I lied to quit my job, how many microwaves should an office kitchen have, and more

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

1. I lied to quit my job and don’t know what to tell my former coworkers now

I lied to quit my old job. There were so many little things I hated about it every day, but it was a small office (7 employees and me) and they were all extremely nice. I struggle with disappointing people and telling really nice people that I just do not want to work there anymore was too hard at the time. I couldn’t come up with a solid reason to quit, so I lied and said that I was leaving town to follow my boyfriend. In reality, there was about a 15% chance of that happening, and it was more that I had become depressed and felt that I really needed a change in a lot of areas of my life. Fast forward a few months; I am still in the same city, and have broken up with that boyfriend.

They gave me a chance as a new graduate, and I worked there for almost two years. It was an excellent job, and they were all extremely supportive of “the move” and offered to be references, etc. I felt bad throughout the whole thing, but now that I want to apply for more jobs in the same city, I am at a loss. Do I confess that it didn’t work out and I never moved? Do I write them off as a reference because I lied about leaving town and obviously the new jobs I am applying for are in the same town? How do I handle this?

Well, first, there is nothing “not nice” about quitting a job that isn’t right for you. Nice people support you in making decisions that are right for you and your career, and reasonable people know that people leave jobs all the time and it’s rarely personal. Leaving a job is a normal part of having a job, and you shouldn’t feel weird or guilty about it.

As for what to do now, I’d just tell them that the move ended up not working out. That’s probably all you need to do. If they offer you a job again, you can simply say, “Thank you so much — I so appreciate that, but I think I’m going to use this as an opportunity to try to (find work doing X/move into field Y/find a shorter commute/whatever else fits here).”

2. Should I be put off by being invited to interview less than 15 minutes after I applied?

I read with interest a response on your site to a reader’s question about a quick interview invitation. I just got one today which was less than 15 minutes (!) from the time I submitted via Indeed. Also, I couldn’t find the HR contact on LinkedIn, despite the company being, to the best of my knowledge, legit. If someone is in HR and NOT on LinkedIn, to me that’s exceedingly odd.

Am I correct in being put off? I’m increasingly desperate for work as a new-ish grad but I have to have standards too.

Eh, it’s a little odd but not conclusive. Plenty of employers don’t use LinkedIn for recruiting, so I wouldn’t worry to much that you can’t find the HR person on LinkedIn. (Or maybe they do use it for recruiting, but this particular person isn’t involved in that piece of the process, who knows.) Inviting you for an interview 15 minutes after you applied is pretty damn fast, but who knows, maybe they were in the process of selecting candidates for interview slots and received your application right in the middle of that. It’s certainly weird speed, but in many cases it only takes a minute or two to decide someone’s worth talking to further. You just don’t really know.

Talk to them and get more information before you write them off.

The stuff you should have standards about are things like culture, salary, benefits, management style, and work — not stuff like this. (And realistically, if you’re “increasingly desperate for work,” you might need to compromise even on those. I hope you don’t have to, of course, but if you’re feeling nitpicky about whether someone is or isn’t on LinkedIn, there’s a danger that your expectations aren’t quite calibrated correctly.)

3. My coworker keeps assigning me small tasks she could easily do herself

I have a coworker (she’s a manager but I do not work for her; she works for my boss) who constantly delegates menial tasks to me that I feel she should do herself. I don’t know how to bring this up to my boss or even if I could without sounding petty. She asks me to do things like drag an email into a public folder in Outlook, copy and paste something from one Excel worksheet to another, etc., despite my having shown her how on several occasions. Another example is asking how many calls came in on a certain number that, again, she can easily login and look up herself in about two minutes, rather than wait until I can get to her email. Or, sometimes I have to email her for clarification because she she leaves out something, and by the time she replies with the missing detail, she could have just done it herself.

Is this one of those scenarios where I just have to keep sucking it up and doing it? To be clear, I do do certain reports for her department, but at some point, she began leaning on me for these other little things, as well.

Talk to your boss and find out if she wants you doing these things for your coworker or not. It’s possible that she does. It’s also possible that she’d be totally fine with you pushing back on these requests. But your boss’s stance here is key, and how you handle your coworker is 100% dependent on that. (And so is the way you feel about it, I’d imagine; if it turns out that your boss sees this as part of your job, that would presumably lower your annoyance.)

So say this to your boss: “I’ve found that Jane is increasingly asking me to do tasks like X, Y, and Z. Many of these are small things that don’t take much time, but they’re very easy for her to do on her own. I’d like to nicely start telling her that I need to focus on my own work and suggesting she handle them herself, but first I wanted to check with you to make sure that’s okay to do, and that I’m not actually supposed to be assisting her in these sorts of ways.”

4. How many microwaves?

How many microwave ovens should be provided per group of people, if any?

Enough so that there aren’t typically lines to use them.

5. Can I list my employer’s clients in my own list of clients as a freelancer, if I did work for them?

As a freelance writer or marketer, it’s crucial to have your own website or portfolio, with a dedicated section to past and current clients. I understand that under the client section you would include companies, websites, and brands that you worked for on freelance projects, but what is the standard protocol for clients you worked with at your full-time job (non-freelance)?

For example, I’d like to include writing samples and web design samples from clients I’ve worked with during my typical 9-5 full time jobs, but it is okay to call them a “client” technically?

It’s generally absolutely fine to include samples of work that you’ve produced for clients at your full-time job (assuming that you’re not violating any confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements). But it’s not quite accurate to claim they were a client of yours — they were a client of your employer, and that’s a different thing. Saying that they’re your client implies that they chose to hire you in particular, which isn’t really the case.

So show the work you did, yes, but I wouldn’t list them in a list of your clients.

{ 177 comments… read them below }

  1. AB Normal*

    I love the answer to #4!
    In a 15-person office, you could have different scenarios: everybody has lunch at the same time; every single person has to take a different lunch break. Things like this matter to decide how many microwaves you need, so the calculation needs to be in a case-by-case basis :-).

    1. Sarahnova*

      I just love that this question came in at all, although it would have been even better if it had been in the form, “Is it legal to only have one microwave for 20/50/whatever employees?”

      1. en pointe*

        Ha yeah, that’s what I was going to say. I love that someone even asked Alison that. That said, I don’t necessarily agree with the answer. I mean, if I had 10 employees who wanted to heat up their lunch at the same time, I wouldn’t buy 10 microwaves. I’d just buy a few and it wouldn’t kill them to wait their turn, or just go a few minutes later. And now I feel mildly silly that I just dedicated like 100 words to this at all.

        1. Sans*

          At my old office, we had one microwave per very large floor – so perhaps @ 150 or more people sharing one microwave. You couldn’t have lunch at 12 if you wanted to warm something up. If you tried, you’d be in a line of 6-7 people. And they refused to buy another microwave.

          1. en pointe*

            Oh wow, that seems woefully inadequate. But still, now I’m thinking I wildly overestimated by saying a few for 10 people. Maybe a few for 100 or so people. I guess it really does just depend on your specific workplace.

              1. Windchime*

                We have three for about 150 people. We also have three fridges, which seems like a lot more fridge capacity than microwave. But 3 microwaves seems about right; during the noon rush, I might have to wait for a few minutes for a microwave to be free, but not every day and not for long. So 3 works for us.

              2. Elizabeth West*

                We have two per floor, but it doesn’t seem to get backed up that much. Of course, I don’t eat lunch at the time everyone else does. I tend to go later. And two fridges, which are always full.

            1. Chicken*

              We have two for our floor, which typically has 40-60ish people present (lots of volunteers most days). I’ve never had to wait for one though.

              We have one standard-sized fridge, which isn’t nearly enough, so some people (including me) have a mini-fridge in their office.

