an interviewer said he doesn’t care about my happiness, can my boss make us all ride in his car, and more

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

1. My interviewer told me “your happiness is not my problem”

In a recent interview for a temp job, I was told straight out by the person who would be my boss, “As my employee, your happiness is not my problem.” This really put me off, as well as him telling me straight up that the job was highly stressful, but that he didn’t care because that was part of his “vision for this workplace.” I appreciated his honesty, but at the same time, was concerned that he seemed to care so little for his employees. I received an offer from them, and even though the job would entail a huge pay increase for me, I have decided I do not need that much added stress in my life.

The thing is, I’ve been out in the job market for about a year since graduating college. I don’t have a ton of experience as far as interviews and bosses. Is this guy’s attitude/outlook normal? Or is it at least not as off-putting to others as it was to me? Should I not have allowed it to scare me off?

No, it’s off-putting alright. The guy sounds like a massive tool and a crappy manager. Employee happiness is very much a concern of good managers — or rather, the happiness of good employees is.

That said, when you’re been out of work for a year and are a new grad, you’ve also got to factor in what other options you have. If you don’t have of ton of alternatives, sometimes it makes sense to put up with a ridiculous boss in order to get experience that you can then parlay into something better (not to mention a paycheck) — and it can help when you’re able to go into it with your eyes open about the nature of the situation. I don’t know if that’s your case or not, but it’s something to keep in mind.

2. My coworkers won’t stop commenting on my weight loss

My question is about how to deal with unwanted and unhelpful comments from co-workers following loss of weight – which was achieved via lots of hard work – diet and exercise wise. I was very overweight for the whole time I have worked where I currently work, and am currently returning to a previous healthy and very slim weight.

I sometimes receive helpful and supportive comments like, “you look fantastic” however I don’t know how to appropriately respond to comments like “You’re wasting away” (I am currently in the high end of my healthy weight BMI so hardly wasting away) and “Don’t lose any more weight” (why? so I am constantly hovering on the border of healthy and overweight and unhappy?), then laughing and joking about am I running to the toilet throwing up after I eat.

How do you deal with this kind of rudeness without creating a scene and coming off as the bad guy?

Well, you’re going up against an entire society norm that it’s okay to make these sorts of comments and a widespread (and misguided) belief that people will take them as complimentary. While you can certainly push back against that, you might be happier if also you accept that there’s no response that will make this stop altogether. It’s a huge cultural weirdness.

But if you want to try pushing back against it, you could try, “Can we stop talking about my weight?” or “I’m calling a moratorium on further comments about my weight. Thanks.” And in response to the bulimia jokes, you’d be well within your rights to say, “That’s really not a humorous subject.”

3. Can my boss make us all ride together in his car for an off-site meeting?

My boss, a coworker, and I have a meeting that is about 3-1/2 hours away from our office. My coworker and I wanted to drive together, but my boss is insisting we all ride in his car, even though I offered for the company to not pay me for the mileage so that we would not be so far away from home without a vehicle. Can he make us all ride together? The meeting requires an overnight stay, which will be covered by the company.

Yes, he can require that, and it’s possible that he wants to do it that way so that you can all talk about work-related things during the drive. But if you feel strongly about it, you should explain that him — say something like, “I’d actually prefer to have my own car there, so I’d really like to drive myself.” If he says no, then say, “Were you thinking we’d use the time in the car to talk about work, or there another reason that I’m not thinking about?” But ultimately, yes, he can require this if he wants to.

4. My employer wants a copy of my diploma to help someone else get a visa

My company is asking everyone with my job title (less than 10 people total) to submit copies of our college diplomas to assist in obtaining a visa for a new employee. They’re saying they need “evidence” that we are really professionals that have university degrees, and that submitting our resumes as evidence wouldn’t really prove anything.

This request just strikes me as really odd and sort of an invasion of my privacy… It would be one thing if they were asking me to prove my own credentials for the purpose of my own employment, but they’re asking for this to help with someone else’s case. Is this weird? Should I say no?

It doesn’t strike me as especially offensive or an invasion of privacy. They’re not asking for information they don’t already have about you; they’re just asking you to supply documentation of a credential that you’ve presumably already shared with them. If that credential is part of the reason they hired you, it’s not unreasonable for them to say, “Hey, now we have a business situation that requires us to document this.”

Saying no is likely to come across pretty oddly (as well as raise questions for them about whether you really graduated).

5. Can I apply again for jobs I applied to months ago?

I’ve been unemployed for nine months and actively searching for a year. At this point, I’m starting to see a lot of repostings of jobs that I applied for months ago– not jobs I interviewed for, but ones where I got a form rejection, or, often, no response at all.

Is it worth it to apply for these again, when I’ve been unemployed all this time and don’t have any new professional experience? (Volunteer opportunities are very limited in the areas I’m looking in, and I don’t have much of a portfolio to show potential freelance clients because most of my work from my last job isn’t cleared for public release.)

My resume and cover letters have improved, and I think are more likely to get me a second look than the ones I was using at the start of the search. If I do reapply, what do I say to acknowledge that I’ve applied before?

If it’s been, say, six months or longer, I think it’s totally fine to apply again, and you don’t need to mention that you applied before (as long as you didn’t get interviewed the last time; if you did, then it would be odd not to acknowledge that). Even if it’s been a little less than six months (say, four months or so), it’s still probably fine — although at that point you’re running up against the possibility that it’s not a new hiring process, but rather the same one that you were already rejected from. But you can’t know for sure from the outside, and you’re not going to outrage anyone either way. If it’s only been a few months, though, then to be on the safe side, you might add something like “I applied a few months back and would still love to be considered if you think it might be a good fit.” That way you’re signaling that you’re not just wildly applying for everything you see and forgot that you already applied for this.

{ 298 comments… read them below }

  1. Dan

    #1

    I just want to point out that when people complain about their paycheck, there are *reasons* why some employers pay “above market.” While it’s not clear from the OP that the pay is indeed above market, I’d need that to justify putting up with a crappy boss, particularly one who says they don’t care about my happiness.

    That said, some employers pay below market as well, and can get away with it because the quality of life is through the roof.

    Crappy pay + lousy boss = run.

    1. GrumpyBoss

      I tried the crappy boss + amazing pay option. I was miserable within 12 months. It isn’t worth it.

      I don’t live life with many regrets. But my biggest regret is that I chased the money instead of the challenge or the happiness at a couple of points in my career.

      1. Becca

        I second this. No amount of pay was worth staying in my last job. They even asked me when I put my two weeks in if we could work something out with pay and I replied with a firm no.

        My other coworker quit the day after me, ended up taking a pay raise that was “too good to pass up” and is still miserable but feels stuck.

      2. SusieQ

        Last job went way south after a new regime took over that promoted and rewarded yes men above all others. It was so miserable that 2 people had breakdowns at work – one got under a desk and wouldn’t come out and another wrapped the mini blind cord of a 18 foot window around his neck in some kind of attempt to strangle himself. Everyone else just cried in the bathroom or drank a lot at lunch.

        Long story short, I scored the fantastic job I have now and gave my 2 weeks notice. Comrade Stalin asked me if I would stay for a significant increase in pay. I had told myself that I would play along just to see how high he would go, but in the moment, I ended up telling him that I wouldn’t stay for twice my current salary. He slammed the desk and stormed out of the room. Fast forward to 10 years later, I now make more than twice as much as I did then, have traveled the world, and am considered a top performer at a job I really enjoy with people I truly love.

        If I had stayed I would have ended up in some breakdown that would have inspired a move of the week – even at twice the salary. I trusted my gut on that and ended up having my cake and eating it too. My advice is to run like the wind from this guy.

      3. Not So NewReader

        Throwing an echo in here. The problem with these high paying crappy jobs is that before you know it you are spending every penny you earn and you can’t leave the job because of the financial commitments you have made. This is like having your leg caught in a leg trap, it will probably not end well, no matter which option you chose.

        So, good call on that one OP.

    2. AdAgencyChick

      If you have other options, yes. But for a new grad who hasn’t been able to find a job, it might be worth working for this jerk even for just a few months, because it’s easier to find a job when you have a job. The longer OP waits, the more new grads who are *fresh* out of school and don’t have a work gap on their resume she’ll be competing against.

      OP, I’m sorry — this situation sucks. I hope you find something better — whether it’s after taking this crappy job or not — soon!

      1. OP for #1

        Just want to clarify: I have other options. I’m currently working as a temp at a place that has more long-term potential than the job I was interviewing for, despite the fact that it pays significantly less. Not only that, but my current job is at a fantastic work environment with lots of friendly people.
        I felt kind of bad when I called to turn them down yesterday, because based on what I’d seen, they’re having a really hard time getting someone for this job, even though it pays well above the market (government job).

        1. MissDisplaced

          OP, Sometimes you just have to go with your gut instincts. You were right to pass on this one, even if it did pay better. You’re at a stage where getting a massively nasty boss could have impacted the way you view the working world (and managers) forever after. As someone who’s suffered at the hands of a horrendous bully boss, I can tell you that even when you leave, the self-doubts and fears they instill will often follow you. At least this guy was honest, most are not for forthright.

          1. AndersonDarling

            Agreed, a bad workplace so early in your career could mess you up big time. And not just in the office, it would spill into your home life and wreak havoc with your family and friends.
            OP, I think you made a great decision, and I hope you feel strong and awesome for making it!

        2. just passing through. . .

          Did they ask for any feedback on why you passed on the offer? It might be an eye-opener for them, particularly if they’re having a hard time filling the position; you couldn’t have been the first one to be put off by this guy if he says this at every interview.

        3. INTP

          Don’t feel bad. There’s a clear reason that they are having a hard time getting someone for the job (the insane boss – and they’re always even worse in reality than they let on!). I would bet that someone above the boss’ head and likely HR know it, but won’t take the steps to fire this person because it’s easier to just let his underlings quit after they’ve received enough abuse. It’s not your job to enable their dysfunctional work environment – don’t feel bad, just be happy for yourself that you were given fair warning and have other options!

          1. OP for #1

            Thanks, guys! After reading all this wonderful feedback from AAM and commenters, I feel more confident in my decision to pass. I really appreciate it!

        4. Molly

          My biggest career regret is going for the job that paid more rather than the one with more advancement potential when I was a year out of school. At this stage, you won’t be making much anyways. Position yourself according to what you want in the future.

          1. TrainerGirl

            I got a job a year out of college, and I watched a lot of coworkers around my age job hop for $1-3k more. They ended up in jobs where they were just as unhappy, and the increase didn’t justify all the moves. I stayed for 3.5 years, and ended up moving into a much better job with a $15k raise and a lot of opportunity. I’m so glad I thought strategically and not just for the short term gain. That has served me well throughout my career.

  2. Dan

    #4

    Your company is right, your resume is proof of nothing (if they indeed need proof.) I can put down that I have a PhD, that doesn’t make it true.

    I’m with AAM on this one. This doesn’t really seem to warrant even thinking twice about.

    1. Leah

      Yup. If the company wants to hire someone from abroad instead of a US resident, they have to justify it to immigration. One of the things they have to prove i the educational level they require for the position. The requirement is not weird. Your refusal to provide the diploma alone probably wouldn’t tank the expensive and time-consuming application, but it could slow things down. This is verification of the info the company already has but the government needs to verify, not an investigation about you personally.

    2. The IT Manager

      I’m not even sure that a copy of a diploma proves that someone graduated, but its a bit harder to fake than putting a line down on the resume.

      Leah makes a point why the request is reasonable, but I’ll admit the company’s request seems odd to me to me too. That said you’re refusal seems even odder to me and seems to raise the possibility that you’re hiding something – that something being that you lied about the diploma, degree, or school. There’s nothing on the diploma that should be private information (it doesn’t have your SSN or anything, does it?) – its all information I would expect someone to share with colleagues and other people throughout life and put down on a resume when you’re job hunting – name, school, degree, year.

      1. GrumpyBoss

        It doesn’t seem odd to me, but that is most likely because I just went through a visa transfer for a new employee. I don’t follow immigration issues closely, but the Department of Labor has made the visa process so much harder than it used to be. The amount of supporting information our legal department asked for was surprising. I wasn’t asked for diplomas from everyone, but this isn’t far off.

        1. AndersonDarling

          This makes me feel better, not the part that you need to jump through hoops, but that the process has become tougher. I heard that many employers were really abusing the visa process to get cheap labor. I’m glad the Department of Labor has cracked down.

      2. Chinook

        I actually did have to submitted original of my degree (which I did the day after I received it) to apply for a work visa overseas. In my mind, I didn’t see it as weird as it is proof of graduation (which is different from transcripts which, IMO, shows more personal information). If your company is in a newish industry or has higher than average employment requirements, I can see your home government requiring proof that they aren’t willing to overlook degree requirements.

      3. Lily in NYC

        To me, the odd thing is that they are putting the onus on the employees to dig up their diplomas when it should really be up to the company to do the legwork. They should just use one of those verification companies that many hiring managers use when checking the degree of a potential employee. Seems like a much easier way to go about it. But OP, I don’t see any privacy issues here – how is it any different from having a background check when you are a new employee?

