open thread – May 16, 2014

Olive hidingIt’s the Friday open thread!

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

{ 1,436 comments… read them below }

  1. Diet Coke Addict*

    In early today!

    How do other people’s companies handle trade show/travel pay? My boss is awful, and I am hourly—last week a coworker, my boss, and I went to a trade show together, and when my coworker asked about the pay situation, he snotted that we would be getting paid “8 hours a day, what did you think?” even though one of the days involved 3 hours of travel, set-up, and then working the show until 11pm at night. My boss explained himself as “well, I’m paying for your hotel and meals, so it evens out.” Is this really how other companies handle travel/trade shows/out-of-the-office events?

    1. IndieGir*

      Are you exempt or not exempt? If you are not exempt, my guess would be that they don’t have to pay you for travel time but would have to pay you for setup and whatever hours you work the show, even if it is more that 8 hours. But I am not a lawyer; hopefully one of the attorney readers will see your question and give you a more definitive answer!

      Also, your company doesn’t get any points for paying for your hotels and meals — that is the bare minimum expected for business travel, even by crappy companies.

      1. Diet Coke Addict*

        In Canada so not sure how exempt/non-exempt works and laws are different here, unfortunately–I am hourly and commissioned, does that make a difference?

        1. littlemoose*

          Check out Canada’s labor (labour?) board website, or perhaps the labor board website for your province. I bet they have some FAQs with applicable info.

        2. Esra*

          If you’re hourly, then he needs to pay for that set-up/overtime/travel time. Which province/territory are you in?

          1. Diet Coke Addict*

            Ontario–I think the labour board website will be the right way to go here!

            (Or not–my boss has already had dealings this year with the board over stat pay. Additionally he said something last week about “not wanting” to bump up our wage (minimum wage) to keep up with the increase next month, which will of course be a direct call to them, so. They are not strangers, the LB and this company.)

            1. Esra*

              The Ontario labour board site is a great resource.

              Also, if you’re making minimum wage and he’s expecting you to work hours for free? That is so, so not cool. You might want to google WorkSmartOntario, it’s a government website with a lot of great resources and FAQs.

            2. Felicia*

              From what you’re saying it sounds like he’s not going to bump your pay to be the new minimum wage next month, which is as obviously illegal as it gets, so it doesn’t sound like he’d care what teh law is if you just told him. Definitely the labour board seems the only way to go in this situation. I really hope he pays you stat pay for Monday, but if not that’s another thing for the labour board.

            3. LucyVP*

              Not sure how the labour board works in Ontario, but if you cant find your answer on their website, you may be able to call and speak to a labour law specialist who can advise on your specific situation.

        3. Chinook*

          Diet Coke Addict, the labour laws vary by province and is based on province of employment (not residence). Check with the provincial labour board website and give them a call to find out for sure.

          As well, if you are in a federally regulated industry (like oil & gas), you may be subject to federal labour laws as well.

          My gut, and experience, says you are paid for actual hours worked and travelled, which would include set-up and all the hours you are required to be on-site. So, if your day starts by arriving at the airport at 8 am (unless the airport is further away then your usual office – i.e. Edmonton International is abotu 45 mins. from the city, so I would take my travel time to the airport minus my normal commute time) and you aren’t allowed to go back to the hotel until 11 pm, that is 15 hours, which would require overtime pay (unless you are exempt) or blackbook time off at a later date (which, if your boss is scoffing at the idea, I wouldn’t offer to do).

    2. PX*

      I get paid a fixed rate also under the assumption that I work 8 hours a day; and if I have to travel for business, expenses etc are paid for, but there is no overtime either. Maybe check the terms of your contract? (eg mine explicitly states that there is no extra pay for overtime or anything like that…)

    3. Betsy*

      I am pretty sure that is not legal in the US if you’re non-exempt. If you have to be there and have to work, they have to pay you, so if you start setup at 10AM and leave at 11PM, that’s 13 hours.

      Travel time is a little trickier. By DOL guidelines, if this is a 1-day trip, all travel time must be paid, though they can deduct your normal commute from that. So if you normally drive 30 minutes and have to drive 3 hours, they could pay you for 2.5 hours.

      If it’s a multiday trip, travel time needs to be paid only if it occurs during normal working hours. So if you drove down on Sunday, they wouldn’t have to pay you, but if you drove down Monday from 8-11, they probably would.

      1. Betsy*

        I’ll add to my own comment to say, whether or not this is illegal, it’s gross and immoral. Paying for travel time or not paying for travel time is one thing, but if you are actually paid by the hour (and would, for instance, get only 6 hours pay if you only worked 6 hours), he’s offering you a perk you didn’t ask for (meals and a hotel room) in exchange for the money you should be making. I’d pretty much refuse to do any of these trade shows again in your position, and start looking for another job if that’s what’s needed.

        Not paying the overtime is one thing. Suggesting that it “evens out” because he’s paying for the necessities that go along with attending the trade show is ridiculous and shows a real lack of respect for you. If he’d said, “People really like to do trade shows, and we really can’t afford to pay overtime so people can go have fun with this: we pay expenses and for a day of work,” my reaction would be different.

        1. Diet Coke Addict*

          This is not the first time my boss has been immoral and totally not understood the way to motivate or keep employees–this is a temporary job for me and the other employees are all looking for new work.

          Whether or not he skirts the law is one thing, but his lack of respect for his employees is another entirely.

        2. Chinook*

          “he’s offering you a perk you didn’t ask for (meals and a hotel room) in exchange for the money you should be making”

          The thing is, hotel and dinners out are not perks but an added expense to working not normal to your every day job and, thus, your salary was not negotiated to cover those as personal expenses. If you had to pay for the hotel and meals, it is very possible that your wage for the work wouldn’t cover it and you would essentially be paying to work, which is most definitely illegal in Canada.

          1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

            Right, this is kind of like if your boss said, “We won’t pay you overtime for the work you did on Saturday in the office, but we did pay to heat the building over the weekend, so it evens out. And the company even paid for the paper in the copier, too, so look at how much you’re getting for free!”

    4. MaryMary*

      When I managed hourly employees and they were required to travel for client work, they were paid for all time spent at the client and for non-local travel (Inon-local was defined in our client contracts, it would be XX miles from the office), including overtime if applicable. But that was for non-exempt employees at an organization that was very conservative about how non-exempt employees were paid.

    5. Maggie*

      I’ve seen it a couple of different ways. If travelling during the week and it’s during your normal 8 hours, then you get paid just for the travel time (ie, you fly 4 hours on Monday morning but not expected to work until Tues, you’re paid for the 4 hours). If travelling over the weekend, you’re not paid for travel but paid mileage if you didn’t fly. If you regularly travel for your role (regional IT support), you’re paid for the travel time, and then clock in when you get to the location. In addition, if your role requires you to travel for training or licensing, then you’re paid to travel to the testing location but not paid to take the test. This was in WA or CA (US). Because it’s so variable, I would look up your local regulations. I think your boss is likely wrong because labor laws aren’t exactly convenient as ‘oh, I covered this so you cover that’. If it was, it would be impossible to regulate. But he could have the math already taken care of and it was ‘about’ the same as what the regulation states so he simply used that terminology. Also, he sounds kind of jerky. \-:

    6. Brett*

      For non-exempt employees, they get travel time to and from their home and then they are paid for the scheduled hours of the conference itself. Even though our organization never has booths, most conferences will have a designated booth set up time as part of the conference schedule, so using the official conference schedule should work out for that too.

      1. Brett*

        (This is for multi-day conferences requiring an overnight stay. If the conference is local, even if multi-day, they get 8 hours only. If the conference is not local but only a single day, they get paid from when they leave home until when they return home.)

    7. Noah*

      We pay for travel from when you arrive at the airport until you are in your hotel room for the night. If you are doing a trade show or event, your daily pay starts when you are on site at the event and ends when you leave. Travel home is paid from when you start traveling home until you arrive back at the airport.

      1. Chinook*

        “Travel home is paid from when you start traveling home until you arrive back at the airport.”

        Noah, Am I to assume that your company’s employees all work in a city with an airport. I am honestly curious, what would the policy be if the office was in a town without a local airport or the airport was way outside of city limits?

        1. Noah*

          The only people that really travel all work out of the office that is actually on airport grounds. In general the policy is that travel time is work time, so I would assume if someone worked at a location that lacked a commercial airport and had to drive the travel time would include the extra time beyond what they would have driven to the office.

    1. Mimmy*

      Not for my husband…he’s on “mailbox duty” (email) on Fridays, and he’s having an especially rough day right now :(

      1. Audiophile*

        Aw that’s too bad, Minny.

        I know I will be spending my weekend knee deep in job applications. And catching up on some Netflix, for short breaks.

      2. QualityControlFreak*

        Sorry for your spouse, Mimmy. We often get slammed at my workplace on Fridays too. However, today I’m at home seeing blurry double images (head injury) and typing this with my tablet about six inches from my nose. I wish I could be at work!

      1. The IT Manager*

        Yes! I should spend the weekend catching up because I am so far behind, but I know I need the mental break and won’t be able to bring myself to do any work. I feel like I have been the target all week long and it is so mentally exhausting. Not even in a bad way, but there’s way, way too much on my plate right now and I am not keeping up.

        1. Audiophile*

          I have some Netflix movies I want to watch and return. And I also need to go through and start scheduling posts in HootSuite, because when I don’t something always goes wrong and I can’t post in time.

        2. nep*

          Sounds like letting yourself take a break will help you bounce back stronger and catch up with all the work. Best of luck.

    2. De Minimis*

      Yeah, our Fridays tend to be crazy here….for some reason everyone decides to come here on Friday to complain or ask questions, and the people here who can answer them tend to either be gone or out of their offices. Our awesome secretary’s last day was yesterday, so we’re back to having to get up and answer the door every few minutes.

    3. The Other Katie*

      I know, I can’t wait for the weekend to finally sleep. We had a foster placement 6 weeks ago of newborn identical twin boys, so sleeping has not been on the agenda lately. Especially since we’ve both been pretty much working full time as well (we’ve had a few days off here and there, but we didn’t take any extended time off).

    4. Elizabeth*

      I wish. My schedule got changed to a half day on Fridays and a half day on Saturdays, effective today. :/

  2. Curiosity*

    Hi everyone! Quick question for the AAM hive mind:

    I supervise secretaries in a matrix organization, so they get their work from a pool of staff (who I don’t supervise). One member of the staff, who is fairly high level (certainly higher level than me), has been making remarks that are at best socially awkward and at worst really disrespectful to the secretary she supports. Comments like “Oh, I went to college so I’d never have to be a secretary” (when actually all our secretaries have master’s degrees and are very well trained for the work they do), or “I left a present on your desk! It’s a pile of receipts that need expense authorization – I’m so glad I don’t have to do that!” The thing is, it’s very clear that she doesn’t mean anything particularly bad by this, and that she is just approaching this in an awkward/tactless way. The secretary has been very generously giving her the benefit of the doubt, but after a while, this has started to really sink in and feel terrible (totally reasonable).

    I think the right thing to do is find a simple, quiet response that can be made in the moment that will bring the commenter’s attention to why these things are just not okay to say. However, I’m having trouble thinking of what that comment could be. So far, I’ve come up with “You know, I don’t appreciate it when you talk about my job/my experience/whatever like that.” I’d LOVE the AAM hive mind to suggest better one-liners that are kind, quiet, and to-the-point. Thoughts?

    1. Tina*

      Maybe try to reframe it – instead of saying “I don’t appreciate it when…” maybe you could try saying something about how much pride you take in the work and how you feel good about contributing to the team? It seems more positive that way.

    2. AdAgencyChick*

      I’d use the Miss Manners (at least, I think it was she who came up with this) response of “Why would you say a thing like that?”

    3. LCL*

      Since you are a supvervisor, this one falls on you. If you can talk to the person making the remarks, and explain why they are disrespectful and to stop it, that would be the best way. You have to explain, because you are giving her the benefit of the doubt and believe she is being tactless/awkward.

      If the power structure doesn’t allow you to directly address it with her, you should talk to her supervisor about it, and that you expect it to stop. Good admin help is priceless, you are right to want to stop this.

      1. Curiosity*

        I really appreciate this comment, and I actually did reach out to the woman’s supervisor to see if these comments are part of a larger pattern that needs to be (or is being) addressed. I also absolutely want my admin staff to know how valued they are.

        The secretary in question has expressed a desire to deal with this herself, and I think in this particular situation, that’s probably the most effective strategy. (If it wasn’t likely to be effective or appropriate, I’d absolutely take responsibility for resolving this myself). As it stands, I’d like to come up with good ways to support her, and I think a gentle in-the-moment correction fits the situation. But I totally agree, and if the secretary continues to express unhappiness (and BTW, I thanked her for coming to me, and said that I really appreciated hearing about issues like this, and scheduled a follow-up time next week for the two of us to come back and share updates or thoughts), I’m definitely prepared to take next steps on my own.

        1. Sugar coat it*

          I work in a similar structure, but I am on the “staff pool” side. It is very likely that this person simply means to express that she appreciates the secretary’s work (which she clearly considers burdensome/boring/etc), and is very awkward about it. But going to the staffer’s supervisor may backfire. If your workplace has the power-dynamics mine does, I can see some staffers getting really upset that they were reprimanded by a secretary or the manager of the secretaries. Some people take themselves too seriously, and assume their titles equate them to royalty. This person’s comments imply that she may be one of them. The sugar-coated approach may save the secretary (and you) from getting on this staffer’s bad side.
          I recommend that the secretary spin it in a positive way next time she gets one of these comments. For example: “Oh, I actually really enjoy [making copies / editing documents / organizing files / insert task at hand]. That is why I got a masters in this. It fits my meticulous personality.” That way the staffer learns (1) that her secretary is more capable and educated that she realized, and (2) that her comment is ignorant and disrespectful. All without confrontation.

    4. Variation*

      The problem with coming in hot is that she may get defensive. Clearly, she doesn’t know that her words aren’t appropriate. I’d play dumb to start- if she makes a callous remark, make a polite confused face and ask, “What do you mean?” She’ll explain her bias, and then you can correct that behaviour- “It’s a good thing our staff are so well-trained/educated/whatever.” Or, maybe, a little more pointedly, something about how your staff are really excellent at improving the lives of other people in your organization, though I’m stumbling on a polite way of saying that. (My gut reaction is to wave a couple middle fingers in the air whenever those comments are made, but sadly, I don’t think that would be well-received. ;)

      1. A Teacher*

        When a principal used to say stuff to my grandmother, the school secretary, she’d use the Carolyn Hax version, of “Wow” and go back to doing her job. The raised eyebrows and “wow” eventually sunk in…

      2. the gold digger*

        I would maybe stress the part that a good admin does important work and that everyone’s contribution is essential and that she shouldn’t degrade anyone’s job that way rather than emphasizing that the secretaries are well educated. I see your point, but I would be just as offended at the person who was disparaging the janitor’s work.

        1. Curiosity*

          Thanks for this – you’re absolutely right that the issue is not how much education the secretary does (or does not have), but whether she and her work are respected.

    5. Jennifer*

      Wow, you have to have a master’s degree to be a secretary now?!?

      And it’s only 8:30 a.m. so I can’t go drink for 8.5 more hours.

      1. Chinook*

        “Wow, you have to have a master’s degree to be a secretary now?!?”

        The joke at the accounting firm I worked at was that receptionists required Bachelor’s degrees but admins and office managers didn’t (based on the fact that the two receptionists were the only ones out of the support staff pool that had unviersity degrees).

        That being said, there are certain fields where I could see the secretaries requiring particular skill sets/training in order to deal with an integral portion of their job but that they also deal with tasks that anyone could do.

      2. Jess*

        I know a lot of secretary’s who have master’s degrees in fields they couldn’t find work in. Sadly.

        1. Leanna*

          I have two masters and I wish I could get an admin job because all I can do is customer service and retail. :(

    6. Maggie*

      This person has already revealed that she is not equipped to handle normal social graces, as such she will likely not handle a direct statement very well. Since she appears to think she is hilarious (eye roll), I would find a humorous/joke approach to it instead.

      ie “Well, we can’t all be as perfect as yoooooou” a good-humored laugh, finish with a smiling sigh like she’s in on the joke. She might have a bruised ego (all high performers do) unless you take care of it perfectly. (I am not attached to the ‘perfect’ comment, actually, and only you know whether she can take a truthful joke (some would ‘get’ it, some offices are too serious for gags like that) , so feel free to alter the messaging accordingly.

      Also, she might feel akward about having support staff. As the secretary’s leader (sidenote: it’s been drilled into me for the last decade not to ever use the term secretary anymore. Must be regional?), you should sit down with her and very comfortingly encourage her to open up about this insecurity. Your goal is to have her realize that her and the secretary are a Team and that there is nothing wrong with a) having a secretary and b) being a secretary. And then I would work out if there are any other areas of coaching for staff leadership she would appreciate. Maybe she was told that she needed to use the secreatary for ______ but she would prefer to do it, or that she would rather the secretary do ______ to free up her deskspace but she’s not allowed to use her for that, per the staff matrix. Seek to understand. Ultimately your staff is there to help her succeed (make sure she understands this as a VALUE, not task or folks tend to get entitled, ugh), and as a moving target, her contribution to that relationship is appreciated (even if it’s not, you’re ultimately seeking buy-in but she might have some good ideas too). :)

      1. A Bug!*

        This person has already revealed that she is not equipped to handle normal social graces, as such she will likely not handle a direct statement very well.
        This is not a universal truth. There are lots of socially tactless people who really don’t want to hurt people’s feelings, but they have trouble recognizing when they’re doing it. Those people are usually very receptive to direct criticism.

        From Curiosity’s description, I actually think a direct approach would work very well. Curiosity, however, is in the best position to judge.

        Here’s a suggested script to add to your own, Curiosity: “I know you don’t mean to belittle the work I do, but that’s how those comments come across.”

        It’s likely to start a dialogue. There are lots of points the secretary can touch on as she likes and if the staff member’s receptive, but I think a big one is that the secretary can point out that there’s a difference between saying “I’m glad you do this work because I couldn’t handle it myself” and saying “I’m glad I’m too smart to have to do this work.” The former is an expression of appreciation for the work, while the latter is a negative value judgement on the work (and by extension, the people who do it).

        I suspect the staff member probably thinks she’s making the former type of comment. But bringing up her education and dumping work unceremoniously on her secretary’s desk are more consistent with the latter.

        1. Sadsack*

          Sorry, but “I am glad I went to school so I wouldn’t have to…” does not sound like she is saying that she couldn’t handle the work of the secretary.

          1. Sadsack*

            i hit submit too soon! Meant to add that it seems unlikely that a person would say this and not intend it to be a dig.

            1. A Bug!*

              People can be surprisingly oblivious to the meaning of the things they say. For clarity, when I say she doesn’t mean to belittle the secretary, I don’t mean to also say she values and respects the work of a secretary. The things she’s saying make it very clear that she has an idea of what work is valuable and respectable and that the work of a secretary is neither.

              But she may not think it consciously; that’s the insidious nature of prejudice. It may just be reality to her that secretarial work is lesser work, and she’s never questioned or thought about what that really means.

              To take a brief but hopefully-relevant detour, when I was in college, I got a very drastic haircut. My best friend’s first reaction was to say, “You’re going to have to start wearing makeup or people will think you’re a boy.” I don’t think I have to go into the various implications that made this a hurtful thing to say. But that’s what my best friend said to me, and she was not a person who was prone to “mean girls” behavior. No, she said it with absolutely no idea that it was anything but a natural joke to make about my new look. And this is because she had notions of appropriate gender performance that were so deeply ingrained that it had never even occurred to her that I wouldn’t laugh and agree.

              So yeah, the staff member does mean to say what she’s saying, but it’s entirely possible that she doesn’t mean to hurt the secretary’s feelings at all or to express disrespect.

              The real test of that is what she does once the secretary calls her out on it.

              1. Anx*

                Ah, I was just about to say that these aren’t harmless or totally oblivious comments…but they certainly are ignorant.

        2. Maggie*

          Interesting perspective. My approach is biased from a ton of experience in a competitive sales org in which high performers save their politeness/good personality for their clients only, and the staff were treated liek the peons they were (regardless of education – which is such a moot point). It was a rough way to learn how to lead up, and frankly I still get bitter that I even have to lead up. Why can’t adults just act like adults and be respectful of all colleagues regardless of rank? Gr.

    7. LQ*

      How about something that focuses on contributing to the goal?

      (This works a lot better in nonprofits/governments.) “I’m really happy to be able to contribute to people being able to stay in their homes/feed their families/find jobs/etc.” I’ve given this speech more than once when someone tries to slam my job and I have never had a repeat offender when I’ve given that bit. But I really do believe that what I do matters to people and I refocus from people trying to talk about my job/qualifications to the final outcome.

    8. Polaris*

      Do you have a good working relationship with her manager? Given the nature of the comments and the fact that she outranks you, I think the feedback would be better received and more effective if it came from her manager.

      1. Polaris*

        Sorry, I wrote this before I saw your response above. It sounds like she has been making these comments without correction for awhile. Do other members of your team sit close enough to the secretary to hear the staff member’s remarks? There may be more than just one person affected by that staff member’s lack of tact.

    9. Student*

      If you want to give your direct report the ability to stop this herself, then you have to empower her to be able to reject requests from this other person. Then your direct report can enforce real consequences for bad behavior. The direct report can try asking for this other employee to modify her behavior, but if that doesn’t work she should be able to enforce some consequences to demonstrate that she is not inferior to this other employee and doesn’t have to put up with disrespectful comments.

      Otherwise, you should go to this employee and explain that she won’t be getting services from your department unless she treats your direct reports with more respect.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        That’s a bit of a sledgehammer response though, when simply directly explaining why her statements are problematic would be a more proportionate step.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      So much depends on the relationship between the two women. Sometimes the use of humor gets the point across, but humor can be risky. I can think of some humorous responses but she may not be comfy using them.

      She could say “Actually, I like my job. Different strokes for different folks, eh?”

      OR “Gee, Roberta, you have said things along this line before. I just wanted you to know that I really like my job. I know not every job is for everyone, so I feel very fortunate.”

      OR “Roberta, I can understand where a person may not care for this type of work. However, I enjoy it and I am here to help you with this work. Please try to understand that I am helping you and you can help me by not making these comments. I am glad you are happy in your job. Please, let me enjoy my job.”

    11. Diane*

      I wonder if the staff member is ham-handedly trying to say that she appreciates the work the secretaries do because it’s not in her skill set? Tone and context are everything here. She could just as easily be revealing her bias that the work is beneath her.

      Either way, a genuinely curious, “What do you mean?” might get her to explain herself and create an opportunity to let her know that what she’s saying is coming across as dismissive, disrespectful, or hurtful.

    12. Mephyle*

      “Did you know that our secretaries all have (or Secretary X has) master’s degrees?” as a specific response to “I went to college so that I wouldn’t have to do this.”

  3. Sunflower*

    At what point do you think it’s okay to use ‘I’m looking for new challenges’ as the reason you’re looking to leave your current position? I’ve been at my company for a year and in my current position I was promoted to for 9 months. I had to take the job and have been trying to get out since I started. My job was never that challenging to start with and it’s hard to gauge how long I would stay if the workplace wasn’t toxic. I feel ready to take on more challenging work that isn’t being given to me at my current job (directors/bosses are crazy micro managers so they’ll only let people handle projects to a certain level) so it’s not a lie but I’m just curious when an interviewer might think?

    1. TNTT*

      I am just under 2 years in my current company and just over 1 year in my current role and I’m using this in interviews. The company is quite small and in a niche area, so once you’ve learned how to do what we do there isn’t much more to go on.

    2. PX*

      What I typically hear is 2 years.

      In a case like yours you could maybe use the micromanagers as a reason if you want to start looking earlier (new challenges not available at current workplace), but from what I hear, most employers like to see minimum 2 years….

      1. Lucy*

        I’m in a similar position, and I’m wary of the “new challenges” stance because I think it can sound too vague. Is there something about your current position that has prepared you for the new role? Like “In my role at Company X, I really loved planning events, and I’m looking for a full time events position” or “Working at Company X has given me a perspective on [such and such process]”?

      2. Maggie*

        I’m not entirely certain that one should fling poo at their current manager as a reason to leave. You never know if the new manager knows the old one….