        2. Colette*

          I think it depends whether they want to heat up their lunch at the same time, or whether they all get the same set lunch break. If they can have lunch whenever they want, you need fewer microwaves than if you require everyone to go on lunch at a time you choose.

        1. Sarahnova*

          I know the “is X legal?” questions drive many people nuts (probably Alison too at this stage), but I get a kick out of imagining the wording of the various laws that would have to exist for the answer to be “No”. The Microwave Basic Availability Act of 1989 would be a good’un.

      2. HR Manager*

        Lol – this would have been awesome. Or is it discriminatory towards those who like dry leftovers from last night’s dinner if we only have 1 or 2 microwaves?

        We have a small office of 250ish, but with 4-6 microwaves (I think 1-2 on other floors). We’re in a food wasteland so microwaves get used a lot. When I’ve worked in a downtown area, we had less because folks liked to go out and eat or pick up lunch.

        And don’t forget the toaster oven for those who like to wait 45 minutes before they get to eat. There’s always a handful of those in the office too.

    2. Cautionary tail*

      We have four microwaves, all located in the same place, for 500 people.

      The company recently removed the cafeteria because it was underutilized (i.e., way too expensive with only about 25 seats so not many people went there) and people were either bringing their own lunch or going out. The cafeteria had two microwaves in it.

      When they got rid of the cafeteria and added two more microwaves they also got rid of sinks so now we have microwaves and not a single sink in the company to wash dirty dishes. People started washing their dishes in the bathroom sinks until the company put up signs against it.

      So now pretty much people eat cold things in sandwich bags that don’t need to be washed or they go out to a local fast food joint or restaurant.

      1. OhNo*

        Wow, that would really annoy me. I much prefer bringing my lunch, rather than spending excessive amounts of money going out or ordering in every day, but not having a sink for dishes afterward it seems like it would be really annoying. Then you have to haul all your dishes home at the end of every day to wash them – what a pain!

        1. LBK*

          This is something I’ve wondered – do people really use actual dishes at work? I always just eat out of my Tupperware. I used to have a metal fork and spoon I kept at my desk and I know some people bring in bowls for oatmeal, but I can’t imagine bringing in a dinner plate to eat off of…

          1. Windchime*

            I actually have a dinner plate that I brought in, as well as a set of “real” (as opposed to plastic) utensils. My company doesn’t supply paper plates, so if I want to heat up something like leftover pizza, I’d have to do it on paper towels if I didn’t have my plate. Also, sometimes things heat up better when they’re dumped on a plate so I can stir it around.

            I wouldn’t do this if there was no sink, though. Yuck.

          2. OhNo*

            I don’t know about people in general, but I have actual silverware and a ceramic coffee mug that I like to leave at work, along with a plate and a bowl for reheating foods that shouldn’t really be heated in tupperware (tomato-based sauces, mostly). And when I eat a microwave lunch, I definitely prefer to eat it off an actual plate rather than a plastic tray. Maybe I’m weird, though.

            1. ThursdaysGeek*

              You’re not weird. It’s better not to microwave and eat out of most plastic containers, and not just because hot tomato based sauces damage the plastic.

          3. Dmented Kitty*

            I typically eat light at lunch, which is usually a cup of Greek yogurt sprinkled with granola, and a side of nuts so I don’t have dishes to wash. If I bring in cooked/reheatable food, I typically use my bento boxes. I’m usually too lazy to wash dishes at work, besides I prefer the dishwashing soap at home. There are also covered Pyrex bowls as an option for people who don’t like to microwave saucy lunches in a Tupperware/Ziploc/Glad plastic containers.

            I typically don’t have issues with our microwave ovens — we have two per break room. At a certain time there’s a line, though. So I just have my lunch at 12:30 when things quiet down. The issue I have is our break room space, though — everything’s crammed — from the ice machine to coffee machine to bread toaster to racks for tea/creamer/sugar, and the microwaves are stacked on top of each other, which isn’t really fun when you start elbowing the person who is using the other microwave because both of you wanted to stir your food.

          4. Anon. Scientist*

            Our office (50 people) has 2 microwaves, but it also has a dishwasher and oven/stove. We have a big pile of crappy goodwill-type dishes and silverware, and the receptionist will run the dishwasher and put away clean dishes once or twice a day. It is awesome.

    3. Enjay*

      I’m a fed and this is one of those things we have to buy on our own. Our lunches are our responsibility. We also bought our coffee maker (and coffee of course) and toaster overn.

      We have one for an office of 10 people.

    4. Mouse of Evil*

      Just remembering back in the 80s/early 90s, when my co-workers and I had to fight to even be allowed to buy a microwave for a break room that was meant for about 100 employees. We fought the administration and won, and then we took up a collection ($125!) and bought our microwave. We were so proud of ourselves. :-)

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        Wbat exactly is a “microwave”? I work at home so I’m not always familiar with office terminology


        1. Artemesia*

          It is a ‘science oven.’ And it will explode and burn down the office if you put metal in it. I learned it at the movies.

        2. Dmented Kitty*

          It’s a f*in science oven. You know, I read that it takes all of the nutrition out of our food!

      1. Judy*

        We engineers will tell you that everything resolves to a math problem, if you could just find the factors in the equation.

    5. De Minimis*

      A former workplace never could get this right….I think we had something like 2-3 microwaves for at least 40-50 people if not more. It was fine until the manager of the facility decreed that everyone was to take break/lunch at the same time [though there was no need for it other than to make everything difficult for the employees.] Our department lobbied to be able to go 5-10 minutes earlier and succeeded, though some employees were disgruntled because it meant less shift differential pay.

      I just ate sandwiches the three years I worked there so it was never an issue for me.

    6. Ashley*

      We have about 250 employees and four microwaves – two in the cafeteria and one in each floor’s lounge area – along with a total of three toasters and a toaster oven. While there’s usually not a wait, every once in a while you’ll get that one person who needs to microwave a potato, then heat up chili and then steam some broccoli and before you know it you’ve spent 15 minutes waiting for one person and you should’ve just walked to the third floor all along.

      1. Chris80*

        Ugh, this makes me crazy. We have one person at my office that always seems to buy the frozen dinners that need to be microwaved for 4-5 minutes, stirred, and then microwaved for another 3-4 minutes. It seems petty to complain about, but when 5 of us in the office are required to take our 30 minute lunch breaks at the same time, having someone use the only microwave for 7+ minutes is annoying.

        1. Dmented Kitty*

          Even more so when they walk out of the break room on their first reheating stage, and it’s done before they ever return. So you’re standing there in this moral debate whether you would want to be that jerk who pulls their food out just so you can heat yours, or take the higher ground and wait for them to return.

          Kind of like using the laundry room in apartment buildings where people forget they have stuff in the washer/dryer and need to move them so other people can use them. For that I just toss their laundry on the folding table or the laundry basket it’s associated to, I don’t care if it’s wet or whatever — not my problem. I utilized my kitchen timer whenever I do the laundry — so I know when the laundry’s done (and to remind me I have laundry being done downstairs, which I tend to lose track of).

    7. JC*

      We have 2 for about 70 people. It’s enough, although sometimes there is a line a few people deep (and sometimes there’s not).

    8. Margaret*

      I don’t know how many microwaves you should start with, but I firmly believe one should be taken away as punishment anytime someone makes microwave popcorn in the office!

      1. Cautionary tail*

        In oldjob we had a person set off the building smoke alarm with microwave popcorn – think black smoke pouring out of the device. They then took it away. So there you go.

      2. JustPickANameAlready*


        Every. Single. Day. One of my coworkers microwaves NACHO CHEESE flavor popcorn and scorches it because she likes it that way. The smell permeates the entire building; and I’m not even sensitive to smells. But something about the burned nacho cheese popcorn makes me want to rip the microwave out of the wall and throw it in the dumpster.

