my boss won’t let me use a mouse, my horrible old boss may become my new boss, and more

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

1. My boss won’t let me use a mouse

I work at a very small nonprofit and my boss forbids the use of the mouse for routine computer functions. He wants us to use key commands except for the rare occasion where the mouse is the only way it can be done. He considers it “annoying” and slower/less efficient than key commands. I am the bookkeeper/admin, and was open to getting on board to a more efficient practice, but I have found almost no validity to it being better, but merely a personal preference. However, there have been quite a lot of days where he sits next to me for hours while orienting me to the business, and I believe his obsession lies there–he can’t stand to sit there watching me “click click click” around with my mouse for hours on end. It’s one of many overbearing and controlling behaviors he exhibits.

I have been there 3 months and fell in line with the other 2 employees who use the mouse when he’s not around and keys when he is. But he recently brought it up to me again that I needed “more practice” without the mouse, and has threatened to remove the mouse in the past.

Well, you can try telling him directly that you prefer to use a mouse and find it easier for you personally, and that you’re not saying it’s the best way for the whole world, but since you prefer it, you’d like to use it if it’s okay with him pretty please thank you.

But if it turns out that this is his crazy pet peeve and he cannot tolerate a mouse in his line of vision, then you might just need to accept that sometimes bosses force their weird preferences on you, like making you write everything in a horrible font or requiring you to double space all documents, which is not a thing that should happen in offices. Sometimes you have to suck it up and deal when it’s just an annoying but not outrageous/offensive/unsafe thing.

2. My horrible old boss may become my new boss

I have just found a new wonderful job after having been at my old one for almost 10 years. One of the main reasons I left was because my direct boss was a terrible manager and professionally selfish. Our assistant manager ran everything in the department and everyone knew it.

Now at my new job, after only two months my wonderful boss left for an amazing project and now my old boss is going for that position. Not good. Also, I am basically running the department until we find a new person.

I have been made a part of the search committee and specifically said to pass my old boss’ application over for 10 years of reasons. The boss above this position has now asked me twice exactly why I am so adamantly against this person coming into the organization (since they look nearly perfect on paper), and I get so emotional that I am not eloquent in my explanation (also I was asked at times when I didn’t have much time to gather my thoughts, i.e. running to catch my bus, on my way to another meeting, etc.). And to add a further complication, I was given the green light to go ahead and apply for the position if I wanted to. So complicated. Should I email my boss with more articulate information about this old boss, or should I forget about that and just go for the position? My worry is that if I’m not successful, my old boss could be successful.

Well, you can’t take a strong position on not hiring someone without explaining why that is; it sort of demands an accompanying explanation. So organize your thoughts, figure out how to talk calmly and professionally about why your old boss is wrong for the job, and go talk to the hiring manager. Keep it unemotional and concise — for instance, “I worked with Jenson for 10 years and while he’s good at X and Y, he really struggled with A, B, and C. Most of what our team accomplished was because others stepped in to work around him. He was also very difficult to work with on a personal level and I’d have real concerns about his ability to work cooperatively here.”

And do it quickly, before the danger increases that they’ll move your old boss further along in the hiring process.

3. Slowing down an interview process while I wait to hear from med school

I’m working in a field completely unrelated to what I did in college and for my masters. I decided to apply to medical school back in August. Last week, I received an interview invite (only about 10% of the applicants get interviews so I was ecstatic). Unbelievably, the next day I received a call from a colleague in my current field. He has a position that he wants me to apply for. The problem is, it’s across the country from my current location. After speaking with him, I’m under the impression that I’m his top choice. It would be a really, really great career move for me – if I don’t get into medical school. My colleague wants to move very quickly with this (they’re understaffed), but I need a way to slow it down. My med school interview is in 2 weeks; I should get an answer 2 weeks after that. If I get in, I’m going to med school, but if I don’t, I definitely want this job (wait listed…I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it). I’m concerned that I’ll get and have to respond to an offer before then. I don’t want to lose this opportunity, but can’t really ask for an extension, if the offer comes, because I’m considering a complete career change…help?

You might wait just a bit longer to see if their process slows down on its own; often employers sound like they intend to move really quickly but it doesn’t end up happening. But if things are indeed moving along and it’s looking like they really might make an offer well before the four weeks you need to get through, you could say something like this: “I want to be candid with you about my situation. I’m very, very interested in this. Under any other circumstances, I’d be champing at the bit for this position. However, I have something else in motion that was started before I heard from you, and I won’t be able to respond to a job offer with certainty until X. Is that totally prohibitive on your side?”

4. Can I lie to my boss so I can get Valentine’s Day off?

I’m 17 years old I work in an ice cream shop and I only work Saturday and Sunday. Valentine’s Day is next month and so is my one-year anniversary with my boyfriend. I’ve been at the ice cream shop almost a month now, but I was wondering if I could lie to my boss saying my dad is getting throat surgery on Valentine’s Day and I want to be there with him. My dad does have throat cancer and isn’t in the same state. But can tell my boss that? I also tried talking to my mom about what I should say, and at first she was good with the idea but now she completely turned around and I don’t know what I should do.

No, you should not lie to your boss and say that your dad is having surgery. Lying is a bad idea in all kinds of situations, but lying about a family member having surgery when they’re really not — it crosses a whole different line. It’s not okay to do, not at work and not in the world in general.

You can ask your boss for the day off, but you can’t make up this kind of reason. If it turns out that you can’t have the day off — which is the case for many, many people with jobs — then see your boyfriend before or after work or on a different day. In general, though, it’s smart to get used to the fact that you will probably have many inconvenient work commitments in your life, and it’s just part of having a job and getting a paycheck.

5. Asking for an exception after missing an application deadline

I recently applied for a job that had a “midnight on x date” deadline, and got confused about what that meant and submitted the materials a day late. (I know, I should have played it safer on this one.) The hiring person immediately emailed back to let me know that I’d missed the deadline and encouraged me to apply again if they have another opening. I sent back a quick response to thank her for informing me that I’d missed it and let her know that I’m still interested in the organization, so I’ll keep an eye out for future openings.

Now, I’m second guessing myself a little bit. Would something along the lines of “I misinterpreted the posting’s deadline, and I would appreciate if you’d still look over my application materials, although I’d completely understand if you’ve already moved forward in the interview process” have been a good idea, or would it have been inappropriate?

That’s fine. You don’t really have anything to lose in this situation, and it’s not an outrage to ask something like that, even if the answer is no.

{ 445 comments… read them below }

  1. fposte*

    On #5–I’ve always seen “by midnight, January 1” to mean end of day on January 1. It sounds like they used it to mean by end of day on December 31–can’t see how you’d be a day late otherwise–and if so I think that’s a confusing usage on their part.

    1. Mike*

      I’ve always read midnight as the start of the day not the end of it. But I also try to avoid it. So instead of midnight Jan 1 I’d put “no later than Dec 31, 2014 11:59:59 PM”. I find it much clearer to give the last moment it is valid instead of the first moment it is invalid.

      1. fposte*

        I agree that this was not the clearest way to do it, though I think putting it in minute and second form would be a little . . . unusual :-). I’m with you in thinking that if you say “12 a.m.” you mean the start of the day but the “by midnight” locution is pretty common for the previous day–a quick Google finds tons of sites saying that taxes need to be postmarked “by midnight on April 15,” for instance. So I understand why the OP read it as she did, and I hope the employer changes to something more clear.

      2. KT*

        I work at a theatre festival every year that has a pretty strict no refund policy. We had to change all the midnight show times to 11:59pm because patrons kept coming to the show on the wrong date when it was 12am. Functionally, we still start the shows at midnight, but nobody screws up the date anymore. As the person telling them they don’t get a refund, this change was totally worth it to me.