        Sunflower, at 1 year, I would probably say that the role did not turn out as was discussed prior to onboarding. And then turn it into a win by saying that you don’t believe in fleeing at the first sign of trouble and gave it some extra time to develop into the role you were hired for. You recently reevaluated the situation, and it’s now time to move on to something more aligned with your career plan and their New Role is a perfect fit, blahblahblahblahblah.

        1. Felicia*

          That’s probably what I would do. I would probably go about it bay saying “while I enjoy doing x at current company, I would love the opportunity to focus on y at this company which is one of the reasons I was interested in the role!” A good way to further explain why you want the job you’re interviewing for, I think.

    3. switt*

      I’d go with some version of the job not being a great fit. Best done in a way that doesn’t sound like you’re trashing the current job. Something like “I was fortunately to find the position at XYZ company during a tough economy, and it’s been a great opportunity for me, but I’m really much more interested in doing (the kind of job for which you’re interviewing)”. Be prepared for a follow up along the lines of “what hasn’t been a good fit”, and make sure your answers don’t sound anything like the job you’re interviewing for. As long as you don’t have a history of short-term jobs, leaving one job after a year doesn’t really raise a red flag for me.

    4. Marina*

      If I talked to someone who said they were looking for new challenges after 9 months in their current position, I would wonder whether they would want to move on from my organization for more challenge after a similar amount of time. I’d focus more on what you’re looking for in terms of atmosphere… something like “My current manager’s style doesn’t work well for me, I’m looking for a job where I can take on a little more independent work and use blah blah blah experience.”

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes — if you say you’re looking for new challenges after 9 months, I’m going to think you’re unrealistic, naive, or not being honest.

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      If the rest of your work history involves solid stints, there’s nothing suspicious about you leaving your current job after 9 months or 1 year.

      In other words, if I’m a hiring manager and see “1 year here, 1 year there, 2 years there, 1 year there, and now leaving?” that does not look good to me, no matter how you phrase it. I’m going to read those one-year or two-year stints as either you’re terrible and get let go without officially being fired or you’re amazing, but you can’t commit to a place.

      Either way, not desirable.

      However, if your work history looks like 3 years here, 5 years here, 2 years here, 3 years here, and then you have a one-year position you’re leaving, just tell me up front that it’s not working out or isn’t a good fit.

      1. Befuddled Squirrel*

        But that partly depends on the industry you’re in. There are industries where short stints are the norm (i.e. tech).

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Of course, but then you don’t have to explain anything. If Sunflower was doing something typical, why would there be any need to say why you’re looking for something else?

    6. Eden*

      I’m going to echo Lucy here and say that positive framing will go a long way in this situation. Talking enthusiastically about things you enjoy and would want to do more of that are relevant to new job will go over a million times better than ‘reasons old job wasn’t a good fit’ as an answer to ‘why are you leaving your current position?’

      I’d frame this more as ‘I discovered that I really enjoy X and Y and am looking for a position where I can do more in these areas,’ rather than anything vague or negative.

      Having said that, I think that there are ways to qualify the ‘new challenges’ to make it an acceptable answer, like being specific about what you’ve gotten a taste of that you’d like to develop. What is challenging for one person may not be what challenges another, so specificity would help the hiring manager determine whether the position would be a good fit for you.

    7. A Jane*

      No, don’t take the counter offer. At my former job, my boss and I had a great working relationship. He ended up telling me that he got a job offer and was planning on leaving, but the executives offered him more money and a title increase and he chose to stay. Unfortunately, when things got even worse at the company, his counter offer package included a contract that wouldn’t let him leave for two years.

    8. BausLady*

      I’m in a very similar situation, with a much shorter timeline. I was laid off in early February and took the first job that was offered, and started mid March.

      I’m now absolutely desperate to get out. Most of what we talked about the role being during the interview process has been totally thrown out. Couple that with a key team member leaving last week, and it’s now a role that I have absolutely no interest in doing. It’s not challenging, it’s lower level work than I’m used to doing, and there’s no way I can grow professionally here.

      I have an interview next week and I when the ‘why are you looking’ question comes up I think I just have to be relatively honest in that I’m looking to have more responsibility, higher level work, and that the job totally changed. The rest of my stints have been long enough (6 years with one company, and 16 months with another) that I’m hoping this won’t look too bad.

    9. mess*

      When I was trying to move on from a job I didn’t like after six months I said it wasn’t a great cultural fit for me. Then when someone asked me to follow up on that I said something about the work the company does not being aligned to my values, which worked well because the company I was interviewing with is in the sustainability consulting realm so then I could talk about why that was a passion for me. I also had solid long term stints in my pass and had just landed at the sucky place because of a layoff, so it wasn’t part of a pattern. The truth was more that my boss was miserable and making everyone around her miserable, but I didn’t reveal that information until I got the job. ;)

    10. Mints*

      Oh I’m somewhat similar: I’ve been here a little over a year, and my answer is usually that I’m looking to focus on things more aligned with my long-term interests. (I’m working as front-desk admin, and trying to apply for support/admin jobs in specialized departments). This answer usually works, but I do get some skeptics who push me a bit, and I just tell them how excited I’d be working there because [details]. I don’t know if it’s the best, but it’s as honest as I’m comfortable with while being diplomatic

  4. Katie*

    Is it ever worth accepting a counter offer?
    I put in my four weeks’ notice, three weeks ago. The new job I’m going to is a completely lateral move, but with a significant bump in pay and a less toxic work environment. My original employer just came up to me yesterday (five days before I’m supposed to leave o_O) and said that they wanted to keep me. They asked me to write a list of what it would take to stay, including matching the salary I would be getting at the new place and a promotion with second employee.

    I could basically write a new job description and create the position to be closer in line with what I wanted. The benefits are better at my current job, but I’m worried that it would be too much like putting lipstick on a pig. It’s still a crappy place to work. On the other hand, it’s a much better job in terms of responsibilities and what I would like to do with my career. It also gives me more freedom to pursue additional education.

    Am I just fooling myself? It’s not like management would change, I just might have less to do with them. And the new job seems to have a very supportive environment. Is that worth leaving a better resume builder?

    1. Elkay*

      My personal feeling is don’t do it. I did something similar and the new job description never came into play, they just expected me to do my old job plus extra.

      1. Ali*

        About three years ago, I wanted to leave my current part-time job for another part-time, temporary job that was only going to be for three months and there was no chance of being hired on after it was over. I began to have second thoughts about the position and told my boss this…I hadn’t officially set an end date for my job or anything that I remember and I had asked about coming on full-time. He looked into it, said it was possible and let me work 40 hours a week. I’m still there now and got a promotion a year after I moved to full-time, and my manager is confident not only in me, but the rest of the team I’m on.

        Of course, a lot changes in three years and I am now job searching. So even though I didn’t technically take a counter-offer, I would err on the side of not doing it. I know if I were to find a new job and resign next week, I would refuse a counter if one came up.

        1. falala*

          I’m confused. It sounded like staying at your job ended up being good for your (promotion, recognized for good work,…)?

    2. Sunflower*

      If management is bad, do you think any of this stuff would actually come to fruition? What are the chances you get what you want money wise but your new job never happens and you’re still stuck doing what you did before?

    3. Anonymous*

      You said your current place is toxic. It’s better to just leave.

      And who says they will stick to your “new job description”? Think about their business need; if they needed a position closer to what you had in mind, they would already have a posting/opening for it. They won’t change.

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        This is great advice. I accepted a counter-offer from my company that has worked out well, but the circumstances were radically different: I hadn’t been job hunting, I’d been approached by another company.

        More money & a different job description isn’t going to change the toxic environment.

    4. Bryan*

      I wouldn’t based on all of the reasons outlined in the never take a counter offer post (if you haven’t read it, search for it). I’d be concerned about job security if you accepted the counter.

    5. Barbara in Swampeast*

      Don’t stay. Tell your current employer that you appreciate their offer, but it is time for you to move on.

      I forget what the percentage is, but statistics show that most people who take a counter-offer are gone within a year anyway.

    6. Artemesia*

      Once you have played this game you are still a marked person. I have seen half a dozen counter offer situations. One was in a University where this is normal; you don’t get the big raise without an offer, and one was a situation where the new company basically told the guy ‘we can’t possibly offer what your old company is offering and it is clearly the best move for you (it meant a promotion at age 30 to a division CEO position) but we will meet down the road when we have something better to offer you’ In other words they essentially blessed the acceptance of the counter offer; the man was willing to keep his commitment if they had not. Later he was tapped to head up a new subsidiary of that original offerer.

      But the other four were classic ‘dead end job, toxic environment but desperate to keep the person and so counter offered’ Two of those were let go in the next big set of layoffs — by then the companies had marked them as ‘unreliable’ and essentially backed them up so they were not dependent on their skills. The other two were back in the toxic soup with just a higher salary.

      They didn’t appreciate you when they had you. AND the place is toxic. This is your big chance to make a clean break. I would not stay as the odds it will be abusive down the road are so high.

    7. Apollo Warbucks*

      Id leave and not think twice about it. If you were valued and appreciated in your old job you won’t have been looking for a new job.

    8. Dan*

      Ever? Yeah, sometimes. But in your case, probably not. If it was, it would the clear choice, you wouldn’t be on the fence.

      Getting out of a toxic environment is always a winning choice.

    9. Anonalicious*

      In your situation, I would say no, it’s not worth it. If you were still negotiating with the other company, or hadn’t already accepted their offer and agreed to a start date, then maybe it would be. But if you know nothing is really going to change at your current place, then you’ve already answered your own question.

    10. Maggie*

      TOXIC WORKPLACE.

      I just wanted to remind you of why you were leaving in the first place. ;) As someone who managed to turn around a toxic workplace (it took me four years and significant staffing changes both above and below me), I say it’s not worth the effort unless you want a career in leadership and operations/administration/hr. It’s simply not worth the effort otherwise. That, and when you’re knee deep in alligator’s, you’ll look at your paystub and curse yourself because it really is never enough pay to put up with toxic people/orgs.

      1. Maddy*

        I agree with all the advice here- don’t take it. Money cannot not buy you happiness at this job. Its a toxic environment and That will never change.

    11. Persephone Mulberry*

      The time to consider a counteroffer, if ever, is before you accept the new position. Don’t burn the bridge with the new employer by backing out a week before you’re supposed to start.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        That didn’t come across how I intended, but now I can’t remember what I meant to type. Please disregard.

          1. Persephone Mulberry*

            Except that you shouldn’t be giving your notice at oldjob until you’ve finalized your acceptance at newjob, which makes it almost impossible not to damage your relationship with newcompany when you back out.

    12. Polaris*

      I think you already know the answer: You said your current role is in a toxic environment and the changes you could make to the position will not fix that. Leaving anywhere can be hard, but go. You can do better. Also, congratulations!

    13. Not So NewReader*

      Money and respect are two different animals.

      I saw a good article one time that said most people who stay because of the counter-offer end up leaving anyway.
      Consistently, the problem was this: Yes, they were getting more money, had a better title or whatever BUT they were still being treated like crap. This sent them back to square one and reminded them of their original thinking that being treated decently was their number one issue. Pay improved, respect did not. Same old toxic environment. They ended up leaving anyway.

      Take the job at New Place.

  5. PX*

    Hi all,
    I’m in a bit of an odd situation. I have 2 coffee meetings next week which are a cross between informational interviews and real interviews, and any tips on how to approach this would be greatly appreciated.

    For background: I’ve been on essentially a temp contract, and there is a FT position available. However due to the weird nature of the company I work at, while I definitely need to impress the people I’ll be having coffee with (heads of the department I might end up in), they are not actually the ones who will have final say in whether I get hired or not.

    And to complicate matters further, while I like my current position, I’m not actually sure if I want the permanent position (its a big company with lots of great career opportunities, but the nature of the work is likely to change significantly if I go fulltime, and I’m not 100% sure it will be a good cultural fit/what I want right now).

    So I’m struggling to figure out how to balance all the questions I have about the company/cultural fit/expectations with the bit where I need to also make a good impression.

    Any thoughts/tips/advice on how to approach this?

    1. TNTT*

      Having many relevant questions about the position WILL make a good impression! As Alison often says, it is important that you interview the company (or in this case, the role) as well. Given that everyone involved understands that this a hybrid info/actual interview, the best way to make a good impression is to bring your questions and not be ashamed about asking them. Lots of them.

    2. LD*

      What TNTT said…making a good impression should include asking your questions in a way that is open, friendly, and about getting your needs met, too. It’s okay to say that when you ask, something like… “This opportunity sounds very interesting! I just want to make sure it’s a good fit for my skills and interests, so I have a few questions…what can you tell me about….?”
      As Alison says, tone makes a big difference!
      Keep in mind, even if these are not the people who make the final decision, they are people with potential influence over the decision. So it’s good to be as prepared as if it were an actual interview situation. Good luck with whatever you decide!

  6. LMW*

    No. When I was hourly we either got overtime or comp time immediately following the events so overtime didn’t accrue. And they paid our meals and hotel. That’s part of business travel. Of course they have to pay for that – those are business expenses, not personal expenses.

  7. Sascha*

    A success: I sent my very first networking email today to a database administrator in my sister’s organization. I want to be a full fledged DBA some day, and my sister was talking to this person and mentioned this, so she told my sister I should call her up! I followed Allison’s advice about how to write a good networking email, and now we’re having a phone call this afternoon!!!

    I’m still a little nervous but excited. I don’t like talking on the phone to strangers but the DBA seems very friendly, and I am thrilled to have the chance to talk to her about her work. Hopefully this will lead to good things. :)

      1. Sascha*

        Thanks! I’m going to ask her about what her daily work is like, what type of tasks does she deal with; what kind of skills and experience is necessary for this kind of work; what are the pros and what are the cons. I have sort of an idealized version of what being a DBA is so I’d like to hear it from a real DBA.

        1. bridget*

          Those are good questions. I’d suggest adding something to the effect of “is there anything you wish you had known when you were at my level?” and “is there anything that, looking back, you would have done differently?”

        2. Apollo Warbucks*

          I don’t work as a dba but do application support for a Microsoft database.

          You might like to ask about the actual systems she supports there are three main types of relational database management systems Microsoft, MYSQL and oracle, all slightly different.

          Microsoft and oracle do decent looking database qualifications it might be worth asking if your DBA contact thinks these are worth while.

          If you’ve got a Microsoft computer at home you can download trail versions of the server software and sample databases to work on. I’m just getting started on my Microsoft certification.

          Knowing how to write SQL code is must, other languages can be useful such as html or XML I’m not sure what exactly will be useful to you as a DBA but you should ask in your call.

          This is worth look:

          http://www.brentozar.com/archive/2013/07/announcing-our-free-accidental-dba-6-month-training-plan/

            1. Apollo Warbucks*

              No problem I hope it helps.

              If you have any questions you can email me
              Apollo.Warbucks at outlook.com

              1. Sascha*

                Thanks again! Looking forward to going through this. I would definitely be one of those accidental DBAs lol. It’s great to see some streamlined training material I can work on on my own. My coworkers are helping me, but there’s only so much time during a work day for training (read: zero) and I don’t have the time, money, or energy for going back to school right now.

    1. Sascha*

      Thanks everyone! Y’all have given some good questions I hadn’t thought of. Adding them to my list!

  8. Elkay*

    I’ve had a horrible week, I’m so glad it’s the weekend. It’s been really stressful professionally and personally with a total lack of support on both fronts.

    1. Noelle*

      I’m in the same boat, it’s been a long and brutal week. I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

    2. Rebecca*

      Confession – I took a half day today, even though I have just a quick appointment at 4:30. I just couldn’t take another minute. I feel your pain.

    3. Polaris*

      I am sorry to hear so many people are having a bad week. I hope all of you have a wonderful weekend and a much better week next week.

    4. Izzy LeighGal*

      Sending you a virtual hug. Get some rest this weekend and weather permitting, get out into the sunshine! :)

  9. Sunflower*

    When do you think is the best time to book domestic flights? Most research says, on average, 49-54 days before departure but another study said 21 days before. I book mostly last minute business travel so I have never booked a flight more than a month in advance. I lean more towards 21 days and I have almost always been able to snag a window or aisle seat on my flights. For me, I travel alone and don’t really need a set time. What do you guys think?

    1. Colette*

      Personally, it depends how flexible I am about whether I’m going or not. If I had set arrangements at my destination, I’d book early. If I was willing to chance not going at all, I might leave it until a few weeks out.

      1. Artemesia*

        I book a lot of personal international travel and it beats me. The rule of thumb is don’t look after you book; I think they have a cookie that will show cheaper tickets the week after you book regardless.

        I track the flights I am interested in and watch the prices to get an idea of the lows and highs and then about 3 mos out I snap when I see something reasonable. A few years ago European flights were mostly around $1200 but I managed to get them for $800. The last time I flew I paid $1100 and they were up to $1800 the month before the trip. I am not flexible. I only fly direct if possible and usually open jaw and the dates are fairly firm. If you are willing to take horrible routings you can do better.

        For domestic flights, same thing but I tend to book those about 6 weeks out. But the old guidelines about dates and time of day to book don’t really work anymore so you do need to have a feel for the range and then grab it when it gets close to the bottom.

    2. Dan*

      When you say “best time” well best time for what? You talk about window vs aisle seat, and not about fares. All of the studies you would be referring to would be fare discussions. When you talk about “don’t need a set time” well, FWIW, if you book too far out (more than 60 days) you can run into schedule changes.

      Many airline require that their cheapest fares be purchased more than 21 days in advance, which is where that number comes from. Inside 21 days, you take your chances, but aren’t guaranteed to get screwed over.

      I’d never purchase a domestic ticket more than 60 days out.

      I do a lot of international travel on frequent flier miles — I book those tickets almost a year out after a lot of planning. It’s a really weird mind set when I have to *buy* domestic tickets, where I shouldn’t purchase more than two months out.

      1. Sunflower*

        Fare is most important. I have a weekend getaway(domestic, in the US) with friends coming up. My friends all booked over 100 days out and I told them they were nuts. I’m about 55 days out now and the fare is the same as they booked so I’m tempted to wait a couple more weeks and see if it drops. I tend to fly US Air and United mostly

    3. Malissa*

      It really depends on the airline. Southwest gets cheap about 3 weeks out. Delta usually holds prices steady until a week before. Allegiant will drop prices to nothing the week before if they have open seats.

      Orbitz fare watcher is a good tool to use to get an idea.

    4. Laura*

      It depends on a lot of things. I buy about 45-60 days in advance…but I’m planning family trips with two kids under the age of six, one of whom is still traveling in an FAA approved car seat. I *must* get at least two pairs of adjacent seats, at least one of which *must* be a window seat (the only place the car seat is permitted to be used).

      The other advantage to buying that early is, if I can’t lock the seats in, I have more time to call the airline and beg, plead, and finagle.

      There’s a lot more flexibility if your dates are a little flexible, you’re traveling by yourself or only with another adult, etc. – and then you can save on fares as others are noting. Sometimes. Not always. One of our family destinations is a small town with a local airport in the Midwest – we’re actually flying into a hub and *driving* this year, because the youngest is old enough tht a four-hour drive is less ridiculous than the fares to that airport. There is no low price into that airport. If you really, really want to get there, they figure they have you firmly where they want you, I think.

    5. Mephyle*

      I just saw an article about this new website, Hopper. Scroll down to “When to Fly and Buy”, enter your start and destination, and it will report, based on recent data, when to buy for the best price (including which day of the week). It wouldn’t hurt to try it.
      Also, some sites like Kayak and Hipmunk have a section where you can enter flexible dates, so for example if you can save money buy going one day later or one day earlier, you can see the prices before you decide.

      1. Heatherbrarian*

        I bought a ticket and timed the purchase based on Hopper’s data – and ended up spending about $200/person more for worse flights that I was originally planning to buy as a result (on an already hideously expensive ticket – anyone know why it costs so freaking much to fly to Seattle?). Obviously that’s just one person’s experience… but if you use Hopper I’d suggest taking their info with a grain of salt.

  10. Stephanie*

    Reposting from last week, since this got buried.

    I got invited to an online Women in Technology career fair at one of the Big 4 professional services firms. I interviewed for a role there about 8 months ago in a completely different practice in advisory (but ended up not getting the job), so I’m guessing this is how they got my name. I also don’t have any experience in technology consulting (but that didn’t seem to be a prerequisite). Has anyone done anything like this?

    1. Maggie*

      When you say online, does this mean that the women in technology deal mainly with internet related technology? or is this some sort of live forum event or something? I am intrigued….

      (and obvs, no for me)

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, it’s for the firm’s technology consulting practice. It sounds like they are trying to recruit more women. From the description of event, it sounds like basically a bunch of chat rooms/video conferences with recruiters.

    2. Lora*

      Yes. I mean, what specifically do you want to know? I wouldn’t do it again, personally, but that is just me. It seemed like they wanted to tick a box that said “we tried to get diverse candidates but the girls were all lame, boo-hoo” sort of thing, and pretty much it was exactly like being mansplained at for three hours with appetizer trays. That said, it’s possible some folks made important connections and got a job out of it, I just wasn’t one of those people.

      1. Stephanie*

        It’s actually virtual, but I’ve had that experience at recruiting events targeted toward underrepresented groups.

  11. BB*

    Why do people stay in jobs/place when they’re miserable? I feel like everyday I walk into work, someone is complaining about something or getting into a screaming match with someone else. I could be wrong and you never know what’s going on behind closed doors but no one seems to be trying to get out. From what I understand, things have been going downhill for the past couple years and besides maybe 1 or 2 people, there aren’t any real perks that keep people here. I get the feeling a few people have just given up but a lot are only mid-thrities and have plent of time ahead of them! I’ve only been in the professional world for about 3 years so I guess I’m a little scared that could happen to me…

    1. Diet Coke Addict*

      If it’s a lousy place to be, odds are that it’s also a lousy place to advertise that you’re job-searching, so even people who are actively looking would likely be keeping it under pretty tight wraps.

      Additionally, job-searching while employed can be very difficult and time-consuming, and there are plenty of people who just don’t mind a dour workplace environment enough to get out. The paycheque might be all they need. It’s hard to say without knowing each individual story.

      1. Ali*

        I’m not satisfied at my job and am just staying right now because even though I’m sending applications, I’m not getting calls…well except the one insurance sales agency that called me yesterday. *angry* I am not in a position where I have enough savings to just up and quit. My job is decent and we have an open culture, but that doesn’t mean I would talk about my job searching there.

        Plus, in the area where I live, the pay I make would be considered amazing. Most jobs around here are call centers, blue-collar work and healthcare and don’t pay much more than $12 an hour. The good jobs…you have to know someone and barely anyone ever leaves them once they get them. I am trying to search long distance, but that’s been miserable so far. One company liked me but said call us when you move (and I couldn’t even know when I was moving); others haven’t replied or sent automated e-mails that talked about “an overwhelming number of applicants.”

          1. Ali*

            Thanks for the kind words! It’s still new so I haven’t grown it much yet. But we’ll get there!

    2. Anonymint*

      I have no idea. I left my previous two jobs after 2 years and 1.5 years, respectively. Both were terrible, terrible places. My coworkers from my first job (who I’m still close with) are STILL there, complaining about the same things. They don’t even look for new jobs – they just talk about it.

      Maybe a fear of change? Fear that a new place will be just as bad/worse? I’m curious as well.

    3. Jen*

      The few times I’ve been in that situation, I’m usually actively looking but having trouble getting interviews or offers. One time I stayed at a miserable job because I knew I was trying to get pregnant and to switch at that point would have been foolish because I would not have been able to get FMLA or build up enough vacation and sick time to take maternity leave. Another time I had signed a 3 year contract and could not afford to break it.

      So sometimes there are reasons why people stay. Other times they just like to complain but don’t want to do anything about it. Don’t spend too much time worrying about what might happen down the road.

    4. Kai*

      I think that aside from the fact that it’s just hard to find a new job in this market, people get very comfortable even in bad situations. It’s often easier to just bitch about your job than to do all the work necessary to find a new one.

    5. Bryan*

      I wonder this too. I have a coworkers who complains constantly about the company and has been here for 30 years.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        In this case, it’s not a work habit. It’s a way of life, they are doing this at home, too. Some people get energy from complaining. Some people that is the ONLY way they get energy is if they are ticked off about something.