      3. Dmented Kitty*

        I’m thankful people here know how to nuke popcorn. It’s occassional, and the torture for me is it just smells SO GOOD.

    9. Manda*

      I worked at a place that didn’t even have a lunch room. There was a hallway with a microwave and a coffee maker on a counter, a small cupboard, and a water cooler. No fridge. No dishwasher. No sink. Not even a table. Everyone had to eat in their offices. I was a temp and there was barely enough room for me to work, never mind eat lunch. If the desk I was using was needed by someone else, I had to move crap off a table to sit at. Apparently they washed mugs in the bathrooms with hand soap, which I find kinda gross, so I avoided having any coffee or tea. I hope that’s way outside the realm of normal.

  2. Revanche*

    #1: “It didn’t work out” would be fine IMO.
    From the other side of the fence, I discovered that a staff member had lied to me about quitting for a thing that he hadn’t actually gone to do, instead he went to another company, and it was weird to me was that he felt like he had to lie. The lie felt way more awkward than the truth would have been because we made it a point to celebrate what we thought he was going to do. And it wasn’t like we didn’t regularly focus on growth and development as much as we could because it was simple reality that most of them would very likely move on to bigger and better things once they’d outgrown their roles – we all knew that some of them would be promoted and some would leave and that’s just life in the workplace, there’s nothing wrong with either path.
    Now, even knowing that he lied, I feel like that choice remains his choice and his problem. As in, if he wanted a reference now I’d be able to give a positive one and speak just to his good work history. I wouldn’t bother to ask him why he lied, it doesn’t affect me.

  3. ruthy*

    Op 1: I have done this too! Here’s how it worked out:
    I graduated uni and then worked for 2 years in a production line job where I got on great with the people I worked with bit hated the job – especially the hours which were nuts. I wanted to quit and was openly job hunting.

    I lied cause I couldn’t stay anymore and said I had got a new job in a specific industry and quit. In actual fact I had some interviews lined up. I didn’t end up getting the job and needed to continue my job search.

    I was embarrassed first and avoided my old work place but then contacted my manager and informed him i was still job hunting as it hadn’t worked out and could he still be my reference. Awkwardly he also offered my old job back though I declined saying I wanted to try something different.in the end it has worked out and they accepted my explanation that things hadn’t worked as planned.

    I think you should say to your old colleagues that you thought the thing you said would happen bit it hasn’t worked out as you have instead broken up with your boyfriend. Plans change all the time and ‘it hasn’t worked’ is actually a fine explanation.

    1. Jeanne*

      The key is to keep it simple. Don’t embellish or add details. Use “It didn’t work out.” Then if they push for details say “I really don’t like to talk about it.” and change the subject. Ask them a question about themselves and you can usually get them to move on. People will understand.

      Good luck with your job search!

      1. Sans*

        Heck, since you broke up with your boyfriend, you could even say that – it’s the truth! And then people will feel awkward and sad and not ask you any more questions.

        1. OhNo*

          That’s just what I was thinking. Since you specifically mentioned it was to move with your boyfriend, saying “it didn’t work out” implies a lot of stuff that I very much doubt your old coworkers are going to want to pry into.

          Just make sure you are prepared to turn them down politely if they choose to offer your old job back. Not being ready for that possibility means you might say something in the moment that you regret – like accepting it!

    2. Traveler*

      Yup. You are over thinking this OP. This sort of thing happens all the time, and no one needs details.

    3. Connie-Lynne*

      Yep, keep it simple.

      I left a job to move to another city and get married, but then my relationship failed spectacularly. I knew, leaving the job, that there was a high probability that would happen, but I was highly motivated to just leave the job and then deal with the rest of my life.

      Years later, I got this weird phone call — someone asking for me, and trying to get me to guess who they were. At one point the person saying it was like “well, I know you were going to get married and you left a job because of it” and I was like “how does that narrow it down? Everyone knows what a mess that was.”

      It was my former boss, sure he had caught me in a lie. And now you know why I was so highly motivated to leave the position.

  4. L*

    I too have been a little caught in that same lie, I said I had to move home due to a family emergency. I was scared of quitting the job for some reason, maybe because I was young and still nervous in the workplace. When I didn’t move back home and people asked about it, I simply said ‘Oh the situation changed, and I didn’t need to move in the end’. I just didn’t elaborate further and if someone pressed for more information because they were curious, I just said ‘It’s personal….I’d rather not talk about it’ and they dropped it. Relocations fall through all the time, it’s nothing strange.

    1. en pointe*

      Yeah, “it didn’t work out” is really all that’s needed. I think the OP is letting her guilt about lying cloud her judgement with regard to the current situation. I doubt her former coworkers would even think to be suspicious. I sure wouldn’t, in their place, as stuff like this doesn’t work out all the time. Plus, she broke up with the boyfriend she was going to move with. She really shouldn’t need to go beyond “it didn’t work out”, but that’s a super solid reason right there, if she felt inclined to share.

      When I read the post I was totally worried people were going to be calling the OP silly for lying originally. But I think not knowing how to quit is a really common thing to be nervous about when you’re new to the workforce, and it’s nice to see people empathising and sharing experiences. (I think this might legitimately be the only site I’ve ever seen which breaks the universal internet rule of “Never, ever read the comments”. Why is that, do people reckon?)

      Anyway, Alison (or anyone else with a good memory), do you have a post on what the OP should have said? Like how to quit a job that just isn’t right for you without the usual reasons of relocation, leaving for another opportunity, etc.? In the hypothetical dreamland where I could actually could quit a job with nothing else lined up, I would have no idea about exactly what to say. Like if they were nice people and I was doing well, but it just wasn’t right for me? I’d be totally worried about offending them.

      1. Sarahnova*

        “I hereby resign my position as X. I have very much enjoyed my time at Company, but I feel it is time to seek other opportunities”.

        Keep it simple and vague; you don’t owe anyone an explanation. Adapt the above for conversation as needed – “I’d like to look for something a little more teapot-free” or just “I think it’s time for me to move on”. Broken-record anyone nosy on your chosen vague line, but most people will simply accept the above at face value.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        You: “I’ve really appreciated my time here but have realized that I’m interested in doing something else. I’ve decided to move on and my last day will be X.”

        Them: “Sorry to hear that! Where are you going next?”

        You: “You know, I’m actually not sure yet! I’m going to take some time to look around.”

    2. themmases*

      I also lied once and made up a family emergency. In college I got a job as a classroom leader in a private school’s after-school program. I loved that job, but my supervisor also wanted me to start driving their bus on days I got out early! I was super uncomfortable, but it wasn’t set in stone so I went along with it to seem agreeable, all the while hoping it wouldn’t work out. Obviously now I know that’s the kind of thing you should absolutely express discomfort with– or I should have at least have moved up my lie and claimed I never got out of class early enough to do that! But at the time I was naive, shy, and didn’t know.

      Someone had recently totaled my sister’s parked car and I clearly had transportation on the brain, so I lied and said my family needed my car back and I would no longer have transportation to the job. As an adult this story I made up strikes me as so weird, but at the time I was proud of myself for at least coming up with something somewhat true (my family really was down a car, but they didn’t want mine back).

      1. Hlyssande*

        Wow! I would think that having a random person who isn’t trained on driving a bus driving a bus could result in some serious insurance issues. Even if it was just one of those giant vans, I have to wonder how they were going to do that insurance-wise, because there’s no way you could use your own for that when it’s for the business/school (your insurance company would”ve had a fit!).