      3. Melissa*

        When giving deadlines to students, I would always say 11:59 pm just to avoid this kind of confusion (or students taking advantage of the ambiguous meaning of midnight).

      4. Cassie*

        I do this too, just so there is no confusion. Although in my experience, they mostly mean one minute after 11:59pm on a given day and not one minute before 12:01am on a given day.

    2. teclatwig*

      This happened to me with a major discount on a workshop I needed to take. The deadline was 12:00am on x date. I am so used to deadlines being midnight of the day that just passed that it didn’t even occur to me that it could mean “1 minute into the stated day.” I was livid. Why not say 11:59pm of the day before??

      I suspect this is a mistake made by one or two people/companies that has proliferated, and the organizations using the software aren’t looking closely (or at all) at these sorts of details. They just know what the software says: there was a deadline, and you didn’t submit before the program closed its doors. Grr. So frustrating.

    3. PEBCAK*

      I find it pretty weird that they just immediately discounted her application, though. Unless they had sorted and contacted people THAT DAY, what would be the harm in throwing it in the pool if it was any good? This sounds like a dumb way to miss out on a good candidate, if the OP was, in fact, a good fit.

      1. Tenley*

        I can think of several jobs in communications/PR/or journalism where missing a deadline posted in the ad did result in the applicant being disqualified on the spot. I’m sure there are other fields where this is somewhat regular or even the norm.

          1. De Minimis*

            I know in our case, we would like to give extra time for certain things after the deadline [in the past I think applicants had a couple of extra days to submit paperwork as long as their application was in the system by the closing date] but we’ve been told we can no longer do that.

            Also, automated systems in general can make it tough to be flexible on things like due dates.

        1. OP #5*

          It was nonprofit, if that indicates anything (although I don’t think it does, since it’s such a wide field).

        1. OP #5*

          That’s what I was thinking. It’s a political/nonprofit job, and was posted on a jobs database that’s frequented by people who work primarily in politics on one side of the aisle. There are a lot of us who worked on mid-term campaigns and have been out of work since November, so a lot of these positions probably get a ton of applicants.

      2. Burlington*

        Eh, I can totally see it. It’s a deadline. Moreso, it’s a deadline to submit materials that, to a large extent, you’re expected to already have created and just need to tweak. If you’re going to miss the absolute first deadline I give you, why would I expect that you could meet deadlines on the job?

        1. Zillah*

          I missed a deadline because I didn’t see the listing until I got home from vacation – I addressed it in my cover letter, and they hired me anyway. I’ve been quite good at meeting deadlines. I do see what you’re saying, but especially if the listing hasn’t been up for awhile, I can see someone who’s conducting more of a passive job search not seeing it in time to write up a decent cover letter.

      3. OP #5*

        That’s what I thought too! I sent it around noon their time, which wouldn’t give them enough time (probably) to look through all of the other applications and move forward in the hiring process. And I sent it directly to a person’s email, not an “info@” address or online form, so I got a what I assume to be an actual response, not an automated one. I’m trying to be pretty zen about the whole thing, but I’m still a little baffled.

    4. Persephone Mulberry*

      Agreed. I wouldn’t come back and ask them to reconsider my my application at this point, but I might send a friendly note saying something like, “By the way, have you considered making the cutoff time for your applications 11:59 rather than midnight? I have found that people have different interpretations of what “midnight on X date” means.”

      And also make a mental or physical note that for this company, midnight ia the beginning of the stated day, not the end.

    5. jhhj*

      A lot of professors I know are very careful to set due times for any time but midnight (or, for similar reasons, noon) on whatever course software they use, because midnight, Feb 1 is unclear and will result in huge complaints by the people who are off by a day either way, while 11:59 pm or 12:01 am is clear.

      1. simonthegrey*

        I always reiterate to my students that “Midnight on Wednesday” means they have until Wednesday going into Thursday for me, because that’s how I think of time.

      2. DJ*

        I teach online classes, and always set my deadlines at 11:59 pm. My predecessor had them set at midnight. After one semester (and countless emails), I made the one minute change to the due dates. It makes life simpler all the way around.

    6. Audiophile*

      Things like this drive me crazy too.
      I usually try to have it in the day before, because as the consensus seems to be, midnight is not clear.

    7. Cruciatus*

      My sister is STILL pissed about a movie premiere she missed for LotR many years ago where they gave something like “Thursday at midnight” so she showed up Wednesday/Thursday (as did many other people) and they meant end of Thursday into Friday. It was something like that. Anytime people misunderstand times/dates I have to listen to the story again but I’ve obviously started tuning it out so I don’t remember perfectly anymore. But my point is it does happen–not everyone agrees or sees it the same way. My mom thinks it’s not midnight until 12:01 and I have to hear about it every New Year’s Eve. I think it wouldn’t hurt to explain it and see what they say.

    8. Patty*

      I teach online, so deadlines are important.. I never use ‘midnight’, instead 11:59 pm…to signal it’s due that day, not at the end of the next.

    9. Anna Smithe*

      I am with you on that. In fact, I have written to mean exactly that, but as
      “before” midnight because I too have had instances that everyone else thinks it means something different.

  2. Ann Furthermore*

    #1: I actually have a colleague who did this with her staff. She wanted them to learn how to use the keyboard shortcuts in the ERP system instead of constantly taking their hands off the keyboard to use the mouse. So she took away their mice for awhile, and made them use only the keyboard shortcuts. She did give them back after a little while though. And she’s right — for example it’s faster to click Ctrl+S on the keyboard to save a document than it is to move the mouse to the Save icon and click it. I think it’s way easier to use Ctrl+C/Ctrl+V to copy and paste than to use the mouse. But of course everyone is different, and it’s a matter of personal preference. As long as you’re getting your work done, and meeting your deadlines, your boss shouldn’t be so worked up about it.

    #4: I’m a bit superstitious, and for me lying about something like that has bad karma written all over it. Just ask for the day off, and if the answer is no, then make alternate plans with your boyfriend. If he’s a good guy, he should understand. And ask now, so if your boyfriend is planning something special for Valentine’s Day, he’ll know he has to take your work schedule into consideration. Sometimes, work has to come first. If it always comes first and consumes your entire life, then that’s a problem. But if it only happens every now and then, that’s just one of the realities of having a job.

    1. Cheesecake*

      Bad karma was the first thing i was thinking about! I believe thoughts are can be material, let along stuff said out loud.

      1. De Minimis*

        On a more practical level, since the OP’s dad is truly ill, it’s possible she will need time off later on and this might make it harder to get the time off later even if the lie isn’t caught [“Wait, weren’t you just off for that?”]

    2. PEBCAK*

      Possibly true in the ERP system, but I’m picturing a ton of Excel work that is a huge pain without a mouse. When I have a lot of spreadsheet drag-and-drop stuff, I go into the office to work at a dock with a mouse rather than having to use the trackpad on my laptop, let alone keyboard shortcuts.

      1. Anonicorn*

        Similarly, actions like cropping an image in Photoshop are impossible for me without using a mouse. Keyboard shortcuts are way faster for most tasks, but some things just aren’t happening that way.

      2. Ann Furthermore*

        Agreed, absolutely. My colleague just wanted her staff to be forced to use the keyboard shortcuts for a little while so they would remember that they were there. In some cases once you get used to them, then it becomes second nature – like Ctrl+S for save, or using the down arrow key to start a new record instead of clicking in the line. But for other things, while using a keyboard shortcut is technically possible, it’s much easier to use the mouse. Even in the ERP system there are things like that.