    6. Bend & Snap*

      I stayed in a bad spot a lot longer than I should have–but it was because they kept dangling the carrot in a way that meant I could move past getting hit with the stick.

      What drove me out was never actually getting the carrot, not the beatings.

      Hilariously I found out that they were handing me the long-promised promotion about an hour before I gave my notice. Too little, too late.

    7. Jennifer*

      Nthing “they probably can’t get any other jobs.” And I am finding myself pretty locked into my current position/career because nobody wants someone who hasn’t already done the job before and they don’t seem to care about transferable skills. At this point I am forcing myself to love what I hate about my job because it’ll probably be the last job I ever have and I just don’t see a way out of here short of being fired, and if that happens it’s over for me.

    8. C Average*

      I don’t love my current role, but I love my company and want to continue working here. I am biding my time, networking, and keeping an eye out for the right role with another team. I’ll probably also take advantage of my company’s tuition assistance program to do my MBA in the next few years. I’m trying to keep my chin up about my current situation because I can see it eventually leading me where I’d like to go.

    9. Puddin*

      I currently work in a place that has many process issues. As a result, we work in a very inefficient way. This causes a lot of frustration with the waste, lack of challenge, and mis-management. However, it also creates an atmosphere where low levels of performance and commitment are acceptable for very reasonable, if not generous, pay. I am not leaving, even though I know better work environments are out there because I also know that I would be held to a higher standard. Right now, it feels easy to me to perform to a ‘meets expectations’ level and frankly I am kind of into easy at this point. I have ambition burn out. I expect that to change at some point, (I am thinking 2015) but this is where I am in my career right now. I am fulfilled/satisfied ‘enough’ and my employer is getting ‘enough’ from me without either of us putting in too much effort.

      For a more general reason as to why people stay in jobs they appear unhappy with…In my experiences, I have learned that unless a work place is very dysfunctional and the majority people you work with/for are extremists, abusive, or utterly incompetent, the grass is usually not greener.

    10. Betsy*

      The bad company I stayed with longest was a start-up. For the first few years, there were big bonuses. Then the bonuses stopped, to be replaced with stock options. Since the company wasn’t tradeable, those weren’t of value until/unless the company sold. And we kept getting dangling hints that a sale was in the offing.

      For 3 years. While I kept collecting salaries 20K+ less than market value.

      Finally, I realized it was time to acknowledge that those salary hits were sunk costs and I needed to stop making it worse. That was around 6 years ago. The company is still unsold.

    11. Maggie*

      Don’t underestimate the power of a complaining culture. Some people also just prefer to b*tch.

    12. Julie*

      Because I’m looking. Because I want to buy a house soon. Because I was unemployed/underemployed for 2 years and it killed who I am and my self-esteem. Because I worked temp job after temp job and now look like a job hopper and I’m scared to go back to that. Because I had cancer and like guaranteed benefits (though Obamacare has changed that some). Because I’m great at what I do and the days that are good make me so proud and give me another item to list on my resume. Because I hate giving up/quitting. Because I still am naive enough to believe I can make the world a better place at a bad job that is meant to do good in the world than at a slightly better job doing things I don’t believe in. Because I have to stay 5 years to get any retirement benefits. Because I like my coworkers. Because I no longer trust any job will treat me like a person.

      I didn’t think it could happen to me and here I sit 7 years post-graduation and I can’t remember what it was like to think I deserve to be treated well at a job. There have been so many bad ones or not good ones that I really no longer believe I deserve better.

    13. Lora*

      They like eating? They have mortgages?

      Free advice of the day: Do not ever voice this question in real life to your colleagues or anyone who reports to you. To those of us who have worked terrible, horrible, exploitative jobs to keep a roof over our heads and Ramen Noodles in the pantry, it comes across as really, really REALLY privileged and naive. If your other option at any point in your life was being homeless (vs. working a job you hate), trust me, you’ll deal with the confrontational meetings.

      1. Programmer 01*

        Seriously. It’s like asking why people can’t just move to a city that has better job availability — when you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck, you can’t exactly up and move with no safety net. I really side-eye people who ask things like this.

      2. BB*

        I was not implying that people should quit their jobs just because they are miserable. I am also miserable here and still working here so I am obviously in the same boat as them. I’ve been job searching for 3 years so I know the market is tough but I also know based on conversations I’ve had with them that the company is going downhill and business isn’t what it used to be. Jobs aren’t exactly secure and it just seems like a lot of people have fallen into ‘this is my life and this is what it will be forever’. Just curious why some people kind of give up hope on ever getting out of bad situation.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          No energy left to fight it? Disbelief that things could be better?

          Sometimes I think it is the barriers in their own minds.

        2. Lora*

          Oh, well that is a different question. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what you really want to do, or what else you might be able to do.

          I mean, I had a life crisis sort of thing a few years ago and the other things I’m good at are not even decently-paid jobs anymore because of technology. Print and radio journalism used to have a lot more jobs and paid reasonably well, and that is no longer the case. Other things I was good at when Kurt Cobain was alive included music and event promotions (taken over by only a few large companies who effectively have monopolies), farming (my cousins inherited the family farm and sold it to a developer), and medicine. Apart from really not liking sick people very much, I’m much too old to take on $200,000 – 300,000 in student loan debt for medical school. So I’m stuck with what I’m doing. Which is fine, I like it, it just isn’t what I want to grow old doing.

          Sometimes you really can’t. One of my good friends has three young special needs children to support and her partner left her, so for the sake of the kids she has to keep on keepin’ on as she can’t afford to pick up and do anything else: the kids’ activities and therapists and schools and custody issues keep them in one location.

          Sometimes people have health issues and need to stay on one particular insurance or near one particular doctor.

          Sometimes their hedge fund manager stole all their money and ran off to the Cayman Islands and after declaring bankruptcy the only job they could get was Starbucks. I mean, who knows. There’s loads of reasons, not the least of which is “our society is messed up sometimes”.

    14. Rebecca*

      Because I can’t find a job that pays the bills.

      I loved my job and looked forward to going to work every day. I always carried over vacation, and if something had to be done on the weekend, I’d gladly take care of it, write my time on my time card on Monday, and not even think anything about it. My company treated us great!

      That ended when we were purchased by another company. It’s horrible. Now I look forward to every minute out of the office, take every minute of PTO and vacation, and yes I’m job hunting. The cold hard fact is I can’t live on a part time $9/hr job, like many are around here. I’m not a nurse, a welder, or a CDL truck driver, and even if I could become one, every single position wants experience.

      The job market bites and that’s why people stay where they’re unhappy. It keeps the lights on, a roof overhead, and food on the table. That’s it.

    15. College Career Counselor*

      Because sometimes it’s better the devil you know than the one you don’t. Or they think if they just keep their heads down, things will get better/they can wait it out.

    16. Del*

      If it’s the company? What other people have said.

      If it’s just the specific job? They may be sticking it out to get somewhere better. My “foot in the door” job at my company was the call center, which was a year and a half of absolute misery for me. But it was worth it to “pay my dues” and then move up into another department with a better workload, more responsibility, and to have the valuable industry experience the call center had given me. (And I’m not joking about that last part — I’ve discovered I’m actually more knowledgeable about the company & industry than people who have been in my department for significantly longer, because the call center touched on just about everything the company does, while my current department is very specialized.)

    17. K*

      Lack of options definitely. While I have savings and could just leave my current terrible job, it would be foolish unless I found another one that paid around the same.

    18. Anon for Now*

      A few reasons:

      1. Looking for a job is a full-time job, so it’s difficult to manage both getting through the day-to-day of the current job and then going home to start all over.

      2. The hope that one day, it will get better. Management’s eyes will open, better processes will be put in place, etc.

      3. Guilt. It’s sometimes hard to consider leaving when colleagues that I’m close with will still be there.

      4. Exhaustion. The toxic workplace completely drains me – emotionally, mentally, physically. I know I won’t be at my best/in a good frame of mind when applying for new jobs. That’s when I’d be most likely to make a mistake on a cover letter or resume.

      5. Self-reflection. I’ve had two toxic workplaces in a row. I start to get paranoid and think “Maybe I’m the problem,” which takes away any self-confidence it would take to branch out and try a new company.

  12. Anon for this*

    Question for people in sales hiring or sales jobs – I’m in an organization that is structured so only about 3% of the reps make their annual quota attainment. I am not in this 3%. Is there a way to talk about this in interviews so that I don’t look like a terrible sales person or like I’m making excuses?

    1. E.R*

      What if you focus on what you did achieve? Ie. Sold a quarter-million dollars of new product; brought in X number of new clients; grew my territory by X%; in the top 20% of sales reps; my clients love me, my boss compliments my X skills ?

      If the company is truly set up so only 3% achieve their quota, they are awful, but it also means that a lot of people are probably doing great work and not being recognized for it. If you have good numbers to offer like the ones suggested above, most interviewers won’t follow up with “but what was your goal?”. And if they do, I wouldn’t look down on someone who said something along the lines of “My goal was X. It was widely accepted that our quotas were aspirational, and 97% of the sales force consistently did not meet them, despite being a hardworking and intelligent bunch. Can you tell me about how you determine the goals for your sales team?”

      Good luck!

      1. the gold digger*

        Oh yes! What a great question! I just figured out yesterday that the ten percent bonus I was told about with my new position depended on my more than tripling new revenue. There is absolutely no way I can ever reach that goal, but it didn’t even occur to me to ask about how attainable it was before I accepted the offer.

        1. Anon for this*

          And thanks AAM for open thread day! And an awesome blog! With awesome readers!

    2. Maggie*

      Can you focus on the innovative ways that you have found new clients or made other goals?

  13. Katie the Fed*

    Y’all, I need a stern talking to or something.

    I am really terrible lately about workplace snacking. I eat a reasonable breakfast and lunch, but there is always food out and I’ve been so terrible about snacking. I’m sure it’s somewhat stress related but I can’t seem to break the habit.

    Any good ideas? I have a wedding dress to fit into in a few months. Ackk!

    1. Elkay*

      Have a set snack time, say 10am and 3pm and provide your own healthy snacks? I might be making it up but I think plain popcorn isn’t too bad for you, it might satisfy your hand to mouth urge.

      1. GigglyPuff*

        Whole Foods has the best plain, air-popped, low sodium, bagged popcorn ever. Whenever I get the urge to eat out of the bag, “binge eat”, I definitely go with that.

      2. Katie the Fed*

        I thought about this earlier this week – that I might actually bring in an air popper. I use one at home. Usually I just want something with a crunch. I’m also a savory snacker.

        1. Nodumbunny*

          What I had to do was stop eating lunch. I can’t resist snacking while I’m concentrating at the computer, so I snack on healthy (almonds, carrots, popcorn) and unhealthy (chocolate) and call that lunch.

        2. Astor*

          I love my air popper, but the noise does get to me, so in case you find this useful:

          I’ve had good luck with making air popped corn at home the night before and bringing it in a paper bag. It keeps pretty well, assuming that you’re skipping the butter.

          You can make very lightly oiled popcorn in the microwave with a paper bag too, but I haven’t tried that myself.

          1. Mallory*

            I’ve tried making popcorn in a paper bag in the microwave. It worked pretty well. 1/4 cup of kernels in a lunch-sized paper bag, fold the top over a couple of times, and set the microwave on the popcorn setting. After the popcorn is done, I melt a little butter in the microwave to put on top of it, but you don’t have to do that (as I probably shouldn’t) if you’re watching your weight (which I should be).

    2. GigglyPuff*

      Ugh, sorry that sucks. Not great for teeth, but every time I feel like hitting my co-worker’s candy bowl, I pop some gum. Maybe something like that or mints.

      1. anon in tejas*

        I keep mints/altoids in my office for this purpose. another really good way to deal with his is brushing your teeth after meals. the aftertaste normally quells the desire to snack for many. added bonus with this method is you work on your smile for your big day.

    3. Diet Coke Addict*

      More liquids? I find that having tea or flavoured water suppresses the hand-to-mouth thing, and also plenty of liquid keeps you hydrated and feeling fuller. As well as making sure I have plenty of protein in my meals so it stays with me for longer.

      1. Anonymint*

        Yeah! I’m a terrible, terrible snacker – I realized when I drink tea/water all day long, it really helps cut down. People kept telling me that and I was skeptical, but so far it’s worked pretty well!

        1. GigglyPuff*

          A tip: if you drink water a certain amount of time before you eat, maybe 30 mins (can’t remember the specific time), it’ll keep you fuller. But make sure it’s not cold water, cold water hydrates, versus room temperature helps you feel full.

      2. Katie the Fed*

        I’m going to try the tea thing. I usually just have coffee in the morning and that’s it.

        1. krm*

          I need a cup of coffee in the morning as well, but after that, I stick to water or tea. Green tea is caffinated if I need more energy, plus it is good for your metabolism! Fruit infused green teas, like blueberry and pomegranate are really good for squashing sweet cravings, and peppermint tea is good for anything else!

        2. Anonymint*

          Tea is definitely better! The first few days I made the mistake of COFFEE ALL DAY and boy was that interesting…

          1. cuppa*

            Been there. Heart racing and trembling. And then I wonder to myself, “why do I feel so awful?” Maybe because you’ve had four cups of coffee and nothing to eat. ;)

          2. Mallory*

            I sometimes make the mistake of using coffee for an afternoon snack if I can’t find anything else. I typically want something sweet in the afternoon, so if there’s no cookie or chocolate around, I’ll make a cup of really sweet, really creamy coffee with a big, heaping tablespoon of sugar and probably about 1/4 c. of half-and-half. It’s like a hot milkshake.

        3. Rebecca Z*

          I keep a little jar of chicken bouillon cubes in my drawer for when I don’t feel like tea. Salty and only 5 calories.

      3. BB*

        Second this!!! Keeping yourself hydrated is good for all reasons and I’ve also heard you should drink a glass of water before every meal to avoid overeating. I keep a cup of iced tea with lemon on my desk all day and it helps me push lunch off as long as possible!

      4. Natalie*

        Sparkling water can be nice, too, particularly if you don’t like flavored water. I drink an unreasonable amount of plain LaCroix in my office.

    4. Sunflower*

      Avoid the areas with food as much as possible. I bring snacks to work and then leave them in my car or at least hide them in the bottom of a drawer as opposed to on my desk. Always have carrots or healthy snacks on hand and put on the blinders as much as possible!!!

      1. Katie the Fed*

        The food table is right in the middle of everything – I can’t possibly avoid it. :(

        1. cuppa*

          I second the bringing your own healthy snack. I was trying to slim down before a vacation, and it was really helpful to see cake and think, I’m going to eat this orange now, instead of this cake.

    5. fposte*

      Are you getting enough sleep? Seems random, but I’m a lot more vulnerable to eating temptation when my sleep is bad. Also consider eating a slightly more than reasonable breakfast and lunch, filling it out with something bulky like rice or greens, so you’re not just not hungry but consciously full.

      Might also be worth considering that expectations may be playing a paradoxical role here–“Eh, I’m sure I’m not going to go down the aisle naked whatever happens” might be more useful than “I have a wedding dress to fit into!”

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I think I’ve been better about getting more sleep, but I could probably increase it.

        I also started working out more, so I might actually need to be eating more at breakfast so I’m not getting hungry as quickly.

        And yes I probably do need to change the way I’m thinking about the wedding/wedding dress. I think it’s making me stress eat.

        1. Lucy*

          I try to bring a healthy but appealing main lunch- like a grain salad full of my favorite veggies (and hot sauce) so I don’t feel like I need to treat myself to something from the vending machine later. Also, lots and lots of flavored teas!

        2. AVP*

          Oh, I do eat more if I’m exercising more regularly – I’m just hungrier. But I think it’s better to increase the size of your regular meals if possible, as generally the food choices then are better than what you’ll end up snacking on if you go to the vending machine or the snack table.

        3. Chinook*

          “I also started working out more, so I might actually need to be eating more at breakfast so I’m not getting hungry as quickly.”

          Are you including some type of protein in your breakfast? If you are working out more, your body is burning more calories. Protein takes longer to digest/process and is more slow release. I found that I don’t snack in the afternoon because I always have protein in my lunch but I rarely have it in the morning and I find myself wanting something about mid-way through the morning.

          1. Robin*

            Yes, this! Right after I work out, I try to have a pretty decent sized, protein-heavy meal (I prefer eggs). It really helps cut down on the hunger/snacking later. Also agree on the having your own healthy snacks: carrots, yogurt, nuts. I find nuts in particular really help hold off sweets/chocolate cravings.

          2. SaraV*

            Do you have a toaster in your breakroom? I’d bring a loaf of whole wheat bread, keep that in my desk drawer, and purchase some margarine and keep that in the refrigerator. (Labelled and dated!) Then, I would daily bring a yogurt from home…so my breakfast was two slices of whole wheat toast and yogurt. The bread almost always lasted the two weeks it took to go through it as long as it stayed out of the light.

      2. LCL*

        What is working for me is to plan my snacks and bring them to work. I just started a weight loss program and that is working for me. Make sure you have some variety in what you bring, eating the same thing day after day is beyond tedious.

        I had to adjust my attitude to allow myself to bring food to work. I despise brown bagging, it reminds me too much of being poor, and lousy lunches from home. Brown bagging=deprivation in my mind. If I can’t afford to eat what I want, where I want, I consider myself a failure.

        1. krm*

          I had to do the same thing. It has always seemed like a status thing in my office to be able to go out for lunch. I’ve come to realize that I feel a whole lot better when I bring in my own food. I spend a bit more on groceries, but I am still saving a lot of money in the long run- not to mention calories! People have started to comment on how delicious my lunches look too! I will splurge on buying more expensive produce (spinach/kale/mixed greens rather than iceburg or romaine), and different types of fruit, almonds from the co-op, etc.

        2. April*

          Oh, that’s funny that to you brown bagging=deprivation. To me having to buy prepared meals all the time would feel like deprivation. I really like what I cook and feel sorry for people who have to depend on purchasing often-inferior meals. (If not inferior in taste, often in quality / healthfulness, or not the right portion size, or just not my preferred spin on a particular recipe) I just feel more in control and independent being able to cook my own food from scratch. (And I’m good at it, so it all tastes wonderful!)

      3. littlemoose*

        +1 on the eating more when sleep-deprived. I have definitely noticed that I do this. I think it’s a combination of physiological changes (I read once that not getting enough sleep messes with your ghrelin levels, making you hungrier), eroded willpower and decision-making capability, and impaired focus that leads me to snack because I need more frequent breaks from what I’m doing. For me the lack of enough sleep is terrible for my dietary habits, and I KNOW I need to get more sleep!

      4. Ellie H.*

        I completely agree – I’m usually pretty good about healthy eating but not getting enough sleep is the single biggest cause of unhealthy eating (or just randomly feeling incredibly hungry and eating more snacks than usual, even if it isn’t necessarily unhealthy)

      5. chewbecca*

        I’m definitely guilty of making poor snacking decisions when I’m sleepy. I tend to feel like I need some sort of sugar bump to get me through the afternoon. And then I’ll use that to justify buying a diet coke that I’ll only drink half of.

        Since the open thread mentioning graze, I’ve been thinking about signing up and seeing how that helps.

    6. Colette*

      To refer back to something that was brought up last week, are you an abstainer or a moderator? Could you just make the decision that you weren’t going to snack anymore?

      I’m an abstainer, and I absolutely cannot decide to have one snack a day in that type of environment – but I’m fine with no snacks.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Hmm that’s an interesting point. I think I tend to be very all-or-nothing, so maybe I’m an abstainer.

      2. GigglyPuff*

        That was one of the hardest things I had to figure out when starting to eat better. I was lucky enough to get a personal trainer for cheap at my grad school, and she said there’s usually two types of people. Those who eat things when they are there, but are okay when there’s nothing there to eat. And then there’s people (like me), if the bad food (like single serve Haagen-Dazs ice cream cups), is not there at all, all you do is think about it, and it drives you a little insane.

        So I found, I actually eat less bad food, like chocolate or ice cream, as long as I know it’s there when I do desire it or factor it into my eats for the day. If it’s not there, I end up thinking about it way more, and usually end up eating something really bad, or eating more of it when I eventually do have it.

      3. Ellie H.*

        So happy to see more people who are into this dichotomy – it’s one of my favorite concepts of the many that I learned from Gretchen Rubin’s books!

      4. Jess*

        I decided a month or so ago (after being shocked by the number on my scale) that I was no longer going to snack, period. It has been weirdly easy for me to stick to that. I honestly didn’t think I could. I just started thinking of the hunger pangs as working up an appetite for my next actual meal.

      5. en pointe*

        This so much. For me, the best way is to decide not to touch the snacks at all. If I have one, I know I’ll keep going back, so I’m much better off not allowing myself to get started.

        1. Rat Racer*

          I’ve always brought my lunch to work, but started eating it at around 10 am when my first hunger pains strike. I pack lots of fruits and cut up vegetables and gradually eat my lunch throughout the day. It gives me the flexibility to eat when I’m hungry, but boundaries around eating only what I pack in my lunch bag. Note: I’m a runner and I eat a LOT of food. Sometimes, my lunch bag seriously looked like a bag of groceries, but it was packed with lots of fruits and veggies – and you know, those take up a lot of space.

    7. C Average*

      I hate to say it, but the only way I’ve ever been able to eat well is to track my food using a journal or an app. It’s boring and makes eating feel like homework, but it WORKS. There’s no arguing with the numbers. And I’m a lot less likely to have a bite of this or a nibble of that if I know I have to figure out a description of what I just ate so I can add it to my tally.

      I like MyFitnessPal and LoseIt for tracking.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I’ve been using myfitnesspal, except for the days when I’ve gone totally off the rails. So…I should probably stop going totally off the rails.

        1. BB*

          Such a love hate relationship with my fitnesspal. Curious if anyone has any other apps they can recommend that are similar!

            1. Katie the Fed*

              I have a fitbit but the app isn’t that great. I just wear mine all day to track my activity. It actually connects with MFP too so I get credit for all the walking I do.

            2. Ursula*

              Fitbit is kind of a pain to add the food to. Myfitnesspal has a UPC reader which is ever-so-handy, plus, as Katie said, it syncs with Fitbit.

          1. Anonicorn*

            I’ve used Noom about a year ago. I don’t know what might have changed, but at the time it offered a meal and exercise tracker. The way you ate was based on percentages of green (good for you), yellow (not as good for you), and red (bad for you) foods – something like eating 70% green, 25% yellow, and 5% red. It also had a built in pedometer.

            I stopped using it out of laziness. :P

          2. Elysian*

            I’ve used Sparkpeople a few times with some success. They have a pretty big food database and will even give you meal plans/shopping lists, if you want.

        2. Jen RO*

          I tried MFP for a couple of days and then I uninstalled it. Tracking home cooked food seemed like a major pain, and it’s geared towards the American market, so all the measuring units were confusing :(

        3. en pointe*

          Do you guys add friends on myfitnesspal or just use it for the calorie tracking? I don’t have any real life friends who use it, but I’ve connected with people online and we offer encouragement to each other. Someone might say congrats if you reach a milestone or ask you what’s up, (or give you a metaphorical kick up the backside), if you’re not updating, or go off-track, etc.

          So, you have your own little online community with the same goal, if you’re into that kind of thing. For me, I tend towards unhealthy in that I sometimes restrict too much, or skip meals if I’m busy, so it’s good to have people who see your diary updates and remind you that that’s not okay. (I realise that’s probably boundary-crossing for a lot of people, but I love it, so YMMV.)

          1. Kirsten*

            +1
            My boyfriend is trying to lose weight and I’m trying to gain it, so we are friends on MFP and can see everything in the other person’s food log. A gentle “what could you have done better today?” goes a long way.

          2. chewbecca*

            I had a lot of luck with MFP. I think it was a combination of the actually seeing what I was eating and a coworker who kept me accountable. There were a few times I thought “I can’t eat that! Jane will judge me!”.

          3. Ursula*

            My office mate and I both use FitBit and MFP and are doing P90X3 at the same time. It’s been hilarious to see what he eats every day.

        4. SarahBot*

          I’ve been having a lot of success with tracking via an app (MyNetDiary, which I believe is unfortunately iOS only), and I’ve found that I tend to go off the rails less often when I still enter everything in to the app.