        1. AB

          This is not at all strange. I worked for a foreign diplomatic office in the US. US-citizen employees had to not only show their original diploma, they had to get a special international notary seal for it as well (apostille). The same was true for US-citizens trying to get visas to the foreign county, and I’m fairly sure was the same practice for foreign citizens who wanted to get visas to work at the diplomatic office in the US.

          The foreign office does not do the work, the employee (or visa applicant) must furnish their diploma with the appropriate notary (which not a cheap or straight-forward process).

          1. Lily in NYC

            That’s not comparable. Yes, it’s completely normal for the visa seeker or a newly hired employee to have to supply this info. This place is asking everyone else who already works there to also supply their diplomas, not just the person seeking the visa. I would not be amused if I had to dig up my diploma or pay for a transcript just so my company could hire someone – I would expect them to deal with it themselves if they were that interested in hiring this candidate.

            1. Judy

              I’ve had at two companies a situation where during an audit of HR files, they’ve sent around emails saying “Oops, we don’t seem to have your transcript or diploma on file, can you send it to us to complete the records we should have gathered when we hired you?” Basically anyone who was hired in the previous 5 years, since the last audit, was asked to supply proof of degree.

            2. AB

              An employer cannot request an official copy of your diploma. I know this for a fact (as someone who has worked in a registrar’s office and as a person who’s had to call dozens of schools just to prove to a foreign diplomat that no, we cannot request it even with a signed form saying the person gives us permission to request it). The employee has to request it themselves.

              It is possible that the OP’s employer may pay for a copy of the degree, but it’s also possible they may not. We don’t even know that the OP doesn’t have their degree on hand. All we know is that the OP thinks it’s weird that the employer wants it.

              1. Lily in NYC

                No, but they can use a verification service to verify that they all have the degrees that they put on their resumes. We use one all the time when we check degrees.

            3. OP#4

              Hi! I forgot to check here yesterday so I’m just catching up on comments. Thanks everyone!

              I guess its less an issue of privacy, and like another commenter said, jumping through hoops. I happen to have my diploma framed and hanging g on the wall and don’t want to deal with the trouble of copying it. Boo!

              But I’m glad to be reassured that its not a weird request and that I should just suck it up and deal with it.

              1. GW

                Use a smartphone document scanner app (there are plenty of free ones available) and just snap a photo to quickly convert into a PDF file.
                No need to take down the frame or anything. If your biggest concern is just the hassle of having to take apart the frame and copy your diploma, this will alleviate that entire issue.

          2. Dan

            Interesting. I’m not sure I know where my diploma is. My alma mater was very clear that the diploma itself is a ceremonial piece of paper; if you want proof of graduation, you need to ask for a certification of graduation.

            1. Molly

              What!? What is the difference between the two? And what was the point of the diploma? This seems awfully redundant to me.

              1. Natalie

                The diploma was probably just intended to be something pretty to stick on the wall. It’s like those birth certificates hospitals used to give out with baby footprints – just decorative.

                1. Kyrielle

                  Still do give out – I have one for both my boys! And they were very clear that this little piece of paper is not an official birth certificate, which you get later from the government, etc.

              2. RJ

                A diploma is not like a birth certificate or Social Security Card. It’s standard for employees to contact their university and have the registrar’s office to send official transcripts or proof of graduation. Usually they are provided free as a courtesy, but you can pay for a rush charge if you need your transcripts quickly or want to pay for tracking. My alma mater provided trackable, verified PDF versions that are accepted by just about any organization. Anyone can print out a diploma, but getting official sealed transcripts directly mailed from the university is hard to fake.

            2. Jennifer

              My alma mater is very clear that a diploma is a LEGAL DOCUMENT and is proof of graduation. Most foreign countries require the diploma and the diploma ONLY as proof. We also offer completion of requirement letters and degree awarded letters if a diploma isn’t ready yet/can’t be provided quickly, but the foreign countries usually won’t accept those.

        2. Anonsie

          Probably because the schools wouldn’t release documentation to the employer, or wouldn’t without a bunch of extra hoops. Normally (at least in my experience) it’s pretty simple for you to request a certification from your university to be sent officially to whoever needs it, similar to transcripts.

          Do those background checking companies have the ability to verify graduation? Seems like they’d only have access to things like credit and criminal history.

          1. Judy

            I’m pretty sure that in the US, schools can release dates of attendance, graduation dates and degrees awarded.

      4. LJL

        It seemed odd to me, but only because most places ask for transcripts (official or not) instead of diploma copies.

      5. The IT Manager

        Excellent points below about perhaps not having it. I know I have lost my Bachelor’s. I know because when I got my Masters a few years back, I had it framed (or maybe it arrived framed), and I dug out my Bachelor’s and planned to frame it too but then lost it before I could. I figure it must have been thrown out or filed away for safe keeping and don’t remember where.

        But it were being asked for it now, I would say that and not frame my reservation as an invasion of privacy.

    3. Artemesia

      Can everyone easily put their hands on their diploma? If I had been asked to do that, I would have had to search a storage locker high and low to unearth the diploma. I would imagine that many diplomas are back home in Mom’s attic.

      1. GrumpyBoss

        I was just thinking the same thing. After several moves, I don’t even know which unopened box/storage locker in another state/relative’s basement mine is in!

        I am sure, however, that a confirmation of degree earned from your school’s registrar would fulfill this need.

        1. Traveler

          Same here. Asking the registrar for a copy would likely mean a fee though. I hope the company would be willing to pay that.

        2. AB

          No, no it does not. When it comes to visas, they generally do not accept a substitute for a diploma because in many countries the actual diploma is considered the legal documentation. The US government is absolutely no different when it comes to visa documentation. You have to have exactly what they ask for and they do not accept substitutions (trust me, I have dealt with this multiple times). If you don’t know where yours is, your can typically get a replacement from your school. Yes, it costs a fee ($25-$50) and I really doubt that the business is going to pony up for that any more than they would if you lost your birth certificate and needed to get a passport for business travel.

          1. Dan

            When you get into that stuff, there’s a test where something benefits an employee more or benefits an employer more.

            Passports are generally something that benefits an employee more than the employer. Diplomas? That’s on the employer — particularly if the only time in my life I will ever be required to show it again is to Uncle Sam in support of some guy’s employment application.

            BTW, if I had no passport, had no real expectation of foreign travel, and my company expected me to go on last minute business travel that would require paying expedite fees to get my passport on time, I’d fully expect them to cover some, if not all of the cost.

            1. AB

              You may expect it, but that doesn’t mean it will happen. BTW, I do love your example because that exact circumstance happened to me and I still had to pay for the passport out of pocket. (Yes, I did ask them to at least pay for the difference in the expedited fees, but they would not)

            2. Traveler

              Especially since in this case OP isn’t the one applying for the visa. They’re working for an employer that’s trying to get a different person on staff by helping with their visa application. I would hope (note: hope and not expect, because given the way I’ve seen corporations operate I don’t expect much, sadly) that the company would pay for this – since OP is already hired, and in no personal way benefits from getting a copy of their diploma.

              I know we’ve discussed jobs here that require you to produce your actual diploma, but I think in general (certain sectors aside) when you apply for a job here in the States that you don’t have to produce that (transcripts or other forms of verification are more common in my experience).

          2. Molly

            But that’s when you’re the one applying for a visa. The company just needs to prove that these people are “professionals.”

            Respectfully, I don’t see paying for a birth certificate or passport is really comparable to paying for a diploma. One is a legal document you need over and over in your life. One is a piece of paper that is in no way standardized (see below… different colleges verify graduation in different ways) and that you likely would never need again (unless you’re in specific fields where showing a diploma is standard). This is further compounded by the fact that OP doesn’t need the paper to be able to do her job. The company needs it for someone else.

            1. AB

              You don’t necessarily need a passport over and over. I know plenty of people who’ve never left the country (my inlaws haven’t even left the state).

              Actually, standardization is exactly why the federal government body is requesting diplomas. While we do not generally use it as the official document proving graduation, many other countries do. In order to standardize the process, they request one type of document otherwise they would have a myriad of different documentation with no idea what was actually official (see statement that different college verify in different ways).

              I have dealt with the circumstance that the OP’s employer is, and I do know what the process is and why they do it that way. I realize this seems very foreign to most US citizens, most of the practices of the US State Department would. Visas and immigration are seriously complex, mind-boggling processes that sometimes make no sense whatsoever even to the people in the government.

              While it may not be fair, the onus is on the employee to present the documentation. While the documentation may not have anything to do with the employee’s normal work, the employer can absolutely make it a condition of employment for whatever reason they want. Also, as I mentioned above: A. we do not know that the OP doesn’t have their diploma and simply doesn’t want to show it; B. we do not know whether or not the employer offered to reimburse any cost in getting a replacement if needed and C. the employer cannot request a copy of the diploma

              1. AB

                Sorry, that last line should say… the employer cannot request a copy of the diploma from the school. The employee has to do that.

                1. OP#4

                  1- I know exactly where it is (framed on my wall) just don’t want to deal with the hassle
                  2- no offer of to cover any cost from the employer
                  3- no clue if they can/will investigate getting copies themselves. They probably are just asking us first since that’s way easier on them.

                  I think after reading a lot of these comments I’m just going to take a photo (legible of course) of the diploma in the frame on the wall and see if that suits them. Minimal effort for me and satisfies their request!

          3. Jen RO

            Coming from a country where the diploma is *it*, it’s really odd to read that in the US it’s something you can lose and not care!

            1. Jen RO

              Oh, and if a transcript is the thing with the grades, it would be useless here without the actual diploma.

            2. Jennifer

              That’s not so much the case, that you can lose it and not care. It’s just not an issue literally everywhere you go in America compared to other countries. Not every employer requires it and if you’re not dealing with the government, you may be able to get away with not having it.

          4. Artemesia

            Every school I have graduated from and I have a BA and two graduate degrees makes quite clear that you only get one diploma and that they cannot and will not be replaced. If I had to produce the diploma instead of the transcript I would be SOL. I realize in foreign countries the piece of paper is critical, but that has generally not been the case in the US where it is the transcript from the university that is critical. Lots of people would not be able to produce the display document that is the diploma.

            1. Judy

              My sister has at least 3 diplomas, since she received her MD before she married and changed her name. The medical school seems to have no problem with re-issuing a diploma in another name. I think that all of the doctors in her practice have diplomas on the wall at each of the office locations, and they have 3 of them. I’ve only been to 2 of them, but she has the same one (same school, date, married name) on the wall at both of them.

            2. Jennifer

              Ouch! We only allow one diploma, but we can at least order a replacement. (On the other hand, I’m just waiting to get yelled at today by a lady who wants 2 copies of a diploma, because stupid new policy says I’m not allowed to.)

      2. PizzaSquared

        I’m not even sure I ever got a physical diploma. I suppose I probably did, but I ha no clue where it would be.

        1. Chinook

          Is there a difference in the US between a degree and a diploma? I.doubt I could find my high school diploma but I sure as heck know where my university degree is because I can’t get a replacement and spent a. Lot of money to get it. But, I don’t know if I would feel the same about a college diploma (which is usually 2 years).

          1. reader

            Diploma is what you receive at the end of every level of education. I have 4 – elementary, junior high, high school and college (university). It says you satisfied the requirements to graduate. Degree is the area you studied. My degree is BSCE, Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering.
            And we use the term college to mean post secondary education (post high school) for almost any institution. The designation of College or University in the title has to do with how the institution is organized.

            1. Enjay

              You actually saved your elementary and middle school diplomas? Impressive! I have no idea where my high school diploma is and my college one hangs on my wall (customary where I work).

              1. reader

                I said I got them. Actually not sure where any of them are. although I did come across the elementary one not too long ago.

              1. Miss Betty

                There didn’t used to be diplomas for elementary and junior high/middle school. I don’t remember ever hearing about them until the 1980s. We didn’t used to graduate from those grades – we were promoted, just like at the end of every grade. No fanfare, just a note on the final report card. (This was in the USA, in the Midwest – other parts of the country or even other states in the Midwest could, of course, be different.)

                1. Editor

                  I think pre-World War II there were a lot of public schools that gave diplomas at 8th grade graduation in the U.S., because many students didn’t go to high school. There’s been a push by educators to offer only the graduation experience and the diploma at the end of high school in order to make students feel they haven’t finished school until they’ve completed 12th grade in the U.S.

                  The high schools in one of the places I lived gave graduates a formal diploma about the size of a standard sheet of paper, but also plastic facsimiles of the diploma the size of a credit card. They were especially popular with students who went into trades directly after high school, because they could shove the wallet card in their billfolds and prove they had the required high school diploma. Employers were familiar with the cards and asked to see them.

                  My college diploma is somewhere — it’s oversized. Copying it would be a pain. I don’t know if they still do it, but Rice University used to do a diploma that was about two feet wide and three feet high that resembled parchment (with a lot of big pseudo-gothic lettering, too, I think), and I always thought that was a bit over-the-top.

