leaving early on my second day of work, responding to secondhand gossip, and more

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

1. Can I ask to leave early on my second day of work to attend my son’s preschool concert?

I have just accepted an offer with a company two weeks ago and will be starting my new job in 2 weeks. I just found out that my 3-year-old has a Christmas concert in his preschool on the second day of my first week at my new job. I would really like to attend his concert but am not sure if it is acceptable to leave early on my second day. I was wondering if I could ask my manager if I could leave early to attend my son’s concert.

My new workplace is 1-1/2 hours away from my son’s preschool and I’m starting my new job as a supervisor. I have a meeting at my new work a week before my start date, and I’d like to ask my manager if it is ok to leave early when I see him at the meeting.

I wouldn’t. It’s only your second day and your new manager and colleagues don’t know much about you yet. You don’t want one of the first things they learn to be “she’s cutting out early on her second day for an optional thing.” Fairly or unfairly, it’s likely to start people wondering if you’re going to frequently want to leave early or come in late, and it’s likely to raise questions about how well you follow professional norms (which usually dictate not doing stuff like this during your first week — unless it’s truly unavoidable, like a time-sensitive medical appointment).

2. Responding to secondhand gossip about yourself

What is the best way to handle hearing secondhand gossip about yourself in the workplace? My coworker, Cathy, told me that our manager told her that I had “tattled” about some disproportionate behavior Cathy exhibited after I made a mistake and performed a duty I had been asked not to perform in the past. This was after our manager held a team meeting to discuss the mistake I made, and the behavior that Cathy exhibited afterwards.

It really put a bug in my ear hearing that my boss allegedly thinks I “tattled” like some kind of petulent child whose concerns aren’t warranted. At the same time, Cathy is a known gossip, and does not seem to let go of past wrongs easily or willingly.

I’m put in an awkward predicament: do I ask my manager if what Cathy says is true, thus revealing Cathy as a gossip (instead of speaking to Cathy directly about how badly that bugged me), or do I trust that the manager will approach me with any severe problems with my performance, as she’s promised to do, and just let this instance go? I will tell Cathy I don’t want to hear gossip anymore, and I’ve already told her not to tell me if/when the manager says things like that about me.

Let it go. This already sounds like a fair amount of drama, and you’re better off not adding to it by reopening this with your manager. I don’t think you have much to gain by that discussion, and you probably have something to lose. I think asking Cathy not to share those sorts of things with you was a good move.

3. I’m not allowed to know the salaries of the employees who I manage

About eight months ago, I was promoted to director at the small company where I work. I now oversee a department that had already existed prior to my promotion. At no time was I informed of any of that department’s salaries. When it came time to do a review for the head of that department, I completed the review form and asked for his salary information so I could figure out what raise would be appropriate. I was told to give him the review, letting him know that I recommended he be given a raise, and to have him see my boss for details. I have no idea how much of a raise he is getting or if it’s fair. I have no control over it whatsoever. Am I right to feel uncomfortable about this? I’ve been in management over 18 years and have never experienced such a thing.

Yes, this is weird and not at all typical. Managers generally know what the people working for them are earning, and if for some reason they don’t, they can generally find out. Your boss is going to some odd lengths to keep that information from you. I’d ask about it, saying something like, “I’d like to know what the people working for me are earning so that I can have open discussions with them about raises, retention, and so forth. Is there a reason you’d prefer not to share that information with me?”

4. Will stretched ears impact my job prospects?

Is it okay to have stretched ears at an interview if the jewelry is simple, like plain and black plugs that aren’t bigger than 2 gauge? Will college professors consider scholarships with them? I’m 16 and I will graduate at the age of 17. Can I get a decent job besides retail with them? If I move to a place like Ohio or Colorado, will it help? Will wearing simple jewelry help or will they still notice and hate them? I hate normally sized earlobes. I would like these questions answered so I should know if it’s okay to begin stretching. My cousin had a friend who had them and had to get plastic surgery because no one would hire him.

Background: a two gauge is not permanent and can be sized down. It’s the last size where this is possible.

I don’t think college professors will care much, but employers definitely will. While there are some employers who won’t care, it will significantly limit your job prospects with loads of employers (maybe the majority) who are squeamish about ear stretchers.

My advice: Don’t do anything at 16 that will limit your options when you’re an adult. Wait until you see what kind of career you end up in and what kind of options you have, and then decide what makes sense for you.

5. My phone cut out during what might have been a hiring-related call

Recently I have been applying online for jobs in my field of study. I have received a few calls from unknown name and numbers that were human resources, which is good, but today I received another call from an unknown name and number. I picked up and said hello, and the woman said, “Hi, is this (my name)?” I said yes, and as soon as I said yes my phone died on me. Terrible time for a brand new phone to die. I was not familiar with the voice and was debating whether it was a hiring manager of some sort. I quickly charged my phone but didn’t not receive a voicemail or another call from the blocked number. Would a hiring manager or human resources see this as me “hanging up” on them, when it was a total accident, and not call back or send an email in regards to the position?

It’s likely that they assumed it was a dropped call, and in most cases they’d call back. Since they didn’t, there’s a decent chance that it wasn’t an employer. Or maybe it was — but there’s really nothing you can do about at it at this point since you don’t know who it was. I’d put it out of your mind and move on.

{ 428 comments… read them below }

  1. Kate*

    I would assume that some of the people you are managing #3 are making more than you and that is their hesitantion in telling you the salaries.

    1. The Earl Marshal*

      I agree, that’s the only thing I can think of as to why everyone there is so secretive regarding salary.

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      Oh, that’s a strong possibility. I’d be more than a little miffed if I found out that all my direct reports earned more money than I did…they are probably trying to avoid that conversation for as long as they can.

      1. MK*

        There are workplaces where this makes sense; if the reports are people with specialised/rare skills, on whose work the success of the company depends, while the supervisor has mostly/only administrative duties. The weird part here is the secrecy.

        1. Liane*

          I make considerably more than most, if not all my direct supervisors, mostly because of the time I have been with the company. I do not share this with said supervisors for many reasons.

      2. Brandy*

        This is the case with my husband- he is young (30s) and manages some operational duties for the company. He also technically-on-paper manages (ie is the administrative manager of) a team of very seasoned technical people. They all have similar salaries but several make more than my husband by virtue of their experience + tenure at the company. One made 1.5x but was quickly managed out for poor performance!

        He doesn’t think anything of it, but then again, nobody was hiding salary info from him.

        I make very close to what one of my directs makes, but I have a 25% bonus and hers is 8%. So in years when we get bonuses, it’s a bigger comp spread.

      3. BRR*

        My cousin was in sales and when he got promoted he ended up making less managing the sales team so he went to just being a salesman.

        1. Judy*

          It is also very common in places like the auto industry, when you take overtime into account. The supervisors make a little more than the workers, but the supervisors are exempt, so during the busy seasons with 10+ hours of OT a week, the workers make more than the supervisors.

          1. De Minimis*

            This used to also be the case when I worked at the Post Office, the people who volunteered for all the overtime [there was one group where the workload was always high to where they could work as many extra hours as they wanted] made the most of anyone in the whole place. They earned every penny though, that particular job was very physically demanding.

    3. Artemesia*

      This was the first thing that occurred to me. I got the vibe that the OP is underpaid (and a woman who is being underpaid because they can). Might not be so, but that is the first thing that came to mind. Gender discrimination might not be a factor, but I would assume that she is being paid less than the people she manages unless there is evidence to the contrary.

      1. Mike C.*

        This is a great point, actually.

        Of course, all of this would be squashed if salaries or at the very least pay bands were published, but few employers are willing to do this. But for those of us that work for employers that have, the world doesn’t come to an end.

    4. Is This Legal*

      I’m an accountant, I see my manager and director’s salaries and I don’t think they mind but they haven’t shown me a reason to think otherwise. It was weird at first, I didn’t want to know how much my manager makes

    5. AdAgencyChick*

      My company has the same policy as OP’s, or claims to. I have a feeling it’s truly enforced only in situations where the direct report is making more than or close to the same amount that her boss is, because that’s the only time I’ve had trouble getting the information out of my boss. (It’s HR that insists on keeping the information away from the direct manager.)

      I don’t think it’s *necessarily* a ploy to keep managers from learning that they’re underpaid — I actually think it’s more of a ploy to keep salaries down overall. Direct managers who love their direct reports try to get good raises for them, and when everyone does this, the bean counters have a heart attack. Instead, when one bigwig over a large team gets to read all the reviews and then decide who gets what, the raises are lower across the board.

      That being said…yeah, only once did a boss really stonewall me on a subordinate’s salary. (Usually when I ask, my boss will tell me, and then tell me that because of the salary constraints for the group, I might not get everything I ask for for that person.) So I have to wonder whether they hired her at or more than what I was making at the time.

      1. CAA*

        I wonder if it’s more likely in some industries. The only place I’ve worked that did this was an agency, and I see from your name that you’re also in advertising.

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          Huh, interesting. I wouldn’t be shocked if it is endemic to agencies, especially in the niche of advertising I work in (which requires a good amount of technical knowledge). It’s really hard to get hired without experience, and good writers who also have the technical skills are hard to find — so, couple those things together, and a junior writer who proves herself can get HUGE raises by moving from company to company for a few years. Which I can see turning into “we won’t tell her direct boss what she’s making, because then direct boss would realize she could do the same thing.”

          1. Lisa*

            Not bouncing to a new job every year is how I am behind on my peers salary-wise. Also, in marketing / digital advertising. Its not unheard of to have someone with 4 years experience making 100K, but they had 4 jobs – a new one every year and got good increases as they moved around. I stayed at the same place for 4 years, and only made 52K. Its really hard when you are not rewarded for sticking around. I had to leave to bump up to 85K, and I am still 30K behind people with my level of experience. I like my new job, but I feel like I have to move on every year to get to the salary I feel I deserve.

    6. CAA*

      It could also be a small privately held company. Some CEOs are not great at setting up department budgets and letting managers manage compensation for their own teams.

    7. LBK*

      The thing that confuses me in #3 is that it doesn’t sound like this is something the OP’s manager is doing, it sounds like she’s only spoken to the head of the department (who I’m assuming reports to her since she’s writing his review). So maybe she can just go to her manager and say “Can you give me Joe’s salary information?” and that will be the end of it, because Joe is the one being weird and secretive here, not the OP’s boss.

      1. Koko*

        Actually, it’s really unclear. She just says, “I was told to….” but doesn’t say who gave her these instructions. I was assuming it was her boss, since the instructions were to have Joe see her boss about the raise, but it’s a little ambiguous.

      2. REO*

        Koko’s assumption is correct. I asked my boss for the department head’s information and he is the one who wouldn’t provide it.

    8. Lisa*

      Yea, I had a review with my director and she said I was getting close to another co-worker’s salary. She was delusional, he made like 30k more than her but reported to her. The owner would tell her salary lies so that he could keep her salary down. She was barely making more than me, and she was the director. Someone is making more than OP, but not the person she was reviewing but probably someone on her team.

    9. MaryMary*

      Some organizations are just weird about salary. I work in employee benefits consulting, and we ask clients for salary information on a fairly regular basis. 90% of them send us the information with no problem, 5% get squirrely (especially in releasing senior leadership’s salary – I don’t care what the CEO makes and I’m certainly not going to tell anyone), and 5% have difficulty pulling the data (can’t get it out of the payroll system, can only get base salary, can only pull different categories of compensation and want us to add it together…).

    10. Person of Interest*

      #3 – I once managed a group of people for whom I had all the traditional management responsibilities, did their reviews, etc., but could not know their salaries, nor could I make decisions to fire them (which was needed in one case). It had nothing to do with the salary figures. It was that the director above me didn’t want to give up control or recognize me as a manager, but she didn’t have the capacity to actually manage the entire team herself. I’ve also managed high-level people whose salaries were higher than my own–as others said, sometimes its just like that at the top level.

      1. BRR*

        My thought as well having lived in Ohio at one point in time. Not only is it not edgy but some parts would think gauges in your ears would be downright weird.

      2. Cherry Scary*

        I currently live in Ohio, and its pretty conservative here (Dayton/Cincinnati area, formerly Cleveland) only place this would have been OK was in college!

        1. Obie Townie*

          Not as many as you might guess – the alternative look here trends more “au natural” now – unshaven (men and women), long hair, sometimes dreadlocks, no deodorant, etc. More “thrift store dirty hippie” than anything else. There also isn’t anywhere in town that does piercings (or tattoos), as far as I know, which may also limit it.
          Its more common in larger cities than small towns, in my experience, but overall not especially common in Ohio. I definitely saw them more in Boston, NYC and Austin than anywhere else I’d been.

          OP, at 16 I’d wait until after college before making irreversible body modifications. What about unstretched earlobes do you “hate” so much?

            1. Obie Townie*

              Not too much patchouli, although you can definitely buy it here. The unwashed scent can be rather overwhelming in some close quarters college hangouts though – and the number of people who walk around without shoes is rather gross to me. But I guess its a fair trade off for some of the positives like a large pool of potential babysitters (not all students go for the shoeless dirty hippie vibe) and great free musical events.

          1. MaryMary*

            Yellow Springs totally smells like patchouli (and other herbal substances). I haven’t been to Oberlin in a while.

    1. Traveler*

      Oregon is definitely more liberal than Ohio, but cities in Ohio have had a fair amount of “alternative” (or whatever you’d like to call it – I’m stretched for a word that covers all) culture. With the exception of Cincinnati, which is much more conservative than the rest – and you probably would run into trouble with an employer.

      That said, I thought Ohio and Colorado were weird choices as well as neither of them rate very high on the liberal scale.

      1. Traveler*

        Oh and OP, what will matter more than your location is what field you’d be in, and I’m not sure you’ll know that yet so early on in your working years.

      1. Kerry(like the county)*

        Friend of a friend thought Cleveland was the big city, but he was from Indiana.

        The least attractive earlobes I’ve seen are still more attractive than those with gages, in my opinion.

        1. Rando*

          Yeah, it seemed pretty likely to me that the writer is from Indiana/Kentucky/West Virginia — some place where the nearby “big city” is in Ohio.

    2. ella*

      Yeah I’m in Colorado, and am seriously baffled as to what the OP thinks is different here that would make stretched lobes a non-issue. Even if they’re thinking of marijuana laws, what does marijuana have to do with body modification?

      Do not move here just because you think we’re the great green promised land. Seriously, don’t. Change the laws in your own state.

      1. Erin*

        I’m in Colorado too. Boulder is fairly alternative but even then I don’t see much more body modification than I saw in Dallas. Combined with the Ohio reference, I’m a bit confused about what the op is thinking.

    3. Sunshine*

      I’m glad someone else noticed this. I’m in Columbus, and while we have our share of body modification fans (college town), I never thought it was more prevalent here than anywhere else. And definitely not in an office environment.

    4. MaryMary*

      Ha! I wondered the same thing about Ohio. I didn’t think we were known for our hipness. Ohio is often confused with other states, most commonly Iowa, Idaho, and Utah (it’s something to do with having a lot of vowels in the state’s name), but none of them seem edgy or hip either.

      I have seen a lot of teens/early 20-somethings with stretched ears, but zero young professionals with them. It seems to be fine for if you want to be a barista or sandwich makers, but not so much for an office job.

    5. Kate*

      I’m from Ohio and feel obliged to chime in that I wasn’t terribly surprised by the OP thinking we’re a little edgy. There’s a pretty strong alternative / DIY / hipster / etc culture in several parts of the state. That being said, seeing a prevalence of gauges among young grungy folks, many of whom congregate in Cleveland, Athens, etc, doesn’t mean that offices in those places wouldn’t have an issue with it.

      I will say, however, that I probably would barely notice size 2 gauges – they’re really pretty small. I have a friend with gauges at least that size who’s been gainfully employed since graduation at a major national nonprofit. I guess nonprofits are probably more lenient than say, corporate law offices, though, and I agree that the OP might want to wait until they have a better idea of what they want to do in life.

    6. Clever Name*

      She’s 16, and I assume not widely travelled. I live in CO, and I see plenty of stretched earlobes. That said, I think it’s very wise to consider ones potential future paths before making permanent body modifications.

  2. Ann Furthermore*

    #1: I agree with Alison here, but it’s a bummer. I have a young child and I hate having to miss any of her school events or other things. Sometimes though, it’s unavoidable. Can your spouse (or a relative or friend if you’re single) attend and videotape it for you?

    It just kills me when I have to miss one of my daughter’s events, and I feel like the worst mom ever. But my husband told me to quit being so hard on myself because I do make it to almost all of her stuff. He also said that it’s a good lesson for her to learn: that there are times when Mom’s job has to come first, because Mom’s job helps put food on the table and keep a roof over our heads. He’s always able to be there when I’m not, and he thinks it’s good for her to see us as a team that works together to manage our home and family.

    1. Mister Pickle*

      This is just me, but if the date of the concert is 16 December or 23 December, and if the job is the sort where things are slowing down over the holidays (versus say a retail store), I’d ask to leave early – and then make it a point to not be asking for such again for quite awhile.

      I guess I’m just used to people working something of an irregular schedule their first few days on the job (ie, HR wants them to spend a couple of hours filling out forms, Security needs them to stand in line for 90 minutes on Wednesday to get their picture taken / a badge made, the movers are dropping off the furniture on Thursday morning, etc). Asking to leave early on the 2nd day sounds to me like OP could have waited another week to start, but didn’t because she wanted to get the job rolling.

      1. Just Visiting*

        I’d ask to leave early – and then make it a point to not be asking for such again for quite awhile.

        I agree that you can probably get away with a “bye” in your first few weeks if it’s something really important. But does she really want to use up her bye on a three-year-old’s concert (that he won’t even remember her being at anyway)? What if he gets sick a week after? Then she’s taking off twice in two weeks, and while the second excuse is totally reasonable, the employer’s gotta be thinking “man, that’s a lot of time off for someone who just started.”

        1. Mister Pickle*

          But isn’t that always the case? If my father needed me to take him to the hospital to get his chemo – should I not ask to leave early because I could get sick a week later?

          I think it always comes down to a matter of how important the event is. By virtue of the fact that OP wrote to AAM asking about it, I’m going to guess that the concert is rather important to her.

          1. sunny-dee*

            It’s important to her, but, honestly, it’s not important to anyone else. Lifesaving chemo = important. Watching a 3-year-old mumble through Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer for half an hour = not important.

            This sets the tone for her employment there. It’s not like she’s been there for 3 years — there is nothing else to judge her by but that she bails out of work on her second day for a relatively unimportant family thing.

            1. Mister Pickle*

              Perhaps I shouldn’t have used chemo as an example. I was trying to make the point that “importance” is relative. To OP and her child, attending the conference might be very, very important. Maybe OP promised repeatedly that she’d attend – and then she got a job and didn’t realize until late that she had made this promise, and that her child was taking it pretty seriously. I dunno – all we have to go on are the words that OP wrote, and apparently attending the concert is important enough to her that she wrote to Alison for advice.

              But that aside: anytime you try to take off early (or whatever), you always run the risk of getting sick, or having a death in the family, or a medical emergency. Most people don’t tend to let these unfortunate possibilities run their lives, though.

          2. Jamie*

            I’m sure the concert is important to her. But like so many workplace issues it’s about perception.

            All but the most heartless of people would at least understand why someone would ask about taking time day 2 to take someone to chemo – because it’s critical and necessary and if they explained there was no one else most people would get that it was lousy timing but sometimes life happens.

            Because most people would follow the logic of if there is no one else to take him to chemo there are serious consequences to that. If anyone tried to equate that level of consequence to missing a kids school thing (I am not for a second saying the OP did that – she clearly did not) their judgement would be called into question.

            Sure, we all have things very important to us which are trivial to the rest of the world but we can’t expect society as a whole to give them the same consideration of things universally seen as important.

            Serious illness, weddings, funerals, critical medical appointments, accidents – these are all big deals in a way that the other stuff isn’t.

            1. True*

              I agree, there is a big difference here between a children’s concert and bringing someone to chemo….and I’m saying that as someone who has both an almost 3 year old and a spouse recovering from cancer.