          Part of doing well for me was accepting that there are going to be occasions that I will need / want to eat more than my numbers allow for, and that’s okay for me because part of what makes life enjoyable for me is bacon cheeseburgers, etc.. However, still entering those days / meals into the app helps me remember that, just because I’ve gone off the rails doesn’t mean that I need to keep going, and it has (a few times) kept me on the rails when I felt like I wanted to go off of them.

          Just a thought!

      2. Ann Furthermore*

        This, this, this. I use a website called myfooddiary.com and it is great for stuff like this. You can track what you eat, build recipes, track exercise, and so on. And it’s only $9 a month.

        1. C Average*

          I’m going to check this out. I like the apps I mentioned OK for tracking, but I’d love more ideas for healthy things to eat. Thanks!

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I excercise, but unfortunately I have a kind of jacked metabolism (thyroid) so exercise alone doesn’t get me where I need to be. I don’t think there will ever be a point in my life where I can just freely eat what I want to.

        1. fposte*

          I think very few people can, to be honest. It’s our evolutionary tendency to want more than we burn.

          1. TL*

            Huh. I’ve always been able to eat whatever when I’m exercising. I didn’t know that wasn’t common.

            But I also start craving healthier foods when I’m exercising so maybe it also isn’t just the exercising.

            1. Katie the Fed*

              I’ve always exercised – I’m really active. Right now I’m kicking up the intensity and doing more weight lifting, but exercise has generally always been part of of my life. So any weight loss for me is going to be from eating less. If I eat more than 1700 or so calories a day, I’m gaining weight. Crazy, huh?

      2. Ellie H.*

        On the subject of exercise to lose weight: I realize that this is a suggestion that isn’t necessarily an option for many, but when I started doing yoga just a few months ago (early February) it completely revolutionized my body and metabolism. This is even as someone who has always worked out a lot (like 4x a week, cardio for 45-60 minutes and 20-30 minutes of weights/exercises, long bike rides once or twice a week in the summer) and considered myself to be in pretty good shape and was already on the thin side. After just a few months of doing it I have dramatically more muscle tone, and the muscles yoga develops really burn up the calories, like where I lost weight without attempting to at all. I don’t do anything crazy either (I was a complete beginner when I started a few months ago), no hot yoga or power yoga or Pilates, just the normal beginner-to-intermediate level classes a couple times a week (and I barely work out in the gym anymore). A lot of yoga studios have an unlimited two-week pass so you can try out a bunch of classes for $25 or so and I don’t think the 10-class passes are prohibitively expensive, especially for what I get out of it.
        It also makes me feel more relaxed, happier, healthier, and sleep better, and just sort of feeling positive about my health leads to better decisions in other areas.

        I probably sound like some kind of obsessed cult member about yoga at this point but even for someone who was already satisfied with her fitness level, it was completely revolutionary and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

        1. Eden*

          +1000 for yoga!

          It’s also terrific for arthritic joints. I went twice a week for about a year and a half, and then my yoga studio closed, I moved, and was unemployed for 3 months…the difference is night and day. My knees are back to complaining/aching and I can tell I’m weak, and I’m up 8 pounds. Now that I’m settled I’m going to start again soon!

    8. Barbara in Swampeast*

      dailymail.co.uk had an article within the last week about “tapping.” It is a form of acupuncture. When you feel like snacking, you tap five or six points on your body and when you are through, you won’t feel like snacking. It’s free and worth a try.

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        I had some CBT and tapping therapy. The pulse points she used were forehead (between eyebrows), (inner) wrist, cheekbone, chin, and breastbone. It was important to say/think of a phrase (I’m not telling you mine but something positive) and keep repeating whilst tapping.

    9. DJ*

      If you just need to lose a couple for a wedding, think about just ditching carbs. Like totally. Its counter-intuitive, but if you eat a ton of fat and basically no carbs (like under 30 grams a day) you’ll lose weight with or without excercise. You will however, not have much physical endurance.

      Basically if you eat a ton of fat (like 50% of your calories) you’re basically just so full that eating more than your maintenance is tough to do. Lets you snack all day on whatever you want as long as you ditch the carbs. Meat, cheese, and veggies will be your basic diet. With lots of cream and butter lol.
      Just don’t do it for more than a couple of months.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Oh I did low carb previously, and lost a ton of weight and slowly put it all back on. I’m really just trying to live a healthy lifestyle all around – exercising (cardio and strength, eating in moderation, etc). But at work I’ve been really bad about giving into temptation.

    10. krm*

      Katie, I’ve dealt with this a lot over the past few months. My solution has been 3 fold-
      1. avoid walking through the office kitchen. It is a much more direct route to my desk, but going the long way helps me get more steps in my daily routine, and I don’t have to walk right by the treats that are always left out.
      2. pack healthy “treats”. I scour pinterest for low calorie goodies that i can bake, and i also spend a lot more time at the grocery store/local co-op looking for interesting things to try, like different flavored almonds, trail mix, hummus, etc. That way I have something to look forward to, rather than helping myself to a cookie that has been sitting out for 2 days.
      3. drink a mug of tea or a bottle of water before snacking. Peppermint tea is one of my go-tos throughout the day. Same with pomegranete green tea. They make me feel full, satisfy the hand to mouth urge, and take long enough to drink that the craving often times goes away. If I still want to snack 15/20 minutes after the tea, I allow myself to have a little something.
      I hope this helps!

      1. Katie the Fed*

        These are good/pracitcal trips. I can’t really avoid the food area, but the other two can probably work. I like veggies a lot so I might just start packing tons of veggies to bring with me for when I need something crunchy to nibble on.

        I’ll try the tea/water as well.

        Argh this is hard.

        1. fposte*

          You might also try prepacked little mouthfuls of various other things (sort of making your own Graze service), so that you have a treat and something with a little more heft than veggies.

        2. GigglyPuff*

          They sell hummus in individual small packs now, that make it easy to snack, if that’s something you like.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            I have those! I get the Hannah ones at Costco and bring them with the mini cucumbers (also at Costco). I think I just need to bring more of them.

          2. Elysian*

            They also do that with guacamole, which could also be part of an awesome tasty healthy snack. I love the guacamole packets.

        3. krm*

          It is hard. Packing a variety of snacks to keep at work for the week has been really helpful for me. I really like raw veggies, so rather than the traditional carrot and celery stick, i’ll also bring in mini bell peppers, snap peas, and edamame. I’ve found a really good recipe for parmesan crusted edamame- basically you toss shelled edamame with a bit of grated parmesan, garlic powder and pepper, and bake (sometimes I add chili powder as well). It keeps for a few days. It really satisfies my craving for savory foods. It has a bit of a crunch too.

    11. Stephanie*

      First, have you figured out why you’re snacking? When I chronically snacked at work, it was out of boredom. Morbid at this sounds, there was this short path that ran around a nearby cemetery. Taking a brief walk usually made me forget about the snack. Of course, I’m aware this might be a bit more involved if you work in a large office and/or have nowhere to walk.

      Tea/flavored water/coffee/gum are good if you just want to get the taste of something on your tongue. I also just had to plan my snacks out.

      1. Trillian*

        Related – do you have a time when you’re most susceptible? For me it’s mid afternoon when I just don’t wanna be here any more. Chocolate is my reward for sticking it out. I’m trying to find other ways to reward myself rather than food, because healthy snacks just will not do it.

        1. Lucy*

          I’m the same way, Trillian! I often feel like I deserve to treat myself with a snack if I’ve had an annoying day. An iced coffee or tea, a manicure or even a few extra minutes of reading a good book outside can satisfy the same impulse for me- have to remember that!

        2. Katie the Fed*

          I don’t know why, but I’m an afternoon snacker, definitely.

          I’m going to see about going for a walk at lunchtime to break up the doldrums, and trying to wait until later to eat lunch.

        3. Kelly L.*

          Oh, I had this issue. It was a reward and a pick-me-up as my energy was flagging (my body’s natural tendency seems to be to nap at 3pm, which doesn’t work well with my job). I’ve made a ritual of having a coffee at that time instead. Staves off the nap but isn’t food.

      2. Polaris*

        Good point! When I snack at work, it is usually because I am procrastinating. Forcing myself to do the task I am avoiding prevents the snacking.

        Are you eating because you are hungry? Because the food is there? Because you are avoiding something?

    12. Artemesia*

      I have to snack and while in my youth I was the skinny kid who could eat anything, now that I am old lady this is not working. The only thing that works for me is to substitute high cal with low cal munchies. Chewing on a carrot stick or celery stick or apple is not quite the same as eating a bag of M&Ms or a cupcake but I can resist the junk if I am crunching and munching.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Yeah, I think this is probably the best strategy for me – lots and lots of veggies and stuff. I just need that crunchiness. I don’t even know why.

    13. Dang*

      The only thing that has ever worked for me is to tell myself I could have it later if I still wanted it. Oh, hey bag of mini cadbury eggs (EVIL, thank goodness they only come around once a year), if I still want to devour you in your entirety in 3 hours, ITS ON.

      And amazingly, I’m okay 3 hours later with not doing it.

      I’m amazed that this has actually (usually) worked because my impulse control is terrible when it comes to food.

      1. Ellie H.*

        I’ve heard people use this strategy for smoking – that you just have to get through the next five minutes, hour, day, etc. with a cigarette and no need to think about what happens after that right now. But then you repeat this same thought process.

        I guess I kind of did that too when I quit – I wasn’t particularly addicted but I was definitely in the habit of smoking (I went through about a pack every two weeks). I knew I had to stop permanently at some point but lacked motivation because I didn’t smoke all that much to begin with. I did find it helpful to tell myself that I could smoke if I really, really wanted to. I actually still have a pack of cigarettes around in a drawer (I forgot about it and found it by accident recently).

    14. Katrina*

      I second the gum and liquids suggestions! Those dessert flavored gums are better than you think, and I challenge myself to drink a gallon of water every day. Not only will this keep your mind off food, it will help get rid of any puffiness. But you will be going to the bathroom every 20 minutes.

    15. Maggie*

      Keep nust and fruit at your desk at all times and you are ONLY allowed to eat the snack after you have either had a handful of nuts or eaten a full serving of fruit. It’s hard to snack when your belly is already full of an orange/almonds, etc. I even have a stocked candy dish (we’re talking top of the line snack candy) and I rarely eat it. I keep bananas, apples and almonds in my line of vision and the candy hidden from my site (but visible to passerbys).

    16. Brett*

      Do you have a workplace refrigerator? I’ve found some great snacks at costco: vlasic pickles, mini-cucumbers, and bulk peppers. They are tasty, about 5 calories each, and filling. Bonus is that they each have different tastes too so I can grab whatever I am craving.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I do the mini cucumbers with hummus everyday.

        Oooh pickles are a good idea, especially since I LOVE salty foods.

        I think it’s time to hit costco more thoroughly. And maybe some of those lite Babybells they have.

        Oh and maggie – I can’t do nuts. I have no portion control at all when it comes to nuts.

        1. Laura*

          Graze, or something like it? The portions are small enough that you can’t overdo them. (You can stare in disappointment at the empty containers, hehe.)

          I make my own at home now, but it doesn’t sound like having a sufficient supply of nuts in the house for that would be ideal for you. (Although you can buy small amounts from the bulk sections at many stores.)

    17. Kay*

      1) Have the dress fitted to you. Don’t try to make yourself fit the dress.

      2) Before you eat, ask yourself why you’re eating that snack/meal/donut/etc. If the answer is anything except, “I’m hungry”, don’t eat it. When I really think about why I’m eating something, many times it’s because it tastes good or I’m stressed or tired or upset or whatever other emotion. I haven’t gotten my relationship w/ food under control, but I try to be more intentional about what I eat and why.

      3) Cut yourself a break. I’ve also found that if I slip up, I give up on that whole day or week and end up binging. If I’m okay with a minor slip-up and recognize that that’s okay, then I’m less likely to feel the guilt associated with “screwing up”. There’s a fancy version of this called the 80/20 rule. If you’re good to yourself (food choices/exercise/not smoking/etc) then the other 20% is forgivable.

    18. Laura*

      Alternate snacks that you like.

      Decide to track everything you eat in a log that tells you calories…I’m doing that for other reasons but I _really_ hesitate to eat some things if I’m going to have to log them, lol.

      If sweets are your weakness, Tic Tacs or other mints, or gum. (Extra sugar-free dessert gums are amazing…another one of my willpower reinforcers, that.)

      Tea, if you like that sort of thing – and there’s a wide variety in flavors. Took me a while to find the ones I like, but now they also help me resist.

    19. Not So NewReader*

      Water. Hunger/grazing can be dehydration in disguise.

      My boss has a rule that she cannot have X until she drinks an entire bottle of water. Then, if she still wants X she can have it. She even does this with coffee.

      If you feel it is stress related, keep an eye on the junk food. The junk food will amplify your stress and it will also make you get hungry/tired very quickly. Stress, hunger, fatigue is too much to override anyone would be grazing all day long.
      Sleep is important, too. Make sure you get a good amount of sleep every night. That, too, will help to reduce grazing. (Think of it this way energy has to come from some where. Lacking sleep, the next go-to source is food.)
      How about protein drinks?

    20. KCS*

      Buy a bunch of veggies and store them in your fridge or freezer.

      Let’s say you’re craving a snack. Before indulging in that snack, eat a couple servings of veggies along with a bottle of water. For example, I would eat an entire bag of microwaved broccoli before letting myself indulge in pasta or other calorie-heavy foods. The water and veggies take the edge off.

      That way, you’re not “depriving” or “abstaining” from the snack food. You’re just delaying it. Chances are, by the time you finish the veggies, the desire is gone (or at least dissipated).

    21. Anx*

      For the second week in a row, I have no shifts scheduled.

      I am a pretty new hire, but I’m a little nervous about the fact that I haven’t been put on the schedule for two weeks. I work part time, at a place where there really isn’t room for full time employees because of the business hours, but I did expect more regularity than this.

      I’m also afraid that my skills will lapse a bit. I know 2 weeks isn’t a long time, but since I work part time I feel like I’ve only really worked there a month, and my first day back from gaps feels a little shaky for the first half hour or so (which really affects a 2 hour shift).

      I’m not sure if I should say something or not. I’m afraid that as a new hire, I should expect to the be first to have hours cut (which I agree with) and to let a lot slide. But I also don’t want to establish myself as someone who doesn’t care.

      Also, I was going to refrain from looking for other work in case it wasn’t compatible with this job (unless it was something I really couldn’t pass up). Now I’m wondering if a few months of loyalty is all that they would expect, if it’s common to not have work every week.

    22. Mimco*

      Make sure that you are drinking plenty of water. Mild dehydration can be sneaky and disguise itself as unsatisfied hunger. Tell yourself you have to drink two glasses of water before you take that next snack.

  14. drunner*

    I have this weird thing that keeps happening to me with a few of my coworkers and the bathroom. I work in a small office, one floor and have one bathroom with a couple stalls. Obviously I run into coworkers in the bathroom but a few of them insist on talking to me while I’m using the bathroom. Like inside the stall they’re asking me about my day. It feels sooo incredibly awkward but I don’t know how to say anything. I’ve resorted to actually walking the extra distance and using a bathroom on the bottom floor because it’s just weird. I’m just curious if this happens to anyone else?

    1. TNTT*

      This. Is. Horrifying. If this happened to me I would probably just literally not answer a question that someone asked while I was in the stall. Maybe they’ll figure it out.

    2. OriginalYup*

      There is at least one person who does this in every office I’ve ever worked in. I cut off it by saying, “Do you mind if we chat later? Thanks.”

    3. Anoners*

      Be thankful you have a stall. My boss will have full blown coversations at the urinal, that are really, really lengthy.

    4. BB*

      YIKES!! Keep using the downstairs bathroom if you can. I also have a very small bathroom in my office and just running into people in it is a hassle. I hate when people start asking work questions. It’s weird but the bathroom is like my sanctuary. A couple minutes of quiet. I recently found a bathroom in my building on a floor of a company that is almost all men(I’m a woman). I use it all the time and I LOVE IT

    5. Jen RO*

      I have coworkers who talk on the phone while they’re doing their business… whyyy?

  15. Shell*

    Alison,I think you’ve said before that you were always on the side of management, not HR. And I know you’ve worked a lot with nonprofits. out of curiosity, what did you work your way up from ? my mental image of you is that you just appeared into the world as an awesome manager one day, but that’s not realistic :)

    *tries to imagine Alison as a file clerk and fails*

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I started as a coordinator of volunteers at a nonprofit, moved to a staff writer role somewhere else, did a mix of staff writer and campaign coordination for a while, then parlayed that into a leap to a communications director job. Then a membership director for a while, which turned into a chief of staff role, which I did for five years before leaving to do consulting, which is what I’m doing now.

  16. Kevin*

    How does everyone feel about being friends with coworkers outside of the work place?

    The info. The company has a couple thousand of employees. We’re both in a department of about 150 people but in completely separate branches that never interact with each other. I enjoy off color humor in my time off (never in the office though) and I know the coworker does but I have concern since we work for the same company.

    1. Sunflower*

      It depends on the org/indsutry. My friend works at a non-profit and is really good friends with her boss. Her boss has come to dinners and barbeques and knows our entire group of friends. I don’t see anything wrong with being friends outside of work but I think it’s important to keep those friends separate from your other friends. My friend and her boss end up talking about work stuff a lot when we’re all together and it’s painful because we don’t really care!!!

    2. fposte*

      I know it can be different at universities, but two of my best friends work in my same building. It’s been fine–we occasionally renegotiate stuff, because we do actually overlap, but this is close to twenty years now so I think it’s pretty secure.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      It depends on the person, for me. I’ve had work friends who were strictly at-work and never the twain shall meet–but when I left the job, I lost them as friends. And I have a friend from Exjob (who was even my supervisor for a while) with whom I’m still close. We don’t see each other much (too busy) but we talk on Facebook, etc. I was also friendly with one other person while there who, along with his family, is still a friend. Once again, though, everyone is so busy we rarely see each other.

      While I was there, I didn’t friend anyone on social media, but those of us who escaped the madness connected up afterward. Most everyone has a family, so I barely get to see them, though. :(

    4. Mimmy*

      I think it’s totally fine as long as it doesn’t interfere with work. At a nonprofit I volunteer at, the staff are all very friendly with each other, but I still see that they’re doing excellent work.

      Also, I’m still FB friends with several people I’ve met in previous jobs, some of whom I’ve gotten together with on occasion in the past couple of years.

    5. BCW*

      To me it depends on a lot. A big thing is how closely you actually work together. one of my best friends is a former co-worker. But we were teachers in completely different grades, so aside from staff meetings, we never really saw each other. If you are working side by side everyday, I think that complicates things because it can be hard to separate things at times. You get into an argument on Saturday night, how will Monday morning be? However I do think it happens and its fine.

    6. NavyLT*

      I know I work in a pretty different environment, but it would be weird if I didn’t spend time with my coworkers outside of work. In my experience, it’s completely possible to be friends outside of work, and professional at work, and if anything, knowing people on a more social level helps the professional relationship.

    7. Stephanie*

      Hmm, depends on the organization. FirstJob, it was all individual work and if I got in an argument with a friend/coworker, it didn’t matter when we got to work. But I could see it being an issue if you worked with the personally regularly and couldn’t separate Work Bob from Friend Bob. And much like a romantic relationship, would it be awkward to work with the person if y’all had a falling out?

      I’m a bit hesitant as well because I don’t want a super buddy-buddy atmosphere clouding my objective assessment of a job. I’ve heard a few (non-work) friends say “Oh, my [pay/responsibilities/hours] suck, but I love my coworkers. I’d hate to leave them!”

      But then it is really odd to work with strangers all day and know nothing about them. This was OldJob.

    8. Mints*

      I think you just try being friends, slowly, and if things get weird sometimes you hang out less but if things go great you can keep being friends. Just like dating romantically, you go out for group things, then structured dates, then you basically hang out all the time. But if things get weird, you just back out of plans and stay friendly at work

  17. Chocolate Teapot*

    “Oh, I went to college so I’d never have to be a secretary”

    “Yes, they let anyone in these days don’t they?”

    Ok, so, it’s neither kind, quiet, nor to the point. Can you give examples of the crisis which would ensue if the secretaries weren’t available and the company just ground to a halt?

    1. A Bug!*

      I’m laughing just thinking about this actually happening. Depending on the attitude of the staff member, it could be the perfect response.

  18. Cruciatus*

    In the Ask A Manager goodreads.com thread, people are discussing favorite books. What book did you have to stop reading? I don’t do it often; I’m usual a complete-ist, but I stopped reading:

    Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel — My main problem was WHO IS TALKING? A room full of men and it’s all “he said” and “his this?” and which he/his!? Also, it was more boring than I thought a book about Henry VIII’s divorce so he could marry Anne Boleyn would be.
    Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – If this was a 200 page book I may have stuck it out. But it’s not my type of book, apparently. And I was not willing to commit to the rest of the books in the series.

    And I finished it, but I didn’t particularly like Gone Girl! (Ducks tomatoes)

    I know all these books are beloved by people and I can see why they are liked, but they are just not up my alley. So what have you given up on?

    1. Diet Coke Addict*

      I also REALLY did not enjoy Gone Girl. You are not alone! I left it halfway through.

      I’m halfway through Misfortune by Wesley Stace and eh. It doesn’t seem to be going anywhere and I’m enjoying it less. I think it’ll go back to the library half-done.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        I loved Gone Girl. A friend of mine finished it and did not like the ending, and I’ll just say that I liked it. Completely fitting for the 2 main characters.

          1. Kelly L.*

            I found Gone Girl addictive but really hated both characters and thought the ending was kind of a letdown. Really loved her Dark Places, though. The narrator is So. Messed. Up. but I loved her anyway, in all her warped glory. And the mystery solution was crazy but played totally fair.

            1. Ann Furthermore*

              It’s hard to talk about this without spoilers, but if you think about the 2 main characters, and how the story ended for them, it’s really kind of perfect.

              The ending was a bit abrupt and sudden for me too, and at first I didn’t like it. Then after I thought about it for a little while I decided I liked it.

      2. ExceptionToTheRule*

        Glad to hear I’m not the only one that Gone Girl didn’t do anything for. I doubt I’ll ever finish it.

      3. Windchime*

        I just finished Gone Girl this week when I was on vacation. It took me awhile to get into and I ended up liking it, but I also thought it was kind of weird. It was a good vacation read, but I wouldn’t call it an awesome book.

        I couldn’t finish even the first Outlander book. I found it incredibly silly (apologies to those who love the series).

    2. Elkay*

      I gave up on Catcher in the Rye – I just wanted to shake Holden Caufield and tell him to pull himself together – I was late teens/early 20s when I tried so I’m sure I was supposed to be able to relate to him.

      1. Anonylicious*

        I had the same experience. Just wanted to smack him upside the head as I was reading it.

      2. Felicia*

        The only reason I finished The Catcher in the Rye was because I had to in high school. I hated that book!

      3. De Minimis*

        I think the thing some readers choose to ignore about CATCHER IN THE RYE is that Holden is crazy. I don’t think we are supposed to identify or relate with him, and it’s telling that so many readers do.

        1. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)*

          If you dislike Catcher, read Frank Portman’s King Dork. THere are some hilarious riffs on the stupidity of that book and certain generational love for it.

        2. Audiophile*

          I didn’t hate Catcher in the Rye. And I swear I’m the only person who made it through Ethan Frome.
          The book I couldn’t finish was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Ugh 200+ pages of libel is what it seemed like to me.

      4. Windchime*

        Same here. I never finished it. It was assigned in high school and it was so full of cussing that I found it offensive (I’ve changed as I’ve grown up!). The teacher let me read Walden by Thoreau instead.

      1. KAS*

        Oh UGH! Lots of “look-here’s-another-magical-moment” and “over here! Magical-wonderfulness”……

    3. Sascha*

      Sadly I gave up on Game of Thrones, book 2. I really, really enjoyed book 1. I was so excited about book 2…and then I got overwhelmed by NAMES. So many names. Lord names, lady names, ship names, bastard names, ALL THE NAMES!!! I really want to read the whole series but it feels so daunting. Also I’m watching the series so I don’t feel too inclined to read when I can watch.

      1. Cruciatus*

        I can only read one Game of Thrones book a year–I’m usually too depressed at the end to start a new one right away! I was actually surprised at how many names/characters I do remember when I start it up again, but often I have no idea who someone is so I just read through and hope they do something that jogs my memory. It’s similar to Lord of the Rings. “Who is that again? Eh, I’ll figure it out. Probably.”

