wet Speedos in the office, my manager has gone AWOL, and more

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

1. My coworker keeps hanging a wet Speedo on his office door

I work in a department of eight women and one one man, in a company with many more women than men. My male coworker is very good at a his job and has been there many, many years. Since I’ve been there (not as long as him, but still a substantial amount of time) I’ve witnessed a certain habit of his. I guess he swims before work, and when he gets to the office he hangs his Speedo on the front doorknob of his office to dry. I mean, that’s gross, right? It especially bugs me for a few other specific reasons: 1) He hangs it by the crotch. So if I ever go into his office when he’s not there I stand there for a second thinking about how to open the door to avoid touching any leftover Speedo crotch residue. (Using an elbow is usually pretty effective.) 2) He sits right by the kitchen, so anyone on their way to make coffee or get their lunch can see it, and it seems unsanitary to have underwear you swim in next to where people eat. 3) His office is carpeted, so the water just drips right onto the floor, day after day, which doesn’t seem like it can be that good for the carpet?

I’ve brought the issue up to my boss, and she’s laughed it off as it’s the way he is, and the sentiment seems to be the same throughout the rest of my department. There was even one day when a coworker went into his office and accidentally knocked it over and she joked about how she wasn’t going to pick it up. (Ew.) Am I being too squeamish/uptight/germaphobe-y for finding this whole thing unsanitary and creepy? Is there anything else I can do?

I think creepy is overstating it, but I’m with you that it’s gross.

Why not just be direct? As in, “Hey, Bob, it’s gross to see your Speedo hanging on your doorknob. I can’t even open your door without touching the crotch. Can you please hang it somewhere else?”

Beyond that though, if your boss doesn’t care, there’s nothing else that you can do. But I’d start with a clear, direct request to the perpetrator.

2. My boss is missing in action

My coworker and I work in a small regional office with a direct boss and the two of us. Our boss has stopped showing up to work. Most days she rolls in an hour to two hours late, and then leaves within a few hours for lunch. Some days she returns several hours later for an additional hour or so, other days she never comes back. One day she just never showed up.

At first we assumed she had personal problems and we cut her some slack, but it has been six months now. We finally mentioned this to the head of the company because we were getting concerned, people outside the company are noticing, and we couldn’t cover for her anymore. The company head was not happy, but seems a bit incredulous. They asked if she could be at meetings, or otherwise engaged in management activities, but there is nothing on the calendar, and we can verify by talking to people at other companies that she is not present at events. We can not find record of any work she is doing beyond checking her company email. She delegates everything else to us.

The head of the company has asked that she start writing a weekly report and this week she turned in a report claiming credit for things other staff did, and reported on meetings she was not at as if she were (“So and so said to say hi”). She is either making it up or a colleague at another office passed on the message out of courtesy to the company owner. An admin accidently sent us the report, so we don’t really feel we can reference it to the owner.

We don’t want to seem like we are piling on, but this is getting ridiculous and morale is at a severe low. Her solution to the boss asking her to take a more active role is to try to recruit more interns. She literally asked some of our customers if they wanted to pitch in on projects. What should we do?

All you can really do is keep your manager’s boss in the loop. You started doing that by alerting her that what’s going on, but you haven’t finished — there’s still important information that she doesn’t know. I’d go back to her and fill in the rest of the highly relevant details here — that she’s writing reports indicating that she was at meetings that she wasn’t actually at, that she’s reporting she did things that others actually did, and that she’s asking customers to help on projects (!).

You report all of this matter-of-factly, not emotionally. From there, it’s up to her boss to decide what to do. But you don’t need to hide anything on your manager’s behalf — and in fact shouldn’t.

3. Company paid for interview travel — and now wants to be paid back

As a finalist for an out-of-state position, a colleague traveled for the interview, and the hiring company paid for airfare and hotel. Once offered the position, my colleague declined based on concerns regarding the hiring company, including comments made during interview process. Now the hiring company is contacting my colleague demanding reimbursement for flights and hotel. My colleague has since accepted a position with a different out-of-state employer.

I have not heard of a company seeking reimbursement from a candidate. Are there legal ramifications if not reimbursed? If my colleague reimburses the hiring company, has the opportunity to write these expenses off as tax deductions been compromised since the check is written to hiring company, and my colleague has no receipts for airfare and hotel?

In my opinion, a cleaner way to handle would be only to reimburse expenses upon acceptance, rather than paying up front. This just seems shady.

What the hell? No, this isn’t okay. They presumably agreed to cover these costs and didn’t warn your colleague that the bill would revert to her if she didn’t accept the position. They can’t change the terms of that agreement retroactively just because they don’t like the outcome. And they certainly have no legal grounds to demand repayment, assuming there was no agreement to the contrary — which is a reasonable assumption since that would be so bizarre. (While not every employer offers to cover interview travel costs, those that do don’t make it contingent on accepting the position if offered. They cover them, period, or they don’t cover them at all.)

Your colleague should say something like this to the employer: “I’m afraid there’s been a misunderstanding here. XYZ Company agreed to cover the costs of the interview travel. We didn’t discuss any reimbursement in the event that I didn’t accept the position. I appreciate you covering the costs, and wish you the best of luck with your new hire.”

If they still continue to push after that, she should say, “Our arrangement was that XYZ Company would pay these costs, and I’d like to stick to that agreement.” And then she should stop responding, because this is shady as all get out, and they’ve got no standing here.

4. Using knowledge of a friend’s salary when discussing pay

I have a phone interview coming up. I know about the job because I have a friend and former coworker who works the same exact job. We have somewhat similar job histories when pertaining to the type of work the job entails. I want to be prepared for the salary question, but I have never had to answer it before. The problem is I know exactly what they offered her and how she negotiated and what she received because I was close to her when she got it. Is it safe to assume the range would still be the same?

Yes, very safe to assume that. You should absolutely use that to inform your thinking (without mentioning her specifically, of course).

5. Recruiter said asking about contract extensions would be disqualifying

My mom is currently trying to find a new job after being employed for about 15 years with the same company. She had an interview today at a drug company for a contract position. When she met with the recruiter, she was told not to ask about the possibility of the contract extending past December when it runs out. She was told that if she did, she’d be immediately removed from consideration.

This seemed kind of strange to me, but I’ve never done contract work. Is this common practice? My parents are trying to relocate, so it was something she really would like to be able to consider if she does get offered the position.

It seems a bit harsh, but it sounds like they’re trying to ensure they’re not going to end up with someone who’s half-expecting the contract to be extended and who then will be upset/disappointed if it’s not. It’s also possible that the recruiter way overstated the message.

{ 356 comments… read them below }

  1. Artemesia*

    For 4, I would say something like, my understanding is that the usual compensation for this type position is X to Y and with my experience, I would expect to start near the top of the range. Where X is slightly below your friend’s salary and & is about 5% above that (if her salary was negotiated in the last year.)

  2. Shell*

    As a swimmer myself (though not as dedicated as OP#1’s coworker), I don’t really see it as a huge deal. I mean, having Speedo’s hanging about isn’t the most proper and I’d rather not handle it, but that’s in the same vein that I wouldn’t want to handle someone’s bra, which (usually) doesn’t have “residue.” Honestly, the only residue you’re likely to handle is a lot of chlorine residue from the pool. And unless he doesn’t wring out his swimwear at all, I really doubt a little drip here and there will affect the carpet–there’s probably far more damage when someone spills a mug of coffee/tea/water.

    Ask him to use a coathanger and hang it on the back doorknob of his door. Problem solved!

    1. Jennifer*

      But he’s stripping and leaving his wet crotch cover at work? WORK? And the boss is just all “ha ha, boys will be boys” about it? Really?

      I had a terrible thought: hang some limp uncooked bacon on top of his Speedo. I don’t know why I thought this, but if logic and reason aren’t working here you might as well try something stoopid.

      1. Shell*

        Well, I’m assuming he’s changing in a changeroom, either at the pool or in the bathroom at work. So that’s a non-issue for me. But yeah, to me swimwear is kind of in between underwear and, say, a t-shirt. They’re all against the skin so is kind of intimate. Bras and shirts have far less chance of…residue (well, unless the woman is lactating, but that’s a tangent), but given all that pool water really the only thing on their to any great extent, in my opinion, is just chlorine water.

        I mean, I get the visceral reaction of not wanting to touch it, but I honestly don’t think there’s anything to worry about, body fluid wise. It’s not professional to have it hanging on the front of your door, but I honestly think tucking it out of sight with a coathanger on the back of the door would be the end of it.

        1. Jessa*

          This, it shouldn’t be on the door knob, that’s kind of, the guy just can’t not understand how squicky that might be for someone. Also wring the thing out. It should not be dripping. If it is, roll it in a towel. Seriously chlorine water dripping around is not a good thing.

        2. FiveNine*

          It’s on the front of his door and not the back because he doesn’t want to look at it while in his office. This guy.

          1. BB*

            Hanging it on his door knob is obviously very strange but why do you think there is something that makes him not want to look at it? I just find the idea of not wanting to look at a swimsuit, especially your own, a little odd

        3. Cat*

          I’m with you. It’s not something you should hang on your door knob at work and that guy should knock it off, but that’s largely for aesthetic reasons (i.e., nobody wants to stare at his speedo and the carpet is getting wet). Youou’re not going to contract a disease from touching the door knob and it certainly isn’t going to exude particles that will contaminate food in the kitchen some feet away.

          1. Ellie H.*

            I also agree, it’s kind of unappealing because nobody wants to look at laundry in the office, but not precisely unsanitary.

    2. CoffeeLover*

      People get really germaphobic when a speedo hangs on a doorknob forgetting that:
      a) the chlorine in there probable kills most of the germs
      b) far too many people don’t wash there hands after using the bathroom (among other things) so the amount of germs on every doorknob you touch is colossal

      If anything, your coworkers doorknob is the cleanest one in the office thanks to all that sanitizing chlorine :)

      1. Rayner*

        Doesn’t change the fact that he’s hanging up his speedos that have been around his junk on the door handle, where other people have to touch or be skeeved out. Or can I hang my bra on the door handle, just because it’s ‘not as gross as the bathroom door’? :P

        1. Nina*

          My thoughts exactly. I’m not going to hang my freshly washed bra on my very public office doorknob because it doesn’t belong there. Period. It doesn’t matter if it’s clean or dirty, no one should have to touch it in order to leave my office.

          1. AMT*

            Right. It doesn’t have to be perfectly rational. A freshly-sanitized vibrator might be squeaky clean and germ-free, but don’t put one in the office dish rack and expect your coworkers not to freak out.

            1. Elysian*

              This is the best analogy. We can all stop now, because this explanation wins the comments.

            2. The Real Ash*

              Years ago, one of my mom’s coworkers found a paper bag someone had left in one of the stalls of the women’s restroom. It contained an obviously-used vibrator. My mom was voted to be the person to explain what it was to the sweet little old lady secretary who had found it, as she kept asking what it was.

              1. Jamie*

                Easy – an electric ear cleaner…(what movie was that from?)

                But wth? I would love to know the thought process that went into bringing it to work and leaving it there.

                1. Jamie*

                  THANK YOU! I’ve only seen a handful of movies so you’d have thought I could narrow it down.

                  That was bugging me.