  5. AnonyMouse*

    #1: It can definitely be awkward to leave a job with coworkers you like (even to the point of lying) but somewhat relatedly this question reminds me how important it is to remember that business relationships aren’t like personal relationships – there’s normally no reason to be upset if someone moves on. In today’s world really advancing your career in most industries will normally involve switching companies at least a couple times, and since most people are trying to do just that you can normally expect that someone you hire will eventually leave. Obviously if someone committed for a certain period of time they should try to honour that, but normally reasonable people will understand and sometimes even be happy for you if you need to move on from your job.

    #3: Not exactly the question, but one of my biggest pet peeves at work is when people ‘delegate’ simple tasks that would be shockingly easy for them to do – but are much more time consuming for anyone else because they have none of the background information/no idea how the delegator wants it done. For instance a coworker of mine at an old job was asked to go through a list of contacts and make sure everyone who was on it was supposed to be on that particular one – but she had no idea who any of the people were or how they got on the list or where to find records of who was supposed to be on the list. It took her all morning, but the person who gave her the task could have just looked it over in 3-5 minutes max because he actually knew who was supposed to be on it.

    1. Judy*

      When someone I like leaves the place I work, I feel sad for me, because I enjoyed working with that person. But generally, I’m more happy for them because they found a job to further their career, whether by more money, more responsibilities, better commute, etc. Yes, I miss them, and yes, I’m concerned that they won’t be replaced or they won’t be replaced by someone who can do the job as well as them. But very few people in this world make decisions based on what makes me happy. ;)

      1. The IT Manager*

        I agree, but I think the LW’s problem is that she didn’t have another job lined up so it does imply that the needed to get away from the old job which was a small 7-person office full of nice people.

        What everyone else has suggested to say is great. It didn’t work out and if they offer her the job back she can say that she decided to tkae this opportunity to try new things/change her life – single, new job, etc.

    2. PowerStruggles*

      Exactly most of these things are shockingly easy and I guess it’s just irksome that someone who makes nearly twice what I do does not have to learn basic PC skills

  6. Nervous Accountant*

    Dealing with a similar situation as #1. Except, I’m not really in touch w coworkers, so there’s not much to say but I did tell my boss one reason why I was leaving when the reason was actually twofold (the reason I told him + the other reasons that I couldnt’ very well say to him directly). Guess I’m just feeling weird about having lied as well.

  7. Apollo Warbucks*

    #1 “It didn’t work out” should be all that needs to be said in the context of a professional relationship it’s such a personal situation that it doesn’t invite any follow up questions and if anyone asks you can tell them you don’t want to talk about it.

    1. Artemesia*

      This 1000 times. Never explain. Explaining always sounds defensive and one does not need to be defensive about such choices.

  8. James M*

    #2: I don’t see any reason for suspicion; there is no mandatory ‘waiting period’ for job applications submitted electronically.

    #3. A couple additional points to keep in your pocket for when you talk to your manager: are these little tasks interfering with your regular work? and are they things that your coworker could do much more quickly than you could? Details like this may be of interest to your boss (or maybe not; fortune favors the prepared).

    1. Artemesia*

      With the electronic application — I guess if I got the response that quickly I would wonder if it were some sort of scam where everyone who applied got called in to ‘interview’ only to discover it was a multi level marketing thing or selling insurance to your relatives until you fished out your pond. Time to do some research on the company.

      Re those little tasks. I’d be very careful how to approach the manager. You want her to say ‘oh let me talk to ‘time abuser’ as I don’t want your work on the TPS reports interrupted with this sort of thing.’ You don’t want her to say ‘well you need to support her work.’

      So I would want to phrase it to emphasize that your work stream is being interrupted many times a day for trivial short tasks that she could easily do and you have shown her how to do. It is absurd to have to do this sort of thing for someone else — it would be absurd IMHO if it were the boss. It is one thing to have to type all her letters because that is your job but another to have to jump in and format every letter she has typed because she won’t be bothered — or to do the cuts and pastes. So the emphasis should be on the interruption of your work and its impact on your productivity and the triviality of the requests.

    2. Marcy*

      For #3, I’m not sure that saying the co-worker could do them faster is a valid argument. The co-worker is a manager and the OP is not. I have instructed a manager who works for me to delegate things like that to her lower-level co-workers. I have done that because although each little task may not take a lot of time for the manager to do, when you add them all up, it does take a lot of time and, honestly, I am paying her to do higher-level work and taking the time to do all of these tiny little tasks that can be done by someone else keeps her from having the time to do what I want her to be doing. I have had to teach myself to do the same thing because I hate delegating. Something that would take me 10 minutes to do might take someone else an hour but it is still better for me to delegate it because I need that ten minutes for other things.

  9. SC in SC*

    #1: There’s nothing wrong with just sticking with things just didn’t work out. It sure beats making-up a story of an imaginary boyfriend who was a surgeon in Seattle (we’re in S. Carolina) who’ve you’ve been having a long distance relationship with eventually proposing and asking you to move to Seattle. Of course, you’d also have to buy a fake engagement ring to wear around the office. Sadly, your fairy tale would come crashing down when a former coworker who we are still friendly with calls to say that you just starting working with them in North Carolina.

      1. SC in SC*

        This is 100% true. It was amazing how this person milked it for all it was worth. She even got the company to buy out her entire year’s vacation as a sort of going away/wedding gift. I can’t exactly remember but I believe George (aka Jan Brady’s boyfriend) also sent her flowers at some point between the proposal and her departure. It was surreal to say the least. However, some people never bought her story after seeing the engagement ring since no jeweler would use a 4 prong setting for such a large stone. The co-worker kept referring to it as a QVC zirconium. The ring was also a bit too large for the betrothed so she wrapped tape around it like you see in an old high school movie when the girl wears the guy’s class ring.

  10. LizH*

    #3. I am thinking either the coworker may have some type of learning ability, or a not very strong computer background. To most of us, the things mentioned maybe be basic, but if it is not something she was exposed to every day previously, she not be confident in doing them. Although I have a lot of experience in using a computer for research, I wasn’t comfortable with doing the other items as referenced in this post. My research involved going to very specific websites, getting the info I needed, and hitting print for the docs I needed. And yes, that lack of skills definitely impacted job hunting and employment after I was laid off from my research position.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Yeah, I was thinking this could be a nervous or overwhelmed person that OP is working with. It sounds like something a person would do if they felt like they were drowning in work. I have bailed people in this manner. I do some of the mundane stuff so they can get to the nuts and bolts of their stuff. BUT. Usually, I knew why I was doing the mundane stuff and it was my choice to help out. This doesn’t help, OP, that much except to provide some surrounding context.

    2. themmases*

      I think if someone doesn’t know how to do something, there’s a good chance they don’t know how long it takes or its relative difficulty either. Even if the coworker were thinking, “It could take longer for me to explain to Jane what I want, have Jane do it, and incorporate what I want,” the coworker doesn’t know if that’s true because she doesn’t know how long the original task takes! She might even be thinking, “It would take Jane longer to teach me to do this than to just do it,” which is probably true. I think everyone has non-urgent stuff they’d like to teach themselves to do but that always seems to fall to the bottom of the pile.

      1. themmases*

        Also– I used to get asked for this incredibly basic help with Excel and Power Point all the time. Usually I would do it and return it in an email that told them step-by-step how I did it.

        I didn’t frame it as “you should know this”, but more as letting them know what was going on behind the scenes of the result so they could be sure it was what they wanted, with a side of reference in case I’m not available in the future.

        1. LisaS*

          Letting people save face in these situations (i.e., while being trained to do something pretty basic) is key. The approach I usually take with students is, “Oh, hey, there’s a trick to that – let me show you/lay out the steps in an email.” The idea that there’s a trick lets them off the hook, so to speak.