      2. Anoners*

        Keep reading the books! They are so, so much better than the show (and the show is amazing, and is my fav). Getting the first person perspective of everything that’s going on is just way more interesting.

        I know what you mean about the names though. So much time is devoted to all the minor houses. I just skim these parts. You know most of the main names from the show anyway, so just focus on those parts.

        1. Felicia*

          The names only started confusing me book 4 because they started introducing sooo many new characters. But the books are so much better!

      3. CheeryO*

        If you decide to try again, make sure you read from a hard copy. Referencing the maps and appendices often makes the sheer volume of characters and locations pretty manageable. And you really should give the third book a go. It’s definitely a fan favorite.

      4. Jen RO*

        It was the other way around for me – I was overwhelmed for much of book 1, and I started loving it with book 2. (I also stopped trying to remember minor character names and that helped with the enjoyment.)

      5. Mints*

        That didn’t bother me as much, because I wouldn’t try to remember all the minor characters. If I felt like I forgot something important, I could search in the kindle, or just google it

      6. Persephone Mulberry*

        I gave up on GoT book 5 about a third of the way in. Once SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER, I just didn’t care anymore. ;)

        1. Noelle*

          I’ve always thought that last theory was the most likely one. It just makes more sense!

          Also, am I the only person who doesn’t mind spoilers? I actually prefer to read a good review before I watch a TV show or movie. Then I’m prepared for anything gross/scary!

          Although I admit that usually I just do it because I am lazy and I need someone else to tell me the important parts of Mad Men because I won’t notice them myself.

          1. Mints*

            It depends. Sometimes things are just too damn suspenseful and I need to know NOW. But some twisty plots I enjoy for the ride. I spoiled some GoT plots for myself by reading the wiki pages when things were moving too slowly in the books. (what happened to Brienne?) But some things surprised me (the kid with the blue hair in the books)

            But books like Gone Girl are all about the big reveal, and I loved being shocked

          2. SD Cat*

            I don’t mind spoilers. Even if I know what happens I like to see how things get to that point.

      7. Noelle*

        I had to give up on GoT too, about halfway through A Feast for Crows. The problem is the author has 11 point of view characters in the first book, and that’s a lot but it’s manageable and you get to know and care about the characters. By the fourth book, there are TONS of point of view characters and they just don’t seem to inform the story in any useful way. I don’t care what some random person with a tertiary connection to a minor character has to say. Some people just don’t need a point of view in this story!

      8. LBK*

        It’s taken me about a year to get 1/4 of the way through the first book. I just find it dreadfully boring and the style of writing does nothing for me. And I absolutely love the show.

      9. De Minimis*

        I struggled with the first GAME OF THRONES book, got into the groove after that, but then quit again when I got to the most recent book.

        I think it’s just all too much for me anymore, the whole multi-volume epic fantasy thing.

      10. Kelly L.*

        See, I found the names rather easy, since the way I heard about the series was that some friends heard I was a Plantagenet and Tudor geek and told me I’d like ASOIAF too. At least in ASOIAF, they’re not all named Henry or Richard or Edward.

    4. Jen*

      I hated Wolf of Wall Street and gave up on it about 1/3 of the way through. It’s terribly written and completely uninteresting. Plus, the author seems like a major asshole and I didn’t feel like peeking into his brain any longer.

    5. Katie the Fed*

      Anna Karenina. I’ve tried to read it a million times but I put it down and then start to try to read it again and am like “mehhhh too many people.” I don’t usually have that problem and I’ve read other LONG Russian literature, but that book just doesn’t do it for me.

      1. LCL*

        Lies of Loche Lamora. Way too violent for me. The author is one heck of a writer, so everything is realistic, too realistic. Though it is a fantasy book.
        I do like horror, sometimes really violent and gory, but deep down I know it is fantasy.

        1. Anonylicious*

          I liked Lies of Locke Lamora, but I set it down halfway through and just never picked it back up. I guess that I didn’t like it as much as I thought.

      2. Windchime*

        I’m the same with Anna Karenina. Like Katie, I’ve read other Russian literature but I just can’t get more than a few chapters into Anna Karenina without getting confused by all the characters. It doesn’t help that each person in a Russian novel usually has at least 3 or 4 names. Sometimes I’ll get halfway through a story before I realize that Ivanovich and Sascha are the same person!

    6. C Average*

      I have finally given up on Middlemarch. So many people I respect absolutely revere this book, but it is so freaking dense and boring that I just can’t take it! (And I’m someone who’s read and loved Moby Dick, War and Peace, everything by Shakespeare, and plenty of other big classic tomes.)

      1. AVP*

        I’m around 10% of the way through Middlemarch and I just don’t know. I heard Rebecca Mead speak at the Strand about My Life in Middlemarch and she made me really want to like it, but…but…I don’t know if it’s gonna happen.

        1. C Average*

          Good luck! My husband and I actually read out loud to each other in the evenings and we’ve been through some dense stuff (The Aeneid, anyone?). We decided to take on Middlemarch and he actually begged me to stop.

          We were about 100 pages in when we stopped. I skimmed the rest. I’m relieved we didn’t actually slog through the whole thing. Not much appears to happen.

          1. samaD*

            urk, The Aeneid. I may have read some of it for a class I was supposed to read all of it for….

            The Iliad was pretty good though, & I’ve always loved The Odyssey!

      2. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

        Ugh, Middlemarch. I have a close friend who share a lot of my same tastes (Harry Potter, Jane Austen, Doctor Who, Shakespeare, Lois and Clark, Gilmore Girls, etc.) and she LOVES Middlemarch, and has even designated Will Ladislaw as her Book Boyfriend (as opposed to her TV Boyfriend, her Theater Boyfriend, her Movie Boyfriend, her Superhero Boyfriend, and so on). I tried to read it for her sake. I have an MA in English lit, folks! I have read and enjoyed many a classic novel! (I’ve also read and despised many a classic novel. . .) But I could. not. do. it. I even skipped to where Will Ladislaw actually shows up, but I just don’t get it. Oh, well.

        I had to give up on JK Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy. I really wanted to like it, because I love Harry Potter, but I think she was trying to hard to be different from HP. Too much adult language, too many unlikeable characters, too depressing. I liked Cuckoo’s Calling much more. Still a bit more swearing that I usually enjoy, but so much more entertaining. Writing it behind a pseudonym really helped free her from her psychological demons, I think.

        1. C Average*

          All the irresistible fictional dudes out there, and she picks WILL LADISLAW?

          Wow.

          I guess there’s somebody for everyone.

          I love the idea of Book Boyfriends, though. I’d have a hard time choosing between Prince Andrei and Quenton Cassidy.

    7. Anonymint*

      I HATED Gone Girl until I got to the middle part. You know what part I’m talking about. I thought it was so cliched and then was actually caught off guard (that rarely happens any more).

      However, I thought her other books were much, much better. Wayyyy worth the long libraryy waiting lists (at least in my city).

      I recently stopped reading The Illumination (Kevin Brockmeier) – I really loved his book A Brief History of the Dead, but though The Illumination was confusing and tedious, which was a bummer because the premise was great.

      1. Anonymint*

        Wow, sorry typos. I’m eating Sad Desk Lunch right now, and apparently it’s causing my typing problems…

    8. Eden*

      I gave up early on Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life. I have LOVED her previous books, but just couldn’t get interested. Would be interested in hearing from folks who finished it–did it grip you from page 1 or did you have to keep reading?

      1. Dang*

        I read the first two chapters and stopped also. It just seemed like a looooong trudge-through for something that didn’t grab me.

      2. Elkay*

        I kept reading because it wasn’t bad enough to make me stop. It was a little repetitive though.

      3. AVP*

        I read it for a book club so I felt committed to finishing it. I didn’t love it though, and I felt that she established certain rules for the world of the book that ended up being arbitrary, or like she was breaking them, which ended up with the book being kind of nonsensical.

        What Kate Atkinson books did you love? I would like to read more of her but I think I started in the wrong place.

        1. Eden*

          I loved Emotionally Weird, One Good Turn, Case Histories, um, something like One Good Turn (I should be looking up the actual titles), Behind the Scenes at the Museum…I know there are more but I’m frankly too Friday-lazy to look them up. Basically, I have enjoyed all of them except one called Human Croquet, which I think was a fairly early effort.

          I’m happy to learn I’m not the only one who struggled with this one.

      4. Theguvnah*

        I loved Life After Life – but it did take a little bit of time to get into it. Once I did I found it incredible and started recommending it everywhere.

        Wolf hall- I gave up and gave the book away and don’t feel bad about it!

    9. Elizabeth West*

      I used to love Robin Cook’s medical thrillers, but I had to quit the last couple of books because they were just so badly written. I’m wondering if he didn’t get a really sh!tty ghostwriter. If so, he needs to fire that person, pronto.

      Michael Palmer’s med-thrillers were much better, but alas, he died. :(

      1. EmilyG*

        His books used to be heavily edited to the point of being written-over by his editors and I don’t think they do that anymore. Maybe you are reading what his writing has actually been like all along! There seems to be a general trend in US publishing towards publishing things as-is, which was already common in the UK. When I say as-is, I mean as received from the agent, and maybe the agencies are doing more polishing before submitting something, but probably not in the case of an author like Cook who already has a publisher and a contract.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Like all the other industries in the US, the economy gutted a lot of positions. You just don’t get that editing anymore. This is why I go over my manuscripts so many times (and I’m sure I still miss stuff) and have readers.

          1. Lore*

            I don’t know if it’s so much “editors don’t edit” as two other factors:

            1) once an author gets a certain amount of clout, they have a lot more power to say “I think my work is awesome as is, and readers agree, so if you insist on imposing edits I’ll just go take my best-selling books somewhere else.”
            2) a book with any kind of market expectations gets scheduled pretty far in advance, and yearly budgets get built around it, and entire publication seasons are planned to showcase the expected bestsellers and not have them go on sale simultaneously. So when an author doesn’t deliver a manuscript until, say, 12 weeks before that on-sale date, with the print ads and publicity campaigns all locked in, you don’t have a lot of ability to do the kind of work you might like to.

            At least, that’s been my experience from the inside, at a major publisher.

    10. Barbara in Swampeast*

      Anything by Henry James. I can’t even get to the end of the first chapter of “Turn of the Screw.” He puts me to sleep. Edith Wharton, I love. Anthony Trollope, I adore! I just can’t get through James.

    11. littlemoose*

      I started “The Art of Fielding” a while back and was enjoying it, but it starte dragging so much in the middle that I set it down and haven’t been able to motivate myself to pick it back up. I mean, I want to know what happens but I really just got sick of reading it.

      1. AVP*

        Oh! Pick it back up please! I did the same thing, put it down for 6 months, and finally decided to finish it….and it was so worth it. The ending is beautiful.

    12. Sunflower*

      I’ve given up on any vampire book I’ve ever tried to read- Twilight, Sookie Stackhouse books. I’m really not into supernatural stuff so it’s no surprise I didn’t like them.

      1. Mephyle*

        There is one more rather different vampire book I could recommend you to try, but knowing ahead of time that it’s vampire is a bit of a spoiler, so I can’t really mention it here. One Friday, I will suggest it in another thread of recommended books.

        1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

          The only vampire novel I’ve ever really enjoyed (except for Dracula, which was kind of fun) was Sunshine by Robin McKinley (and I do like fantasy in general, just not vampires, I guess). So good!

    13. LV*

      Seventeen Against the Dealer by Cynthia Voigt. I loved all the books in her Tillerman series, but that one… ugh. It’s been several years so my memory is fuzzy, but the writing felt so stilted. I finally gave up on it when I got to the sentence “He sounded careful, as though he were being careful.” I just could not get past that terrible, ridiculous sentence.

      Also, I really wanted to shake Dicey, who was normally street-smart and level-headed, for (1) letting a drifter/gambler become involved in the business she was trying to set up (2) trusting him to deposit a cheque for her! She was so surprised that he actually cashed it and ran off with the money! WHAT DID YOU THINK WOULD HAPPEN??

    14. Schuyler*

      It’s so weird that you brought this up today (and on an open thread that I’m early enough on that I can read some of the responses). I just finished Gone Girl last night. I HATED it. I’m trying to figure out how I can bleach my brain. I had one of the major plot points figured out within the first few chapters (I had read one of hers before this), but… I’m still so angry about that. And annoyed with myself–I had three weeks off between my spring semester and summer semester, and I wasted it on that book. I feel like I should apologize to Eleanor of Aquitaine for abandoning her for a newer, more hip book. But all the kids were doing it. Oh well… I still have at least one full weekend, and I’m only taking a class during the first summer session so I can enjoy it afterward.

      The other book that I remember putting down was Before I Go To Sleep. I had a very hard time figuring out when they were in this book, and it just got tiring after a while. I’ll go back someday, just not yet.

    15. Julie*

      Wolf Hall! I really was so lost that I just couldn’t do it. I’ve actually got it on my list to try again but I think I will have to give up trying that.

      Outlander was almost that way. I actually made it through all the published books. She needs an editor. If my friends didn’t all love it I would have given up but I hate being left out of a book discussion.

    16. bridget*

      There are certain authors/types of literature that I keep going back to try, but I can never get through it. For some reason, they are my kryptonite. I have never finished anything by Hemingway or Cormac McCarthy, although I have attempted both several times. I didn’t even finish the Old Man and the Sea, which is short enough I really should be able to just power through.

      1. bridget*

        Also, this isn’t fiction, but I recently threw Mindset, by Carol Dweck, away in disgust after reading the first chapter and skimming the rest. Which surprised me, because lots of people I like on the internet were blown away by it (Dear Prudie is jumping to mind), and I’m actually quite sympathetic to her thesis. It was just the kind of nonfiction I cannot stand – poor reasoning combined with a strong “self-help” style, and instead of focusing on the actual research the author has done, just listing a zillion successful people and painting a picture of their personality that comports with her approach.

      2. Cruciatus*

        I unfortunately finished Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms and I believe that was the first book I ever threw across the room in disgust when it was over. Although, that book helped me realize that I should write down everything I read on index cards and rate how I liked it and give a little synopsis (helpful most of the time since almost every book I pick up is part of a series). I believe I have “I hated this” as my rating. Possibly also my synopsis.

      3. Stephanie*

        I can’t get through Hemingway. I’ve tried. His books aren’t even that long…I just dislike them.

        I also couldn’t finish The World is Flat.

      4. SD Cat*

        I only got through Old Man and the Sea because I was required to for school. Ugh.

    17. Chinook*

      I stopped reading Leonard Cohen’s “Beautiful Losers” halfway through it even though it was assigned reading for a modern Canadain Literature class. When the prof asked me about the novel in class, I defened my choice by saying that life was too short and my required reading list too long (I was taking 3 lit courses that required novel reading and was averaging a novel a week on top of coursework) to waste my time reading something I found personally offensive and difficult to understand the point of. I then summer it up by saying that, even though he has only a 3 note range, he should stick to singing and poetry (I have since heard “Hallelujah” and take back dissing his singing.)

      Considering I also dissed Margaret Atwood in that class (not a Handmaid’s Tale but something else) and this was in a literature department noting for having both Atwood and Margaret Laurence (whom I love reading) among its former teaching staff, I was not among her favourite students.

    18. Chris*

      Henry, by David Starkey. I absolutely loved his other Tudor books and documentaries, but this book- hate, hate, hate!! I have put it down and picked it up numerous times, wanting it to not be so awful.

    19. Ms. Anonymity*

      The Outlander series is my hands down favorite series ever. I read anything and everything as well and this is the series I recommend the most. However, I know A LOT of people who had a hard time getting into the first book. All I can say is give it another go. Everyone that I’ve recommended the book to that has given it a second chance and read through the series has loved it. She gets better as a writer, and the characters become so alive, that by the end, you miss them as if they were real people.

      I couldn’t get through the first book in the Game of Thrones. I felt like it was all doom and gloom and bad thing, after bad thing, after worse thing.

      1. Chinook*

        “The Outlander series is my hands down favorite series ever. I read anything and everything as well and this is the series I recommend the most. However, I know A LOT of people who had a hard time getting into the first book. All I can say is give it another go ”

        Or you can wait until it comes out as a tv series this summer (the first book) that was produced by someone whose wife was a fan and used the author as creative resoruce (I think Diana even gets a cameo in one episode). Then, once you have fallen in love with Jamie and Claire, you will just need to know what happens to them, their children, their grandchildren and their best friend the Duke who also is madly in love with Jamie but eventually ends up married to Claire.

        1. Ms. Anonymity*

          I’m so excited for the t.v. series! I love the books and I loved the Battlestar Galactica series that the director doing the series did. I think it’s going to be a win, win!!

    20. Jen RO*

      I finished Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse as part of a book club. I want those hours of my life back. I wanted to slap the main character from page 2 til the end….

    21. Felicia*

      The Princess Bride – I couldn’t finish the book or the movie. I was just bored. The whole time I was like “wft? What’s happening? I don’t like this. Why do people like this?” Also The Lord of the Rings…judging by the other books/movies I like, you’d think this would be a book I’d enjoy. But no. I tried really hard, but I really didn’t like The Lord of the Rings…I was so bored trying to struggle through that book.

      1. LBK*

        Oddly enough I loved reading The Hobbit and then couldn’t make it even halfway through Fellowship of the Ring. The prose in the LOTR trilogy is too flowerly and historical for me. Just get to the damn point!

          1. Chinook*

            I forced myself to finish The Hobbit because I was teaching it to a grade 9 class. When the girls in class (and did divide along gender lines) complained about reading it, I gave them my sympathy and then pointed out that the next book was Agatha Chrisities “Ten Little Indians” which was about a bunch of people stuck on an island, murdering each other and tlaking about relationships – teh exact opposite of The Hobbit (and the guys all seemed to hate that one).

        1. Felicia*

          I think the prose being too flowery is why I didn’t like it…like I’ve read 20 pages and nothing happens! That’s how I felt about the movie of The Hobbit (the only I ever finished, because of peer pressure). It was half way into the movie before they actually went on their epic quest! And in the whole LoTR there’s a lot of walking around and traveling without anything actually happening. That’s also why I didn’t love Deathly Hallows until the end, too much camping.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I couldn’t get through LOTR as a kid, though I loved The Hobbit. I tried it again later and LOVED it. Now I reread it every year or so (doing it now!).

        1. Sorcha*

          Me too! I tried to read it multiple times in high school, gave up in the first few chapters each time, and eventually stopped trying. Then I got dragged to see the first film, fell in love with Middle-Earth, and after ROTK came out I went back to read the books and finished the trilogy between Christmas and Hogmanay that year. Now I reread them every year or so, and can’t imagine what it would be like if I’d never read them.

      3. Eden*

        The Princess Bride has a great cast and great lines. It’s stupid, so I don’t fault you for not liking it, particularly if you didn’t see it when it came out. I love it, but I can completely understand someone NOT loving it, too.

        I agree with you on LOTR. What isn’t boring bloviation is battle. It isn’t for me.

        1. Felicia*

          I wasn’t born yet when The Princess Bride came out, and the first time I tried it I was 21 and I thought it was soooo stupid, I didn’t understand why everyone was telling me it was so wonderful and that I would love it. I’m glad you understand why i might not like it, a lot of people reacted like “how can you NOT like The Princess Bride?” which of course I responded “You do realize it’s really stupid right?” Not faulting you for liking it of course, but you agreed it’s stupid :) I think I read more of the book of The Princess Bride than I did of the movie but I gave up about 70 pages in. If I had been around to see it when it came out , I may have liked it.

      4. SD Cat*

        I skip the first few chapters of the first book of Lord of the Rings when I reread it. It’s been a few years since I’ve read them though.

    22. Laura*

      I finished _Ender’s Game_ but had I known the payoff at the end, I wouldn’t have. It’s VERY well-written. Which means it punched home and horrified me on an existential level, and I truly hate that book now.

      I don’t know the name of it, but a friend of ours loaned us a dystopian superhero novel. I put it down after the prologue. In retrospect, I should have stopped sooner.

      Actually, if it is a dystopia, I probably don’t want to read it. I find them very distressing, and there’s no reason to read fiction if I don’t enjoy it, in general. (Non-fiction is occasionally important even if uncomfortable. I’ll leave the fiction that distresses me for people who enjoy it, though.)

    23. Laura*

      If you are into such a thing, I would actually highly recommend giving the Wolf Hall audiobook a try. I have a long commute, so I have an Audible subscription and listen to a ton of audiobooks. The narrator for that one does a great job and I really loved it.

      As for books I couldn’t finish…my fellow fantasy nerds will hate me, but I absolutely LOATHED The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss. The book has something like 5,000 5-star reviews on Amazon, so clearly I’m in the minority, but man, I hated that book.

    24. Rat Racer*

      Everyone I know loves 100 Years of Solitude but I couldn’t get through it. Also get loud gasps of WTF when I say that I don’t like books by Barbara Kingsolver. To each her own, I suppose…

    25. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      The only book that I’ve ever totally given up on was Don Quixote (UGH). There are plenty that I just don’t maintain enough interest in to finish before I have to return them to the library.

    26. H. Rawr*

      I never used to be able to just give up on books, but based on my list unrated book club books over the last few years, I’ve developed the ability :). I gave up on Love in the Time of Cholera, The Lost Girls, The Dressmaker of Kahir Khana, Winter’s Tale, The Shack, and Stealing Buddha’s Dinner are a few.

    27. chewbecca*

      I DEVOURED Gone Girl, but then the ending came and it made me angry. It ruined the whole book for me.

      I have tried reading The Historian several times, but always give up at the same point in the story, and I have no idea why. I also have never managed to make it through Jane Eyre or Love in the Time of Cholera.

      I used to love the Sookie Stackhouse novels, but gave up after they introduced her nephew.

    28. samaD*

      Bleak House
      I put it down about 15 years ago and keep meaning to pick it back up….

      that’s the only one I feel kinda bad about. there’s others but….it’s the author’s job to make me want to keep reading and if I don’t then either they haven’t done their job or I’m not their target audience, and either way it’s not my problem :)

  19. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

    Game of Thrones – Spoiler Free

    Is it possible to have a spoiler free GoT conversation? Let’s try this, topic: need to watch Game of Thrones to be culturally relevant in 2014.

    I absolutely wanted to watch GoT at some point, but, I found I had to make it a priority to sit down and start marathoning the other week. Between ducking out of conversations to avoid spoilers*, and missing GoT references/jokes that the rest of the world got, it took more effort not to watch than to watch.

    What do you think?

    p.s. I wish I could hang out during the work day but I can’t. I’ll probably not be back to the conversation for a few hours, should one break out.

    p.p.s LOVE the show, love the characters, have bad dreams if I watch more than 3 eps in a sitting.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      the * after spoilers was supposed to lead to a River Song footnote but I changed my mind about the diversion in my post and then forgot to remove the *

      1. Barbara in Swampeast*

        I do like how she says “spoilers” the first couple episodes she is in. But then Moffat ruins the whole River Song timeline. I’m sure he thinks he is very clever, but it gives me a massive headache trying to figure out her timeline.

      2. Felicia*

        I love River Song!

        And I think if you don’t know what Game of Thrones is it’s a little culturally out of touch. I tried to watch it, I really did. I watched the whole first season. But the reason I couldn’t get into it was I’d read all 5 books before the series even started. The books are basically thousands of pages worth of spoilers. So I’d watch the show , but I was never surprised because I knew what was going to happen from the books. And once the show started deviating from the books in very small ways, I hated the changes they were making,, particularly to certain characters. I do really love the books, and I hope the 6th one comes eventually (it’s years between books!) , but when I watch a show knowing essentially exactly what was going to happen it’s boring. Imagine knowing the Red Wedding would happen years before it made it onto the show or knowing Ned’s fate the second you saw him on screen.

        I also hate when people call the books spoilers, although they are, because the books started many many years before the show. And I always end up liking any book better than its screen adaptation.

        1. Rayner*

          I never liked River Song. Conceptually, she was good, but I just… couldn’t gel with her. She was so… everywhere. It was like, “I signed up for the Doctor Who show,” not the “River Song and Doctor Who Show.”

          1. chewbecca*

            I felt that way about Amy Pond toward the end of her run. It started feeling like the Amy Show with a little Doctor thrown in.

            People normally look at me weird because my two least favorite companions on New Who are the two most beloved ones.