        1. ECH*

          @Ann Furthermore: I agree about Ctrl-S being second nature. One time I was sitting in my car drafting a news story with pen and paper and after writing for a while, I automatically made a Ctrl-S motion with my hand.

          1. INTP*

            I’ve found myself mentally Ctrl-Fing when trying to find a particular book on a bookshelf so many times. Kind of scary how technology rewires our brains…

      3. INTP*

        I use Word and Excel most often at work and there’s enough stuff that requires a mouse that I don’t find it much faster to use keyboard shortcuts. The seconds you save are counteracted by all the time moving your hands back and forth from the mouse to the keyboard.

        One of the people responsible for training me did have a habit of correcting me when I failed to use a shortcut. It drove me NUTS. But now I can meet my deadlines without consistently using them so I don’t worry about it. I need my mental energy for actual work, not for analyzing whether every command would be faster with the keyboard or mouse.

        1. TL -*

          When I’m using the mouse with my right hand, it’s pretty easy to use right hand for mouse and left for shortcuts without switching.
          When I muse left handed it’s much more annoying.

      4. Hillary*

        I learned some new keyboard shortcuts that have pretty much cut out my mouse usage in excel. control-shift-arrow and control-shift-end are awesome.

      5. Anna*

        And then there’s the lag between learning the keyboard shortcuts and having them come as naturally as going to the mouse. It sounds like a whole lot of energy around something that doesn’t actually make that significant a difference.

    3. Kelly L.*

      I’m sooo superstitious about fake illness excuses, even if there’s no truth to it. I think it stems from a few times in high school when I faked a cold and then got a cold.

      1. Canadamber*

        No way, that happened to you too?! I thought it was just me! I credit some of my nastiest flus to my idiocy this way. ;)

    4. Hlyssande*

      Keyboard shortcuts are fine in a system that’s designed to make it easier to use them, but if I have to tab through 20 fields/buttons to get to the next page, it’s easier to just use the mouse and click. The database system my workplace uses is set up so some keyboard commands are great, but not using the mouse will take at least 4 times longer to set up a record from start to finish.

      It really depends on the system they’re using and how it’s designed. I agree with PEBCAK that not being able to use the mouse in something like Excel (or hell, IE/Chrome/Firefox/etc) would be an absolute nightmare.

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        Or Word, if you are cutting and pasting paragraphs.

        One of the things to remember – is that new technologies, and existing ones, are hopefully designed to help us work better and be more efficient.

        If your boss doesn’t want you to be more efficient and insists you waste time…. well … kind of a weird place, right?

      2. M-C*

        “Keyboard shortcuts are fine in a system that’s designed to make it easier to use them” is so right.. But apart from y’all’s personal preferences of input device, let me point out that the real problem here is a nitpicking, micro-managing jerk of a controlling boss. #1, should you put up with that? It’s up to you, but if it were me I’d keep the job search alive. This job can quietly disappear from your resume if you segue to a more congenial place quickly. It’s a lot easier to keep a job search going than to revive a dead one from scratch :-). And often you get a couple feelers at least after you’ve started the new job, so take advantage of these ones! Life’s too short for work like this.

    5. NoPantsFridays*

      Yes, on #1, I am big on keyboard shortcuts and have gone out of my way to learn shortcuts for most software/programs I use regularly (as well as for my OS, which is usuallly Windows 7, plus the occasional Linux distro). I google for lists of keyboard shortcuts when I am learning a new software. I use them all the time at both work and home. I even used my old HTPC mouseless for almost a year because someone in my house lost the mouse.

      But sometimes you just need a mouse. I use both Excel and Access every day, and work takes me several times longer without one (and that’s using my laptop’s trackpad, not totally mouseless). My dad (for example) is very technologically inclined, he can use Excel and write code with the best of them, and yet cannot remember simple keyboard shortcuts. I have learned that for some people it is more difficult and actually takes longer to remember all the shortcuts than to just use the mouse. It sounds like OP1 might be more efficient and productive just using the mouse, and the boss needs to get that.

      1. fposte*

        And even if keyboard shortcuts are more efficient once you know them, you’re losing a tremendous amount of efficiency attempting to convert from one way of doing things to another; I’m skeptical that that the eventual gain is greater than that loss.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Thank you for saying that. For the program I use there are key board short cuts longer than this sentence. Just let me use my damn mouse. Twenty seven keys is NOT shorter. grr. And then the short cuts don’t work. haahaha ( that is me crying).

          I am probably one of those people who would slow down tremendously if I was forced to use short cuts.

    6. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Lying is wrong, but let’s face it, we all wish we could get away with it at some point, especially with a boss we don’t like or respect, or who we think treats us unfairly. I think the most effective counterargument isn’t that its wrong, but one that appeals to people’s selfish sides, because even in those situations lying is a bad idea.

      First, remember that if you ever get caught, you might well be fired, and if you keep your job you’ll certainly never be believed again. Everything you say will be thought of as a probably lie. Imagine how that would feel if a family member actually needed surgery, and the boss didn’t believe you. You might think there’s no chance of being found out, but there’s always some chance, no matter how small.

      Second, I wouldn’t exactly say that work comes first, but I would say that I wouldn’t risk my job just to have a specific celebration on a specific date. The boss and other workers are relying on the OP to contribute equally, while the boyfriend shouldn’t care so much when they have their date, just that they can have one. To me, I’d feel bad that I was inconveniencing the boss and co-workers for no good reason. Plus, the fewer favors you ask for and the more you grant (working extra shifts on short notice when you can), the more likely you will get leeway when there is an emergency, like an actual surgery.

      1. JMegan*

        Also, you’ll find as you get older that Valentines Day on Feb 14th just isn’t possible for a lot of people – usually for work reasons, but lots of other things come up too.

        And for those who can celebrate on the 14th often find it to be really expensive, especially if the 14th falls on a weekend as it does this year. Restaurants are often more expensive and more crowded, and of course the price of flowers (especially roses) gets jacked way up as well.

        I don’t want to sound cynical, or put a damper on your fun. I’m just suggesting that you can enjoy Valentines Day just as much, and often more conveniently, if you’re not tied to a specific day on the calendar. Enjoy your day, whenever you decide to celebrate!

        1. Arjay*

          Yes, and imagine how you would feel going to dinner or the movies or whatever on Saturday and running into your boss or a co-worker or even a nosy customer. If you aren’t swayed by it just being the wrong thing to do, please consider that the risk:reward ratio isn’t in your favor either.

        2. Natalie*

          In the opinion of my chef and restaurant industry friends, Valentine’s Day is one of the worst days to go out to eat (Mother’s Day is another). Every place is crowded and the chef’s are so rushed that they’re incapable to doing their best work. Restaurants know they get a lot of business so they push the extra marked-up stuff, too.

        3. manybellsdown*

          That’s what I was thinking #4. I never go out on Valentine’s Day if I can avoid it, because restaurants are booked solid and the prices are hiked up. Like JMegan says, it’s much more pleasant and less expense and hassle if you don’t get hung up on that specific day.

        4. Cath in Canada*

          Yup! My birthday’s on the 16th and it was never a problem when I was younger, because everyone would go out for Valentine’s on the 14th regardless of which day of the week if fell on, and would be free for my birthday celebration, again regardless of which day of the week it was. Now that we’re older, both VDay and my birthday celebrations tend to be on the weekend closest to the actual date, and a lot of people aren’t available on my birthday because they’re out on VDay dates instead.