                2. Turanga Leela

                  I remember that the characters in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn got elementary school diplomas, and that was published in the ’40s. So it’s not a new thing, although it’s certainly not standard everywhere, and I bet you’re right that some of the variation is regional.

                  I had an elementary school diploma at one point, but who knows where it is now. I think most of my diplomas are in a poster tube that I never unpacked.

                3. Loose Seal

                  My niece just got her diploma from graduating pre-school (that’s four-years-old). They had tiny caps and gowns for the ceremony, too.

          2. PizzaSquared

            I’m talking about college only. In my mind, the degree is the actual credential (I got my degree by graduating), and the diploma is the piece of paper that says I got the degree.

          3. Elsajeni

            Interesting! In the US, “diploma” generally refers to the physical document that you receive upon graduation, at any level. It would also be pretty unusual in the US for the diploma itself to be used as proof that you earned the degree; most of the time, an employer would just contact the school or a degree verification service, or if they want details, they might ask you to submit a transcript. So it’s not unusual for people not to have their diplomas for various degrees that they’ve earned — most of the time, you have the graduation ceremony before the actual diplomas are printed and issued, so you’d have to either have it mailed to you or make a special trip back to campus to pick it up, and you rarely need it for anything, so why bother?

            1. Felicia

              It’s interesting the differences in dialect. That is not what “diploma” refers to in Canada, and we would call the thing that proves that you earned a degree a degree. Like I have a piece of paper with my name, university name B.A in what I got a B.A. in , and we call that a degree. Of course, what you call college, we call university, and what we call college, you call community college. We also say degree to differentiate – so what you get from college (what an American would call community college) is called a diploma, and what you get from university (what Americans seem to call college) is called a degree. Though to confuse things further a lot of colleges in Ontario and other Canadian provinces grant degrees now.

              1. Aunt Vixen

                If it helps you at all, the difference between a college and a university in the US is *mostly* to do with whether or not they grant *terminal* degrees (JD, PhD, MD, DDiv; MFA, for all I know). So many of us get our four-year undergraduate (bachelor’s) degrees from universities. But undergraduates are almost exclusively called “college students”. I believe community-college students enrolled in a two-year (associate’s) degree program are also called college students. Very democratic that way. :-)

                1. Artemesia

                  And ‘college’ and ‘university’ have nothing to do with quality whatsoever. Many prestigious universities call their undergraduate school a ‘college’ and many 4th rate institutions which have one grad degree e.g. a masters in sports management or something call themselves a ‘university.’ College in the US generally refers to the 4 year bachelors degree; the associate degree from a community college is a two year degree and would be called an ‘associates degree’ not a ‘college degree’. But most of all the terms ‘college’ and ‘university’ have virtually no meaning besides what the board of trust decided to put on the letterhead.

                2. Felicia

                  We call undergraduates university students, and any school that grants any kind of degree is (generally) also called a university. The US terminology still sometimes confuses me, but I do always remember that when you guys say college it’s not what a Canadian would mean.

            2. Jen RO

              In Romania, the ceremony is also before the diplomas are printed. At the ceremony, you get a ‘diploma’ that is worthless (mine has WordArt). The actual diplomas are printed about a year after you graduate; in the meantime, they give you an official paper that basically says ‘we certify that Ms Jen really did graduate this year’.

              1. Artemesia

                Large schools in the US do this. I got at graduation from ‘giant state university’ a scroll that basically said ‘if you actually graduated you will get a diploma in the mail eventually.’ My son got the same. Smaller private schools tend to only let those actually graduating walk across the stage and give them the actual diploma at graduation. It becomes a big deal to make sure that the graduate in fact passed all his last semester’s classes and is graduating.

                1. Turanga Leela

                  My high school gave everyone faux leather folders that were identical from the outside. Mine had a diploma in it, but several of my friends’ had little index cards saying “You will be eligible to receive your diploma when you complete 6 additional hours of Phys. Ed. and 10 additional hours of community service.”

                2. Hillary

                  The mail carrier dropped my MBA diploma under my parents’ deck (I was moving so had it sent to their house). Dad ended up taking a couple boards off in January in the snow to get it back.

                  It’s framed with my college diploma on the wall of my home office. My hs diploma is in the office too because my current employer required a copy, even though I have a tertiary degree. Heaven forbid they’d treat anyone differently in the employment process – if people applying for the factory have to provide something, then everyone does.

              2. Chinook

                At my university (U of Alberta), the degrees were printed before the ceremony and handed to you as you crossed teh stage. If you couldn’t make it, then they would mail it to you.

              3. Jennifer

                Yeah, our school takes 4 months to get you diplomas. 2 months because four different offices are checking your grades and other requirements to “award” it officially, and then 2 months to get them ordered and printed on the opposite coast.

        1. Clerica

          I tried to get a copy of mine once so I wouldn’t have to unframe mine, and they wanted $40 for it. They don’t keep copies so it’s basically a special print job. Transcripts would have been cheaper, although I ended up doing some heavy editing with a non-flash photo of the framed diploma. Either way, though, the company would have to pay for the copy or transcripts; there’s no way I would be bankrolling their new employee.

          1. Beyonce Pad Thai

            Yep, I had to pay € 50 for an “official copy” of mine last year so I could send it to my student loan service to prove I graduated. Seems a bit much just for a stamped print, but there’s no haggling with the student services office…

        2. Artemesia

          Many colleges and universities will not provide a second diploma; mine made that clear as did my son’s university. You can always get an official sealed transcript that proves you graduated for a fee.

      3. Nea

        I’m so glad for this thread. I was working while earning my masters and made the deliberate choice to not pick up the diploma; driving to get it was a long haul at the expense of working; having it mailed was money I couldn’t spare. I verified with the school that I had graduated and never looked back.

      4. Some

        You don’t need a copy of your diploma. You can ask the university/college to send you a letter stating that you received a certain degree on certain date on official letterhead.

        Also you can just take a picture of the diploma in the frame (for those concerned about it) and print it out. If the government needs to see it’s real, they will call the university anyway and verify if you graduated.

      5. Cindi

        That’s what I was thinking. Now I’m sitting here at work trying to remember where my diploma is … I have no idea …

        1. Kyrielle

          I don’t think I’ve seen my diploma in three moves, at least. It’s probably in a box, but I have literally never needed it, and maybe it accidentally got tossed (I would hope not, it is or was in a little case at least).

          If an employer asked me for it, though, it would be far easier to get another (which costs money) and have it sent, than to go find the one I theoretically have.

        1. OP#4

          I think someone mentioned that they’re going to try just having diplomas and seeing later if transcripts will be required… Which is another set of hoops I’m not keen to jump through!

      6. Jubilance

        My undergrad and graduate degrees are framed & hanging in my living room. It would be a pain to removed them from the frames tho to provide documentation.

        1. cuppa

          We have to bring our diploma in on our first day of work. I had a coworker who brought hers in, frame and all.

      7. the gold digger

        My grad school diploma is in a file somewhere, but my college diploma is framed (and stuck in a closet upstairs – that was a waste of good money to pay for framing) – and it is about two feet by three feet. It would be a pain in the neck to bring it to work.

      8. HR Manager

        They normally accept a copy of the diploma or an official transcript or record from the school proving graduation with that degree. I have mine framed and hung, so it’s not easy to get out to photocopy!

        My guess is that they are declaring a certain education requirement for a job, and therefore they have to prove everyone in this job has that requirement, and so the candidate with this degree is a hard to find resource who is worthy of visa sponsorship. Not at all unusual.

        1. OP#4

          The weird part is that the visa is for our new head of department… Not another employee with same title!

      9. JoAnna

        I actually display mine on my desk (in a nice frame). I had it hanging up in the wall in my office when I had an office, and then when I switched jobs and moved to a cubicle, I decided to keep it (discreetly) displayed on my desk.

      10. My two cents...

        a transcript from the university that shows that you ‘graduated’ should be enough.

        non-official transcripts (about as ‘real’ as a photocopied diploma) can be processed within a day’s time.

        official transcripts sometimes take about a week, because they have to use an embossed seal, check for outstanding balances, and send them in a sealed envelope so it’s going straight from the school to the requester, without fear of tampering with them.

    4. Jennifer M.

      My diploma was professionally framed and hangs in my mom’s house. I wouldn’t take it out of the frame for my company unless they paid to reframe it. Now at my company I wouldn’t have to because HR has a contract with a service to do verification of degrees on all employees as they are onboarded, so they could just submit a report (we do a lot of government contracting and we have to certify that we confirmed all information on our proposals which includes listing qualifications of proposed staff). But since it sounds like you are a small company, it’s probably too expensive in addition to all the other visa related costs. We send our staff to one country that requires copies of the diplomas in the visa application and we often have to send them photos because of the framing issue.

      1. miki

        My diploma (MS) was professionally framed and also hangs in my mom’s house; I also received one unframed copy of diploma free of charge. My BA diploma (and size is Folio or A2 for this one) is with me right now, and I actually had to use it (at least a scan of it and translation in English language) to gain points on promotion register: I work at state university. What baffled me is that even though I have MS in my field of work I actually got another 20 points just proving I also hold BA degree (one would thing that MS proves you already have BA)

    5. HR Diva

      This is standard in applying for a visa. It is not the company, but the DOL. In establishing the prevailing wage and job description, and showing that the job has a unique “skill” that can only be filled by the applicant they look at the requirements for similar positions in the company as well as subordinates. Part of the process is to impede writing a job description that is too specific for the candidate.

    6. HigherEdWorker

      On the topic of diploma vs. transcripts, while I recognize that employers often do ask for a diploma as proof of graduation…it is not a very accurate or secure way to do so. If employers want to verify graduation they should request official transcripts with degree posted sent from the institution. A diploma is really just a certificate, something to hang on your wall…and it’s rude to ask an employee to hand that over anyways. Replacements generally cost $.

        1. Sayhellokitty

          However, I believe in many countries a diploma is considered more official documentation than a transcript. So the request seems to be following more international protocol.

      1. Editor

        You would think that officials in the U.S. would accept transcripts. Officials outside the U.S. don’t seem to be interested in transcripts. One of my children worked in Singapore on a short-term basis, and to get a visa that allowed work, the diploma had to be presented to ensure that some deadbeat wasn’t getting into the country.

        We had to get a copy of the diploma, but fortunately it wasn’t expensive.

      2. K

        A person who is familiar with photoshop could make up a diploma from scratch if they wanted. It’s better to get an official transcript or contact the school directly.

    7. Vicki

      I do wonder, however, why the company can’t do their own research on this.

      And, if there is a cost involved in getting a copy of your diploma, make sure they’re willing to reimburse you.

  3. Zelda

    #1. I’ve been around for long enough to find this interviewers’ approach interesting enough that – bar any other red flags – I would take the job. Yes, a good manager should be concerned with employees’ happiness, but I’ve worked with and for many managers who *claim* to care, but either don’t *really* care and just think it sounds like the right thing to say, or who simply don’t understand what “caring” requires in practice. It’s usually harder to deal with these managers and organizations than with ones that don’t make a pretense.

    1. Not an IT Guy

      I agree with the fact that there are those who claim to care…in fact I had one manager who used my “happiness” as justification for kicking me out of his department, effectively preventing me from seeking other employment. At least this guy was up front with his statement.

    2. Lyssa

      I’m not saying that I’d definitely take the job, but I can’t help but be glad that this guy was at least honest and upfront about expectations – much better than the alternative. I wonder what prompted him to say that – was he just spouting off, or was he responding to something that the LW said?

    3. Not So NewReader

      I think YMMV on this one. And we bank off of our own life experiences, of course. My thinking is that if he is willing to say this on an interview then what is he willing to say after he gets to know me. I have tried working with people like this and it just doesn’t go well, for varying reasons.

      One other thought I had was that if we don’t believe there are good employers out there I think we tend to lessen our chances of finding those good people. When I first left home, I settled a lot. I would tell myself that work was work and if the boss was cussing someone out AGAIN, I needed to learn coping tools. After all, a job is a job. Many tears later, I realized that I needed to put effort into finding those quality bosses. It’s a quality of life issue, your health/relationships/finances/etc will tank with a bad boss. Some people can work with a cusser or a thrower and cope, but not everyone can.

    4. krisl

      What really bothered me was this part:
      the job was highly stressful, but that he didn’t care because that was part of his “vision for this workplace.”

      Part of his vision for work is to have highly stressful employees? That’s not good.

  4. Adam

    #1 So if I’m understanding this one correctly, the writer was being interviewed and the boss stated, without any prompting, about his lack of concern for his employee’s contentment? It sounds to me like they are definitely looking for a certain type of individual whose qualifications go beyond a basic resume. On a positive light they want dedicated workers who can hold up under pressure. On the negative side they may want mindless worker bees who don’t question the higher ups.

    If this were me it would really depend on how desperate my financial situation was. While we all pay our dues somehow I’m not sure an ogre of a boss needs to be on the checklist.

    1. GrumpyBoss

      It would be weird for this be stated unsolicited. I do wonder if the OP said something to cause the interviewer to go down this path.