              Last year I accepted a temp job as an executive assistant two days before my husband was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. I was faced with explaining to my manager during the first week that I would need to take him to chemo therapy every two weeks for the entire length of my employment, starting immediately. I was really worried that it wouldn’t go over well (since I was not just supporting him, but another Sr. Director and their departments) but he was amazingly understanding, and continued to be so when my daughter was sick and I needed to miss even more days.

              But I don’t think asking to see my preschoolers concert on the 2nd day of work would have gone over well. When I brought the issue up to him and apologized for it he very directly told me that he trusted and expected his employees to make appropriate decisions about when it’s necessary to miss work and when it wasn’t. He said that this was a situation I shouldn’t apologize for and I should do whatever was necessary to take care of my husband, but he still expected me to pull my weight. He was extraordinarily busy and needed an executive admin in the office so I’m sure he would have been concerned if I was asking for unnecessary time off on my second day of work.

              He was a really great boss. I wish I still worked for him, actually.

        2. mom first*

          I once had a boss that told me on my first day of work that family always comes first. Her words, “if your daughter has a christmas program, you’d better be there.” Her philosophy was to work hard at work but never to lose focus of what’s important to you. She was one of the best bosses I’ve had. I would definitely ask. At the very least you’ll know where family is prioritized. And to the commenter who doesn’t think this is important: it’s important to children whether they remember it later or not. When parents attend their children’s activities, their confidence and self-esteem is directly affected.

      2. Jen RO*

        I agree with you, and I actually told someone to go ahead and take time off on her first day for her son’s kindergarten recital.

        (The situation is a bit different, in that my acquaintance is getting hired in my department and, during her manager’s maternity leave, I am the senior person, so it’s not like she’s asking some hiring manager she’s seen twice in her life.) I don’t know OP’s situation, but my friend is definitely not going to be doing anything useful for the department on the first day, and I don’t really care if she does training #2349 on Monday or on Tuesday. On her part, she will try to be gone as little as possible and she will stay late during that week to make up the hours.

        1. MK*

          This situation is not “a bit” different, it’s a lot different. This is basically a case of your friend cashing in on your existing/personal relationship.

          1. Tenley*

            Even more egregious as most people — but especially employees who are not management — everywhere I have worked cannot take vacation or sick time off until after their first three months on the job (unless it’s an emergency, which then is usually as unpaid leave).

            1. fposte*

              I was thinking about that point too–the OP may not technically even have the time off. Again, if it were just a question of shifting her full day to start a half hour earlier, that doesn’t matter so much, but I don’t think it is.

              I think I’m among those leaning to a no on this–not because it couldn’t be fine, but because you know not taking it is fine and there’s no way to know if it’s really okay to ask for the time off without raising the question in a way that could hurt you.

            2. Lindrine*

              I had a trip already planned with a community outreach organization and had to ask for a day off within the first two months. I took Allison’s advice from the past and asked about it after I knew they were interested, but it was for an existing trip, not an afternoon/lunch event within the first week.

              Maybe you can film him doing a “personal performance” for you before school? See if you can email or contact someone at the school or another parent who may be filming the event. Missing these things are rough, but I agree you won’t want to use up time in case you need it really soon.

        2. RB*

          I’ve had this happen a couple of times with 2 newly hired direct reports. One was a teacher/parent meeting and the other was a performance, both within the first week of hire. Both approached me with the willingness to cancel and assured me that they felt awkward asking me so early in the game. My management approach has always been family friendly. As a parent, I get it. So depending on the scope of her job and the culture of the place, I say ask.

          1. Pennalynn Lott*

            I’m genuinely curious how family-friendly plays out when it’s a non-married, non-parent employee who asks for time off in the first week to, say, take their cat to a specialist who is only open during regular business hours. Does that hold the same weight as a recital?

            1. Connie-Lynne*

              I’ve aways tried to cultivate a “work-life balance friendly” management style in my teams. This is probably colored by my not getting married until my 30s and not having children who live with me.

              It’s not uncommon in my company (it’s a mid-sized tech company) for people to take a week or two off during their first month. We’d rather have people come in and start getting their feet wet, than lose a whole month of their time just because they had a vacation scheduled.

              If you’re working and settling in at a reasonable pace, and you’ve let me know during the pre-hire negotiations that you have some commitments you need to take care of, I don’t care if they’re “I committed to sit on the sofa and veg out for three days as soon as I had another gig lined up,” I trust you to be a grownup professional who knows what they need to do to take care of themselves to get the job done. Just set my expectations about your availability appropriately as soon as possible.

              The biggest problem by far I’ve ever had with my teams is being sure they’re actually taking a reasonable amount of time off, rather than worrying about PTO abuse.

      3. Working Mom*

        I feel bad delaying my start date any further and I did not find out about my son’s concert till after I had given them a start date. It is not a retail store just a regular office job. I thought that since it is the holidays, things might be a bit slow and would be an easier transition for me. My other thought was that if I brought it up before I actually start, it would not be as frowned upon because I gave them a heads up. My husband will be there to record the concert, I just wanted to be there for my son because I wanted to see him perform. My current job is 5 minutes from his school and my current boss is very flexible. I’ve been at my current company for over 8 years now, so I’m not sure if rules have changed in the workforce.
        I can miss my son’s concert if I have to but I just wanted to get other opinions on this matter.

        1. MK*

          Honestly, I don’t think it makes it better that you will be informing them early; it might even make it worse, because you are asking for time off before you even make an appearance at work. Also, I think that at this early point it’s not about whether they really need you there, it’s about perception, about the first impression you are making of someone who prioritises a sort-of frivolous thing over starting work.

          1. GrumpyBoss*

            This is key. Unless they are completely unreasonable, I am sure they will give you the time off. Especially if you inform them before you start.

            What you need to decide for yourself is this the impression you want to make, especially in a supervisory role. You’re new and people will have limited information to form an opinion of you. The average coworker/subordinate won’t have the context that you found out about this after the start date, etc. They’ll just see that not even 48 hours into the job, you aren’t available. That’s the sort of first impression that can be very difficult to overcome.

            1. neverjaunty*

              And let’s be blunt: in most workplaces, a mother taking off optional time for kid events is going to be judged very, very harshly, and mentally put on the “mommy track” by her supervisors.

              You’re not abandoning your child, OP. Dad will be there. It’s one event. Skip the time off.

              1. Judy*

                I don’t think that is the case in most workplaces. At least workplaces where professionals work. I would gauge it more as in some workplaces. I’m not sure that I have had a co-worker with kids (male or female) that didn’t use a vacation day to go on a field trip, or help with a class party or class project or see a performance. I’m also pretty sure that many of my co-workers without kids (and some with kids) use a vacation day to go boating or play golf or tennis, especially in the spring when it’s “just a perfect day”.

                I try to go on one field trip each year with each of my kids, the teachers like when I go, since I’m a Girl Scout leader and they know I can do crowd control and pitch in to help with whatever. Our school usually has 3-4 field trips per year.

                I didn’t go to the Veterans Day program, I sent my dad, a veteran. The choir program will be performed during school next week for the rest of the kids, and in the evening for the parents.

                My manager cut a meeting short last week to go to a parent teacher conference.

                This does not mean that I think it’s a great idea to do this on the second day of work.

                1. Academic Counselor*

                  Actually, I have worked with many, many coworkers who were parents (mostly mothers), and I have never heard about anyone taking time off from work to help with a class party or see a kid’s performance. I’m not saying that they didn’t do these things, but if they did, then they just put in a normal vacation request like everyone else and didn’t make the reason known to the office. Even in my very family-friendly field (a female-dominated profession in higher education), this is not the norm. If someone asked for vacation during a very busy time in the office and it was known that it was because of an optional school event for their child, I don’t think that would go over well (and I get that this probably isn’t a busy time for the OP, but it’s the equivalent in terms of being a time when you wouldn’t normally request time off without a really good reason).

                2. neverjaunty*

                  Mothers are judged more harshly in the workplace and assumed to be much less committed workers because they are mothers. This has been tested through things such as studies submitting identical resumes. Not all companies are like this, thankfully, but it is a pervasive bias that OP should keep in mind.

                  I mean, hell, the comment threads HERE regularly fill up with people griping about parents getting special treatment or thinking their “choice to have a baby” makes them special. It would be foolish of OP to assume nobody with authority at her company shares those attitudes.

            2. spek*

              As a coworker, the impression I am going to get is that if you are really going to leave early on your second day of work for a 3 year old’s concert…it looks like I am going to spend a lot of time covering your workload while you are out for family reasons…

        2. fposte*

          Also, how early is early? My guess, from preschool schedules around here and the 1.5 hour commute you mention, is that you mean not so much leaving early as working half a day–if so, that’s big in a way that a 4:30 departure might not be.

          1. Zillah*

            Yeah, this is key to me. If the office has more flexible hours, it might be possible to work something out, and pushing your day forward by half an hour (ie, start at 830) wouldn’t necessarily be a huge deal. But that’s very different from leaving at 130 or 2, which I would absolutely not do.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          I don’t think this is about rules changing in the work force. I think that some places are vastly different from other places and until you know what you have on your hands, it’s best to fly below the radar.

          Some places will tell you “okay” and behind your back the eye rolling starts. Some places will tell you no or tell you no in very strong terms. And some places are actually okay with it, IF you have been there a while. There is a whole spectrum of responses out there.

          I have one part time job that I have been doing for two years. A couple months ago, my dog seriously injured himself. I started to tell my boss that something was wrong and I never finished telling her the whole story- she interrupted and said “Get out of here right now, go take care of your little guy.” Honestly, I felt that what I was requesting sounded weak or flimsy. But my boss knows that I have worked plenty of 12-14 hour days for her and I would do it again, in a heartbeat, if she needed me. She also knew that for me to mention it- the situation was dire. In my work experience it is very unusual to find a boss who is so accommodating.

          1. Colette*

            Yeah, I think that if the OP had been on the job for a year, it would be fine to ask – but not in the first week (or month, probably). She needs to build up her reputation before asking for special treatment.

            1. MK*

              Even if she had been on the job for a month, I think it would be ok to ask. But it being the second day at work, which means she has to ask either before she even starts or on her first day, well…

          2. Jamie*

            Agree – it’s not the change in the work force but the difference between being a brand new hire and having years of credibility somewhere.

            I absolutely 100% would not do it – the impression this will make will haunt the OP for a very long time.

            First impressions mean a lot and are can be near impossible to overcome with some people.

        4. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I’d advise a wait-and-see, weighted heavily towards Alison’s advice. I’m in a similar position– I put off a start date because of a family visit, then I realized I have a major event for a hobby I’m involved in on my second day of work. The event is in the evening and if I leave on time I should be able to make it, but it might be tight and I have no idea what the commute traffic is like. I have decided to just put my event stuff in the car, plan to go straight there after leaving work at 6, and if I don’t make it, I’ll accept that. The difference is that this is me and not my child, and that the distance isn’t super far, but I think gauging the atmosphere when you get there will be your best bet– don’t make any commitments one way or another. The first two days at a new job can be either insanely busy or super boring, and this time of year does make a difference, but you won’t know until you get there.

          My new job wanted me to travel for my first week and get trained at the main office, and I did bring up my event and ask if I could leave on Wednesday. I also said that I can make it work if necessary. They were really good about it and I’m going in January instead– which actually makes more sense, business-wise– but I won’t ask for any more favors.

        5. Jazzy Red*

          Working Mom, I know it’s hard, but I think you should skip the concert. There’s an old saying “you never get a second chance to make a first impression”. It’s true because your first impression is what will stick in everyone’s mind. Do you want to be known as the woman who left her job early on her second day? A lot of parents have to miss their kids’ school/sport/scouts events. The kids get over it unless you always promise to be there and never actually show up.

          You can have a very special time viewing the concert at home with your child on your lap (who will also be seeing himself on stage for the first time).

          1. tesyaa*

            I agree, especially since your husband can attend. With two working parents, it’s rare that both get to attend a special event during working hours, at least in my own experience.

            1. Lynn Whitehat*

              Yup. I wish preschools wouldn’t do stuff like this, honestly. It puts parents in a terrible spot. Um, I’m paying for childcare because I have work commitments during the day.

          2. C Average*

            I sort of think our generation has seen too many movies and TV shows featuring a workaholic parent faced with the choice to attend the Big Important Board Meeting That Will Decide Everything versus Johnny’s School Play or Mary Sue’s Big Game. The music swells, the workaholic parent slips into the dark auditorium or the crowded bleachers, the parent locks eyes with the kid, the kid tears up, the next day the workaholic parent has a dramatic showdown with the demanding boss, the demanding boss gets some kind of karmic comeuppance, family togetherness reigns, cut to credits.

            Our takeaway has been that only bad parents miss kids’ events, and that kids will be really disappointed if parents aren’t there.

            Honestly, my dad NEVER came to my stuff, and my mom sometimes came and sometimes didn’t. I remember being way more concerned about the practical details–who’s driving me there? who’s taking me home? how am I going to carry my unicorn costume or my tuba on the school bus?–than on my parents actually being there. In fact, sometimes it was kind of fun to get to experience something interesting without them and then answer their questions about it at home.

            It would’ve never in a million years crossed my mind that my parents would take time away from work to attend my stuff. They had to work. Work was not negotiable; it was simply what you did every day during certain hours. I didn’t take it personally.

            1. Jamie*

              I wish it was unicorn costume AND tuba rather than OR because the thought of a tuba playing unicorn is cracking me up.

              1. C Average*

                Alas, they’re both totally made-up examples, but I think I know what I’m going to be next Halloween now.

              2. Beebs*

                I have a picture of my daughter playing tuba in a skeleton onesie–is that close enough? (And yes, the tuba transportation is quite an issue.)

            2. Bea W*

              Same. My elementary school would do 2 concerts a year. My mom was a SAHM and usually made it. Dad sometimes made it, but if he had to work there really wasn’t drama. No one was scarred for life. We knew Dad worked and that work was like school as in he had to go to work whether he liked it or not.

              1. Cherry Scary*

                Pretty much my childhood. Though my dad managed to be late to a violin recital on a Sunday… because he was watching TV. No excuse there.

            3. MK*

              And, unfortunately, the whole world watched those films. In my country, when I was a kid, most school events were things that we did for ourselves, parents not invited. Now it seems every child has to perform fior the extended family.

            4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*


              I’m not a parent, so obviously I don’t know what it’s like… but aren’t there, like, endless versions of this sort of thing? Recitals twice a year, grade “graduations,” soccer games, karate tournaments, and on and on and on. It’s just not feasible to be at all of them.

            5. Jules*

              Yep. Both my parents worked and I was in choir in grade school which performs in competition everywhere. They would go to the finals but they didn’t turn up at every concert. I didn’t care since I had a blast with my friends instead of having hovering parents who would cramp my style ;) We made up games etc while we wait for our turn etc. It did not traumatize me. I am fine.

              My daughter goes to a daycare and they have quarterly parent teacher conference. Not sure about other parents but I know what goes on with her. At 3, I don’t need that many updates unless she is having issues at school. I also train her to speak up when she have issues at school. When she got bullied, she made sure the head mistress knew before she backed off the issue. I didn’t have to talk to any of her teachers about it other then the first time. Don’t treat kids like infants. They are very very bright.

            6. Stephanie*

              My dad doesn’t particularly care for classical music, so I think he may have come to a half-dozen of my cello things growing up. But I appreciated that he supported my hobby in other ways (rides to lessons/rehearsals/etc, covering repairs and supplies, etc). I also knew that work was not negotiable and how cello lessons were funded.

            7. Pennalynn Lott*

              I played soccer growing up and either took the bus to practice and to games or got rides with friends’ parents. I don’t remember having any extra special feelings for the few times my single, working mother made it to my games. It was just, “Oh, OK, Mom is going to drive me and my friends today.” We kids were in our own little world, more concerned with each other than what our parents were doing.

            8. Melissa*

              Yeah, this. My mother came to most of my stuff because she was a SAHM, but even then sometimes she simply didn’t feel like it or she had another arrangement. I was always okay with that. And once she went back to work, she came a lot less often, and that was okay too. My dad almost never came to any of my stuff, but I didn’t resent him for it. I understood that he worked hard to feed me and clothe me. I know a 3-year-old won’t necessarily get that, but he also won’t remember it.

            9. Anx*

              I can understand wanted to go maybe, but that whole cultural narrative about negligent parents working to support their families instead of watching a performance always rubbed me the wrong way.

              I couldn’t imagine expecting my parents to jeopardize their careers for something so trivial.

            10. Yet Another Allison*

              Yes! I can’t even remember if I ever even participated in a concert or something as a child, much less whether my mother could attend.

        6. LawBee*

          Also, assuming things will be a bit slow around the holidays is kind of a big assumption. Nothing in our office slows down until the actual holiday – business keeps rolling, you know?

          I’d skip the concert and have a snuggle on the couch with the little one and watch it together – which will probably be more special to him anyway. Snuggles with mom trumps school anytime.

          1. Bea W*

            This time of year is crazy in my office, especially for managers who have to do annual reviews and there are year end reports and people pushing to wrap up year end goals. The only slow we get in the office is when it closes for the holidays.

        7. Oryx*

          Being the holidays might make it worse since you are the new person. In all the office environments I’ve worked in, the people with seniority get far more flexibility at the holidays while the new people put in a little extra.

        8. Lia*

          I would skip it and not bring it up. Honestly, in the grand scheme of things, a preschool concert is not even a blip on the radar. As a working mom who has been single for most of my kids’ school years, I try and save my time off for the things that matter — and to be perfectly frank, neither of my kids remembers that I missed a concert when they were 3 *as long as I do not make a huge deal about it*.

          I do not mention my kids, ever, in interviews or much at work in general (no pictures in the office, etc). Not saying everyone needs to go to this extreme, but if you don’t yet know the culture, do not start yourself off on the wrong foot.

          And finally, 1.5 hours from daycare is a LOT. Is there anything closer?

        9. jess*

          Why not make watching the video into a THING if you can’t go? Popcorn! Snacks! A “behind the scenes” narrative from the three-year-old! I know it’s hard that you can’t make it, but sometimes work is going to have to take precedence- that’s life. As long as you send the message you care, little one will remember that, I think.

      4. snuck*

        I’m with you.

        It’s close nough to the christmas period that other engagements are normal and I don’t know your schooling system but if this is kiddo’s first concert ever then it’s worth asking discretely (don’t tell the whole office why you are gone, just that you have another engagement!) and explaining that you won’t make a regular thing of this, it’s the first and it’s so close to Christmas etc… Of course I’d also offer to make up the hours and make sure I was early by a noticeable amount each day for the week either side of it, not skirting in at the last minute and skipping out asap. I’d be a dilligent devoted employee at every other moment 100%, no phone breaks, no coffee runs etc.

        I’d ask. Once. Carefully, and be prepared to back down. But I’d ask.

        1. snuck*

          Oh, and my reply is coloured by my own experience – I have a son with dyspraxia and something like this would be a HUGE deal to him – and me – the thought that he might actually go through with it, go on stage, and follow along to some kind of song/dance makes me practically cry, that he might actually do it would be awesome enough.

    2. B*

      I would be really, really tempted to see if it was possible to mover my start date back two days without annoying them :-/

      1. Mister Pickle*

        Well, that’s kinda some of the basis of my thinking about this: if, when interviewing for the new job, OP had said “I’ll be happy to start on the 15th – but I’ll need to leave early on the 16th” – how much of a problem would that be? I could be wrong, but I think that many places would not have a problem with that. I don’t see this as being all that different of a situation.

        OP is meeting with her new boss a week before she starts work – maybe instead of asking if she can leave early, she could ask about asking to leave early, and try to suss out how such a request would be viewed?

        I guess my work culture is different than many places – things do indeed slow down at the end of the year because many people begin to take vacation, plus it’s just not uncommon for a few ‘irregularities’ to pop up during the first week when someone starts a new job.

    3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      This is probably the hardest AAM question ever.

      OP, you could ask at our place on your second day and it’d be okay, accompanied by the polite “I can’t believe I am asking for this on my second day but he’s playing a reindeer, hey look at his picture in costume on my iPhone” conversation.