          Of course, the usefulness of this approach backfires the 5th time you’re asked to make somebody’s paragraphs indent in a Word doc…

          1. BeenThere*

            They get one bite of the apple. I send them an email with a link to our Wiki containing all the information and pretty pictures so they know how to do it (I am a total boss at corporate wikis). If they are real technophobes I get them to screen share and make them click all the buttons. If they ask again I attach the previous email and politely inform them to view the previous instructions and let me know which part of the instructions they are having difficult with so I can update them for all the other users. On the third time I CC their manager and mine and ignore all further requests.

            If this sounds harsh, I’m a software developer and I know the company does not want me wasting programming time holding the users hands to walk through documented steps more than once.

    3. JC*

      Could be, but not necessarily. I work in an office where it is ok to ask the admin assistant to do mundane things for the technical staff, so that we can focus on the more technical work we were hired to do without worrying about mundane stuff. We also have someone whose role is less clear—he’s not the admin, but he is also in an assistant type of role. I might sometimes ask him to do something mundane for me, and usually that is within the scope of his role, but it isn’t always clear (in which case he’d push back).

      I’d definitely follow Alison’s advice to push back with your manager, since it seems like what you’re being asked to do is outside of the scope of your role. But I just wanted to point out that sometimes people ask others to do mundane things for them not because they’re too stupid to be able to do it themselves, but because they are purposefully giving it to others so that they can focus their energies on other things.

      1. JC*

        Right after I posted that, I realized that “too stupid” was a ridiculous phrase to use given Liz H’s bringing up a learning ability. I apologize.

    4. PowerStruggles*

      Hmm a learning disability? That is an interesting thought. But as far as the Outlookk /email thing, what I meant was moving an email from the In o to a shared inbox by simply dragging it, similar to how you’d drag one to your trash bin…so by the time she forwards to me and types her request, she could have done it herself 5 or 10 times, so on this one it seems like sheer laziness or she’s just so used to delegating…but on the Excel stuff I guess I could see perhaps a learning difficulty

  11. Not So NewReader*

    OP #1, Let me throw my voice in with the choir of voices saying “You are probably okay here.” If you are faced with answering questions about what happened after you left, just indicate that things did not work out and redirect the conversation to the fact that everyone was so very nice and you hope they are doing well. This might help to take the spotlight off of you and change the subject to “Jane had her baby, Bob got married, etc.”

    In years to come you will find that coworkers leave. Maybe you run into a former coworker and s/he is a bit awkward explaining the circumstances of leaving. You will know first hand to let the conversation go. Move on to a more comfortable topic.

    I’d be willing to bet that it would have been a lot easier to leave if everyone had been miserable! Think of your former coworkers warmly and let the rest go.

  12. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*


    Ouch yeah. Anyone who is half saavy about evaluating creative portfolios asks you about process in obtaining the client and developing the project. Simple reason: you can put any work on the interwebs in your portfolio and claim that you did it. Lovely home page design and logo you did for Amazon, great arrow.

    I ask a lot of questions and discard anybody who’s done some puffery immediately. The rate of discovered puffery is rather high. Don’t be that guy.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      I don’t know, if OP is a designer or writer, I think she can claim clients and work done as hers even though she didn’t do the job of securing the client (though I would list as such on my portfolio, e.g., “Jane’s Teapot Emporium, for the Chocolate Agency”). When I’m interviewing a writer, I don’t care whether she had any role in *winning* the client, because typically that job is given to the account executives. I just want to know how good of a writer she is, in which case it doesn’t matter whether the work I look at was done freelance directly for the client or done at a 9-5 (ha, ha, ha) job in which the client contracted with an agency.

      I do want, as you say, to ferret out people who have just grabbed others’ work and are representing it as their own in portfolios. So I definitely ask questions about what problem the client was trying to solve, how did this work solve that problem, etc. I’ve never found this way that anyone was truly lying about her work, but more than once it’s become clear that a candidate had been merely going through the motions without understanding the essence of the marketing problem and the strategy for solving it.

      Back to OP: The one thing to be very careful about when posting your work on a publicly available portfolio is who owns the copyright, especially for work that you produced for an agency. Read whatever you signed when you started that job! It is very likely you signed something saying you produced your work as “work for hire,” meaning that the company you worked for or their clients owns all rights to your work, and you therefore have to ask permission to include it in your portfolio. Let’s be real, they probably won’t give that permission, because the company doesn’t want you using work that THEY paid you to do in order to secure employment elsewhere. I’ve known someone to be fired because he had samples of work online, a client’s legal team found that work, and threatened to pull the account from the agency. (Without getting into specifics, this is not as much of an overreaction as it sounds.)

      Of course, if the majority of your work was done at a 9-5 job, you may have to create a portfolio somehow anyway, since no one will interview you or offer you freelance work without one. (This annoys the hell out of me with my current employer, whose official policy since that incident has been that no one may use work done for the agency anywhere, including in your portfolio — but they of course want to see portfolios from job applicants. You can’t have it both ways, people.) Unfortunately, you then have to proceed at your own risk — I would say at a minimum, password-protect sensitive parts of your portfolio and provide the password only to potential employers.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        though I would list as such on my portfolio, e.g., “Jane’s Teapot Emporium, for the Chocolate Agency”).

        That’s the key though — without the part in parentheses, it would be misrepresenting the relationship.

        1. LisaLisa*

          I think it’s actually pretty unusual in the design industry to frame it that. You usually just say that you worked for clients such as Jane’s Teapot Emporium. However, I do think it’s important to explain your role since rarely in creative work you’re working alone and that will usually make clear your relation to the client.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Hmmm, must vary by field. In the ones I’ve worked in, it would come across as saying that the client had vetted and chosen you in particular, which would be wildly misleading if they’d actually vetted and chosen your employer and you were assigned to the work.

            1. LisaLisa*

              I suppose it really depends on the context. If you were talking at length about a project you it would definitely be strange (or… wrong) not to mention that you did it under the agency. But if we’re talking about a section of a website listing brands you’d done work for then it’s not strange at all just to list the final clients.

    2. Sans*

      Agreed. I’ve been a copywriter for a long time, and interviewers always ask very specific questions about different pieces in my portfolio. I know they want to verify that I did indeed write the brochure or ad or script, and I don’t blame them. I wouldn’t even want to put something in that wasn’t mine — if they hired me based on that, and expected me to produce work in that style, I might be in deep trouble. I can promise you that my work will be up to the standards of what you see in my portfolio; I can’t promise you that my work will match the style and tone of someone else’s work.

      But back to the OP’s question – yeah, because of this heightened sensitivity to puffery and stealing others’ work, I wouldn’t say they are my clients. But I’d certainly say they were my company’s clients and discuss how I worked with them to produce a successful campaign, website, etc.

      1. Josh S*

        I always made the distinction between “my clients” and “my clients’ customers”. It was easier to refer to clients and customers than to try to define my clients’ clients.

    3. Betty*

      I’ve just put all my work out there with honest info about ownership and how I came to work on a particular project or with a particular client.

      My portfolio includes work from my old company with a note such as “…as staff at Company X.” I also list my role for each piece: I’m a designer, but sometimes I created everything from the concept to design, layout, and final production art for something, while on other projects I had a more limited role. Other people may show the same work in their portfolios because we worked on the project together.

      Now that I have my own company (aka freelancer), I include a clause in my contract allowing me to use work for my own portfolio and promotions. I have one big client who requests that I add a note that they own the copyright, so I do.

