my new coworker noisily sucks on candy all day, wearing company-branded items after a buy-out, and more

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

1. My new coworker noisily sucks on candy all day

A woman who recently joined our office sucks on candies all day long and makes terrible, loud sucking noises. Is there a way to politely ask her to be quiet? It is driving me absolutely bananas.

Well, are you comfortable being pretty direct about it? That’s really the only way you’ll be able to do it. For instance: “Jane, I wonder if there’s a quieter way to eat those candies? For some reason, I’m able to hear you sucking on them and it can be distracting.”

If that feels too awkward or confrontational, then you have to decide whether you’d rather risk the awkwardness or keep dealing with the noise. If it’s really bugging you, I’d risk the awkwardness — and perhaps keep in mind that most people would want to know if they were doing something like this that was driving others crazy. (Not all, certainly, but most.)

2. Wearing company-branded items after a buy-out

Our company was recently bought out by a much larger organization. The buyout was a mutually beneficial one, and the integration has been relatively smooth. One of the hot buttons for our new owners is branding. The sign in front of our office changed just weeks after the deal was complete. It’s like the name of our old company has been completely wiped out.

I have a number of pieces of clothing given to me over the years (polo’s, oxfords, and a great ski jacket) as reward for different things I have done. The common denominator on all of these items is that they have the old company name on them. Should I stop wearing them? They mean a lot to me, especially the ones that relate to a specific project where the team really accomplished something amazing! At the same time I want to show support for the new company.

It should be okay to wear them, but it’s not a bad idea to take a wait-and-see approach until you have a better feel for whether it would be interpreted as misplaced loyalty to the old regime. A healthy workplace wouldn’t care, but there are plenty of not-so-healthy workplaces out there, and sometimes people have weird feelings about this stuff. At a minimum, don’t make them a centerpiece of your wardrobe there; confine them to occasional work use until you’ve gotten a better feel for the situation.

Meanwhile, though, you can certainly keep wearing those items outside of work.

3. Interviewing at a company where an unethical former coworker works

I’m about to have a phone interview tomorrow with a company that has a promising opportunity for me. As I was looking on the Internet, I noticed that one of my former coworkers who I’ll call Rose, who was higher in my company and was in a related role, is at the new company in a higher related role.

Rose resigned from my company in lieu of being fired for ethical violations, including stealing work from others and taking credit. When I gave a private presentation to my VP, the VP confronted me, asking why I was presenting Rose’s work. I was dumbfounded and said it was mine and was able to delve into all the details that Rose couldn’t because I kept all the details and the other critical information out of the PowerPoint that I was previously asked to share and had them in a separate document that nobody had seen until that meeting. My VP then understood because Rose could not answer those questions and had instead gave an “I will get back to you” response to questions. After this, when it got back to Rose through the VP’s chain of command that it was known that she stole my work, my life became much more difficult till she left the company. This all happened about a year ago, and the whole environment of about 100 people was toxic because of Rose and there was a collective sigh of relief when she left.

Although it’s early in the process with the phone interview happening tomorrow, I’m concerned if I even want to move forward knowing that if successful I will have to work with Rose again. Thoughts?

Yeah, this sounds like a job you don’t want. A higher-up with a grudge against you — and possibly an interest in discrediting you — isn’t someone you want to work with. That’s the kind of thing that has the potential to turn a great job that you’d normally love into something hugely problematic. I’d pass this one up.

4. My boss tries to force me to work while sick

I work 2-4 shifts a week, 5-8 hours each (I’m a student). I called in sick a few months ago and my boss told me that I had no options if I couldn’t get anyone to cover my shift. At that time, I didn’t know what else to do so I just went in. My throat was extremely sore and my job is to talk to people all day, so by the end of the day, I had lost my voice entirely.

Today, my throat is sore again and I called in sick for one of my shifts. I got the exact same response and now I have to go into to work. What are my options? Why do they keep forcing me to work sick?

See what happens if you hold firm. “I’m sorry, but I won’t be able to come in because I’m sick. I’m also too sick to look for someone to cover my shift. I expect that I should be better by (next scheduled workday), but if that’s looking unlikely by (day before next scheduled workday), I’ll let you know right away.”

This is a reasonable stance to take. If your boss is so unreasonable as to threaten your job over it, at that point you’d need to decide if you want to work for someone so unreasonable or not. But before you look at your options as working while sick or losing your job, see what happens if you just firmly explain that you’re not able to do what she’s requesting.

5. Employer told me that they’re bringing in one more candidate

I’ve been through two interviews at this company and was told that the decision was to be made early this week and that I was one of two candidates. They contacted my references and I was expecting an offer. Now they are telling me that they are bringing in one more candidate Monday and are delaying the decision until the end of next week.

I really want this job, but I’ve not had this experience before. Should I assume that I did not get the job, or take them at their word?

Take them at their word. In general, there’s never any reason not to take people at their word on this kind of stuff. If they want to reject you, they will; most employers don’t make up convoluted excuses to avoid doing that. It’s certainly possible that there’s something else going on — like that they’ve made an offer to their first choice and are just extending the timeline while they wait for an answer from that person — but in that case, employers usually are just vague, rather than making up specific scenarios like this one.

But also: when you find yourself trying to read tea leaves like this, and wondering whether you should be doing anything other than taking an employer at their word about hiring timeline stuff, it’s a signal that you’re overly invested. Hiring timelines change all the time, for all sorts of reasons, and nothing is ever guaranteed, no matter how promising things seemed earlier. The best thing you can do (always) is to assume that you didn’t get the job and let it be a pleasant surprise if you did.

{ 291 comments… read them below }

  1. Revanche*

    #4 I can’t stand when bosses do this, especially if you’re likely to get worse or could be contagious, or whatnot. Do they think taking a hard line will prevent abuse of sick days? (with no reason to think this is even happening when someone calling out sick for the first time?) It’s certainly not going to prevent people from getting sick!

    Related, I’m always wondering why my staff fight me when they tell me they’re sick, can’t think straight, are dizzy, etc., but don’t want to just stop working when I tell them to rest up and come back when they’re better.

    #5 Agreed with Alison, I am honest with people if I have to bring in another candidate so that they know there’s a reason I’m having to delay the decision and to give them some context. I wouldn’t bother to give those details if it wasn’t the truth.

    1. Traveler*

      I hate when bosses do this because I think its a crappy thing to punish people who are legitimately sick for something out of their control. On the other hand, I’ve been put into crappy situations because someone thinks “I didn’t sleep well last night” and “my throat tickles” are acceptable reasons to skip work on really important days. It leaves a bitter taste in your mouth that doesn’t go away when you’ve been on the raw end of that deal. I could see how if that happened to someone enough times, they could end up being a real jerk about the sick policy. Not saying that’s okay, but I could understand the place it came from. (Though I also think its a terrible idea for a truly sick person to be at work – potential for mistakes, getting others sick, etc.)

      1. Jen RO*

        I’d be interested in seeing a post from Alison about this, especially for companies that do not have a sick leave policy (the concept doesn’t exist in this country, actually – you can either come to work, take PTO, or take medical leave for which you need a doctor’s note). I have a coworker whom I allowed to work from home when he was sick, but he abused this several time (for example, he asked to work from home when he had a pulled muscle – I’m not sure what it’s called, the muscles between your ribs that hurt like a bitch). How do you handle this? I’ve sent employees home without asking them to take PTO/medical leave when they were obviously not feeling well, but how do you keep this fair without opening yourself up to problems?

        1. misspiggy*

          Why do you think the worker was out of line? It sounds completely reasonable to work from home and avoid the movement involved in commuting in that situation. It sounds like you feel managers are expected to diagnose staff. Is that actually the case?

          1. AdAgencyChick*

            +1. I rarely take sick days, but on a day that I had a back spasm, I was exceedingly grateful to my manager for not questioning my work-from-home request (even though it was my own damn fault — poor form at the gym).

            I think manager discretion is key in these situations. I’ve rarely had a problem with direct reports abusing PTO, and when it’s happened, it has tended to be fairly obvious (calling in “sick” during a period that also includes a lot of “dentist appointments” and dressing up in interview clothes).

        2. GrumpyBoss*

          I like to be lenient and let people work from home/call in sick without charging them PTO rather than see them come to work sick. I had an employee who abused it too. He one time took a sick day because he touched a hot light bulb and his hand hurt too much. When I went back to see how many times he had been home sick, it was 20 days in one year. That’s excessive. So yes, sometimes you just know when people take advantage.

          The only way I could figure out how to handle this is manage the PTO policy to the letter of the policy. Your hand hurts? 1 PTO day. After 6 months of this across the board, I was able to slowly ease back and give people some time off the books when they didn’t feel well.

          1. ella*

            I think, generally, PTO time is PTO time (or sick time is sick time), and it’s not the job of the boss to assess the validity of an illness. If Poor Baby wants to use his paid time cuz he has a boo-boo, and not because he wants to travel, that’s his prerogative.

            OTOH, I agree that 20 days is excessive. And it has to be impacting his productivity. I wouldn’t be surprised if he does less work than the rest of his team even on days he’s there. So maybe it could be folded into that conversation (of which “and you take twice as many sick days as anyone else” is a part).

            1. Joey*

              Thats true. And it’s the manager’s job to communicate the expectations and consequences of taking too many unscheduled days off. And too many people confuse the consequences communicated with questioning someones reason for calling in.

            2. GrumpyBoss*

              I think maybe I wasn’t clear :)

              I generally don’t charge my employees PTO for sick days, even though it’s the policy. I want people to stay home and heal up when they are sick.

              In the example above, someone is clearly abusing my generosity. So be it. He got charged a PTO day for his boo boo. The unfortunate thing is I can’t enforce policy one one troublemaker and look the other way for everyone else. So the net result of his shenanigans is everyone got charged PTO when they were out of the office.

              If you are booking PTO time, it is not possible for me to care any less about what you do with it. Not my job.

              1. Jillociraptor*

                Hm, I wonder if you could, actually. I wonder if something like, “You know, I really like being able to be flexible about PTO for sick time, but you’re taking advantage of that flexibility and it’s affecting your productivity. So from now on [or for the next 6 months or something] I expect that you’ll use sick days only for things that genuinely inhibit your ability to work. Otherwise they’ll be deducted from your PTO bank.”

                I think you can earn and lose privileges of flexibility. Though on the other hand, it probably means he just comes up with better excuses than “I touched a lightbulb and my hand hurts.”

                1. ThursdaysGeek*

                  I agree. Deal with the person abusing your generosity; don’t quit being generous with those who appreciate it.

                2. Heather*

                  Yes, I agree totally. I would be annoyed as hell if my PTO flexibility was taken away because someone else abused it and the manager made a blanket change rather than taking it up with that individual.

                3. ThursdaysGeek*

                  But, as Grumpy Boss explains below, if it’s unofficial generosity, there are repercussions if he starts treating people differently. I see his point.

                  It’s too late now, but that’s a person who should be talked to earlier, when they’ve taken more than normal but not TOO much more than normal. Point out that it’s unofficial, and if it’s abused, it will affect everyone, not just him. That may not help, not with some people, unfortunately.

              2. Ella*

                Ahh, I see. At my job we just have one block of PTO that can get used for whatever, it all comes out of the same bucket. So for me, the calculation of “do I go home today or do I go out of town next month” is exactly the calculation everyone makes. If I hurt myself on the job bad enough to go home, that’s a whole different set of paperwork.

              3. Mike C.*

                Why do you have to punish everyone else for the actions of one person. Just punish that one person. This feels like grade school.

                1. GrumpyBoss*

                  All due respect, Mike, it’s comments like these that make it obvious that you are not a manager. You aren’t looking big picture here.

                  As I stated, I’m bending rules here. Nobody is entitled to this generosity. This is something that I choose to do to make work more pleasant. It wouldn’t be a very pleasant work environment if a manager is hokding people to different standards.

                  Now let’s pretend that we saw a letter where someone was being forced to follow policy and nobody else was. People would be up in arms, probably with you leading the charge.

                  Let’s take it one step further. If the person is upset that all his peers are getting special treatment, and he isn’t, how do you think HR will respond to the idea that many people aren’t following protocol for PTO? Everyone would have to follow policy and the manager, who was just being nice, would probably get their hand slapped.

                  This does not “seem like high school”. This seems like a manager makes a choice to bend the rules, and due to abuse, cannot continue. Sorry.

              4. Alex*

                I really struggle with finding a balance in these kinds of situations – on one hand, it is nice to be able to be flexible, but on the other hand, if there is no definition around a flexible policy, then it is hard to call someone out for abusing it. In this situation, where you’re forced to go back to following the black and white policy, it has the potential for negative feelings from the rest of the group. If I’m on your team and used to your flexibility, it is a nice perk, but then it is taken and feels more like a take-back than a generosity to begin with. Sometimes having policies clearly defined is quite nice, even if it isn’t as generous as a flex policy. If the standard policy isn’t flexible enough or is too rigid, maybe that can be changed, rather than going by something undefined. Just wanted to bring that up in case it hadn’t been thought of. Full disclosure though, I am absolutely a black and white type person and thus I lean towards a defined policy.

