of a relative who got in very dire straits; she gave up trying and just told people she and her husband were letting God handle it. Well, God handled them right out of the apartment they weren’t paying rent on. I suppose it worked out, because they ended up in a program where they somewhat got their shiz together. So maybe God handled it after all!

      It would be interesting to know if the manager just started doing this, or if she’s been doing it all along. If she just started, it could be a response to some kind of stress, and she could be doing the same thing my relative did. If all along, then bad manager, no doughnut.

  22. Observer*

    Re: Everything being “G-d’s will”, I think it depends. If she’s responding to personal issues / chatter that way, then I don’t see why HR needs to be involved here. Just don’t discuss your personal issues with her. Of course, if she is PUSHING this stuff on you – asking to many questions about personal stuff, etc. or bringing up religion on her own that’s different.

    On the other hand, it “G-d’s will” is the reason she won’t deal with workplace issues, then definitely go to HR. Don’t focus on her religious beliefs. Odds are that HR will be worried about religious discrimination. Instead focus on the fact that she’s not getting her work done. “We’ve been without a copier for the student files for the last two weeks, because it’s G-d’s will that it broke. And we can’t get timely response to the bathrooms not working because she says it’s G-d’s will that the plumber never returns calls.” etc.

  23. Poohbear McGriddles*

    #3 – I checked with the Man Upstairs. He’s totally sorry about taking your stapler, and owes somebody a Lean Cuisine from the break room fridge, but He is not claiming responsibility for taking the VP’s parking spot.
    Oh, and He said running the universe and keeping gravity going is like totes hard, so he can’t be to blame if your department’s TPS reports don’t get done on time!

        1. Celeste*

          This….is so brilliant. I bow to your greatness, fposte.

          (And now I want to see Cold Comfort Farm again.)


        2. LBK*

          Between this and that picture of Jesus I am trying so hard not to bust out in hysterical laughter at my desk right now.

    1. Vancouver Reader*

      I have to ask god to smote all of you for making me want to burst out laughing in my very quiet office.

  24. AMT*

    Re: Clive’s kids in the office, I think that management should just tell him not to bring them. If they give him the option to supervise his kids closely, he will probably go back to what he was doing before. Or he’ll ruin his productivity by supervising them when he should be doing work.

    Even quiet, well-behaved kids don’t really have a place in an adult environment. I remember a classmate in grad school who used to regularly take her child to class. It was a clinical social work program, and you cannot imagine how uncomfortable and euphemistic our discussions about sexual abuse, for example, could get.

    1. Ben*

      AMT, people can be so cluelessly selfish. I’m sure your classmate didn’t even understand that she was diminishing the education of her classmates. I know Clive doesn’t get it.

      1. Windchime*

        Who knows? Maybe he totally gets it, but doesn’t care. Or maybe he doesn’t get it because nobody with authority has actually told him to stop bringing them, so he thinks it’s fine.

    2. ThursdaysGeek*

      I hope you will forgive my father for bringing me to the college class he was teaching. I’ve been told I was quiet and well-behaved, but I was too young for me to remember. (Sure did take me a long time to finish college, after starting so young!)

  25. Allison*

    for #5, I might be worried, because some companies do really overzealous background check. For my first job out of college, I had to provide names and contact info for every job I’d held in the last seven years (at age 23, that was basically every job and internship I’d ever had). For a couple jobs a phone call wasn’t sufficient to verify my employment, so I had to dig out old W2’s to prove I worked there. Not a universal practice, I realize, maybe it’s more common if you work for a company that provides HR services. Like others said, eventually no one will care, but for now there is a slight potential for issues. Best way to negate that is make sure whoever employed you would have the necessary information on record and accessible so they’d be prepared if anyone needed it verified.

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      Oh wow – and at 23 you’re probably too inexperienced to realize how abnormal that is (not to mention the possible red flags about the overall company culture) and just afraid enough that no one is ever going to want to give you a “real” job that you won’t push back or walk.

      Ah, youth.

      1. VintageLydia USA*

        I applied to Best Buy, Target, and Starbucks a few years ago and all three asked for 7-10 years of employment and at least one asked for all schooling down to elementary school. It’s pretty typical of corporate retail.

      2. Allison*

        Wait, it isn’t normal? I had to do something similar for my more recent job, but just needed to provide the last three jobs I had, is that a little more common?

        I hate to be a Negative Nelly, but I’ll admit, I was not a fan of that job. In hindsight they were targeting people like myself with poor job prospects, treated them like children, and acted like they were doing us some sort of favor by taking us in and letting us wear jeans on Friday.