    4. AVP*

      In my industry it’s pretty common to see the phrasing “Produced work for brands such as….” and then, if you ask further, candidates will be very clear about whether the brand hired them directly or if the work came to them as part of an account at their full-time job.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I know someone who had to fire a writer who inflated her portfolio. She told me about it and then a few months later suggested I inflate my resume. I was like WUT–this does not compute. :\

      I didn’t do it. I don’t want to be that person.

    6. Josh S*

      Josh S
      Freelance Graphic Design
      Portfolio for Employer/Client A:
      Example 1-Designed for the website of Chocolate Teapots Inc
      Example 2-Designed for the brand book of ABC Chocolate

      This makes it clear that the work was done for your client, as part of their contract with their customer. It allows you to discuss not just the end result, but the way you managed the client relationship too, which is important.

  13. B.*

    #3. OP, ask your manager about this.

    Side note – I had a coworker who did this. She was older than the manager by a year, more experienced, and angry that she was working for the manager and not the other way around. She liked to pretend I worked for her. I really hope this isn’t what’s going on with you, OP.

    1. LBK*

      This is kinda what I think is going on. I mean, asking someone to copy info from one Excel spreadsheet to another? Just typing out that email would use about 40 times as many keystrokes as it would take to just do it yourself.

    2. OhNo*

      This has never happened to me (knock on wood!) but I’ve heard a lot of similar stories from my friends who are just starting in offices. In some places, being “the new guy” or being younger than your coworkers can be enough for them to think it’s okay to give you the boring grunt work that no one else wants to do.

      1. LBK*

        Well, often it IS okay to give the grunt work to the new person. Having to do the crappy menial work is part of paying your dues in many positions. For instance, in my old department the newest person was always the one that had to process the incoming mail.

        1. en pointe*

          This. I’m the resident peon here and I don’t really mind doing the grunt work that no one else wants to do. Besides paying dues, it’s an allocation of resources thing. It often makes the most financial sense to have the grunt work done by the lowest paid people, so it can be a sign of a well-run organisation more than anything.

            1. LBK*

              Oh yeah, I don’t think this is what’s happening in your case at all. Just saying that in some places it’s a reasonable expectation – so I agree with Alison’s advice to run it by your manager. If she says she does expect you to do this…well, then I guess you have to consider if you’re okay with staying in a role where you might be asked to do stupid things from time to time.

        2. OhNo*

          I mean, it makes sense if it’s part of your position. But as an example… one of my friends got hired recently to work in something IT-related, and she has had several people ask her to make a bunch of copies for them because they are “too busy”. To hear her tell it, she doesn’t even know where the copier is, much less have the spare time to run off a hundred packets for some other department’s meeting.

          It would make sense if she was asked to do the grunt work of her department, but it seems that there are a lot of people who try to take advantage of the fact that new employees don’t necessarily know who everyone is, and whose requests they should humor versus who they can safely ignore.

    3. PowerStruggles*

      I don’t believe that’s what’s going on but totally know what you mean. The tough thing is she’s a super nice person just seriously lacking computer skills and for a manager that doesn’t sit right with me, but oh well I have to look at myself too and maybe I’m just put on this earth to be the helpful one

  14. Allison*

    #2, I had the same thing happen to me for my new job. I submitted my application via indeed and they called me back in 20 minutes! I was completely weirded out but decided to go to the interview. Long story short, I asked a LOT of questions at the interview and they were all answered very well, and I’ve now worked there for almost 6 months and it’s the best job I’ve ever had. I did mention the weirdness of the quick phone call to my boss after I got hired, and she was horrified by the story. The HR person who called me after 20 minutes was essentially just performing a phone screening to decide if they wanted to interview me – she had a habit of flipping through resumes after lunch, and I had submitted mine over lunch. *shrug* So, if the job sounds good, go to the interview and ask as many questions as you can.

    1. Mouse of Evil*

      I was going to remark on that too. I’ve applied at one place several times, and the email from them asking for the EEOC paperwork and such always comes between 10 and 11 a.m. It’s a personal email, not an autoresponder, so I figure the HR person who handles that part of it just does that stuff at that time. I’m usually submitting in the afternoon or evening, so it comes the next day, but I might be a little weirded out if I had submitted it at 9:50. :-)

    2. en pointe*

      Yep and if the OP is increasingly desperate, they’ve haven’t really got anything to lose. They’re not agreeing to take the job by just talking further. They can find out more information and evaluate the company based on something more substantive. It still might not work out obviously, for any number of reasons, but if I was desperate, I wouldn’t be writing off companies based on stuff like this.

      1. LBK*

        They’re not agreeing to take the job by just talking further.

        Yes! This is something I feel like gets constantly lost by job searchers. You aren’t committing to anything by submitting an application or going to an interview – you have nothing to lose.

        1. en pointe*

          Yeah, definitely. I do think people should have at least a potential interest in the job though. Like just because you don’t have anything to lose doesn’t mean other people don’t. There’s no need to waste people’s time and potentially cause other applicants to miss out. But in the OP’s case they could potentially be interested, so absolutely nothing to lose!

          1. LBK*

            True – but I think self-selecting out of a hiring process before it even starts is a common mistake. This is one spot where the dating analogy works really well: you’re not obligated to go on a first date with someone you have zero interest in, but on the flip side you’re not committing yourself to marrying that person just by going on a date with them.

    3. Mrs. Psmith*

      I’ve had this situation happen also. I submitted my application (not through Indeed, just by email) and I got a response back in about 30 minutes asking to come in to interview. And I ended up getting the job and have been here 7 years. My feeling is sometimes your application just catches people right when they’re working on that task, so they can look at it immediately.

      And in my case, my boss told me (I asked about it several years later) that I had one of the only resumes that fit almost exactly what they were looking for, which is why they knew immediately they wanted to interview me.

      1. Simonthegrey*

        My husband applied for a job late on a Tuesday and first thing Wednesday morning, they called him about an interview for the next day. He must have been the first resume they looked at that morning, as quick as it all happened. He did take the job; he likes it so far.

    4. Anonathon*

      I was going to make a similar point. I was hiring interns recently, and I would just flag resumes as they came in and review them all at a set time. One person happened to submit during that time, and her resume was good — so she got a reply within an hour whereas some other people got a reply within 3-4 days. (That said, I did wait an hour to press send because I thought replying within five minutes would look odd.)

    5. themmases*

      I got called back just a few hours later for my current job, and my job is great. In my case it just turned out to be someone who really liked my experience and work (I had to submit writing samples). I get a lot of great feedback in this job, was quickly moved from hourly to getting a tuition waiver, and was hired onto my boss’s next project 3 months ahead of time– 2 months into my current job.

      I got the impression that the OP was worried about a scam job or something, which people have written in about here. Those tend to move people along quickly, make promises early, and woo people who maybe aren’t used to it for a job that maybe doesn’t merit it. I wouldn’t really be worried about that if the actual company is legitimate though– it’s not like they have one department of scams. The HR person may just be new, or if her company doesn’t recruit on LinkedIn she may have her profile locked down so that she isn’t inundated with job inquiries on her personal page.

    6. Mel*

      I second this. I was called back within 20 minutes of submitting my application. It turned out my resume hit the director’s inbox just as he was going over applications. Well, I got the job. I’ve been here for three years and it is by far the best job I’ve ever had. The fact that the call came so quickly boiled down to two factors: it’s a small company, so resumes go directly to each hiring manager, and my manager just happened to be working on filling the position at that exact time.

      Go on the interview.

    7. Professional Merchandiser*

      In my line of work, this is not unusual. I belong to a website that posts merchandising jobs, and a couple of times as soon as I hit send I got a phone call offering me the position. Or getting calls within 24 hours. If it was professional/office work I might wonder a bit; but if you really stand out, I can understand they want to check you out.