          My husband and I don’t celebrate VDay, precisely because of the ridiculous price mark-ups and the difficulty in making dinner reservations. We picked the anniversary of our first date instead – a day that’s special specifically to us, when we can go out for dinner at whichever restaurant we like – and stay home eating pizza on Feb 14th :)

        5. Melissa*

          Yes! Me and the husband usually celebrate Valentine’s Day the week after February 14, if we celebrate it at all. It’s super expensive to do it on the 14th and all the restaurants are booked, but the week after everyone’s already spent their money and so places are emptier!

      2. CMartin*

        “Plus, the fewer favors you ask for and the more you grant (working extra shifts on short notice when you can), the more likely you will get leeway when there is an emergency, like an actual surgery.”

        This might be how things work in career-type jobs, but unfortunately after a decade of service industry work I feel pretty confident in asserting that isn’t true for things like “working in an ice cream shop”. The fewer favors you ask, and the more you grant, the more they come to rely on you, and the harder time they will give you when you actually do have an emergency. When you get the reputation of “the one who always shows up”, then they don’t know what to do when you can’t.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          You’re right, that’s not the case in every office job either, but that’s what we should expect, just as we should expect to be treated with at least civility if not respect. If your workplace doesn’t work that way (and yes, I’ve seen office environments that don’t also), you shouldn’t accept that as OK or normal.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I can’t stand not using the mouse. I use some keyboard shortcuts (Ctrl+V and C, etc.). Take my mouse away? Nope. This boss would be too much of a micro-manager for me.

      1. Beancounter in Texas*

        Ditto. I use lots of keyboard commands that do streamline my work, but certain things are simply easier for the mouse. Yowza. I only thought my boss was a bit of a micro-manager!

    8. Ann Furthermore*

      OP#4, I don’t want to pile on you, but after thinking about this a bit more I do have a couple things to add. There was a great “Ask the Readers” post here awhile back, with a letter from someone asking what advice they should give to their teenager, who was getting ready to enter the workforce. There was some great advice there; you should give it a read.

      I’ll give you the same advice I gave my daughter, now 17, who has been working at a grocery store for almost a year. She’s done very well there; she started as a courtesy clerk and is now a checker. There is a perception that teenagers, as a rule, are flighty, flaky, and unreliable. That’s because some of them are. So as a teenager, you need to work hard to dispel that notion with your boss and co-workers, and there are some ways to do that.

      1. Be reliable. Be on time, every single day that you’re scheduled to work. And being on time means that if you’re scheduled to start working at 10 AM, you don’t arrive at work at 10 AM. You get there at 9:45, so you can find a place to park, get inside, put your purse away, punch in, etc, so that you’re ready to start working at 10:00 or a few minutes before.

      2. Do whatever is asked of you, cheerfully and willingly, even if it’s a horrible task that everyone hates to do. When you’re new, that means you’re the lowest person on the food chain, and you’ll be doing alot of grunt work, at least to start. Do it without complaint, and do the best job you can. Pretty soon, you’ll get to do other things — either because someone has started after you, and inherits those tasks, and/or because you’ll have built up some goodwill with your boss, and earned his/her trust, and proven yourself a bit.

      3. Leave your phone in your purse or locker, and only check it on your breaks. Even if you have your phone on silent, if it’s with you, it’s too tempting to check it. And that goes for everyone…not just teenagers. Sometimes I have to give myself a mental hand-slap to leave my phone alone.

      If you do all that, you’ll establish yourself as a good, steady, reliable employee, which makes any boss happy. And, then when things do come up, then there’s no question about your motives or integrity. If you’re sick, your boss will say, “Oh, bummer. Take care of yourself and feel better,” instead of wondering if you’re just making excuses. If your car breaks down on your way to work, making you late, your boss will think, “I wonder where Jane is? She’s always here on time. I hope everything is OK,” instead of, “Ugh, teenagers are so unreliable!” And when there is a legitimate emergency, your boss will be flexible and understanding about giving you the time off you need. When you’re ready to move on, you’ll have prior experience to put on a resume or job application, plus a great reference in your back pocket.

      Of course, there are bosses out there who are just jerks no matter what you do. But for the most part, if you work hard and are reliable, that goes a long, long way towards making any manager very happy.

  3. KirynSilverwing*

    If it turns out to be the sound of the clicking that bothers him, maybe you could look into getting a silent mouse. I made my husband get one back when he would stay up late working on his computer and the constant clicking of his mouse kept me awake. I could barely hear the clicking after he started using the silent one.

    1. "It's a Sugar song"*

      I wonder how old #1’s boss is? He may miss the days of the 3270 green-screen terminals (this is from when IBM 360 / 370 / MVS / PROFS were the heavy hitters). Terminals didn’t have mice – it was all a matter of using tab and arrow keys to move around the screen.

      Going mouseless today is different. Hotkey command equivalents are not always well thought out, and might not cover the full range of functions in the software. (Sometimes these keys are supported as mostly an afterthought, so that the software developer can claim the software adheres to standards about accessibility).

      This probably won’t fly for you, but have you considered a Trackpoint keyboard? You can still get them from Lenovo.

        1. Carrie in Scotland*

          Are they the same person?

          The snappy usernames are quite fun to come across, I must say :)

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Typically there’s no reason to, but in this case I took a look at the IP out of curiosity after there were a flood of these in a short time period. (The IP is sent to me with every comment notification.)

              1. Not So NewReader*

                This has been going on for a while now and I was wondering about it.

                Perhaps this person does not realize that we only change names when we are talking about something very personal that is identifying.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I’m definitely okay with it if someone wants to do it this way — but I was genuinely curious about what’s going on!

                  The downside to doing it this way is that you lose the advantages of being a known, regular commenter (which includes things like getting the benefit of the doubt from others if a comment doesn’t come across quite right, being able to have ongoing rapport with people, etc.). But it’s okay with me if people want to make that trade-off.

      1. Christy*

        I will not derail with a rant about accessibility as an afterthought. I will not derail with a rant about accessibility as an afterthought. I will not derail with a rant about accessibility as an afterthought.

        That said, mothereffing SharePoint. It’s like they did the barest minimum and then didn’t try to make it any better by testing with screenreaders.

        1. Hlyssande*

          But why on Earth would they do that? It’s not like it would’ve made anything better-OH WAIT.

            1. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)*

              Oh god.We are going to have to start using Sharepoint soon. Will I be screaming the way I do at our outdated systems now?

        2. LQ*


          I ask people on my team to go mouseless once in a while to demonstrate how we need to work with accessibility standards. We always do better for a while after.

        3. Kathryn T.*

          I am close to someone who was heavily involved with Sharepoint development (although not as a developer) for much of a decade. Your statement is. . . more accurate than you know.

      2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        I am from the green screen days as well but since I spend more time on Windows – the mouse rules.

        1. Chinook*

          “I am from the green screen days as well but since I spend more time on Windows – the mouse rules.”

          I am another dinosaur from the green screen and black screen/orange text days and there is a reason that input systems evolved. I too love being mouseless when I can (it not only drives me batty when a program has no shortcuts but my my massage therapist can actually tell the difference in my one shoulder), but there is a time and a place when the mouse does make you more efficient. If I had a boss who would insist on hiding my mouse, I would counteract by buying a tiny wireless mosue that I can hide in the palm of my hand (I have one for WFH on my laptop and only use it when using certain work programs.)

      3. hayling*

        My mom is a bookkeeper and she reminisces about the days of DOS. QuickBooks was a lot faster to use because everything had a keyboard shortcut.

      4. Bookmouse*

        That’s exactly what I thought 2 days into the job!! He is early 50’s so it seems probable to me that this is exactly the case. Also, he types like my 10 yr old. I have learned new commands that I now use alongside my mousey-ways, and agree that both methods have their perks.