      How can you know if you are working in such a place on your second day?

      As much as I don’t want you to miss the concert, I think Alison is right here.

    4. Brandy*

      If it is truel important that you attend-and this is only a call YOU can make, but know that it impacts you–I’d actually speak with the hiring manager now and say that you have an unavoidable appointment on the afternoon of X- would s/he prefer to push your start date out until the day after or have you come in but leave early in day #2 (unpaid, of course)? If you would have changed your start date in order to make the concert had you know about it, then it really is that important to you.

      All that said- is this sort of thing something you’ll be wanting to leave for often? Will your job accomdaye that? I ask this as a parent- and one whose job was NOT conducive, so Got another.

      1. Zillah*

        I think chances are good that the OP is exempt – she says that she’s a supervisor, and I believe that managers typically are. If that’s the case, she can’t take it unpaid.

        1. CAA*

          Depending on her company policy, she might be able to take it as unpaid time. My employer allows exempt workers to take unpaid time only in full days, but I don’t think there’s a law against allowing it for shorter periods, it’s just more work for the payroll people.

          The law about unpaid time for exempt workers is that the employer can’t require the employee to go unpaid for part of a week due to lack of work. The employee can initiate an unpaid leave request though.

          1. Elysian*

            You definitely couldn’t do that for part of a day, you would lose the exemption for your employees.

        2. Liane*

          I think that is pretty dependent on the company/industry. I work for a Big Name Corp & my supervisors are hourly, as are several positions with Managers in the job title. Including, I just found out, a Dept. Manager position I am interested in. (Not that this lessens my interest.)

      2. Owl's That*

        Sorry, but this is a terrible idea. Attending the recital is a nice thing but clearly optional – certainly not “unavoidable”! She shouldn’t be lying before she’s even started the job. Someone could find out she was dishonest and it would create a poor impression that she was lying to get time off work. And it could come back to haunt her. Imagine if a few weeks later she forgot about the lies she’d constructed and casually mentioned the recital? What if one of her new colleagues worked out that OP attended, because colleague’s cousin/niece/whatever was there too? It could absolutely happen.

        Far better to simply ask in advance whether it would be possible to attend the recital.

      3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        Yeah, unfortunately 1.5 hours away vs around the corner from school is such a huge difference for parents attending school events. It’s the difference between popping out for an hour and popping back in vs having to take half a day.

        Most of my people can manage any school events with just an extended lunch, and those who can’t, we can usually arrange a work from home/extended lunch combo.

        I’d argue that parents being able to attend school events is very high up in their overall job (and life!) satisfaction.

        For the OP, missing one event in the grand scheme isn’t much, but being able to structure things generally so you don’t miss many more events AND you don’t impact your job performance/co-workers/team, is the challenge.

    5. Graciosa*

      I’m afraid I have to agree with Alison as well – I just wouldn’t ask this early. You’re establishing your reputation at a time when these things stick, and the only thing people will know about you is that you didn’t even bother to remain for your full shift on the second day of work.

      Without an established reputation as a hard-working professional, asking to leave work early on your second day for a recital would be a mistake. If your husband is taping it, I would plan instead to watch the concert with your child and turn that into a family event after you get home. It could be a lot of fun to hear his commentary which is something you wouldn’t get watching live.

    6. Traveler*

      Can I just pipe in to say that especially when the kids are this young, you definitely shouldn’t feel like the worst mom ever? My mom and I were talking the other day, and she was telling me about things she missed or skipped to be at childhood events for me and honestly, while I might have noticed that day that she wasn’t there, I doubt it would have affected me long term unless she missed everything. I felt horrible that she missed important things to be at my craptacular team’s tournaments and such. I appreciate that these are things that parents do for their children, but missing one or two? It’s okay!

      1. Brandy*

        To add to this– my mom was at a bunch –if not all– of my stuff growing up. She was a room parent, PTA president, brownie/boy scout leader, the whole she-bang. My dad worked his tail off and every so often made something- THAT is what stuck with me.

        1. LawBee*

          Ditto re parental availability. And I don’t remember now who was at what, why they were or weren’t there, and I love them just the same. I think missing things is harder on the parents than it is on the kids, tbh.

      2. Arbynka*

        This. And you know, even as stay at home mom, I would miss events. Maybe I was sick, or one of my other two kids were sick … I have pretty flexible schedule now so I am able to make it for most parts. I have my smartphone, I shoot the video and I share it with anybody who wants to. And if another parent contacts me asking ” are you gonna be at…., I can’t make it, would you please take photos when it’s Johny’s turn”, I never say no :)

        1. fposte*

          This is a really good point, I think. It’s acceptable not to go sometimes, period, even if unavailability isn’t the reason.

        2. Melissa*

          My SAHM would miss things sometimes just because. There were three of us and we all did performance-y related things; she would be going to concerts, recitals, games and graduations all the damn time if she went to every single one of them. She went to a lot, but we were raised in such a way that it totally didn’t crush us if Mom didn’t make one of the 4596968 concerts, even if we knew the reason she didn’t make it is because she wanted to take a nice hot bath. (In fact, I distinctly remember encouraging my mom to take some nice hot baths sometimes.)

      3. Lily in NYC*

        I also think there’s a big difference between performances during the school day and nighttime concerts. I wouldn’t have blinked an eye at my mom not coming to stuff we had during the actual school day. I have a coworker who goes to every little in-school performance and it really adds up – there are at least two a month.

        1. Callie*

          Can I just say as someone who used to be a music teacher–whenever we did daytime stuff, it was honestly about the kids getting a chance to perform for *each other*. It really wasn’t intended for the parents. Sure we were glad when they came, but it really was about the kids. I used to have a principal who would get so mad that I wanted to do things in the daytime because “parents can’t come”. That’s okay! Everything we do isn’t for the parents. And honestly, for the wee ones, a giant crowd of parents is overwhelming and scary. Doing something low-key with a few other classes of peers as an audience is much more on their level.

          I did some things in the daytime because I had some kids whose parents couldn’t/wouldn’t bring them to school for a night time performance and those kids got a chance to participate in daytime activities. Then at another time of year we would do something in the evening for the parents who could be there then. I never judged parents for missing anything. (Unless you say “sure, my kid can be there, you can count on me to bring him, it’s totally okay for you to give him a solo because he WILL BE THERE” and then don’t bring your kid because he has “ball practice” and you never intended to bring him anyway. ugh.)

          1. Lily in NYC*

            That’s my memory from school. In-school performances were for the other students. I loved it in elementary school when the HS kids would come do whatever play they were working on. I don’t ever remember seeing parents at any of these daytime talent shows/concerts/plays.

      1. Jamie*

        Taping it is way better anyway. You can fast forward through all the extraneous parts where your kid isn’t on stage being adorable.

        I went to all this stuff as a SAHM when they were small, but my confession bear would be that I haaaated these things.

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          I don’t hate them, but everyone knows that no one cares about anyone other than their own kid. My stepdaughter did dance when she was younger, and there was a recital once a year for the entire dance school that would last 3 1/2 HOURS on a Saturday — once on Memorial Day weekend. My stepdaughter was on stage maybe 15 minutes in total, and the rest of it was killing time until her next number or the grand finale. OMG. Torture. My youngest did dance for 2 years and that recital was much better — only about an hour. The owner of the dance school very wisely broke it up into 3 shorter programs.

          1. Arbynka*

            I honestly like watching all of the kids but 3 1/2 hours ? Holy crap, that is way out there. Hour, hour and and a half, fine. 3 1/2 hours… I once fell asleep during Dancing with the Wolves because it just dragged on and on …
            I cannot phantom lasting thru 3 1/2 hour child dance recital.

            1. Ann Furthermore*

              It really was sheer torture, and it wouldn’t have mattered how amazingly talented everyone was. The really little girls are always so cute, and there were some routines with girls who were in competitive cheerleading (or something) that were quite good, and a class of elderly ladies who tap dance which was fun too.

              But it was 3 1/2 hours. I was always so tempted to bring a book and read to help pass the time, but I never did.

              1. Linguist curmudgeon*

                When I took banjo lessons, the teacher would break up his students by genre (rock guitar, acoustic guitar/banjo, adults vs. kids, etc.) and have 4 short recitals instead of one super long one. It helped a lot.

          2. Melissa*

            Augh. My cousin’s daughter does tap and ballet and so I’ve been to a couple of these recitals. She’s only 8, so at most of the recitals she’s out for one – maybe two – numbers which total 10 minutes altogether. But the entire thing is hours long! The dance school does it that way deliberately to fill the seats for the entire recital (she’s said as much).

    7. Artemesia*

      The behavior you show in the first month cements an image of you with your co-workers and bosses. You don’t want to be out sick (obviously there are times when you have no choice), taking time off for kids, slacking off, wearing weird clothes i.e. you want to make sure the things that build that first impression show you as pleasant, competent, and hard working. When you have established yourself in this way then you are likely to be afforded flexibility.

      It is a tremendously bad idea to leave on the second day of work for a pre-school pageant. It is also a tremendously bad idea to be an hour and a half away from day care, unless your husband’s work is close by. And if so, he should be doing the pageant this year. If you have a retired neighbor or grandparent who could step in that would be lovely for your child.

      1. Enjay*

        I agree with all of this, and especially the being so far from daycare thing. My husband and I have a tiny house close in to the city rather than a cheaper house 3 times the size an hour away because we were afraid of being so far away from day care/school/kid. If they need you, they need you.

        Anyway, our policy when our son was growing up is that one of us would be at every event. He was in high school before there was something neither of us could attend. We were mortified. He could not have cared less.

      2. Ann O'Nemity*

        The behavior you show in the first month cements an image of you with your co-workers and bosses.

        Yep. I’m currently watching a co-worker damage their own reputation in their first month on the job. Due to some childcare issues, the employee has already missed work on several occasions. They’re expecting a level of flexibility usually reserved for long-standing, trusted employees. Since I don’t know anything else about this person, my first impression is that they are unreliable and lack dedication.

      3. Lily in NYC*

        Yes! I’m training my replacement (I moved to another division) and she decided to take a week off after training for three whole days. She’s an internal transfer so it’s not as bad as if it were a new hire – but sill, she is going to get fired if this transfer doesn’t work so she should really be on her best behavior. I’m so annoyed right now.

    8. Nerd Girl*

      I agree! I hate missing my kids events but I do try to see if someone else can attend when I am unable to. Last year my daughter worked on a project called “living Museum” where the 3rd grade students researched a person from history, wrote reports, creates displays and then dressed as that person and gave a speech. I had a meeting that I couldn’t reschedule and it meant missing the event. My daughter was upset but my mom asked if she could go and my daughter was thrilled with that. And I got to hear all about it from two different perspectives after the fact.

    9. themmases*

      I agree that it’s important for kids to see that your job– especially the mom’s job, especially if you have girls– is important. My mom recently told me that she hated leaving my sister and me in the mornings– we had a big bay window in the front of our house and my sister and I would stand in it and watch her drive away. But she and my dad thought that was important for us to see growing up. I honestly don’t remember now what events my parents did or didn’t make it to, and I think the ones they did attend were because the organizers at our school were thoughtful enough to put on our holiday show at more than one date/time.

      It was a really good thing my mom did all that. For several years when I was growing up, her job was a lot more secure, and probably lucrative, than my dad’s. She works with good people, for a great cause, and until recently wasn’t sure she would ever even want to retire. Those people love her so much that for over 10 years she’s gotten to work from home for an organization based across the country. And those events have nothing to do with her relationship with me or my sister, good or bad, today.

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        I feel like my experience, both as an employee and manager (and director, vp, etc.) puts me in the vast minority of repsonders here. I just don’t see how a casual “is it ok if I leave a couple of hours early on Tuesday for a family event?” is that big of a deal. I have never worked in a place where things like that matter…(I mean doing it once in a while of course, not making it a habit) Certainly if I was your mgr and you asked me, I wouldn’t think twice and would hope you enjoyed yourself.

        1. Renee*

          I’m right here with you. I don’t see this request as a big deal at all. Thinking the worst of someone because they want to see their kid’s performance is a matter of perception. I wouldn’t assume that someone leaving early on the second day means that I’m going to have to cover their work or that they’re flaky. I enjoy working for an employer that is supportive of my family life, and there is a lot of good will and loyalty among employees here.

        2. Mister Pickle*

          I’m in the minority here, too, I guess. I can see this being an issue if it becomes a regular thing. But as a one-shot? Just not an issue.

        3. MK*

          I think it’s pretty clear that people don’t find it a big deal in itself; it’s the fact that that it’s the OP’s second day at work that is making it so. Would you really be OK with such a cavalier comment from someone you hardly know? A person who barely knows where the bathroom is just assuming that their schedules are flexible?

          Also, don’t judge every job by your own’s norms. I cannot be absent from work unless someone replaces me; yes, colleagues help each other out, but it’s not as easy as getting an ok from my supervisor.

          1. Renee*

            I can’t at all understand why I would be bothered by it. If the workload is such that it would be a hardship, then I would expect her employer to say no, but I honestly don’t know why there would be some kind of value judgment formed from the request.

            1. sunny-dee*

              It shows she’s not taking the job seriously because this is a frivolous event. Someone else said it upthread — if I were her coworker, I would immediately assume I’d be covering for her a lot, and I would already be dreading it. That is a horrible impression to make.

        4. Working Mom*

          This is why I posted this question on AAM. I am going to be a supervisor myself and I believe in a family friendly work place. If my direct reports are happy at home, they will be happy at work too if everything else works out. I’ve been in the work force for over 16 years now so I’m not a spring chicken. My experience is that if the work place is flexible and accommodating, the employees themselves will want to do a good job for you because they feel that you sincerely care about them and that they owe you. I really don’t know what the culture is there but if it is not a family friendly place, I honestly wouldn’t want to work there either. We can’t treat people like robots. In addition, I plan on making up the hours. Going in to work early and working late to make up for the lost time.

          1. Mister Pickle*

            Works for me!

            This has generated enough commentary that I hope you’ll report back and let us know how it goes.

          2. Ann Furthermore*

            I agree with this, and as a manager I wouldn’t give someone the side-eye for asking to do this. That stuff is important. Not because your child will be scarred for life if you miss a school recital, but because it’s a milestone of a sort, and as a parent you want to be there for those.

            My current boss would probably not mind this. She’s got a school-age child, and does things with her here and there. I volunteer in my daughter’s classroom one hour a month, and no one cares. But the boss I had before her was the kind of person who would tell you to your face to go ahead and go, but then zing you with it in your annual review, and say that leaving early on your 2nd day proved you had a questionable work ethic.

            You just don’t know enough on day 2 to know if your boss is supportive of this kind of thing or thinks it’s frivolous, so that’s why I recommended erring on the side of caution.

    10. JB*

      I totally agree with you. My mom had to travel a lot for work when we kids were in high school. Twenty years later, she still talks about how she regrets so much that she missed being there for so many school events. But we honestly don’t know what she’s talking about! We just don’t remember her being The Mom That Wasn’t There. So either her guilt is making her believe she missed more than she actually did, or it was so not a big deal to us when she did miss stuff that we can’t even remember it.

      We understood at an early age that she needed to work to help provide for us. And she was very present when she was at home so it wasn’t a big deal when she wasn’t there. We very much felt like our mom was a big part of our lives. Your husband is totally right, and I don’t think the OP needs to feel as awful as she does about missing out on this one event.

      1. Nerd Girl*

        Parent guilt isn’t a switch we can shut off. I understand that I won’t be there for all events and I am honest with my kids about my availability. But sometimes kids react in a way that makes you feel smaller than small even though you know that they won’t feel the lasting effects of this one missed event down the road.
        My son had a concert in first grade. I was out of work but my husband had our car. A friend who had a child in the same concert was supposed to give me a ride. She was late picking me up and I ended up missing part where my son sang. In fact, I walked into the school cafeteria as his class was filing off the stage. He saw me, realized I hadn’t seen his performance, and burst into tears. I’m sure in 20 years he won’t remember that moment. I will remember it. Every. Single. Day.

        1. Jamie*

          It’s amazing the guilt we willingly assume even when logic dictates that we shouldn’t.

          My daughter did not want to go onstage for her preschool pageant – absolutely did not want to go out there in front of all of those people. I thought I was being a good mom and hugged her, encouraged her, and was front row with the video camera…which is why I have a recording of her in her beautiful dress, bow in her perfectly combed hair, with a deer in the headlights look making a puddle on stage before bursting into tears.

          Talk about guilt – it still breaks my heart to think about it.

          When it comes up for parents working outside the home I think it’s important for them to cut themselves some slack and know that if they aren’t physically at every event they are still taking care of their kids by being at work which is what’s providing for the little guys.

          When I was a SAHM I had a ton of guilt that I wasn’t contributing financially and so we didn’t have as much disposable income as I’d have liked for the kids. When I was working and they were still in school I felt guilty for not being there for every single thing. When we set the bar to be all things to them all the time we’re setting ourselves up for failure since we’re still human.

          If someone finds the guilt off switch I’d pay money to learn the location.

          1. Nerd Girl*

            “When I was a SAHM I had a ton of guilt that I wasn’t contributing financially and so we didn’t have as much disposable income as I’d have liked for the kids. When I was working and they were still in school I felt guilty for not being there for every single thing. When we set the bar to be all things to them all the time we’re setting ourselves up for failure since we’re still human.”

            THIS! This is why the whole working mom vs stay at home mom argument tears me up. No matter what we do, we can’t escape the guilt. We’re all human, trying to do the best for everyone involved, making sacrifices all over the place and dealing with the guilt that comes with parenthood. I knew that there would be joy and pain with parenting…but the guilt? Yeah…I wasn’t prepared for that at all.

        2. Working Mom*

          A friend of mine told me that her 3 yr old son was very upset that she didn’t go to his Halloween parade. She had sent her mom to the parade but her son wanted his parents to be there. He was acting out and was mean to his friends that day after the parade. She was heartbroken when she found out. I really didn’t want my son to feel that way.

          1. fposte*

            I can understand that feeling. But on the other hand, sad isn’t the end of the world either, you know? I was mostly a child of a single father, and he wasn’t able to come to stuff; I was sometimes sad about that at the time, but I didn’t have to grow too much older before I understood, too. And I would also be sad about not getting the right popsicle color, so sad really isn’t a measure of child damage.

            1. Jamie*

              My parents divorced when I was 4 – and I was always more upset about Popsicle colors than people showing up or not to school stuff. My dad only came to the big stuff – confirmation, wedding…rumor has it he was at my baptism but being the youngest people were too busy to take pictures so that could be apocryphal.

              My dad wondered, aloud, how much it he could give the priest to cut it short when my confirmation ceremony was dragging on. I thought the same thing, with each kid, but didn’t say it out loud. So each generation improves apparently.

              I’m honestly trying to think back and while I wasn’t in drama or anything so it would have just been the school pageant things I don’t know if my mom there or not. Honestly – I’m sure someone dropped me off, I have older siblings, I truly have no clue. I did harbor a serious resentment for years that my elder siblings had homemade Halloween costumes (my mom could sew like a professional) and I didn’t because she was working/school/ but I think I’m okay now.

              When adults look back at their childhoods it’s not the instances that stand out as much as the over impression. Was someone there when you needed them? Were you loved? Were you safe? Did someone adore you?

              Miss Manners said one of her parents was a teacher and when a parent beamed when speaking about their child she knew that kid would always be okay. Paraphrasing, but it stuck with me.

              I had no concept of how hard it was raising kids before I lost my parents – if I could see them again for a few minutes that’s what I’d tell them…that I get it now. It’s hard, and it’s thankless, and there is no perfect line to walk – you do the best you can with love and the tools you’ve got and hope it’s enough. And in some ways it won’t ever be enough because kids are adorable need machines. And I’d say thank you – because for my laundry list of complaints about everything they should have done better they gave me what mattered. Unconditional love, accountability, and absolute faith in my abilities.

              1. fposte*

                Right. It’s not about an individual freeze-frame, it’s the whole darn movie.