        3. Rambling Rosie*

          I’m confused why you that employee was abusing the situation? He didn’t take time off, just asked to work from home while dealing with an injury. That seems emininely reasonable to me.

        4. Mrs. Badcrumble*

          The rib pain is costochondritis. When I had it, it went on for days and I finally went to the ER for chest pain. It’s not life-threatening, but man does it hurt like a mother.

        5. Carrington Barr*

          “…he abused this several time (for example, he asked to work from home when he had a pulled muscle…”

          What exactly is the problem with this?

          1. Zillah*

            Yeah, I really don’t see an issue there. If working from home is something that you want to happen rarely, then that needs to be made clear, because otherwise, IMO it’s pretty reasonable to ask to do so when you could go into work but don’t necessarily feel great.

        6. Joey*

          Absent a sick Policy it becomes a problem when theres a pattern of performance problems. In other words when you can’t count on their work getting done the way it needs to then it’s a problem. Everyone understands life stuff will happen, but those should be one offs.

          And if your employee is “abusing” it which I’m hoping is just code for you can’t accommodate anymore then a simple “I need you back in the office starting on x date. I understand that may not be ideal for you, but that’s what I need in this job” is what needs to be communicated. And fwiw abusing it is sounding sort of like you mistakenly agreeing to it. That’s okay if that’s the case, but let’s call it what it is.

        7. Purple Jello*

          I had separated/pulled a rib muscle and couldn’t sit for longer than 20 minutes without laying on my back on the floor. I would have preferred to work from home for about a week.

        8. Jen RO*

          OK, I wasn’t expecting any response to this and I was away for a few hours. I don’t want to derail the post, but a few explanations: my manager’s policy is that, until a new employee proves him/herself, WFH is a privilege, not a right. The company does not encourage WFH and yes, I have approved WFH days I shouldn’t have (I’m new to this managing thing…). This person accumulated about 2 weeks of WFH days in 6 months (including 2 weeks where he went to another city for exams and took partial PTO). All others on the team have 2-3 days of WFH in the same period. (This person also has some performance issues that I am trying to address, so that’s another extra reason not to let him WFH.)

          1. Z*

            Ok, maybe he has other issues, but the one you brought up was perfectly reasonable. I’m assuming you’ve never had costochondritis, it legit feels like you’re having a heart attack and when I went to the doctor they gave me the hardcore pain meds, so the fact that this guy even feels like working is amazing.

            1. Jen RO*

              Actually, I have had pain in my rib muscles (probably not to the level where it gets a name) and I was perfectly fine working and doing pretty much anything else. I just had to move slower (and not try to drive my piece of shit car with manual transmission – moving that stick hurt!). He was at work the previous day and only in pain when he made sudden movements. And, if it raised to the level of him not being able to move and feeling like he was having a heart attack, then how could he work from home?

              1. JB*

                I don’t know what was going on in the case of your employee, but there are times when I could work from home but not easily come in. The commute, plus getting up and down a lot at work would be too much. But working while lying down on my bed was doable. For me, sometimes it’s work from home or don’t work at all. For the work I do, it’s preferable for me to work at home than to get behind.

              2. Anna*

                Yes, but that’s you and you don’t know if he unintentionally exacerbated it OR if he was actually suffering more than he let on when he was in the office the day before and decided he needed to be someplace he could easily lay down or whatever. “Sick” doesn’t only mean coughing, puking, diarrhea, or sneezing.

        9. Cath in Canada*

          I’ve worked from home a few times when my bad shoulder’s been particularly painful, and sitting on a sofa with a laptop and lots of cushions is a lot less painful than cycling or taking the bus then sitting in an office chair.

          I’ve also hurt one of those intercostal muscles before, in an old lab-based job when working from home wasn’t an option, and it did indeed hurt like a bitch! I actually thought I was having a heart attack at first, and went running to a doctor because of severe chest pain and restricted breathing… oops…

      2. Natalie*

        I’m curious how you know that someone’s sick time is being illegitimately used. People don’t generally give all the gory details.

        If coverage is being handled badly, that’s on your manager.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          And some of us (like me, who is home sick today) have really, really crappy immune systems and get sick a lot. On an average year I will have one bout of flu, a couple bad colds, one or two stomach bugs, and maybe if I’m really lucky and infection of some kind. Seriously. I’ve been told it’s because of my hypothyroidism, but it’s no fun at all. I also work with a lot of people who have young children so a lot of cooties come in the workplace.

          1. Emily*

            I consider myself to have a robust immune system because illness rarely puts me down, but I probably catch 3-4 respiratory bugs a year. I take advantage of a flexible work-from-home policy primarily to avoid infecting others and/or to spare my coworkers from listening the sweet symphony of my hacking and wheezing and sniffling, but aside from the fact that my tissue consumption skyrockets for a few days, I never feel especially bad during those times so I get plenty of work done at home. If my workplace wasn’t as flexible I’d go into work but my coworkers would suffer from it more than I would.

            1. JB*

              I am sure you coworkers are very grateful. I have a lot of coworkers who come in when they are sick, which I hate. Some of them have to save a lot of sick time for when their kids are sick, so I don’t blame them. But the others–why must you come infect us all? I catch everything that comes around, so I’m not impressed with people who “tough it out” with contagious illnesses. Plus, as you said, some stuff I don’t want to hear. :)

          2. Zillah*

            Ditto. Plus occasional migraines. I hate my immune system. And unfortunately, there’s not much I can do about it that I’m not already doing.

            Personally, I love it when I have a job that allows me to work from home, because it means I don’t have to use sick time when I’m perfectly capable of working in my quiet comfortable apartment but not of doing my commute and sitting at my desk all day. You bet I take advantage of it – it makes me a far more productive worker and improves my quality of life immensely.

            1. C Average*

              Yep, this.

              My team has an insanely liberal work-from-home and PTO policy. If you feel crappy, you can stay home. It doesn’t matter why. You can have the flu, a kid with the flu, a poor night’s sleep, a hangover, a migraine, allergies . . . it’s up to you to determine whether you’re capable of being productive from home or whether you need a complete day off.

              Fortunately, all of us are grownups and wouldn’t use PTO frivolously. There’s definitely a culture here that if there’s an important project or a deadline or a must-attend meeting, you buck up and go if you possibly can. But if you can accomplish your work from home, or if the workload is such that a day off is possible, you take one. And if you’re really, truly sick, you stay home and get better and your colleagues step in and do what they can to keep your workload current while you’re out. (This isn’t 100% possible, of course, but we do all we can to keep the important stuff rolling when a key person is out sick.)

              It’s tough in places where the work is shift-based and you really do need a certain number of bodies on the premises during certain hours. Then it does become what the OP describes: sick people frantically calling around to find a replacement. I’ve been there, too, and it sucks. I don’t know what the solution is. Overstaff and send people home if it’s slow? Pay someone to be on-call on their days off?

              1. Windchime*

                I’ve never understood why it’s the responsibility of the person who is already sick to call around to find a replacement for their shift. Isn’t that part of what the manager should be doing? I understand trading shifts, or checking ahead of time to see if someone can cover your shift, but the last thing I’d want to be doing when I’m at home barfing with a migraine is calling around to see if I can find someone to cover my shift.

                1. C Average*

                  When I was doing this kind of work (Starbucks, in my case), on occasion it was the manager who’d call and say, “Can you cover Windchime’s shift? She’s got a migraine.” So I know that sometimes the manager did do the work of trying to find coverage.

                  On the other hand, I know that the couple of times I needed someone to cover my shift (once for a nasty cold, once for a badly sprained ankle), the manager made it clear it was up to me to find coverage for myself. (I’d called and explained my situation and asked if I could have the time off–unpaid, obviously.) So I then had to pull out my list of colleagues and call around until I found someone.

                  It’s not ideal, but I think what works best in this scenario is to hire a couple of people with open availability and treat them really, really well. I and one colleague both had open availability (no school, no second job) and our manager knew we wanted to get as close to 40 hours as possible. She also made it clear that if we had to cover a shift and that put us into overtime, that wouldn’t be a problem. She tried to give us hours that suited our preferences and she made sure to thank us when we covered for others and to make sure we knew we were appreciated. And if we asked for time off in advance, she almost always approved it. I’m sure between the two of us we covered hundreds of hours of other people’s shifts, always willingly. We did a lot to keep that store running smoothly.

                2. Revanche*

                  Agreed! I have always, as the manager, dealt with the replacement issue. If someone is legit sick, why on earth would you put that on them as well?

          3. Traveler*

            Child cooties can not be underestimated. I’ve worked in places that catered to children, and also places where like you mentioned the parents just picked up everything their kids got and brought it into work. It is a wonder to me how schools (and likewise teachers, parents, etc.) manage to operate. Its crazy how many colds, flus, and general ickies are always going around.

          4. A Cita*

            That’s interesting. I hadn’t heard that hypothryroidism will lower your immune system. I know it can wreck havoc on your cholesterol levels, in terms of health. I have had hypo for awhile now (diagnosed with medication). And I never get sick with things like colds and flu. I haven’t had a flu in, 10 years? At least? And I never get the flu shot. And live in NYC and ride the subway. I do wash my hands obsessively though. Anyway, was just really curious about this as it was the first I had heard it.

            1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

              This nicely illustrates the passive (and subtle) judgment that comes with these things. I am also hypo, and I get sick often. I’ve been told it comes with the territory. But I have noticed that those who challenge me are those with similar issues. For example, when I lost my gallbladder, I had a Nurse Ratchett who withheld my pain meds because she’d gone through it and it wasn’t bad for her, therefore she judged me to be lying about my pain levels.

              My point is that sick is sick, and it’s relative, and one person’s debilitating injury may be something another can suck up and deal with routinely. I can work through my migraines, but I don’t expect others to do the same.

                1. Pennalynn Lott*

                  Just to make the point that everyone is different: When I had my gallbladder out, I was surprised beyond belief how little it hurt once the anesthesia wore off. I declined the hard pain killers in favor of just Advil. I mean, yes, I was sore, but like a pulled muscle kind of sore not a “I’ve just had an organ sliced out of my body” sore.

                  HOWEVER, I would *never* pooh-pooh anyone else’s level of pain for a gallbladder-ectomy [<— totally non-medical term] or any other kind of pain. I've had my fair share of things that left me in such pain I could barely think straight [ACL repair, hip replacements] whereas other people I know have breezed right through them.

            2. fposte*

              I’m seeing some suggestion that it might be the case with untreated hypothyroidism, but I’m not finding evidence for that with people whose hypothyroidism is medically controlled. Might just be how deep I looked, though.

              1. A Cita*

                Yeah, I do a lot of research on chronic disease (though not on hypo), so I thought it was really interesting because of the cascading effects that often come with chronic illness. I hadn’t heard that about hypo, and hasn’t been my experience, so I wanted to hear more. There are so many issues associated with hypo specifically (raised cholesterol levels, weight gain, bloating, “moon face,” loss of hair, eczema, etc.).

                1. Heather*

                  This can veer into woo-woo land really easily, which is a place I avoid like the plague…but in my personal (thyroid-less) experience, I did find there to be some truth to the whole “adrenal fatigue” thing. When I was getting sick constantly (and to the point where a cold could put me in bed for days), I was looking for anything that might help, took the 4x/day cortisol test out and found my levels were on the floor, pretty much all day long. A couple of months of supplements brought it back up and I found that I wasn’t getting sick anywhere near as often or as severely.

                  It’s totally anecdotal, of course, but I don’t have any other possible explanation for the change. My free thyroid levels were almost below range that point and stayed that way for a good 2 years until I found a better doctor, so I don’t think the thyroid itself was behind it (although it was sure as hell behind the eight million other issues that have improved since I got switched to dessicated…).

                  I really wish mainstream doctors would be more open to looking at these kinds of things, because they’re driving people into the arms of quacks out of sheer desperation.

                  And none of this has anything to do with AAM, except that my mood at work today may be better for a) having gotten that rant out of my system and b) knowing there are so many other people who understand what being hypo is like. (How’s that for rationalizing?)

                2. A Cita*

                  I totally get the whole woo-woo thing…when it comes to hormonal systems and system-level cascading effects of chronic diseases, we understand so little. So you have to figure out what works for you, whatever that may be, and be extremely proactive. I learned I had to be my own advocate after receiving simultaneous diagnoses of an aggressive autoimmune disease (not related to hypo), hypo, and a brain tumor. Seeing doctors drag their feet while I suffered really changed the way I viewed quality of care and patient-centeredness.

                  Anyway, sorry to go off topic. My interest was piqued and I can go on forever on this stuff. Glad the rant improved your day! :)

            3. Katie the Fed*

              Symptoms can vary a lot from person to person. There are some symptoms I never got/get, like dry skin/hair, but others that are unusual like arms falling asleep when I’m asleep. I think it manifests differently for different people, but I’ve had a couple doctors tell me I need to be careful when overexerting myself because I have a harder time fighting things off.