    2. Bookmouse*

      That’s a great idea. My mouse is pretty quiet, though compared to the other one in the office. In his obsession with key commands, he is intolerant of any mouse use at all. The only reason I’ve lasted this long is because he travels often and is easily distracted with his own chaos.

  4. Mostly Sarcasm*

    OP#1, if he takes your mouse away, make yourself a cheat sheet of keyboard shortcuts and when he’s watching, spend a REALLY LONG TIME looking up the command. Fight rediculous fire with even more rediculous fire.

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      Just be warned that you might accidentally learn them in the process. ;)

      I admit I am a hotkey convert for some applications , and now I’m going to go Google “Adobe hotkey cheat sheets” because they’ve got to be out there.

    2. Cautionary tail*

      I use keyboard shortcuts all the time and my colleagues are always astounded with how fast I can get things done. Having said that, my computer has two mice and two keyboards. It’s all laid out from left to right as gaming mouse at high sensitivity setting, ergo keyboard, regular mouse, wireless keyboard. People watching me get very confused as to where the commands are coming from. When someone shadows me I park a keyboard and mouse and slow down so they can see what’s going on.

      1. Cautionary tail*

        And I guess I should mention that I’m ambidextrous so I’ll use whatever device with whatever hand.

        1. brightstar*

          Hello another ambidextrous person!

          On topic, I also use a lot of keyboard shortcuts to save time.

        2. Ann Furthermore*

          LOL. I think an old boss of mine was ambidextrous, or at the very least, quite adept at working with both hands. She was also super smart, and would talk through things very quickly. So she would talk a mile a minute, while typing with one hand and using the mouse with the other. It was pretty impressive. I’m fast, but nothing like her.

          One of my co-workers — who was very smart in her own right, but did things in a very measured, methodical manner — was just completely blown away by this. We would sit in my boss’s cube talking through things, or trying to figure out month-end variances, and my boss would whiz around her spreadsheet, typing with one hand, using the mouse with the other, talking away, and my co-worker would just be sitting there, shaking her head.

          1. brightstar*

            I wish I were that coordinated, often I am not. My party trick is to write with both hands at the same time, though. But I do that a bit slowly.

        3. MAB*

          My husband is learning to be at least competent at left hand mousing and it is amazing to watch at a keyboard. Do you use a KVM switch?

          1. Cautionary tail*

            No KVM. It’s a notebook computer sitting in a docking station with lots of USB ports so everything is simultaneously live. The setup also has 2 monitors, 4 speakers, 3 printers and 12 TB of mirrored external storage. Both mice are set up as right handed ones and when I use them with my left hand I just press the left mouse button with my middle finger and the right button with my index finger.

      1. Bookmouse*

        Hahaa! So good! He does make me “tab” over to the little Google search window instead of just typing it into the address bar…

    3. Bookmouse*

      I actually memorize things well and learned many commands quickly in the beginning and wanted to impress him with my progress, so that ship has kind of sailed. But he can tell that I abandoned them at some point and is now harping on it again.

  5. Csarndt*

    #4-ugh…I think I just threw up in my mouth a bit. Forgive me for being judgemental, but you’re 17…and it’s a teenage boyfriend that’s not likely to still be in a relationship with you by your two year ‘anniversary’ (plus when did dating get anniversaries anyway?). It’s not like your shift is all 24 hours of valentines day. It’s not like you’ve been together for 20 years and he has a terminal disease that makes it probable this is your last valentines day together. It’s not like going out to dinner on valentines day is inexpensive and restraunts are pleasantly under crowded.

    The fact you’re even considering being dishonest about something as serious as your father’s throat cancer to get a whole day off to kissyface with your boyfriend stinks of immaturity. If I were your parents, I’d be ticked that you used dad’s serious health condition as an excuse to get a day off of work then spent it with your boyfriend instead of your father. Plus, who gets planned surgery on a Saturday?

    1. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

      This is an incredibly inappropriate and judgemental reply. What have you achieved by condescending to a 17-year-old who had the good sense to write into a management blog asking for advice?

    2. All watched over by machines of loving grace*

      Hey, she’s 17 years old. I give her credit for being smart enough to ask for advice on the matter!

    3. carolina*

      Definitely agree she shouldn’t lie but your tone is unnecessary. She asked for advice, and Alison answered fairly. She does not deserve to be piled on.

    4. Jen RO*

      Yes, of course she is immature – she’s 17! But she also had more sense than many adults and wrote to Alison… Not everyone was born knowing everything about the world, so your comment just seems unnecessarily nasty.

      1. Coco*

        I really appreciate you sympathizing with the LW. But I think it might be unfair to say “of course she is immature.” Immature is so often equated with stupid, hyperemotional, and selfish. Even though saying “of course she is” comes from a place of compassion, it’s unnecessarily negative and condescending. I don’t normally like to nitpick about word choice, but I can remember feeling really devalued as a teenager.

        1. Jen RO*

          I remember it too… and now I can recognize I really *was* immature. Of course I didn’t like to hear it back then, and I wasn’t immature in all respects, but it doesn’t make it untrue.

          1. Tinker*

            The funny thing from my perspective — and granted, I am a bit of an odd person — is that, looking back, the areas in which I was immature were not in areas where people recognized my immaturity. The trick was, I was an academically gifted kid of the fairly conventional type, and very invested in avoiding the “foolishness of youth” that I had heard so much about, to the extent that I didn’t really make my own decisions without looking for approval from the adults around me. This sort of behavior was actually terribly naive and immature, but for obvious reasons it tended to get me praise.

            The stuff that I got the “you’ll understand when you’re older” line about tended to be my philosophical ideas about the proper use of authority and power, which admittedly have developed a lot since then, but definitely not in the direction that my interlocutors intended to imply. There are a number of circumstances that I noted at the time as being Not Right, my opinion at the time got dismissed, and with greater maturity (and, for instance, an understanding of what “professional responsibility” entailed) I actually am more outraged about what transpired than I was then.

            I think there’s a fine line when dealing with teenagers of recognizing their lack of experience without invalidating their present experience and judgment, and sometimes it seems that motivated reasoning (for instance, a kid who flatters you is clearly behaving maturely; a kid who contradicts you is clearly immature) clouds the picture.

              1. maggie*

                Me too. And I just learned a new word! (interlocutor; although I am unclear of whether she was interrogated or whether she was minstrel-ed. ha!)

            1. Chinook*

              “I think there’s a fine line when dealing with teenagers of recognizing their lack of experience without invalidating their present experience and judgment,”

              I also want to add that, for the LW, this relationship has been 1/16th of her life. For someone at my age (40), that would be the equivalent of experiencing a 2.5 year long relationship. This is also a relationship that is important to her and we shouldn’t belittle her for valuing it. I still hurt when, a week before my graduation, we had a major personnel chaneg in our community that, among other things, could have derailed our graduation. I was concerned because it was my only high school graduation but the “adults” around us brushed it off as being “no big deal in the grand scheme of things.” Well, sure, in those adults’ lives, it wasn’t but, in my life, it most definitely was. What is important to one person doesn’t have to be important to others in order to be valid (as long as it doesn’t hurt the others, of course).

              1. Karyn*


                Also, regarding the “it’s a teenage boyfriend that’s not likely to still be in a relationship with you by your two year ‘anniversary’” comment… my sister started dating her boyfriend when they were 16, and they’re 24 now and living together. They’re still technically “dating” as they have no plans to marry – does that mean they don’t get to celebrate anniversaries?