                And I think there is a natural parenting impulse to protect kids from adversity and unpleasantness, and there’s a big cultural push on that enhances that right now–and that risks being ultimately damaging, because it’s actually really important that kids have a chance to be sad, and be scared, and to fail, and to learn those things are all survivable. I think that must be one of the hardest things in parenting, that sitting back and letting a kid get through something that they’re finding upsetting or difficult rather than swooping in to make the distress stop. (Okay, except when they’re stage-crying, because that’s kind of funny when they’re little and annoying when they’re big.) The goal isn’t to make sure your child never suffers any distress–it’s to make sure they can move on to adulthood.

                It’s funny–I have a dear colleague who’s kind of high-anxiety, and her young son is absolutely the same. And as a result she’s not overprotective but really philosophical about that as a response, which I think is a marvelous way to deal. “Yup, that’s how we’re wired, here are some ways to get through it.”

          2. LauraRenee*

            You should prepare your son in advance for the events you may not be able to attend, then, so it isn’t an expectation. When a child acts out like that, it is NOT a judgment on the parents — except maybe that he’s been spoiled.

            The most crucial thing to remember is that missing a child’s performance or event is NOT going to make him/her a worse person in life. That is not the test of parenthood. The “being mean to his friends” is not a direct consequence of the parent’s lack of attendance. He was likely just acting out because he didn’t get what he wanted, the way kids do.

        3. JB*

          Yeah, I never said she should just switch it off. I didn’t say she should magically stop feeling guilty. I said she doesn’t *need* to. It’s not something she needs to feel guilty for. I feel guilty for things that aren’t my fault, but I handle it better when I can accept that I didn’t actually do anything wrong, and I know I’m not the only person who feels the same way. Many moms feel a lot of guilt for not being able to do everything. For some, it helps to know that they aren’t actually doing any harm to their kids and to know that it doesn’t make them a bad mom or a bad person. You aren’t one of those people, so my comment doesn’t apply to you.

          1. WOW!*

            ” Many moms feel a lot of guilt for not being able to do everything. For some, it helps to know that they aren’t actually doing any harm to their kids and to know that it doesn’t make them a bad mom or a bad person. You aren’t one of those people, so my comment doesn’t apply to you.”

            This crossed a line. Not necessary.

        4. Pennalynn Lott*

          I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to phrase it the right way, but kids experience *everything* completely different from what we do. When they skin their knee, they don’t have 20-30 years of skinned knees / bruises / ouches to compare it to. It’s IMMEDIATE, it’s NOW, and it’s THE ONLY THING THAT’S EVER HAPPENED. So seeing a kid cry on stage because you missed his performance is just him comparing it in his brain to the very limited set of knowledge of personal hurts he has access to right then. Of course it hurts big, because “big” is a relative term and he doesn’t have much other data to run it up against at the moment.

          When I was 2 or 3, and got the first shot that I was consciously aware of, my mom said to me, “This is going to hurt. Somewhere between your brother pinching you and a bee sting. But just like both of those, it will stop hurting in a little bit. Remember how the bee sting felt really bad for awhile but then it quit hurting? This is the same thing. Are you ready for the hurt?” And, magically, it hurt a lot less than what I was anticipating *because I had something to compare it to*. Emotional pain is the same way.

          Kids eventually build up a “catalog” of what different kinds of emotional pains feel like [which is good, by the way, because adult life is a smorgasbord of different emotional pains], and they learn to distinguish the really hard hurts from the little hurts, and grow emotionally in the process. (Which is what we want our kids to do, right?)

          My hope is that parents don’t carry unnecessary guilt simply because their child felt a relative — not lifelong, not concrete — hurt.

  3. kaj*

    Disagreeing with some of #4’s answer. Yes, lots of employers won’t like open holes in your ears, but I have mine stretched to a 2, and people rarely notice that I’m not wearing normal earrings if I wear a plug that looks more or less like a post. I’ve had people at work or other professional contexts say that they had no idea if I mention having stretched ears. No one really pays that close attention to your ears unless you’re drawing attention to it yourself.

    1. CA Admin*

      Yeah, a size 2 really isn’t all that large–it’s within the limits of what’ll shrink back to normal. 4-6 is ideal since it’s big enough for some cool jewelry, but small enough that most people won’t notice. It’ll close up later if you need.

      I’d leave a 2 as the largest you’ll go. My husband had 0 gauges that have never really fully closed up and he still gets questions sometimes.

      1. NoPantsFridays*

        Agreed, I would go to a 2g max too. I notice because while I don’t have stretched lobes and don’t plan on stretching, I like the look. I have a few coworkers with stretched lobes that are probably around 2g-0g and I’m pretty sure no one else has noticed. But they wear solid, opaque plugs, not see-through tunnels or transparent plugs. It looks about the same as wearing larger studs in a regular ear piercing, which is what most people do anyway. We also have several people with ear cartilege piercings and a few with nostril piercings. But we are not a terribly conservative field and not usually customer-facing, so I doubt this is representative.

        It’s also possible that the OP might eventually end up in a field that disallows jewelry altogether, but that would be a concern even with 16g lobes, so.

    2. MK*

      The OP is 16 years old. There is no saying that they may end up in an ultra-conservative field, where even this is going to limit their career, not to mention that they might change their mind about it themselves. I think Alison’s advice about not doing anything irreversible is spot-on.

      1. GrumpyBoss*

        A 16 year old reading a management blog. It’s very possible that they have a lot more upward ambitions than the typical 16 year old!

        My advice: if my 16 year old self saw me today, she’d think I was a sell out, boring, and probably want to kick my ass. In other words, who we are when we are 16 will change as we grow up. But visible body mods and tattoos can’t be easily changed. Some people will always have a problem with them. Wait until you are older to decide if the easily offended group is worth alienating. When I was 16, the answer was yes. In my 40s, the answer is no.

        1. Cheesecake*

          When i was 16, i had a ring in my lip, i thought it is very cool and anyone who frowns is a total jerk. I, however, didn’t go as far as considering moving somewhere else, if it is not tolerated. Fast forward 10 years: i took my ring out at 18 and will not hire a person with obnoxious body jewelry/tattoos, unless they are amazing hard to find specialists (never seen such people with stretched ears yet though).

          Anyway, a lot of variables here: how visible body jewelry is, what industry/company you want to work for/who is your manager etc. But bottom line: it does limit opportunities so OP should think 2x

          1. L Veen*

            What field do you work in that a lip ring or other facial piercing would be considered “obnoxious”?

            1. Nerd Girl*

              Just about every place I’ve ever worked has had a policy in place for facial piercings – and that includes the part-time holiday retail positions I’ve picked up over the years.

              1. Anon Accountant*

                Same here. From my first job in a grocery store to a large manufacturing company to public accounting- every place had policies against facial piercings.

            2. Marcy*

              I’m in finance and it wouldn’t work there- still a very conservative environment. Also, anything customer-facing would be a problem.

            3. Callie*

              If you were in education, it would depend on where you were in the country. Where I used to teach, there is no way in hell a lip piercing would be acceptable. Where I am now? No one would blink an eye, probably.

          2. jordanjay29*

            Maybe 10 years ago a lip piercing would have been obnoxious, but I think it’s pretty blasé now. I’m sure there are still some more conservative folks who will judge, but it’s hardly the most obnoxious thing out there.

            The most obnoxious jewelry I’ve seen was a girl who had two barbells sticking out of her cheeks from the middle. She had plenty of metal on her face, so it’s not like it was the only thing, but my personal opinion felt like the cheek piercings were just overboard.

            Whatever. It’s her face, and it’s not like she was working in an office (retail). But there are far more obnoxious piercings than lip.

            1. MK*

              I don’t think a lip piercing is going to get a blase reaction, if you are applying for a job in banking.

              1. CoffeeLover*

                Agreeing here as a 20-something. I was recently in a management consulting interview and saw the other candidates. One guy had an eyebrow piercing. It just wasn’t appropriate and I basically knew instantaneously this guy wouldn’t get the job (spoiler: he didn’t). This is coming from someone with 10 piercing (ears and hidden body parts).

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Good point about reading this blog at 16. I am not sure I would have done that- I’d like to hope I would! I’m impressed that you are reading here, OP.
          There are plenty of ways for self-expression that are less permanent and that don’t bother employers in the least. You can weave things into your life/your appearance that are unique to you and won’t leaving you wondering, “Did I not get Cool Job because of x?”

          1. Fabulously Anonymous*

            I have a different take on a 16 year old writing in:

            16 year old: “Mom, I want to get my ears stretched.”
            Mom: “No. (Various reasons)…. and it will limit your job chances.”
            16 year old: “No it won’t. You’re just saying that because you don’t understand!”
            Mom: “Yes, it will.”
            16 year old: “I don’t believe you.”
            Mom: “Well then, why don’t you ask other professionals?”

            1. jordanjay29*

              Because at 16, if Mom was wrong, she was DEAD wrong. There was no room for advice, even roundabout, to be right if she was wrong.

          2. AVP*

            I had a 2-gauge bar put through the top of my right ear when I was 16 and LOVED it. My conservative high school didn’t notice it for a year or so, and I had retail jobs that didn’t seem to mind. But eventually the dean of students noticed and it was a uniform violation and they made me take it out. I criiieeed and cried to my mom about it. She was totally mystified and didn’t see the big deal, but I think for me at the time it was a reaction to not having autonomy over my body and being the token punk kid in an all-girls catholic high school that I found stifling. They did point out that I could plug the holes with flesh-colored studs and it wouldn’t be noticeable (might be different for the OP depending on where the holes are placed.)

            Funny enough, I ended up in a career where a giant ear-bar wouldn’t matter in the least, but now that I’m 30 I have no interest in that type of jewelry. I’m lucky the holes shrunk, they’ve totally closed up now. Also, I’m glad I went to that high school and not the public one. Ugh, parents, being right sometimes.

        3. Elizabeth West*

          Hilariously, at 16 I would have said no way would I hire someone with big old body mods, eww. Two minutes after I got out of my hometown, I stopped caring. Now it depends on the job, but I realize that not everyone is cool with tats or piercings or extreme jewelry, and there are certain fields in which a conservative appearance is reassuring to clients. Since OP can’t know the future of her career at this point, I would advise waiting.

        4. Linguist curmudgeon*

          Good point – a 16yo reading AAM (and already thinking this far ahead) is pretty kickass!

    3. Csarndt*

      I have said more than once in my life that if present day me could give advice to 15 year old me it would be “don’t pierce your ears!” I work in a conservative industry where earrings (and other jewelry) aren’t worn for safety and hygiene reasons. Not even to interviews or conferences or parties. I wear earrings a few times a year just to clean out my piercings. What would these holes look like unadorned?

      And I agree with several people above, Ohio is not all that body mod friendly, at least where I grew up, and even Columbus when I lived there. My friend received a lot of flak for a small (tiny, really) nose stud.

      1. MK*

        There is an industry where earings are automatically inappropriate? I mean, I get the hygiene/safety issue, but it sounds insane that people would judge you for, say, wearing pearl studs at a party.

        1. Csarndt*

          No, they wouldn’t judge you for wearing earrings to a party, but the norm is no earrings, so anything other than empty earlobes looks ‘off’ to us. Someone with even small plugs or presumably visible openings where plugs were removed would make us wonder if the person, like the OP honestly stated, hates not wearing their jewelry and it would become a workplace problem.

          I know someone who lost an internship for wearing fingernail polish. She ended up leaving our field because she couldn’t tolerate not wearing fingernail polish, so I guess, if ear plugs are that important…but to make that decision at 16 is very risky…

          1. Amtelope*

            It’s reasonable to have a dress code, but micromanaging employee appearance to the point that someone could lose an internship for wearing fingernail polish (!!!) sounds insane. I’m not sure I’d want to work in that kind of industry either.

            1. Stephanie*

              I’m someone who *loves* nail polish. It’s not a totally crazy request if it was a job related to food processing or preparation. Even the good stuff chips eventually.

            2. Kathryn*

              Lab work is also not great for nail polish. It’s a rough environment for the stuff and there can be contamination issues.

              The lab I worked in that did stains and slides for cancer biopsies? …would you want to take the chance with your diagnosis that the purple smear was nail polish pigment or the cells the stain was supposed to highlight?

              I still feel weird wearing polish on my finger nails, I spent years with toenail polish only.

              1. Artemesia*

                I would think anyone preparing slides would be wearing gloves. I do admit it sort of turns my stomach to see nurses with long nails and polish since the primary source of fatal hospital acquired infections is poor hygiene of health care workers. Doctors and nurses should not have long nails and polish which both harbor germs and make it hard to thoroughly clean the hands.

              2. Annie*

                Yup, after years of chemistry lab in school, I almost never paint my nails. The day you paint your nails is bound to be the day you have to use acetone.

              3. Cath in Canada*

                Plus, wearing nail polish under lab gloves is just kinda gross – it gets all soft and nasty after an hour or two, if it’s warm in the lab. I stopped wearing it the same month I started working in a lab.

            3. KAZ2Y5*

              I’m a hospital pharmacist and when we work in the clean room (to make sterile IV’s), we are not allowed to wear fingernail polish or artificial nails. You would not believe how dirty they can be!

              1. Liane*

                I’ve worked in Quality Assurance labs for pharmaceuticals & medical devices, and you couldn’t wear makeup of any sort in either the production bio-clean areas or the lab ones where we did some of our testing. (I don’t recall if polish was banned) Most of the women on QA staff, lab or not, didn’t wear makeup, because on any given day, you might need to go into a clean room or lab, and in addition to the usual washing & gowning procedures you’d have to clean off all your makeup before entering the gowning area.

          2. LBK*

            That is so weird to me. I can totally understand the safety reasons, but if someone told me it was unprofessional to wear them in a context where I wasn’t working in the lab or somewhere else where the safety requirements were in play just because they weren’t used to seeing me with earrings, it would be hard to not roll my eyes. I wear t-shirts outside of work, would you find that odd because you aren’t used to seeing me without a button down and a tie?

            1. Kelly L.*

              Yeah, this. I think it’s overthinking it to conclude, if you see someone in earrings at a party, that they hate not wearing their earrings at work and are going to become some kind of problem. I might wear jeans and a nerd tee on the weekends, or a glitzy dress to a party, and in no way does that imply that I’m a discipline problem who hates work and hates wearing professional tops and slacks. Different outfits for different settings. I call my workwear my “grown-up costume” and I don’t mind it at all.

              1. Artemesia*

                As someone who didn’t pierce her ears until she was in her 40s, I thought I was pretty much the last woman on earth to pierce my ears. I did it because I got sick of losing earrings. I don’t think I know any women who don’t routinely wear earrings as part of being dressed. I am surprised to think any workplace would think it a problem to wear them off duty and there are few places where they would be an issue while working.

                1. Kelly L.*

                  I don’t–but then mine aren’t pierced either. :D I was forbidden to pierce them till I turned 18, and after that point, I always ended up spending any potential piercing money on something else instead! Now I’m 36 and I’ve just stopped caring. But once in a while someone gives me pierced earrings as a gift and then I see them flick their eyes to the gift and to my ears and back to the gift, and I see the “oh crap” realization dawn!

                  (I can’t wear clips either; they’re so painful that I think they probably violate the Geneva Conventions.)

                2. fposte*

                  I don’t have mine pierced either. It was a feminist decision for me as a teenager, and when I reconsidered it as an adult laziness won the day.

                  Clip earrings are made by the craftsman who lost their livelihoods with the passing of thumbscrews.

                3. Nerd Girl*

                  I got mine pierced in my late-30’s as an act of solidarity with my daughter. She likes to wear earrings. I don’t. They feel weird on my ears, bump against the phone, hurt when I have my headphones on and so I don’t wear them. I think the holes may have closed at this point three years later.

                4. Katrin*

                  My mother made me get my ears pierced when I was 7 and had an event. I did not want to at all, hated wearing them, and they closed up by the time I was 13…at which point she made me get them re-pierced because I was graduating from middle school and she firmly believed that I wouldn’t look “dressed up” without earrings. It’s always funny to me to think about because of all the stories I hear where young girls wanted pierced ears and their parents wouldn’t allow it, while I was being more or less forced!

                  I’m in my 20s now and still hate wearing earrings. I feel like I don’t look like myself if I’m wearing anything larger than a small stud. The weird thing is, though, that none of my good female friends wear earrings – many of them don’t even have pierced ears. I live in a major metropolitan area that most would not consider conservative. Going unpierced isn’t as uncommon as you’d think.

                5. Stephanie*

                  LOL @ the thumbscrews. Too funny, fposte. Some of it may be the hairstyle as well. I’ve always had really short hair (or hairstyles where my earlobes stick out) and I just feel odd without earrings. When I chopped all my hair off when I went natural, I was also very paranoid about looking like a man, so I always had earrings in to avoid any confusion.

                6. fposte*

                  @Stephanie–I totally get that, and if I cut my hair short I might still reconsider for similar reasons. Somebody should really make a classy grownup version of the stick-on plastic jewels for preteens.

                7. cuppa*

                  My mom took me to get my ears pierced when I was extremely young — maybe 2 or 3? I always thought it was strange that people weren’t allowed to do it when it was basically something my mom decided I was going to have.
                  I’m thankful now because I don’t really remember it. Not sure if I would have the guts to go through with it on my own today.

    4. Andrea*

      I think I would worry about people who notice but don’t say anything – I’d worry that it would limit my potential for advancement. Even if it’s smaller limits (missing being invited to observe a meeting/conference) as compared to being denied a promotion.

    5. Ludo*

      I work in a liberal department, in a liberal company in a conservative industry. Many of my coworkers have tattoos, dress way (WAY) outside of typical office norms, etc. But as far as my team goes (of which I am the hiring manager) I have limits. Tattoos are fine, but not neck or face. I wouldn’t think twice about a 6 gauge but a 4 gauge and beyond I wouldn’t hire unless they had an exceptional skill set. Seven years ago I had my lip pierced, my eyebrow pierced and was just beginning to get tattoos. It only took one (in hindsight, very kind) hiring manager refusing to hire me to put me in my place. I realized that my industry is conservative, even if the companies I wanted to work for were not particularly rigid. So my tattoos can all be covered, the lip and eyebrow piercings came out and were closed.

      At 16 I would have looked at the 29 year old me and thought I had sold out and if I had just held on a little longer I would have been fine. At 29, after being drug through the recession I realize this isn’t true. Not in my industry and not in many others.

    6. My two cents...*

      i hate to say it, but it’s easier for women to ‘get away’ with stretched lobes than men. for men, it’s already ‘edgy’ to have pierced ears, and stretched lobes look very obvious. but i think with women, ‘normal’ pierced ears are more expected/typical and solid plugs just look like regular post earrings. for those who might not know, 2ga (6mm) is less than the diameter of a pencil eraser and the standard earring post size is 18 or 20ga.

      if you’re thinking at all about a career in food, caretaking, medical industry, teaching, or anything else people-facing, then don’t mess with mods or pick something that’s hidden/hide-able.

      though when i finished college i had 5 holes in each ear (1 x 2ga and 4 x 10ga) and i just took the jewelry out when i interviewed for my current apps engineer position back in 2007.

    7. JC*

      Yes, didn’t OP #4 say that a size 2 gauge can be sized back down? That part is key for me. If they’re not permanently altering their body, who cares what they do at 16?

      As a 30-something adult I have a fairly conservative appearance, but in my teens/early 20s I pierced my ears with many holes (4 in each ear), pierced my nose, and dyed my hair shades of purple and red that do not appear in nature. I kept my nose piercing and wore earrings in all of my ear holes until I finished graduate school in my late 20s, but once I started my first “real” job, it all came out. No harm done. A few of my friends had eyebrow piercings in high school and college, and none still wear them now as adults. The holes in my ears are still visible (and the nose piercing is if you’re looking for it), but no one notices. I rarely remember I have them!

      1. Elysian*

        I feel like whether or not they can be sized back down will probably depend a lot on the person. In general maybe this isn’t “too” big, but what if OP’s ear gets torn in the process or they develop scar tissue that makes reducing the size hard? Also, wouldn’t it take a while for it to shrink? I took my navel ring out for over 2 years and that hole never even closed up, and its much smaller than a stretched ear.