              1. A Cita*

                I get the hair falling out like mad. It’s awful. Before I was getting treatment, I couldn’t exercise much because it made my chest hurt so much. Now that it’s controlled, that’s not an issue, thank goodness. But the hair falling still is.

              2. Not So NewReader*

                Eyebrows. Some people don’t grow very good eyebrows because of thyroid. I never pluck mine. One person told me it looks like my eyebrows are always plucked. Nope.

            4. Renee*

              I’m hypo post-ablation, and I have a crap immune system and get a lot of migraines. I do have auto-immune thyroid disease though, so the fact that I have a wacky immune system is part of the diagnosis. My experience is also that docs are not really that great at getting people truly euthyroid, perhaps because there are some trace elements lacking in synthetic hormone replacement. A doctor I saw briefly told me I was euthyroid but then had to check my cholesterol because that’s always an issue with hypo patients. So it looks like he didn’t believe that being euthyroid ruled out other hypo issues.

              1. fposte*

                It can get confusing, as you suggest, because a lot of different disease processes can underly the thyroid issue, and their effects aren’t limited simply to thyroid irregularity. If you got ablated, for instance, it’s quite likely you’re talking about Graves disease (that’s why mine’s ablated), and there’s a lot of stuff Graves can do to you whether you’re euthyroid or not–but it’s not because you’re getting your thyroid out of a bottle now, it’s because of the underlying disease.

                The synthetic/natural discussion, like the T3/T4 discussion (okay, argument), is one I’ll pass on here, because that can go on forever :-).

                1. Renee*

                  Yes, it is Graves, and my primaries pretty much denied that there could be ongoing issues once I was ablated (including the one that wanted to check for cholesterol issues despite being euthyroid). I finally have an endo that is monitoring the auto-immune issues (my antibodies level confirms active Graves and ablation was a decade ago now). I do deeply regret ablation, mostly because it’s difficult to find a doctor that is knowledgeable enough to manage it, and my “general state of well-being” (as my endo phrased it) has been marginal since. For the record, I think there’s something to the synthetic/natural argument, though I personally seem to do better on synthetic than on a porcine ratio, and T3 was hugely helpful to me for the past few years, but I seem to be converting well enough now as long as my T4 is high enough. The big argument I’ve been having lately has been whether TSH is really an adequate measure of euthyroid state. :) The summary is that I feel doctors need to be paying more attention to individual ranges and subjective symptoms than result ranges, and they need to be less dogmatic about care. Sorry for the derail. Not sure of the tolerance level for that here. :)

            5. Elizabeth West*

              I’m hypo too, and whilst I rarely get sick (and I DO get a flu shot every year because better safe than sorry, and it’s free), I have a finite amount of energy each day. If I use it up, that’s it. Sorry. Game over.

              The same disease can affect sufferers differently, so I would never presume that one person’s hypo equals another’s.

              1. A Cita*

                I had the same energy with my hypo. Then my doc tested me for b12, and now I get a monthly shot (pernicious anemia from many years of being a strict vegetarian) and it’s made a WORLD of difference. But I also find that hypo does effect energy, even when controlled, and my work requires tons of it, so I’ve had to make huge lifestyle changes that I wouldn’t wish on anyone to make sure I have enough.

                I comfort myself with jewelry. :)

          5. Anna*

            I used to get a lot sicker at my former place of employment than I do here (and I’m talking full on flu at least once a year when I hadn’t had it in 10 years, horrible colds). Since I’ve been at current job I’ve been very healthy, which I’m grateful for.

        2. Traveler*

          The biggest ways? Patterns of behavior – (i.e. frequent sickness on days you’re not prepared, or don’t like the task that needs to be accomplished). Being caught out at events during the work day (and I don’t mean running errands to the store later that day, I mean at 9 a.m. you claimed you were on your deathbed and at 9:30 a.m. you were seen clinking teacups with Ned Stark at expensive restaurant looking quite vivacious). Yes sometimes these things happen as a coincidence, or because someone did miraculous feel better but didn’t think it was worth the effort to go in at that point – but I don’t think its that difficult to spot people that abuse and take advantage of sick policies.

          Badly handled coverage is not always on the manager. Sometimes its corporate or owner policy (especially when it comes to situations where you’re in retail, restaurants, etc.).

          1. Natalie*

            You’re describing an entirely different issue than your original comment, which challenged specific conditions/circumstances people might call in for. If the issue is a pattern, address the pattern. Don’t get into a mindset where you’re trying to validate this condition over that condition.

            “Badly handled coverage is not always on the manager. Sometimes its corporate or owner policy (especially when it comes to situations where you’re in retail, restaurants, etc.).”

            OK, badly handled by management, then.

            1. Traveler*

              I’m a bit confused at your response here. Specifically why you think I have a mindset of validating this condition over that condition. I’ve said down thread and elsewhere – that I’m of the opinion that pretty much anything can be reason for a sick day. My issue was the severity of a person’s illness/their contagiousness vs. how crucial it is for them to be at work that day/how much their coworkers are depending on them. If you’re not that bad (i.e. casual rough night of sleep that we all experience) and it is a very important day for you to be there (i.e. your coworkers are depending on your contribution to the project deadline) that’s far more likely to be problematic and create resentment (especially when it becomes a pattern) than something that tips the scales in the opposite direction.

              My second comment was a more general response to your broader question about how you could tell if someone was using sick time illegitimately. No reasonable manager (or coworker) is going to feel resentment over the occasional sick day or a one off issue created by it. It’s going to have to be pattern or something blatant to become an issue that people notice.

              1. Natalie*

                Perhaps the threading made it unclear, but your original comment was “I’ve been put into crappy situations because someone thinks “I didn’t sleep well last night” and “my throat tickles” are acceptable reasons to skip work”. That’s what I was asking – how can you know that “I didn’t sleep well” isn’t an acceptable reason. You had not made any other comments on the topic at the time that I asked that question.

                1. Traveler*

                  Gotcha. I can see how my statements didn’t read as clearly as they should have – I meant those examples to be cases of very mild illness not specific conditions (as other people down thread mentioned, chronic insomnia or migraines and what have you are not mild illness). It would have been better to just say that flatly than give examples without context. I don’t think there’s anyway to tell across the board. I don’t know that there’s something you could apply that’s a perfect litmus test, it’s a case by case situation. Its more something from personal experience, knowing coworkers/employees for years, seeing patterns, having other coworkers/managers who’d come to the same conclusion, trying to consider any bias you might have, etc. I really try to be the type of person that gives people the benefit of the doubt, as I’m definitely on the side of believing people do not get enough sick days in this country in general. I just hate when people take advantage of it. IMO, it breeds these punish-across-the-board policies because there is no great litmus test.

                2. Jen RO*

                  I’m replying to you, but I am addressing everyone – can we please tone down the nitpicking? I’m starting to feel like every comment should come with a list of disclaimers and a 2-year long history of the issue in question.

                3. Natalie*

                  I picked no nits. I asked a question and was confused by the reply, since it seemed to be about a completely different issue. Based on the numerous other comments to that same post, I wasn’t the only person who misunderstood it, and I think Traveler cleared it up just fine.

        3. LCL*

          That’s the part of managing people that sucks, the sick leave abuse that you can’t stop. Sick days taken under the following circumstances certainly smell like abuse, but they get the leave anyway. And we cover for them. A few examples of phony sick leave follow:
          Season ticket holder calls in sick the day after a big game.
          Employee who had an argument with a coworker calls in sick the next day.
          Employee was on vacation, calls in sick the first day they are supposed to return to work.
          Employee who had a vacation request denied calls in sick for the day that was denied.
          Employee has some family drama going on and thinks they can’t work because of it.
          Employee who is scheduled to talk with the manager about work issues calls in sick that day.
          Employee who is close to retirement calls in sick once a week, until their sick leave balance is close to zero. We don’t cash out at 100% for sick leave, can you see the incentive here?

          None of these is at all related to the original poster, who is working a part time job and is facing the too prevalent shoddy treatment and tyrannical management common to these types of jobs.

          1. fposte*

            Right, and in most of those cases, it’s likely that inappropriate sick leave isn’t their only professional flaw.

            1. Traveler*

              These are the kinds of things I was thinking of , and fposte you nailed it when you say its not their only professional flaw. They use sick leave as a weapon to held defend or compound other bad behavior, rather than as it was truly intended.

          2. bkanon*

            My personal favorite was the one who called in ‘sick’ the day after a big night at the bar heavily frequented by employees of my store. Sick and unable to work is sick; hungover and not wanting to work is not sick. Somehow she was miraculously better and able to come in for her shift when I reminded her I’d been at the bar too and I’d *driven her home*.

          3. Revanche*

            I almost had to laugh at this list because this is the list that our HR manager slyly suggested was his “smart” way of abusing sick leave without coming under suspicion. I guess he thought that since I just smiled at him that I approved of his behavior and would be using it too.
            And just like fposte says, the inappropriate use of sick leave was just a symptom of the fact that he was the crappiest HR manager I’ve ever had the misfortune of meeting.

          4. Pennalynn Lott*

            I actually get sick Every. Single. Time. I go on vacation. I used to call in sick for the first day or two after I was scheduled to be back. Then a manager got unbelievably angry at me for it, and I realized the smart thing for me to do was to just tack on an extra two days of vacation to every vacation request. (So if I was spending a 4-day weekend in Mexico, I’d ask off for the following Tues & Wed, too). Problem solved.

            (Now if I could just figure out how not to get sick on vacation. . .)

      3. Helka*

        To be fair, “I didn’t sleep well” can be a reason to give work a miss — says the person with chronic insomnia. I’m pretty sure none of our clients want me managing thousands of $$s of their money on a night I’ve only had two broken hours’ sleep!

        1. Museum Educator*

          I have chronic insomnia too and I feel like I can’t call in sick because I didn’t sleep well…because I never sleep well. I’m not really disagreeing with you but I’m curious how you manage that overall? I sleep 4-6 hour tonight on average. If I called in sick every time I didn’t sleep well, I’d never go in.

          1. Nashira*

            I have found a huge difference in how I feel after two hours of interrupted sleep, versus my normal sixish hours of sleep. I can function on the latter, so long as I eat well, take a brief nap on lunch, and get some exercise. After two hours or less, I probably have a migraine and I’m so dizzy I can barely stand.

            I guess it’s “I didn’t sleep well” vs “I got so little sleep that I’m physically ill.”

            1. Anx*

              Sadly, I think I would be less likely to call out sick for sleep deprivation if I were to be paid because I’d feel too guilty, because I still associate sleep issues with morals (sleep hygeine is highly moralized in my opinion).

              That sad, I might call out if I had that zombie, nauseated feeling where you feel a little hollow and out of your body.

          2. Helka*

            The litmus test I use for whether I call out or not is not necessarily how much I’ve slept, but how confident I feel that I can do my job competently. If I’m going to go in and be tired and slow but accurate, I go in. If I’m going to go in and spend 8 hours screwing up with other people’s money, I stay home. I’ve actually wound up calling out only infrequently due to insomnia-related issues. It also helps that I’ve finally managed to get it pretty well controlled between medication, very careful bedtime routines, and general sleep hygiene. It’s not gone, but as long as I’m careful, it has a minimal impact on my life.

          3. Case of the Mondays*

            I drive to work so my test is whether I can drive safely. Two hours of sleep, probably not. I don’t have insomnia though so these are rare circumstances. I wouldn’t call in sick but I would go in late. I have also done that when I had to take a medication (muscle relaxer, cough medicine what have you) that left me still impaired/groggy in the morning.

            1. JB*

              Me, too. It’s not frequent for me, but once or twice a year I’ll have a month where I just can’t sleep well at least once a week. If I feel like I’m awake enough to drive safely, I’ll go, but otherwise, I’ll call in or work from home.

            2. Not So NewReader*

              Scripts and driving. We have billboards here warning about driving problems because of scripts.

        2. Hous*

          I had a problem a few years back where a cat was walking by my windows at night and causing utter chaos with the two cats I had in my apartment. I called out sick the time it happened on a work day because being woken up at three in the morning by two hissing, yowling cats whom you then have to spend an hour separating from both the window and each other (because instead of allying against the foreign cat, they just decided all cats were enemies, good work, guys) is just a recipe for complete and utter uselessness the next day. At the same time, there are also days where I sleep poorly and still go to work, even if I’m sad about it. I think the best solution is to trust your employees to decide when “I didn’t sleep well” is something that is going to prevent them from doing their jobs, because they’re really the only ones who know how they’re going to function.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            “I think the best solution is to trust your employees to decide when “I didn’t sleep well” is something that is going to prevent them from doing their jobs, because they’re really the only ones who know how they’re going to function.”