      I did this once, when I was interviewing someone who was very focused on after hours activities, is everyone friends outside of work, where do we eat our lunch, etc. I wasn’t that blunt, but I did try to steer the candidate back on track with a stern, “we are also known to work, by the way”. But by that point, I was not considering hiring the candidate.

      1. Colette

        Yeah, I wonder that, too – there’s a difference between “I don’t care if my employees are miserable and don’t want to be here” and “My goal is to run a successful business with fulfilled employees, but their happiness is up to them”.

      2. OP for #1

        I don’t believe I said or did anything to prompt this as it was said within the first ten minutes of the interview, I’m pretty sure all I’d done at that point was confirm that, yes I had two Bachelor’s degrees and why.
        It could be just me reading into things further than is realistic, but I think that this was a result of interviews with previous candidates who commented negatively on his abrasiveness.

        1. Lily in NYC

          I really think you made the right move. I learned the hard way to always follow my gut when trying to decide if a job is the right fit.

        2. My two cents...

          that interviewer might have been coming off of some interviews with really unfit candidates and was at their end. heh

        3. Not So NewReader

          Ten minutes into the conversation? It sounds like the interviewer was burned out. Now, I wonder if he is even happy at the job.

  5. CoffeeLover

    #1 Sounds like a blunt telling of a lot of the positions I’ve looked at. Banking and consulting jobs to be specific. You better have a firm grip on your own happiness because the hours and work load will be tough. You’re almost signing on to be unhappy for the trade-off of learning a lot and advancing your career. It’s fine if you’d rather be happy in the work you do, but if happiness (in the form of work-life balance and a stress-free environment) is what you’re looking for, then look elsewhere. I actually don’t find his comment all that off-putting if it’s in the context of one of these types of jobs.

    Note: I’m not saying you can’t be happy in these jobs, but it takes a certain kind of person.

    1. JM in England

      #1 At least this potential boss is being upfront about their management style. I’ve had bosses that seemed friendly and charming during the interview but showed their true colurs after I was hired.

      That said, I would say take this job if you have no other options open and use it as a base to find something better. Given the tendency of employers to discriminate against the unemployed, it would be a wise move.

    2. JM in England

      #1 At least this potential boss is being upfront about their management style. I’ve had bosses that seemed friendly and charming during the interview but showed their true colours after I was hired.

      That said, I would say take this job if you have no other options open and use it as a base to find something better. Given the tendency of employers to discriminate against the unemployed, it would be a wise move.

      1. SH

        I’ve been in the OP’s position and I took the job. I wasn’t happy but I learned a lot and my supervisor told my then temp agency that she admired how strong I was. I’m now in a permanent position that I love.

      2. OP for #1

        Yes, at least he is upfront about it, and his honesty definitely weighed on the side of taking the job. But, given that I am currently doing (lesser paid) temp work with nicer people, I decided my mental health outweighed the money. (Sorry I wasn’t clear about my being currently employed.)

      3. Cheesecake

        I have a very direct boss and i like it. Yet, during interview she hasn’t said anything obnoxious. Honestly, if she did say “i can’t care less about you happiness”, i’d go with another job i had on the table. But if in a position “no other job/no experience”, i’d take it.

  6. AnonyMouse

    #2: If you’re close with at least some of your coworkers, you might be able to get away with saying something like “Hey, I really appreciate the support, but since my weight loss is pretty recent, it’s kind of a sensitive topic…comments about my size actually make me feel pretty insecure. I think I’d do a lot better if we could cut down on the number – is that cool?” This gives them a reason that doesn’t make it about them being a big jerk – I’ve noticed that a lot of times when people are called out on awkward or insensitive behaviour, they get really defensive and sometimes even double down. In a perfect world, you wouldn’t have to do this, but I can definitely see just “can we stop talking about my weight” getting a defensive reaction from certain people.

    #4: Yeah, I don’t think this is that unusual. If you don’t have easy access to your diploma or are uncomfortable turning over a copy of the thing itself for some reason, you could try getting a letter of verification/confirmation from your school…but sometimes immigration related requirements can be pretty rigid, so I’d assume you may have to go along with it.

    #5: I think to boost your chances of doing better this time around, ideally in addition to just strengthening your resume and cover letter overall, you’ll probably want to try to do a better job of tailoring them to that specific role. If I rejected a candidate who had submitted an application that didn’t fully make the case for their fit, and they then resubmitted materials that were generally stronger but not better tailored to the position, I’d probably think they didn’t really get why they were rejected in the first place. It may be that you’re already writing really solidly customised application materials (and there’s a higher chance of this being true because you read AAM!), but given how many people submit overly generic cover letters and resumes, it’s worth pointing out.

    1. nep

      re #2 — That sounds too apologetic to me. Why should the person ask whether it’s cool that asinine comments not be made?
      In any case, OP becomes stronger and helps him/her self by utterly disregarding. Don’t even let the comments register. Why give the ignorant comments of others undue meaning/influence?

      1. kozinskey

        Actually, I think AnonyMouse’s phrasing is a great idea. Explaining why that type of comment can be hard to hear might help shut some of it down. I don’t know why weight is something people love to comment on (and say really awkward things about) when it’s something that’s usually extremely personal, but that’s how it is. I’m all in favor of raising awareness of the fact that many people would rather not discuss their weight with coworkers.

        1. nep

          Right — Agree it’s fine to educate people as necessary, and raise awareness. Always a good thing. The asking whether it’s OK was the part that threw me. It’s simply demanding common decency and respect so I don’t think one needs to ask permission.

          1. AnonyMouse

            I used that particular phrasing more as a figure of speech than an actual request for permission. I frequently say “is that cool” when I’m trying to casually gauge people’s feelings on something I’ve just said – if I was actually seeking approval, I’d go with something more formal. I 100% do not think the OP should have to ask for permission! In my ideal world, they would just be able to say “shut the **** up about my weight.” :)

        2. Kai

          Yeah–many people assume that comments like “don’t get too skinny” or “you’re all skin and bones” are fine because our society puts such a premium on being thin. I’d also bristle at these comments, but the people saying them don’t realize how rude they’re being. I think Anonymouse’s response is good.

    2. Ellen Fremedon

      OP #5 here: That’s part of why I’m considering reapplying to some of these postings– I’m tailoring my materials much better than I was at the start of the search, and think I’d have a better shot now than with the more generic resumes and letters I was submitting.

  7. Chocolate Teapot

    3. Can you use the safety argument?

    I know in our company, we have to limit the number of Bigwigs in the same mode of transport (e.g. 3 Bigwigs in one car, plane, etc.) in case something happens and a whole department is wiped out. (Yes, I realise this sounds macabre!)

    1. Traveler

      Ugh. I really hate this. I’ve known people that were really terrible drivers (and many of them didn’t realize it). Being forced to ride in the car with someone who is not a ‘professional’ driver if you’re not volunteering to do so should not be okay.

      1. Case of the Mondays

        At old job I flat out refused to continue riding w/ one attorney unless I drove. He constantly emailed while driving and just did not pay attention to the road. This was on a super busy city highway. I offered to email for him while he dictated and he said “nah, I’m fine.” I almost made him pull off the highway and leave me at a gas station. I would never ride with a drunk, why would I ride with a phone user? The difference is, it is easier to avoid riding w/ a drunk than it is to know pre-emptively if your driver is going to text the whole time. I refused some other stuff w/ him too and it really ruined our working relationship. Luckily, I was still getting work from other people. My safety was just too important.

        1. Traveler

          Yikes. This is exactly the kind of case I was thinking of. I’ve had to have uncomfortable conversations with people I know very well about driving stuff, I wouldn’t want to have them with coworkers or bosses!

        2. Beancounter in Texas

          In my current office, one other senior member & I are the go-to drivers for our colleagues. The boss is just a poor driver. He doesn’t pay attention to anyone else on the road, he does not plan ahead when he needs to turn, he doesn’t care when he is honked at (which is every time I’d been forced to ride with him), and his lane changes are more like drifts into the lane, so I never know whether it’s intentional, because he never signals. He stops in the road when he’s looking for an address, he’s hit a stationary (empty) vehicle with me in the car & didn’t stop to inspect whether he damaged it until he saw me craning my neck out the back window. Then he stopped in the middle of a parking lot intersection and left his door open while he went to inspect. Another employee saw him drift into a lane and hit another vehicle. His car will occasionally show up with dings & scratches. He’s driving in Dallas, TX. This isn’t some rural town where everyone knows his car & keeps clear. He must have the most diligent guardian angel. We suspect his poor driving is the result of a pre-occupied mind that is always whirling on one subject or another.

          The worst part is that anytime the company goes anywhere, he wants to drive. Three and a half hours of this guy driving to a location where he doesn’t know the territory? Uh, no. Good boss, absolutely terrible driver. Fire me if you have to, I am not riding in a car he is driving for that far of a distance.

      2. Artemesia

        As a graduate student I had to ride in a small plane piloted by the senior researcher on trips to gather data — I was pregnant and it did make me a bit nervous. It didn’t occur to me I could refuse that mode of transport until another research associate flatly refused on safety grounds. The pilot was apparently competent and diligent with safety but this is an inherently dangerous mode of transport.

    2. Cautionary tail

      We had a similar rule at oldjob. No more than one [similar] subject matter expert in a mode of transportation at any time. Going out for lunch required at least two vehicles, etc. Then again, the entire electric grid of a large part of the USA was at potential risk so it probably wasn’t as paranoid as it first seemed to me.

    3. the gold digger

      When I was working in the insurance industry, we had a similar clause for some group policies – that you couldn’t have more than a certain number of bigwhigs on the same plane – for that exact reason.

    4. Trying not to out my husband

      My husband just had some work travel for a government job. This is a job where you have to go to months of training before you are certified to do the job. His entire department was on the same plane for the travel. These are not easily replaceable people. I thought it was the stupidest thing ever, not to mention, a bit of a terrorism risk.

    5. Mister Pickle

      Another possible consideration: what size car does the boss drive? 3 people in a Honda Fit for 3.5 hours is going to be “problematic”.

      I have to be honest, though: for me, I don’t want to be trapped in a car with certain people for an extended period of time. My current boss would be no problem. My previous boss? Different story.

    6. AnotherAlison

      I have had to ride with people I didn’t care to spend 3 hours with many, many times (try 4 hours with a client you just met that morning. Awkward).

      I’m curious if the boss has a company car. Even though they reimburse mileage, your employer’s insurance likely does not cover you to drive for work in your personal vehicle. We’re required to rent vehicles for local driving trips for that purpose, and in that case, it makes sense that they don’t want to pay for multiple rental cars, or a rental when someone else is already driving a company car.

      I seem to be in the minority, but overall, I’m in the camp of suck-it-up on this one. It’s not your personal holiday, it’s a business trip, and presumably the day’s schedule will be dictated by business, and the boss will take you to dinner. I definitely understand wanting the freedom to go where you want, heck, even just knowing you can get a toothbrush easily if you forgot yours, but the company shouldn’t have to pay the extra mileage for that. You can also likely get a cab if you and your friend want to do something on your own at night. I think it’s really about just not wanting to make conversation with the boss for three hours, and everything else is trying to justify that.

    7. Kyrielle

      Ours too! There was a real “ack!” moment many years ago when they realized that _every single developer on one product_ (except for one junior member of the team brought on within the previous month) was on the same plane going to and coming from one event – along with the product manager and the primary QA person for it.

      It is macabre, but it’s also a scenario you don’t want to be in as a company if it *does* happen. Although my flight would have been so much more comfortable if I _hadn’t_ been exposed to that thought right before (I was one of the developers)!

    8. Cath in Canada

      We don’t have this kind of policy. The first time a group of about eight or nine of us flew to San Diego to visit some collaborators from the private sector, they were absolutely horrified that we’d all been allowed on the same flight!

    9. Vicki

      Or, if not safety, health.

      It’s a 3 1/2 hour trip. Someone is going to have to ride in the back seat.
      That someone would Not be me because I would get carsick.

  8. Rowan

    #3, maybe this is one of those American culture clash things we stumble across here so often, but I’m really not understanding your concern. Unless you have reason to believe that your boss will be unreasonable and withhold transport home from you, why would you want to spend money and waste fuel on taking two cars for three people? It seems rather excessive and wasteful.

    1. Cheesecake

      +100
      Unless the boss is a horrible driver, i don’t get this either. I personally don’t like to drive that long and would be happy if someone does it for me.

      1. Traveler

        Can you imagine having the awkward conversation with your boss if you find out they are a bad driver? “Hey could you please slow down/Stop tailgating? It’s scaring me!” If OP has never been in a car with boss, they wouldn’t know if they were horrible or not.. and it could lead to a stressful situation.

        On top of that – being in a very confined space for hours on the road is tough with people you’ve chosen to get in a car with, let alone people you have only a professional relationship with – I can think of all kinds of other scenarios that would make this uncomfortable.