                1. KJR*

                  FWIW, my husband and I started dating when we were barely 18. We’ve been married for 22 years. It can happen.

                2. Melissa*

                  I started dating my boyfriend at 14. Fourteen years later we’ve been married for 2.5 years. It doesn’t always happen…but it does happen sometimes!

                3. Brisvegan*

                  Another early relationship here. I married my husband when I was eighteen. We are going to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary in a couple of weeks.

                  Though LW is young, this relationship is important and feels important to the LW. I agree that LW shouldn’t lie and should go to work if rostered on. It is pretty normal and usual to work on significant dates (for example, I am totally working on my upcoming 25th wedding anniversary!). However, that doesn’t mean that this relationship feels more important to the LW than their job. I read LW’s letter as meaning that the LW is not used to having to do less emotionally important things (serve strangers ice cream) when more emotionally important things (relationship milestone) crop up.

                  LW, you will get better at figuring out how to balance this stuff and make the choices. Sometimes it may feel totally justified to quit a job and be without pay for an issue or attachment that is important. Sometimes it may be possible for you to balance both (and in your question, I would say it could be very possible in lots of ways, including using different days or part of the 14th only). Sometimes you will have to prioritise the less emotionally important stuff (you need a job to eat, even though it sucks or your partner is hurt by no joint holiday etc).

                  Also, sometimes, you might want to re-evaluate if your need/want/wish to keep a job is not recognised by someone else who wants you to prioritise your connection to them over the job. (NOT saying that is happening here, but if anyone’s partner is pushing you to jeopardise your job, that can be a warning sign that they do not respect you and care about your needs or want to control you.)

                  Best of luck LW. Hope you can balance both needs in a happy way.

            2. Kelly L.*

              Yes! I had one teacher who was absolutely vicious, and whenever he harangued us, he’d tell us that when we were older, we’d understand that he was right. The years have instead taught me that he was an asshole, just like I’d thought.

        2. Kelly L.*

          As I get older, I think I get even more sympathy for my teen self. Most of what I was feeling was 100% real, and as real as the things I feel now as an adult. The intensity was kind of cranked to 11 (probably for hormonal reasons), but I really did love Guy X and really did get bullied and really did experience depression, and in retrospect I get madder at the adults in my life for not taking most of it seriously. My mom did take a lot of it seriously and it’s part of why I love her to bits. I have wondered if for some people, a sort of veil falls over their teen memories for some neurological reason and they forget what it felt like, and if my own brain didn’t get the memo somehow.

          1. Ezri*

            I think there’s a tendency to idealize the teen years because it’s perceived as ‘all fun and no responsibility’. But I’m like you, I vividly remember being a teenager and it was awful at the time – you feel everything at 200% intensity without any sort of filter. Not to mention that the lack of ‘adult’ responsibility is balanced out by a lack of adult freedoms.

            1. Kelly L.*

              Yup! I was restricted enough, and poor enough, that there wasn’t really any of the fun, just all the drama and trauma. My college years were probably more carefree than they should have been*, but that was later.

              *Oddly, not the usual college trouble! I didn’t drink a ton and didn’t use any illicit drugs–I got in credit card trouble instead. Gah. And ran on a massive sleep deficit and caffeine high at all times.

              1. Zillah*

                (I mean this as a joke – I’m sure that some people had wonderful teenage years! But, like, it was so awful for pretty much everyone I knew that I don’t understand how some people experienced enough positives to idealize.)

              2. Merry and Bright*

                Reminds me of one of Winston Churchill’s sayings – that people who said their schooldays were the happiest of their lives had his greatest sympathy!

            2. steve g*

              Being a teen is hard – school starts way too early, you do schoolwork 50hrs a week and still have to get a parttime job on top of that to pay for anything…have to rely on not-available adults for rides, have them grill you about every part of your personal life, don’t get to pick your pto, and may not actually get any time off because ur parttime jobs is always going….then growth spurts, acne, hormones….ugh….poor teens!

              1. I'm a Little Teapot*

                Yep. Not to mention the ugly social scene, the total lack of respect from older people, being subject to parental whims (my parents were usually reasonable, but I knew others who weren’t so lucky and would get told “You’re grounded because you’re being annoying” or “you’re not allowed to read for fun ever because your grades are bad.” The latter was particularly cruel; the girl in question was very bright but hated school because she was viciously bullied, and science fiction novels were the only joy in her life).

                I’m 33 and so glad I never have to deal with that crap again.

                1. Kelly L.*

                  Oh yeah, my dad loved to impose surprise conditions on things. You can go to this, you can go to this, no wait, last minute, you can’t go because of random thing he got on a kick about that week.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            Love this thread here and these comments. I would not go back to my teenage years for a million bucks. No way.
            And as I get older, I start to realize that it was not my imagination, some older people actually DO treat teens with the utmost of disrespect.

            I think the one thing that jumps out at me, is when my gray hair started coming in, people stopped letting doors go in my face. I try to always hold doors for people- age/gender does not matter. So I notice when a door flies shut on me. It doesn’t make me angry, I just notice that’s all. So when it stopped happen so much, I really notice. I thought to myself how many times does a young person stand next to an older person and that older person looks right through them???
            This is only one small example.

        3. WorkingMom*

          Exactly. Letter Writer – you are responsible for having your job and recognizing that it’s a big deal to ask for the day off to celebrate your anniversary with your boyfriend. I also understand the urge to lie to give you a better shot at getting the day off. Lying is wrong, and karma will eventually get your for it, even if it’s small. Your anniversary with your boyfriend is a big deal, and you should be honest with your boss when you request the day off. However, if your boss says no, you have to accept it and work that day with a positive attitude. You are at the point in your life where you are crossing over from childhood to adulthood, and it stinks, but you can’t always celebrate milestones on the actual day. Could you celebrate on Friday night? Celebrating a day early or day late doesn’t lesson the magnitude of the milestone, but it does prove that you are becoming an adult. I’m sorry if you don’t get the day off, I certainly understand why you want it off. I hope you get it – but if you don’t please don’t be too upset, and I hope your boyfriend understands as well.

          To whomever said “since when does dating get an anniversary” – um, all the time. Do you know any couple that does not in any way celebrate the anniversary of the day they met, or their first date, or some other milestone in any way, until they are married? Life is about celebrating with our loved ones, whether you’re 17 and celebrating your one year anniversary of dating, or 50 and celebrating 35 years of marriage, or any age and celebrating your dogs birthday. If you can’t get on-board with celebrating the big and little things in life, you’re doing it wrong.

          Good luck, OP!

          1. C Average*

            *timidly raises hand*

            Of all the dating relationships I’ve had, I only remembered the “dating anniversary” for one of them, and that’s because it happened to be St. Patrick’s Day. I’m sentimental about some stuff, but dates aren’t one of them.

            I agree with your broader point about celebrating important things! But not all couples celebrate the anniversary of the day they met, the day they started dating, etc. You could waterboard me and I wouldn’t be able to provide those dates. I truly have no idea when my husband and I met and started dating.

            (He’s as bad as I am. We got married the Saturday before the Boston Marathon, because he’s from Boston and we were in town for the race and it made sense logistically. We celebrate our anniversary on the Saturday before the Boston Marathon every year, regardless of the actual date, because we both have to look up the actual date to get it right. We like having a “rolling anniversary.” It’s fun!)

            1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

              As someone who spends a good bit of time around teenage girls, dating anniversaries are definitely a “thing”. Many couples celebrate all the “month-a-versaries”. Whether or not this feels like a big deal to somebody outside that situation, it is very common, and very important, in middle and high schools. It’s a measure of the status of the relationship. I don’t remember this having the same importance when I was in high school, so I think it’s been elevated since then.