            Exactly. And if you’re a good employee who otherwise does good work, I’m not going to look askance at that. Heck, one of my best employees last week called in one morning and said “I just need a day off – I’m feeling burnt out and need a break.” Sure thing! Have at it, rockstar employee.

            Now, if you’re otherwise causing me grief, being consistently unreliable, doing shoddy work, etc, then I’m not going to be as sympathetic. If you’re on your boss’s radar for the wrong reasons, you’re going to have much less leeway for these things.

            1. Camster*

              +1. I average only 5 hours of sleep a night anyway so I’m used to that. Once in a while (maybe once in a six month period), I will have two nights in a row where I only get maybe 2 hours of sleep and I know that I will not be able to do my job effectively. One of my bosses told me years ago that if I felt sick enough (for whatever reason) that I would be more of a liability to my bosses and coworkers then I should just stay home (that was about 16 years ago and, yes, we are still working together in the same job/department!).

          2. Traveler*

            I don’t think any reasonable manager or coworker is going to get bitter over a one (or even a few times) that this happens. I think, like in the instance you described it can be a legitimate one (most things can in my opinion – I picked “not sleeping well” because its something we all experience from time to time and know how painful it is to get through a work day like that, but have often had to).

            And for the most part, I think you do need to trust your employees to decide. But when Jane always has a “bad night of sleep” on days when her presence at work is crucial, and its also generally known she wasn’t prepared or didn’t want to be there, and that happens with regularity? I start looking askance at the “I didn’t sleep well” excuse. It starts sounding a whole lot like an excuse you are using that precludes you from showing up at work, but also precludes you from being asked to go to the dr. and get a sick note to back up your claims of repeated coincidences.

            1. Artemesia*

              There are employees who are delicate flowers who think any slight discomfort merits a day of sick leave especially during busy times at the office and then those who show up and get the job done unless they are truly ill i.e. a fever and in bed sick. I can see where the ‘my hangnail hurts’ crowd louses things up for everyone else.

              If I had a lot of whiny people who felt they should be home on the fainting couch unless they felt great, I’d probably have a strict policy on sick leave as well. There are a few jobs where people actually can be productive working from home — and it is measurable. But most jobs are not like that.

              1. Zillah*

                I actually disagree that there are only a few jobs – I think that there are a lot of jobs for which you can be productive when working from home at least occasionally. Certainly not all, but I don’t think they’re as few and far between as you seem to be implying.

                1. Zillah*

                  Also – while I’m not sure you’re quite dictating what is or isn’t a “good” reason to stay home, Artemesia, it sounds enough like it that it’s bothering me.

                  Some people do go into work unless they’re essentially on their deathbeds. That’s good for them, and they get to make that call. However, I think it’s incredibly unfair to hold everyone to that standard, both because “sick” doesn’t look the same for everyone and because people should not be penalized for not being martyrs. Just because some people go to work with migraines doesn’t mean that I have a bad work ethic if I don’t.

                2. Heather*

                  Re: your second comment – yes! It irritates the hell out of me when people use their own experience to decide what is and isn’t enough of a reason to call out sick. When I have a bad cold my brain basically shuts down and I’m totally useless. If someone else doesn’t get like that with a cold, congratulations to them, but don’t imply that I’m malingering because my body reacts differently.

            2. Pennalynn Lott*

              Not to totally derail this conversation, but I think “Go to the doctor and get a sick note to back up your claims” is a horrible management practice. (A) Most upper-respiratory and gastrointestinal issues are best handled by rest and home care. (B) Dragging your butt to the doctor’s office — assuming you can even get an appt on that short of notice — is not conducive to healing. (C) Dragging your butt to the doctor’s office exposes dozens of people to your germs, thus spreading the misery. (D) Every single doctor I’ve ever had has given me a pre-signed form and told me to write the date in myself, just so I wouldn’t have to drag my butt to his/her office when home care was the best way to go.

          3. Government Worker*

            I’m pretty sure most people have a work history that includes at least one supervisor who is completely awful about letting people call in sick (in my case, I had a supervisor who had worked for the agency for 15 years and had never called in sick herself), and also at least one position where a coworker called in sick too often, causing other employees to cover their schedule. This is why good employees are too scared to call in sick.

          4. LCL*

            Dogs will do that too. Dogs in a fenced yard, strange dog walks outside the fence, dogs inside the fence will squabble with each other. It’s called displaced aggression.

          5. Liz*

            My cat does that! He’s not well socialised, and any time he sees a passing stray, he freaks out and attacks someone. Often me. We have him on feline Prozac and keep him away from windows at night, but twice I’ve had to call in sick because of cat bites. (One particular incident left me with my large, heavy cat hanging off my wrist by his teeth and claws. The doctors in the ER hardly laughed at me at all, even when they realised that, in addition to the superficial injuries and probable infection, the cat’s weight had sprained my wrist.)

        3. HR Manager*

          I remember getting stuck on a return flight home from Seattle to the east coast. I didn’t get home until 3:30am in the morning (about 8 hours later than planned)! I should have called in sick and my manager would have understood, but I couldn’t fall sleep at that point and I stupidly went into work. I was about to pass out at 11am in the office. Lesson learned.

        4. Revanche*

          Yeah. I rarely call out because of my insomnia but it DOES cause my other chronic conditions to flare so it really comes down to: I slept 2 hrs last night, how do I feel? If I truly feel like a zombie full of pain then I won’t come in but I will WFH.

          I got three hours of sleep last night but I’m up and working today. Then again, there are days when on 5 hours of sleep, I’m a complete wreck. I just have to use my best judgment but I don’t necessarily point to the “couldn’t sleep” thing because that (for me!) is just one component of the whole “can I perform as needed today?”

    2. UKAnon*

      “Related, I’m always wondering why my staff fight me when they tell me they’re sick, can’t think straight, are dizzy, etc., but don’t want to just stop working when I tell them to rest up and come back when they’re better.”

      Do you have paid sick time? If time off sick is unpaid or costs PTO then I would be inclined to think that’s the reason why they fight back. It can be awful if you are genuinely quite ill but also can’t afford to lose the pay and have to go to work, but it’s not an unknown rock/hard place.

      1. Beezus*

        Other questions – are you staffed appropriately so work can usually be covered even if a person needs to be out, and do you have the proper documentation of procedures and cross-training in place to make that possible? I was a lot more resistant to staying home sick when I didn’t have those two things. I have them now and wouldn’t hesitate to stay home if I truly felt ill.

        1. en pointe*

          Good point. The other thing I would say is that, particularly amongst less experienced employees, I think the assumption is sometimes made that sucking it up ‘for the sake of the company’ is actually the ‘right’ thing to do. That they’re making a sacrifice and demonstrating work ethic/dedication to their job; that they’re being a trooper.

          I mean, for school kids, high attendance is often celebrated e.g. perfect attendance awards. At my uni, it’s even mandated; miss any more than two classes for a course and you automatically fail, regardless of how deathly ill you are. So I think for some inexperienced people (particularly those straight from school), sucking it up when sick is a norm they have to unlearn as being the right thing to do. Professional norms take a little more for some people to get used to than others.

          1. Heather*

            miss any more than two classes for a course and you automatically fail, regardless of how deathly ill you are

            OMG. I’m so glad I didn’t go to your school. That’s insane!

            1. en pointe*

              I’m in Australia. It’s actually a pretty common policy at our schools, I believe. The reasoning they give behind it is that if you miss more than two classes (we have experiential ones as well as information dump ones) then, upon graduation, you won’t hold all of the knowledge that the degree implies you hold. So miss more than two and you have to take the whole course over.

              1. en pointe*

                To be clear, I mean you have to redo if you miss two classes for any one course. You take lots and lots of courses (four per semester) to earn a degree. (Sorry. Just not sure how the terminology translates internationally.)

      2. en pointe*

        Yeah, I don’t know whether Revanche’s company has paid sick time or not, but in companies that don’t, I think that’s usually the reason; rent doesn’t pay itself.

        My office is really strict on illness; show the vaguest signs of a head cold, for example, and you’re sent home immediately. But our lowest level employees (myself included) are casual, which means no benefits, and I certainly have coworkers who are resentful about this and would love to stay if they could. I’m personally okay with it because people’s health comes first, but during uni semesters, I only work part time and unplanned days off do make things really hard.

        1. Revanche*

          Beezus: If we didn’t have other coverage, I cover for them. I’m the one who trains them, normally, so I know what needs to be done or I can get it taken care of. As a chronic illness person I TOTALLY understand not wanting to come back to an avalanche and do everything I can to mitigate that.

          en pointe: Yep, I do see the “sucking it up” thing as a reason, and I make it a point to address the fact that while attendance overall is important, their health is not best served by suffering (and frequently making mistakes in their misery). I definitely allow WFH if they’re actually up to doing the work but not coming in, but by and large, they do have the days/time covered with sick pay and I have some discretion as to how to charge it if at all.

      3. Revanche*

        99% of the time, yes. There is the occasional person who doesn’t have it due to the circumstances of their employment but they uniformly fight me on it. I will even (if I can), for those who don’t have it, bend the rules and have them not report the time off if necessary to encourage them to stay home and get better.

    3. BRR*

      I also can’t stand when bosses do this. It’s pretty likely the OP doesn’t have sick time being a part-time student worker. What is the boss going to do when the OP comes in and gets others sick and instead of 1 sick worker you have a couple?

      For you, same question as UKAnon, do you have paid sick time?

      1. Joey*

        What does sick time have to do with anything. Giving a part timer Sick time when they don’t want to come in regardless of pay doesn’t solve the problem.

        1. fposte*

          It doesn’t solve a slackerdom problem, but it can help solve the problem of people coming to work when they’re sick enough that they shouldn’t. And honestly, I think it really does help in the overall way illness is thought about–that it’s something everybody has sometimes, and that normal occasional illness doesn’t keep you from paying your rent.

    4. Museum Educator*

      Someone commented in the open thread just the other day about a co-worker that comes in sick. The question was why do people think this is ok? This is a great example of why.

      1. Jennifer*

        It depends entirely on your office climate. It may be ok at an office job (though at my job, when enough people are out sick, everything goes to hell), but from what I’ve heard it’s NEVER okay at retail, which is what I strongly suspect the OP is working at.

    5. AndersonDarling*

      I hate these policies. My husband broke a rib a few years ago and his policy was to find a replacement to cover his shift. He called everyone and no one would cover for him, it was icy nasty weather and no one wanted to go out. I drove him to work in severe pain and he could not move after the shift.
      He was supposed to work 9am the next day and he begged people to cover his shift. Finally the manager stepped in and made someone else come in.
      My hubby had covered so many other shifts for his co-workers that he really felt betrayed when no one returned the favor. It broke the relationships he had at work, and he still talks about how upsetting it was.
      If you want to have wars in the workplace, then this is the kind of policy that will start them.

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        Ugh. I used to work at a school where the policy was that you had to find your own sub if you were sick (by calling people on an approved list). It was a TERRIBLE policy – I remember having strep and calling person after person, croaking out my question, only to be told repeatedly, “I’m already subbing for so-and-so at your school tomorrow, sorry!”

        At my current school, we have the much more sane policy of a secretary or administrator calling subs, which means they don’t waste time calling people who are already subbing in the same building.

        1. Anx*

          I hated this when I worked at a restaurant. I didn’t drive, which made me even less likely to go party after shifts (I got rides or took the train/walked) and didn’t know anyone’s cell phone numbers because I was friendly at work but not friends with anyone.

          So I’d have to take a bus when I was sick to get a phone number list to call people if I wanted to call out. So I just would go to work. It wasn’t worth getting fired over.

      2. Mephyle*

        How awful! And the comments about displaced aggression among dogs or among cats could apply to a situation like this too. No doubt we humans do this as well sometimes.

  2. arkangel*

    About #4 – I’m wondering what kind of workplace the OP is in. When I was in retail, I worked in a store that also had the policy of having to call someone else to take your place if you needed to call out. This was because there was rarely more than two people on at any given time, so having someone call out was a big problem. We were told that’s what the policy was up front, and the reason for it. Every so often there was a situation where someone couldn’t make it in and couldn’t get a replacement and that was okay every now and then, but not as an ongoing thing.

    1. Nina*

      I wondered that as well. A similar situation happened to me when I was a waitress, only the person who was supposed to be on call to cover anyone was out of town at a wedding. There was a pretty large staff, but finding anyone to cover shifts was always a problem. Possibly due to the high turnover.

      1. Andrew*

        I can kind of sympathize with the boss on this one. If you have to have a minimum number of people running the operations and are short-staffed, having someone call out sick can be a problem. Even worse when you have to make sure no one is going into overtime. As a manager, I’ve had to go to work when I was sick because I couldn’t find anyone to cover my shift. I didn’t want to, but I basically just had no option.

        1. Nina*

          But when there are people designated to cover shifts in case someone can’t show up, then shouldn’t they do it? I covered for people who couldn’t show up for whatever reason.

        2. MK*

          Here is the thing: if you have to have a minimum number of people working, then you need to have a back-up on call, one employee who (perhaps for a small fee) will be available, in case of someone getting sick or otherwise incapacitated.