        2. CoffeeLover*

          True. I’m not saying its not a bit weird, but OP is saying she can’t open the door as a result and that seems a bit silly to me. Also it would be more like hanging your swimsuit. Bra’s are more personal than swimsuit, and the man isn’t hanging his boxer briefs on there :P

          1. Rayner*

            Uh… It’s been cradling his junk for an hour +. It’s personal, trust me. I don’t care if it’s been in chlorine, it does not belong in the office. Same as I wouldn’t dangle my clean underwear on the office door knob. Just because it’s ‘sports’ wear, doesn’t change the fact it’s gross and immature to hang it up by the crotch at work in a place where people can’t avoid it.

            It doesn’t matter if it’s a swimming suit, or underwear. If it touches your bits, it does not belong in public. If he must hang it up, he should to do in his office, away from others.

            1. OP1*

              OP1 here. Exactly, Rayner! I honestly don’t care how sanitary chlorine is, it’s the cradling junk stuff that skeeves me out.

              1. KrisL*

                Agree with what Rayner and OP1 said – it’s not the personal sanitation so much as the ew factor. And to have it on the door handle where someone might have to touch it – extra ewww!

            2. Sunflower*

              I will say he probably does have to hang it up. I used to swim a lot and leaving it in bag will cause the suit to get a weird, crusty feeling. It also makes the chlorine eat through the fabric a lot quicker. I like what someone recommended below about offering a command hook and he can hang it pretty much anywhere else in his office

              1. the gold digger*

                You don’t have to leave the suit in the bag. You do what I did when I used to swim before work: you rinse it, squeeze it, then hang it over the towel that you have spread on a hanger. Hang the hanger from the thingie in the back seat of your car. By the time you are done with work, the suit and the towel are dry and nobody is grossed out by seeing your used workout gear in your office.

                1. Sunflower*

                  Also it’s not good to leave swim wear in sunlight as it can fade the suit so that’s also a concern

                2. Anonsie*

                  Or *inside* his office, for god’s sake– he has an inside to his office that is the perfect place for him to hang a dang swimsuit. This is such a simple problem to fix.

        3. Andrea*

          No kidding, I hang bras on my bedroom doorknob. On the inside, though. Like a civilized person. Or something like that.

      2. LBK*

        So if he went into the bathroom, pulled off the Speedo, walked out and handed it to you, you’d have no issue with that?

        It may be technically clean but I wouldn’t want to be handling someone else’s intimate wear. I wouldn’t really want to be handling anyone’s clothes at all while in the office, except grabbing someone’s coat maybe. It’s totally weird even if they aren’t dirty.

        1. Lili*

          It is so over and beyond the lines and ridiculous that I had a really good laugh.

      1. PEBCAK*

        I’m a swimmer, and I would be willing to bet that washes it out after his workout, if not with some kind of soap, at least a very very rinsing. Otherwise, the chlorine will eat through the fabric and make it useless in a very short amount of time.

        In any case, there probably isn’t another good place for him to hang it. If the boss doesn’t care, I don’t see this changing.

        1. Rayner*

          There is. I guarantee, even if he has to hang it on the back of his own chair on the adjuster knob, there’s a better place than the door handle to his office.

            1. Harper*

              Maybe OP1 can donate a hanger to him and, depending on his personality, say something along the lines of, “Listen, dude, hang that thing INSIDE your office, for the love of all that is holy!”

              1. JoAnna*

                My link’s in moderation, but just search for Command Medium Adhesive-Mount Metal Hook, Brushed Nickel Finish. Meg’s suggestion downthread is a good one too.

            2. nep*

              Right — doesn’t his door have a knob on the other side? Or there must be many places in his office he could put it. It’s indeed borderline creepy that he specifically chooses to put it on the outside of his office door.

              1. OP1*

                From what I can tell the back of his doorknob is where he hangs other workout gear. Which makes it all the weirder that the Speedo is in a place of prominence while his shirt is tucked away from all the people who walk by.

                1. AnotherAlison*

                  Is this an urban location? I ask because I just leave all sweaty workout gear or swim suits in my bag in my car. Yes, they’re gross when I get home, but I wouldn’t think of bringing them inside work. However, even if I was in an urban location, it seems weird to pull all my stuff out of my bag at work and let it dry.

                2. Meg Murry*

                  Sorry, I forgot links put me in moderation. Ask if you (AND the Speedo guy) can have over-the-door hooks with multiple hooks on them ordered for your office doors. They have quite a few available from Staples.

                3. Colette*

                  It’s probable that the other workout gear is bulkier, which makes it more likely to fall off – having it on the outside of the door would probably result in it being in a heap on the floor all the time.

            3. AAA*

              I’m going to gross some people out with this comment, but…
              I ride my bike to work, and usually have a very sweaty sports bra that I like to dry out before putting it back on for my ride home. (I bring fresh skivvies, so I don’t worry about drying the bottom half). I usually place my sweaty sports bra on a hand-towel under my desk by my feet, laying out flat to dry. (and sometimes my shirt too.) That way it is able to dry out, but hidden from the general public’s view. It’s always dry by the time I put it back on in the afternoon. I don’t see why the same thing wouldn’t work for a speedo.

              1. The Other Katie*

                It doesn’t gross me out, because it’s under your desk and not on your door knob!

            4. Mallory*

              Or even the door-knob on the backside of the door, not the public (er . . . pubic) side?

        2. FiveNine*

          He can hang it on the inside of his office doorknob but he doesn’t want to because he’s a tool.

        3. neverjaunty*

          If he has a door, he has another good place to hang it. As others have noted, you can get a wide variety of over-the-door clothes hangers for a pittance. (In fact, every office I’ve ever worked at already HAS one of these on the door, because they’re so useful, left behind by a previous employee.)

        4. Andrea*

          Yeah, I agree—he’s got to be rinsing it out, otherwise it wouldn’t still be dripping wet by the time he gets to the office and hangs it up. He’s got to be rinsing it and maybe washing it, too, after he takes it off, otherwise it would just be damp, not dripping.

          But I disagree about the location for hanging it—there has got to be a better place to hang it. On the inside of the door, so that he sees it and touches it all day, if nothing else. He can get one of those command hooks or a magnetic one to stick on a filing cabinet. There are other options that would be considerate and professional, but he just doesn’t care. That’s not acceptable.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          I bought one of those handbag hooks from my local Euro shop. They don’t require attaching to anything, which squashes the Banned-from-making-holes-in-the-wall excuse.

          1. Elle D*

            If he feels odd buying a purse hook, another inexpensive option that won’t leave a hole are the 3M command hooks. They sell them at Target, Walmart, etc. My boss has one in his office for his sport coat. The large size (which tends to stay up better) costs $5.

            1. Youth Services Librarian*

              The first thing that sprang to my mind was the old dorm room “sock on a door handle” and I’m thinking so….what does a speedo on a door handle signify?

              I’d just roll my eyes and ignore it, especially since it sounds like you’re the only person complaining? But I have no gross factor (which is how I ended up being the official toilet plunger of the library)

            2. Poohbear McGriddles*

              It takes a special person to have the boldness to hang his damp shorts on the office doorknob, but get all weird about buying a purse hook. It doesn’t seem like anyone is suggesting he not dry his trunks, just that he not do so on the outer doorknob that everyone has to see and occasionally touch. Seems like there should be several better solutions.

              1. BCW*

                No one has to touch it, that much has been made clear. If he hung it somewhere in his office, people could still see it.

      2. Artemesia*

        I would assume that he is doing it precisely for that reason. There is no such thing as accidental when someone is repeatedly doing something crotchtastic that squicks other people out. He enjoys making people uncomfortable. (I am assuming since the boss has commented to let it be, that he is not unaware that it squicks people out.)

        1. Colette*

          The boss is aware. I don’t see anything indicating that anyone has said something to the person who is hanging up the speedo.

        2. MJ*

          This was my thought. He’s the only man in an office full of women and he puts the crotch of his swim trunks where the women have to touch them in order to enter his office. That’s intentional and beyond gross.

      3. Arbynka*

        This. I worked as a receptionist for a huge hotel for one of my summer jobs while in school. The staff bathroom back then did not have a soap dispenser, just good ol’ bar of soap on a little plate. I went to the bathroom once, went to the sink to wash my hands and the soap had pubic hair on it. Hells no. Never crossed my mind I could get sick from it, quite frankly it was “I do not want to touch the soap after you rubbed your crotch with it.”

    3. Fabulously Anonymous*

      I used to swim before work. After I got out of the pool and showered, I put my wet suit in a plastic bag. I didn’t have time to go home before work. If I left my wet suit in the bag all day, it would get moldy. The suit has to be allowed to dry. I dried mine by taking it out of the bag and spreading it over one of the headrests in my car. There’s lots of different options.

      1. Traveler*

        This is interesting to me that one person is arguing that the chlorine would kill everything, and another person saying that it would get moldy. If it kills everything – wouldn’t that include mold?

        1. Bea W*

          If you leave a wet article in a place where it can’t air out and dry it gets pretty rank after a few days. Not sure about mold. It certainly would not have that issue hanging on a door knob.

        2. GigglyPuff*

          I am definitely not a swimmer since I was a kid, but most people rinse off after being in the pool, which includes their bathing suit. I’m not sure if you didn’t rinse the bathing suit, if it wouldn’t get moldy, be an interesting experiment, but as someone who was swimming a fair amount as a kid, leaving the bathing suit in a bag, makes it gross. Anything that stays wet that long in an enclosed space like a plastic bag, is going to get gross. But it’s certainly not unworkable to deal with.

          But seriously, he could at least get a hanger for his other workout stuff, and put that on a hook on the bath of his door, then hang the speedo on the inside door knob.

          Just curious, does the guy talk about it a lot, exercising, swimming? Wondering if it might just be like a bragging thing? (probably not, but that’s what I thought)

          1. Windchime*

            Yeah, my thought is he wants it there because he wants people to see it. The whole thing squicks me out and is gross.

          2. AnotherAlison*

            Wondering if it might just be like a bragging thing?

            No doubt, he’s training for an IronMan. . .

        3. Mike C.*

          The chlorine evaporates first, while water remains. So while at first it’s nice and clean, it can foster mold later.

        4. Anom123*

          It doesn’t get moldy, it gets mildewy.

          Same way if forget your clothes in the washing machine overnight, they start to smell. It isn’t because they are dirty, it is because the item is damp.

        5. Koko*

          Mold is a bacterium, mildew is a fungus. Chlorine is a great killer of bacteria but is ineffective against fungus.

          1. Anonsie*

            Mold isn’t made up of bacteria, depending on which you’re talking about they’re either fungi or protists.

              1. Traveler*

                So theoretically then if he had some form of fungal infection, the OP has a reason to be a germaphobe here?

                1. fposte*

                  As I said, chlorine has antifungal capabilities. It won’t necessarily kill everything, but his doorknob will probably be a lot less microorganism-y than everybody else’s.

      2. Callie*

        I thought gyms with pools have those little machines in the locker room you can put your suit in that squeezes out most of the water. Not that that gets it all the way dry, but at least he wouldn’t have it dripping on the carpet…

    4. Traveler*

      Yeah, this is just gross. I know there’s been chlorine involved and all but still, no thanks. The biggest thing as everyone has already pointed out is that it should be tucked away if he needs to hang it up. There’s gotta be somewhere in that office. If I were OP I would get him a command hook, a hangar and a purse hook and package them up. Depending on how comfortable I was with him – I would either leave it on the door hook where he normally hangs it, or just hand it to him as a present and tell him it was bugging me. It would be worth the $10-20 or whatever it would cost to not have to see it.

      1. Anon for this*

        Is it bad that I keep thinking that I saw those Speedos I would cut them with my scissors? That will teach him!