            2. ThursdaysGeek*

              I remember calling my mother for Mother’s Day the year after we were married and my mother told me “Happy Anniversary”. Until she said that, I had forgotten. I’m better at remembering it now (this year it will be 30), but I have no idea of the date we met, and our dates were things like catching frogs or having snowball fights, so again, no memories of the dates those happened.

              1. Chinook*

                I am another date forgetter and Dh is only mildly better. Our wedding anniversary actually comes with a fail safe back-up though – we had to elope a month earlier in order for him to be aroudn for our wedding ceremony, so we technically have two: our “pizza anniversary” (because he then had to sneak off base to have dinner with me later that day and I ordered in pizza otherwise we would have seen each other for all of 30 minutes the day we eloped) and our “wedding anniversary” which is when the ceremony was (though it is not our legal marriage date. When the first one roles around, we realize we have little less than a month get our act together to do something.

                1. Kelly L.*

                  Like C Average, we celebrate ours based on an event that happens every year, but not on the same day every year.

            3. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

              LOL, my husband I met/started dating the day before my birthday… so he’s in SERIOUS trouble if he forgets! ;)

          2. Karyn*

            Yup. My HS relationships had “monthaversaries.” And as I said above, my sister starting dating her boyfriend when they were 16 and they’re 24 now and still “dating” (technically, they’re living together and not engaged, so I guess that’s what we’d call it). They certainly celebrate anniversaries together.

            I’m a Jew, though, so I’m biased. ANY REASON TO CELEBRATE/EAT!

        4. Melissa*

          Immature has those connotations, but that’s not what it means – it literally means lacking maturity, which is true of 17-year-olds. I’m assuming that’s how Jen RO means it – not that the OP #4 is stupid or selfish in any way, but that she doesn’t have the maturity to realize that this is a major no no – which is to be expected since she’s just 17.

      2. Observer*

        There is immaturity and there is immaturity. At 17 I knew better than to even ask, and I know lots of others who did, as well.

        On the other hand, this response is WAY over the top, in my opinion. As you say, at least she had the sense to ask. And while her romantic life seems silly to some, to HER it’s a big deal. And, having a past is not the only thing that gives something significance.

        1. NoPantsFridays*

          Right — I worked in high school too and wouldn’t have dreamed of pulling something like this. (I may or may not have gone too far in the other direction and shown up sick, infecting coworkers and customers/clients, but wouldn’t have done this!) I’m flabbergasted at the OP, but still think the response that you are discussing is too over-the-top. It’s absurd to blame this on the OP’s age when, frankly, most 17 year olds I knew when I was 17 and that I’ve known since wouldn’t have dreamed of doing this.

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Whoa. There is a kinder way to talk to people who write in for advice here, even when you disagree with them; please don’t talk to letter-writers this way!

      1. Csarndt*

        maybe my tone is jaded by too many people for too long using crappy excuses to avoid work (movie tickets, softball leagues, I’ve heard some doozies), and for that I apologize and will say my piece and exit stage left…but really?! She gets credit for asking if it’s ok to lie? Shouldn’t a 17 year old know it’s not ok to lie? After her mom already told her it’s not ok to lie? And I’m not allowed to mourn for what society has become that this is even a question.
        Like I said,I’m sorry my tone came across as unacceptable, I’ll be going now.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          You’re welcome to mourn what society has become :) You’re not welcome to tell letter-writers that their letters made you throw up in your mouth.

          1. Lily in NYC*

            And that “throw up in my mouth” phrase has been annoyingly passé for a couple of years now.

        2. YogiJosephina*

          Stop trying to justify your response with her behavior. You know what else “you should know” by whatever age you are now? That you are responsible for your own words and actions, and someone else’s poor/immature judgement or behavior doesn’t give you permission to be a hostile, condescending jerk.

          1. BRR*

            Should we move this up? The reply button for the original comment is above the thread so people may reply before they read this.

        3. Merry and Bright*

          Everything is a big deal when you are 17 not to mention still being with your boyfriend after a year. So I understand where the OP is coming from. The perspective is a bit different and she hasn’t just gone ahead and told the lie. It was a bit harsh.

          As to mourning a more honest society, when I was 17 older people did just that – and that is many more years than I want to admit to.

          1. Kelly L.*

            And as we saw with the letter about the woman who did fake a cross-country trip to see an ill relative, there are middle-aged grown adults who don’t know not to do this.

              1. Arbynka*

                Yep. I so wish I could throw the first stone… but I have lied before. And for no other reason that it seemed like less hassle than being straight forward. Well, live and learn, right ?

                1. Kelly L.*

                  I remember at about age 20, I told a whopping lie in a romantic situation. It was really well thought out…except for one glaring plot hole that would have sunk me if the person had thought about it more carefully. What actually did sink me was that I was seen in the exact place I was claiming not to be…

            1. I'm a Little Teapot*

              Or that woman who took up a collection to go to her 9-year-old grandson’s funeral, but then used the money to buy her husband a power tool.

          2. Anonymous Ninja*

            Back in the late 80s when we were 17, my co-worker had to have the entire day off for Valentine’s, her birthday and her dating-anniversary. Then she started seeing two different guys (neither knew about the other) and she needed TWO weekends off in a row. It bothered me to no end, but she saw nothing wrong with it.

            Many years later, the owner of the company retired and all of the past employees were invited to his retirement party. My old co-worker was there and she changed considerably. I believe she even apologized to me for her behavior (it was more than just needing time off).

            People change, we grow older, we learn. We’re always going to make mistakes; what’s more important is that we learn from them.

    6. JAL*

      I know two people who met when one of them was 17. They’ve been together for over 30 years. They are my parents. So yes, this is ridiculously judgmental.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        My first date with my husband was one month before I turned 18. . .so, when I was 17. : )

        This was in the 1990s; we’ve been together a couple years now.

      2. NoPantsFridays*

        Yeah, actually, I know a couple who met when they were both 15. It was a big deal because she was a “whopping” 5 months older. They are now in their 30s, married and still together. I mean, every relationship has to start at some point that will seem “too young” to those outside the relationship. There is really no age old enough to be socially acceptable, unless you marry in your 40s, then apparently it’s “too old”.

        The issue shouldn’t be with OP’s age and the age of her boyfriend, or how long they’ve been together, it’s with the idea of lying as she is proposing to do.

        1. Kelly L.*

          I had to do a huge mental shift on things like marriage and pregnancy. I somehow internalized the “don’t get pregnant early, don’t get married early” thing so. hard. that it stuck even when it didn’t make sense anymore. When I was like 26, many of my friends and sibs started to marry and have kids, and I would think “They’re too young!” and then realize…no, they’re a totally normal age for that stuff.

          1. Elysian*

            Yeah still working on the pregnancy thing. My friends tell me they’re pregnant and my first reaction is still “OMG what are you going to do?!!?!?” I’m 29.

            1. AnotherAlison*

              Being married young, I’m on the opposite end, but still “OMG what are you going to do!” Our oldest son is 17 (ironically enough for this discussion). I have high school friends who are having their first baby now. I worry about them having babies at such an advanced age — it would be my worst nightmare to be pregnant again now. (I’m joking, but medically they are in the older mom zone.)

            2. dragonzflame*

              Haha, I know! My first instinct is not to start congratulating just in case it wasn’t planned and not something to be congratulated on for reasons, and then I realise…we’re in our late 20s-early 30s. Congratulate away!

              1. NoPantsFridays*

                Yeah, not everyone wants kids (or more kids) at that age either…but, at that age, people aren’t going to be announcing pregnancies they aren’t keeping.