          1. Andrew*

            I work for the government. Having an extra person on call just in case isn’t really an option for me.

          2. Elysian*

            I’ve never worked at a place where this was done, and I feel like it would really upset employees. Why should I sit around on my day off waiting to see if I get called in? If the job is part-time (or even if its full-time, frankly) I might have another job – I don’t want to lose shifts there just because I “might” get called in. If its not, I want to spend my time personal time on personal things – visiting family, running errands, whatever. A small fee isn’t going to make those kinds of restrictions on my time any better. Have you known a place where this type of policy has worked?

            1. Alter_ego*

              I worked a retail job where you would have on-call shifts. Either you’d have to call in an hour before your shift started to see if they needed you (and the answer was frequently “no”) or you’d work say, 10-2, with an on-call shift from 3-7, and they’d tell you at two whether you were taking a lunch break, or going home.

              1. Aunt Vixen*

                I worked at an ice cream place in high school where every week I would get some hours and some “on call” hours. It was exactly as has been suggested: I wasn’t supposed to schedule anything else for that on-call time in case someone called off (or the place got massively slammed) and I needed to come in. This was before cell phones, so it basically meant not leaving the house. I don’t think I was ever once called in on an on-call shift. That was not the only completely ridiculous thing about that job.

            2. Apollo Warbucks*

              This isn’t quite the same thing but the team I work in operates and on call router

              For some jobs being on call isn’t necessary or appropriate but its not uncommon, it really depends on the industry and nature of the job. The team I work in is available 24-7 so we take it in turns to have the on call mobile and it doesn’t really restrict what I can do in my free time, the only thing I’ve really noticed is over the weekend when I go to a bar with friends I cant have a beer or two, I can still go out and do things just as long as I’m not more that an hour from home or if something comes that means I want to go away or a friend from out of town calls at short notice one of my co-workers has always swapped with me, and I do the same for them.

              There is basic payment for being on call and then additional payments for being called and actually having to work. it’s the first job I’ve had to do it and I really don’t find it as bad as I expected.

              1. Elysian*

                You’re absolutely right, it depends on the nature of the job. Lots of jobs do on-call rotations (my husband’s among them) and you can do the on-call work from home, or it doesn’t really hinder you, or its important due to 24/7 coverage, etc. I was imprecise, I guess. I think that for the kinds of jobs that don’t give usually give sick time (retail, food service, student jobs, etc) that an on-call schedule wouldn’t really make sense or work out well for the employees. Or at least that I would be upset if something like that were asked of me.

                1. fposte*

                  I could actually see it working out great, presuming it’s paid (“Dude, I get paid every Sunday and all I do is surf the net”); I just don’t see many businesses at that level having the margin to constantly pay employees to be available for work but not actually work.

                2. Natalie*

                  You could offer some other perk – preferred scheduling, holidays off (that’s HUGE in retail), something like that.

            3. MK*

              This wouldn’t actually be your day off; just a different sort of work duty. Nor would you have to sit around waiting, just not leave town. And while you personally might not like it, I am sure there would be a lot of people who would be glad of the extra work and pay.

            4. manomanon*

              I was a lifeguard in high school/college summers and this was exactly their policy for my last 3 years there. It was nuts- in that case it was less about sick time and more about the board not wanting to pay 3 lifeguards when the lake wasn’t enormously busy but it was a huge problem. It meant that we were all scheduled for 40 hours a week and on top of that we couldn’t go more than 15 minutes away on our “on call days”. As a staff we honored it for about a week before we just called in the on call person every day every shift. Since they refused to pay overtime (another long long battle) the policy changed to we were only allowed to call the person in if there were 50+ people at the beach.
              3 summers of that was a disaster-I ended up leaving because of their lunatic policies.

      2. Cherry Scary*

        We had a similar policy where I lifeguarded. My boss was pretty flexible in that if you were sick and had to call off within a few hours of your shift, she and the supervisors would start calling people to come in. Most times we would be shorthanded though. If you made an effort to find a replacement (provide a list of names, etc) she would do her best to help.

        I haven’t worked there in almost 6 months, and I still get texts asking me to come in to work.

    2. Stars and Violets*

      I find this ‘get someone to cover you’ when you’re ill, bizarre. Reasonable enough if you want a day off for something and the boss tells you to do that but when you’re ill? What if you’re really, really ill? What if you were in a coma? What would the boss do then? Just bizarre.
      Or what if you ‘found’ someone, someone who didn’t even work there and had no experience, to cover your shift? Okay, I’m kidding.

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        Yeah I’ve never been asked to find a replacement when I’ve been out sick. Swapping a shift is a different matter and I dont see anything wrong with being told to sort that out yourself. But I think it’s the managers responsibility to staff their shifts and sort out sickenes absence

      2. The Earl Marshal*

        “Or what if you ‘found’ someone, someone who didn’t even work there and had no experience, to cover your shift?”
        For some reason I laughed hysterically at this!

        1. Elkay*

          It’s brilliant, imagine phoning in sick and saying “Oh it’s fine though, Nancy who lives next door says her grandson Wakeen would be happy to take my shift”

    3. BRR*

      I worked at a video rental store when usually only two employees would be there. You had to find your own replacement and it was awful because you usually had to go in to get everyone’s number. And people don’t usually answer a call from their work’s number on their day off or from their coworker’s number.

    4. Elysian*

      I agree, I’m more sympathetic to the boss than AAM seems to be. Maybe its just because I’ve worked a TON of jobs like this; lots of jobs operate this way. If I had used AAM’s script more than once, I almost certainly would have been fired. I could probably have gotten away with it once. There was no sick time or vacation time, paid or unpaid. If you were sick you needed to at least make an effort to find someone to cover for you (if I couldn’t get anyone I would make a few calls, and tell the manager who I tried and who I did/didn’t reach). My managers were usually pretty accommodating if they knew you tried to get someone to cover, and our staff was large enough that finding coverage wasn’t impossible and we could even be a “man down” without it being the end of the world, luckily. But sometimes, like if someone else had already called in sick, you just had to come in.

      It would be great if everyone had paid sick time as part of their job, but that just isn’t that reality in a ton of places, and if you call in sick too often you risk your job. I think its common enough that it isn’t as “unreasonable” as AAM suggests. If the business requires X number of staff and employees don’t get sick time, you’ve either got to find coverage or go in sick. It sucks, but there’s a big difference to the workplace if they go from 2 staff members to 1 because someone was sick.

      1. Marcia*

        But humans are not machines, and health of a person should be more important than health of a business (though honestly, if a business can’t stay healthy because it allows people sick days, it was never really a healthy business). How come the fact that “it sucks” is acceptable for the sick person, but not the company? It’s common enough to think this way in the United States, but it’s certainly not the case all over the world, so “it’s common” is no justification. It’s a shameful attitude, frankly.

        1. fposte*

          But we’re generally pretty clear around here in differentiating how things should be from how things are. I think Elysian’s right about the way this works at a lot of jobs, and I don’t think it’s just shift work–it just hits hardest there because of the rarity of PTO. The sausage still has to get made, basically.

      2. MK*

        To begin with, the bussiness risks a lot by having people come in sick, like having half your workforce ill, reduced productivity, possible mistakes, etc.

        But I think you are confusing two different things: no sick time means that, if you call in sick, you don’t get paid for that day, which is how the system works in the U.S., fine. But making it the sick employee’s job to find a replacement is crazy. The manager is in a much better position to do this; if they create a list of employees who want to make extra money (and possibly other qualified people who the bussiness cannot afford to hire or who can’t work full time, but who would want occasional work), anytime there is an emrgency, they could work through the list and cover the shift in a very short time.

        1. Elysian*

          I don’t disagree that your suggestion is probably better, and I know that businesses risk a lot by having sick employees come in. What I’m saying is that the policy of having sick employees try to find coverage is common enough that if the OP bucks too hard against it, she risks losing her job. That’s something the OP should seriously consider, if she needs this job badly. It’s sucky, and that’s why paid sick time should be the law. But the fact is that it isn’t the law in most places. OP wasn’t asking “What is the best system when my employees need to call out sick?” She was asking “What are my options?” Based on my experience, I would be wary of using AAM’s suggested language more than once. Her options, sucky as they may be, are probably limited at least in part by the fact that this is a really common system for dealing with employee illness in certain industries.

          1. Persephone Mulberry*

            This. My husband also works in retail, and yes – the policy is that if you need to call in sick, you are expected to attempt to find coverage. Hell, ideally you’d have called around before you call your manager, so that you can report “Joe is covering for me” or “I tried Bob, Sue and Joe and none of them are available.” Doing that is going to put your boss in a much better mood about having to deal with your absence than if you just call in with a “your problem, not mine” attitude.

          2. Anx*

            I agree with this.

            Perhaps the OP won’t be fired on the spot, but this is common practice enough that challenging it could lead to get crappy shifts or progressively fewer.

            Admittedly I thought AAM’s response to this was pretty naive.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Thanks for the reality check. My first-hand knowledge of these types of environments dates back to my adolescence, and I’m apparently out of touch with them!

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I think that part of the reason the manager does not call around for people is because the manager is not at work. One place I worked at was open 18 hours per day. The manager only worked 45 hours per week. (Store was open 126 hours per week.) So the manager was not available to find coverage more often than not.

          However, the “it sucks to be you attitude” should bring some consequences. Usually that attitude is acceptable.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        I agree with you- taking that stance will get a person fired from some retail/food service jobs.
        Workers are a dime a dozen. It’s not a big deal to fire someone for failing to say “good morning” or any other stupid reason.

        Personally, I am hoping that Alison sends out a ripple that changes the world. Because treating people like this is a lot of crap.

    5. Natalie*

      I’m not a fan of those policies. They push the responsibility of coverage from the manager, where it belongs, onto employees. A random cashier has no authority over their co-workers, for one. And I suspect that it works to discourage people from calling in, no matter how sick they are, because they feel bad about asking their a co-worker to come in on their day off.

      1. Helka*

        Plus, unless management circulates contact information (which none of the retail/food services places I ever worked did) how many people does an employee realistically have info for? Management has contact info at the store.

      2. fposte*

        Though that makes me ask–at what job-level point do you think the responsibility should shift to the employee? Is the break exempt vs. nonexempt? (I could certainly see that as a starting point, anyway.) I can’t imagine it being a manager’s problem to assign my duties if I’m sick; I’m not even sure who that manager would be. Sure, if I’m in a coma somebody’d figure something out, but honestly that’s likelier to be my staff anyway. If I’m not in a coma, it’s on me.

        1. Natalie*

          At that level, does it really matter? Those aren’t jobs that depend on having a physical body in the chair/cashier stand/crane operator hut (whatever that’s called). I think in most offices anyone could be out for a day or two without having to a get a co-worker to cover their shift, other than the receptionist. (Getting a co-worker to cover doesn’t even make sense outside of shift work, as all of your co-workers are probably in the office at the same time you are.)

          I’m having a hard time envisioning a job where both a) physical coverage is critical, and b) employees are empowered enough as professionals that having them arrange their own coverage doesn’t feel like abdicating management responsibility to me.

            1. fposte*

              And I blame my drugs for going first to that and not to librarians. Additionally, a lot of jobs have situational requirements of that sort if not default requirements.

              I’m really not putting this forth in an argumentative fashion–I just thought it was interesting that at some point on the continuum it seems a lot more reasonable that employees handle their own coverage, and I was trying to decide what that point was.

              1. Natalie*

                College teaching is an interesting example, although from what I recall we just didn’t have class if an instructor was ill or unable to make it in. That’s generally probably fine for one or two days. I’m not sure what would happen if a professor was ill for a long time – it never came up when I was in school.

                That said, I still think there’s a substantive difference in management philosophies in these fields, compared to service work, that makes it a different situation. Frequently it seems like retail/restaurant/call center managers treat their employees like bad parents treat their children – people that can’t be trusted not to lie or slack if you give them even the tiniest bit of leeway. So you feel you have to require them to get your own coverage to prevent them from taking advantage of you as a manager.

                1. fposte*

                  Yeah, I’m definitely not arguing about it sucking at that end. As usual, the people with the least flexibility are the ones who need it most.

                2. Judy*

                  What I remember, the TA would take the class if the professor couldn’t make it, either for illness or for presenting at conferences, etc. Of course this was in a large public university, in the college of engineering. Each course had TAs assigned to them.

                3. fposte*

                  Even in the TA system, though, it’s the prof’s job to arrange with the TA, not the department chair’s or the dean’s.

                4. Diet Coke Addict*

                  When I was in university a prof had a sudden illness and was out for, I think, three or four weeks. Our classes were taken over by a different prof in the department–I’m sure they worked it out between themselves somehow–but it was legitimately difficult, since the interim prof was teaching us from her perspective and a slightly different bent on the material. There were some issues when our original prof returned and we had to figure exactly what would and wouldn’t be expected to be on the final, but ultimately it did work out–just not very neatly or conveniently for anyone involved.