        1. Diet Coke Addict

          Oh yeah–my boss is a horrid driver, who tailgates, speeds 40k above the limit, weaves in and out of traffic, etc. and it’s miserable to drive with him. I’ve had to ride with him a few different times (as he won’t allow separate cars, because he doesn’t want to pay mileage) and it’s a hair-raising experience. If I didn’t have to, no way I would be in a car with him, on top of the pain of being trapped in a vehicle with your boss.

    2. GrumpyBoss

      I had a boss who did this and I hated it. Mostly because I was being held hostage by his schedule. When I’m done on a road trip, I am DONE. My boss, however, would spend hours after the fact screwing around. “I need to check voicemail before we leave” all the way to “give me a few minutes to answer some emails”. I would stand around for literally hours waiting for him. I once waited from 4pm to 8:30pm while he did this. I could have driven home and back in that time! Then there was the car ride back. If I was driving myself, I just drive home. He would need a stop every 60 minutes for the restroom, to stretch his legs, etc. I found the entire exercise just very inconsiderate.

      How I got around it was I intentionally scheduled personal appointments that required me to leave on my own. If I had a 3hour drive back from a meeting that ended at 3, I’d have a doctor appointment scheduled at 6. He didn’t know how to push back on this one.

      1. Nerd Girl

        I just did a trip out of state with a friend that was this way. I’m most definitely a “drive until we get there unless I really have to pee” kind of person. My friend, who drove merely because she had the larger car, stopped so many times that a 5 hour drive became an 8 hour drive. I hated every minute of it and honestly would never do it again. I agree that it came across as inconsiderate. Add to that the fact that her driving made me white-knuckle the door handle there and back and it was akin to torture for me.

        1. Case of the Mondays

          What is worse is being the person that has to pee every thirty minutes and trying to hold it to be respectful of your co-travelers and freaking out about hitting traffic and peeing (or pooping!) your pants. Or having to be the annoying person asking to stop all the time because you have to go.

        2. Artemesia

          My favorite was a dear friend who drove a van from Seattle to a vacation cottage on the Oregon coast that we were sharing with our kids. I love this friend and spending the time in the car was something I looked forward to. But alas she had the habit of accelerating and then dropping off, accelerating and dropping off — I don’t usually get car sick but the effect of this lurch, pause, lurch, pause driving had me feeling dreadful by the time we got there.

        3. INTP

          I’m the opposite – I have a small bladder, and while I’ve luckily never had to ride with a coworker for that length of time, my stepfather (who IS incredibly generous in helping me with long moving drives) has a rule that you only pee when the car needs gas. When we reach the destination, my feet are scarily swollen, the inside of my nose is cracking from dehydration, and I’m out of it from having to keep myself drugged asleep to avoid exploding. I’ll deal with that crap for free moving help but just so my boss has someone to chat with? No way. The dehydration might not happen within 3.5 hours but I would definitely need to pee too badly to focus on conversation within 1-2 hours. And based on the comments about needing to pee a lot being inconsiderate, it seems like I’d likely have no choice but to offend them by insisting on driving myself or by insisting on the right to empty my bladder so it might as well be the former!

    3. Jen RO

      I’m not American and I would not like to share the car with my boss, unless we were close. It’s just… having to be on my best behavior for so long, make chit-chat… I’d rather listen to music (the music I like), or to an audiobook, or to talk to a coworker without being “on”.

      1. tt

        I’d prefer not to be stuck in a car with my boss for hours, either. Which I discovered one when a former boss drive me home in bad weather, and it turned into 3+ hours! We could either continue trying to make conversation, or sit there silently, both of which are awkward.

        I also generally dislike feeling trapped at someone else’s discretion, similar to what grumpy said.

    4. Judy

      My husband had a manager once who had a side business, selling old toys. Whenever they took a driving trip, a 5 hour drive would take 10, because he stopped at every other antique shop between here and there. And stopped at the other ones on the way home.

    5. Vee

      I’d hate it because I get car sick and would feel incredibly awkward being in a car with colleagues and a boss when I could potentially feel unwell and like a burden if I need to ask them to pull over for a few minutes or like the ticking time bomb in the room when I look like I might throw up. I’d rather drive myself where I can pull over if I need to.

      1. Zillah

        This was actually the first thing I thought of. OP, do you ever get carsick? If so, you could say that you tend to get really carsick if you’re not driving. Or, if it’s a problem for both you and your coworker, just say that you both need a front seat for that reason.

        (I get horribly carsick.)

    6. Allison

      I absolutely hate being somewhere away from home and not being able to leave on my own if needed. Even if there’s little chance that I’d need to do so, relying on someone else for a ride can make me feel trapped.

    7. Colette

      If you’re going somewhere where you would actually like to visit places other than the office, having a car can make that much easier (unless you’re staying close to the places you’d like to go).

    8. alma

      I had a boss who thought it was fun to randomly accelerate just to freak out everybody else in the car. :/

      I don’t take that as typical of driving with your boss, of course (at least I hope it isn’t). But I definitely know there are some bosses where you really don’t want to be stuck as their passenger.

    9. Traveler

      While I think this is mostly not an “American” culture thing – and more of a personal concern/safety/awkward situation I suppose there could be some reasons why it’d be an American thing. We’re pretty dependent on our cars – in some places it’s the only way to get around. There aren’t quick trains or something we can catch if we need to get home in a hurry if something happens. It would be a significant expense in the form of a plane ticket or a rented car to return.

      1. Natalie

        And that’s assuming a rental car or whatever is even available. There are plenty of places in the Midwest where the nearest place to rent a car is going to be the nearest mid-sized city, which could be hours away.

      2. The IT Manager

        In most places in America, cars are the most common or only way to get around – few or no taxis, trains, buses to get around town and town is not designed for walking. You would then need to coordinate getting around town (for dinner or to a store or entertaiment) with the person who drove you. I don’t want a week of that much togetherness with my boss or co-workers.

        The “neighborhood pub” where you can walk from home is not an American concept.

        1. This This this

          Yup, and this is how I ended up having to ask my mother-in-law to drive me to the pharmacy for yeast infection medication and again when my birth control patch fell off. UGH. We had flown in and they had picked up from the airport. Me – can I borrow your car? Her – why sweetie. Me – I need to go to the pharmacy. Her – oh, I’m going there later, what can I get you. Me – oh, it’s personal stuff. Her – oh, okay, just come with me then.

          Yup, then she basically stands with me while I talk to the pharmacist and cash out.

        2. Zillah

          Well, it’s not a rural concept, certainly. It’s more often than not the case in cities, though, IME.

          Not disagreeing with you in principle, but I think that it’s good to be careful in categorically classifying something as American or not.

    10. Language Lover

      For me, it’s an issue of motion sickness and freedom.

      Unless I’m driving, I tend to get motion sickness if the trip is longer than 20 minutes. It’s not always. It’s more likely to hit me if I’m in the back seat but it’ll even happen when I’m in the passenger seat. Heck, it can even happen when I’m behind the wheel but that’s pretty unusual.

      I’m also an introvert. Being stuck in a small, confined space for hours would drain me.

      Luckily, the places I’ve worked have been okay with that even when they didn’t reimburse me for the mileage. I could live with that.

    11. the_scientist

      In addition to the listed reasons (having to be “on” for many hours, bad drivers, being held hostage to someone else’s schedule) another big one for me and potentially others is that I get quite carsick (yes, apparently I’m still 12). Everyone has their preferences with respect to windows up/down and temperature level in their own car, and if I was crammed in the back seat of my boss’s car with two other co-workers and no circulating air, it would be about half an hour before I needed to stop to barf. I need the temperature to be glacial, for there to be noticeable airflow, and to ideally be driving or in the front passenger seat to control the motion sickness, so if it’s at all possible I prefer to drive myself or drive with one other person. I would not do well having to do what the OP’s boss suggests.

    12. Mimmy

      For me, it’s that “stranded” feeling that both my husband and I very much dislike. I’m with GrumpyBoss – I don’t mind a brief chat with people afterwards, but I am essentially ready to get home after a long event, be it professional or recreational. That happened to me after a concert 5 years ago. I was stuck there for, I’d say, at least 2 hours afterwards because I went in one car with people who stayed around chatting with other fans. And this was a good hour and a half from home. I was miserable…thank god for another woman who was also not into the chitchat and stayed with me.

    13. INTP

      Maybe the OP would like to be able to go get lunch during the day (maybe alone or to a healthier place than her boss will eat), or maybe he/she wants to be able to get home immediately at the end of the day instead of being stuck if her boss decides to do a networking dinner or something. I can think of many reasons. Instead of saying “I want to carpool with my coworker and exclude you,” though, I’d just eat the cost and suggest driving alone. I know it throws the coworker in front of the bus a bit, but I think it’s taken better if one person out of three wants to do something alone than if two out of the three want to exclude the third. Also, if OP just wants to be in control of the leaving schedule, he/she could suggest all three go in her car. If the boss objects, that means the boss probably does plan on stretching the schedule a bit.

      1. Zillah

        Not sure how the OP taking their car would help matters – if the boss is pokey about leaving, it’s not like the OP can strand him.

        1. OhNo

          I think the idea is that the OP would be driving themselves, and the boss would be driving themselves or themselves and the coworker. That way the OP can leave whenever they want and doesn’t have to worry about what the boss is doing.

          1. INTP

            Yeah, I was only suggesting the OP drive all three people if the boss absolutely insists on everyone riding together. While not ideal, at least the OP would have a bit more control than if the boss was driving everyone. Ideally the OP just drives themselves – that way it’s “I need my car so I’m driving myself” and not “we’re carpooling together but you can’t join.”

        2. INTP

          It doesn’t give you total control but at least you have more than you would riding in the boss’ car. Social convention, at least in my experience, is that the person driving the car has a bit more say in scheduling than the passengers of the car. Being the driver means you can say “I need to leave by X:00 because ___” without sounding as controlling as if a passenger were to say that, and it means that any remotely reasonable boss would be more likely to consult you before making plans for dinner or drinks after the event. And if the OP has some reason that they need quick access to a car – like a pregnant spouse, a small child in school, or whatever – they would at least be able to get back in an emergency, offering the boss the option to tag along or find a ride later (the boss probably wouldn’t be happy but only the most egregious jackhole would take issue with it after being the one to insist on everyone riding together).

    14. Episkey

      My husband gets carsick unless he’s the one driving. He went on a road trip with a friend who had a stick shift, which my husband doesn’t know how to drive. The friend did 95% of the driving and my husband had to stay drugged up on Dramamine for the entire trip and slept for most of it! That probably wouldn’t be ideal en route to a business meeting.

      1. Not So NewReader

        I can go into vertigo really well with very bad timing. If I drive, that helps to prevent the vertigo. Maybe OP can find an honest reason like this in order to insure driving her own car.

        I had a boss that drove like a maniac. He was all over the road. If anyone complained he laughed at them. I don’t know, we don’t laugh at drunk drivers. What is the difference? Irresponsible driving can come in many forms and there is no such thing as “less dead”.

    15. Anonsie

      I might have agreed with you before the time I had to take a four hour each way road trip with some coworkers and discovered that long drives are excruciating when you can’t sleep or listen to your own music or anything like that.

    16. Kyrielle

      It could also be a health condition, some of which might require extra pit stops. Only think how awkward to explain to your boss that you need more restroom breaks than normal in the drive. (Bonus points if it’s exacerbated by stress such as IBS, and your boss turns out to be a dangerous driver….)

      1. INTP

        That’s a good point, too. And some people are really weird about pit stops. During road trips with my stepfather, you are only allowed to pee when the car needs gas. I have to drug myself to sleep to make it through the trip without exploding, and by the end of them I’m so dehydrated that the inside of my nose is cracked. I, on the other hand, have been known to take a pit stop in a 1-hour trip.

    17. Another comment on the situation

      My mother used to work for a Catholic organization. Once they rode in a car with her once (with her as a passenger), you never wanted to ride with her again. None if the nuns and priests would ever ride with her except for one who must have had some sort of savior complex. The one nun who would driver her would make the sign of the cross before and after each trip and ask for people to pray for her. I grew up with her so I am used to it but Hyacinth Bucket has nothing on my mom. Once people find out that my parents took a driving honeymoon across America, they all knew love was blind as well as deaf for my father. They are still married for 49 years and whenever I visit, they both take me aside to vent about the other one’s behavior in the car both as passengers and as drivers.

  9. Cheesecake

    #1 is a tough one
    There is a saying “people don’t leave jobs, they leave bosses” and it was proven times&times again. Statement”the job is highly stressful” is something i’d appreciate during the interview. But saying “i don’t care about your happiness” is seriously off and unnecessary to say even if he really doesn’t give a damn. Huge red flag. However, it is better to be unhappily employed with things to learn and a paycheck than happily unemployed. I’d give it a go, you can still quit anytime

    1. Mallory

      Just keep looking, this guy may be really abusive. But that said, you never know a workplace until you are there.

    2. Carrington Barr

      “People don’t leave jobs, they leave bosses”

      So very true. First job was 5 minutes away from where I was living, the work was busy and moderately interesting, and the pay was phenomenal for the area. However, my manager was a useless puppet and my director was borderline sociopathic. If the job hadn’t left me first (thanks, third-world country!) and if I didn’t need the money to pay back my student loan, I would have left in a heartbeat.