        I would recommend waiting for the OP. Some things are just so much harder to do later than the un-do.

        1. Elysian*

          Blah I meant that the other way around – harder to un-do than to do later. Do it later if you know you’re in a profession where it will be ok.

        2. My two cents...*

          ears are more fleshy than a navel ring or an eyebrow piercing, and they’ll react differently. i used to have 5 holes on each lobe, and about 6mo after taking the 4 pairs of 10ga plugs out (~4 years ago) they closed up. my one remaining set of ear piercings have been ‘stretched’ since i was OP’s age – pierced at 12ga when i was 16 (14 years ago), stretched to 0ga during college, and then stretched to 5/8″ about 4 years ago. they’ll never be normal again, but i have zero concern of them affecting my employment as an apps/field engineer. all that aside…it makes a HUGE difference if the OP is female or male. males, any ear piercing is already strange and gauged lobes are even more obvious. but for women, earrings are just earrings. my (also) female manager didn’t realize my earrings ‘went all the way through like that’ until about a year ago, and we’ve worked together for almost 8 years now.

          HEY OP #4: do your research. look up pictures of gnarly failed/blown-out stretched lobes and decide if that’s really something you’re willing to put up with later in life. it should take you SEVERAL months to even stretch to 2ga, which gives you a little time to still change your mind.

          1. ThursdaysGeek*

            Speaking of things you’re willing to put up with: my nephew has gauged ears and we were at a family party with those long skinny balloons. I figured if he had holes in his ears large enough to fit a balloon through, that it was my obligation to do so. One balloon wrapped around the back of his head, with ends sticking out the front of each ear. So make sure you don’t have a crazy aunt that you’ll have to tolerate.

    8. Chai Latte*

      My boyfriend has gauges and for work, he wears skin-toned plugs. No one really notices. He works as a manager in a healthcare non-profit. I think as long as you dress professionally and act so, people won’t see it as a big deal.

    9. Juni*

      For reference for those who don’t think in gauges, 2ga is about the diameter of a drinking straw.

      Women can wear 2ga plugs that look like nice studs, so I think that’s probably fine. But for men in the corporate world, you’re going to have a hard time.

      And from my own personal experience, my 4ga holes shrunk, but still look like cat butts in the back. OP, you’re playing with fire to go any bigger, there’s no surefire way to ensure that your holes will shrink. It sounds like you haven’t started yet, so I encourage you to research stretching the right way (slo-o-o-wly) with the same level of interest as you’ve shown in Asking a Manager. Check out BMEzine.com for more than fifteen years’ worth of community knowledge on stretching piercings.

    10. Kass*

      Yeah, I have mine stretched to a 0 (bigger than a 2 for those not in the know)–and I work in a very conservative area, I have super short hair, AND I lost both of my plugs so I’m wearing cut off pencaps in my ears, and no one has even noticed. Most people really aren’t looking at your ears.

    11. Ruthan*

      This may be subject to #4’s gender — I think size 2 plugs are less likely to be overlooked (even if they do look like normal earrings) on someone who’s male-presenting.

  4. Zelda*

    #4. Stretched ears may or may not put off employers (I’d steer away from them just in case), but “I hate normally sized earlobes” suggests body image issues.

    1. Just Visiting*

      No it doesn’t. Unless you’d also say women who don’t like to go out without their “face” on (UGH) or men who prefer to have large muscles have body image issues. For instance, I wouldn’t say I “hate” my un-inked skin (and I think OP is using hate in the colloquial sense), but tattoos make me feel more like my internal picture of myself. It’s not like I spend all day grimacing at the less colorful parts of my body, but I feel more comfortable with tattoos than without them. Make sense?

      Although depending on when #4 decides to de-stretch, it might not be possible to shrink them back all the way even if they’re not past the point of no return. Your skin loses a lot of its elasticity after age 25. So take that into consideration.

      1. Cheesecake*

        Let’s face it: hating being skinny/not fit/overweight or not having “face”on is all a bit more conventional than “hating normally sized earlobes”

        1. My two cents...*

          they’re 16, and just think that normal piercings are boring. it’s slightly hyperbolic, but it’s hardly screaming of body issues. lol

    2. Tenley*

      The OP is a 16 year old. You’re reading quite a lot into the comment, and in any case the “advice” has nothing to do with what the OP is asking here.

    3. jordanjay29*

      To me, “I hate normally sized earlobes” suggests this is a teenager. S/he is experimenting and finding out what they like or dislike. Right now, they dislike normally sized earlobes. Moving on…

    4. Linguist curmudgeon*

      I didn’t get “body image issues” out of that, I got “Oh, you hate this thing about me? Well, in that case, *I* hate that thing about *YOU*! So there!”

  5. Jane Jones*

    To #4: My earlobes are stretched to 12 mm and I don’t think anyone has ever noticed, at least not anyone who doesn’t also have stretched earlobes. But then, I’m a woman, so it’s not unusual for me to have some kind of jewellery in my ears. If you’re a guy, you might find that even just having pierced ears is a disadvantage in getting hired somewhere. And you can’t always predict which workplaces will be okay with what things. I have tattoos and they were not a problem at my previous reception job, but I have to keep them covered at my new waitressing job. I can also only wear my hair in certain styles that hide my ears, in case my manager has a problem with my earlobes (because the jewellery doesn’t technically fit into the strict dresscode).

    In any case, 8 mm (2 g) is tiny anyway and I don’t think you can have that much fun with jewellery or anything at that size. It’s certainly not worth risking future employment.

    1. Jane Jones*

      oops, messed up the measurements. 2 gauge = 6 mm, 0 = 8 mm. As far as I know, you can stretch to 8 mm and have it still stretch back.

      1. Jane Jones*

        ugh. shrink back*. can’t brain today.

        and it seems that not everyone has success with 8 mm returning to normal. so 6 mm is safer, but is even more pointless.

    2. straws*

      I agree, it’s definitely going to be easier as a female. My job has a lax dress code and no one cares about my 0g lobes, but when I have to meet with clients or go to trade shows I just wear a plug with a drop earring slipped in beneath it. Between that and having semi-longish hair, I’ve never had anyone comment. Even some of my coworkers didn’t realize my ears were gauged until I told them, and I never try to hide them in the office.

      That being said, it really does depend on the industry and the particular office, and Allison’s advice is still spot on. Don’t go any further than you need to until you know more about the impact.

    3. NoPantsFridays*

      Yup, this is basically why I decided not to stretch, other than the professionalism issue. I wouldn’t want to go bigger than about 0g (not for reversibility, but because I don’t like the look on myself) and that limits jewelry selection. IME the overwhelming majority of people cannot tell 0g or 2g from large studs in 20g-16g piercings.

      1. Stephanie*

        IME the overwhelming majority of people cannot tell 0g or 2g from large studs in 20g-16g piercings.

        Seconding this. I have a standard ear piercings (maybe 18g?) and wore some studs with really large glass pieces. A Costco employee told me he liked my earrings and was surprised to find out they weren’t plugs.

  6. dragonzflame*

    #4, I saw this post today on Offbeat Bride http://offbeatbride.com/2014/11/wedding-plugs

    This lady makes plugs for gauged ears from old vintage earrings – they just look like pretty earrings (and not all are that wedding-y) so could be an option if you did find yourself in a place where stretching wasn’t 100% appropriate?

    1. grasshopper*

      I was going to suggest the same post! I think that these would be great to make stretched lobes look more traditional when someone wants to blend in.

      1. Blue_eyes*

        I was also coming to link to that post! Glad the two of you already beat me to it! And of course AAM readers would overlap with OBB readers :).

        I think wearing any of the earrings in the post would just look like you were wearing studs. Especially if they were just plain pearl or diamond ones it would look totally professional and no one would even notice.

        1. notfunny.*

          I wear double flared glass plugs every day (0g) and apparently they look enough like “normal earrings” that my coworkers have not noticed. Even friends are shocked when I tell them or take out my plugs. I’ve had my ears this stretched for the entirety of my 6 year career and it hasn’t been an issue at all (mostly because you can’t tell). I only wear tunnels on the weekends.

  7. AnonyMouse*

    #1: It’s also worth considering the more specific reasons it’s good to be around during your first week. You say you’re starting a job as a supervisor – are you going to have meetings/intros/etc scheduled with the people you supervise? When I started one job, my manager was out a few days out of my first week for family events and I ended up having to sit around uselessly for a lot of it because she hadn’t given me work or gotten me set up to do anything independently, but I was still expected to be there. It’s important that people be able to leave work to be with their family when they really need to, but I’d be careful about taking time off during your first week unless it’s really something major.

    #4: For what it’s worth, I live in a major (non-US) city and work in a semi-conservative but casual field and I don’t think anyone would notice if I had gauges that size. But I think the crucial part of Alison’s advice here is “Don’t do anything at 16 that will limit your options when you’re an adult.” Not to say that you’re too young to decide things for yourself (you’re not, as I’m sure you know) but in the sense that at 16, you’re probably not entirely sure where you’ll end up professionally, so you won’t have a great sense of what would or wouldn’t hold you back.

    When I was 16, I was planning on going into an artistic field where tattoos, piercings etc wouldn’t have been a disadvantage at all (and might have even helped). But when I went to university I discovered a passion for a more traditional subject and have been pursuing that ever since. So if I’d gotten a majorly visible tattoo or something, I would definitely have regretted it professionally. On the other hand, one of my best friends came into uni thinking she wanted to do something more traditional, but by our third year she was already working successfully in the arts and ended up getting some facial piercings that haven’t hurt her career at all. If you wait until you have a better idea of what you want professionally, you can decide what makes sense to get – and it has the added bonus of keeping you from getting something you’d regret for other reasons, too.

    1. Cheesecake*

      Well, OP just needs to leave early and can compensate on coming early, it is not really away for a couple of days. I think it all massively depends on work atmosphere/style, boss and what happens on that particular Tuesday :) Though i agree, it is better to be on best behavior during first week (and whole probation period), visiting son’s concert is not a horribly unreasonable request. I think OP can raise it with boss and negotiate coming early/leaving late another day. But at the same time presenting it as “i understand if this is not possible”

      1. fposte*

        The problem is that asking and getting permission doesn’t preclude it’s being a bad note to start on. It’s less about whether the OP can than whether the OP should.

        1. Marcy*

          That is it exactly. If I had a new employee do that, I would probably grant permission but would be questioning if I made the right choice in hiring them. By the time a new employee starts, we’ve already been short a person for at least a month and usually longer (HR is a little slow sometimes- the last one took 3 months). Even though that person won’t be trained to do the job by day two, we’re trying to get that person up and running as soon as possible because we are tired and grumpy from having to fill in for the vacant position. Even if we’re only talking an hour or two, it would cause much eye-rolling for the entire team who have been missing THEIR children’s concerts because we were short-staffed and they had to get the work done. It would be a very bad note to start on.

        2. AnonyMouse*

          Yes, exactly. I don’t think it’s a wildly unreasonable request but there are definitely a few reasons it might raise eyebrows, and this is just one of them.

      2. MK*

        Can anyone really get a feel for work atmosphere/style or what a boss will be ok with before they even start working there, or on their first day?

        1. Cheesecake*

          Absolutely, even before start working – during interviews you can “catch” vibes about workplace.

          1. Zillah*

            I agree in general, but I think that whether it’s okay to take time off in your first couple weeks is a really specific vibe that isn’t necessarily easy to puzzle out from the general feeling of the office.

            1. Elysian*

              I agree. My office wouldn’t let something like this go at any point, unless you’re using vacation time for it. The “rules” about taking time off/leaving early/etc can be really complex, I’ve been at my job over a year and I’m still working at figuring out what is acceptable when. It would be surprised if anyone had a full grasp on this before they started or after just one day.

              1. fposte*

                And honestly, as a manager, I don’t immediately know what my feeling about this would be, or if it would stay constant. On the one hand, my workplace is really flexible and that’s been a great benefit; on the other, somebody wanting to bow out on the second day would really startle me, and it probably would keep an employee in the “still figuring her out” category longer for me.

          2. MK*

            It’s more likely that you can “think” you have your workplace/manager figured out and be proven spectacularly wrong. Maybe you can get a general feel, but to accurately predict a reaction to a detail such as this, no. It’s more than possible that a strict, formal boss will have a “family comes first” attitude, while someone who seems really laid-back will judge you in a “another mummy who thinks she gets special treatment”, or that a working mother will be less likely to sympathise, because she never had to skip work for her children’s recitals, than a single person who is overwhelmed at the thought that you can make it all work. I wouldn’t risk my first impression in a new job on the “vibes” I got during the interview process.

            1. Cheesecake*

              Well, “vibes” are there to give a feeling about even starting the discussion. Interviews for my 1st job ever were very formal, people in office were generally tense and stressed. I would have never asked about leaving early in that office; and later i found i was right as finishing at, say, 17.50 was a serious crime no matter how long you sat there yesterday. A couple of jobs later, i managed to go on 2 weeks honeymoon being in the job for 2 months (our initial date did not work out), no problem whatsoever.

              I am not saying “get a vibe-jump into conclusion”, but get a vibe and then evaluate.

  8. SJP*

    Can we, all as adults, agree to stop seeing that people are ‘snitching’, ‘tattling’, ‘grassing’ on people at WORK?!

    Work is a place where things you do reflect on you and if you feel you need to tell someone’s manager or HR about something that genuinely does concern you about someone’s behaviour at work, because their manager would want to know about it, then it’s not snitching, tattling or grassing on someone!

    Plus if you’re doing something that does really warrant your manager knowing, then you really shouldn’t be doing it.

    Baring it mind though that this may not apply to everything, but i’m so sick of reading stuff about how someone ‘told on you’ to your manager. We’re not in school anymore at any level, not preschool or high school so can people stop acting like it please.. please!

    Not saying the OP is saying that but just as a general comment..

    1. LoFlo*

      Maybe you haven’t worked in a toxic environment where 40 year old woman insist that other people print her emails and deliver her documents to her from the printer. And when these “rules” are broken goes to the manager and tattles about other peoples’ poor performance, and the manager then calls the offender on the carpet for not being a team player. Or when the “mistakes” being pointed out are a mis-filed folder. Of course the tattler has OCD/ADD or some other self diagnosed issue that makes her “sick” and she just wasn’t feeling well and stressed out.

        1. LoFlo*

          Sadly yes and so much more…….There really needs to be a support group for toxic work places. I have learned so much from reading AMA on what is a healthly work place. I had always though that these antics were part of the devil you know vs, the devil you don’t know category. And they wonder why employee engagement is at a “crisis” level in corporate America, when engagement means appeasing the office drama queen.

  9. SJP*

    OP4 – I had quite a few piercings back in the day of being in the music scene. I had my septum pierced, a lot of different types in my ears.. but one thing I am really glad I never did was stretch my ears.

    Every single person I know regrets stretching them, they’ve either taken them out and they’ve nearly closed up, but they were big enough that they needed to have them stitched up.

    I know you’re 16, and wanting to mod your body, but now i’m 27 i’ve taken out my septum piercing (I was lucky I could either turn it up into my nose to hide it, or had a job in the video games industry where stuff like piercings was the norm) but all mine could be taken out and would close up and you’d never know.

    As Allison said, don’t do anything when you’re 16 that will jeopardise your chances of getting a job when you’re an adult.
    The job market is not great as it is, please avoid doing something which will make getting a job even harder..

    Just my 2 cents

    1. Traveler*

      This. I’ve known people who’ve had to have the surgery to put their earlobes back together. I know at 16 it seems like a big deal, and I don’t want to dismiss your feelings OP because of your age, but often times your opinions and feelings change rapidly in your late teens and early 20s. Wait and see for a couple of years if you feel the same.

      1. Monodon monoceros*

        Agreed. In high school I had multiple ear holes (normal size), a nose ring and dyed my hair all sorts of strange colours. But I’m so glad now that I didn’t do anything permanent. I still put my nose ring in from time to time, but it’s nice that I can easily take it out when needed (job interview, conference, etc.). My hair is normal coloured now mainly because I’m too lazy to dye it.

        1. Blue_eyes*

          Your nose piercing doesn’t close up when you don’t wear jewelry? I’ve had mine for nine years now and it still tightens up if I take my jewelry out even for a few hours.

  10. Amy*

    Stretched ears are so obvious and so permanent, I’d advise against it. In 6-7 years you may be reporting to a boss who also has them… or you may be reporting to a fundamentalist Christian who doesn’t believe in wearing any jewelry at all. It’s still rather rare where I live so I can see a potential supervisor wondering if you are a drug user or partier compared to the unadorned applicant who looks more traditional.

  11. AnotherTeacher*

    #2 – Agreeing with Alison. Letting things go is very freeing

    In one job, the department chair covertly encouraged gossip and tattling. I think that because I was older than most of the other teachers, they saw me as a sounding board before going to the chair. I treated it like legitimate requests for advice or help: “Really, why do you think he/she said that? Can you give me more information because I can’t quite picture the sequence of events? It sounds like there was a miscommunication about that project, right?” Eventually, my coworkers learned I didn’t want to hear that stuff.

  12. Brandy*

    I just laughed out loud reading though the comments because i remembers that my husband, who is such a stuffed-shirt preppy BORING 30-something had his tongue pierced when we met in college! That was over a decade ago, and he ended up taking it out in the first year or so we dated but wow-to think of him in his current role/lifestyle with that piercing is funny. He has just changed *so much*.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      People are shocked when they find out my bf used to have an eyebrow piercing. And cornrows, but the piercing throws people for a loop. We’re both super straight-laced but I’m much more gregarious, and it shocks people when they hear about all the craziness of his youth (he’s only 30 now).

      When my teenaged relatives start talking about tattoos and how they can’t wait until they’re 18 so they can do x, y, or z, I remind them that it’s a huge commitment, so they better think long and hard about what they want to do to their bodies. I’m not against tattoos or piercings, but most people I know aren’t or weren’t ready to make those decisions until they were at least 23.

      1. C Average*

        I have no tattoos, something that actually gets remarked upon a fair amount because most of my colleagues do have at least one and because my sister has several very ornate and visible ones.

        Whenever people make comments about my lack of tattoos, I remind them that every day I wake up with the option to be a tattooed person or a non-tattooed person. So far I’ve elected to remain a non-tattooed person, but it’s pleasant to know I have options.

        On the other hand, tattooed people wake up every day with the option to continue being tattooed people or to spend considerable money and energy reverting to their non-tattooed previous appearance.

        I’m like a blank canvas. I can be anything! The possibilities are way more fun than any actual tattoos could possibly be.

        Letter writer, you’re 16. You’ll likely be a completely different person with different friends, different interests, and a different style in a few years. For now, wake up every day and be the guy who could stretch his earlobes if he really wanted to but hasn’t yet exercised the option. If you find in a few years that you’re still that guy, consider exercising your option. But you might find that you no longer want to, and that’s fine, too.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          I’m a rebel and I don’t want to be like everyone else. Therefore I have no piercings (not even my ears), no tattoos, wear no makeup, don’t color my hair, and wear no nail polish. There aren’t that many of us around, and I like being different from everyone else (except lab workers, apparently).

          1. Mister Pickle*

            Me too! No tattoos, no piercings, no earrings, no jewelry.

            I could maybe get into tattoos if they were non-permanent, or perhaps mutable.

            Piercings and such – they’re all cosmetic. I want something functional – like a watch that implants beneath the skin of my wrist. Or a flashlight in my finger. Or razor blades in my fingertips that extend / retract. Or – I may actually do this – I hear tell you can implant magnets under a fingertip or two and be able to ‘sense’ magnetism and electric current flow. That could be handy.

        2. Pennalynn Lott*

          What kept me from getting a tattoo I really, really, really wanted was having ACL surgery on my right knee. All of a sudden there was this line and a couple of hash marks on the front of my knee. I’d be doing something normal, like brushing my teeth, and be distracted by The Line! I figured if I got so wigged out and distracted by a scar, then perhaps I wasn’t the best candidate for a tattoo. :-)

  13. NJ anon*

    I’ve had two holes in each ear since high school. At some point, my mom, liking the look, went and got her second set done! She was about 60 at the time and didn’t give a rat’s patootie what anyone thought.