                5. Natalie*

                  @ Diet Coke Addict – oof, that could be a scheduling nightmare, too. You’ve got students who’ve built their other class schedules and work around a specific class time, and a professor who has probably done the same.

                  The college I went to was small enough that there wouldn’t have been other professors available to cover. Most of our departments were one or two professors. I guess we probably would have been given incompletes or something until the professor was able to teach again.

                6. Mallory Janis Ian*

                  We had a pro who had a stroke mid-semester in the fall, and my department head recruited another prof to teach on overload for the rest of the term. No TA system for that sort of absence, as it is a 5-year professional program and the students are all undergrads (no grad program yet)

        2. Revanche*

          fposte: Interesting question! While I’m horrified at the idea of MAKING my staff having to call around for coverage, I do ask which projects of theirs needs covering and I take it from there. OTOH when I call out, I make the decisions about what needs covering, what can wait, and who should step in for me as needed for various things. That was always chalked up to my control freak nature but I am very autonomous and so I would know best how to make those decisions. I suppose I break it down as such: if you run your own schedule, then probably you are the best person to figure out coverage because you’ll have a decent idea of the big picture (availability, etc). If someone else sets your schedule, then probably the manager should do it since I’d expect that person to know who could do some OT and approve it, or who could pick up the slack without incurring OT, etc.

      3. Elsajeni*

        Yes, exactly! I mean, even leaving aside the emotional side of whether I feel bad about bothering my coworkers or whether they’re more likely to say yes when it’s a manager asking, it just makes more sense for the manager to be the one to arrange coverage. The manager has everyone’s phone numbers (I don’t, and I don’t especially want all of them to have mine, thanks). She has better knowledge than me about who’s available (for instance, she’d know not to call the people who are already on the schedule for today, or the girl whose class schedule prevents her from ever coming in before 2:00; I wouldn’t). She may have better knowledge than me about which tasks I was expected to cover today (depending on how detailed our printed schedule is), and she certainly knows better about who else is able to cover those specific tasks (Jane isn’t trained on the fabric counter, Kathy can’t unload freight because of a back injury, etc.). I understand that it’s still a pain for her to deal with, especially on short notice… but it’s an even bigger pain for me to do it, and likely to take a lot more time and unnecessarily bother a lot more people.

    6. Emily*

      I always hated this policy because I found that coworkers who would say yes to coming in when a manager called them never said yes when it was a coworker asking.

      1. Andrew*

        This makes more sense. I agree that the sick person shouldn’t have to worry about finding a replacement. I’m usually the one that calls people to find replacements. Except when I’m the one who’s sick, I don’t really feel like doing it. So I can understand the employee being frustrated with a policy where he has to find a replacement for himself. I wish my boss had done that for me(although to be fair, she was also sick on the day I wanted to call out sick).

      2. Andrew*

        I should add that I’m definitely going to suggest changing our scheduling strategy so that there’s at least one extra person working at all times whenever possible. It wouldn’t really help right now, since it’s the holiday season and we’ve got some positions that are vacant, but it would be helpful most of the time. I really don’t want people to feel like they have to come in when they’re sick. And what MK said above about the business risks is a really good point.

        1. Colette*

          Having an extra person on every shift seems like an overreaction (and if I owned the business, I wouldn’t want to pay an extra salary all of the time). Having people sign up when they want to pick up shifts would be a less expensive choice that would still allow you to easily know who’s available if someone calls in sick.

          1. Andrew*

            I wouldn’t be hiring an extra person. I’d just be rearranging the schedules of the existing employees so that there’s always an extra person at any given time.

            1. Elsajeni*

              But if your employees are hourly, that still means you’re paying one extra person’s worth of hours on every shift — I think that’s what Colette was talking about.

              1. Mallory Janis Ian*

                Exactly. And when I worked retail (lo these many years ago), the shift manager was responsible for sending home even scheduled workers, if things got slow, in order to maximize profit/minimize overhead. We weren’t allowed extra bodies just hanging around as cushion.

  3. Traveler*

    “when you find yourself trying to read tea leaves like this, and wondering whether you should be doing anything other than taking an employer at their word at hiring timeline stuff, it’s a signal that you’re overly invested.”

    This is the best advice I’ve ever gotten here on AAM (repeated in many different ways on many threads, so a trap I think a lot of us fall into). Do the interview to the best of your ability, assume you did not get it, move on with your life and be pleasantly surprised if you do get it. It’s so much better – not only for your ability to perform during the interview, but for all the anxiety that can come afterwards. When I’ve done this, I’ve always gotten the job. I’m not saying there’s a direct correlation, but if you are the type to read tea leaves…

  4. Chocolate Teapot*

    2. The line I would take is “Oh, I’ve had this jacket for years and it’s so comfortable/warm/practical”. It just so happens it has the old logo on it.

    1. Chinook*

      You could add that you don’t have another ski jacket at the moment. These are expensive (even on sale) and going without one when it is needed means you are cold or even risking your health.

      As well, if they tell you not to wear it, ask them if they would prefer that it go to the local homeless shelter (where they are absolutely needed) where non-employees would be wearing it.

      1. OP*

        I am very fortunate to work in a healthy work environment (realized after I started reading this blog!). Everyone works very well together, and the only comments I have got so far have been in jest – “hey your jacket is out of date”. Thanks for your suggestions!

        1. sunny-dee*

          Oh, I’m so glad! My company has acquired a lot of small companies, and it’s almost always been pretty relaxed about the old swag. A lot of people (justifiably!) feel a lot of pride in their previous companies, and the general attitude has been to encourage that pride — it makes good people want to stick around.

          1. fposte*

            That’s a really nice approach by your company–I like the respect it shows for institutional history a lot.

      2. Preston*

        Don’t wear anything from a previous employer or in this case the bought out company. Just asking for trouble. Jackets are not that expensive.

    2. Katie the Fed*

      Or “it seems to wasteful to replace a perfectly nice ski jacket for a purely cosmetic reason” because honestly, the thought of swapping it out for a logo just doesn’t sit right with me.

      1. SevenSixOne*

        Assuming the logo isn’t gigantic, covering it with a decorative patch may be a workaround here. That’s what I did when the company I hated working for gave me a logo jacket.

    3. Graciosa*

      These items can end up being status symbols. I work at a company that has been through a number of changes (some mergers, some acquisitions) but people do tend to stay there for decades. A logo shirt with the name of a company that hasn’t issued shirts for a quarter century shows you’re someone who has been around for a while.

      The only time I could see wearing the older shirt being a problem would be if it was worn to a rally for the new company (instead of the new shirt) in a way that messaged an intent to resist the change.

      1. Joe*

        My mother used to work for the phone company, and she had a coworker who had a t-shirt that said “AT&T” on, which was crossed out, and below that it said “NY Tel”, which was crossed out, and below that it said “NYNEX”, which was crossed out, and below that it said “Bell Atlantic”. I always wondered if they updated that shirt again when it merged again into Verizon.

    4. Hillary*

      Yep. My laptop bag has a discontinued brand that my employer acquired on it. I never even worked for that brand, I was given the bag during a crossfunctional project.

      It’s the best laptop bag I’ve ever had. Perfect size, right number of pockets, not too heavy. I’ll never give up that bag.

  5. Paul*

    “Jane, I wonder if there’s a quieter way to eat those candies? For some reason, I’m able to hear you sucking on them and it can be distracting.”

    This is the direct approach? Sounds very passive-aggressive to me. At least drop the “for some reason” which sounds sarcastic and not at all productive. Anyone else share this view?

    I’d much rather say or hear “Could you please be quieter with those candies – it’s very distracting.”

    1. Knitting Cat Lady*

      Yeah. To me it sounds like trying for a bit of politeness and ending up with rudeness instead.

    2. MK*

      To be fair, I don’t think there is a really nice way to comment on someone’s eating habits. The best you can hope for is not-rude.

        1. Jen RO*

          I will also go with the joking approach first. If it doesn’t work, I try being more direct… but to me, all direct approaches are rude. (Cultural thing maybe, 90% of Alison’s suggested replies usually sound rude to me!)

          1. Gene*

            Likely cultural. I find many of AAM’s suggestions too wishy-washy/indirect/namby pamby. Around here, Candy Sucker would likely get, “Hey FNG! Try closing your mouth when you’re eating that s4!”

    3. Fish Microwaver*

      I have a colleague who has a very loud laugh that she uses inappropriatley when talking to clients. I’ll have to flat out say to her one day “can you keep it down to a dull roar” because it is very distracting and wearying.

      1. fposte*

        Yup. I also think it’s not a bad plan to let acoustics take some of the blame, and often enough it’s true.

        1. HarperC*

          That’s what I was thinking. I didn’t read it as passive aggressive at all, just being open to the possibility that the coworker isn’t actually the loudest eater on the planet, but instead that the way the office is set up may have something to do with it.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Exactly — the idea is to give the person some kind of out if you can so that it’s not “you have terrible manners and are sucking loudly and disgustingly on candy.”

            I find people are way more likely to speak up in awkward situations if the wording is something they can really imagine themselves saying, and that usually means couching it the kindest terms you can manage, without hiding the message. You can be direct while still giving the other person a way to save face.

            I’m not sure why it would be passive-aggressive. Passive-aggressive means being indirect. In this case, it would be something like sighing loudly every time the coworker took out a new piece of candy but not actually saying anything clear.

            1. Katie the Fed*

              Question Number 1 is why I think we should have one day every year for airing of grievances (Festivus!). Just get it all out there – no social consequences involved. Everyone gets to tell everyone what they really think. Next day we’re back to social norms.

              “Jane, STFU when you eat candy. It’s disgusting.”
              “Wakeen, you need to use deodorant.”
              “Ned, nobody wants to hear about your cat again.”

              1. Formica Dinette*

                Ah, Festivus! I’m not a Seinfeld fan, but I do love Festivus.

                I might have trouble holding it all in for 364 days, though.

              2. C Average*

                This would be amazing.

                My family actually did something a bit like this when I was growing up. Every New Year’s Day, we’d write ten resolutions apiece for one another, and it was an annual opportunity to point out the quirks about one another that weren’t endearing. Because everyone got picked on, no one felt singled out. I don’t remember how the tradition got started, but we looked forward all year to hearing things about ourselves like, “I resolve to not put clothing on the cat,” “I resolve to get my dishes all the way to the dishwasher,” “I resolve to retire the jeans with the rip in the butt even though they are my favorites,” “I resolve to not put the same album on ‘repeat’ for days,” etc.

              3. Jean*

                Loud irreverent cackle! (Were I anywhere other than at home, I would resolve to laugh more quietly.) Is this just for our own workplaces, or can we take the festivities elsewhere, such as City Hall, the state capitol, or Congress?

              4. Mallory Janis Ian*

                Ha! My new coworkers have joked about having Festivus at work. I haven’t posted in awhile, but at the end of September, I left my university job to go to work for my department head at his private firm. In the interest of brevity, let’s just say that they have plenty of material to fuel a lengthy and satisfying Festivus .

            2. Jamie*

              I have GOT to stop working so much – missed this…

              And yes, ITA with Alison, passive-aggressive is the opposite of letting someone know directly what is bothering you and what you’d like them to do differently. And always give an out when you can – no reason to alienate someone if it can be avoided.

              And this question is why I could never give advice for a living because mine would have been to suggest immediate termination for the candy-sucker…only because we don’t have the death penalty for that offense. Although if someone wants to run on a platform proposing that they have my vote.

      2. Kerry*

        Yeah, passive-aggressive to me would be waiting until she does it then saying, “Wow, the acoustics in here are terrible, I can hear so many little noises!” every time.

    4. Bailando!*

      I might take the joking approach and say something like, “It sounds like you’re chewing on bolts over there!” But that would really depend on your existing relationship with the co-worker.

    5. A Cita*

      I don’t think it’s passive-aggressive, but it sounds weird to me. “I wonder if there’s a quieter way…” sounds overly polite and slightly indirect. I would rather say, “Is there a way you can eat those candies more quietly?” It’s still less direct than, “Can you eat more quietly?” but at least it’s framed in a way that doesn’t make the question sound quite so philosophical or Stepford wife-ish.

      1. A Cita*

        Just to add, what makes it weird to me is the first part, not the second part. I think the blaming it on acoustics is totally fine. But the framing sounds weird to me.

    6. Mephyle*

      I would put the blame on myself (explain misophonia without using the word); something like “I’m stupidly sensitive to other people’s eating noises – I can’t stop being distracted by the sound of your candies,” and ask her to suck them more quietly.
      People, imagine if you were being asked that – would it be effective and non- or minimally offensive?

      1. C Average*

        Yeah, see, this is what I keep coming back to: How would I take it if someone pointed out some weird little idiosyncrasy of mine?