    5. Bea W*

      This is my thought. It’s weird, but pools are so chlorinated there’s probably not any real “crotch residue”. This said, the mental association with someone else’s crotch is skeevy to people. No reason not to suggest he hang his crotch cover on the inside rather than the outside.

      This is less weird than seeing a bikini bottom hanging off a subway pole.

    6. Bwmn*

      I read this question (as a female) and had no “ew” reaction. So I think it may be worth noting that the degree of the aesthetic discomfort that the suit is causing may not be apparent. Also, if the coworker is using the inside part of the door to hang up additional workout gear, his thinking may be that as the suit is the smallest, it’s the least distracting apparel item to hang up outside.

      Particularly if the boss is unphased, I think that telling the coworker directly that it makes someone feel uncomfortable might make a bigger impact. While the boss may not want confrontation on something perceived as a ‘non-issue’ – the coworker may be more moved to not make coworkers feel uncomfortable.

      I have a friend whose boss is an ultra marathon runner, and will run to work change/hang her running clothes in the office to dry. The result is that the office now often smells like a locker room, particularly during warmer months. Things could be far far worse.

      1. KrisL*

        I think it is possible that the co-worker really is clueless enough about this specific thing that he doesn’t get the ick factor. Someone should tell him.

        1. Felicia*

          I think if he’s just clueless then telling him would work, and if he’s doing it on purpose, telling him might also make him stop for just being called out like that. I try to think that if I don’t tell someone something bothers me, they won’t stop, even if it’s the type of thing that I thought would bother everyone.

    7. Jamie*

      Back of the door – exactly Shell – that’s what I came here to type. No one else touches that and it would be out of site.

      And I don’t think it being close to where people eat is unsanitary, I mean we’re all wearing clothes over our genitals in the lunchroom as it is – it’s just gross.

      No one needs to see that.

      1. Shell*

        Yeah, from a propriety and decorum standpoint–and I agree workplaces should have this!–the coworker’s behaviour is…I won’t say unacceptable since the boss obviously doesn’t care, but very unprofessional. I don’t like it either.

        But the OP’s original post (that she’s since amended in the comments) sounds like she’s more concerned about unsanitary conditions, and I’m pretty confident that that’s not an issue here. (Although while I do understand not wanting to touch the swimsuit itself, not wanting to touch the doorknob–which is one further step removed–is a little baffling to me.)

  3. CoffeeLover*

    An admin accidently sent us the report, so we don’t really feel we can reference it to the owner.

    AAM I feel like you didn’t address something. The OP says they don’t feel like they can talk to the company head about the report (that the manager said she was in meetings she wasn’t in and did work she didn’t do) because they weren’t supposed to see the report. Personally, I think you should still talk to the company head about it. I think your manager’s dishonesty is going to trump the fact you got your hands on the report in the eyes of the department head. If anything, the admin that sent it to you may get in trouble, but to be fair, it was her mistake. Though I wouldn’t mention how you saw the report unless explicitly asked.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Sorry if that was unclear. When I wrote “go back to her and fill in the rest of the highly relevant details here — that she’s writing reports indicating that she was at meetings that she wasn’t actually at, that she’s reporting she did things that others actually did, and that she’s asking customers to help on projects,” that’s part of what I meant. Talk to the damn company head.

    2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Even if the OP doesn’t directly mention the report, they could still mention (and thus contradict) things that they knows were in it – for example, saying “Penny was not here on Thursday morning and so missed the meeting with our chocolate suppliers.” That would alert the company head that the report isn’t truthful, and might make them look more closely at other things in there.

      Though overall I agree with you about the manager’s dishonesty being the trump here.

    3. Brett*

      It might not have been a real mistake on the admin’s part either. The admin might have been told by the company head to cc the report over. Seems just as likely as such a fortoitous mistake happening.

    4. Meg Murry*

      If the manager is taking credit for work other people are doing, OP#2 and her coworker should start writing their own weekly reports, even if they don’t submit them yet – because when the manager does go down, chances are she’ll try to through her 2 employees under the bus with her. If the manager has been taking credit for other employees work, chances are she’ll also take credit for her own employees work, so the OP and coworker should keep track of what they are accomplishing.

    5. Artemesia*

      I think this is a serious enough situation that I would ignore that you got it accidentally (uh huh) and say ‘we saw a report she has sent in that seriously misrepresents her work here: she reported being at a meeting she did not attend, she claimed work products that were produced by others, yadda yadda. We are concerned that her failure to be in the office and her tendency to claim she is doing work that she isn’t doing is seriously damaging morale and productivity of our office.’ — the gauntlet has already been thrown so those who did so really need to belly up and follow through.

      And yes, she is likely to try to throw others under the bus, so getting in early and hitting hard is the way to go. The time of ignoring it or pretending you don’t know what she is doing is past.

  4. CanadianWriter*

    The title “Wet Speedos in the office” makes the situation sound so scandalous! I suspected he was modelling it for everyone.

    Still, eew. He should hang it on the back of the door.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      My very naughty grandma used to call Speedos “grape smugglers”. It always made me crack up at the visual.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          I wouldn’t be suprised if my grandmother stole that line from Pauly Shore!

      1. Windchime*

        Haha, I like “grape smugglers”. I’ve always heard them referred to as banana hammocks.

    2. LizNYC*

      LOL, now I have a mental picture of a random older guy with chicken legs (I don’t know why) modeling a speedo in the middle of my office. And I almost snorted my coffee.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      This letter made me think of the charity fashion show episode of The Inbetweeners,. I just watched that the other night and almost fell off the couch laughing.

      1. Diane*

        I get most of my Netflix and Feedly recommendations from this site. Off to look up The Inbetweeners now!

  5. I'm happy yo be here*

    #5. Yes, this is standard. Prior to being converted to a fulltime employee at a bank I was a contractor. It was forbidden to bring up anything like this to the “client”, in my case, my direct manager. They feel this is a direct violation of the co employment clause. You go through your agency to deal with this, as you work for the agency not the client.

    This sucks for the contractor. You must assume that if they wants I extend you, or convert you, they will have to approach your agency. But some clients don’t even want to discuss it because it us uncomfortable. They font want to be reminded that they don’t have an investment in the contractor.

    1. Vicki*

      It may be standard at banks.
      It’s not been standard for any programming contracts I’ve had, and I’ve had several. The client company talked to me first; after I said I was agreeable with an extension, they contacted the contracting company. And no one has EVER said “Don’t ask or you’ll be immediately disqualified.” To that, my response would be “WTH? You’ve got to be kidding.”

    2. VictoriaHR*

      I used to work for a staffing agency, and we did have clients who would not consider anyone we sent over who asked about going full time or extending a contract. The clients felt that that was between them and us, not the contractor. A little unreasonable and not fair to the person actually doing the work, but the agency has to focus on pleasing the client, not the worker.

      1. Chinook*

        “The clients felt that that was between them and us, not the contractor.”

        As a former temp, I have to agree with the client on this, but only because I resented that my last agency would ask me if their client was renewing my contract. Umm…why are you asking me when you are the ones making the money off of my contract? This would be reason number one why I feel no guilt about their client now becoming my client (I also checked to make sure that the poaching was legal. After a year of them profiting off of my work, there was no buy out clause to hire me full-time).

        Every other agency I worked for understood that part of what they do to earn the money is take care of the business details like contract renewals.

    3. Graciosa*

      I think this depends on the confort level of both the contract firm and the customer firm. If everyone is as comfortable as has been the case in Vicki’s experience, it works out beautifully – but that isn’t always the case, and I also understand the prohibition in the sense that this may be out of the contract worker’s scope.

      There can be people designated to handle discussions with customers – presumably people who have the information needed to represent the company in this area – and the company can decide the contract worker is not one of them. Viewed in that way, this “prohibition” is analogous to internal company rules that say you must refer reporters to the communications team and investment questions to investor relations.

      What gets to be confusing (or even upsetting) about this is that the contract worker’s services are the product being sold. If everyone (which includes both the contract worker’s employer and customer) is comfortable speaking along the lines Vicki suggests, that works just fine. However I can envision situations where the any of these three would prefer to have the conversation about extensions with only one of the other two.

      For example, the customer can tell the employer that the worker is just not working out and leave it to the employer to have (or not have) the supervisory discussions about performance.

      Or the individual can tell his or her employer that there is no interest in extending an assignment, leaving the employer to make whatever explanation is appropriate (“I’m sorry, Jane is already placed at another firm, but let me tell you about Waldo”).

      I have been Jane, and appreciated not having the conversation.

      I only turned down one extension assignment, for an individual insurance agent who strutted around like a bantam rooster the whole time I was there answering his phones. If I gave him a perfectly normal message that Wanda called, he would gratuitously explain to me that he wasn’t going to call her back just yet because she thought they were serious because they slept together after a few dates and he was a hot property (sexually) and didn’t need to tie himself down. He also brought this up again on other occasions without the phone message (“I’m going out, but if Wanda calls remember …”).

      Well, yeah, Wanda probably did think that you had a relationship after dating and sex – but I was kind of on her side even before and certainly after the bragging. If you don’t want to see her any more, have the conversation with her and move on.

      And what kind of inadequacy prompts a grown man to brag to the not-quite-out-of-her-teens temp about his sexual prowess? In the OFFICE. All I’m trying to do is pass on a perfectly normal phone message.

      So no, I am not available to do this again next week and I’m really not interested in discussing my reasons with the rooster.

    4. LMW*

      I worked for a major temp firm for years (as a contract employee at their headquarters) and we didn’t have this rule. In fact, the expectation bothers me a lot. How are you supposed to plan if you don’t know and aren’t allowed to ask about the future of your employment? That’s ridiculous.

      1. OP #5*

        Exactly. Like I said, I don’t have any experience with contract work, but the planning thing is a huge factor in her decision.

        They’re wanting to move closer to their children and grandchildren, and since my dad can’t work due to health issues (being near his specialist is another reason they want to move), they need to be diligent about making sure they can afford it.

        This was the most promising prospect she’s had by far, but it seems like it might not be a good fit if she might be unemployed in 7 months.

        Thanks to Alison and everybody who commented! I think I’ll send her a link so she can read over the responses.

  6. Elizabeth the Ginger*

    For OP #3, I wouldn’t even say “and I’d like to stick to that agreement.” That sounds a little like “This is my preference, but we can talk about it.”

    Also, Alison, in letter #5 I think the second paragraph is supposed to be in italics to show that it’s also from the writer and not part of your answer.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      +1. I would not want to have any more conversation with the company in #3 than necessary. I’d just say “This was the agreement we made, and there was no mention of it being contingent on my accepting an offer. Best of luck with your new hire.” (Best of luck TO the new hire, really…she’s gonna need it!)

      And I’d DEFINITELY let all phone calls from them go to voice mail after that.

      1. Chinook*

        “I’d just say “This was the agreement we made, and there was no mention of it being contingent on my accepting an offer. Best of luck with your new hire.””

        And then, if they threaten to bring it farther, offer to see them in small claims court or in front of Judge Judy. It would be worth the inconvinience to see her let them know what an asinine policy this is.

      2. neverjaunty*

        On the bright side, if the interviewee had any doubts about whether they should have taken the job, this is 100% confirmation that “running in the other direction, screaming in terror” was the correct choice.

      3. KrisL*

        I think your colleague was very blessed and smart to not work for this company!

    2. AVP*

      Out of curiosity…can they send this type of bill to a collection agency and ruin your credit?