    1. Elkay*

      I’m guessing your mom wasn’t actively job seeking though, it’s a lot easier not to care what people think when their opinions don’t have an effect on you.

      I’ve had two holes in each lobe since I was 12/13 and a hole at the top of my ear since I was 14/15. For about the last 10 years I’ve work the same simple hoops day in day out. I think in general simple earrings are less eye catching and frowned upon than stretched lobes and facial piercings (my mom’s one rule “do not pierce your face”).

      In general I’d categorise this stuff in the “It’s not fair but it exists” bucket. Obviously having stretched lobes doesn’t affect your ability to do the job but some people might perceive that it does, why risk it. I have to say I’m pretty risk averse though.

    2. MK*

      Not having to care what anyone thinks is one of the advantages of growing old. Also, it’s easy not to care what anyone thinks when they don’t have the power to affect your life. I am sure if the OP was 66 and about to retire, Alison’s answer would have been different.

    3. Victoria, Please*

      I am laughing at this because my mom HATED two piercings — “It’s *wierd*” — and then when I was 26 and had been living independently for 3 years I finally said to myself, “I’m, uh, grown up. I can have a second piercing to wear my mis-matched earrings!” and I got it (she was annoyed, if you can believe it). I was suuuuch a good girl.

      1. Nutcase*

        My mum was exactly the same. I had always wanted two piercings and a lip piercing but it was completely forbidden for me while I was living at home. This year though at the age of 25 after I had been living away from my parents for 6 or 7 years it finally occurred to me that I could get my ears pierced again – so I just went out the next day and got them done! My mum gave me a hard time for a couple of weeks after but she got over it once my sister, inspired by me, got her tattoo! I am glad that I didn’t get my lip pierced now though. My boyfriend had his pierced as a teenager but hasn’t worn anything in it for a few years now and it would definitely be frowned upon at his job. There’s still a weird looking hole in his lip where the piercing was but luckily it doesn’t really show much – I think he would have definitely regretted stretching his ears or making more permanent mods.

    4. Pennalynn Lott*

      I’m 48 and always wear earrings in both holes in each ear. And it’s almost always of the “hoop or dangle in the first hole, complementary stud in the second” variety. I dress conservatively for work and have only ever received compliments on my jewelry.

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        I got a third piercing in each ear back in the 90’s (because I had more earrings than days of the week to wear them), but the &$@# who pierced my ears placed the hole for the third one on my left ear so off-kilter that the studs in the 2nd and 3rd holes smashed up against each other painfully and I had to just let the third holes close up. I still fantasize about getting the 3rd holes re-done properly so I can wear more of my gemstone collection. :-)

  14. Eliza Jane*

    What is with this growing trend of schools all having events during workdays, anyway? :-/ When I was in school, we had 3-4 evening things a year, where the students would sing or whatever. Nowadays, it feels like there are monthly during-the-day activities for each of my three kids, where parents show up and are entertained by the kids. It basically leaves me feeling like crap pretty much all the time for missing these little events. They’re all really stupid and insignificant in any kind of objective sense, but all my 7-year-old sees is that Mommy didn’t show up to her play, because it was at 2PM on Thursday, when Mommy had a project status meeting.

    1. Zillah*

      But I think it’s important to keep in mind that these are preschoolers – I don’t see toddlers doing a 6 or 7pm concert.

      1. Eliza Jane*

        Yeah, but I don’t see the need for toddlers to do a concert at all, when all it does is turn it into a “whose mommy loves them more” contest. Seriously, they’re 3. My youngest is 5, and when his preschool just did a concert (which I couldn’t attend, because it was at 11AM, and I had to get a paycheck to, you know, feed him), it was basically just them standing and slurring out words that were pretty much indecipherable for 10 minutes. It was a “be cute for the mommies” minute, not any kind of artistic triumph.

        But they spend hours in school practicing for these things, so not attending turns it into me not caring enough about something he’s worked hard on.

        1. KJR*

          I hate to tell you this, but the daytime school events continue on well into elementary school. At least they did for my kids. It pretty much stopped in middle school/high school.

          1. Eliza Jane*

            Oh, I know! My eldest is 9, and still has these going on. I just feel like if it’s not important enough to bring kids and teachers to the school in the evening, it’s not important enough to drag parents to it.

          2. Nerd Girl*

            My kids school has flippin’ PTO meetings during the school day…and then they complain about parents not volunteering. Well, no kidding! We are working!!! I was the PTO co-chair for just a few weeks this year when the other co-chair started scheduling all the stuff during the day and couldn’t understand why I couldn’t attend. At one point she told me that the school should be a priority for me. I wrote a tersely worded resignation letter and cc:d the principal and superintendent. I explained that more parents would be involved in school activities if there was a sense that the schools wanted them there and could appreciate that most parents worked full time and were unable to attend events held during the school day. As expected nobody replied.

            1. KJR*

              Whaaaa? Absolutely absurd. It seems there are more parents working outside the home than not, so I don’t get why they are confused here!

        2. MsM*

          I loved singing when I was a little kid, and loved having the chance to show that off. (Still do, though I like to think I’ve gotten better at it.) I don’t think it’s the end of the world if Mom misses this one, but just because it’s not going to be an artistic triumph doesn’t mean nobody’s getting anything out of it.

        3. Callie*

          I didn’t really like having the very young children do performances when I was a music teacher. With a few rare exceptions, most of them are terrified of a giant crowd staring at them, they don’t really sing and usually just stand there. All it is is a chance for people to take pictures and that feels pointless.

          (I don’t think children need to be constantly performing, anyway. In elementary school they only get music once or twice a week, if that, and it really ought to be more about them having a chance to have fun and explore rather than practicing the same two pieces for eight weeks.)

      2. TotesMaGoats*

        My sons daycare has a 7pm “concert”. From little babies up to 5/6 year olds. It’ll be a rough evening since bedtime starts around 730 but thankfully it’s a friday.

    2. plain_jane*

      Which is weird, because even fewer households have a stay at home parent compared to when I was in school.

      1. fposte*

        Yes, I’m really intrigued by the fact that the expectation has been more parental attendance even as parents have less opportunity to attend.

    3. Lalaith*

      It sounds like in OP’s case the concert is in the evening, or at least after work ends, but because of her/his 1.5-hr commute s/he would need to leave early to get there in time. I don’t understand the during-the-day stuff either, though – my husband is a music teacher in a K-8 school, and all of their concerts are during the day (not by his choice). In his previous school they would have one at night, so all the parents (and I!) could attend, but I haven’t been able to go to one in years since he switched schools.

    4. Callie*

      When I was a music teacher, the daytime things weren’t really intended for the parents (though they were welcome to come if they wanted). they were for a) the kids to perform for *each other* and b) so that the kids whose parents couldn’t/wouldn’t bring them to evening events (because parents work another job, or don’t have transportation, or a million other reasons) would get to participate in *something* instead of always being left out all the time.

  15. Stephanie*

    My friend stretched hers too far (I forget to what gauge) and regrets it immensely (she’s in her late 20s). She’s in science academia and does a lot a fieldwork, so I think she gets some leeway, but she hates that they won’t be able to shrink back without surgery, how they look without plugs, and that she can’t smaller gauge, more conservative earrings without them falling out.

    I wouldn’t stretch them too much bigger right now. Maybe if you *know* you want to stay in a field that’s body mod friendly, but even then, things may change down the line.

  16. John*

    #1 — this will be unpopular, but I have to say that, in my day, it was far more commonplace for parents to miss concerts and things, so long as they were there when they could to show support. It reminded us that the world didn’t revolve exclusively around us (they have other responsibilities!), which is healthy.

    In OP’s case I can understand her angst because it sounds like this is probably a first concert, so this mini-rant isn’t about her, with whom I empathize.

    That said, I know lots of people who will attend every performance of a kid’s show (like a 3-night run) up through graduation at any cost. I don’t get that. It’s like they are going for perfect (martyr) attendance. I say this as someone who was in countless concerts and plays. Had my mom insisted on attending multiple performances of the same show, I’d had gotten a court order for stalking! ;)

    I’m really curious about this phenomenon. Something has happened in the culture. Do parents feel they will be judged? Is this related to women’s entry into the workforce and pressure to show that attention to the child is not being sacrificed?

    1. Nyla237*

      I think you are on to something with parents being judged. There is definitely some degree of mommie wars that goes on with this, that I have been a part of and also parents judging other parents. Some schools have a lot of events and it’s just not reasonable to expect that parents will attend them all. My husband and I have opposite work schedules that only overlap on Wednesdays, so we’ve decided to split attending our child’s school events. Not everyone has that option, and we’ve been on the receiving end of some looks when one of us is there and the other isn’t. One lady thought we were divorced and avoiding each other.

      1. LBK*

        I find this so funny. I’m not married, no children, but if my boyfriend and I ever appear somewhere separately people think we’re having relationship problems. Sometimes he wants to go out and I don’t/can’t! It doesn’t mean we hate each other! Yeesh.

    2. TotesMaGoats*

      It’s because parents are supposed to put their children first above everything. Above their spouses/SO, above work, obligations, above their own health and happiness. Even hinting that you might do otherwise is a quick trip to judgement land. It dovetails with the helicopter parenting style.

      1. Jamie*

        I disagree that putting your children first is related to helicopter parenting – although if you meant putting their wants and whims rather than their best interests, then I withdraw my disagreement.

        When it comes to priorities absolutely my kids will always come first to me. In the sense that everything I do and the choices I make are made with their best interest in mind. Now that they are older there are fewer things I do that would impact them, but when they were small there were tons of things.

        But I don’t see that as working at cross purposes with my job because I work to support them. If one of my kids called and wanted me to come home from work so they could use my car, or we could go shopping that’s ridiculous because their whims don’t take a priority. But I wouldn’t take a great job I was excited about if it paid less because my commitment to paying for their college is important to me.

        But the general principle of your children being your highest priority isn’t odd to me – it’s how it should be IMO. A spouse, work, etc. – those are all relationships adults entered into of their own volition. Kids didn’t ask to me born and don’t have the emotional or financial resources to fend for themselves if you move them down the list of priorities.

        1. TotesMaGoats*

          We are going to have to partially agree to disagree. I didn’t mean whims above best interests. I’d elaborate but then this would decidedly veer away from HR related stuff.

    3. Kelly L.*

      I think people want to be there for their kids, more than they worry about being judged. It’s a huge trope in our fiction–the parent who was too busy working to come to kiddo’s play or ball game, and then the happy ending involves the parent showing up to said event at last. And I think a lot of present adults remember being either the kid whose parents came, and want to repeat that, or remember being the kid whose parents didn’t, and want to not repeat that with their own kids.

    4. Elysian*

      My mother-in-law is like this with her college-aged daughter. I don’t think she’s ever missed a performance, even now that Daughter is in school on the other side of the country. And by missed a performance, I do in fact mean she goes to every show of a 3-night run. And Daughter is a dance major, so there are a LOT of performances. It’s really bizarre when you look in from the outside, but we’re not allowed to question it.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Wow, my mom rarely makes it to my skating shows (in fact, most of the time, I give away my comp ticket because nobody else bothers either). She would have to drive for three hours–I’m totally fine with her not coming.

      2. Artemesia*

        As someone who didn’t pierce her ears until she was in her 40s, I thought I was pretty much the last woman on earth to pierce my ears. I did it because I got sick of losing earrings. I don’t think I know any women who don’t routinely wear earrings as part of being dressed. I am surprised to think any workplace would think it a problem to wear them off duty and there are few places where they would be an issue while working.

    5. Blue_eyes*

      I agree. When I was a kid (in the 90s) my parents often missed school things because they both work. Yes, it kind of sucked that all the kids with stay-at-home-moms could have their moms at the events, but I understood that my parents had to work. They always came to conferences though and any evening/weekend activities.

      I think you’re right on about parents feeling judged if they don’t show up.

    6. KJR*

      Can we talk about the world of competitive cheer and dance? I could write a freaking book. Those parents are slightly off kilter. And I can say that because I was one for 5 years. :) Although I’d like to think I maintained my “kilter” at least somewhat. What a strange world it is. I always felt like a bad mom because I was not completely immersed in it like some of the other parents were. I can confess my AAM friends that I am glad to be O.U.T.

  17. plain_jane*

    #2 – it might be that the manager didn’t use the term “tattled”, but your co-worker took the meaning (ie I knew about x because she told me). Still not great that the manager mentioned this, but now you know for next time that any communications might not be kept in confidence (or you could preface them with saying they’re in confidence).

    #3 – after a re-org, my team was moved to another manager. I found out later that she “had” to get a raise because several of us were making a similar amount or more than her. It was very difficult for the senior members of the team to get raises after that point because she felt that we were overpaid compared to her prior team and herself (we were in a semi-specialized job that she didn’t know anything about, and were paid on-par for the industry).

    #4 – when I was at a prior job, we had a guy come in with stretched ears for an interview. It was a referral, and the referrer mentioned ahead of time that he did have the plug earrings. We were mostly ok with it internally (one person was squicked, but wanted to make sure they were being fair), but our clients are somewhat conservative and it was a concern. In the end it fell through for other reasons. Perhaps in 10 years it won’t matter, or you’ll be in an industry where it doesn’t matter. But right now, yes, it can be limiting.

    1. Cheesecake*

      It is also about unwanted attention. In your case, you were concerned upfront. This is definitely nothing good for candidates.

  18. Anonasaurus Rex*

    I think #1 is more of a know your workplace thing. In my office, even with a new hire, we wouldn’t care if they were leaving early for something with their kids. It’s definitely the norm around here. We might wonder more if we found out their kid had an event and they didn’t go.

    1. Windchime*

      Yeah, we have a guy starting work in the next few days at our office. He’s a mature guy who has been in the workforce for over 20 years, just like most of the rest of our team. If he said, “Hey, Family Member has this thing that I would like to attend at 3:30 today”, nobody would even blink an eye. He is a salaried professional; if he needs to take care of personal business on his 2nd or 3rd day, then he needs to take care of business.

      Not everywhere I’ve worked is like this, though, so I agree–know your business.

  19. TotesMaGoats*

    #1-I’ve got to agree with Allison. Day 2 is too early to be bumping out early for what is truly an optional event. My 1 year old’s daycare has their holiday program at 7pm on a Friday night. (And he’s going to wave that little jingle bell like a champ.) So, that makes things easier but I had to miss the 11am Thanksgiving potluck. It would have screwed up his day for me to show up at lunch and then leave again. Missing one event does not mean you love your child less. I do wish daycare operators would consider that working parents usually can’t up and leave in the middle of the day.

    #4-Allison is right on. You are 16. Don’t make any moderately permanent changes now. You will change so much between now and when you enter the working world. Don’t make your job search harder than it has to be.

    1. Judy*

      I remember when my daughter was almost 2, her class did “Rockin Around the Christmas Tree” with bells. I saw them practicing one day, they were so cute standing there dancing with their bells. Day of the program. They’re all just standing there big eyed looking at the crowd.

      1. TotesMaGoats*

        Either way it’s adorable. He’ll either love being the center of attention like me or hate it like his father.

    2. MaggietheCat*

      Ugh! Agree with your #1. That’s why our children are IN daycare because we’re working and already feeling bad about it.

      1. TotesMaGoats*

        I may be the one mom who doesn’t feel at all bad about leaving my son each day for day care. I just about lost my mind after 3 weeks home on mat leave and knowing I still had 10 more to go. Like mental breakdown lost it. Some of us aren’t meant to be SAHM’s. My sincere appreciation of those that do! I pay enough money to know that my kid is fed, diaper changed, napped and entertained all day long. He’s learning sign language (just started doing “more” yesterday) and spanish and yoga. They do arts and crafts that I don’t have the imagination or patience for. They sincerely love my kid. Sometimes I think something is wrong with me that I don’t feel the mommy guilt for leaving him at daycare each morning or getting my nails done or other things moms seem to feel guilty for.

    3. Callie*

      I do wish daycare operators would consider that working parents usually can’t up and leave in the middle of the day.

      And if they don’t offer these things, the parents that CAN up and leave in the middle of the day will pitch a fit. Daycare workers and teachers truly cannot win. If they have daytime offerings, those that can’t come get angry, and if they don’t offer them, those that can come say “You’re not making us feel welcome, you don’t offer enough for us, we can’t get involved.”

    4. Grapey*

      “Missing one event does not mean you love your child less.”

      This is absolutely true. My parents weren’t able to make it to every one of my events, but what showed that they cared was when they asked me questions before and after the events. Like “Are you still having trouble with XYZ part? How are your fellow actors? What are you nervous about?”

      I felt sad that they couldn’t be there at the moment, but it really is all a learning experience.

  20. Indy*

    #4 – I am heavily tattooed (can be hidden under normal work attire) and have ears gauged to 5/8… but I am in a highly specialized field and position. I work for a conservative employer with conservative clients and I have faced issues due to my appearance seeming too ‘alternative’. Essentially, I have to prove myself to each and every client, and deal with the looks and judgement I receive when someone meets me after speaking to me over the phone and via email.

    It hasn’t limited my career so far (I am light-years ahead of my peers), but who knows where I would be if I was a little more palatable to the masses. I would not change my appearance if given the choice, but if I was in a myriad of other fields I would be screwed, for lack of a better term.

    Resist the urge to do anything at this moment. Control your impulse. Finish college, get into a field, feel out the market and employer base, and then have at it as you see fit. You are 16, now is not the time to limit yourself. You will stunt yourself severely. You may plan on being in a field accepting of body modifications (artistry, kitsch retail, marketing, beautification), but trust me, life has a different plan for you.

    1. an attorney*

      I agree with this with the exception that it’s more of a “chances are, life has a different plan for you” situation. There’s just no way to know where you’ll end up or what you’ll need to do to be successful 10 years from now. Life, feelings, plans, and goals all change so fast in your late teens that I’d play it safe for now.

      As an alternative, what about extra ear piercings or a cartilage piercing? Those are a lot easier to take out in the future if you want to. I have a cartilage piercing with a plain crystal stud that, as far as I can tell, has had no impact on my career other than making me feel pretty (although that might be different if I were a guy).

    2. Amy*

      My thoughts were similar — if it’s an obligation that was taken on prior to the job offer, then it would say “I’m a person who keeps my commitments.” But if there’s no work involved, like baking the cookies or playing the piano, then it would be concerning. It seems like kids have way more celebrations and events than they used to. They have “graduation ceremonies” for Pre-K, K, elementary and middle school nowadays. I never had any of that, that I remember…. and I wouldn’t have expected my mom to drop everything for in-school events. There were three of us kids. Going to all of the events of one child is annoying, but if she has more than one kid the manager would be thinking “how many of these will we have to cover for?”

  21. HR Princess*

    I respectfully disagree with you on #1 – if she knew about it prior to starting, there is no reason not to say “Hey, I have this Christmas concert planned, so I will need to take some unpaid time”. I mean, we do that for people who have vacations planned all the time. People can’t put their entire life on hold for work – and if you do I would suggest that you look for other employment because that’s not a healthy culture.

    If someone gives me the heads up that they have plans within the first 6 months of employment, I don’t make a big issue about it. It only becomes an issue when, once they have started, then all of a sudden they need to take every other day off. Then that becomes a performance issue. But in this case? Come on…loosen up a little bit. Besides, if you are that kind of manager that would look down on someone for needing to take a half a day for a child’s Christmas play that she most likely knew about prior to the acceptance, then you should rethink your management style.

    Just my opinion here, but I think from an HR perspective you missed the mark on this one.

    1. HR Manager*

      I think the caveat here is that OP is essentially an unproven entity at this point. Granting additional time off – paid or not – is an earned privilege and should be on an exception basis, not a right to an employee, so asking for the day when there is zero history to go on is a stretch.

      Nevertheless, if attending the concert is that important to the OP (and it’s not the “monthly” concert your kid’s school throws), then I would suggest emailing the manager and acknowledge this is an unusual request and see if it is kosher in that culture. I would offer some fixes (Can OP come in a earlier that day or work late on additional days? Can OP take this off as unpaid time?) Be prepared however that this may raise some eyebrows in the office and with the boss, and that there may be some damage control to OP’s rep needed afterwards.