        1. Aisling*

          Having to provide W-2’s to prove your work history isn’t normal at all! A phone call should be sufficient, and if it’s not, I’d think the company is way too suspicious without any reason to be. I’d be worried about what that would translate to on the job – that my word wouldn’t be enough.

          1. Allison*

            Agreed. I was confused as to why the two employers couldn’t verify that I worked there, but it’s not like I had them on my resume. Why would I lie about it? It did seem unnecessarily thorough, but as I understand it they outsourced their background checks to a third party provider who may have just been freakishly detail-oriented for every company they worked for.

  26. D*

    Regarding #1 — I would absolutely not say anything about this to the partners. As Allison and others have pointed out, they already know who the weak link is. This might be a know-your-office deal, but if you say something as a junior, you will probably come off as just throwing someone under the bus. (For the record, I am an associate as well, but probably in a smaller office than you.) In my experience, the people who end up with good reputations do the following: Great work, play well with others, get in with partners and senior associates who have great reputations and who get great work. This SA is not someone with a great reputation, so try to get yourself staffed on cases under people who are better than he is so you can learn from them.

    1. Dulcinea*

      I agree. There could be politics at play here that you’re not aware of, and as Alison et al have pointed out, they already know the guy is doing subpar work. Telling them could come across as tattling /blame shifting/whining. And it will look like you don’t understand hierarchy and professional courtesy.

      I do understand your concern that the clients are being needlessly over-billed and if your bar has a confidential ethics hotline you may want to discuss it with them. If these clients are sophisticated business clients (as opposed to lay people) then I would assume they have the ability to challenge the bills if they want to and they have determined they are willing to pay what’s asked for your firm’s services. Also, do you actually see the billing? Maybe the partners are cutting the bills appropriately.

  27. Anon.*

    #4 – A popular tactic for med school personal statements is to write about a dying/dead relative or cancer child that you’ve encountered and how they inspired you to become a doctor. If done properly, it could be a poignant essay that tugs at the heart strings. Unfortunately, all the pre-meds that I’ve encountered can’t write worth a damn. Almost all such essays I’ve read came off insincere and shallow and read like they were exploiting a poor cancer child to further their career.

    I’d try to catch the physician after the interview is over and have a short conversation about your son then. That way, there’s a clear boundary between your interview and your personal circumstances and you lower the chance of you coming off like a mother exploiting her son’s medical condition to get a job…

    1. Colette*

      Yeah, I think this
      Is it appropriate to say something to the doctor after the interview that we loved her and that she did a great job on my son and that he has had no problems since the surgery?
      is going too far – I would find an unprompted update on how the OP’s son is doing a little odd – but she could work in into her answers if applicable.
      “You operated on my son years ago, and I remember how kind the staff was and how patient you were about answering all of our questions. I’ve tried to emulate that compassion when dealing with X. For example, ….”

      1. Sarah*

        Thanks for your input. I was impressed with the practice while my son was a patient there and that is what is giving me a good feeling about the job. I think if I can work it in after the interview, it would be better!

    2. Poohbear McGriddles*

      I bet the prospective proctologists’ essays are an interesting read.

  28. Diane*

    You should let the children run wild, and you should not provoke Clive. It’s God’s will.

  29. bridget*

    #1 – are you sure the clients ARE being double-billed for the time he takes plus the time to fix it? I wouldn’t be surprised if the partner in charge of the client bills isn’t writing his time off. Depending on the client, those partners are the ones who get the pushback from clients after they review their bills. If the bills are sufficiently detailed, any client who has an eye on their legal expenses will notice that the same work was done twice by two different people and ask about it. Even though all the associates working on the case will enter their time, the partner will very often delete it off the bill before it gets to the client, especially when they know the work was less efficient than necessary.

    At some firms, this written-off time impacts the individual attorney’s billable hours, and sometimes it doesn’t. But I am sure it is going to come back to bite this senior associate. Even if he’s not outright fired, he might be effectively pushed out if he is nearing the end of his partnership track and he doesn’t get partnership (which sounds likely here). If he’s close to that, the firm might just rather wait him out than affirmatively fire him.

  30. Katie the Fed*

    OP #3 – out of curiosity, is the supervisor Muslim and/or a native Arabic speaker? Because references to God’s will are very common in Arabic and among Muslims, and I’m wondering if it might be a figure of speech or translation issue?

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