  7. mango284*

    The wet speedo on the door handle is certainly gross, but I’d probably be too embarrassed to say anything about it. It also made me think of the “hang a sock on the doorknob” thing in college dorms to warn roommates from walking in on each other having sex…

  8. Neeta*

    Re #1: I was going to ask if this was possibly the candidate who showed up at the interview in a wet bathing suit… though I think that was a woman?

    Heh, would’ve been an interesting follow-up: Dear Alison, guess what? This candidate ended up getting hired after all and he “airs” his dir– wet laundry in the office to boot.

    1. GigglyPuff*

      Ok, I really want to read the one about the web bathing suit candidate….

      1. TK*

        I think it was an interview for a lifeguard position? Which provides some explanation, but it was still unprofessional… I think she had just gotten out of the pool and then just went to the interview.

  9. Nina*

    #1: I think it’s gross and creepy. I don’t care if it’s been washed in bleach, anything that touches your genitals on a regular basis doesn’t belong in plain view at your office. He’s not at home or a social place; that’s his workplace.

    I don’t know if I’m reading it correctly, but is he placing it on the doorknob that people have to use to enter his office? If he is, I honestly think he wants people to see it. But if it’s the other one, then I would take Alison’s advice and ask him to move it when you have to leave. I wouldn’t want to touch it, either. I find it extremely hard to believe that there is no where else in the room that he can place the Speedo.

    1. OP1*

      Yep, he could wash it in acid and I think it would still be gross. And yes, it’s on his outside doorknob, the doorknob people use to enter his office, and the doorknob people walk by to enter his office if his door is open.

      1. Sourire*

        #1 – Just a thought – does the guy seem to not like or have a problem with visitors to his office? Albeit weird and gross, it’s a pretty genius strategy to keep people out unless they absolutely have to come in…

        I do totally agree that it’s gross and unprofessional regardless of motive though. Even if it wasn’t swimwear, it’s still unprofessional to leave anything hanging on the outside of a doorknob like that when people need to use it for entry.

      2. Joey*

        Okay I could see it as a problem if he keeps the door closed. If that’s the case a quick “Bob, I’m really not interested in grabbing your crotch pocket”. But if he leaves the door open open gimme a freakin break. Talk about insignificant work problems. It wouldn’t be much different that seeing your sports bra hanging on the door. Who cares.

        1. Elsajeni*

          You’re right, it would be similar — because leaving my sports bra hanging on the door to my office where anyone who wants to talk to me has to walk past it would also be totally inappropriate, and I would expect to hear something like, “Can you keep that somewhere less public?” from my boss if I started hanging bras over the doorknob.

          1. Joey*

            What the big deal? Would you freak if someone went to the store during lunch to buy some workout gear and brought it back to the office? What if they tried it on before they bought it?

            1. Kelly L.*

              I don’t care if they’ve bought workout gear and bring it back and keep it in their office in the bag. And nobody is objecting to him being fit. You’re misrepresenting the argument here.

              We’re arguing that nobody’s dirty laundry should be hanging out in the common areas of the office (like on the outsides of doors). No matter what kind of dirty laundry it is. It looks sloppy and it’s inconsiderate.

                1. Kelly L.*

                  I’m assuming there aren’t really laundry facilities at the gym and that he’s just rinsing it. I mean, I guess he could wash it in hand soap. But I doubt that’s good for expensive swimwear.

                2. Kelly L.*

                  And really, it’s not that much more professional if it’s perfectly clean. I’m pretty sure I’d get talked to at work if I had socks draped all over my desk and bras hanging from the ceiling, even if they were clean. Because it’s in a public area and that just looks messy when the public comes in.

                3. LBK*

                  100% with Kelly here – it’s not even about the cleanliness of it for me, it’s just not professional to have clothes hanging around the office. I used to have a coworker who would bring his dry cleaning into work and leave some of his dress shirts hanging at his desk all the time, and I found that weird.

                4. Jaimie*

                  I just really don’t think it’s a big deal. It seems like sort of a rude thing to do, but who cares? Ask him politely to move it, or don’t. But life is too short to worry about this.

                  I would assume that there are things in the office that annoy him, too, and he’s probably putting up with them. So if you start down this road, beware.

            2. Elsajeni*

              If they went to the store, bought some workout gear or any other type of clothing, and then hung it on the outside of their office door as if to put it on display, I would find that at least slightly weird, yes. But as Kelly L. says, the fact that it’s workout clothing is really not the main point — there’s an additional visceral ick-factor associated with the fact that it’s clothing that makes direct contact with the wearer’s genitals, yes, but the main issue is that it’s dirty laundry, displayed in a common space! I don’t leave laundry strewn around the living room when I have guests over*, and I don’t think anyone should be leaving laundry strewn around the public spaces of their office, either.

              * I strew it around the bedroom instead. I wasn’t raised by wolves, but I wasn’t raised by Martha Stewart, either.

          1. Joey*

            Yep. Who cares? It’s just a byproduct of co workers trying to be fit. That’s not a bad thing is it? I once had a co worker who biked 10 miles to work and got to work wearing all of his biking gear, bike shorts and all. I would think someone was being a Debbie downer if they complained about being able to see his junk before he changed into his work clothes.

            1. Esra*

              I care. I think a certain amount of decorum is good for a workplace. We may have to live with dirty dishes in the common sink, weird smells coming from the microwave, and loud personal calls, but by god, let’s keep the undergarments and sportswear out of the common areas.

              1. Joey*

                You have every right to care. Just know it comes off a little bit hypersensitive to a lot of people.

                1. Esra*

                  I was joking there, but I honestly don’t believe it’s hypersensitive to expect people to not hang their sportswear on their office doorknobs. It’s an office, not a dorm.

                2. LBK*

                  I don’t think it’s fair to call someone hypersensitive for not thinking it’s appropriate to have non-work clothes strewn about the office. If it was a jock strap, would that be acceptable as well? Or what about just underwear in general? I don’t know if it’s just about it being something that hugs his crotch as much as it just not being appropriate for random clothes to be displayed about the office. I don’t think “well they’re working out and that’s a good thing so they get a free pass to be gross” is justifiable.

                3. Joey*

                  I’ve been known to bring golf or after work clothes on a hanger to work. And I’ve seen plenty of commuters bring after work clothes in full view to the office too. I don’t think anyone’s ever batted an eye.

                  I’m not saying its entirely appropriate to have wet speedos hanging on your doorknob, but it definitely doesn’t rise to something to be up in arms about when your boss doesn’t give a damn.

                4. LBK*

                  It’s not an issue of bringing clothes – practically my whole office works out a lunch so they have gym bags with them and sometimes I’ll see people in their workout clothes in the office. It’s hanging them around publicly like you’re in your bedroom that bothers me.

                  Jeans and a t-shirt for after work in a duffel bag or on a hanger on the wall = no problem, people have lives. Jeans and a t-shirt tossed over the top of your office door = weird and not professional for the office.

                5. KrisL*

                  I don’t think it’s hypersensitive to not want swimsuits or undies to be hanging on the doorknob of someone’s entrance door.

            2. Lora*

              I care! And I say this as someone with a monster gym bag in her car, full of workout and after-workout clothes, microfiber towels, menthol gel muscle rub, Ace bandages, gym shoes & socks…it’s in my car for a reason. Because nobody wants to see or smell my sweaty unmentionables.

              It’s one thing to zip in through the door carrying your gym bag, go directly to the restroom, change, and then go (with or without your gym bag) to your desk, where people will see you in yoga pants for all of ten seconds. It’s totally different to use your office as your personal clothesline with your silky drawers hanging out for all the world to see.

              OP, you could buy one of those grabber things for getting stuff off high shelves, and use that to open his door. Or you could knock on the door until he comes to open it himself. If he yells, “come in,” just say “I’m not touching your underpants, open the door yourself, Borat.” Or start shoving papers under the door.

              1. lachevious*

                I agree with Joey – it’s obviously not a problem because in this case the boss doesn’t care. Let the OP hang her bras up – equality for all!

                I think freaking out about invisible speedo cooties is pretty ridiculous.

            3. JoAnna*

              I have a special bra that I use while pumping breastmilk on my breaks (it’s hands-free, so I don’t have to hold the flanges myself). Would you be A-OK if I hung that on my office doorknob for all and sundry to see?

              1. Jaimie*

                I could never get the hang of those. : )

                I don’t think it’s quite the same. I would feel fine about hanging my bathing suit out on a laundry line for my neighbors to see, but I probably wouldn’t hang a bra.

                In any case, I just don’t see the big deal. Ask the guy to move it. Or don’t ask. But the boss doesn’t care, so pushing it is a waste of time that will only cause tension in the office.

        2. neverjaunty*

          You do, apparently, since you were moved to comment on it.

          OP #1, if this guy is a tool all around, I would be tempted to “accidentally” knock his Speedo on the floor on the way out of his office. What’s he going to say? “Oh, geez, Bob, I’m sorry, I guess I didn’t notice. It’s so small, and I guess I never really expect it to be hanging on the outside of your door.”

          1. lachevious*

            “It’s so small, and I guess I never really expect it to be hanging on the outside of your door.”

            I like how your mind works! Haha problem solved!

        3. Lizzy Mac*

          I can’t see a situation where hanging a sports bra in public view at work would be okay either. In fact, management would probably not be so dismissive. There certainly would be no “boys will be boys” about it. When it comes to breasts American society tends to be very uptight. I think this is a case of forcing someting intimate onto your coworkers and that’s not cool. If it makes someone uncomfortable and its easy to fix, fix it.

          1. lachevious*

            Turnabout is fair play. You can bet I’d start hanging up my sports bra in plain view, if anything is going to convince the boss to change his mind on speedo-guy, that would :)

        4. Sunflower*

          I agree that if it’s getting in the way of people opening the door or people have to touch it to get in, then it’s an issue. I actually find the fact that it’s a speedo to be kind of whatever- if someone kept hanging a tee shirt on the door, I’d find that to be really weird and wouldn’t really want to touch that either. It’s still pretty weird overall and I agree no one should have to touch it but the sight of it wouldn’t freak me out that much. Maybe because I’ve been a swimmer forever and seeing guys in speedos happened every single day- I do remember some people who didn’t swim would actually stare at the guys. I also sat around in my bathing suit all day or went to the store in it and never thought I had to cover up.

          It seems like a lot of people consider a speedo an undergarment and I disagree. It’s not like underwear where you wouldn’t walk around in public wearing it.

        5. Beti*

          Crotch pocket – ha. Now I’m hearing Jim Gaffigan singing that instead of “Hoooot Pocket”!

          1. anon~*

            – You win the internet today! Love Jim Gaffingan and the Hotpocket routine!

      3. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Although I think it’s completely inappropriate and unprofessional, as I even hang my jacket or overcoat on the BACK of my office door, I have to admit I was a little dismissive of the complaint because of the “Speedo cooties might waft over to the kitchen” part of the complaint. But I just realized, the fact that you walk by it is actually your “in”!

        Tell him you’re a bit sensitive to smells, and the smell of chlorine has been making you gag, and could he place it somewhere a little further away from the hallway/doorway, even behind the door?

        Normally I wouldn’t advise making up something, as it gives the person an opportunity to fix what you say the problem is without fixing the real problem — for example, he might say he’ll rinse it out more thoroughly. But I figure if you felt comfortable telling him outright that it skeeves you out (or even just that you find it inappropriate for the office), you would have done that already and not written Allison.