        If I’m honest, a) I’d conclude that the complainer was a bit of a special snowflake, and b) I’d become extremely self-conscious about absolutely every move I made while we were in proximity. I’m sure this would ease up after a while, and I’d probably be grateful on some level to know that a behavior of mine was potentially irritating to others.

        So I guess in the OP’s situation, I’d weigh whether it’s worth being perceived as a special snowflake and making your colleague really self-conscious to get rid of the noise.

        (I’m not saying it isn’t! I’ve both issued and been issued “can you stop doing that?” comments, and the behavior stopped and life went on. I guess I’m saying it’s good to put some thought into how you choose this kind of battle.)

        1. Jamie*

          I think it’s smart to always run it through your own filter before approaching someone else. It’s the best way to avoid being unnecessarily harsh.

          I have a lot of weird things that bother me so if someone brought something up about me I’d take it better than you’d think because I get it.

          I ignore most stuff – I say something when I’m afraid my own severe reaction to it will make me hate them and poison my working relationship. But if I can ignore I do ignore.

          Another good litmus test I use is to imagine the action being done by someone I like – would it bother me? If no then it could be bothering me because I don’t like the person doing it – then I keep my mouth shut.

      2. Darth Admin*

        This. Give the person an out by putting the “weird” on yourself. Example: I get headaches from a lot of smells and when a woman joined our team and proceeded to slather on strongly scented lotion every day, I just said “Hepzibah, there’s no good way to say this, but I get bad headaches from strong smells, and unfortunately your Honeysuckle Wildflower Surprise lotion is falling into that category for me. Is there any way you could use unscented?” We both laughed, and she brought in unscented.

  6. Jen RO*

    #3 – I would avoid working in that company, especially considering that Rose is higher than you in the hierarchy. I have a company that is on my blacklist until a certain former coworker leaves… we were (and would be) peers, but I would not work in the same place as him again.

    1. GrumpyBoss*

      I have a former coworker on my blacklist. I always keep tabs on him via LinkedIn. I won’t even consider applying to a company where he is employed. And I’ve taken it one step further. I’ve blacklisted companies where he’s been employed for > 3 years. That tells me they are willing to tolerate his bad behavior, and therefore, they wouldn’t be a good cultural fit for me.

      Most companies show him the door within 2 years.

      1. CAA*

        Hah! I also have a former coworker I won’t work with again. Any time I’m job searching, I look him up and find out where he is now so I can continue to avoid him.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I’ve got one too–if she were to apply here (not likely, thank the Universe), I would be very tempted to go to the hiring manager and detail exactly why I wouldn’t want to stick around if I had to work with her.

      3. Op #3*

        You may be grumpy but you are insightful. :)

        I just saw Rose’s LinkedIn shows <1 year, <1 year, <2 years, etc. Knowing what I already know and what you shared fit like a glove.

        You have made my decision to not pursue this. Thank you.

      4. Anon Accountant*

        I’ve never thought of phrasing it as my blacklist but that’s exactly what it is. Great idea on seeing how long he’s been at those companies to see if they’re willing to tolerate awful behavior from him.

    2. Graciosa*

      Working with Rose again would definitely be a no-win situation.

      It seems unfair that the OP has to give up a potential growth opportunity because of this, but this is one of those situations where the only thing to do is figure out how to deal with an inherently unfair situation as carefully as possible. In this case, staying far, far away is the only smart choice.

      But I will console myself with the hope that there is some sort of rough justice in the universe and assume Rose is paying for her bad behavior in ways that may not be immediately visible. It just makes me feel better. :-)

    3. Frances*

      Yeah, I have a couple old bosses who were fired from our old employer for misappropriating funds, and the subsequent investigations revealed they’d been lying even about things unrelated to the missing funds for years. We did not have any direct confrontations the way OP and Rose did, but they proved themselves to be so untrustworthy that I’d never be comfortable working with them again.

      1. Op #3*

        Sort of a same day update.

        I talked to one other person in my office who knows and was a target of Rose’s. He said the same thing as everyone above and added that the only way he’d go to work for Company ABC is if Rose had already left the company.

        This is tough because they are offering a range of 40% more than my current salary with 5x the bonus potential and a several additional weeks of vacation.

        I figured I’d go through with the phone interview for practice but five minutes before the scheduled start time I got a “rescheduled till after the new year” call.

        Ce la vie. Thank you everyone, I really appreciate all your input.

    4. Loose Seal*

      I never really trusted Rose ever since that cold Spring night in the Atlantic. I think if she tried just a little harder, she and Jack could both have floated on that door.

  7. AggrAV8ed Tech*

    Re: #4, my boss is like this, but specifically with me. And it’s not like I have a history of taking sick days – I tabulated it at one point and every year, I take an average of 1.5 sick days. There was a period where I didn’t take a sick day for at least two years and not because I came into work deathly ill, but instead I just didn’t get sick enough to miss work (mild cold, etc.). There was one incident where I WAS deathly ill (sequestered to the bathroom and all that good stuff) and had to call out on a Thursday. I was ordered to come in the following day, despite still being violently ill, because apparently my coworker was sick. Found out Monday that he had the sniffles and didn’t want to come in, so the boss said okay.

    So yeah, some bosses are just going to be completely unreasonable when it comes to sick days like that, prior history of sick day usage or not.

    1. Megan*

      Ooh, that’s happened to me before. Tried to call out (with delicate stomach issues), manager said we were short, only to find that we’re short because Sally went out to Thirsty Thursday the night before and is hungover. But she called in first!

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I wonder if he really doesn’t realize that you’re the only even remotely competent person there, or he just doesn’t care if work actually gets done any more. (I’ve heard lots of AT’s work stories, and I’m really not exaggerating.)

    3. Mickey*

      This is where the fantasy version of me would come in as demanded, but then make sure to stop by his office to update him on something and then start hurling like the girl in the Exorcist. I bet that would be the last time he ever forced someone to come to work sick.

        1. HeyNonnyNonny*

          I believe there was a Buffy episode where the phrase “got it coming out both ends” quieted any doubts…

    4. Mephyle*

      So, people who have been through this kind of bad experience, what happens when the unreasonable boss insists on you or a coworker coming in even though they’re violently ill, and the worker has to spend the workday in the bathroom stall, or, say, lying semi-conscious on the floor under their desk, or some similar state of inability to do their work?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Unreasonable boss? Well then the next step in logic is that the person laying in the desk is clearly faking.

        My friend was very sick, she reported for work as ordered- she was as white as a sheet, shaking, in the bathroom frequently annnd she showed visible weight loss because she had been doing this for a while. The boss decided she was faking.

        I can’t make this stuff up.

  8. Illini02*

    #1, to get this out of the way, I know I have a much higher threshold for little annoyances than others, but this seems like an easy way to make the new person not feel welcome and possibly make an enemy. Is that really what you want this person’s early thoughts of you to be? Chances are, she isn’t doing this on purpose. So when you basically say something as basic as her eating is annoying to you, you are essentially calling her annoying (yes I know the suggesting was to say “distracting” instead, but really its just a euphemism). I’ve read so many things that people find annoying that I really wonder how some people make it through life without going crazy. Eating candy, blowing your nose, laughing in a way you don’t like. All things I’ve seen on here that are just normal things people do. Even the “bitch eating crackers” joke has some truth to it. Maybe I’m just used to working in noisier places, but some of these things just seem SO petty that its not worth making a big deal over. If you choose to address this, then if she comes back to you in a couple weeks saying something like “you breathe too loud” or something equally innocent that she finds annoying about you, well you can’t really get mad.

    1. Knitting Cat Lady*

      Two points in response:

      1. Some people eat VERY loudly. I have a colleague who I could hear over a very noisy cubicle farm of 100 people from several metres away. Right now we’re in a smaller office and any time he pulls out food I put in my headphones.

      2. Misophonia. Some people just cannot tolerate some type of noises. It’s a problem with aural processing in the brain. I get it as part of migraines.

      I don’t think we’re in bitch eating crackers mode here.

      Some of these things can be like Chinese water torture.

      1. fposte*

        But misophonia is about the problem with the listener, not about the noisemaker, because normal and acceptable noises are still a problem. At that point, you come as a supplicant about *your* problem, rather than saying they’re making too much noise, because they’re not.

        IOW, I think illini02 has a decent point here–that this may be more distracting because it’s a new noise in a space that didn’t have it before rather than a big thing in its own right, and it might be worth the OP’s trying some of C Average’s tips mentioned below to see if she can fix your focus before she raises it with your colleague.

        1. ali*

          Yeah, I have extreme misophonia, and that’s on me, not the person making the noise. Hearing someone sucking on candy all day would make me full of rage and so much anger that I would not get anything done. But I’ve developed coping skills over the years. Some of those skills involve learning how to ask the people around you to be quieter if they can.

          I absolutely cannot be in the same room when my husband eats cereal or I will kill him. So do I ask him to not eat cereal? No. I leave the room.

          1. Jamie*

            This – this! I know it’s my weird reaction to noises and not them so in those instances where I can’t leave the room or avoid it I own it and ask for an indulgence.

        2. A Cita*

          Yes, agreed.

          And like Illinoiz, I have found it highly amusing to learn on here how much so many little things truly annoy people. Who knew?

      2. illini02*

        I’m sure some people do eat loudly, but I find that the exception more than the rule. More often than not its people who get annoyed by any little noises that they don’t like. For example: oh now, she is Sooooo loud when she unwraps those cough drops. Again, if you have this misophonia (which I’ll be honest had never even heard of) it sounds as though, as fposte below said, its more on you to make these accommodations to everyday noises than on others to just stay perfectly silent for you.

      3. Alex*

        I used to work with someone who had pretty extreme misophonia; she’d be so full of rage and anger over normal noises people make that she’d go on rampages with her face beet red, literally shouting at the noise-maker. I was yelled at (not being sarcastic when I say yelling) for eating chips out of the bag (she made me pour them onto a napkin to eat rather than eating them out of the bad like a normal person), typing (she purchased me a quieter keyboard and made snide comments anytime my nails were too long), etc. It wasn’t just directed at me either – our office mates were at the receiving end as well for shuffling papers, opening mail/boxes, squeaky chairs, blowing their noses, clearing their throats, etc. I indirectly reported to her and I was new, young, and totally intimidated. I left that job because of that person.

        Surely there is a middle ground with people with misophonia… maybe the first step would be to say to them “I have a tendency/condition to be terribly distracted by certain noises. I would be so appreciative if you’d be willing to eat your candy more quietly.” If you blame this coworker for being too loud, even if she is being louder than usual, you’re going to alienate her. Make it clear to her that it’s your issue, even if you don’t actually feel that way, and I guarantee you’ll get a better outcome.

    2. Kerry*

      Some people are just super loud eaters – it doesn’t sound to me like the OP is having this problem often. For myself, I’d much rather have someone say “Hey, welcome to the company but can you keep it down with the candy?” two weeks into my new job then having them sitting there seething at my back for possibly years!

  9. The Cosmic Avenger*

    For OP#5, as a general rule in situations like these you can never go wrong by assuming people are telling the truth, but you can always go wrong by assuming they’re lying.

    What I mean is, assume they’re telling the truth, because they probably are. If they’re not, what do you really gain by trying to guess the truth? At best you’ll usually know they’re lying but be able to do nothing about it, and at worst you’ll get on their bad side. And if they really are telling the truth, all you do is cause grief for yourself again.

    Sure, there are situations where the information is important, and so figuring out the lie might be beneficial to you, but when the person lying is the decision-maker, like in most hiring situations, that’s rarely if ever the case. Besides, if they’re lying just to keep from having to give you bad news, do you really want to work for them?

  10. Dennis*

    #1 “Hey, this is kind of embarrassing but I have this thing called Audiosplasia and I’m really sensitive to sounds. I know this wouldn’t bother most people but the sound of someone sucking on candy can trigger a seizure for me. I can feel a seizure coming on so could you please make sure I don’t swallow my tongue if I have one?”

    1. L Veen*

      Because nothing gains you the respect and trust of your coworkers like claiming to suffer from a made-up medical condition over a minor irritation.

    2. Vanishing Girl*

      There is an actual thing called misophonia, so you don’t even need to invent BS. But I think it’s a bad idea to say you have something, if you don’t really have it. You never know when it may come back to bite you.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      It’s not physically possible to swallow your tongue.
      People can bite their tongue off though and cause some substantial damage, when they have a seizure.

    4. Anon Accountant*

      For some people seizures may be triggered by certain sounds, sights, colors, patterns, etc. As someone who has epilepsy I truly hope you weren’t poking fun at a potentially life threatening condition.

      It’s true you can’t swallow your tongue but your tongue can obstruct breathing during a seizure and oxygen levels can drop to dangerously low levels. Some individuals (10% approx) experience temporary paralysis and/or temporary blindness after a seizure and may suffer injuries from falling when the episode started.

      When people use excuses such that sound will trigger a seizure but that’s untrue for them it can make it harder to get others to take legit triggers seriously.