            1. Felicia*

              River is not my favourite but I do love her . Donna Noble is by far my favourite New Who companion. I was indifferent to Amy her entire run.

              1. Rayner*

                I love Donna. I loved her so so much, and I sobbed like a baby when she ‘left’ the series.

                I loved her because she was so real, she connected with people – she had flaws, she was angry, she wanted to do the right thing because it was the right thing to do – like in the Fires of Pompeii – not because it would impresss the doctor.

                Amy I liked but didn’t love during the beginning of her first series but I got bored of her very quickly. The way she kept playing with Rory, abusing his trust and him physically, and demeaning him, really rubbed me up the wrong way. Didn’t appreciate it from Moffat.

                1. Felicia*

                  I loved that she was the only one in New Who that wasn’t in love with the Doctor. I love that she said no to him at first. I love that she so obviously grew and changed as a person during the duration of the series, which is why I was devastated the way she left – all of that growth was taken away from her. I loved that she had poor self esteem, a hot temper and an overbearing mother, because I have those things too. I love that she was older and not as conventionally pretty as the others (though I still think she’s gorgeous). I think what happened to her was the worst out of every companion on the show, and it would have been kinder if she’d died. That’s why I read a lot of fanfiction where she’s saved somehow. I basically love everything about her. She’s the most relatable to me. Donna changed so much since the beginning Runaway Bride, yet a lot of the things that made her amazing stayed the same.

                2. Rayner*

                  Can’t reply to you, Felicia, but I love that you love her. I have all the same reasons that I love Donna dearly – Turn Left was definitely one of my absolute favourite heartbreaking episode.

                3. Felicia*

                  Rayner, do you read fanfiction where they fix what happened to Donna? Those are my favourite kinds of fanfic, and I love recommendations! I love Turn Left too, and I think it’s underrated. I think that episode emphasized just how important she was to the Doctor, and even though it’s sad, I liked that she never believed she was anything special or important, because I can relate. And she just seemed more realistic in terms of how a real present day earthling would react to The Doctor. I wish she’d gotten the happy ending I thought she deserved.

                  I was going to actually post here as Donna Noble before I just decided to use my name- some variation of that is in my username a lot of places.

                4. Rayner*

                  @felicia, I did many many many moons ago – I’ve been in various fandoms since I was eleven so that’s a long time now.

                  Still in my early twenties but still. I’ve done my time :P

                  I loved DW world but once I moved away to university, I didn’t own a television which meant I couldn’t keep up with it.

                  My other BBC love was Merlin during my uni years. I needed the mental relief where dragons roam and women wore armour and rode to save their kingdoms.

    2. Del*

      I don’t think it’s a need to do thing — I resisted the urge for quite a while and felt absolutely fine — but knowing at least enough to know what people are talking about is no bad thing.

      I discovered really fast that I don’t have a lot of patience for watching and have trouble with understanding the actors speaking (a combination of accent + often low voices) so I’ve been reading the books instead. Goes faster, goes further, and I can go back and reread all the parts where people I hate come to horrible ends!

    3. A Non*

      I’ve been reading recaps on TV Tropes: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Recap/GameOfthrones (Warning: TV Tropes is an utterly addictive website and will eat your life.)

      I can’t stomach the constant rape plotlines, so reading a recap of a tv show based on a book is about enough distance for me to be able to get the jokes and make small talk without losing the entire day to upsettedness.

    4. AVP*

      It’s *so* hard to avoid spoilers though! This season, I was traveling for most of April and couldn’t get to the episodes for 3-4 days. I thought I was doing a good job of avoiding the corners of the internet that lead to spoilers, but then there was a radio show on in a hotel lobby that ruined a major major event!

    5. Sorcha*

      I haven’t watched the show or read the books, and have no desire to do so, but I pick up enough from being on Tumblr and Twitter amongst my fandom friends that I get enough of the references. I don’t care about it beyond that.

  20. JM*

    Is there anyone out there on “work from home” jobs? I am a senior analyst in IT industry working for a big five consulting company. Looking for opportunities where I can have a better balance between my work and family.

    I know a few employers who allow that in NJ / NYC area? Can anyone guide me on how to seek such opportunities? I wouldn’t mind going to a commutable office 2 days a week or a flexible schedule that would let me leave early and then work from home for the rest of the day.

  21. Rayner*

    Question for all you financially minded people out there:

    What would you suggest doing with significant amounts of money? Like, not just a few thousand, a lot of money – 100k +. Anyone know what investments actually are? I don’t feel like putting it in ‘high risk’ things but what’s ‘low risk’?

    My grandfather’s passing has apparently been compensated for by the universe by coupling it with an inheritance that would be a massive unholy boon to me and my family. But I want it safe and protected – the thought of losing it to some shady shares sales guy keeps me up at night.

    Any ideas? Or just… how /not/ to blow through it in a year? IDK. Does anyone know where the links are to the money posts from a few years back?

        1. Cath in Canada*

          In Vegas last year, my husband and I played poker with an American guy who was the spitting image of Stephen Harper (Canadian prime minister). It was eerie! He was a super nice, smiley guy, which gave me severe cognitive dissonance that resolved itself only when he started taking all my money.

    1. fposte*

      I would turn to the Bogleheads right smart:

      http://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Managing_a_windfall

      They’re more U.S. focused, but I think the principles obtain anywhere, and their wiki in general is a fount of information.

      I’m not clear if it’s being left just to you or not, but if other family members have their own pieces or it’s being left to the parent who’s his offspring, you may also need to accept that some decisions get made that you know aren’t good.

      1. Rayner*

        It’s being divided equally between myself and my older brother. I’m aware that he’s not very financially savvy – he’s likely to burn through a lot of it unless he listens to the mother unit, but I’d like to secure my half of it. It’s enough to purchase a whole house in it’s own right, for God’s sake.

        1. fposte*

          The basic principles that would universally apply: pay down debt save for very low/no interest or seriously long-term, put anything that needs to be available in the next five years or so in something liquid and non-volatile like a bank account, and put the rest toward Later/Retirement.

          Bogleheads also has a UK investing page:

          http://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/UK_investing

          1. Rayner*

            Thank you for the links! Definitely considering at least one meeting with a financial adviser just to give me an idea of the best areas to put my money in.

    2. Jen*

      A reputable financial advisor should help you out but I would imagine that diversifying the investments is the key. Don’t put all of it in one place. Plus, you might want to take $8,000 or so out for each of your children and start a trust in their names so they get some of that.

      1. Rayner*

        No children, currently, and no plans for any since I don’t have a partner either.

        But I’ll take your point about diversifying and getting someone reputable. Maybe I’ll go and look at some paperwork. I don’t particularly want someone from a bank XD Look how well they managed to look after everybody else’s money.

        1. Judy*

          Look for a planner that gets paid by the hour rather than commissions, if you go that way.

          1. Rayner*

            I definitely think it’ll be worth it for at least one session to find out more information and ask all the dumb questions I have – I have zero understanding of finances beyond “I can make rent this month!” and “Damnit, I’m broke.”

      2. fposte*

        Here’s the problem, at least in the US, with a financial advisor: most of them take a considerable amount of money for something you could do yourself, and they will often engage in money-handling practices that bring them more benefit than you. Think of it this way–a safe withdrawal rate at retirement is considered to be between 3% and 4%. If you’re with an advisor who’s taking 1-2% of your assets every year, that’s just cut your retirement funds savagely.

        If you’re putting your money in index funds, you can do that yourself. If you want a financial advisor, look for somebody who will advise for a flat or hourly fee rather than take a percentage. There are a few places that have fees under 1%, and some of them are okay, but mostly you’d need to be a multimillionaire for it to make more sense than just putting it into index funds yourself.

        1. FD*

          In order to do that well, though, you have to be really comfortable with investing and managing your investments, in a way most people just aren’t.

          1. fposte*

            Frustratingly true, and most people end up losing a considerable amount of money as a result. It’s amazing that people who wouldn’t put something in their mouth without reading the ingredients list and quizzing the server on its provenance will blindly stick their money anywhere.

            One problem is that the noise around the subject obscures the fact it’s actually pretty easy to do. The US has complications in the form of the frequent badness of 401ks and 403bs that are secretive about expenses, horrible about expenses, and unavoidable, but the basic challenge, assuming you’re earning enough money, is mostly emotional rather than technical.

            1. fposte*

              To clarify, I mean people lose money because they’re afraid to handle it themselves and let somebody else do it. The number of people in stuff like expensive variable annuities at expensive places like Edward Jones is mind-boggling.

              1. Rayner*

                Unfortunately, when dealing with such large sums of money, and not having any financial experience (not to mention with such large sums of money) people don’t like to be risky.

                1. fposte*

                  And, as so often happens, they end up riskier as a result, because people are not good assessors of what’s *really* risky.

                  As you can probably tell I have a bit of a thing about financial education :-). My students aren’t in a field where they’re going to make a ton of money, and I really want them to have information that allows them to keep it for themselves rather than giving half of their retirement away for what they could do. Some of this is a particularly American problem, because there’s been a big shift away from fixed pensions and toward defined contribution plans (where you put a specific amount of money into an outsourced plan through your employer), and those are unfortunately becoming terrific cash cows for the management companies at the expense of the employees in many cases.

                2. Rayner*

                  I absolutely understand that it’s often better to invest your money yourself, and definitely to at least understand what’s happening to your money (or mine, as the case may be).

                  I just think it’s wise to have at least one or two meetings with someone who is professionally trained but indepedent (not from a bank) so I get someone looking over what I want to do. I have absolutely no experience with money beyond yay, made rent and I’m broke de broke broke broke. I’d someone to at least cast an eye over my figures.

                3. fposte*

                  I’m definitely not trying to discourage you or anybody from meeting with anybody to get advice. Advice is good. Accountants are good. Research is good. Taking your time is good!

                  I *am* trying to discourage people from handing their money over to somebody else to “manage” without understanding more about their own money. Which doesn’t necessarily seem to be you, but I think that’s a point worth making whenever possible for anybody who might read it.

      3. Chinook*

        Jen, since you don’t have any children or a spouse, ensure that you also do up a will. You should also have a will if you do have children/spouse, but not having them means the money could go to the government if you have obvious/legal inheritors whereas the laws will insist it go to spouse/children when you are will-less but it will take a lot longer (and probably cost them money in legal fees).

        1. Rayner*

          *points to self* It’s me, not Jen, I believe this message is for since I’m the question asker :D

          And I don’t have a will now, but I should get around to doing it. I don’t have any spouse or children, or even a partner, so any money after I died would go back up the line to my parent but I’d like to split the money, etc.

          Urgh, money takes /work/. I thought it was supposed to stop making me work.

    3. Colette*

      1. Decide whether you want to protect the money or make more money with it. It sounds like you want something very safe.
      2. Decide when you’re going to spend it. Are you going to withdraw $X/year? Spend $Y this year and then leave it where it is until you need it?
      3. How many people share the inheritance? It will be much easier to split it up now than to get everyone on the same page as far as what you’re doing with it & when you’ll spend it.
      4. Do you want to spend it on something big (travel, mortgage, debt repayment, university expenses, retirement account, etc.) or do you want to use it to bump up your standard of living?

      Generally, bonds are safer than stocks but provide less growth. However, there is variance within both categories. Mutual funds (or index funds) are safer than investing in an individual stock or bond.

      1. Rayner*

        1. I’m willing to take small growth over risky leaps forward. I’ve seen and read too many stories of people being convinced to invest fifty or sixty thousand in ‘reputable’ stocks and such, only for it to vanish in a heartbeat.

        2. I think I’m going to take twenty to rent a property, pay for driving lessons – I’m so overdue with that – cover travelling costs, flying to visit a friend in Sweden because I’ve been trying to do it for a year and a half now.

        3. It’s £200,000, or there abouts, each for me and my brother. Property values in the London area – you would not believe it.

        4. I think I want to use most of it to save – given the UK’s recent shift in mortgages, young people are struggling to get on the market in many many many cities. It would give me a phenomenal down payment for a property – potentially even buying it outright, if it’s small. Whatever’s left can be used to pay for my graduate degree in Norway that I wanted to do in a few years, and then I’ll keep the rest back for retirement.

        Oh God, three years ago, it would have been “HA! A BIG CAR AND ALL THE COMPUTERS EVER!” Now I’m like, “Um. Let me speak to a RESPONSIBLE PERSON AND BE CAREFUL”

        >.> Adulthood.

        1. Malissa*

          If you are unsure what you want to do with it right now, find a bond broker. They can guide you towards bonds that are stable and will mature in the time frame you want. Very low-risk investing.
          Buying real estate so you can live with out a monthly mortgage payment or rent is always a good investment. Even putting a good down payment on something so that your monthly living costs are lower is a good idea.

          1. Chinook*

            “Buying real estate so you can live with out a monthly mortgage payment or rent is always a good investment. Even putting a good down payment on something so that your monthly living costs are lower is a good idea.”

            If you look owning a home as “living rent free/at a reduced rent” vs. as a long term investment (since real estate can be volatile), you truly can’t loose. That being said, remember that home ownership comes with costs due to maintenance, etc.

      1. Stephanie*

        Not being facetious, Personal Finance for Dummies is actually really helpful.

        If you’re just paranoid about the financial industry, read Pound Foolish by Helaine Olaine (sp?). She talks about a lot of the pitfalls in the personal finance industry.

        I also really like the Marketplace Money podcast. You can even call in when they tape and ask things like “Hey, I have a $100k inheritance. How do I invest it wisely?”

        1. Chinook*

          From a Canadian perspective, “The Wealthy Barber” also gives great financial advice.

      2. Bryan*

        I second index funds, you can set up an account through vanguard (it’s where I use). They list all of the feeds and rates of return. Think of this option as long-term though.

        If you want to go safer you can look into high rated bonds but you’re not going to get a good return right now. I just read about college students who bought a couch with $40k stuffed in it, that’s another option.

        1. fposte*

          To clarify, though: 1, you don’t buy bonds (bond funds) for return, you have them as a brake against the volatility of the stocks; 2, bonds have actually performed very well this year.

          Asset allocation–the ratio of stocks to bonds–is what’s key there. That’s dependent on risk tolerance and time to use. “Age in bonds” is an oldie but a goodie. Basically, assume the stock portion of your portfolio will drop in value, possibly precipitously, as well as rise–how much of a drop could you stomach? If you’re 100% in stocks and stocks drop 50%, you’re down 50%; if you’re 20% in stocks and stocks drop 50%, you’re only down 10%–but you also won’t have the same growth.

          This is a great overview of historical patterns for different asset allocations–the maximum loss and years of loss are particularly revealing:

          https://personal.vanguard.com/us/insights/saving-investing/model-portfolio-allocations

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Get some qualified help with this. Put it away for now and don’t touch it until you find a good financial planner. If you know any rich people, ask them who they use.

    5. IndieGir*

      I would say, set aside a bit to blow (maybe 10K?), a bit for home repairs (maybe 15K), a bit for college education for kids (maybe 10K) and invest the rest.

      I would also highly recommend this book, I think you will find it very helpful:

      http://www.amazon.com/Sudden-Wealth-Financial-Emotional-Challenges/dp/1477512357/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1400253860&sr=1-1&keywords=sudden+wealth

      It’s about how getting a bunch of money unexpectedly can create both financial and emotional issues an offers some good tips for coping (although they are not investment tips per se).

      In terms of investing, I’m not very good, so I generally pick what’s called an allocation fund. These are funds geared to different risk tolerance levels — conservative, balanced, growth, aggressive growth, etc. Vanguard calls their funds LifeStrategy, Hancock has a similar product with LifeStyle, and Fidelity calls them Target Allocation. (Note these are NOT the same as a lifecycle fund, which changes its investment allocation as you get older.) I do this because I don’t have the knowledge/energy to find funds that meet my risk tolerance and then keep them rebalanced. This approach has worked very well for me, and if you are adventurous you can Google some, or if not adventurous maybe set up some time with a financial adviser to help you out. It is a large sum of money, so I would probably choose to use an adviser, but do additional research on any recommendations after the meeting.

      Good luck, and congratulations!

    6. Ada M Key*

      I really like the Get Rich Slowly blog. You may find some good information there by digging through the archives.

    7. Artemesia*

      the problem these day is that safe earns nothing (but it is at least safe) and to earn you have to risk it.

      I would put half in a long term CD even though the rates are lousy and half in an index mutual fund i.e. a fund that basically gives you the average of the market. That way if the market continues to prosper you gain and you have a big chunk secured in a non growing but not losing situation.

      It is not enough money to have money management that takes its big cut. It is enough money to provide some security down the road in retirement or in tough times. And there is nothing wrong in spending a chunk on a nice car or nice trip — just make it something you really want to do. don’t let some investment councilor talk you into something you dont fully understand. While this is big money to you, it is not big money in investment terms. So a conservative split like this is a wise way to conserve.

    8. Katie the Fed*

      Are you generally a spender or a saver? Your style before coming into this money is going to be really important.

      I went through something similar – not quite that much but when I deployed I didn’t have any housing expenses at home and basically banked my salary and overtime for a year, so it was way more money than I’d ever had. After paying off my student loans I freaked out about having so much money I decided to put it as a down payment on a house so I couldn’t fritter it away.

      I would talk to a financial advisor, definitely. Give yourself an amount you can spend guilt-free, but tie the rest up in something that you’re not going to touch for a long time.

    9. Judy*

      If you’re talking about investing, I’m a big fan of Scott Burns. He has formulas for “couch potato investing” that can be done through many different fund companies, the simplest being 50% total stock index fund and 50% total bond index fund. His articles are on his website scott burns dot com.

      Our household has most of our investments in Vanguard index funds.

      I’d suggest giving yourself some time to figure it out, and giving yourself a treat, maybe a nice vacation or upgrade something around the house. Depending on your situation, you’ll most likely want to plan how much is debt pay offs vs investing vs current spending (new car, etc).

      FYI, Scott Burns had an interesting article recently about car MPG and investing, and how “investing” in cars with better MPG was like having $X in savings, and it was a big amount. I’m fairly financially conservative and an engineer, so I tend to look at things based on lifecycle costs. Much easier to convince me to replace windows or appliances with more energy efficient ones, than to get the latest wiz-bang gadgets.

      1. Muriel Heslop*

        I second Scott Burns. My dad is a retired financial guy and he also recommends the Motley Fool. He also recommends learning and doing as much as you can yourself as no one cares more about you money than you do. Personally, most of my money is with Vanguard.

        Good luck!

        1. fposte*

          I think Motley Fool used to be better than it is now, unfortunately–it’s doing a lot of stock tips kind of nonsense now.

    10. FD*

      Disclaimer: Not an accountant or other professional finance person. I do, however, read a lot in this area.

      Talk to an accountant. That’s absolutely vital!

      Don’t know an accountant? Ask around–parents, peers you respect, mentors, for recommendations. Talk to one or two, and don’t be afraid to decide that one doesn’t ‘click’ with you.

      When you’ve found one, make sure you fully understand your tax liabilities, both now, and going forward. Remember, in some cases, you may not just be paying taxes on what you inherited but on any returns on your future investment.

      Now, investments!

      In addition to an accountant, you should find a financial advisor whom you trust and whom you click well with. Again, recommendations are key–and on top of that, look at the financial strength ratings of the organization they’re with. Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s are the two main ones–I would suggest not going with anything below an A grade for either.

      Most financial advisers are commission-based, so you want to be wary of anyone who pushes you too hard in one direction. Trust your gut and do your research.

      You’ll want to invest that money in a good, diversified spread of investments. Diversified merely means that you have a blend of all sorts of investments. That way, if any one sector isn’t doing well, you don’t have all your eggs in one basket. In many cases, what you’ll end up doing is investing in a number of funds, each of which will have a portfolio of stocks or bonds within it.

      Put it like this: Let’s say you have $100 dollars (I’m using a nice easy number here). You decide to split that into three funds, like this:

      $15: Fund A, tends to be more aggressive, with higher risk but higher potential reward
      $70: Fund B, which tends to be middle of the road, taking some risks, but not as many, with a moderate potential reward
      $15: Fund C, which tends to be conservative, taking few risks, but with low potential reward

      In addition, each of these funds invests in many different areas, with each fund having some investments in tech, some in agriculture, etc. etc.

      It’s generally accepted that investments ought to be ‘rebalanced’ each year. That means that every year, you buy or sell off to bring your whole investment back to a stable level.

      Let’s go back to our earlier example. It’s the end of the year.

      Fund A grew by 25%, so it now has a value of $18.75
      Fund B grew by 5%, so it now has a value of $73.50
      Fund C contracted by 10%, so it now has a value of $13.50

      Your total portfolio value (the value of all of your investments added together) is $105.75

      Now, you want to keep investing in the same pattern that you did before, which is:

      15% of your investments in Fund A
      70% of your investments in Fund B
      15% of your investments in Fund C

      So in order to do that, you ‘rebalance’.

      You sell $2.89 of Fund A and use that money to buy $0.53 of Fund B and $2.36 of Fund C.

      That leaves you with:

      $15.86 of Fund A (15% of $105.75)
      $74.03 of Fund B (70% of $105.75)
      $15.86 of Fund C (15% of $105.75)

      Make sense?

      (TLDR: Ask for recommendations and get a good accountant and financial adviser to walk you through the process.)

      1. fposte*

        I’ll cavil slightly with your three funds there, FD–you’ve got three managed funds, and you could have the same diversification for much lower cost and better historical performance merely by buying an indexed total market fund. Plus there’s probably some overlap of the actual assets within these funds, and when it comes to diversification, it’s the assets within the funds, not the funds themselves, that are the baskets you’re spreading your eggs among.

    11. Forrest*

      I think when you’re talking about that kind of money, its best to seek out a financial adviser.

      That said, Suze Orman usually recommends paying off any debt first – student loans, credit card, house, etc. Then diversifying by placing it in various places. I recommend setting up trusts for your children if you have them.

      1. Rayner*

        The thing I have is at the moment, I have very little debt to my name so almost all of the inheritance is ‘disposable’. I rent, and have rented for the last three years so no mortgage, I don’t have a credit card debt, I don’t have any car payments, and my student loans will be manageable in their own right when they kick within in the next two years. I don’t start to pay them off until I earn above a certain level, and then it’s a consistent amount every month, not considered bad debt, either since like, 70% of the populous has them. I could probably pay them quicker though… the interest rate is low but it’s still there…. Hmm.

        I definitely think I’ll speak to a financial adviser though. Thanks for the advice :D

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Just my two cents. Pay off the student loans. It seems like a trivial point, but it’s called freedom. As others have said set up a short term savings and a long term savings. The short term is for car repairs and the long term is for a new car/house/big ticket items. Then set up an IRA. (Yes,I realize you do not drive- the car stuff is an example of how the accounts are used.)

          If you have any money left after this then consider real estate. I took a mortgage calculator (internet was not prevalent in those days.)
          I plugged in the monthly payment we could afford. I estimated a high interest rate for the loan. Then for term I put in 30 years.
          I hit “solve for loan amount”. I got a number that was 30% LOWER than what the lenders were telling us we could afford. I went by my number not theirs.

          Not a day has gone by that I have not given thanks for having the insight to do this.

          If we had taken the lenders at their word we would have been in financial trouble so fast. Now on my own, there is no way I would still have a house if we had used that higher loan amount the lenders okayed us for.

          With real estate, KNOW what you are getting into. Realize in all likelihood you will have a loss not a gain. (Real estate is a black hole into which you throw money.) Buy something that is modest for your income level. If you want to upgrade later, you can. If you want a rental property for income, uh… there are easier ways to get an income stream.

          As far as finance advice- talk to a couple professionals. Ask them to write you out a long term plan and make projections about the results they can get you. Compare the plans. Ask questions. Your financial plan should be comprehensive- your retirement, your funeral, your will, and so on. I think when you compare plans it will be more clear who you should go to. And yeah, you can get those plans done for free, but some people will charge you, so watch out.

          When I have inherited money I tried to spend it in a way that was enduring- it would have lasting impact on my life. I thought that was a good way to honor the person who left it to me. The bulk of my inheritances went to my education. Some of it I banked and some when to major repairs on my house. In short, I recommend doing what you are doing- go carefully and think about your long term future.

          1. fposte*

            I think Rayner’s not in the US, so she can’t do an IRA and her loans are going to be on very different terms.