        1. Elysian*

          He’d probably just rinse it out better if that’s the case. Best to be upfront about the crotch-ity-ness of it, I think. It’s a reasonable enough aversion that the OP shouldn’t have to resort to pretense.

        1. anon~*

          I think that he’s being passive-aggressive.. he’s the only man in an office of woman and the garment on his outside door handle is as close to underwear as he could get.

          He’s making a statement and the boss is letting him get away with it! The statement is disregard and disdain (misogyny anyone?) for his coworkers. A power trip.

    2. Poohbear McGriddles*

      In all fairness, we don’t know with what else in the office his genitals have come in contact. Weird people do weird things.

  10. EngineerGirl*

    #3 – Going back to the dating analogy which is so often used on this forum: A guy asks you to go on a date. You’ve met for coffee before and you’d like to pursue the relationship further. You say yes. He takes you to a nice and expensive restaurant. You talk further and as you get to know him better, you realize that it isn’t a match. He takes you home, and asks if he can see you again. You kindly let him know it’s not going to work out. He then gets mad and demands that you reimburse him for the entire evening – dinner, theatre tickets, everything!
    In short, unless things were agreed ahead of time the answer is no. I’d say that the demand to reimburse is a brightly waving red flag.

    1. Harper*

      Yeah, bullet dodged here. Sounds like #3’s colleague made the right call in turning them down. Nice of them to confirm it!

    2. Traveler*

      In both cases – and I know I’ll likely be in the minority here, I’d rather just pay. I hate the fact that if they pay there’s an expectation, and when a company pays for plane, hotel, etc. I feel like I can’t truly be comfortable. I have to take whatever comes my way. When its an interview I have to be at my best for and travel long distance for, I want to be comfortable. Now I’m not saying that I need first class or a 5 star hotel, but I’m picky about some things and would rather just choose/be responsible for myself.

      1. Esra*

        Okay, but them paying you out to interview isn’t a promise you’ll take the job… it’s a promise you’ll take the interview. And you would have fulfilled that.

      2. S*

        That totally makes sense, but a guy (or girl) who feels like they are “owed” something because they paid for a date, or a company that feels like it’s owed something because they paid for your interview travel, is an ass that you do not want to date/work for. IMAO, better to find out sooner rather than later and let them weed themselves out.

        1. Traveler*

          With the company aspect – I agree. They shouldn’t expect you should take the job. For me its just an issue of convenience to want to plan my own.
          With the date issue – also agreed. You don’t owe them anything if they’ve offered to pay, and they’re a jerk if they think you do. I just don’t like feeling indebted to someone. If they pay for me, regardless of whether or not they expect anything, it makes me uncomfortable. I don’t like gifts, dinners, etc. in the “getting-to-know-you” phase of a potential relationship.

    3. NP*

      I actually had a friend go on a date with a guy who demanded repyament after she told him she didn’t see it going any further. She asked him how much she owed him, and he said $50. So she made a $50 donation in his name to her favorite charity.

  11. Chocolate Teapot*

    1. The OP talked about the wet swimming trunks dripping water on the carpet. I always thought you should wring out damp swimwear to get some of the water out so it dries quicker?

    1. Rebecca*

      I wondered this. Even if he’s rinsed it in the sink, he probably gave it a quick twist to wring the water out. I think this guy is just gross and has a juvenile sense of humor, or something.

      There’s no reason he couldn’t leave this in an inconspicuous area if he absolutely couldn’t hang it on the hook of his gym locker until after work. He’s just being weird. This has no place in the office, let alone on his door handle.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        If he’s really completely socially clueless/tone deaf, he might just be doing it because he thinks the air will circulate more freely in the doorway than anywhere else in his office. which will dry it out the fastest. Many IT people and engineers tend to think this way, and sometimes we will find solutions that seem the most efficient without taking into account the effect on other people.

        1. Cat*

          Heh, this is kind of what I was thinking. If someone can do something because they’re socially inept or because they’re malicious, in my office, it basically turns out to be social ineptness 99% of the time.

        2. KrisL*

          I try to remember to assume that someone is being clueless instead of malicious. That way I’m less stressed out and more likely to be able to ask nicely for what I want.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      I wondered this too. All the globogyms I’ve gone to that have pools, or our local city pools, have swimsuit dryers that spin them really fast so they’re nearly dry. Obviously there are other pool locations that don’t have dryers, but it seems the type of place a guy might swim laps would have dryers. Anyway. If the suit wasn’t mostly dry when he hangs it up, I have to think it would ruin the finish on the door (this is the mom in me now). This has gone on for years? If it hasn’t ruined the knob or door or carpet yet, it’s probably not that wet.

  12. A Non*

    #1 – What a spectacular example of marking one’s territory. That’s… not one I’m going to forget soon.

    1. Pip*

      I was going to say that! This is such an obvious territorial marker / play for dominance. I was in an amateur theatre group in college, and when you cram a lot of highly strung people in the small space backstage, you get this sort of thing all the time.

      Once we shared a venue with the Royal Opera, and had to share dressing rooms with the singers. We were told that we had to keep them super neat and tidy, because the singers did not like sharing dressing rooms, and if they had any complaints, we were out. So we pretty much cleared them out after each show, because amateurs vs. bona fide opera singers? That’s a fight that was over before it started! Later we spoke to one of the singers and asked if there had been any problems. Not at all, he was very pleased. He was used to sharing dressing rooms with the ballet, and the dancers would hang their dance belts to dry on the lamps…

      Anyways, I’d treat it as territorial marking. Either ignore it completely (to show that you are not affected by it) or throw it in the trash when nobody is looking.

      1. BCW*

        It amazes me that you think that throwing away his personal property is ok just because one person has a problem with it, and hasn’t even given him a chance to correct it. Now personally I don’t even think he HAS to correct it, but to dispose of it is just tacky.

  13. KayDay*

    #1: I don’t think it’s particularly creepy that he does this, but it is weird . Although I do think that culturally most people treat bathing suits very differently than underwear, which covers the same areas, I still think having a bathing suit front and center at work should be avoided.

    I would go up to him and offer him an extra command hook or something and say “hey, I noticed that you always have to hang your bathing suit on the door, so I thought you might prefer to have a hook you can hang your bathing suit on.”

  14. FatBigot*

    You have two options. The first is to be nice & direct. Buy a £1 self-adhesive hook. Say to Mr Speedo that it really grosses you out, as a personal favour can you stick this hook on the inside of the door right now for him to hang his speedos on in future.

    The second option is childish & nasty: Simply “accidently” knock the Speedos to the floor every time you pass his office door. This can be escalated to stepping on them, or kicking to the corner of the office.

    1. Rayner*

      Actually, if this is an office where clients/big wigs wander around frequently, then it’s very easy for her to use that.

      Every time someone who might be important wanders past, open his door, take the trunks off the door handle, and fling them wildly into the room. Slam the door and walk off.

      When questions, say, “I thought it was a client, and it’s not professional to have speedos hanging around.

      Offer a hanger, but continue the ritual of throwing them wildly into the room (bonus points if you hit the computer, desk, him, or his coffee mug) as necessary until he gets the message.

      1. GigglyPuff*

        Ha, these made me laugh. I was trying to think of some good passive aggressive way to let him know…when he’s not around, if he leaves the office door open, you could always take it off the door handle and put it on his chair with note, “looks like you dropped these”, along those same lines of knocking them off the door handle. If done enough, he might get annoyed with his chair getting wet from them.

    2. nep*

      Seems to me OP shouldn’t have to put out some money just because this guy is clueless and inconsiderate (and I gotta say, creepy). If he needs a hook he should buy is own hook.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        Except that as far as he’s concerned, he DOESN’T need a hook because he’s got a perfectly good one on the front of his door.

    1. BCW*

      Hmm, so you condone essentially assaulting someone because you don’t like what they have on their doorknob? Completely logical.

      1. Chinook*

        I have toa gree that cayenne pepper on the swimsuti could be considered assault. While I understand being sqweeked out by it, this is going to far. IMHO, this is the equivalent of putting eye drops in someoen’s coffee because they keep leaving it on your desk – the potential physical damage you could cause way out weighs how it makes you feel.

        1. The Wall of Creativity*

          OK let’s tone it down a bit then. Why not wait until he’s off to a long meeting. Then pop the trunks into the freezer. Five minutes before he’s due back, take then out and hang them back on the door knob.

          I wish that’s what my ex-wife had done to me. :-(

  15. BCW*

    I’m in the camp of #1 isn’t that big of a deal. If they were board shorts I’m guessing the gut reaction of “this is gross” would be severely lessened. Also, as someone said, if you consider how many people don’t wash their hands, I doubt his door knob is really any more gross than any other doorknob in in your office. If no one else minds that much, then maybe you should just drop it. I’m the newest person in my office now, and some of my co-workers have annoying habits. But since he has been doing this for longer than you have been there, and everyone else seems to be fine with it I would just keep my mouth shut. No one likes that new person who comes in and expects people to change because you don’t like something. IF you are in management, you have to deal, otherwise its just not a good look.

    1. Sunflower*

      I’m not a germaphobe in the least bit but touching other people’s clothes just feels weird to me. It feels like a very intimate thing regardless of whether it’s a bathing suit, underwear or a tee shirt. I think it’s fine to have the bathing suit hanging in the office but hanging on the door knob feels like a barrier to people entering the office. As someone mentioned before, maybe he’s putting it there for that reason but really anything hanging on the door gives off a sign of ‘don’t come in here’

      1. University admin*

        Wouldn’t you agree, though, that she shouldn’t have to actually touch this person’s wet speedo to enter his office? Now of course we don’t know how often his door is open, how wide, etc. etc. – but considering how small the doorknob is, I don’t see how you’d even be able to touch it without basically grabbing this guy’s wet Speedo. I know that scientifically there may not be a ton of germs… but I still think that’s a bit much. Looking at it is one thing… sounds like she’s having to use her elbow to open the door not just because she doesn’t want to touch the doorknob. I don’t know of any office where it’s been NBD to expect people to handle your wet bathingsuit, regardless of where you’re hanging it.

        1. BCW*

          Yes, she shouldn’t have to touch them, but it sounds like she doesn’t. She says she is more worried about the “residue” than actually touching the speedos. If his door was constantly closed and they were on there and she HAD to touch them to get in, I’d agree with you, but it doesn’t sound like that is the case. She is worried about perceived germs.

          1. OP1*

            All things considered, the germs actually bother me the least; it really is more about being a gross-out factor of his junk being in this thing that is now hanging from his office door. And, to clarify, the Speedo hangs on the outside doorknob of his office, which opens inward. His door is open most of the day, and if his door is closed I don’t open it. (He used to do shirtless yoga in his office during lunch with the door closed, but that’s a different story.) I have to open his door, though, if I’m there after he and the Speedo are gone (which I am most days) to drop off a work project. That’s when I think about crotch residue and use my elbow.

            1. fposte*

              I’m lost–if it’s not germs, what “crotch residue” are you referring to?

              1. Joey*

                I suspect it just mental crotch residue as in the thought of touching something that’s touched something else that’s touched his crotch.

              2. fposte*

                Then I’m thinking that’s an individual quirk on your side rather than his, and the elbow approach seems to be a reasonable way for you to avoid doing something that trips your ish response but isn’t particularly offensive generally.

                1. anon~*

                  I’m sorry fposte, usually I agree with you but saying that using her elbow is reasonable but not pointing out the obvious -that this guy putting his speedo on the doorknob AT WORK is unreasonable is a bit of an oversight. Jussst a bit.