  11. Night Cheese*

    #5: Transparency is a good thing! They’ve told exactly what they are doing; they aren’t beating around the bush. That means no matter what they decide, they are valuing your time and don’t want you to agonize while you wait. Easier said than done.

    In addition, since it’s the holiday season, things are going to be slower than usual. They might have lost a week due to Thanksgiving and might lose a week or two between Christmas and New Years.

    1. PEBCAK*

      And there are a TON of reasons they might bring in one last candidate, many of them political, so it doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t happy with their existing choices.

  12. Singing Teapots, Ltd.*

    For OP 4: You mention being a student. If you have electives left and a music department at your school, check your course catalog and talk to your advisor about anything labeled “Class Voice” (for the Non-Major may be added). An acting class or public speaking class focused on vocal technique could also serve this suggestion. I can’t know for sure over the Internet and only a doctor who works with voice pros could say for sure, but as a voice teacher, I’m hearing wording that sound typical of folks that have taken Class Voice and are in a call center type of job with little to no training in vocal technique. The
    courses suggested above have also been strongly recommended by other public speaking profs I’ve worked with: business profs, preaching profs – you name it. Just an idea for when you know you are in the clear health-wise.

    Feel better soon!

  13. HR Manager*

    #1 – I used to sit next to a highly competent employee who ate like a horse. Chomp, chomp, chomp and then lip smacking noises. Every day – would drive me a bit batty, but a small issue given that he was a really good employee. Had to stick in the ear phones every lunch time or snack time though.

    #2 – I’ve worked for companies that have been bought, and were the buyer. I’ve never seen a problem with wearing clothing with the old logo, as long as it’s not at a company event where external clients or visitors might be. But I suppose some companies may react differently to this.

    #4 – I can’t believe how insensitive that employer is. If you don’t want to risk your job, I’d go in and touch/cough/sneeze all over your boss’s things just for being a jerk. I hope you have other options where you can find another job that isn’t so stringent in their sick time practice.

    1. Joey*

      Funny I have the opposite problem. I sit close to someone that gets irritated if it’s anything other than deathly silent. She’s the type that wants everything a certain way. Coffee has to be folgers and can’t be too strong or weak, super picky about food, closes her door if others aren’t whispering. It’s kind of comical being that the rest of us are super laid back. We crank up the tunes, have conversations by yelling from our offices, and brew some good coffee the moment she walks out of the office for any amount of time.

    2. ThursdaysGeek*

      I worked with a guy in a cube next to me who would eat chips. I decided that they’ve somehow designed chips for maximum crunchiness because of secret studies that have shown we’re susceptible to certain sounds. It was excruciating listening to him, because with every crunch, I deeply desired chips for myself.

  14. Ludo*

    I work for Teapot company which in the last four or five years has bought Spout, Lid and Handle. (Technically, I work for Spout – A Teapot Company). I was really surprised when I started here to see the eclectic mix of clothing they hand out. Just yesterday I got a pair of gloves branded Handle. No mention of Teapot Company.

    Keep in mind that Teapot Company is zealous about customers knowing that Spout, Lid and Handles are now made by Teapot and the products are no longer branded externally. But they have a really healthy acceptance for the fact that a lot of logo gear exists and they don’t care if we still give it out, wear it, ect – as long as we brand as Teapot Company to consumers (Or, Spout, a Teapot Company)

    Also, I love my new gloves.

  15. MsM*

    #4: Are there a lot of students who work at your place of business? If so, I suspect you may be paying for some of your coworkers not taking their jobs very seriously. It might not hurt to throw in something to the effect of “I wouldn’t be doing this if I felt I had any other option” to make it clear to your boss that you’re not just trying to skip out of your responsibilities, especially if you’ve otherwise been a reliable worker.

  16. Ann O'Nemity*

    I hate to say this but following Alison’s advice for #4 would have probably gotten me fired from any of the low wage jobs that I held in high school and college.

    1. Joey*

      Yeah, there’s an unwritten rule that the majority of folks that manage students must suck. When you’re easily replaced there’s not much stopping your boss from replacing you.

  17. TheSnarkyB*

    #5, were you expecting an offer because they told you that you’d be receiving one? Unless I’m misreading, it sounds like you were expecting an offer because they were checking your references, which is not solid reasoning. I’d be concerned that you’re reading into this to the point of thinking you had the job. Which would shed a different kind of light on your concerns that they’re bringing someone else in.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, well spotted. Yes, that’s not enough to expect an offer from–I check references on all my finalists.

  18. some1*

    If the coworker in #1 is aggressively sucking on the candy, I wonder if she isn’t quitting smoking. I know when I quit smoking I did the same thing because I was trying to sub for inhaling the hell out of a cigarette.

  19. Teapot Headache*

    #3, why are there so many rose’s in the world, and why do they always rise to the top? Do they ever fall?

  20. C Average*

    Through many years of working in an open-plan environment with an ever-changing cast of characters, I’ve come to regard my workplace as the set to a reality show. There’s the annoying character, the drama-queen character, the nerd, the golden boy, the jock, and so forth.

    And there’s always someone who’s doing something visually or audibly irritating. It’s just a feature of the open-plan workplace.

    In these situations, I first ask myself, “Am I bugged by the person or the thing the person is doing?” If it’s really the person who bugs me, I try to get over it. If it’s the thing that bugs me and I’m honestly not bugged at all by the person, the potential conversation becomes a little less fraught.

    Then I ask myself, “What weird things do I do that might annoy the people who share my space?” I’m definitely a leg-tapper when I get overly caffeinated. I have a loud laugh that can easily get out of hand, and a voice that moves out of indoor-voice territory when I’m particularly animated. I keep a French press on my desk and think it smells wonderful, but maybe others don’t. Basically, I try to remind myself that everyone around me is tolerating my idiosyncrasies, so I should make a sincere effort to tolerate theirs.

    I had to have an awkward conversation with the guy who hadn’t turned his IM notifications off, and that was well worth it. (Oh, the silence!) I had to have an uncomfortable chat with my boss about the fact that I didn’t like the nickname she’d created for me and wished to be called by my full name. (That went surprisingly well, and it’s amazing to me how much more positive I feel toward her when she isn’t forever calling me by that irritating shortened version of my name.) If I worked near the candy-sucking co-worker long enough, we might have a chat, too.

    1. Jillociraptor*

      I think this is smart. Check yourself, be reflective, and then be honest. I’ve worked from home for most of my career, so every time I’m in an office I suddenly realize what a disaster I am (talking to myself, limited self-regulation of my”WTF face,” eating my lunch one bite at a time for three hours, small talk limited to things I recently read on Mental Floss, etc.). Most people aren’t trying to be irritating, so there’s a lot of good to giving them the benefit of the doubt that, if approached with kindness, they’ll probably be willing to try to make minor adjustments like this.

  21. Windchime*

    Basically, I try to remind myself that everyone around me is tolerating my idiosyncrasies, so I should make a sincere effort to tolerate theirs.

    Good call. I’m sometimes easily distracted by sounds, and this is a good reminder that I almost certainly do things that bug other people, too, so I should try to be a little less irritated.

    Side note: One thing I’ve learned from reading AAM is that I should always dump my afternoon snack chips out onto a napkin or a tissue, and NOT reach into the bag for each chip because some people are annoyed at the sound of the rustling bag. I wouldn’t have thought about that, were it not for the people here who mentioned it.

    1. Zillah*

      Oh, I always do this, even at home – I hate reaching into bags because it makes me feel like it’s going to make my hand (and sleeve!) super greasy.

  22. KettleChip*

    OP #2 Wearing company-branded items after a buy-out — If there are some items you no longer need or don’t want to wear try reaching out the company’s archives department. A lot of fortune 500 companies have a department that functions as an archives / history / knowledge center. This also goes for old projects or marketing materials with the old brand. The archives department might accept the donation / transfer of your now “historic” branded materials.

    1. OP*

      Good point! Will look into sending them some of my stuff! I have been with this company for over 15 years, have collected a lot of items.

  23. L Veen*

    #5 – A few months ago, after an interview, I was told by the hiring manager that I would be receiving an offer from the org’s HR within a week or so… what I ended up receiving was an email congratulating me on being placed “in a pool of qualified candidates” and that if a vacancy came up that matched my qualifications, the hiring manager for THAT position would be in touch with me.

    Alison is right – the best (and pretty much the only) thing you can do is move on mentally and assume you aren’t getting this job.

  24. Annie Oakleaf*

    #4–I have PTO, but I was told when I was hired that on Saturdays, being sick is not an option, because there is no one else to cover my shift. Seriously. I was told I could sit at the desk around the corner from the front desk and put my head down, or if I really needed to I could lie down in the staff room. Seriously.
    There ARE actually people who could come in, but they are off on those days and it would be a major inconvenience.
    I’d love to see what happens if I am REALLY sick and NEED to call in. There’s no way I’m going in and projectile vomiting, for e.g.

  25. Craigrs1*

    Re the candy sucking. I started a new job about 6 months ago. Recently a fellow who I had not yet met but who sits pretty close to me came over and told me that I need to stop clearing my throat, because it was driving him crazy. I was really surprised by this – I honestly don’t think I clear my throat very much, but I’m open to the possibility and I’m open to trying to change. But now I think obsessively about any sounds I make of the clearing-throat variety, and I feel weird that this has been the only interaction this guy has allowed me to have with him.

    I guess my advice is, make sure you are acquainted with your coworker and you’ve had at least three basic friendly interactions with her before bringing this up.

  26. Cupcake*

    Am I the only one who felt an insatiable need to clear my throat after reading that? ;)
    It is amazing to learn that what we are doing is annoying someone else. I was discussing finding a different chair for a staff member because hers was getting a bit threadbare. Another staff member piped up, “You should see if you can get another one for yourself, because yours squeaks so much.” I never noticed before, but once I paid attention, sure enough, I was squeaking like crazy (and, being a bit ADHD inclined, I wiggle around quite a bit!). I have no idea how long she was gritting her teeth over that. Two new chairs are in the works, as soon as I can sneak in under cover of darkness and steal them from our training rooms.

  27. Kay*

    #1. I had a coworker who shared a cubicle wall with me who would slurp his coffee loudly (among other obnoxious sounds). Headphones worked except when he would come over to talk to me which required me to turn them off. After asking nicely multiple times to not drink coffee in my cubicle, I finally had to say “please leave my office until you are done with your coffee”
    He was seriously that bad. Now I’m pretty sure I suffer from misophonia but this guy was the worst of the worst (and lacked any kind of common sense) He would spill coffee on the way to his office and not clean it up. When I pointed it out to him he said it wasn’t his job role.

    1. Lauren Culbert*

      Kay, I couldn’t help but seeing my son in your coffee-slurping coworker. My son is brilliant, but has so many annoying habits. He has Aspberger Syndrome, and when I run into people like this, it helps to know that they truly are clueless.

  28. That Marketing Chick*

    #2. Speaking as your marketing department, and most likely executive leadership, please do not wear old logos. It’s already a nightmare to re-brand an organization; and staff who don’t take it to heart really make it difficult for the marketing team. Consider us the “logo police”.
    When a company I worked for changed their name, I actually worked with community members to ship old logo apparel overseas on missions trips to prevent the opportunity for it to be worn in the community. And I also replaced old logo items with an equal or nicer item to get the old logo out of the hands of staff. Literally 10 years later, I was still seeing the old name/logo show up occasionally. It’s a nightmare.
    I know it’s sentimental and important to you…just don’t wear it to work.

  29. AL*

    #4, I had an odd experience back in my early college days that might help shed some light on your boss. I went to college in a small town and was employed at Job A (waitress, drive thru, etc…) My 9th month into the job, I kept getting sick (and kept right on working because “I have strep for the 3rd time in a month” isn’t going to pay my rent)

    After 6 months of this (now being at Job A from the day it opened to another holiday) I went home 4 hours away and had my tonsils removed, with complications that prevented me from healing quickly. I was open and clear with my managers that I would be four hours away for the 2 week period and recovering from surgery. So, I went home with everyone hoping for the best, had my surgery, and the day after I’m getting calls and texts from the manager who did the scheduling asking me why I hadn’t come in or why I hadn’t made sure to cover my shifts for the week. Keep in mind, this is AFTER I had cleared it with her and everyone else (and above her) and reminded them a second time before I left. One day out of surgery, I was hopped up on painkillers, sleeping all day, and couldn’t talk if I wanted too, and yet she was, for some reason, expecting me to cover shifts that I should have never been on in the first place.

    Fortunately for me, a friend of mine who worked there was looking out for me and covered that day’s shifts because she heard the manager complaining and offered to work a double to cover me. My mother actually answered the phone after a couple of messages and calls, and basically said “If you knew she was going to be 4 hours away and have surgery, why on earth would you schedule her?” (I know, my mother should have never gotten involved in a 21-year-olds job, but I didn’t have a voice and was drugged) While I didn’t lose my job, until she was fired a couple of months after I came back she had a very personal vendetta against me, including starting to schedule me when I was in class and causing problems at work.

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