            I would also say that student loans are like mortgages, in that early payoff may have psychological advantages but not always practical advantages, depending on the rate of interest on the loan and what else that money would be doing if it weren’t paying the loan off (in the US, for instance, you’re usually better off putting money toward retirement than paying off a low-interest loan for your early years, because you don’t ever get that compounding power from those contributions again). There are lots of freely shared calculators for things like this around the web, so it’s worth using them to run some comparisons.

            1. Rayner*

              Very much this.

              Student loans are, in the UK, low prority debts, if that makes sense. You don’t have to repay them if you’re not earning above a certain level (I think it’s about £21,000 off the top of my head), and the interest on them is so low, it’s not a horrific drain.

              In addition, they’re not counted against you as much as a high interest mortgage, or an overdraft.

              If you have a choice of a debt to keep and one to pay off, you’d be better keeping the student loans one, and paying off something else.

    12. Apollo Warbucks*

      If I came in to some money I would

      Clear any debts and mortgages

      Invest in a buy to let property

      Invest in treasury bonds or high interest saving accounts, but they mean not having access to the money for a number if years, but they are very safe investments

    13. annie*

      I think everyone’s given you some good ideas here. The only one I would add is take a small portion and treat yourself in some way that your grandpa would have appreciated – a gift, a gadget, a piece of jewelry or watch you’ll remember him every time you wear, a trip someplace he would have liked you to have been able to experience.

      1. SaraV*

        I agree with treating yourself in some way or another…a trip, a piece of jewelry, etc.

        My opinion is that any debt = bad debt. So if I were in your shoes, I would payoff all debt, including the “impending” student loans.

        One thing I didn’t see specifically said while skimming through…place 3-6 months worth of expenses into a savings/money market account for an emergency fund. Don’t consider this money as an investment, but more like an insurance plan.

        1. Rayner*

          In the UK, student loans count differently. They’re from the government, have a very low interest rate, and you pay X amount of your pay towards it, relative to how much you earn – over a set limit – 21k, atm. Most people have them, and they don’t count negatively against you so much when applying for loans etc.

          So although they’re debt, they’re not bad debt.

          Although, saying that, given that I don’t have any other forms of major debt, maybe I should put away the fifteen thousand and knock it on the head.

          And I like your ‘insurance policy’ idea. I should definitely get that in motion as soon as I get that money in.

      2. Rayner*

        I have to admit. I found a round the world trip in 100-180 days, give or take, between £20-50,000. I know I can’t take it now, but if I saved and saved, just before/after I do my graduate degree… maybe I’ll sign up for it.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, definitely have some crazy money. Get it out of your system. Pick something meaningful to you and just do it.

        1. Rayner*

          I decided that somehow, I’m going to do a three to six months trip around the world. It would be the ultimate tribute to my grandfather’s memory.

    14. Tmarie*

      I really love Vanguard. There cost ratio’s are decent, and they have all sorts of investment choices. I had my company 401(k) through them, and when I was laid off a couple of years ago, I rolled it over to an IRA.

      I assume you can invest “real money vs. retirement money”.

  22. C Average*

    I’ve read some of the posts in the archive concerning team-building exercises, and I sense I’m speaking to a sympathetic audience here.

    Yesterday, my manager announced that some of my team’s international counterparts are coming here for a summit in August, and she’s begun putting together the agenda.

    She spoke to our whole team about it, telling us that after doing a personality analysis (which is fine with me–I view these things kind of the way I view horoscopes) and some related activities on Day One, we’ll be playing volleyball, rock climbing, and possibly doing a circuit-training activity similar to one we did for a company-wide activity last year. We’ll also be going out in the evenings for things like ping pong, arcade games, and karaoke.

    Then she mentioned that she was open to other ideas, too, including us participating in a management training class she took last year of which she’s spoken highly. (It’s something our company offers for managers and those who are interested in management.)

    I blurted out, “I’d love to do that! I’d so much rather do that than play volleyball or do circuit training.”

    She then said to me, “I know you hate stuff like that, but I expect everyone to participate because I think it’s a good opportunity to be vulnerable together as a team.” She then started talking about how children play and play is good and we need to learn to be open and vulnerable like children and we can somehow achieve this by playing volleyball and doing circuit training together.

    So yeah, I DO hate stuff like this. I’ve participated in the past, reluctantly and ineptly and without much in the way of enthusiasm. I tried to put on a decent game face, but the whole thing honestly gave me scary junior high PE flashbacks and I found it all pretty unnecessary.

    I’m not sure I want advice here–I’m mostly just venting–but really, what do you do when your manager knows you hate this stuff but plows on ahead with it anyway? What can I do to be more open-minded about this, short of a stiff drink before the festivities?

    I bring plenty of vulnerability to the creative work I do with my team. We take risks, we seek and get brutal feedback, we learn new skills and fail upward at them until we improve. Why must I also be vulnerable on the volleyball court and the climbing wall?

    And what’s this nonsense about kids and playing? Gather up a random group of eight kids, tell them they’re playing a certain game at a certain time and they’re gonna like it, and see how well THAT goes. The whole essence of play is that it’s relatively undirected and the kids choose the activities they actually find fun and the companions with whom they wish to play.

    I find the whole concept dumb, undignified, juvenile, and contrived.

    Are these activities designed to make us long to return to our ordinary work life full of meetings and spreadsheets and office politics? If that’s the aim, it’s working.

    1. OriginalYup*

      “be vulnerable together as a team”

      Oh good lord. I would have rolled my eyes so hard they would have fallen out and bounced away. You so have my sympathies on this. I’ll play along to be a good sport on most of these types of activities, but honestly — “be open and vulnerable like children?” FFS. Hire kindergartners to do my work then, see how that goes.

    2. Rayner*

      My suggestion is your manager is a idiot. And very unfair.

      I mean, there’s something to be said for giving people a choice of a physical activity, or even saying, “Guys, I’d really like it if you could come up with something to do in relation to this, even if it’s not actually playing on the team.” But it’s something else to insist because ‘children would do it’.

      The work place is not a place to be vulnerable. It’s a place to be competent, learn new skills, be productive, and (in a smaller capacity) be vaguely social.

    3. Esra*

      Oh god. It’s not just you, a lot of people would not enjoy those other activities. The idea that you need to be more vulnerable at work? No. Nooooooo.

      How does the rest of your team feel about it?

      1. C Average*

        I think two are probably fairly enthusiastic, one would put on a cheerful face for anything because that’s how she rolls, three are indifferent, and one is grumpy about this just like he’s grumpy about everything else. (That’s the U.S. team.)

        I can see the Japanese person drawing unflattering conclusions about Americans, the Chinese person enthusiastically joining in, and the European person back-benching it with me and teaching me how to swear in Dutch.

    4. Sunflower*

      The word vulnerable does NOT belong in the work place unless you’re 1. Counselor/social worker or 2. Talking about a system or product.

      I CAN’T EVEN.

    5. Jennifer*

      Unfortunately, I think the answer to this one is to SMILE FUCKING SMILE and fake that you are enjoying it, even if you get hit on the head with the damn volleyball five times.

      I hear your pain because man, I’m so sick of having to play stupid games to “get to know you” or whatever (though “being vulnerable” is a new one). At what point do I get old enough to not have to do this stuff? Ninety-five?

      1. C Average*

        I’m gonna write “SMILE FUCKING SMILE” on my hand for this event and look at it every time I need a reminder. Thank you!

        1. Marina*

          Best advice, from working in customer service for too long… imagine that “FUCK YOU” is written really big right on your front teeth.

    6. Judy*

      We’re engineers, so our “play time” team building generally revolves around making structures for a given purpose with tinker toys or something. (Think robotics without motion usually) I do think that interacting on a different level is valuable team building, but you need to do it in ways that everyone is comfortable. And that’s usually half a day of a 3 day team building, near the front, before you get down to strategy sessions, etc.

    7. Brett*

      Volleyball, circuit training, and rock climbing? Amazing job of picking some of the best ways for people to hurt themselves (and I saw this as someone who does MMA in my spare time).

      Circuit training is not even fun. But someone is going to get hurt with volleyball and someone could get seriously hurt with rock climbing (wall climbing would at least be a much better substitute).

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I can just see me laying in a hospital bed for weeks. I wonder if that would show enough of my “vulnerabity” to make this boss happy.

    8. AVP*

      I agree with your general point and outlook, but I think at this point, you know you’ve been heard by your manager and she has decided to do it her way, so you need to accept that this is Part Of The Job, have a stiff drink, beg off of whatever part of it you can or that you hate the most, and get on with it.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        And here is why I LOVE this blog.

        Seriously, OP, I bet you can find a good chiropractor that would write you out for this time period. No thinking doctor is going to believe this is a good idea.

      2. Shell*

        Alison, you’re so awesome. :D

        C Average, I’m sure you can find an elastic bandage and wrap your ankle for a couple of days…

      3. Windchime*

        For sure. As someone who still has to occasionally wear a walking boot six months post-surgery, I would anticipate a terrible Achilles flare-up that would make it impossible for me to participate. Such a shame.

    9. Rat Racer*

      No advice to share, but I’ve got a good/miserable team building story for you: My last manager was self-admittedly “not a people person,” but felt that team-building was important because she read it somewhere. She hired this *awful* consultant to come to our leadership team meetings and engage us in bonding exercises. The exercise was that we had to walk around and shake hands with each other while music played. When the music stopped, the person left not holding a hand (we were an odd number) had to dance to “I’m a little Tea Pot.”

      I got stuck without a hand, I nearly broke down under the weight of that humiliation. My boss’s response to my obvious cowering: “I’m afraid some of us have low self esteem.”

        1. Rat Racer*

          And if you knew how much money she spent on that guy – dollars given to us by members to pay for their health insurance (this was at a health insurance company – not my current one though) you would seriously vomit.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        “I’m afraid that some of us just have incredibly crappy bosses.”

        I think I would have been singing my own song, not the teapot song.

        “… take this job and shove it, I ain’t working here no more….”

        There’s other songs that are even better.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      Rock climbing. That would be a deal breaker for me. At 50 plus y/o and having several issues with my spine, I might get hurt just considering rock climbing.

      Honestly, I read this stuff and I have no idea how people are able to get through and hang on to their jobs.

      This is the type of story that would have terrorized (yes, an emotion out beyond fear) me in my 20s and 30s. Now my answer is NO. And if I get fired, then so be it.

  23. Holly*

    More of a rant than anything – my new boss, who’s been in his position for a little over a month now, is driving me crazy. Specifically, he keeps coming by to ask me basic Marketing 101 questions (he’s the VP of Marketing…) and to have me make decisions for him/validate his decisions. This happens a good 10-15 times a day, and it’s severely interrupting my ability to do my job (writing – concentration is important.) This is when he isn’t just grabbing a chair to sit behind me when I’m mid-type.

    He’s my manager so there’s nothing I can do about it, but it’s really driving me batty. I feel like he’s asking me to manage from the backseat, which isn’t helping.

    1. Biff*

      May I recommend you brush up your resume? A weak manager can usually hold things together for about 6 months to a year, but after the year mark, people start realizing there is a vacuum and the jockeying to fill it starts happening. Cliques form, people that don’t want to play sides hunker down and the office environment becomes a swamp very quickly thereafter. It’s rare that you can manage from the backseat like this.

      However, in the meantime, why don’t you ask your boss to do a scrum-type meeting everyday. Say something like “Hey, I’ve noticed you have a very hands on approach and you’ve been really good about getting my input. Can we schedule a short daily meeting — about 10-15 minutes to cover things for the day? I feel like that would serve us both really well.” This way, you can focus and be productive (which will get you a better recommendation when you leave.)

  24. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I want to talk about aging! I’m noticing that celebrities who are about my age (I just turned 41) are starting to look noticeably older. Which must mean that I am too. And I’m also starting to get pretty unsettled by looking at photos of celebrities who I’ve always known to be old but seeing them when they were young — they look like completely different people … which must mean that at some point I will look like a completely different person too. I mean, it’s not like I look like I did when I was 20, but there’s a much bigger difference between, say, 30 and 70 than there is between 20 and 40.

    I’m wondering if you maybe start caring about this less as you age. Or is it a slowly unfolding physical horror show? I feel like I need one of those books they give pre-teens about puberty to tell them what to expect, but for old age.

    1. Jen*

      I’m 38 and I feel ya. TBT photos on facebook are making me realize how much I’m aging and changing. I look at older photos of myself and wish I had appreciated at the time how thin and young I was but of course I only saw the flaws back then … which makes me realize that 15 years from now I’ll likely see photos of myself when I’m 38 and think “Why didn’t she appreciate how young and thin she was!” so I’m trying to just hang with it. And I wear sunscreeen.

      1. Sunflower*

        This!! I’m 25 and of course, nit-pick everything about myself. I already look at every line and think ‘OMG IT’S STARTING!’ I try to remind myself this is probably the best it’s getting for me so I try to appreciate what I have the best I can.

        I was watching a TV show last night where this woman asked a guy ‘Do you ever think about growing old with me’ and I was thinking I’ve definitely thought of spending my life with another person but I’ve never really thought about what we’ll look like in 40 years

        FWIW this mother’s day I saw lots of ladies my age post pics with their moms and I thought their mothers all looked beautiful still. I found myself thinking ‘I really hope I look that good at that age!’

    2. Bend & Snap*

      I’m 36 and this bothers me a lot…mostly because I look at women my age and think they look old.

      Having an older husband and being a new first-time mother means that I feel a lot older than my years.

      It sucks and I don’t know how to combat it! I care a LOT about how old I look and seem.

    3. Colette*

      I’m a year older than you, and in the last year I’ve run into two people I know well but haven’t seen in a few years, and they do look noticeably older – but I don’t see it in myself or people I see frequently.

      I’ve never really cared a lot about that – aging beats the alternative – but there are still a few areas where it is painful. (Pretty sure bifocals are not too far away, for example.)

      1. Jen*

        Yes to this! I will be walking down the street and I’ll see someone and think “Oh that looks like Katie from high school – only like an older lady version of Katie.” and then this middle aged lady will say “Jen?” and I’ll realize she’s thinking the same thing – looks like Jen but a middle aged version of me.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Needing multi-focal glasses made me simply furious–but I’m not complaining about the bifocal contacts, because I spent the last year trying to use distance ones and had to use readers for EVERYTHING. I can see now and I won’t have to juggle the damn readers when I go on vacation.

    4. fposte*

      It’s somewhere between the two. One problem, though, is that the people we see most intimately do tend to be celebrities, and we see them either photoshopped/post-productioned or polished to a fine gloss (that’s why I love the shopped/not shopped photo comparisons, where you realize that many celebrities look pretty much like your co-workers).

      I have found that some stuff that bugged the crap out of me initially I’ve adjusted to; the more lasting annoyances are things that are legacies of my own folly, like sun damage. Also, in the early curve of life you tend to assume (correctly) that physiological weirdnesses will subside, and as you get older they start to aggregate more.

      I’ll also say that the older I get, the more I can see people’s young selves in their faces in a way I didn’t when I was younger. That’s not even limited to people I knew when they were younger–I see a balding talking head and I often see the boy he was very clearly at the same time, because I have more experience with the way aging looks now.

      1. LCL*

        I take solace in my tattoos-it makes me feel good to know I am marking up my body instead of Father time.

        If I suffer some age related indignity, I tell myself “well, at least this is happening to (worst enemy) also.

      2. Vanessa*

        I was on the Metro yesterday and saw a woman reading a book called The Upside of Aging! I have no idea if it’s any good, but perhaps you should check it out.

      3. KerryOwl*

        I do that all the time! I’m always imagining what strangers look like when they were kids.

    5. Eden*

      I know what you mean about looking like an entirely different person. I’m not sure when that happens, or whether it’s so gradual you don’t notice. I do see that I’m starting to have some age-related facial changes, at 45 I am starting to have jowls. Maybe it’s because they’re just emerging, but I don’t care nearly as much as I used to. In my 20s, I obsessed over tiny imperfections, and at like 120 lbs, thought I was fat. Now, I mostly just want my clothes to fit and my hair to look brushed.

      The way I combat caring too much about it is to think about how many people don’t get the opportunity to grow old. I think it’s a privilege to be permitted to hang around on this planet and age.

    6. Mimmy*

      Can’t really say about celebrities, but I’m 40 and have begun to think about how different I look compared to even 10 years ago. I’ve always seen myself as looking young for my age (which my whole family is blessed with), but seeing all the splotches and freckles, especially on my face, is making me cringe. I’ve never been really good with makeup, so now I reallllly need to learn if I’m going to feel good about how I look when I want to look professional or if I’m going to a special event.

      Also, I have a giant crease above my nose from years of squinting (vision impairment), and I hate, hate, HATE how it looks! My husband calls it a permanent scowl.

      Not sure I answered your question Alison, but I’ve been needing to vent about this.

    7. Joie de Vivre*

      I’m 48 days away from my 40th b-day and very much in the same boat. I can’t seem to watch TV without obsessively googling people to see how old they are and then try to figure out if they look older or younger than me.

      Not really a great pastime and seems to be feeding the panic more than easing it.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      I’m about to turn 49 and no, you don’t stop caring about it, at least I don’t. But that may have something to do with the fact that I’m still single and trying to break into a field where my face could be on the back of a book. So I’m busting my ass right now to get in better shape and eating better too.

      Everyone in my family looks at least ten years younger than they are, and I routinely have people think I’m younger. But that won’t last forever.

    9. Artemesia*

      I’m 70 and have always looked youngish for my age and still am comparatively youthful (well until I let my hair go gray at retirement and now wear it ‘up’ because it is easier) I don’t have much in the way of wrinkles. When I look in a mirror I do see an old lady which is such a surprise since I am still the same person inside I was at 24, but I also find myself totally at peace with this. In fact, I find myself the least anxious and happiest I have been in my life; I know the horror shows lie ahead i.e. one or the other of us will die or get whatever grim thing will eventually carry us off and be debilitated — no one gets out of this alive. But in the short run at least life is an immense pleasure and I am totally comfortable with the way I now look.

      1. KnitWorthy*

        I’ve been spending a lot of time this past year with my grandmother and her friends who are all in their 80s and 90s. They are all in decently good health, but have aged differently. I do find myself somewhat hoping that I will look “youthful” in my old age, because these some of these women really are strikingly beautiful. Would be nice anyway.

        But when it comes down to it, what I’ve appreciated most is how youthful they really are because of their attitudes. They are just so comfortable with themselves and joyful to still be meeting new people (the benefits of a nice retirement home). And at 26, I know this what I can have to look forward to, which is so much more refreshing than worrying specifically about how I look.

    10. Katie the Fed*

      As my dad always says, “it’s better than the alternative.”

      So I try to look at aging as a luxury – I TRY to be happy that I am aging instead of, ya know, dead.

      But…yeah there are a lot of indignities to it as well.

      I think the reason celebrities are so shocking is because they spend so much time and effort fighting it – plastic surgery and whatnot, and eventually nature wins and you’re like “WHOA!” whereas it’s a more gradual process for most of us.

      I definitely tell the difference when I look in pictures from my 20s now. And I wish I’d worn sunscreen. ARgh.

      1. en pointe*

        Yeah, and I’ve always thought that gradual, natural ageing that most regular people go is generally more graceful and looks better than the manufactured alternative.

        I don’t know, I just don’t perceive natural physical ageing as that scary or bad. I realise that could change when it starts to happen to me, but I hope not.

    11. C Average*

      I’m 40, and to be honest I’m way more creeped out by celebrities who have looked the same for their entire careers than by those who are starting to look a little long in the tooth. What the heck do they do, drink formaldehyde in their coffee?

      For most of my life I’ve looked forward to being the slightly bohemian Woman of a Certain Age with a little grey at the edges and a classic, not-trying-to-be-a-hipster wardrobe! I am totally embracing middle age.

    12. angie*

      We’re the same age and yeah, similar boat. I loved some of the comments – particularly fposte and Eden because we’re so similar in age. I think it’s increasing my empathy. When I was in my late 20s, I worked with a group of women in their late 40s. They would talk about physically feeling their age (popping knees, harder to get up once seated, less strength) and I thought either they were exaggerating or that I’d be immune. They weren’t and I’m not. One nice side effect of aging is that I am more comfortable in my own skin–I know what I have to give, I’m more passionate about investing in my relationships and mentoring kids (my own and others’) than I’ve ever been. Also, from a fashion sense, I do and wear what I want–Iris Apfel-style–and I just don’t care what people think as long as I make myself happy. I go to movies and eat by myself (with a book for company) from time to time, just to recharge. And, I’ve given up running for long walks. I notice and appreciate more around me, people included. Aging is an unsettling and unfamiliar landscape for sure, but I”m finding some good features and hoping I’m going about it gracefully and with good humor.

    13. en pointe*

      I don’t know, I realise that this attitude might very well change as I get older, and I’d be interested to hear if anyone else felt like this when they were younger and ‘grew out of it’, but I’m genuinely not worried about ageing in the future.

      It just seems like something that’s so natural, and that happens to all of us. I notice when people start to age, but I don’t really perceive it as a “physical horror show”, or even a big negative at all. I mean, I don’t want to look like them now, because I’m not even 20, but I don’t have a problem with looking like them when I’m their age.

      I have an elderly neighbour who I help to manage her medication, and I realise this sounds super corny, but I think her face has character. No, she’s not conventionally beautiful in the way she once may have been, but beautiful in the sense that her physical appearance is like a marker, a result of all the years she’s lived (and representative of the myriad of experiences she’s had within those years). It’s like a physical reminder that she’s seen so much more of life than I have and she has the most amazing stories (some touching and some quite inappropriate!)

      So yeah, I realise that story is a little corny, and I’m open to the possibility that I may be less welcome to ageing when it actually happens to me, but from my current perspective it’s just not something I’m scared of.

      1. LMW*

        I felt the same way when I was your age, but now that it’s actually starting to happen, it is a little annoying. Not devastating, but I was surprised that I was actually a little peeved to find that first gray hair and that the wrinkle between my eyebrows doesn’t go away after a nap. The most annoying thing though, is the slowed metabolism. I didn’t think that was real and it totally was!

        1. fposte*

          Yes, I had more more equanimity about it before it started happening. And I’m still cool with the overall concept–it’s just that some of the manifestations are ones I could do without.

          It’s always good to cultivate friends much older and much younger, I think; I did deeply amuse a 94-year-old friend the other week by telling her how old I felt.

    14. Brett*

      I was friends with Mario Lopez in junior high (we were in the same junior wrestling league). I cannot figure out if it is demoralizing or heartening to know that he is the exact same age and background as me, because he is on his way to being the next Dick Clark.

      Oh, the dimpled freak is the same age as you too Alison :)

    15. KarenT*

      I’m 31, and I’ve been noticing the same. Not that I think I’m old, but the teen stars that I grew up idolizing aren’t looking so young these days!

      1. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)*

        Know what’s worse? When you’re reading YA and you realize the parent characters are more interesting than the kids.

        1. chewbecca*

          And that the kids you’re supposed to sympathize with are actually being unreasonable and making really bad decisions!

        2. Collarbone High*

          I saw an e-card on FB yesterday that pointed out that Chandler and Monica’s twins would be 10 now, Emma would be 13, Phoebe’s triplets would be 15 and Ben would be 19. Mind = blown.

    16. Vancouver Reader*

      I admit, I care less now at 45 than I did when I was 20. I wear a lot less makeup too (& therefore spend less time) and feel better for it.

      I don’t look at the J. Anistons of the world but rather the Judi Denches & Helen Mirrens and think that’s what I want to be like when I get to be their age.

    17. Jess*

      If it helps any, I’ve been noticing lately that there are plenty of older women (60+) who are still quite beautiful, even though they may look their age – and these are ordinary people too, not celebrities.

      I can definitely understand the impulse to “get work done” but ultimately people just end up looking like they had work done.

    18. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think I’m less freaked out by signs of aging in general and more by the idea that so many people end up looking nothing like themselves after a certain point. When I look photos of, say, my grandparents when they were young, I don’t recognize them at all. I never saw them looking that way, at least not that I remember. It’s just crazy to me how much transformation occurs.

      1. Eden*

        I’m starting my transformation…into my mother. I notice now when I see pictures of myself how much I look like her in her later years. I do notice that some people have a much more pronounced transformation than others…my mom’s mom let her hair go not only grey but white in her 30s, and even in pictures from the early 1970s looks like she did in her 70s-80s.