            2. Joey*

              Isn’t there already crotch residue though on just about every doorknob since tons of people don’t bother to wash their hands after they use the bathroom.

              This reminds me of the people I see who go to great lengths not to touch anything in the bathroom. It comes off kinda germaphobe.

              1. fposte*

                I do feel like the question isn’t so much about wet Speedos as touching a doorknob that had a Speedo on it earlier. And while I think the guy shouldn’t hang his Speedos on the doorknob, I don’t think it’s because of the problems people will have in touching the door later.

              2. Colette*

                Well, and people seem to see “crotch residue” even if the bathing suit has been rinsed or washed, which means washing your hands after going to the bathroom isn’t going to solve the problem.

                1. Bwmn*

                  But the door is largely open when the suit is hanging on the door, and so the “residue” issue is only when the suit is gone/door is closed. I mean…..if this is causing discomfort what about the “residue” on toilet seats?

              3. Lora*

                THIS IS ALSO GROSS. People should wash their hands.

                Yes, I am a germaphobe. One of my graduate degrees is in microbiology, thank you. For what it’s worth, I don’t expect anybody other than perhaps the dry cleaner to have to touch my wet laundry of any kind for any reason, because touching other people’s laundry is definitely out of the scope of my contract. Laundry is a personal problem.

                The closest I get to what you’re describing is removing rain boots and storing them *under my desk*, and putting on work-appropriate shoes to walk around the office. Because I don’t wish to track mud everywhere and pink rubber galoshes are not work-appropriate.

                1. Jamie*

                  Thank you fellow hand washer and germaphobe – and now I want pink rubber galoshes because those sound adorable.

                  For me the squick factor wouldn’t be the germs of the speedo, because I wouldn’t touch it and I just go on the assumption that most people don’t wash their hands and if I think about it I will end up like Howard Hughes. It’s just the …intimacy…for lack of a better word at seeing personal laundry strewn about.

                  A change of clothes on a hanger is no problem – slacks, a sweater, a suit, but nothing in the undergarment bathing suit category.

                  I worked with someone once who played on a sports team after work and would change in his office. Unfortunately office door was mostly window – so not helpful. His argument was boxers show less than what men wear on the beach – so no genitals were visible. I’m sorry – it’s not only about skin to clothing ratio – the office and the beach are completely different milieus. I should not have to see any co-worker taking off their pants to change when I’m just walking to my desk minding my own business.

                  The lines between personal and professional lives get way too blurry for some people.

                2. Joey*

                  And no one stopped him from stripping down to his underwear in full view? Okay that would probably fall into the sexual harassment arena.

                3. BCW*

                  I don’t know that I’d call it sexual harassment, but I don’t think its necessarily appropriate for the office either if everyone can see right into where you are changing. In that situation, I see nothing wrong with someone asking him to change in the bathroom.

                4. Bwmn*

                  @Jamie, I think that the notion of a Speedo being “intimate” really is in the eye of the beholder. If the swimsuit in question were trunks or a one-piece woman’s suit – I imagine that conversation wouldn’t veer to the “intimates” discussion as quickly.

                  This situation just does not warrant to a case of “obviously this is a problem/inappropriate”.

                5. Jamie*

                  Oh they stopped him. I asked him not to change where he can be seen, he complained that he shouldn’t have to walk to the men’s room when boxers provide coverage yada yada.

                  I went over his head, he was told to knock it off, and he made a giant poster board to cover his window while he was changing. Worked for me, I didn’t care as long as I didn’t have to see it. But he never did he change without snotty comments about how over sensitive I am and need to lighten up.

                  Water – ducks back – I didn’t have to see him in a state of dishabille so he could snot away for all I cared.

                  And while it could fall into the umbrella of sexual harassment legally, to me it didn’t rise to that level because he just wanted the attention. If he could have gotten away with wearing a clown suit to work so everyone noticed him he’d have done that, too.

                6. dawbs*

                  I can’t believe no one told him ‘dude, you are trying to argue it’s a problem to walk 20’ as you prepare for a SPORTING event?”

                  I know the secretary where I work would have pulled no punches on that front :)

            3. Bwmn*

              Given that when he’s present his door is open (and thus you don’t have to touch the swimsuit), and then the primary concern is about “crotch residue” when he’s not in the office and the speedo is gone…..I’m not surprised that your boss isn’t bothered. This coworker is essentially asking no one to touch the swimsuit, only to touch a door handle that has been touched by a swimsuit. And if the germs aren’t a concern – just “crotch residue”……I’m confused. Using the toilets at work have far more “residue” and germs…..

              I still think that if this really bothers you, then you should approach him directly. Often appealing to others to say “hey this thing you do bothers me” is going to be far more effective than asking a manager to intervene. But if it were me (as a woman) and I was hanging a bikini bottom on the door – your request would strike me as a bit extreme.

              1. KrisL*

                Hanging a swimsuit, especially a speedo, on the door where anyone who walks by can see it seems unprofessional to me.

                1. Bwmn*

                  If it’s an office where outside individuals don’t walk by or an organization that is heavily involved in health/fitness – it may not be as workplace specific inappropriate as say a doctor hanging a speedo on the door handle of an examination room.

                  I think many of us have office specific situations that would be grossly inappropriate in other offices – but for the nature of that office aren’t quite as out of place.

            4. BCW*

              See with that clarification, I’m thinking its even less of a big deal. You never have to touch it, just see it. So I’m guessing if you saw it somewhere else in the office you would still be somewhat grossed out. Then you are worried about after hours touching the same handle? That is more your issue than his honestly. Like many people have pointed out, that door knob is probably no more gross than any other door knob in the office. Its just that it is perceived “residue” from his junk as opposed to actual ecoli, cold, or flu germs that could actually be there. I mean, if it bothers you that much, use a paper towel to open it, or use hand sanitizer after. But really, its not as big as you are making out to be.

              1. nep*

                Just seeing someone’s Speedo lying around the office — no matter where, just in public — would be quite annoying. Inappropriate at best.

                1. BCW*

                  See, thats something that I think is only annoying because you allow it to annoy you. I don’t pay much attention to what people have laying around. Some people get annoyed that my desk isn’t well organized. Why do you care so much.

                2. Bwmn*

                  My boss is an avid biker, bikes to work in specific bike “gear”. Changes in his office, and then hangs his big gear in the office until the end of the day when he changes back into it. He never has meetings with outside individuals in his office. Would that be similarly bothersome to you? What if they were swim trunks rather than a Speedo?

                  The more I hear about this situation, the more aesthetic all of this is.

                3. nep*

                  Nice. Excellent point and I’m completely with you…re ‘allowing’ oneself to be annoyed. Touché, actually, because I’m the kind of person that doesn’t allow things in like that…I got into the conversation here and got caught up in thinking about the unpleasantness/inappropriateness of it. But now that I think more on it after your post, were I in the situation I’d be right there with you — not allowing myself to be affected. Ta.

                4. Def Anon for a second*

                  @ BCW

                  Some people get annoyed that my desk isn’t well organized.

                  If it’s just an organization thing the only person who should care, IMO, is your boss and then only if it’s affecting your work.

                  If disorganized is code for actually messy, then it’s reasonable for people to not want to see that, the same reason they don’t want to see dishes left in the sink for someone to wash later.

                  When in a shared environment everyone should conform to accepted standards of neatness.

                5. BCW*

                  @Def anon,

                  Sorry, I disagree. If my messy desk is impacting my work, then sure, my boss has a right to tell me to straighten it up as a way for me to improve my performance. If my desk is messy, my co-worker Jane shouldn’t be annoyed with it since it has nothing to do with her. Thats her issue, not mine, so I shouldn’t have to conform to her standard.

            5. neverjaunty*

              Do you work at a software company by any chance? My IT friends tell me stories that makes me wonder what the hell their HR does all day.

  16. Sunflower*

    #2- I am insanely curious what the manager is doing.

    Also agree with Allison’s advice. Keep notes on what is happening and keep reporting to her boss. Eventually either they’ll take action or you’ll have answers as to why she has been so MIA.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      I’ve been watching Breaking Bad, so I lean towards “running a secret meth lab.”

      Of course she could also have a side business or be having an affair or doing real estate or something. But I like the meth lab explanation.

      1. Beti*

        I was thinking job hunting but that probably wouldn’t take up such large amounts of time. A side business makes more sense.

    2. Moonstone*

      In the two cases of this that I have observed, the manager had alcoholism. One was able to do a treatment program and get sober.

      1. ArtsNerd*

        When I was involved in a similar situation, I just assumed severe depression and/or drug addiction, coupled with a natural tendency to slack off. Never did find out; don’t really want to know.

  17. Diane*

    #2 – Had this happen once. Reported to a manager who just disappeared for weeks at a time. At one point, she told us she was attending grad school in another city 4 hours away. It was weird. People would ask us where she was at, and we would shrug and say “I don’t know” – it never seemed to be an issue with her missing. We worked around her as well, getting info and resolving issues in her absence. About 6 months of this, she resigned for another position. I don’t believe the disappearing act ever caught up to her.

  18. Barbara in Swampeast*

    #3 – my husband’s work makes it clear up front that if the candidate turns down an offer, they have to reimburse the travel expenses. This is academia and they were getting series of candidates fishing for offers so they could negotiate with their current institution. This policy stopped that dead. But again, candidates are told at the beginning that this is the policy.

    1. BCW*

      I feel like that is kind of a ridiculous policy. A job may sound great on paper, but you get there and its just not what you were expecting. I get the fishing aspect, but at the same time, there are very valid reasons

      1. AnotherAlison*

        I would have agreed with you, until I saw my alma mater’s dept budget & the hiring process. I’ve been on the advisory board through hires for a new department chair, a couple professors, and a a new dean. It’s kind of fascinating, compared with the corporate world I’m used to.

        1. Artemesia*

          I have observed this too. It is not uncommon since in academia you can’t get a decent raise unless you have an offer; it is disheartening for a department with a limited budget provide a vacation trip and bargaining chip for someone they hoped to hire but who never was serious about being available.

      2. Joey*

        I’ve given up trying to understand a lot of stuff that goes on in academia. Its a world of ridiculousness.

    2. Mike C.*

      It doesn’t really matter if they’re told in advance, it’s a terrible policy. You’re scaring away good candidates with that policy.

      Why should future candidates have to pay for the “sins” of past candidates?

    3. Sophia*

      I’m in academia too and I’ve never heard this (expecting the candidate to reimburse if they turn down the offer)

    4. Elysian*

      Do they still have to pay if they withdrawl their application after the interview? That would still mean they can’t pit offer A against offer B, but leaves some room if it just isn’t a good fit.

      I mean, if you’re told up front I don’t think its horrible. Job candidates pay their own way for long-distance interviews all the time. Under the right circumstances I don’t think its a totally unreasonable policy.

    5. Joey*

      So that would cut out any negotiation, wouldn’t it? That doesn’t seem very productive.

    6. neverjaunty*

      It also means that candidates without a lot of money are going to decline to interview, because if it turns out the offer is horrible they will be on the hook for expenses.

  19. Liane*

    OP 1 said she’d been there “for a substantial amount of time” so she isn’t a newcomer.
    And I find this gross, too, even though I used to work in a microbio lab.