    2. Ed*

      Without knowing the players involved, I’m sure she could probably leave early and nothing negative would come from it. To me, it’s more about the old saying of “you only get one chance to make a first impression”.

    3. fposte*

      As noted above, she’s almost certainly exempt and it would therefore be illegal for her to take a pay cut for a part-day absence.

      And the problem isn’t whether she’s paid or not–it’s whether missing half a day in her first supervisory week, her big chance to get to make her mark before the holiday break hits, is going to frame her problematically as somebody whose priorities are questionable for asking, whether it’s granted or not.

    4. MK*

      I am not sure I understand what you are saying. The OP has already accepted the job and agreed on the start date, without telling them that she would like half of the second off. And it’s really not the HR perspective that matters here, it’s the impression the OP will make on her new coworkers and boss.

      Also, not attending a preschooler’s recital does not equal “putting your life on hold for work”. Most people understand that your employer is paying you for your time and effort and don’t view work hours as an unreasonable imposition on your free time, or a sign of an unhealthy work environment.

      1. Colette*

        Yes, it would be different if the OP wanted to take time off to take her child to an appointment with a specialist, or because her child broke her leg and had to be rushed to emergency. This is an optional event, and her husband is already going. Part of having a job means that it’s harder to do things during work hours, especially when you’re new.

    5. Jillociraptor*

      I totally agree. This is a complete non-issue in my workplace. People take time out all the time to be with their kids, go to appointments, have extended lunches with friends, whatever, and as long as you’re not being disruptive (missing a major meeting or a deadline) it’s not a problem in the slightest.

      Definitely there’s a reasonable way to ask this and an unreasonable way, but on its face I actually can’t even relate to the idea that this would be an issue.

      1. SherryD*

        I think the issue isn’t so much leaving early for one’s child’s school concert, which is cool in some workplaces, and frowned upon in others, but the fact that it falls on her second day of employment. IMO, in your first few weeks of employment, and certainly the first few days, you should strive to be a model employee, and not come in immediately needing special favours. They don’t know you, and you don’t know them, after all.

  22. Ed*

    #1 – This happened with a manager of mine on her first day on the job. Something came up that required her to stay a little late and she said she couldn’t. We were a little shocked to say the least. In her words: “my husband told me if I was taking this job, I better still have dinner on the table”. Keep in mind she was clearly the bread winner in her family (by a mile). As you can imagine, she didn’t last long in a demanding job. She never could actually do the job anyway but she had a fancy degree a few members of the board wanted. On the plus side, I was the obvious choice to replace her since I was always staying late to do her work.

    Either way, it all started with that first day on the job where she demonstrated her work was not a priority. Our director later told me she knew that day she made a mistake in hiring her. If she informed us of her need to leave at 4:30 every day, she obviously wouldn’t have gotten the job. I was in the interview so I know she was informed that late hours are sometimes required.

    1. Hlyssande*

      I wouldn’t expect someone to be able to stay late without prior notice. If this was sprung on me the day of and was required, I wouldn’t be pleased.

      On the other hand, her situation sounds like her husband was really controlling. Which sucks.

      1. Anon Accountant*

        +1 to everything you wrote. When someone tells me in an interview late hours are “sometimes” required that should be followed up and understood fully by both parties as to the frequency to determine if it makes sense to continue talking or move on to other candidates. Sometimes may mean 2 months during a busy season in 1 organization and to another it may mean 10 working days in a month.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          True, but most of us wouldn’t expect that to happen on our first day. We’re just getting the lay of the land, so how useful can we be in a situation like that? Granted, unless I had an appointment or set plans, I would stay, but I think it’s a little odd to require that of someone. I don’t like that woman’s reasoning at all, but if she had said, “Oh, I’m sorry, I made plans for this evening,” then it would be really odd (to me) to make her stay.

  23. soitgoes*

    OP1 missing the concert isn’t about it only being her second day on the job and asking for general time off. It’s about setting the stage to take a lot of time off for reasons related to her children, which is something that is going to become bothersome to childfree people immediately. There are probably a lot of people who would like a half-day leading up to the holidays; the OP’s status of a mother does not bump her up the priority list. And yes, I’m one of those childfree people who very much resents parents who think that having children grants them special entitlements at work. Even if the OP is genuinely not this kind of parent, she is going to APPEAR to be one, which (given my and other people’s feelings toward those parents) she should obviously try to avoid.

    I realize I’m probably opening the floodgates here, but I wish more new-ish parents would take more time to really think about the meaning of going back to work. Re-entering the workforce means that you can’t attend 3 PM events anymore. People who choose to forgo families in favor of advancing their careers are not doing so in order to cover for the people who are trying to have it both ways. There are sacrifices on both sides, and you need to own the cause-and-effect of whichever choice you end up making.

    1. jhhj*

      I think this depends on workplace culture. If you work somewhere that everyone can occasionally take an afternoon off to get a haircut or see a kid’s play or something (these places do exist), then there shouldn’t be irritation attached at parents who do it over non-parents. If you work somewhere that only parents get flexibility, it isn’t their fault that the employer is an idiot, though taking advantage of your coworkers is mean no matter what.

      In any case, I think day 2 is too early to ask for this. I also do not actually remember my parents attending or not attending any daytime events, and missing this concert will not scar your child for life.

      1. soitgoes*

        I agree with you 100%. If you’re exempt or are otherwise able to take time off for whatever reason, do you. I have to admit though (and I don’t think it’s irrational in the purely logical sense) that parents who constantly cite their kids as reasons to leave early get my hackles up in a major way. If you want to be at home with your kids, stay at home with them. Make that choice. Don’t impose your personal schedule on your coworkers. There’s a balance to be maintained and recalibrated as people naturally experience major life changes, but sometimes the nature of the work is that it can’t wait.

      2. soitgoes*

        ETA: regarding the specifics of concerts.

        I very much remember my dad not attending due to work, and I never minded. I even more clearly remember my mom hating those events. She felt pressured to attend, but since she didn’t give a crap about other people’s kids, there wasn’t much enjoyment there (and since I’m not a comfortable public performer, I hated having to put on those shows. I usually begged to skip them). Presenting a preschool concert as an absolute must-see event is a pretty big bluff to throw out there.

      3. TotesMaGoats*

        I agree. It’s absolutely depending on culture, in the long run. The bottomline is that day 2 is too early. If it was a preplanned vacation or funeral or something like that, I wouldn’t think otherwise.

        If you were trying to leave early for a haircut, I’d feel like it wasn’t appropriate.

        After the first month or so, it wouldn’t be a big deal any more than anyone else.

    2. long time reader first time poster*

      Agree!!! #1 — do NOT mommy-track yourself on your very second day at work!!!! It’s hard but you need to let go of the fact that you will be there for every. single. event. of your child’s life. There are dozens of these things every school year. Sometimes it will have to be dad. Sometimes maybe it will be a grandparent or a family friend. Sometimes, maybe nobody will go. That’s life.

      But let me tell you, nobody is going to take you seriously at work if you are running out the door on day two to go to a preschool concert. Not if you are a woman.

      Note that most men wouldn’t even consider asking (or assume that they were expected at the concert).

    3. MK*

      While I don’t entirely agree with your view, I do agree that the OP needs to think about how she is going to handle these things. This will not be the only school event her son will have.

  24. Kacie*

    #3 – I’ve been a manager at my company for 3 years. I have a few direct reports and about 20 indirect reports. I only know the starting salary of one person, because I hired her. The rest is a mystery. I know the raise percentage each employee gets as it’s tied to our appraisals, but not their salaries. It’s slightly annoying, but they also make it so the managers really don’t need to know. The real problem I have with it is that they are mostly underpaid, and it’s hard to rally for that to change when I don’t know actual dollar amounts.

    1. Judy*

      I’ve mostly worked at large corporations, so it’s hard to see how the managers don’t need to know the salaries to give out raises. I’ve seen two ways:

      The board (or someone) announces a raise pool of 5%, or 3% or 2% more recently. That means that the managers have that amount of their department salaries to give out as raises. If the raise pool is 5%, and your department’s salary base is $200k, then you have 10k of raises to give out to your department.

      The second way is similar but more structured. The raise pool is split into percentages, based on where an employee is in the salary range and the rating they got. Picture a large table with salary quartile on the horizontal and ratings on the vertical. If an employee receives a rating of 5, and is in the lowest quartile they would receive the highest percent raise. There was a little flexibility, but not much. If you were in the highest quartile of your salary range and received a low ranking you would get a much smaller percent, if any. The managers had to know at least where each employee stood in the quartiles of their pay range.

      1. Kacie*

        Upper administration decides how the raise pool is allocated. Managers and supervisors are not involved in that decision, only the rankings that the staff gets.

      2. illini02*

        So with that 2nd way, if you were the highest performer, but already made more than others, you would get a lower percentage raise just because you already made more? That just doesn’t sit right with me.

        1. CoffeeLover*

          Well there’s a big difference between giving a 10% raise to someone making 40K and someone making 200K. From what I understand of the system, it’s based on earnings brackets. People in the same position would generally be making a salary in the same earnings bracket. So you wouldn’t have a situation where a high performer gets a lower percentage raise than a low performer in the same position.

    2. REO*

      I didn’t even have the option of giving a percentage. He could have gotten $10k or 10 cents. What bothers me is that, as far as he knows, I recommended it. So, I hope he is satisfied with it, because I feel like if he isn’t, that reflects on me.

  25. Graciosa*

    Regarding the stretched ears, I’m firmly in the camp of those who don’t think you should do anything permanent at this point in (before?) your career. However I did want to give you a few other things to consider.

    John Malloy (of Dress for Success fame) used to employ a “twin test” technique in his research. He took pictures of the same person in different outfits, and then asked people which “twin” was more successful, had a better paying job, etc. It’s a really interesting way to get feedback on how appearance influences perception (although I admit I have a hard time figuring out how to do this with stretched ears).

    Another one of his observations was that there are clear signals in appearance to identify the executives. These can vary from company to company, but now that I’ve been working for a while I can absolutely attest to the fact that they are there. Some time spent observing morning or evening rush hour commuters may help make this apparent and show you some of the cues that are used. They are not limited to clothing, but include outerwear and accessories as well (and body piercings, tattoos, etc. or the lack thereof).

    Figure out how you want to appear and make sure you don’t do anything that would prevent you from presenting an executive image (assuming you want to rise to that level) in the future. It’s not that hard to switch from a company where expensive shoes signal an executive to one where everyone shows off their pens, but there are a lot of companies where stretched ears, tattoos, and body piercings do not equal executive. I’m not saying that there’s any moral virtue in this fact, but you do need to understand it and make your decisions based on full information about how this works in reality.

    You’re off to a good start thinking ahead at this point, and I wish you all the success you deserve.

    1. Kelly L.*

      And I think, as came up on here a few months ago, that there will be a gradual shift as the generations who’ve gotten more into body mods get older. “Executive” tends to mean “what the senior people at the company look like,” and right now those are generations that didn’t really take body mods as far as Gens X and Y have done. But gradually, the senior and executive people everywhere will be Gen X and Y, and when the people in power wear those looks, it will be safer for the people not in power to wear them too.

      1. fposte*

        I generally support this notion too, but it does occur to me that even the popular mods of my youthful era–single earring for men, multiple ear piercings for women–are now pretty rare in people in visible positions of power of my age. Obviously, those are easier mods to abandon than some, but I do think there’s a diluting effect and I wouldn’t count on a visible new normal in making my decision about mods for myself.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Interesting! I wonder how much of that is dilution and how much is that those aren’t the “trendy” piercings now. I don’t even know! :)

          1. fposte*

            Oh, that’s true, I hadn’t thought about that. But of course that could be the fate of gauges and tattoos, too–they may be the mom jeans of 2030.

      2. soitgoes*

        The issue with what you’re saying is that gauged ears aren’t particularly trendy anymore. They had their peak moment about 10 years ago. Anyone getting them now is a bit behind the curve, but has the benefit of looking at his desired field and seeing if any 30-year-olds there have gauged ears. Most of the people who have gauged ears are going to be around 30, and with relatively few people getting that mod these days, it’s unlikely to be something that workplaces will be concerned about embracing.

        1. long time reader first time poster*

          Firmly disagree. I see WAY more stretched ears now than I did in 2004. While they are not exactly mainstream, I usually see somebody every day with them, on public transportation or in retail settings. And definitely people under 30.

  26. soitgoes*

    OP4: I realize I sound like a fuddy-duddy here, but stretched lobes have a reputation for not smelling so nice. People put these giant holes in their ears and then aren’t always fastidious about keeping them clean (which is an inconvenient process that involves removing the plugs and cleansing the whole area). If you can’t remember to floss or use q-tips every day, don’t get gauges unless you want to contend with this, especially if you see yourself taking customer-facing jobs in the future. Even if you’re perfectly clean, just having gauges might trigger questions about your hygiene, which doesn’t seem desirable.

    1. Kelly L.*

      I…have never heard of this. It definitely wouldn’t trigger any questions in my mind if the ears didn’t seem inflamed or anything. And I’ve definitely seen people who had perfectly “normal” one-tiny-hole-in-each-ear piercings and did not take care of them, so even if this is a thing, it’s not limited to stretched lobes.

      Disclaimer: This is not to deny that it might be hazardous from a “looking professional” standpoint at the present time, just that I’ve never heard this smell/hygiene thing before.

      1. soitgoes*

        There’s a telltale “fishtank” smell. It’s disgusting. As someone who’s hung around my share of punk clubs and dive bars, I instinctively stay away from dudes who have those things in their ears. The odds of them being clean just aren’t there.

        I realize this is very much a “your mileage may vary” thing, but if the whole point is that OP4 is participating in a subculture where gauged ears are normal, he needs to be aware that the smell issue is very well-known among people who hang in those crowds.

        Gauged ears are one of those things that are (perhaps unfairly) intrinsically attached to the presumed lifestyles of people who have them. This is subjective and experiential, but I’ve never known a guy with gauged ears who was as clean as he could have been; after all, they were crust punk kids. The whole point is to be a little grimy. People don’t gauge their ears unless they’re already doing the punk/alternative/body mod thing. It’s not like my mom getting her first tattoo at 55. But if OP has concerns about work, my response is that unless he’s sure he’ll find a job in a field like the music industry, it’s better not to gauge those ears.

        1. Kelly L.*

          See. I used to work with some guys who had these (it was a customer service setting with no conservative expectations) and never noticed anything, nor heard this reputation. But YMMV of course.

          1. fposte*

            We may be observing the difference between guys in dive bars and guys at a workplace here, too. This probably wasn’t the only thing differentiating them :-).

    2. Meg Murry*

      I have heard this as well – from someone who had stretched ears. I guess its like belly button lint? Anyhow, ick, and another point against them for me.

      Personally, call me another fuddy-duddy, but it creeps me out when people wear the hollow gauges and you can see through their ears. Solid plugs I just look at and think “hmm, not for me” but the hollow ones are very unpleasant to me, and if I were a hiring manager this is something I’m not sure I would be able to get past if I had to chose between 2 near-equally qualified candidates I would chose the one without visible modifications.

      1. soitgoes*

        When I was a teen, my best friend and I actually made a pact that we would never date guys who had gauged ears. They just grossed us out too much. I realize that my visceral reaction to gauges is totally a ME thing, but the OP needs to be aware that gauges provoke these responses in some people. It’s not like coasting by with a small nose ring. And yeah, I would have my doubts about hiring someone with gauges as well. To me, getting gauges is equivalent to deciding that you’re deliberately taking yourself out of mainstream society. I would be dubious of someone with gauges who applied for a corporate job. While appearances say nothing about human character, certain choices can communicate a great deal, and on the other side of things, I wonder why someone would get gauges if he DIDN’T want to separate himself from the mainstream.

        1. long time reader first time poster*

          And on this point, I completely agree with you. You’re making a deliberate statement with gauged ears, whether you realize it or not. That statement is that you really don’t give a #$% about being part of the mainstream. (Or, I suppose, that you have very weak analytical skills and can’t comprehend how they just might impact your life 20, 30, 40 years down the line.) Gauges are like face tats — you’re firmly placing yourself outside of the box with them.

  27. illini02*

    In #3, while I think its weird, I don’t know if your reasoning makes sense. You want to know if you think the raise you are giving him is fair? Most places (though there was one exception) that I’ve worked have given percent increases. So if you are doing your raises on percentage, it seems like it will either way right? I got the sense that you don’t want them getting too big of a raise. If you think they deserve to make 10% more because of their stellar performance, or you think they only deserve the common 3% cost of living increase, why does it matter what they are currently making? If you are saying for budgeting purposes, that would make a bit more sense, but using the term “fair” throws up flags for me.

    Now on the off chance that you do your raises in an actual dollar amount, this makes a bit more sense to me.

    1. Jake*

      It makes sense to me.

      Let’s throw some numbers to it. If I have two employees and employee A is excellent while employee B is only good, and employee A makes $40,000/yr while employee B makes $55,000/yr, (with $50,000 being market value for a “good” employee) I’m going to lobby really hard for A and not at all for B.

      If instead the salaries were reversed, I’d lobby equally hard for both of them.

    2. Colette*

      Many companies will try to pay people who perform at a similar level similar salaries – that’s very difficult to do if you don’t know what people make.

      For example, let’s say Karen is a high performer. She’s making $X. Sandra is new, an equally high performer, and making $X+$10,000. If you give them each the same percentage raise, Sandra will end up making a lot more (and get a bigger raise) for work of the same value, possibly just because she started at a different time or negotiated better.

      Now let’s assume that Karen is in a protected class. How’s this going to play out?

    3. Illini02*

      I get the point that both of you are making, but if someone did negotiate better AND is putting out higher quality work, I don’t think it matters what the other person is making. Basing someone’s raise on what their co-workers is making seems just as backwards as basing an job offer on what their previous job paid. Thats I think why percentage increases are, by nature, more fair. It would be crappy for high performer to only get a 3% raise and average performer to get an 8% range for the sole reason that they were able to negotiate better to start off and now you want to even the playing field. If you thought both performers exceeded expectations and deserved 10% more, then they will both probably be happy.

      As for the protected class argument, I guess i get it, but then doesn’t it mean that everyone should just automatically start at the same rate with no salary negotiation?

      1. Colette*

        I believe that overall compensation – not one raise – should reflect the work you’re doing.

        In my example, both are high performers. Why should one get more money overall because they were hired at a different time?

        And the issue is that if the manager doesn’t know they aren’t getting paid the same, she will not be able to advocate for someone who is underpaid, or may give a huge raise to someone who is already overpaid based on the market.

        1. illini02*

          Like I said I think if you negotiate more money at the beginning, you shouldn’t get less of a raise later. What if some negotiated more vacation time? If everyone gets 2 extra days per year, do you feel you need to give someone else 4 extra days to make it more equal at a later time?

          1. Colette*

            But people come into the organization with one job, and then learn new skills or get re-orged to a different role, often with no change in pay. A good manager will want to pay people fairly for the job they have now – but she can’t do that unless she knows what they’re currently being paid.

    4. REO*

      The company generally does raises in dollar amounts. Either way, I was not able to dictate any of it – no percentage, no dollar amount. I did think he earned a small raise, but I am unaware of what he actually got. I hired my other two direct reports, so I knew what they made, and fought for what I thought they deserved. I wasn’t given that option with my “inherited” employee.

  28. R*

    I’m a woman working in a moderately conservative industry (defense contracting). I’d agree that being able to look relatively “normal” is important for body modifications; I have 3 piercings in each lobe (8, 12, 14 ga) and a 14 ga helix in one ear.

    I wear captive bead rings and horn spirals for day-to-day earrings without any problems, but switch to silicone tunnels with traditional earrings through them in the 8 ga, and small studs in the other 5, for conferences / big meetings / interviews.

    I dress conservatively aside from the piercings, and have never had a problem. I’ve got a number of other coworkers with various tattoos and piercings; as long as you can cover them up or wear unobtrusive jewelry, you’re probably fine.