        1. Kelly L.*

          I look so much like my grandmother. If I got the haircut she always had, it’d be uncanny, other than the fact that I’m a few inches taller than she was.

      2. fposte*

        But I do think some of that is the fact that you didn’t know them when they were young (and there’s a huge difference of era presentation that skews the difference further). People I’ve known all along still look like themselves to me.

        (It’s funny how the “themselves” interpretation is actually not about them but about us, isn’t it? It’s like our memories trump their own identities to us.)

      3. Not So NewReader*

        I keep checking the eyes. Something about the eyes. People change so much, but their eyes give them away. Can’t explain it very well.

      4. QualityControlFreak*

        Hmmm. When I look at photos of grandparents in their youth, I see the same steely dark gaze here, the same sideways smile there. And the bones of the face don’t seem to change much. At 53 I still look like myself. Older, grayer, yes. But not drastically changed. What I find difficult is observing the aging process in loved ones and realizing that we all walk that path. It’s function over form for me. But I’d recognize my granddad’s face at 25 or 75.

    19. cuppa*

      I’m starting to get grey hairs and I can’t decide whether or not I want to start dying it. I’m a little afraid to start down that rabbit hole but I’m not sure I want to start going grey, either.

      1. fposte*

        I’m torn on this, because I actually find it a little odd to see older faces with dyed greyless hair, but I understand the temptation, too

      2. Laura*

        My philosophy (such as it is, I’m only 30) is that since aging is unavoidable, all I can do is make myself look as awesome as possible with what nature/god/genetics gave me.

        I may be getting older but I’m also making more money than I ever have before, so I can afford to spend a little more on nicer clothes, a good hairstylist, nice makeup and skin care products. But that stuff is fun for me – I genuinely enjoy shopping and fixing my hair and putting on makeup – and I understand that that’s not for everyone. But so far it’s actually made me feel better about the way I look than I did when I was in my early 20s, so I hope that continues.

        Also, wearing a perfectly tailored suit or dress will make you look and feel like a million bucks, no matter what your age.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        I color, but I’ve been doing it since I started going gray at 28 (around the time I began showing symptoms of thyroid disease). I read somewhere that premature gray can be a symptom. You can imagine my reaction the first time I found a gray hair!

        Right now it’s still fairly dark red, but I may go lighter when my eyebrows start to lighten up.

      4. CTO*

        I actually think some gray hair is really pretty, even on younger people. I freaked out a little bit when I found my first gray hairs a couple of years ago, but now I kind of embrace them (I’m 27). I’m actually jealous of my friends around my age who have darker hair, because their gray hairs make really pretty silvery streaks.

        1. Judy*

          My first year of being a girl scout leader I had a 6 year old girl spout out during a discussion “How do you get all those pretty silver threads in your hair?”

        2. Windchime*

          I’m in my early 50’s, in a field that typically attracts younger people (IT). I do color my hair. I’ve got a lot of gray, but if I didn’t color, it wouldn’t be a lovely silvery gray. It would be mousy and dull brown mixed with tons of gray. So I color.

          As for the “not resembling their younger selves” thing, I think that it really makes a difference if you’ve known the person in many stages of life. I can look at a picture of my dad when he was 8 years old and still see the resemblance to the 70-ish guy he is today. Same with Mom or my siblings. Some of my classmates look quite similar today as they did in high school; others, not so much.

          I was in an airport restaurant the other day and there were two older ladies working as wait staff. Both seemed very fit and healthy. The lady who was helping our table had a kind face with many wrinkles, a soft hairstyle and a pretty smile. The other lady had harshly colored hair and her skin was so tight and shiny-smooth that she looked kind of scary — she had obviously had a lot of work done. To me, the lady with the natural wrinkles looked more beautiful and natural.

          Not sure what that has to do with this discussion, actually. But maybe the reason that some of the celebrities look nothing like their younger selves is because they’ve had so much plastic surgery that it would be impossible to look anything like what they would otherwise look like with normal aging.

      5. Esra*

        Highlights, friend, highlights. If you just colour it all, you’re stuck with that forever. But highlights a touch lighter than your natural colours will blend the grays and you don’t really notice as it grows out.

        (I’m 31 and my mom and grandma were almost all white by 45. I highlight. F aging gracefully.)

      6. samaD*

        this is going to sound weird, but I was happy when I found my first white hair! I was around 30, but my parents greyed early & my brother started greying at 17 and I was feeling left out :)

        can you get a temporary colour (one of those 1-week wash-out ones) and see if you like the effect?

    20. Noah*

      I found my ID card from my freshman year of college recently. Never realized how much different I looked at 18 than I do now at nearly 30. I know there will be an even larger gap between 18 and 70, but even 10 years seems to make a difference.

      1. fposte*

        My work ID photo is getting close to twenty years old now. I really should change it just because it looks kind of pathetic otherwise.

    21. Mephyle*

      I found that it was all good up till about 53 (four years ago), and then there is a big divide. My crepey neck, my furrowed brow, my droopy jowls – aggghhhhh.
      On the other hand, a lot of parts of me hurt now, and the bright side of that is that it distracts you somewhat from thinking about how you look.

    22. Ursula*

      I’m 47 and didn’t really start caring about aging until I went back to work a few years ago. The thing is, I look so much like my mother that I’ve got a pretty good idea of what I’m going to look like in 27 years. I take much better care of my skin than she has over the years, so I may not have the same amount of wrinkles at 74. What worries me more than wrinkles is overall health. My mom is in great physical and mental shape. She hikes once a week with other women her age who are also intellectually minded, takes zumba classes, travels, and volunteers regularly. I need to make sure I continue to be active and use my brain in different ways so I can be like she is.

    23. Not So NewReader*

      What gets me is the 20 y/o babies. They were just babies yesterday, what happened? I haven’t changed… much… okay some…okay, radically. Then I make me stop. This is what old people do, they talk about how big the babies have gotten. yikes. I have a list of “things old people do” inside my head. I have been making this list all my life. My vow is not to do those things- EVER. (We will see how this goes…)

      I think in my 20s and 30s time stood still. I never felt older- I mean aches/pains and I never thought about being older.

      My 40s it hit me that I will age just like I see others around me aging, I knew that right along, but some how I had to rediscover that.

      I actually like the age I am at and am generally content about whatever age I am. Each decade has it’s advantages and disadvantages. At 53, I no longer care about aging. And I have noticed a huge difference in the way my peer group treats each other- there seems to be a gentleness and respect that was not in place before.

      I will say that more than ever, I realize the choices I make now will effect my quality of life in 20-30 years. I think I am more aware of my choices than I have ever been. And I do try to remember the choices of people before me that did not work out so hot. Pick something different.

    24. Kelly L.*

      So many weird feels about aging! I noticed a few years ago that I look older (more fine lines and such) than any of my siblings. And I gave myself hell for looking “like a hag” (in my own mind) compared to them. And then I thought…but I am the oldest. I’ve simply lived more years on the earth than they have. What’s the alternative to my aging first–one of them living such a rough life that they catch up, visually? I don’t wish that on my siblings!

      With most people in my life, I’m continually surprised by how almost everyone looks younger than i thought “X years old” would look. I used to think I just knew a lot of vampires, but now I think we just have skewed ideas about what the ages look like, based on people who lied about their age, and on previous generations who smoked and spent more time in the sun.

    25. Lora*

      No, you do not stop caring. My mother is 72 and is itching for YET ANOTHER facelift.

      Definitely keep on with the sunscreen, though–I have super-pale redhead vampire skin, thus have always worn sunscreen religiously to keep from bursting into flames, and I regularly get carded (OK, thank you botox too). Meanwhile these women younger than me who are all about the tanning bed and not enough exercise get offended when people think they are MY age.

      Here’s what seems to make the difference, at least for me:
      -I eat ridiculously healthy 95% of the time. My favorite foods are yogurt w/ crunchy things in, kale chips with garlic salt, fresh fruit, baked sweet potatoes and smoked salmon with goat cheese on bagels. And lacto-fermented pickles with Szechuan peppers. Don’t ask me why, I hate steak.
      -I exercise A LOT. I love running with my dogs in the chilly morning air, doing yard work, yoga. We’re talking a solid 6-12 hours per week.
      -Sunscreen, botox (just a little around the eyes, not the weird mask-looking thing)
      -Teeth are bleached and even. When you & I were kids, unless your teeth were downright BAD, parents often didn’t buy braces. Now that’s so normal that all the young people have perfect teeth. It makes a difference.
      -Exfoliate and moisturize, even if your skin is naturally kinda greasy. I noticed my skin got this weird rough texture as I got older, and makeup kind of sinks into the wrinkles and pores. I get acid peels and exfoliate daily, and put Pond’s around my eyes and Neutrogena retinol cream on the rest of my face and neck. It seems to help, the fine lines really are not noticeable at least. I use BB instead of regular foundation as that also seems to be less cake-y.

      The exercise thing helps me move gracefully and comfortably–people I think of as looking old move stiffly, clumsily, shakily, like they are constantly suffering some kind of arthritis even when they’re not.

      Seems like the big determinant is really bone structure though. My great-grandmother looked practically the same from age 20 to 50 (she died young-ish), the only thing that changed in photos was her hair going from light brown to grey. It was a cheekbones/jawline thing. Same with my grandmother and aunt.

  25. thenoiseinspace*

    Yay! Okay, so I have two questions. Last week I interviewed for a position and the interview itself was…odd. I came prepared for every question and had tons of work samples that were directly related. When the interviewer said they needed someone who would be creative and take the initiative, I showed her samples of a project where I’d done just that. She was really impressed, but then got very quiet. I asked her if she had any concerns about my candidacy, and she replied, “Honestly, I think you’d be bored.” I did my best to assure her I wouldn’t be, but I was a little thrown by the comment. How should I have answered it? Has anyone encountered this before?

    Second, after the interview, I was emailed a test. I completed it and sent it in (again, via email) on Tuesday night. Stupidly, I didn’t request a delivery receipt (or whatever it’s called) and I haven’t heard back from her yet saying she received it. I don’t want to seem pushy, but on the other hand, if the file didn’t send, I don’t want to seem like I just forgot/blew off the test and didn’t do it. Suggestions, anyone? Is a “just checking to make sure the file sent” email three days later too obnoxious? I don’t want to be a pain and screw up my chances… :/

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I asked her if she had any concerns about my candidacy, and she replied, “Honestly, I think you’d be bored.” I did my best to assure her I wouldn’t be, but I was a little thrown by the comment. How should I have answered it? Has anyone encountered this before?

      I’ve said that to candidates before, and it’s because I really meant it and wanted to be transparent with them. I don’t want hire someone who turns out to be bored; it’s too likely to affect the kind of job they’ll do, how long they’ll stay, etc. When I say it in an interview, I’m looking for a thoughtful response from them so that we can have a candid discussion of that.

      1. Jennifer*

        What kind of response can you give to that to talk someone out of that impression, though? It kind of sounds like the interview is doomed.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It really depends on the context. I’ve been swayed before, when someone was able to show that they fully understood the nature of the job and to compellingly explain what excited them about it.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            This for me also. I have two kinds of “bored” jobs.

            One is entry level in a field where it’s not easy to find a job. The job I offer is reasonably boring and doesn’t ever get any better. There’s a small chance of moving onto non-boring projects but I never even mention that because I don’t want to get hopes up. What will sway me is hearing somebody repeat back an understanding of what the job entails and tell me that they’ll be pleased enough to do this every day because (my life is hectic and I’m hoping for a job with routine and predictability, or, I’ve just graduated college and I want to do this for a few years to get resume experience, etc.)

            My second bored job is a passage to a reasonably exciting one. What sways me with this one is, again , a repeating back of what the job entails showing a clear understanding of the conditions and then an overall interest in the nature of what it that we do. I can’t ask them to be excited about the job itself, but if they have a spark about our business and convince me that they are committed/sticky, I’m swayed.

    2. Dang*

      I’ve gotten a few rejections because “I would be bored” also. Unfortunately it wasn’t at a point where I could even address it; I’d already been rejected.

    3. kdizzle*

      Ah yes, the “I think you’d be bored” comment.

      I must give off some kind of vibe about this, because about 40% of interviewers say this to me.

      Honestly, I’d take it mostly as a compliment that you’re presenting yourself as a high energy, dynamic kind of person.

      You have to figure out why they think you’d be bored. After hearing that comment, I do try to find out a lot more about what the typical day / week / month / year looks like for the person in that role. If they say that there’s 5 months of “slow-time” or “down-time” I know wouldn’t be interested. And I would be bored. Thank you for telling me.

      If they think I’d be bored because the job involves a lot of duties that a typical person might find boring, but I find engaging, I’ll allay their fears by telling them what a giant nerd I am (e.g. As a hobby, I collect daily data about myself: hours of excercise, weight, hours of sleep, mood, cups of coffee, etc….and then run regressions to determine effects of small lifestyle changes. A little spreadsheet work on the job? I’d love to. )

    4. LQ*

      I’ve had this said to me once. I would have been bored in the job. We had an honest conversation about advancement in the position and I came to the decision that the position wasn’t a good fit for me.

      I referred them someone else for the position after I declined it and they interviewed her and she did very well. They also contacted me quite a while later for another position that would have been more engaging for me.

      I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I think that if you are in a position to really honestly pick the best job for yourself (not I’ve been unemployed for too long and need something NOW) it is a sign of a good employer, someone who honestly cares about fit and is willing to critically examine things. It might also mean the job isn’t that exciting, doesn’t have much diversity, or doesn’t have advancement opportunity and those things seem important to you.

    1. Sunflower*

      I usually wear it half up, half down or all down. I think its fine to wear it pulled back but anyway I like my hair up, doesn’t look professional. A low, pulled back pony looks good too but I only like how I look if I leave my hair over my ears and it’s a little uncomfortable. Whatever you do, just don’t play with it!

    2. Kai*

      For long hair like I have, I think a neat bun is good, or putting it half-up with a barrette. My instincts would be to avoid a high ponytail (too little-girly) or leaving it all down, unless you can guarantee that it won’t get messy.

    3. Rayner*

      Something that’s not too complicated to fix if something happens to you – sudden wind, sudden rain shower, you stumble, you don’t want your hair to fall down and require twenty minutes and a blow dryer to repair.

      I like low pony tails but that’s about all I can manage without seven attempts and four mirrors.

      Nothing that looks too hard, so buns, pony tails, half ups with a barrette.

    4. Sascha*

      I have long, thick hair that gets frizzy easily, so I opt for a bun. It’s just too long to wear comfortably with a suit, especially during the summer.

      When it was more shoulder length, I would wear it down and straighten the hell out of it, and that looked nice.

    5. anon in tejas*

      I have a shoulder length bob currently– so down. But I always wear my hair down for interviews, even when it’s been longer or shorter. generally blown out straight.

      1. Shell*

        Usually either a bun or an updo. I use Goody’s spin pins or modern updo pin, respectively. I’m a total hair idiot and the updo is the absolute pinnacle of hair arrangement I can manage.

        My hair looks decent down, but it can be very inconsistent about how well it’d keep the freshly washed/blown dry look I put it through in the bathroom. Wearing it up is just more consistent…plus then I can’t play with it.

    6. Anonymint*

      When I had really long hair, it was corkscrew curly and unmanageable so for interviews I would do a french braid – it looked put together and kept everything contained.

      However, now I have a pixie cut (that I normally wear crazy and curly) but when I was interviewing for jobs I’d kind of part it and comb it with some gel (more like a man’s haircut).

    7. Mimmy*

      My hair is a bit past my shoulders, but like Sascha, gets frizzy if I don’t blow dry and put serum on it. I usually wear my hair all down because I’ve always been self-conscious about my hearing aids. However, my new hearing aids are more discreet, so I should think about trying a half-up, half-down look. Hair bands are a good option too, but they’re not comfortable for me.

    8. Jennifer*

      Mine gets pulled back in a clip as tightly as possible, barrettes and hairspray. Basically old maid hair without a bun. I already have long hair and look young, so I attempt to mitigate that the tiny bit that I can.

    9. TotesMaGoats*

      I have long and prior to my pregnancy very thick hair. FYI, you hair totally falls out when you have a kid. Stupid hormones.

      I would typically wear mine down and curly. Sometimes, on very humid days, it would go in a french twist. I could see a high ponytail in certain industries with the right kind of outfit. They can be super sleek when done well.

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        Did you give birth recently? If so, your hair might go back to how it had been. Each individual hair has a “lifespan” after which it naturally falls out and is replaced by a new hair. During pregnancy, though, the hormones put all the hairs on hold and none of them fall out on schedule. Then, after birth, a lot of hairs “realize” that they’re overdue and all fall out at the same time. New hairs start to grow in, but it takes a while before they’re long enough to matter.

    10. Natalie*

      I have curly hair that’s roughly shoulder length. Usually I just wear it down, with maybe a little more oil on an interview day to keep it from being frizzy. If I was interviewing somewhere really conservative I might pull it back into a twist, but that hasn’t really come up yet.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        Curly hair here too, except that it’s not long enough to put up. Really the only thing you can do with curly hair is cross your fingers that it’s not going to have one of “those” days (people with curly hair will know exactly what I mean. My hair has never looked exactly the same two days in a row, and there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to which variables will set it off. And I’m a scientist who’s been trained for decades in spotting the effects of changing variables).

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        I’m in the middle of growing out my hair from a pixie (9 months in, and it could almost be called a bob!). I can’t wait until it’s long enough to do stuff like this.

      2. German Chick*

        Thank you :) If you search for “retro bouffant”, ” chic updo” or “gibson tuck” on youtube, you get videos which explain how to recreate these styles fairly easily.

    11. cuppa*

      I keep it up for interviews, too. I have unpredictable hair and I tend to play with it when I’m nervous, so I keep it up to prevent any issues on both of those fronts.

    12. Anonymous*

      I’ve always worn mine down and straightened. I actually wear my hair that way everyday!

      I try to do a better job when I have interviews though.

    13. Arjay*

      Never underestimate the power of a professional blowout. I can never do a thing with my hair, but a professional wielding professional tools can make magic happen. And that magic can really help with self-confidence and appearance.

    14. Stephanie*

      Ok, my answer is probably overly specific for my situation, but maybe this could be useful to someone. I have a schmedium Afro.

      My hair size tends to change based on the climate (usually bigger if it’s more humid), so I usually just wear it loose and deal with whatever curl pattern or volume I happen to have at the moment.

      I did get it pressed once when I interviewed at a Big 4 audit firm, because I was worried about the conservative culture. I don’t think I’d do that again. It took a long time since my hair’s so thick and it felt really weird to have straight hair again. Plus, I suppose there’s the whole principle of the thing.

  26. Ann Furthermore*

    In early this time!

    This is totally non-work related, but I’m so happy with how it turned out I just have to tell someone.

    I’ve been really trying to cook healthier meals for my family, since my husband was diagnosed with Type II diabetes about 6 months ago. He’s done a great job of laying off the sweets, cutting out junk food, and so on. My part of that is to try and cook healthy food that still tastes good. I’ve been trying to cut out processed stuff wherever I can.

    I love a nice casserole — it’s the ultimate comfort food. But it’s usually made with canned cream of something soup, and OMG have you ever read the list of ingredients on one of those cans? Ack!! Anyway, I found a recipe for homemade cream of chicken soup that was just flour, milk, chicken broth, and spices. I made some a couple weeks ago, froze it (it froze very nicely), used whole wheat flour and 2% milk, and then used it this week in my favorite casserole. And it was SOOO good! I’m so happy that I’ve found a way to get one more processed thing out of my pantry.

    1. Sascha*

      That is great! Can you share the recipe?

      I’ve been trying to cook more healthy things, too – many days neither of us have enough energy to cook so we eat out a lot. I tried a new dish the other day and it turned out great. Simmered chicken breasts in chicken stock with some sauteed onions and leeks. It didn’t take much time to prepare and it turned out delicious!

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        My comment with the link just disappeared into the ether — no moderation or anything. But you can find it on this blog called asouthernmom.

    2. fposte*

      Congratulations! And to encourage you to step further away from the Cream of Whatever, I’ll give a big recommendation for America’s Test Kitchen/Cook’s Illustrated here. Even if you’re not into the geeky recipe-perfecting part, you end up with the closest to foolproof recipes that any source offers. I think a lot of times people cook something more from scratch and it doesn’t taste worth the effort, so they’re put off; ATK/CI stuff is almost always worth the effort. They’ve modernized very nicely to be more streamlined, and they have some cookbooks particularly geared to simplicity or short prep times–see if your library has them.

      I actually do a ton of soup-making and -freezing just for lunch, and I think it’s the handiest damn thing ever.

      1. Sascha*

        Thanks for the tip, I definitely need to check that out! I get put off by long prep times, cutting up lots of things, etc. I love fresh veggies and home made meals, but…effort…

      2. Sparrow*

        I love the America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Illustrated books. I have several of their Cooking for Two books, which is perfect for me and my husband.

        Speaking of casserole, I saw a recipe for Chicken, Broccoli and Quinoa casserole on the food blog Pinch of Yum. It uses a similiar homemade cream of chicken soup rather than processed stuff.

      3. Ellie H.*

        I love ATK. It’s so satisfying for someone who likes the whole idea of science experiments and controlled trials, plus great food. The podcast/radio show is a lot of fun too.

      4. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        The Cook’s Illustrated Best 30-Minute Recipe book is great for weeknight meals. A lot of the recipes have ingredients in them that you might not have in the pantry, though, so it’s good to plan ahead.

    3. anon in tejas*

      Best Light Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen has some great recipes. I really love the Chicken Rice Broccoli cassrole. I also like Smitten Kitchen’s sausage, tomato rissotto. I throw so many veggies in there, it’s not so much rissotto, and I’ll use kale instead of spinach.

      Good for you! Keep it up!

    4. krm*

      That sounds really good! I would definitely recommend checking out the blog “Can You Stay For Dinner”. It is written by a woman that has lost and kept off over 100 pounds. She is very realistic about indulgences and moderation, and also doesn’t use all kinds of crazy ingredients. I absolutely love her recipes, and cannot wait to buy her cookbook when it comes out this year!

      1. Sparrow*

        I like that site too. Lots of good recipes! Another good one is Skinnytaste. She posts calorie info and Weight Watchers points.

  27. CanadianWriter*

    My summer job is supposed to start this weekend, but it’s still cold enough to snow. I might have the long weekend off, for the first time in ages.

    1. The IT Manager*

      Woohoo! Your definition of cold is different than my definition. Cold front game through yesterday and we had highs in the 80s today and low humidity. Awesome. :)

  28. Blue Anne*

    I have my final interview for a Big 4 job early next month! The interview is going to be with a Partner. Eep!

    I’m feeling pretty confident, but if anyone has relevant interview experience, it’d be much appreciated. I get a little intimidated when I think about how much Big 4 partner time gets billed out for… and they’re spending an hour of that on me…

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      It depends so much what job it’s for and what level you’re interviewing at?

      Make sure you know the firm and the service line as well as you can, do plenty of research.

      Read the job description a number if times and be able to demonstrate with examples how you can do the job.

      Be able to talk about the the biggest recent business news stories locally, nationally and internationally.

      Check out glass door as there maybe pervious candidates thoughts on the interview process you can

      Prepare for questions like tell me about a time where something that didn’t go to plan, you worked as part of a team, you had a disagreement at work.

      Make sure you have questions to ask at the end about the company and the job.

      1. Blue Anne*

        Thank you for this! It’s for an entry-level Audit position where they’d be giving me a training contract, so I’m hoping there won’t be too many technical questions. (Which glassdoor and wikijob have backed up, thank god.)

        Definitely need to spend some time reading the FT and getting to grips with the different services offered.

        Slightly nervous…. eep.

        1. De Minimis*

          I’ve worked for Big 4 on the tax side, but I imagine audit has similar interview practices. From your description though it sounds like it might be a little different. I met with a partner for a first round interview, then was invited to the office a few weeks later and interviewed with a second partner and a director.

          Big 4 tend to look more at behavioral fit than specific experience, their logic is that they can teach the technical stuff. The number one trait they really seem to want is someone who is adaptable to a fast-changing environment. Actually, not just someone who can adapt but someone who prefers that type of environment. There will probably be a lot of “tell me about a time when…” questions.

          Anything that shows that you can multi-task is good, like working while in sch