  20. Duck Rover*

    Actually, the situation that OP #3 is dealing with is not that uncommon in higher ed. The difference, however, is that when I’ve heard of schools asking candidates to reimburse travel expenses if they decline an offer, they’ve made it clear upfront that that is the expectation. I don’t know if they can legally enforce it but it happens. A friend of mine was offered an interview with these stipulations and she decided not to go.

    1. Annie O*

      Yes, I’ve seen that as well but I’ve never heard of the school actually requesting reimbursement! It seems like schools use it to narrow the applicant pool to serious candidates, not because they’re actually trying to recoup the expenses.

    2. Sophia*

      I said this up thread, but I’ve never heard of this and I’ve been on the job market, as well as several friends (who have turned down offers and not been asked for reimbursement). Maybe it depends on the type of school – community college, lower tiered slac…

      1. A Lurker*

        It’s all over – I saw it listed on the announcement with a large state university once. Definitely not uncommon in higher ed. Smaller schools often don’t have the funding to pay for candidates to fly out at all.

        1. Sophia*

          Well, they do. But they first have skype and phone interviews to cull the list and don’t fly out as many

        2. Sophia*

          Also, being a large state university doesn’t necessarily equate to a certain type of school. Does the given program have a PhD program? A MA? Undergrad only? Those things come into play when talking about the rank and type of school, as well as their budget. I’ve never heard of an R1 (or in updated terminology “Very High Research Activity” or “High Research Activity”) school requesting reimbursement back from a candidate – at least in the social sciences.

          1. Duck Rover*

            The fields I’ve seen it in were Student Affairs where budgets tend to be smaller at some schools (especially compared to the budgets of academic departments).

  21. Celeste*

    #1 Definitely have a straight talk with Mr. Speedo about where he hangs his intimate wear. It’s the correct and professional way to handle a dispute.

    I think the root is that he’s got some issues being the only man around and this is his way to testosterone the place up, and maybe create a man cave for himself.

  22. Lily in NYC*

    #1 – Oh my god, this just caused me to remember the weirdest thing that happened to my coworker – he came back from a long run and hung his shorts on his doorknob (they were not speedos!). He was a very good-looking young guy. We came back from a meeting and his shorts were missing. It was odd but we quickly forgot about it. On his last day of work, he came in and the shorts were back on the doorknob, but now they had skidmarks on them! He was so horrified and I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard in my life. We never did figure out what that was about.

    1. fposte*

      Ha–I was just thinking I’m amazed that the Speedos have not silently disappeared from the doorknob a few times.

        1. GigglyPuff*

          OMG, if this was in my office. We just bought mannequins for textiles, I would sooo take the speedos and put them on the mannequin, every single day until he stopped…

          1. Celeste*

            I’d run a contest on that mannequin to “guess the number of grapes” in the grape smuggler. ;o)

            1. fposte*

              Or guess the fruit, working up from grapes. He’d keep them away from everybody else before they got to grapefruits.

              1. GigglyPuff*

                HA! We are thinking of having a suggestion box for names for the pair (male & female), we haven’t been able to think up anything suitably weird/hilarious enough to fit them yet.

    2. BB*

      ahhh that is so creepy. Creepy that they were taken and even creepier that they were returned!!

      1. Lily in NYC*

        There was a weird old dude in the office who was in love with him, so I’m still not sure if it was a prank or if weird old dude (who is actually a very well-known journalist) “borrowed” the shorts for a few months and then returned them with the gift of skidmarks. I’m saying this because he was really weird, not because he’s gay. LOL, we should have had the skidmarks DNA-tested.

  23. Scott M*

    #1 : I’m a guy, with regular guy housekeeping issues (I don’t mind as much mess as my wife does) and even *I* find find that weird

  24. Katie the Fed*

    #1 – Why not bring in a hanger and some clothespins and ask him if he can find a place inside his office to hang it up so you don’t have to see it?

    #2 – I wouldn’t stress too much. It sounds like the company is investigating and preparing to take action.

    1. Sunflower*

      #2- Exactly. Just keep the boss’s boss in the loop. It sounds like soon you’ll see something happening. I’m curious if anything will change in the bosses actions since I assume she might know the company is on to her..

  25. Annie O*

    “Why do you have a Speedo hanging on your doorknob? That’s gross.”

    This is what should have been said the FIRST time the Speedo appeared. It’s crazy how weird stuff like this becomes a regular pattern because no one ever says anything.

    1. Celeste*

      I’m pretty sure the thinking there is that it’s a one-off, not a new world order. I agree, it should have been nipped in the bud. NIP IT! ;o)

  26. Audiophile*

    While I definitely think this is weird, this isn’t as gross, to me, as everyone is making it out to be. There are more germs on handles and phones than there probably are on this guys swim trunks.
    I think asking the guy to hang it in his office is the solution. Hopefully he abides.

    1. De (Germany)*

      I don’t think it’s gross or unhygienic or anything, but I think it would be really weird having to use a wet doorknob when entering an office because someone is hanging stuff up to dry on it. Just completely weird. There must be a better space to hang that thing.

    2. LV*

      Yeah, OP1 lost me when she stated that one of the reasons the doorknob speedo is problematic is that the guy’s office is on the way to the kitchen. Realistically, his crotch germs aren’t leaping off the speedo and latching onto other coworkers as they walk by. Nobody is eating microscopic particles of this guy’s meat and potatoes along with their own actual meat and potatoes.

      1. OP1*

        More than the crotch germs it’s that I don’t want to see a Speedo while I’m making my coffee or heating up my lunch. I eat at my desk or out, but others do use the kitchen for lunch, and looking at a dripping Speedo while eating isn’t terribly appetizing to me. I was also trying to make it clear that his office and his Speedo door are highly trafficked areas.

        1. fposte*

          But his door isn’t closed, right? So the Speedo is several feet away from the hall and more feet than that away from the kitchen. And if he put it on a hanger that doesn’t mean it would be invisible from the kitchen either.

        2. Joey*

          Why would you look at it when you’re eating lunch or making coffee? Seems like its sort of equivalent to saying its his fault you’re distracted by it. Don’t look.

          1. Jamie*

            If someone plunked down a giant box of tampons, or incontinence pads, clearly visible in a highly trafficked area people would be very weirded out by that. And those unopened boxes are as sanitary as a ream of unopened paper.

            It just brings to mind things people don’t want to think about, especially on their way to lunch.

            It’s not unreasonable to expect people to maintain a certain amount of decorum in the workplace.

            1. Joey*

              Yep, except I probably wouldn’t be telling someone she needs to keep her tampons out of my view.

              1. Jamie*

                I respect that you’re consistent – because I know a lot of men who would be running to their managers if tampons were in full view.

            2. GigglyPuff*


              I’m not grossed out by this, on one level, but it’s just weird and seems like he’s doing it on purpose. But my first thought when I read it, immediately skipped to, “wonder if he’s kinda hairy?”, because while germs may not stick to the speedo, pubic hair might, which seriously I would not want to accidentally touch that…same thought process would happen while being in the break room, see the speedo, think of pubic hair, aaannnd now my lunch is over.

              And his office door might not be fully shut or fully open, they can be put in any position, which if he’s hanging his other workout clothes on the back of the door, it’s probably not all the way open or else they might not fit.

            3. anon~*

              “It’s not unreasonable to expect people to maintan a certain amount of decorum in the workplace.”

        3. KrisL*

          Speedo in high traffic areas of a professional environment = not professional and kinda icky.

  27. Esra*

    I used to work under a director who would work out at lunch, not shower, leave his gym bag open on the ground, and his gym shorts hanging on the doorknob. Oh my god, the smell.

    I’m sorry, but it’s gross. Everyone is comparing it to bras and other sportswear, but to be clear, none of those should be hanging on your doorknob either! Get a 3m hook, get a hanger, get a towel for the back of your chair and put them there.

    1. Kelly L.*

      Exactly! I’d never dream of hanging up a bra somewhere in plain view like that.

      1. Esra*

        I take my bras off the doorknobs in my home when guests are coming over, nevermind EVER having that kind of thing hanging out in the office.

        1. Def Anon for a second*

          One of my most embarrassing moments ever was when I was newly married, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, and my in-laws showed up early. I hastily grabbed the laundry I was folding on the couch and tossed it in the basket and moved it to another room.

          I didn’t realize I had missed a bra between the cushions until my father in law sat down, got poked by and under wire, and held it up incredulously.

          Time stopped as my in-laws, husband, and I all stared at him holding up my bra as if trying to figure out what it is.

          21 years later and I still want to jump out of a window remembering that.

  28. BadPlanning*

    I’m reading yesterday’s Dear Prudence in which a letter writer says her workout unmentionables disappeared from her desk. I guess OP #1’s coworker is lucky his speedo isn’t disappearing from some other office weirdo!

  29. Eden*

    #1: I agree with working the “unprofessional” angle (rather than the “it’s so yucky” angle, which might end up offending him and making him dig in his heels). I can’t imagine a company who’d want a visiting client to be seeing this.

    #2: I worked for this woman. The situation sounds almost identical. I would bet dollars to doughnuts upper management is in the process of getting her out of there. It can take a while to get enough damning paperwork together, but unless your workplace is completely dysfunctional, I bet she’ll be gone pretty soon.

    1. Jennifer*

      Seconded! Why hasn’t anyone brought up that clients might see it? Or that this isn’t a locker room or dorm room and he doesn’t have to indicate that he’s banging in there?

    2. OP1*

      We have a lot of clients visiting! His door (and Speedo) are also right by an elevator bank, so clearly visible to not only those in the kitchen but also those exiting an elevator. We also sit by some of the higher-ups in the company. Our department is already a bit on the quirkier side, so the higher-ups might just think it’s one of our…things.

  30. LV*

    I would like to request an update for #2, although I’m sure the reality is much less thrilling and mysterious than my silly theories.

    1. leftbehindemployee*

      I’m actually the one who wrote in about #2. It is now over a month later, and nothing has happened other than my co worker planning to quit for another job. She is tired of dealing with our missing in action manager.

      She is now coming in on average 3-7 hours a week. No one seems to care, and she recently called in sick for a week and a half saying she had pnemonia. My coworker and I don’t think she actually did–but the fact that she was “sick” means that absences from three weeks ago are being excused as “well, she had pnemonia” even though the absences predate the excuse.

      We have now recognized that no one is going to do anything about this. So we each have to decide whether to stay and work around her, or quit and find another job. We have had several comments from clients in the past few weeks, but we just keep hoping one of them will go to the owner. When we bear the message it just isn’t taken seriously.

      My only concern is that when my coworker quits I don’t want to be trapped in that office with her. It is bad enough running everything three people should do with two people. I don’t think
      one person can cover for three positions. She is at this point incapable of stepping up because she doesn’t really even know what is going on in the office, and can’t do the tasks required.

      As far as explanations, we are starting to think she has a really controlling husband and that she is home with him. My husband’s mother used to do some of the same wierd things (take wild risks with her job, be MIA, etc.) when she was in an abusive marriage when he was growing up so the only thing that makes sense is that she is more worried about facing him than she is the company owner.

      She never smells like alcohol, but I guess it is possible for her to hide it really well. An affair could be a possibility. I once walked downstairs and ended up seeing her sitting in the passenger’s seat of some guys car in the parking lot (!!!) who was not her husband. That was odd.

      Just a bunch of wierdness basically. I am seriously considering asking to transfer to one of the other offices. I already mentioned to the owner that is what I would like to do long term due to my family. I have also quietly started looking for other jobs.

      I seriously cannot believe how crazy and surreal this has been–including how willing the owner and her boss have been to over look this and not deal with it. They will likely lose two very good employees over it.