  15. LaurenV*

    #2 The first thing I thought was “I bet it’s one of those commission only, door to door marketing companies that prey on college grads and post misleading ads”. They generally respond immediately to applicants because they have a constant turnover. I would research the company and ask questions first. If you go to the interview and it lasts 10 minutes, and then if you are told you will hear that day if you are hired (they hire almost anyone) and to come the next day for a “day of observation” and “wear comfortable shoes”, then you can be sure that your new job involves selling vacuums, perfume, energy packages, spa gift certificates, makeup, etc either door to door or in parking lots. Hopefully not, but just thought I would warn you.

    1. Not an IT Guy*

      This. Although for the record I’m one of the few that didn’t get hired. I was escorted out of the building for not bringing a copy of my resume to the 2nd interview. So the guy told me that he didn’t know me and I had no experience for a no experience necessary job.

    2. Liane*

      Or maybe the kind that preys on graduating high school seniors to demo knives & such? My son got one of those letters last year & had the sense to google the company & see what a bad idea it was.

      But from what Alison and others have said, this can happen at decent places due to timing, so go to the interview and focus on what Alison said is important. If 1 or more of those gets your spider-sense tingling during the interview, then you have reason to to not accept a second interview or a job offer.

  16. C Average*

    I can offer one more reason not to lie about this stuff (for future reference, of course): The truth might come out anyway.

    Years ago I was tasked with coaching a group of agents who took consumer calls. For each coaching, I’d go into our call capture system and listen to the call while watching a recording of the agent’s screen during the call. We’d then meet and go through the coaching together.

    One agent, during a call, was viewing an email exchange with a friend about an amazing opportunity that had come her way. She indicated she was going to take it and was planning to tell a lie to avoid having to serve her notice period.

    As I was her supervisor and not her manager, it was only peripherally my concern. In the coaching session, there was an awkward silence, an “uh, congratulations?” and a quick pivot to the subject of the call.

    As far as I know she proceeded with the lie. I know she took the opportunity and I know she didn’t serve her notice period, which created some minor annoyances for my team and me.

    She puns up returning to my company, where she’s now in another department and far outranks me. I like her–always have–but I think she’ll forever be in the category of People I Don’t Entirely Trust.

  17. Other Allison*

    #4, it’s hard to say, but I’ve been in offices where there’s been one microwave for every 100 employees or so. Sounds like a lot, I realize, and sometimes there was still a wait, but these places spread out lunch (rather than give everyone one hour-long window) and not everyone brought lunch into work. Like others have said, it will depend on how much of a window people have to eat lunch, and how many people typically need to use the microwaves. And, perhaps to an extent, what’s being heated. If many people bring in frozen lunches, that may necessitate one or two more microwaves than if most people were just re-heating leftovers.

    I’d start with one microwave for every 100 employees if there’s a big window for lunch, 1 per 50 if that window is narrow, and see how things go.

  18. Nerd Girl*

    #2: I don’t think that’s too weird. I was contacted within 15 minutes of hitting submit on the application for the last two positions I held. One of those companies is the largest on-site employer in the US and there’s little to no chance that I could have pulled up the HR contact anywhere. Even now, when I have to look for info as simple as contact infomation for a person who moved in the company I have to sift through the many layers of ridiculousness to find what I need.

    1. Chris*

      Re: #2…I guess I am accustomed to having resumes vetted. I didn’t even really personalize it for the company as I was really on the fence about applying to begin with. It seems odd that an HR person at a fairly big organization would just be sitting there awaiting replies as they’re usually deluged. That’s what raised a red flag – the thought that this place must really stink if they’re calling back instantly.

      Based on previous experience, instant calls are from suspect companies that are either really small start-ups or that pay lousy.
      I followed up by checking their website and even though they were an accredited trade school/vocational college, their SEO was absolutely terrible…couldn’t even find reviews of the place

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Resumes are vetted. But it usually takes less than 30 seconds to decide to reject someone and just a few minutes to decide to talk to them more. If you happened to apply during the window when the person was reviewing applications, it’s totally feasible that it played out the way it did.

        Unless they’re in a handful of specific fields, their SEO doesn’t matter.

        You’re a new grad and unemployed. You’re judging employers on really strange stuff, and I’m not sure why.

        1. Sarahnova*

          Yeah, I agree with Alison. It’s great to be attuned to red flags, but I don’t think you’ve developed a frame of reference for these things yet. These are not intrinsic red flags.

      2. Simonthegrey*

        I sent a resume to a friend who worked at a community college to ask if she thought I would be a good fit (she was not in charge of hiring; it was simply to get an opinion). She passed my resume on to a friend of hers who is a dean. I got a call asking for an interview the day after she passed the resume on; the “interview” ended up being the dean meeting to tell me about the classes they needed instructors for and to give me the textbook and tell me when the session started. I’ve been teaching for five years. Adjuncting is NOT for everyone – you have to supplement it with something else for a living wage, or adjunct at several places – but it can happen.

    2. Non-Native Floridian*

      “largest on-site employer in the US” … Sounds like a certain Entertainment company with a somewhat “Mousey” mascot. (although I always heard it as “Largest single-site employer”, but that could just be semantics)

  19. TotesMaGoats*

    #4-We have two microwaves for at a max 15 people and a bigger than normal toaster over and a hot plate just came in this morning. I’m picking up a large electric griddle on black friday. We like to eat in my office. Most of the year it’s Ice Cream Fridays but we’ve started a Crockpot Fridays for the fall and winter. Today’s menu: Tacos!

    1. Judy*

      I’m at a smallish company now, there are just less than 70 people who work at this location in 3 buildings. Two of the buildings have one microwave in them, the one I’m in is where most of the people (maybe 40 people) have offices, and we have 2, one on each floor. The microwaves are in kitchenettes, with sinks, coffee makers, water coolers and refrigerators. The downstairs kitchenette in the main building also has a toaster oven, and it’s twice as large as the others, and has a counter that we use as a buffet when lunch is brought in.

    2. AVP*

      Oh, fun! I never use the microwave here but I did buy a cheap toaster for our kitchenette which I use all the time.

      Did you know you can toast leftover pancakes and eat them with butter and jam? Perfect early-morning office breakfast…

      1. Elizabeth West*

        We have a toaster. One day last month, I came in and it was gone. It was gone for three days. I suffered because I like to have toast and an egg with my tea in the morning. On the third day, I asked our facilities guy about it, and he said they didn’t supply the toaster, so I went to Target and bought a new toaster.

        Let me reiterate: the toaster was gone. When I returned from Target, IT WAS BACK.

        I give up.

      2. StarHopper*

        I always make a big batch of breakfast on the weekends so that I can eat well during the week. Pancakes freeze & reheat in the toaster really well, so I always make a bunch. Steel-cut oats are another thing that does well reheated (not in the toaster, though!).

        1. Metalhead*

          You put steel cuttings in your oats? Wow, I never though of getting my daily iron that way. You are way tougher then me.

      3. Connie-Lynne*

        Even better — you can set a slice of leftover pizza on top of a (regular, slot-style) toaster, push the plunger down, and when it pops up, your pizza is perfectly reheated — gooey on top and crispy on the bottom.

  20. some1*

    I know this LW’s ship has sailed, but, yeah, don’t lie about why you’re quitting a job. 1) You’re coworkers won’t be upset with you for moving on, but they may very well be upset for being lied to. 2) it’s totally unnecessary. You don’t need a “good enough” reason to resign.

    My favorite story like this is back in my retail days I worked with a high school girl who quit because she had chronic fatigue syndrome. Within a few days, I saw her hostessing at the restaurant around the corner from our store in the mall.