      Nobody needs to feel like they are going to vomit as they drive to work because they hate it so much.

  10. Mallory

    ps

    Go on Linkedin find former employees and ask them. I don’t think this strategy is safe generally as employers are hypocrites who do not mind checking your credit rating but balk at being questioned, BUT in this case, since you were going to decline, see if there’s anyone willing to share.

  11. WDA

    Thanks AnonyMouse, I am the person who asked about the comments on weight loss. I know what you mean, but I just don’t get their defensiveness and comments in the first place. I’ve had someone say to me (when I had only just reached a healthy weight range, so hardly “skinny” just no longer obese) “skinny bitch”. The message that this sends to women is “thin women are bitches”. A lot of fat women are bitches too. It implies that in a society where being overweight is becoming the norm and health issues related to a bad diet and being overweight are becoming a real problem, being thin is not good as you will be judged as being a bitch, shallow, vain etc, when in reality you’re striving for the best health and optimal self esteem and happiness. Hardly a bitch. I realise that I only get these comments as these people have only known me as overweight, so to see me perhaps thinner than they are is a shock and maybe not what they think of as being me. But I am not too thin. If I said to a woman I’d only ever known as think that had gained a lot of weight “fat bitch” (but with a smile) would I be viewed as anything but an unhelpful witch? People would be shocked. So why is this kind of thing acceptable in the reverse? I am defensive at thier comments, so I guess I am just tired of tippy toeing around their feelings? I’m getting healthy – I am trying to do something good for me and what will make me happy after years of unhappiness. So, why should I be copping any kind of abuse or ridicule? It’s ridiculous!

    1. nyxalinth

      Grats on the weight loss! I’ve been losing too, but haven’t yet trached the comments stage–it isn’t super noticeable yet–but people tend to judge in both directions still. If you’re fat you’re accused of eating all the time, if you’re thin, people accuse you of living on lettuce and air. People aren’t comfortable with change or with what is in their opinion something not of the middle ground. That’s not your circus and not your monkeys, though. Of they keep attempting to comment on your weight, I would pretend to not even have heard. Like so.

      “Gee, Jane, you keep losing weight the rest of of will look bad by comparison!”

      “So, did you watch Game of Thrones/the football game/other thing last night?”

      “Jane (blah blah weight remark).”

      “Did Pinky get that report done yet? It needs to be on the Brain’s desk by Monday.” And so on. that’s just me though, and of course you would make appropriate answers to things not of your weight. Good luck!

      1. nyxalinth

        Grats on the weight loss! I’ve been losing too, but haven’t yet trached the comments stage

        that should be reached. Not trached. Yay morning typos!

      2. WDA

        Thanks, I will try this approach.

        I will never understand why people can’t just mind their own business? Why do they think it’s appropriate to make continual remarks about your weight?

        1. the gold digger

          I think is the key: “Gee, Jane, you keep losing weight the rest of of will look bad by comparison!”

          These comments are about the person who is making them, not the person to whom they are directed. It does not make them any less annoying, of course, but it might make it easier to know that they come about because of jealousy or that person’s insecurity and have NOTHING to do with you.

          1. Not So NewReader

            This. This. This. It’s not about you, OP. It’s about them. You serve as a reminder as to what they should probably be considering.

            If you keep trying to respond defensively, you probably will not make out well. These people have tipped their hand and told you a lot about what they think of themselves.

            I lost a bunch of sizes for my health. I found that I could say “If I would feel better at 500 pounds then that is what I would have done, I would have pushed my weight up to 500 pounds.” I would alternate with “I really don’t care what size I wear anymore as long as I feel good.”

            To the anorexia and bulimia comments, I would say “HA!” and keep walking. It’s the kind of HA! that is a non-laugh- it sounds forced. I was not going to deal with wise guy remarks, that was basically about jealousy* more than anything. But if someone wanted to have a real conversation I was very open to that.

            *jealousy. I had difficulty believing people could be jealous. I am an average looking person, even after losing weight. And this could be something a possibility in your story, OP. If at some point you do start to wonder if it is jealousy rearing its ugly head, then you know for a fact that is not your problem to fix. It took a while, but a bunch of people joined a weight loss group. That was when I realized that ignoring the remarks was the best thing because it made them think about their own situation.

            Losing weight and keeping it off requires a special type of strength, as you are well aware. When you hear the wise guy remarks, tell yourself “I am stronger than I ever thought.”

          1. Anonsie

            I don’t think they do. They are resentful and throwing out little jabs like this because, in their mind, she’s got something really good now and they can reasonably take her down a peg.

        2. Pug Lady

          A couple of years ago, I broke my jaw and subsequently lost a lot of weight. I had female coworkers comment that they wished they could break their jaw too as a weight loss aid. Unreal. I also lost 3 front teeth and had 7 oral surgeries as a result of the accident. But they thought that was worth it. How about diet and exercise?!

    2. The Cosmic Avenger

      Congratulations on achieving a goal! I think that’s what is bothering many of those making nasty comments, you are a reminder that those things that they just passively complain about really are within their control. Hate your boss? Find another job, go back to school, “manage” your boss into a better manager! None of them are easy, and you might fail, but ultimately you tried hard and you made a change, and that’s an uncomfortable reminder for some people.

      BTW, it took people about 2-3 years to stop making comments about my weight loss, although I’m a man, so they weren’t nearly as rude. Unfortunately, Alison is right, it’s considered much more acceptable to talk that way about weight issues and women. But eventually it will become the new normal. Carolyn Hax has a few stock responses for comments that cross some kind of line, and my favorite would work well for these: “Wow, really??”

      1. WDA

        Thanks, you might be right, I hadnt thought of it that way. I guess I mainly really hate the way this kind of thing makes me subconsciously feel like losing weight isnt ‘safe’ as you then get this kind of nonsense. Damn them. It’s really going to take a lot of work for me to stop letting them have any power over me, so these responses to my questions are incredibly helpful. I can imagine it would take them 2 or 3 years to let it go and adjust to the new thinner you. You’re no longer newly thin so they can’t keep commenting – but why do it in the first place? I can’t imagine feeling like it’s okay to make snide remarks to someone at work about their appearance! It just baffles me that they do it.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger

          Believe me, I know the feeling. Sometimes when I catch myself not acting in my own best interest due to other people or if something someone said or did just bugs me, I imagine in my head a really exaggerated, cartoon/Monty-Pythonesque version of what they said or did, and imagine myself having an equally exaggerated overreaction to it. Just as satire is such an effective tool for social and political criticism, it can also point out how ridiculous we are being about our self-image, and sometimes that’s all we need to gain some perspective. And making yourself laugh about it makes it hard to take the haters seriously! :)

        2. Kyrielle

          Yeah, it would be so much nicer to either keep shut about it or say “Congratulations!”

          I would, in your shoes, avoid talking about weight loss, exercise, or healthy eating around them if you can avoid it – since clearly they are feeling defensive, and you’re more likely to get negative comments then.

          Not in a “this is a bad topic” sense but in a “this is a bad topic WITH JANE” sense….

          Although really from everything you’ve said I don’t have the impression you were discussing it with them unless they started it anyway, in which case we’re deep in “Wow. Just wow.” territory on their part.

        3. Not So NewReader

          Why do they keep commenting?
          Because they have a small world and your weight loss is the biggest thing to hit their lives lately.
          Because they are talking without engaging their brains.
          Because they are jealous or they are negative Nancies.
          Because you look great.
          And this one is sad: Because they actually want your help, so they can lose weight and they have no clue how to ask you.

          Maybe that is your way out of this – ask each one why the running commentary. Tell them you are curious and just wondering.

          Speaking as someone who went from a 24 to an 8 (currently a 12 sigh), I think you will probably be faced with conversations from time to time, for a while. I address sincere people in a sincere manner, and I address wise guy remarks with a wise guy answer. (Usually just one or two words- like HA! or hmmm.) If a person suddenly shifts from wise guy to sincere, I shift too.

    3. Sourire

      The comments say much more about them than you. Possibly they are jealous of your weight loss and are taking that out on you? I also work with a woman who is threatened by all women in general, and certainly would be even more so if they were becoming more “conventionally attractive” (note: I hope this doesn’t start any type of debate over whether or not weight does actually make one attractive – that is not my intention).

      I’ve recently lost some weight (am about halfway there – 35lbs down so far) and my coworkers haven’t said a word. I was thinking about it the other day and a little sad about it because I was wondering if that means other people are not seeing what I’m seeing in terms of my looking and feeling much healthier, but after reading your post I am now very thankful they haven’t mentioned anything! I have no idea how much you’ve lost, but getting healthy is quite a journey and I wanted to say congrats and good luck on your continued progress!

      1. WDA

        Thanks Sourire. I’m Australian, and I lost 30kg by mid winter, but then gained some back, and now have around another 18kg to lose. That’s a lot of weight. But I’m returning to a weight I was previously, but these people havent known me at that weight…and I am so fed up with the stupid comments.

        Imagine if I commented in this kind of way to someone that had gained weight? And again, I dont get this, it’s healthy to lose weight and be slim…any one would think it’s healthier to be fat.

        1. Jill-be-Nimble

          Ugh, the problem is that people DO feel the need to make comments when you gain weight. I gained a bunch over the past 2 years of sheer stress/depression/anxiety and am just now starting to get a handle on things again. People whisper, though, and make derisive comments. My roommate, when I said I didn’t like walking home alone at night in a bad neighborhood arches an eyebrow and says “why would YOU need to be worried?” People trying to find a nice way to tell you that you’re getting fat, or just suddenly dropping “helpful” eating/drinking/dieting tips into conversations that had nothing to do with any of those things. (Amazingly, not one of those people asked how I was feeling, how my job search was going, if I needed a hug–just wanted to let me know that I was getting ugly.)

          No matter what, people who are jerks will be jerks. Again–it’s about them, not you.

              1. Jill-be-Nimble

                He’s a great roommate for the most-part, just a misogynist prick (if that makes any sense–he keeps clean, pays the rent on time, is unobtrusive). He’s just mad because he wanted to sleep with me when we moved in together, but now he doesn’t. (Shockingly enough, he was never on my list.) Luckily, I live in the basement with my own entrance and bathroom and he lives on the second floor–I don’t have to see him when I don’t want to put up with him!

      2. ella

        The comments say much more about them than you.

        I was thinking of something similar. I don’t know if you can compartmentalize them away, OP? I don’t know what your specific motivations were, but I imagine that none of the things you told yourself had anything to do with, “And then my coworkers will like and/or be nice to me.” You lost weight for yourself, you did all that hard work to benefit YOU, and it really doesn’t concern your coworkers one way or another–particularly if they’re going to be [name calling redacted] about it. I know that doesn’t help with the “What do I say in response” question, but I’ve found that the way I frame things internally is way more important (to me) than my external reaction. I can say something witty and clever to shut someone down, but then I fret over it in my head for hours, and that does nobody any good, least of all me.

        And yeah. It’s sad how the first thing anyone thinks to insult us with is our weight or our gender. I’ve been called a fat bitch and I’m in the healthy range of weight.

        1. Another comment on the situation

          I was size 10 when I got called fat *itch the most. I was in my teens and early 20’s when people would say that term and it was usually for stupid reasons (I (non-drinker) wouldn’t take a beer when it was offered, I wouldn’t go out with someone, etc.. I would be polite when declining but still . . . ). I am now size 14 and in my 40’s and no one says it. I think it just means that people have grown up a bit more at this point.

          But it is something that reflects badly on the person who says stuff like that and not you.

      3. kozinskey

        Yup, this is key. My experience is that 90% of comments about weight are actually the speaker projecting their issues on someone else. And even for the 10% of comments that would otherwise be perfectly polite, when it’s something that a person losing weight is constantly thinking about (let’s be real, it’s hard to lose weight without becoming a little obsessive), every little word carries a lot of meaning to the person hearing it. I have yet to understand why people think commenting on weight is a good idea.

      4. chewbecca

        I went through the process of losing about 50 pounds starting a couple years ago this past August. People really didn’t start noticing until I lost around 20 pounds, which took about 4 months. I’m short – a hair over 5 foot, so I think it was more noticeable more quickly. Plus, I think it’s harder to notice in people you see every day. The loss is much more of a subtle change for them. I felt the same way you do – I’ve already lost 20 lbs, and you’re just now noticing?

    4. ClaireS

      The ideal of commenting on others bodies skeeves me out most of the time but at work it’s totally off limits.

      I have one friend who I comment on because I know (she explicitly told me) that’s she’s very proud of her weight loss and appreciates it when people notice.

      Other than that one person, I do not comment on bodies as a general rule. I’ll compliment your clothes if you’re wearing a great colour, your hair if you’ve noticeably changed it, etc but not your body.