  31. Mimmy*

    #1 – Hanging speedo

    I don’t think it’s so much gross as it is just plain sloppy. This is your office, not your room at home. There are behind-the-door hooks available–just be mindful that some types can cause damage when you take them off.

    #2 – AWOL manager

    This one is interesting…I’d be curious as to what’s going on! At first I was thinking that maybe she’s at off-site meetings too. That they’re not on the calendar isn’t super-suspicious–sometimes people just aren’t good at updating the office-wide calendar. However, the fact that she’s giving false information in her reports takes it over the line for me. Definitely keep the manager’s boss in the loop.

  32. Jess*

    #2 I used to work for someone like this. She had been a stay-at-home mom all her adult life and had gotten her management position through personal connections. I’m not sure if they told her from the beginning that she didn’t really need to take it that seriously or if it was just a function of it essentially being her first job, but she essentially spent 90% of her work time on personal/family stuff, much of it out of the office. Because she was personal friends with upper management, bringing it to their attention wasn’t an option. Meanwhile resentment and bitterness festered while my coworker and I did all the work she was getting paid to do. Looking back I should have quit within the first six months but I was not that wise!

  33. Anna*

    At the old Place of Employment I worked with a guy who would run to work or ride his bike. He would then proceed to open the locker door in his cube (because it apparently gave him a skosh of privacy) and CHANGE HIS CLOTHES! My cube was right across from him and help me if I came to work early. He would then proceed to hang his grody running clothes over the door to dry out. He might still do it since he still works there. Anyway, the point is, your exercise clothes don’t belong hanging around your cube or your office because it’s just gross.

  34. SerfinUSA*

    Get a stick or ruler or something you can use to move the speedo, and “accidentally” knock it off the doorknob whenever you walk by. Maybe if he has to pick it up enough he’ll think about putting it where it won’t keep “falling off” the door knob.

    1. Chocolate Teapot*

      A letter opener is a good tool for moving items you don’t want to touch.

    2. fposte*

      But it’s not where people walk by–you’d have to go into his office to do that, since it’s on his open door extending into his office.

  35. Elizabeth West*

    Speedos on the doorknob:
    It’s your office, not a dorm. Hang them inside where everybody else doesn’t have to look at them. So many commenters seem to think this is no big deal. I think it’s gross.

    Sorry, but I’m mad today; I just found out that the frozen dinner I left in the freezer yesterday for today (because someone gave me a taco) has disappeared. >:(

    1. Traveler*

      Why is stealing food from the work freezer/fridge a thing? I can’t understand what runs through someone’s minds that they would go in there and take something. They have to know that’s stealing, right?

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I’m not entirely sure it was stolen; there was another similar thing in there yesterday, but mine was WAY in the back corner. The other one is still in there. If you took it by accident, then at least leave a note saying so.

        At least I have cracker things in my cube.

        Also, no one seemed to think it was a big deal, but someone finally said, “Oh that sucks.” ALL I WANTED WAS A LITTLE SYMPATHY

        1. fposte*

          I took somebody’s lunch by accident once, and I didn’t leave a note because I didn’t know I’d done it. I only found out later.

        2. Cath in Canada*

          That totally sucks!

          Someone stole the lights off my bike last night while it was locked up outside a restaurant, which I’ve done over and over again for more than 15 years without having a problem before. The worst part is that they removed the actual lights from the little bracket thingies they clip into, but left the brackets behind, even though they’re only attached to the bike with velcro straps. So the lights aren’t even of any use to them!

          Luckily, I have a second front light on my helmet and a second rear light on the back of my jacket, so I got home safely. But I’m still super grumpy about it today.

        3. Katie the Fed*

          Oh, that does suck :(

          However, I’m the office fridge tender, mainly because nobody else will step up to do it and it’s anarchy in there otherwise. I have a set of clearly posted rules that state it is for daily use only, and food may not be left overnight (with milk and salad dressings the only exceptions). In reality, I don’t really enforce it, but on the last day of every month I do throw away every single thing in the fridge and freezer. I post warnings, and some people still get butthurt that a yogurt they left a week ago is gone.

          1. Anonymous*

            You’re too nice. I don’t post warnings. I just throw things out. Anyone who dares to complain that they lost stuff is told to act like an adult. I mean, I let stuff be in there for two weeks or until it’s moldy/smelly; I’m not heartless, but I do expect people to clean up after themselves.

  36. Tinker*

    There was some sort of “determine your gender” quiz, I think from the folks who eventually made OkCupid, where one of the questions was whether “moist” or “used” was a more revolting word.

    Not sure what it says about me, but I’m going with “moist”. Just sayin’.

    1. Garrett*

      In high school I used to tease a friend of mine because she cringed at the word “moist”. It doesn’t bother me, although I can see how it can others. It’s not the meaning (because it makes me think of yummy cake) but the way its pronounced.

  37. Sara M*

    I think the comments here show the root of the Speedo problem.

    X% of commenters are saying, “EWW, gross, that’s horrid.” Y% are saying, “What on earth is the big deal?”

    (I didn’t count what percent was which.)

    This guy is likely in the Y camp and not realizing how many people are in the X camp. Someone needs to tell him.

    True story: I had no idea clipping nails at your desk was gross until someone told me. I felt terrible about doing it for years. :( I still don’t see why that’s gross exactly, as long as you do it into a trashcan, but it doesn’t matter what I think: social rules dictate that I shouldn’t do that. And so I stopped and now I don’t do that.

    The Speedo guy might have no idea that anyone is bothered by his swimsuit. Just tell him, and get him a hook inside his office or something. (Small chance that he’s trying to show off his manliness or something, in which case “calling him out” like this would probably get him to stop too, once he realized people were noticing and standing up to him. But I honestly think he doesn’t realize anyone’s bothered.)

    1. Traveler*

      Good point. I’ve seen this a number of times on other issues in the work place. People assume the other person knows its a faux pas and that they’re doing anyways, when in reality they are blinded by their own bias in the opposite direction.

      Re: Your nails at desk – if its in the privacy of your own office because you just ripped a nail, I think its ridiculous to be offended. Out at a front desk in front of the public where you’re just clipping all your nails for fun? Weird. Slightly OT but what I really hate though are those people that clip nails/paint nails on an airplane.

    2. Jamie*

      Really good point. Ketchup on chicken.

      I had no idea until I went to sleep away camp for the first time that people thought it was weird to put ketchup on chicken. I truly, honestly believed everyone did that…like butter on toast.

      I don’t think there is any reason to believe he’s doing this to make any kind of statement, at least not with the info we have, so it could well be just a difference in habits.

        1. Jamie*

          The next time you’re up my way you have an open invitation to dinner at my house.

          (But give me a days warning because I will make chocolate éclairs. Made them from scratch this weekend and for the first time in ages I’m sad that I don’t socialize because I desperately want to have someone over for dinner so they can be very impressed at my fanciness.

          From scratch: pate a choux, creme patisserie, and chocolate ganache. And a version with sugar free faux Crème patisserie and ganache that was said to be so good that they didn’t believe the creme was sugar free.)

          Seriously, I almost brought some into work but I didn’t want to be that co-worker.

          Sorry for the digression – I am still at work since this is one of those days of fits and starts on something where there is a lot of hurry up and wait for stuff from other people. And I haven’t eaten since yesterday and now I want something on which to put ketchup.

          1. fposte*

            OMG I *love* chocolate eclairs, and I love making them so I can be sure they have the right stuff inside and not whipped cream or “cream.”

            I make little finger-length ones with chocolate creme patisserie as well, emulating my favorite San Francisco bakery treats of decades ago.

            BRB, heading up to yours.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Eclairs are my all-time favorite dessert. And I heartily endorse fposte’s statement on the filling; it must be custard, or blasphemy has occurred.

            1. Jamie*

              You ladies are right after my mother’s own heart. Custard made from scratch – ahem – I am still impressed with myself. My mom was famous for her eclairs and I never attempted them because they were too intimidating, but I finally made the leap.

              I have never willingly eaten anything in the pudding family, so when I was about 6 I took the tops off of a good portion of a tray of eclairs my mom had in the fridge. My logic was I don’t want to eat a whole one because the bottom part is filled with custard, so the tops with the chocolate was about the same amount of treat.

              Since my mom had made them for a fundraiser she did not agree that it was a reasonable trade. Surprisingly she didn’t want to send a bunch of topless eclairs to the nuns.

              I’m a grown up now so I don’t do that anymore. I just accidentally cut one wrong and it would be a shame to waste it so I ganached both sides. :)

              And fposte – anytime!

      1. Felicia*

        I hate ketchup on everything!

        But I didn’t know people considered ketchup on chicken weird until just now – I mean if the chicken is in a sauce, maybe, but I know lots of people who put ketchup on chicken.

        Although I don’t like ketchup, I didn’t realize until university that some people thought ketchup on mac and cheese was weird. My whole family and lots of friends do that even if I don’t, so I thought it was normal. That was also when I learned that some people put mayo on their fries, which was weird to me but normal to them

        1. GigglyPuff*

          Ketchup and mayo on fries, best thing ever, and I never thought it was weird, living in the South, until I moved to Seattle when I was ten and people gave me the weirdest looks. Then I thought they were super weird because many of them would do ketchup and mustard on fries, um no.

    3. BCW*

      Don’t know if anyone is seeing this, but serious question. What percentage do you think makes something socially unacceptable? I mean if 75% of people think something is fine and for 25% its gross, does 1 in 4 make it socially unacceptable? Lets assume its not like gender or racial lines, just a general sample. At some point don’t the “ew gross” people need to just suck it up and deal with it if you can say the majority of rational people in your office (or wherever) think its fine? Perfect example, there was a question the other day about blowing your nose at your desk. Most respondents thought it was fine, but there were some that thought it was gross and shouldn’t be done. Who “wins” in this situation?

      1. BCW*

        Also, to be clear, I’m not saying the people who find something gross are irrational, its just a saying as opposed to outliers etc

  38. Katie the Fed*

    I’ve been given this Speedo thing some thought, and I think you should be happy you’re just seeing the speedo, not him IN a speedo. Because outside of Olympic swimmers and my high school water polo team, speedos just aren’t a good look for most people :)

    1. Cloudy*

      I was thinking the same thing. When I read the letter I pictured Will Ferrell in his red, white and blue thong.

  39. Yes!*

    Re: speedo on the door. I don’t know why but the humor of this might actually brighten my day on a daily basis. Rock on, mr. Speedo.

  40. EE*

    Hi OP5!

    I am put forward for a LOT of contract roles, and to me this sounds very weird. Some questions for you:

    1) Is the nature of the position strictly delineated (e.g. maternity leave cover, a specific short-term project) or potentially open-ended (e.g. ‘a busy time’, ‘company going through a lot of changes right now and needs an extra hand’)?

    2) How big is the team? If she’d be a fourth person added to a team of 3, chances they’ll keep her on are lower. If she’s the twentieth to a team of 19, chances are higher.

    If it’s potentially open-ended OR it’s a large team, it would be unnatural for a candidate not to ask, IMO. Have it be one of the end questions but don’t put too much focus on it. No sane hiring manager would tell a recruiter that was an instant no for them.

    If it’s obviously not going to go any further then IMO there is a tiny possibility that the hiring manager has conveyed irritation to the recruiter about people not understanding the job spec. It might be better in that case to wait until the offer. Or even wait until she’s been there a while.

Comments are closed.