    1. LBK*

      I agree, you don’t really need to justify your quitting to your manager. It’s not like they can force you to stay if they deem your reason unacceptable. The one caveat is if the problem is the manager, because you can’t well say to their face “You’re a horrible toxic person who has driven me out of this job”. But you can certainly say something like “I’ve come to realize that this position isn’t right for me and staying in it is causing a lot of stress, so I’ve decided to leave and take time off to clear my head while I look for something else.”

  21. Squeegee Beckenheim*

    What I want to know is the ideal ratio of people to refrigerators. We have something like 60 employees in this building and we have one fridge and two microwaves. The two microwaves seems like definite overkill, since I’ve never seen two people microwaving at the same time, but the fridge is PACKED. You sort of have to toss your lunch in on top and slam the door. I don’t know exactly how many people use it, since some people go out for lunch, but it’s definitely the majority. The problem could probably be helped if there was a purge to get rid of all the ancient jars of mayonnaise and whatnot, but I’m not sure that’s ever going to happen and I definitely don’t want to make myself the fridge captain.

    1. Joey*

      There isn’t one. It’s all about whether the fridge is being used efficiently and how full it is. I’ve been in some offices where everyone eats out and others where no one seems to.

    2. OhNo*

      That is a question for the ages. If you ever figure out what the ideal ratio is, you have to let us know!

    3. kozinskey*

      Ugh, we need a freezer captain. It’s jam packed with Smart Ones and Lean Cuisines that I suspect are all one person’s. I can understand leaving one or even two frozen dinners at work long-term, but I’m really confused that this person feels they need ten.

      1. Kelly L.*

        You end up with a million microwave meals piled up when you keep bringing them to work, then deciding they sound terrible and you’d rather go out to eat. And then the next day you forget you already have one there, bring another, rinse and repeat. Not like I know this firsthand or anything. ;)

    4. The IT Manager*

      Regular purges are important, though, because forgotten things start to take up space quickly when 20 or 30 people are tryingto store their lunches in a single fridge.

      I am annoyed by those inconsiderate people that store 12 packs of soda or full sized bottle of drinks in the fridge. Can’t they see how inconsiderate they are being when storing a week or more’s worth of drink in an overstuffed fridge.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Ours gets cleaned out regularly and they warn you–if you don’t take your stuff out of there, including containers and condiments, it gets tossed. Everything. We have two in each break room and they are usually always full, especially the week before they get cleaned. I think people make an effort to keep it neat after they clean it but gradually get sloppy about leaving stuff in there.

      Also, we seem to have a lunch thief now. :(

          1. Dmented Kitty*

            “Hey, has anyone seen my calzone?”
            “My sister had this yesterday, and she got really bad food poisoning after eating it so I was looking to throw it out.”
            Or use a bottle of Dave’s Insanity Sauce.

    6. Lia*

      I worked in an office where the fridge and freezer were completely emptied, save for sealed, bottled drinks (water, soda, etc) every Friday at 3. Everything else was trashed, Tupperware and all. Our boss was a neat freak, and had tired of a perpetually gross and stuffed fridge. There were numerous signs posted and no complaints from staff.

      1. Judy*

        One of my past companies was similar, except it was cleaned the last Friday of the month, and they’d keep in date condiments that had someone’s name on it along with the sealed drinks. They’d also keep in date frozen lunches if it had someone’s name on it. There was a rotation posted, so two people were doing it each month.

    7. Dmented Kitty*

      We have two fridges in our break room, and that seems more than enough. But our facilities management has been handling the clutter pretty well. They post the schedule for fridge cleaning (which is usually the last Friday of every month), and anything that stays in the fridge after that cut-off gets thrown out — they will not care if it’s a Thermos lunch bag or whatever that still looks good and within the Best By date.

      It’s kind of a waste of perfectly good food if they throw them out, I know; but this has trained us to check what’s ours in our fridge and not forget to take them home if we don’t want them thrown out during cleaning day.

  22. olives*

    #1: Oh honey! It’s entirely, entirely okay to leave jobs with basically whatever reason you want. Not only did your story have some semblance of truth to it, I think you’re missing the fact that people mostly want the best for other people – even if someone were to “catch” you, they’d probably feel sympathetic more so than upset. At worst, they might wonder why you didn’t trust them – but that’s not actually any of their business. Alison is totally right and you can absolutely get away with “the circumstances changed” here, especially given that you’re now broken up with that boyfriend (so why would you be following him anyway?).

    Also, you mentioned being depressed, and let me just say that probably part of what’s going on here is that that’s coloring your mindset. It’s great that you feel like you owe a lot to your organization, but: 1) it’s possible that the feeling that they “took a chance” on you is coming from that – you were good enough for the job, or they wouldn’t have hired you in the first place, and 2) leaving jobs is normal. needing to move on is normal. changing your life is normal. people understand and forgive people who need to make life changes. It’s a normal part of life. I’m guessing some of your former colleagues might even be sympathetic to the full story, depending on who you had a closer relationship with before.

    Go forth and feel safe that you’re doing the best you can. And remember that future people might even be sympathetic to your whole self, not just the parts that seem socially acceptable.

    1. Fabulously Anonymous*

      I agree with Olives and would like to add: life is temporary. In all it’s aspects, school, work, family, relationships, success, failure, in the end, only change is constant.

      I don’t mean to be vague – I just wanted to share something that helped me a lot. Maybe it will help you, too?

      1. Judy*

        One of the things one of my best friends and I say to each other is “It will be OK, just not what you were expecting it to be.” It’s true of job situations and personal situations. There will be a point after whatever crisis or change happens that you will just think, “yes, it is OK now. Not what I wanted or expected or planned, but it is OK in a way I would never have imagined.”

  23. Audiophile*

    I’m sorry, the microwave question is killing me.

    Alison should just make a post of all the unrelated questions she gets.

    1. LisaS*

      Captain Awkward does a periodic feature called “It Came From The Search Terms” where she posts the oddest Google search inquiries that lead people to the site. Though Allison could just post questions, I expect!

  24. PizzaSquared*

    Regarding the HR person being on LinkedIn, in most of the companies I’ve worked in, the people who would be scouring LinkedIn for leads are a completely different group of people than the ones who would call an applicant to schedule an interview. I’m used to having separate groups of sourcers (who go out and find candidates, including on LinkedIn), coordinators (who do the scheduling and stuff), and recruiters (who drive the process to the offer stage). In other words, it seems completely unsurprising to me that the person who is scheduling interviews doesn’t have a visible presence on LinkedIn, because that’s probably not part of their job.

  25. Cassie*

    We have a few microwaves that are used by staff – 1 bought by the dept and 2 that were brought in by employees. There’s never a line for them because although many people take lunch from 12pm to 1pm, a lot of people aren’t actually eating during that time. They’re exercising, running errands, etc. So people are heating up food anywhere between 11am to about 2pm. There’s also a toaster over that someone brought in and put in an empty cubicle near mine – it drives me crazy having to smell food in the morning (usually french toast or something) and then again at noon/afternoon. I don’t know why the person couldn’t just put the oven in his own office.

    At my dad’s government office, the employees had to chip in to buy a microwave a couple of years ago. It was something like $12 per person. The person who collected the money and bought the microwave wants new employees to also pay the $12, which I think sounds ridiculous. The microwave is already purchased. The $12 per person was based on the # of people at the time – if you collect another $12 x new employees, the amount per person should decrease. Are you going to give people refunds? Or are you collecting the funds for the “next” microwave? So in essence you’re charging people for the privilege of using said microwave and not actually the cost of the tangible item. (One employee who is leaving now wants a refund – partial refund – of his/her contribution to the microwave fund). It all sounds much too complicated to me!

  26. rebecca*

    #4: We have 3 microwaves for a 100 person office. Once in a while I have to wait a couple minutes, but it has never been a problem

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