      1. WDA

        I would only comment to say something like wow you are looking fantastic good on you, but I would never say things like “you’re wasting away” or “dont lose anymore weight” and so on. I am proud of myself too and do appreciate other people noticing and have gotten comments like ” you look fantastic” “good on you” “you’re looking really good” and so on – love hearing that. It’s the stupid crap like I said that really peeves me. One person at work has recently had a baby and gained a bit of weight. Would it be appropriate for me to start critiquing her weight and say things like “dont put on anymore weight” or “you’re getting a bit plump”!!? No! It’s equally as annoying and unwelcome in the reverse when you are anything but too thin – and even if I was – its my business! Anyway, it’s 11:15pm here so I have to get to bed. Thank you all that have commented so far, it’s very helpful.

      2. Cat

        Yeah, agreed – completely off limits at work. You don’t know who has an eating disorder or who’s losing weight because of an illness; you just don’t say anything, complimentary or not (unless they bring it up).

        1. kozinskey

          EXACTLY. It’s so far out of line. One of my friends (who wasn’t big to start with) recently lost her dad and has definitely gotten a lot skinnier since. It would be crazy inappropriate to comment on that, but I bet she does get a lot of people trying to compliment her anyway.

          1. chewbecca

            My former roommate was the same way. She was going through a really stressful period in her life and lost weight. People kept telling her how great she looked, failing to notice the general exhausted look she had. Only one person noticed her overall appearance and asked if she was okay.

          2. Simonthegrey

            My good friend has lost weight in the last year; her adult son died last summer unexpectedly and it took a toll on her. And yes, thoughtless people will say things like “You look fabulous” and “I wish I could do what you did.” She always wants to ask them, “you want to go through losing your child?” Most of these people saying these things KNOW about his passing. It’s just cruel, like rubbing salt in a wound.

      3. Inlander

        The only time I’ve ever said anything about weight loss was to a co-worker who had lost a huge amount of weight. I said, “I hope you feel as great as you’re looking these days” and she beamed and went on to tell me all about Weight Watchers. I’d been noticing her losing weight for months before I ever spoke up, and still wasn’t sure whether or not to comment.

    5. alma

      People are such jerks about weight. At my first office job, I was about 10 – 15 years younger than everybody else, and a lot of the older women had no qualms about making a lot of passive aggressive remarks. Apparently I was “the SKINNY one”, which was kind of a mind-screw, because before that job I had never been “the skinny one” in any social situation ever. I’ve always been pretty solidly average in my weight, but I tend to gain fat in my belly first and have been on the receiving end of a couple of mistaken “are you pregnant?” comments, so… anyway, suddenly getting a lot of “oh, of course you can wear that” commentary or being interrogated about what I ate for lunch was a new and unpleasant experience.

      All of this has definitely taught me to keep even the most well-intentioned commentary on other people’s bodies to myself — I truly don’t get why other people can’t do the same.

    6. Serin

      #2 — comments on weight loss, comments on weight gain, comments on how much or how little you’re eating … I’m really curious: do men do this? or is this something that only women consider an appropriate topic of conversation?

      Frankly, I don’t want to hear anything at all at work where the subtext of the comment is, “I’m paying attention to the shape of your body and the food choices you make.”

      (My ex-boss, the Space Alien, used to make detailed observations on how people walked — not just when it was too loud and thus marginally her business, but when it was more or less graceful than you would expect, when people weren’t symmetrical, etc. And then one time I heard her saying, “People seem more self-conscious with me than with other people.” Wonder why.)

      1. Kelly L.

        Oh wow, you met the female version of my dad.

        “Your feet turn out when you walk.”
        /looks down to see if feet are turning out
        “Oh, now you’re hunching over. Can’t you get it all together at once?”

    7. Nanc

      Someone called you “skinny bitch” at work?! Wow–inappropriate. In fact, if they ever say it again, your response should be, “wow–inappropriate language” and just walk away. Other weight loss comments could be treated with a Miss Manners kill-them-with-kindness phrase.

      “Thanks, my doctor and I are so pleased that my health has improved.” or something along those lines in response to every single passive-aggressive complimentary insult (compusult?)

      And congratulations on your journey to better health, of which weight loss is one part!

    8. chewbecca

      I hated the comments when I was losing weight, too. One of my coworkers still sometimes says I need to stop losing weight. Which I did, over a year ago. I’ve been around the same weight for a year and a half now, so I’m not sure where she’s getting the idea.

      Your coworkers remind me of the people at my work who were food pushers when I was losing weight. We’d have birthday potlucks and I’d get all sorts of comments about how much and what I was eating. “Don’t you want any cake?” No, I’m limiting my sugar intake. “Is that all you’re eating?” Yes. It fits within my calorie limit and it’s enough to fill me up. I realized, like others have said above, that it was more about them than me.

    9. Formica Dinette

      Congratulations on your achievement! You worked hard on it and you don’t deserve these sorts of comments. Heck, even if you hadn’t worked hard on it, you still don’t deserve these sorts of comments.

      One way of handling rude comments that I’ve found works well is to simply say nothing in response. Just look at them. Neutral stare. Most people will feel uncomfortable.

      I don’t have a background in human psychology, so I don’t know why people are saying these things. However, I’m sure that other commenters here are correct in that these thoughtless reactions are totally about the person saying them and not at all about you.

    10. Lynne

      Echoing everyone else who has said this is about them, not you. I recently lost a very large amount of weight very quickly (intentional, doctor supervised) and have had a lot of comments, though not as rude as what you’ve experienced, luckily. I have found that changing the subject works well, or short answers that are polite but show that I’m not interested in going into details. I had one woman yell across the room “you look great! what are you doing?” and I just smiled and yelled back “a lot!” and turned away. Mostly I find people are jealous (or inspired but unsure how to talk about that) and want help. I usually say something like “my diet changes have been key, and I really like taking walks or jogs at lunch” and then, again, change the subject. Try not to take it personally (though I know that is hard) since it’s almost surely not about you at all. They’re just rude and/or unsure how to talk about what is obviously a big and positive change in your life without being total nutjobs about it.

    11. AnonyMouse

      I definitely understand your frustration, and I view it as extremely rude to make unsolicited comments, joking or otherwise, about someone’s weight. I’m so sorry you have to deal with rudeness when you’re just trying to make a positive change in your life, and I don’t have many more constructive comments on that, other than being baffled that people don’t understand how unacceptable it is to openly critique someone else’s body! I mean, I theoretically get the reasons behind it, but it still blows me away.

    12. INTP

      What’s happening, I think, is that your success at weight loss is making some of your coworkers feel (maybe subconsciously) very badly about their own failures to lose weight or stick to a workout regimen or whatever. To avoid the discomfort of actually thinking about this further, they just indulge their irrational, knee-jerk reactions to lash out at you. They say things that would be unacceptable in the reverse because they’re saying them out of jealousy and may not even realize that other people don’t take it as a compliment. These are people who are way too invested in weight and would love to be called a “skinny b*tch” or have someone accuse them of having an eating disorder themselves. If they pay so much attention to your weight, imagine how much time they must spend stressing about their own.

      I’m not saying it’s OKAY, just trying to describe what might be happening. It’s just as unacceptable as any other situation where jealousy leads to bullying. I agree with AAM on how to respond to it.

      Though, at one point I did start getting less-than-helpful comments from some family and close friends about my weight loss, and what was going on was that I really was getting too thin and they just didn’t really know how to address it constructively. “You should eat a cheeseburger” was their way of coping. But if you’re in the upper end of your BMI range, it doesn’t seem like people would be really worried about you yet, so that’s probably unrelated to what you’re going through.

  12. MK

    #1, I think that not only was it a very rude thing to say, worse than that, it wasn’t particularly illuminating. I mean, if you take the wording of the statement, it’s self-evident: of course an employee’s happiness is not the employer’s problem, who ever suggested that it was? The employer was obviously trying to communicating something, but that could range from “We treat people crappily” to “This is a difficult working environment and we expect you to deal with it” to “Our culture is more formal than friendly” to “Don’t expect to be treated with kid gloves”.

    It’s good that he was prepared to be upfront about this, but the way he phrased it was very off-putting and didn’t clearly communicate how this workplace works. Which is too bad for him, because he may well have scared off people who wouldn’t mind a harsh workplace as long as they were treated with respect.

    1. nyxalinth

      Yeah, it definitely comes across as “I’m a nickname for Richard and will treat you like crap to further my career and this company” but sometimes people’s words don’t reflect what they mean. It might be helpful to ask the person saying that (should you ever encounter it in the future, OP) to ask them to clarify or for an example that shows what they mean. It could be that they’re a huge tool, yes. It could also mean “We don’t do all the super cool nice stuff like three weeks of vacation a year even for noobs and videogames in the breakroom.” type stuff.

      1. OP for #1

        You’re both right, clarification probably would’ve helped my personal understanding, though I got the impression that if I had asked such a question I would have been dubbed an idiot.

        1. Serin

          I got the impression that if I had asked such a question I would have been dubbed an idiot.

          Well, that’s useful information. Someone who’s going to react badly to being asked for clarification is probably not someone anybody would voluntarily choose as a boss.

  13. Belinda Gomez-Maldonado

    But really, you are responsible for your own happiness, when all is said and done. I think he was very direct, and that sort of style can be hard to get used to.

    1. MK

      The thing is, most people don’t feel driven to state the obvious, a.k.a. that the employer is not responsible for the employee’s happiness. So the candidate was left wondering what exactly did he mean; and the wording was not only direct, it was also dismissive and off-putting, so it wasn’t unreasonable to conclude that the environment is problematic.

      1. Mints

        Yeah, it feels like when people say “I hate drama” or “I’m not here to make friends” on reality shows. Like, duh everyone hates drama. Why would you feel the need to announce that? It’s not that the sentiment is bad on its own, but bringing it up unprompted is the weird part

  14. Vee

    RE #1 I have to ask: I feel like readers here are very against backing out of a job acceptance or looking for a job as soon as you’ve already started one. Do you still feel this way if the job/boss/company culture is incredibly toxic? If I was their shoes, I’d accept the job if I really really needed it to pay the bills and it was the only alternative I had to starving and not paying my rent, but I’d be looking for something else even before I’ve started and I wouldn’t care if I was doing something unethical, because a company that doesn’t give a damn about me as a person is not a place I want to commit to.

  15. Oryx

    I’ve been #2 and yes, as much as I appreciate the comments and congratulations from co-workers, often they sound like my co-workers projecting about their own struggles with weight, which frankly isn’t my problem. I’ll offer advice and support, but if you’re looking for validation or something that’s not going to happen. I also think some people aren’t aware of how insensitive their comments are, like when I tell them I have more weight I want to lose and the shocked reactions. Or commenting on how I eat such healthy stuff compared to their meals or trying to enable me, the ol’ “one bite won’t kill me” kind of thing. You may have to just tell them to stop or start ignoring their off-hand comments and hope they get the picture.

    Also, the bulimia stuff is NOT OKAY. I admittedly am someone with a relatively small bladder and within maybe 10 minutes of finishing a meal have to excuse myself to go to the restroom and I’m always worried someone is going to start worrying I’m throwing up back there. I’ve struggled with disordered eating in the past so perhaps I’m just more sensitive to it, but that’s not a joking thing.

  16. Becca

    #1. I had a boss that basically said this in the interview. But I was right out of college, unemployed and it was in my field and paid better than what big box retailer that fixes computers was going to. I was absolutely miserable after taking the job, and I tried to think positively every day.

    The only good thing that came out of that job, besides the experience, was the ability to appreciate my new job now and realize how wonderful it is.

  17. Allison

    I’ve been there, #2. In high school my boyfriend’s mother would always comment on how thin I was, and would say things like “she’s a twig! she doesn’t eat!” When I did eat, just not at their house because I was a picky eater.

    Look, I know thin privilege is a thing, and that skinny people aren’t being “oppressed” by rude comments. But rude comments are still rude comments. It’s rude to imply that someone is vain or vapid because they’re skinny, or that they must’ve gotten that way through an eating disorders. And jokes about eating disorders are just awful.

    In general I think comments about people’s diet, exercise habits, and weight are inappropriate at work. It’s such a personal thing.; unless you know someone well AND your comment is supportive, leave it alone.

    1. WDA

      Thanks Allison, I appreciate you taking the time to help. I am the question asker. I am reading all comments with great interest and appreciation. I really am struggling with what to do so thank you.

    2. Korren

      In a lot of “helping professions” (teaching, counseling, nursing), I think there is indeed a bias against hiring people who are thin. Heavier people typically come across as more nurturing. I remember people being really angry when
      Oprah first lost weight.

  18. Sitting Duck

    #5

    By “volunteer opportunities are very limited in the area I’m looking in” do you mean geographically area or field of work? If you are talking about field of work, I would suggest doing volunteer work anywhere, even if it doesn’t relate to what you want to do. You can still gain valuable skills from volunteer work that has nothing to do with your desired field.
    I was looking for a job for 3 years, and took part-time, temporary, seasonal gigs for a few months here and there to fill the gaps. I also did a lot of volunteering, some in the field I work in, and some not at all. I volunteered at my local habitat for humanity for 4 months and gained some great skills, met some amazing people and some great contacts.
    So I would really try to find something to do with your time, even if its not in your field, I know the job search sucks, and having a group of people to volunteer with once a week really helped me keep my morale up during tough times.