  29. Dweali*

    I work at two hospitals (one is in more of an office setting the other has a lot of patient contact) and I’ve got my ears gauged at a 2 neither of my jobs have said anything other than “What a pretty color blue”. Most people seem to assume that they are regular earrings. Depending on the culture and type of job as long as #4 uses the solid gauges it may not be a problem.

    1. Jake*

      “Depending on the culture and type of job”

      That is the issue, at 16 do you really want to make yourself fit into a box where you can only work in places depending on the culture and type of job?

      1. Dweali*

        Just a personal opinion but I don’t think it would be that small of a box unless they are wanting to go into a career that is very conservative (culturally). If #4 only has the one gauge in each ear then it’s pretty unobtrusive if they wear the solid ones. Also gauges at a 2 can be taken out and the ear goes back to normal so if #4 gets tired of having them it’s not a permanent thing that they will have to live with.

      2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        Which is why in most states, tattoo/piercing/body modifications are illegal on those under 18.

        Having a facial tattoo, ear lobe enlargement, facial piercings — some might not want to have someone like that in a customer-facing role.

        Oh – how about the bone in the nose? Now that’s a good one…

  30. Sadsack*

    #2 Are you sure that your manager put it that way? Perhaps your manager had a discussion with Cathy about her behavior and told her that he knew about it because you told him. However, did he really use the word “tattle,” or did Cathy phrase it that way because she is upset that you told your manager about something she did, something that your manager felt was important enough to bring up at a team meeting? Either way, I’d say no more about it, as AAM advised. Keep in mind that Cathy doesn’t sound like someone who is at all times reasonable, and you don’t know for sure that your manager said anything bad about you.

    1. Elsajeni*

      This is exactly what I was thinking. OP#2, you say yourself that Cathy is a gossip and a grudge-holder, and this whole thing started with her reacting disproportionately to something minor — I would not rely on her to accurately report what your manager said. Maybe the manager actually described what you did as “tattling,” but I doubt it; it seems more likely that the manager said something like “I heard from OP…” and Cathy’s the one who added the word “tattling” because that’s how she felt about it, or even as a shit-stirring move to try to get you upset at your manager. Don’t take the bait.

  31. Jamie*

    Just throwing this out there – 1.5 hours is an unusually long distance to work from a child’s school for most parents and I’m not questioning it personally, I absolutely leave it to everyone to determine how to meet the needs of their own families…but while it’s a delicate area to ask about in hiring (and again, I wouldn’t – I would just make very clear what expectations were and how flexible or not we could be to everyone and let them determine if that works for them) but I can see some hiring managers having this as a cause for concern.

    I wish we lived in an world where there wasn’t concern of hiring parents of young kids due to attendance issues, but we don’t. If someone went to bat for the OP behind the scenes over someone else’s wariness then she’s really shooting herself in the foot with time off for this so soon.

    Again – I’m not condoning the concern of hiring mothers of young kids, but it’s definitively out there and I know if I have gone to the mat to squash objections and get someone hired and they asked this I’d be absolutely pissed.

    1. Jules*

      My daughter’s preschool is in a city where my husband work at. I work in a another city 1.5 hours away. Not by choice, we are in Michigan where work is not plentiful. We do dasycare this way since I am more likely to travel for work or work late at night. So far I’ve been lucky, as a senior staff, when I leave early on Friday, they are ok with that since I work above and beyond all the time.

      Children shouldn’t be an issue. Performance should be an issue. Unless your job requires you to be at work in order to do work, I don’t see a problem. In this instance, I am assuming that she needs to be at work in order to supervise so I get it. But in a perfect world, the only think my employer should care about is my productivity. Not how many hours I clock at work.

    2. Erin*

      I noticed that it was a long drive too. As an interviewer, I would never ask the question but as a parent of young kids, driving distance to my kids’ childcare has a huge impact on my quality of life. The flexibility that the op is used to enjoying might not be so easily come by now, and that might be a function of the distance more than her new employer’s culture.

    1. long time reader first time poster*

      Oh please.

      Guilt trip comments like this are what make people think it’s worth risking their jobs to watch their three year old singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

      People work. It’s a thing.

      1. fposte*

        And Dad *is* going to be at the event, and the song is also about bonding time with the kid, which isn’t what happens at a preschool concert anyway.

        It makes me think of the conversation upthread about kids being a number one priority. Some people mistake that for meaning that anything a kid does has priority over everything else in life, and that’s not only absurd but bad parenting.

        1. TotesMaGoats*

          That’s exactly what I was trying to say but didn’t want to devolve into an argument about parenting styles.

  32. Anon with stretched ears*

    #4 – OP, I think you can see from the comments that, rightly or wrongly, stretched ears are a divisive issue. Some people love them, some people are indifferent, some people hate them. It’s completely up to you to decide what you do to your body, no matter your age, but you just need to be aware of the risks and potential drawbacks and weigh that against your desire for body mods.

    I had my ears stretched to 9/16″ (14mm I think?) in high school and college, but I took them out and let them shrink down because I was too broke to afford any nice jewelry on the poor college student budget and I was bored wearing the same pair of plugs every day. It happened to coincide with my first post-college job search, so I can’t speak to whether or not stretched ears would have affected my search or not. But I work in a creative field (web design and development) and gravitate towards smaller companies which tend to be more lenient on the dress code.

    That was six or seven years ago – I’m in my mid-late 20s now – and this summer I decided to stretch my ears again back to 1/2″ (12-13mm). I also got a somewhat visible tattoo (on my shoulder/upper arm) and am planning to get my septum pierced soon, as well as more tattoos. I’m choosing to do this all now because I’m secure in my current job (small company, no real dress code, company owner has full sleeve tattoos and makes no effort to hide them even around our conservative clients). I’m also conscious of the fact that I won’t have this job forever, and my next job may not be so lenient, but I know myself well enough to know that an environment with a strict dress code and a judgmental boss would not be somewhere I’d be happy working in the first place. Being visibly modified to any degree may make it harder for me to get a job, but it will also prevent me from settling for a more strict office culture where I’d be unhappy.

    HOWEVER, I know that I have the luxury of filtering out what type of environment I work in because web development is typically a more casual industry anyway. If you’re planning on going into healthcare, law, etc., then you would want to seriously consider that a casual dress code environment may be hard to come by in your industry at all, so stretching your ears may be more detrimental to your career path.

    2g is quite tiny, and there are plenty of plugs you can find that look like plain CZ studs – which would be acceptable in nearly any work environment if you’re female. If you’re male, it may be harder to get away with – again, it completely depends on your industry.

    I just wanted to share some perspective from a somewhat “older” modified person – not everyone regrets their mods as they age out of adolescence, and not everyone has career trouble because of them. OP #4 just needs to be mature enough to weigh the benefits with the drawbacks and choose accordingly.

    1. Leisabet*

      Thanks Anon, that’s basically the comment I was scrolling down to make. I originally stretched my earlobes when I was around OP4’s age, which means (and this has literally just occurred to me) that I’ve had them for half my life (!).

      I’m in Australia, and the work culture is pretty damn different over here, but I’d still say that being heavily modified hasn’t made that much of a difference to my career. I switched from the very conservative industry I started in (law) to a much freer environment (pedagogy), and the only real difference in my work attire is that now I don’t have to wear jackets to cover my tattoos. I once worked as a receptionist with a labret and four nostril piercings, and in retrospect I’m really surprised I got away with that. :)

      In any case, what I’m trying to say here is that a degree of caution is always wise – keep tattoos coverable, invest in classy-looking solid plugs and glass retainers – but it’s not automatically a given that body modification will doom your career or have you hating your decisions in 10 years time. I love my (many) tattoos. I love the spectacular collection of glass plugs I own, which are both delightfully sparkly and don’t give me allergic reactions. Think carefully, keep it safe, and be fully aware of the social ramifications of any mod you undertake.

      PS: I also want to caution against this idea that 2ga is the last reversible stretch. This isn’t universally true, and please don’t rely on it. You might not have the kind of skin that rebounds. If you do want to keep the lobes tight, don’t wear heavy jewellery for long and take your plugs out at night. That said, I had my earlobes at 19mm (3/4″) for nearly ten years, and for some reason they’ve started to shrink this year. My piercer is mystified and so am I. I’m currently wearing 14mm (9/16″) plugs that are only slightly loose. So weird.

      PPS: It warms my rapidly-ageing heart that kids are still stretching their lobes. Awww. :)

      1. Anon with stretched ears*

        High-five for “old” people who still love their mods! I look back on the almost-decade i spent without stretched ears and sort of regret THAT, to be honest. I got married during that time and while I loved the earrings I wore on my wedding day, I now drool over all the beautiful plugs I could have worn had I kept my stretched ears… *sigh*

        I love that kids are still stretching their lobes, but I hate all the misinformation that’s out there now. OP4, if you choose to stretch your ears, do so safely, slowly, and smartly!

  33. MommaTRex*

    I disagree with most of the answers for #1, but I work at a really awesome place. If it were my supervisor that wanted to leave early on the second day to see their 3-year-old’s concert, I would think that it is great that they have an appreciation for work/family life balance. On the flip-side, it should probably be only for one special event like this and not something frequent in the first month.

  34. AmyNYC*

    #1 – I would tell them at the before-you-start-meeting that something came up, and if it’s not a hassle, you’d like to leave early. Don’t mention what the ‘something’ is, and if pressed, just say “a personal appointment.” Work is just work, but life and your family is way more important.

    1. MK*

      Aphorisms sound impressive, but usually mean little. Work is not just work, it’s the money with which you feed your child. And a preschool concert is neither a major life event nor an important family occasion.

      If you want to get philosophical, I would say that it’s important to teach you child that life has obligations and we cannot always do what we like, that mummy’s work is just as important as daddy’s (especially if the child is a boy, IMO) and that daddy is as much a parent as mummy, so only him being there doesn’t count as the child being abandoned.

      1. Jamie*

        I like this. It’s like the old “on their death bed no one ever wished they’d spent more time at work…” thing. That’s kicked around like it’s a universal truth, but in reality I bet there are a lot of people who didn’t provide as well as they should have who do regret it.

        Not everyone, and yes balance is important, but so is work and financially taking care of your obligations. And it bothers me that it’s dismissed as if work is something that gets in the way of living your life…it’s what gives you the means by which you live your life. Big difference.

        Not saying I couldn’t use more time off, but when all is said and done and I’m at the end I want to know I did everything I could to be there for them and give them a decent start and options and as I didn’t have the forethought to have been born ridiculously wealthy I have to work to do that.

        1. Melissa*

          My mom was a SAHM for 16 years. She’s not close to death, but she definitely does wish she had spent more time at work – more time to save for retirement, more time to create her own nest egg, more time to gain experience in the workforce and be more competitive for jobs and command a higher salary. And when she did return to work, we were all so proud of her that we couldn’t care less that she couldn’t attend as many concerts and such.

      2. catsAreCool*

        What MK said. “life has obligations and we cannot always do what we like, that mummy’s work is just as important as daddy’s (especially if the child is a boy, IMO) and that daddy is as much a parent as mummy, so only him being there doesn’t count as the child being abandoned.”

  35. Tattooine*

    I have had a number of piercings over the years (including a nose ring, which is relatively tame). I also have tattoos (got the first one at 30). I’m a diplomat, which means I am in the fuddy-duddiest of fuddy duddy careers. My general advice is to limit yourself–for now, anyway–to things you can remove/cover up if the circumstances demand it. I have a sleeve and some other ink, but when I put on a cardigan or blazer, you don’t notice. My office doesn’t mind if I have my arms exposed during the normal day-to-day, but the second someone important comes in we all have to spiffy up. Consider flexible modifications now (e.g. things you can reasonably remove or cover), so you have job flexibility later. Sometimes it’s a matter of knowing the office culture where you are happy and finding one that accepts you for who you are and how your present yourself. As you get older, though, you will have more responsibilities to think of: mortgage, retirement, childcare payments, etc., and that complicates things. The last thing you want to do is hinder your earning potential because of a decision at 16. Once you have a better sense of your professional trajectory, you can better assess visible or immutable body mod.

    1. NoPantsFridays*

      Yeah, there are plenty of cool piercings one can get that one’s (prospective) employer would be totally clueless about — unless they have a REALLY weird hiring process! Some of the most controversial piercings, for which people receive the harshest judgments, are invisible to the employer.

    2. Chinook*

      You sound like my DH. He has a number of tattos, most of which are noticeable if he is wearing a tshirt and shorts. Whe he was in the army (where it is culturally acceptable), he was turned down for a public duty because the tip of one tatto would be noticeable in his dress uniform (and they didn’t care if the glvoes would have covered it). Considering it was standing guard for a well-tattoed vetran, we had a good chuclke at the irony.

      Now he is a cop who does PR and the only time he wears short sleeves is when is walking a beat in the summer. No one has told him not to look like a “tattoed thug” (his words) but he knows that presenting the image of respectable police office is part of his job.

      As for me, I cover my tattoo when I am new somewhere and let it show after people have gotten to know me. At that point, the tattoo becomes an added part of who I am instead of the focus. Streteched lobes, though, aren’t as hideable and run the risk of making the mod the focus of attention rather than you the person.

  36. fedearal*

    OP #4: Be VERY wary about the rule of thumb that 2G is the size where your stretching is irreversible. This varies wildly by individuals, and I’ve seen people with smaller sizes whose ears did not stretch back and required surgery. Or people who couldn’t afford surgery and got what some folks call the “cat butt” ears… Just remember, all bodies are different. No one in the body mod community would recommend you commit to a mod at 16, even though I know a metric ton of high school kids have stretched ears and the longing to have those beautiful ears too can be really intense.

    I work for the federal government in a job which mixes office work, fieldwork, and public-facing roles and I have ears stretched to half an inch. So, if at 21 you decide to stretch your ears, please don’t let anyone tell you that you’re doomed to be a barista or retail worker… but also know that in some fields, it may slam a lot of doors shut, too. You need to do your research and suss out *current* workplace opinions – something you won’t be able to do until you’re at that late-college/early-career phase of your life. So don’t stretch til you’re there.

  37. Tinker*

    Body mods make the people with boundary issues come out of the woodwork. I tend to think this is a positive or neutral thing, but I’m not 16 and am past the point both of “but you won’t get a jerb down at th’ plant because tattoo people are (insert bizarre rant here)” and “but what if you want to be CEO of the world, OMG it will hold you back”.

    The best approach, I think, is to be quite cautious about mods that are visible while wearing a suit, particularly until you have solid qualifications in a non-meat-market field. In addition — and this is often missed — it is wise to cultivate a nonjudgmental attitude toward things you don’t pursue. I was a judgmental shit who parroted some of my parents’ uglier opinions when I was 16, and I regret it now. Also, there is no quicker way to sound like a thoroughly unpleasant person than to rant about other people’s bodies.

    1. Vin packer*

      Oops, my below comment was meant to be a reply.

      Sorry. Must be all my tattoos and piercings interfering with my cognitive abilities again :D

    2. C Average*

      It’s not so much the “people with boundary issues” that I think the OP should be mindful of. Those people are going to identify themselves by spouting critical and judgmental comments.

      I think the bigger concern is the folks in the middle, who may consider themselves fairly neutral toward body modifications in the hypothetical, but who may at some point have to choose between two job candidates. No matter how open-minded you fancy yourself, you may find yourself (as I confess I would) having at least a subconscious thought along these lines: “I have these two otherwise comparable candidates, and one of them has gone to deliberate effort and expense to make himself look unusual in a way that flouts cultural norms. Why would someone do that? Does this person have issues?”

      I know these judgments aren’t fair. I work with a very talented woman who has blue hair. I have a heavily tattooed sister who’s a highly-regarded professional in her field. But as someone who has never been particularly attracted to body modification, I can’t claim I wouldn’t make unfair assumptions about a stranger who had chosen to make dramatic changes to his appearance.

      1. Stephanie*

        Those are interesting points. I’ve gone gray early. The way my graying pattern presents itself, it almost looks like an intentional dye job (I have a couple of chunks of gray in the front of my schedium afro) and I get asked regularly if I intentionally dyed my hair silver in the front. I’ve contemplated dyeing it while I job search (even though I find dye drying), just so I don’t give off the vibe that I’ve intentionally given myself a funky hairdo.

        1. Cath in Canada*

          Someone told me recently that they really loved the silver streak I’d dyed into my hair. I laughed and said “thanks, but I can’t take credit” – that’s the streak that used to be red, but all my red hairs started turning white when I was 19. It’s really noticeable in the one spot where they all congregate, but less so elsewhere. My hair’s currently dyed reddish brown (it’s usually just brown now), but I’m going to let it go back to all its “silver streak” glory over the winter and spring.

      2. NoPantsFridays*

        Yup, it’s not about what actually is the case, it’s about the appearance. A candidate could have every square inch of their genitals pierced, and that would also be well outside the norm and outside cultural acceptability, and the person might still have the same “issues” — however, a prospective employer wouldn’t know about it. Just like someone could have a full-back tattoo and it wouldn’t be visible under most work clothing. The issue here isn’t really about body mods, it’s about how they’re likely to be perceived.

  38. Vin packer*

    I loled at this comment.

    I’m surprised by how weird people are being about some slightly-larger-than-average earrings. Preserve the sanctity of your earlobes so you can file TPS reports!!1

      1. Vin packer*

        Of course–I like my job a lot. I just find the fear of piercings/tattoos to be largely irrational in general, and the idea that a 16-year-old must do everything with her future job in mind sort of bummerific–especially when it comes to something fairly reversible like 2g earrings.

  39. Linguist curmudgeon*

    “…will they still notice and hate them? I hate normally sized earlobes.”

    Looking at your sentence structure here, OP #4, it seems like your comment “I hate normally sized earlobes” is intended to be in response to the perceived “hatred” of your hypothetical prospective employers, rather than an opinion that stands on its own. (It’s a pretty odd out-of-the-blue opinion to have on its own.) Is that indeed the case?

    If so, something you’re going to need to remember as you grow older (and yep, it sucks) is that your opinions don’t carry equal weight to those of the people in power. Again: yes, it sucks, but this is just the way the world works. You can definitely HAVE your opinions, and they are every bit as valid as the opinions of the people around you – but you are not (yet) the one holding all the cards.

  40. Taylor*

    RE: ear stretching, I have 00G jewelry in my ears and I don’t believe they have ever impacted my job prospects (as far as I know). For reference, I am in my late 20s and work in fashion (piercings and visible tattoos are not unexpected–I have both). I have long hair and wear it down mostly, which covers them, and most of the people I work with (bosses included) don’t notice them until I’ve worked with them for months (some years)! I have ‘diamond’ plugs in them and most people just assume they are regular earrings. I don’t want to go against Alison, but I think you’ll be fine as long as you keep things tasteful!

  41. Kyle Jones*

    In regards to #1:

    When I was in management and then when in HR, I had a simple rule. If the employee let me know of any time off needed – such as the case above – during the interview process and/or before the start date, it was approved. X employee has (event) scheduled that was scheduled (and possibly paid) in advance of hire. X employee is allowed to take that time off (non-paid – unless accrued time has been earned) because of disclosing prior to start date.

    That policy worked for me and my employer.

  42. Sarah*

    I’m going through the archives so this is obviously very late, but just wanted to chime in on #4. I have my ears stretched to a 2 and I think the vast majority of people don’t even notice unless I point it out. I’ve had coworkers express surprise when, several months into the job, they finally notice. I’ve gotten prestigious scholarships and I work in a corporate office right now. I do primarily video work, but I’m also the receptionist and I directly meet clients. No one has ever said a word about it. It depends on the jewelry you wear (I have black tunnels) and your hairstyle (my hair is relatively long so it usually obscures my ears). So I think if you’re a woman who keeps your hair past your ears and you’re most likely to go into a somewhat creative field, it’s fine, and by the time you enter the workforce it will probably be even more widely accepted. Plus, if you stay at a 2, it’s not permanent. You can take them out and grow the holes closed if you unexpectedly end up as, say, an accountant.

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