    1. Ellen Fremedon

      OP #5 here. I meant field of work. I have a lot of research/writing/editing experience (and two degrees) in an area of inquiry that’s perceived–wrongly, IMO–as very esoteric. I’m trying to parlay that experience into similar work in some other field, but it’s an uphill battle. Meanwhile most organizations don’t want to give that sort of job to volunteers. (Or if they do, they call them ‘interns’, and the application process is even more rigorous than for paid positions.)

      And I know the standard advice is to go volunteer just to be around people, but I’m a huge introvert and that’s really the worst thing I could do for my own morale. I find it really stressful to maintain acquaintanceships outside a work context, and when I’m not in the market for new friends (which I’m not at the moment) it’s nearly impossible. The energy I put in a new acquaintance is something I know I’ll never get back, and that makes me resentful and angry. I’ve already dropped out of community band because making conversation with the same sixty friendly people every week was leaving me so drained and useless. I get out of the house plenty to see my friends, but I need to save my social energy for interviews.

  19. anon+in+tejas

    #2. They are probably a little jealous. You are awesome for making a healthy change in your life. Lots of people want to make healthy changes, but come up with excuses or reasons why they can’t/won’t. Don’t let them get you down. I’d certainly speak up about the bulimia comments, but let the rest be. It’s more about them than you.

    1. WDA

      Thank you! I am going to try to address this later this week – I have to work with the main offender this Friday….will see how I go.

      Would anyone think that a statement on Facebook about this would be helpful?

      1. Becca

        Nooo. Don’t do that.

        Posting it on Facebook would make you seem braggy, in my opinion. Even if you don’t mean it that way, it would make me roll my eyes if I saw a friend do that.

        1. some1

          Agree with Becca. I am naturally thin and have dealt with everything listed here. Not only will people think you are bragging (even when you’re not), you have legitimate issues and calling people out on a Facebook status makes you lose credibility because it’s passive-aggressive.

      2. Sourire

        No, I absolutely wouldn’t do this! Work stuff has no place on facebook, particularly complaints about your coworkers’ behavior. I also don’t think this is really a situation that calls for a blanket statement type approach. It’s more of something I’d address in the moment and only with the particular offender.

      3. kozinskey

        I think it depends on the relationship you have with your Facebook friends and whether your coworkers see your posts. I don’t Facebook friend coworkers, so to me, a well-worded rant on Facebook might be just fine and could relieve a little stress because only family and good friends would see it. On the other hand, if the main offender is your FB friend, it could come off as really passive aggressive and could damage your working relationship with her. Think it through before you post (and err on the side of addressing problems in person).

      4. Andrea

        Have you tried responding by looking at the person speaking to acknowledge them, but then changing the subject to something else? I have had good luck at my office by either smiling gently (if I think the intent was relatively kind) or by looking sort of confused (in the case of something rude like a joke about bulimia) and then changing the topic. I think it works because I’ve clearly heard them, but am not really engaging. If they continue I might gently label the behaviour and then change the subject – for example I’ve used “I think that’s rude” and “oops, not funny” and then just walk away or change the subject. The trick is the tone of voice and body langauge here – I keep it pretty friendly or at least neutral because I need to work with these rude people even if I’m annoyed by them sometimes.

  20. soitgoes

    The boss in #1 reminds me a lot of academics, who often have the attitude that being stressed out and pulling all-nighters is somehow a fundamental part of the experience.

    I sympathize with #3. I get uncomfortable when “work people” cross over into my “personal time,” and on top of that, I can’t really be in a car that someone has transported pets in. Maybe the OP could ask her boss if he has pets that ride in the car?

    For #4, can’t the OP just take an iphone pic of the diploma? It’s a weird request, but it reminds me of another recent AAM question about diplomas. Apparently some businesses prefer them to transcripts (for background check purposes) even though it doesn’t really make sense.

  21. Tigress

    Dear OP4, if you have it available, please submit your diploma so that your company can help the new employee with his/her visa. I’ve been through this process for an H1B visa and this is all perfectly normal. As the non-U.S. employee, you’re incredibly powerless in this situation. The USCIS demands certain evidence, all according their specific handbook, and if you can’t provide what they ask for, you won’t get that visa. My boss and I turned over every stone to get the evidence they wanted to show that I was a “real” professional, but in the end it wasn’t enough and I had to leave a job I absolutely loved and get on a plane home. It was heartbreaking. I assure you that you would be doing this person a huge favor and help them enormously in life if you submit your diploma for the visa petition. I would’ve been immensely grateful, if it was me.

  22. MT

    #3 Are you hourly? If you are hourly, then the company has to reimburse you for the driving expenses. Does your boss have a company car?

    1. fposte

      I’m finding that for California, but I’m not finding it nationally or elsewhere. They have to pay for travel time, but federally speaking they don’t seem to have to reimburse.

          1. MT

            Not up to speed on minimum wage laws, I am pretty sure that the employee can not chose to work for less than minimum wage. The employer is still liable to make sure the employee makes at least minimum wage.

            When I have hourly employees who travel, My company requires me to use the corporate card to book airline tickets, rental car, hotels upfront so that there is no chance of pulling an employee below minimum wage during a work trip for that individual week/days.

            1. Colette

              I think I’m looking at taking your own car when another option is available as optional (like going shopping during a business trip or going skydiving on the weekend) and not as required (like a hotel or meals or transportation). I don’t know what the law says, though.

              1. doreen

                I’m sure they don’t have to reimburse the employee’s preferred mode of travel -otherwise hourly employees at my job could spend $350 to fly between NYC and Albany for the day when driving an agency car (either alone or in a carpool) or taking the train is much less expensive.

  23. AB

    #4, You’re going to need to hand over your actual diploma. It’s very common when dealing with State Departments (foreign and domestic) and if they specify diploma and nothing else, then no, transcripts or a letter from the college will not suffice.

    I have dealt with the visa process for foreign workers entering the US, US citizens applying to work in foreign countries, foreign workers in the US applying to work in other foreign countries, and US offices trying to verify the need for bringing in a foreign worker. In many countries, diplomas are the official/ legal representation of your degree and therefore most processes involving visas require a diploma and do not allow for substitutes.

    I have dealt with many a frustrated US-citizen who has lost their diploma. Yes, you can get a replacement; yes, it does cost a fee; yes, it does take three weeks for the school to mail it to you; no, your employer will most likely not pay the cost. Yes, you do need an official diploma and a notarized photocopy will not work. I know transcripts are the typical representation in the US and diplomas seem like they’re more for show, but when you’re dealing with as much paperwork and as many different sources as they do you have to realize that somethings absolutely must be standardized to keep it from being an unintelligible quagmire.

    1. ThursdaysGeek

      I know exactly where my high school and college diplomas are, and I’d be willing to bring a diploma in for my employer to see and photocopy. But are you saying that I need to let my employer actually take it for a time? I wouldn’t be comfortable with that at all.

      1. soitgoes

        I agree. It’s essentially a $100k piece of paper that I’d be handing over to someone that I know doesn’t wash his hands after using the bathroom.

    2. Future Analyst

      I’ve submitted these types of applications to USCIS/embassies, and we were never required to submit the actual documents. A copy is just fine.

    3. The IT Manager

      I’d accept the potential loss of a diploma if I wanted the Visa. (The same way I to send my passport to the Russian embassy to get a tourist Visa stamped in there for a trip.) But I would not want to take the risk to help my company out. If I’m not the person applying for the Visa, the company should come up with another way to “prove” the job requires a diploma than getting it from their employees.

    4. Artemesia

      But this is not true. Many places give you one diploma — if you turn it in so some person you don’t even know can get a job, it is gone unless it gets returned. They are not replaceable.

  24. Anonforthis

    #2 – I lost 100+ pounds while working for my current employer and got the “wasting away” and “do you ever eat” comments a LOT. Coworkers that I had a friendly relationship with knew that the weight loss was from a lot of gym time and a healthy diet. I learned to say “thank you” and leave it at that for anything that remotely could be construed as a compliment. For other things, such as wasting away, I’d just laugh it off and joke that if they saw me blowing across the parking lot to catch me. It’s annoying, but unfortunately the large majority of people believe that weight change is open for public discussion, and it wasn’t worth it (for me) to possibly upset a friendly working arrangement when I knew the weight loss would come to an end and so would the comments. Bulimia is nothing to joke about however, and thankfully I didn’t have anyone that dense at my workplace.

  25. Future Analyst

    #4: I worked in corporate immigration, and this is standard for a specific type of visa application. The company is required to submit copies of the degrees to USCIS, so refusing to give a copy is not just going to look odd to your company, but could also jeopardize the visa.

    1. Future Analyst

      Also, it doesn’t have to be the actual diploma or even a photocopy. You can take a (clear) pic with your phone, and print it.

  26. Relosa

    #2

    I feel you on this one, OP. I lost 130lbs and now that I am within a certain range I’d like to lose another 10-20. When I started my weight loss I never had a goal or never knew I would lose as much as I did. I never really brought it up and just dealt with it (I guess I kind of felt like if I talked about it, it would stop! And I felt great, so I didn’t want to ruin a bad thing).

    Some people’s comments didn’t bother me. “You look fantastic!” Things along those lines were awesome. Just about everything else makes it really hard for me to “thank” them for their “compliment” which is actually really rude. Things like “Wow you’re so skinny!” or “You’ve lost so much weight!” or comments about my diet or whatever. Then there were the weird backhanded comments, like “Gee, must be nice to do/eat/wear…”

    For those that I felt close enough to, I finally had to tell them to stop, and honestly since I asked them to, it’s turned around a lot. It was a pretty simple conversation and request and they’ve followed through – especially those who have also started their own weight loss journeys, t hey now understand the other side of the experience. I just told them this: “I understand you mean well and I appreciate your kindness, just please keep in mind that even if it’s a change you can see, it’s still my privacy and my body and I would appreciate if you did not comment on it. It actually makes me feel very self-conscious about it. If you have questions about my routines, regimes, or whatever to help your own journey, I’m more than happy to share. But it is rude and I am hurt by unwanted comments about my body.” When I put it like that, they understood. Many of them were just passively seeking information and didn’t know how to ask for it.

    I’m the kind of person who absolutely despises beating around the bush (I’m sales reps’ nightmare) and just like to get to the point. It doesn’t have to be brusque. Just remember that you are not required to feel obligated and grateful for unsolicited comments that objectify you. It’s okay – and well within your human rights – to say so.

  27. Anonamama

    Same situation as #2 here, except I haven’t lost any weight. One woman in my office keeps telling me I am wasting away, and have lost SO MUCH weight – when I am seriously the same size and weight that I have been for the last year we have been working together. I keep saying, “No, I really haven’t lost any,” but she insists that I have. It is getting really weird, it has been 3 or 4 times now. I think she thinks she is complimenting me, and that I am just being modest, so she needs to press that she has ‘noticed’ my nonexistent extreme weight loss. IT MAKES NO SENSE.

  28. Wilton Businessman

    #1. You’ve been looking for full-time work in your field for over a year. Some experience is better than no experience and sometimes it’s better taking a job with a jerk boss for a couple of years to get where you want to be.

    #2. In general, you say “Thank you. I’ve noticed you’ve put a couple pounds on yourself, would you like my diet tips?”

    #3. Sounds like forced fun. I bet he’s making you “double up” in rooms too.

    #4. Is it annoying? Yes. Is it something I’d want to make a fuss about? No.

    #5. Six months seems to be the norm. Some companies have better memories and will reject you just because they rejected you last time, but most won’t.

  29. Abby

    With visa issues, it really is something that can be required for someone to gain a visa. I don’t think it is invasive or inappropriate. I used to be responsible for getting visas for employees and I would do this.

    1. Not So NewReader

      The visa discussion has been very interesting to me. I did not know it was such a big drill. But now that I know, I will be more willing to help out with the process if ever asked.

  30. Marcy

    #2: I once had lunch with a coworker and was hit with a wave a nausea a few bites into my meal and ended up only eating the bread, half the salad and a few bites of pasta. Within twenty minutes of returning from lunch, my boss called me into her office and started questioning me about my “eating disorder”. It turned out later that the problem was a cyst I was unaware I had and I had trouble eating much for a few months as a result and lost some weight (enough to notice but I was still a little overweight so not a problem my coworkers or anyone else should be concerned about). The weight loss prompted a whole new round of the “I know you said you don’t have an eating disorder but you are clearly losing weight and no one sees you eat much so we are concerned” game. I don’t know why people at work feel the need to make comments about eating disorders and weight loss. They seem to not get that it is hurtful and frankly, none of their business. I’m sorry you have to deal with that- just know you aren’t alone.

  31. Wren

    heh, when I read the subject line for #4, I thought the LW’s company wanted their diploma for the purposes of forging credentials for their candidate’s visa application.

  32. Wren

    re: #2 I would adjust the wording to be body oriented, rather than weight oriented when it fits the comments, ie, “Please don’t comment on my body.” I think that highlights even more the invasiveness of the comments since our culture is so used to remarks about weight.

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