      3. Melissa*

        I met (and started dating) my husband when I was 14! And I have several pairs of friends who started dating when we were in high school together and are now married or engaged.

        But I think, more importantly, whether or not a relationship leads to marriage or something serious doesn’t diminish the importance of celebrating it while its happening. Maybe she and her boyfriend won’t be together next V-Day – but why is that relevant, anyway? They still want to celebrate this one.

    7. Elysian*

      I still celebrate my dating anniversary with my husband, and we’ve been married almost 5 years! It’s nice to have a day set aside where we remember when we got together and the good times we had before we were married. We also celebrate the anniversary of the day he proposed. I like to celebrate the good things in life! I don’t take off work for any of those days though, and if something happens and we can’t celebrate on “the” date, we celebrate on a close by date. Same with Valentine’s – it’s on a weekend this year, but when its on a Wednesday or something we usually celebrate on a weekend anyway. I think a lot of people end up not celebrating Valentine’s on The Day for various similar reasons, depending on when it falls in the year. If the letter writer has to work she should just pick another nearby day to celebrate (not lie!).

      1. SystemsLady*

        My husband’s going to be Somewhere In The Ocean during almost all of the “big dates” for us (spring was a good season, eh?), so we just plan on making the week he comes back a Very Good Week :).

        Sometimes you have no choice but to let work come first and you just have to roll with it.

        1. Facilities&more*

          As a mother who has a son that is at times Somewhere In (Under) The Ocean I can relate to making the most of the time you do get with your loved ones – any holiday can be celebrated at any time and it is still special.

      2. manybellsdown*

        Our wedding date was as close as possible to the day we met. So our wedding anniversary is also our met/dating anniversary. So 12 years later he still remembers the day we met!

    8. Zillah*

      Not touching the rest of this with a ten foot pole, but –

      Of course dating gets anniversaries. When did dating not get anniversaries? Milestones in relationships don’t only become meaningful when you get married, and it’s not at all weird that people like to celebrate significant milestones as they reach them. The idea that a couple shouldn’t celebrate anniversaries if they’re “only” dating is not only ridiculous on its face, but also pretty antiquated in an age where fewer people are choosing to get married at all – not to mention being super heteronormative.

      OP, I get it. My anniversary with my (live-in but not married to) partner is actually on Valentine’s Day, and it’s important to us to celebrate it. I’m not sure whether your anniversary is on Valentine’s Day or they’re just both in February, but regardless, I think that lying is a horrible idea – and honestly, I think you probably shouldn’t even ask about Valentine’s Day, whether or not it’s your anniversary.

      As you get older, you’ll probably be put in this situation more and more: important anniversaries or events will unfortunately coincide with your work schedule. Sometimes, you can take them off, but you’ve got a far better shot if it’s just some random day in April rather than a well-known holiday – and even then, sometimes it just won’t be feasible. That sucks, but it is what it is. Celebrate with your boyfriend before work or after work, just like you’d have to do if it was a weekday and you had school.

      If you still have the temptation to lie, think about this: it’s not at all uncommon for people, including bosses, to want to send flowers to someone close to someone they know who’s been hospitalized, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if your boss did something like that, particularly because it’s Valentine’s Day – bosses aren’t stupid, and having an unavoidable “appointment” or calling out “sick” on Valentine’s Day is generally going to be looked at with suspicion.

      1. Cheesecake*

        I really like your detailed explanation and i agree that people have rights to celebrate whatever they please and anniversaries are important to celebrate. I personally don’t like hype about Vday, but that is me. However, i find it harsh saying: “well, this is a bullsh!t case for celebration!”

        I understand OP is confused 17 yo. We all here were 17 (maybe some still are), we all lied, starting with “dog ate my homework “. I can’t judge OP for lying, i once or twice overstated my terrible life-threatening cold. What sort of puts me off is this particular lie. Because even the willingness to celebrate important relationships milestone can’t be justified by lying about parent’s condition.

      2. Rory*

        That’s the second time in as many weeks that I’ve noticed your usage of the term “heternormative”. Could you just chill out and stop going out of your way looking for insults or discrimination?

        1. Zillah*

          I don’t think I need to “chill out” – I’m not tense, and I wasn’t tense when I wrote that comment. I also didn’t accuse anyone of insulting or discriminating against anyone – I don’t think anyone did.

          However, I do think that saying that it’s silly to assign anniversaries for dating is antiquated and heteronormative – the former because marriage is occurring much later, if at all, even for committed couples, and the latter because there are many places in the United States and the world at large where marriage isn’t an option for people in same-sex relationships. Both dynamics are worth pointing out; I’m not sure why you think they’re irrelevant.

          1. Anna*

            I’m not sure I’d call it heteronormative, especially since the US is moving more and more toward marriage equality. I wouldn’t get too far in to the weeds on whether or not dating anniversaries being celebrated are heteronormative when the whole concept might be a little…western to start with.

            1. Zillah*

              There are many states in the US that have embraced marriage equality, but there are still plenty that have not. Regardless, though – guys, I didn’t dwell on it being antiquated or heteronormative because I don’t think that’s a super important part of the post. I noticed groups that “anniversary = marriage” would exclude in the western world, and I mentioned them before going on to address the OP. I’m really not sure why this is becoming a big thing.

      3. WorkingMom*

        Zillah – That’s totally right and I completely forgot about that angle! Good reminder in case you are ever tempted to lie! I recall many years ago, a coworker was near the end of her pregnancy, in the last few weeks. We had a big morning meeting and she was a no-show, we all assumed it was baby-time. Sure enough, we got a text from her that they were at the hospital! Yay! Director called the hospital (we knew which hospital) to get her room number to send flowers from the office. Turns out, no one under name had checked into the hospital. Oops. I don’t believe he called her out, he just tucked that knowledge away.

        1. Jennifer*

          Hah, we used to have a guy at my volunteer job who bailed out of showing up to teach several classes because his girlfriend went into labor. Like three times, with no baby showing up. Yeah, I know that can happen, but after awhile… he got canned.

          1. amy*

            …I went into labour 3 times. Thankfully the third time the baby actually came out!

            It was super awkward because each time was a Monday, 3 weeks in a row and the first time was in the middle of a shift during my last week. I’d organised cover for work within a couple of hours but when nothing had eventuated 12 hours later I called the boss and told him to hold off announcing the good news.

            Seriously by the third run even the hospital nurses had had enough!

    9. Miss Betty*

      That’s just mean. And unnecessary. She’s 17 – good for her for asking an expert about her plan before putting it into action. Not every 17 year old would have that amount of forethought. Not every 37 year old would have that amount of forethought. Also, I remember my friends in high school celebrating their dating anniversaries – and I graduated in 1981. I imagine that my mom’s friends and my grandmother’s friends probably did the same. In addition, young love doesn’t generally last, but “doesn’t generally” does not mean “never”.

      1. Lyssa*

        Also, just because it doesn’t last doesn’t mean that it’s not important. I had a number of boyfriends between, oh, 15 and 19, who didn’t last and none of them are in my life now, but that doesn’t mean that the time that I spent with them was meaningless. It’s part of my life’s history that ultimately led to my lasting relationship.

    10. Formerly Bee*

      This seems off to me. I can understand a teenager not understanding, yet, that taking a day off from work is very different from taking a day off from school. LW’s still learning.

      And we really don’t know anything about their life, so using age alone to be dismissive is just pointlessly rude.

      1. KS*

        I don’t know, my parents would have asked what drugs I was on if I expected to miss school for any reason other than being sick.

    11. Beebs*

      The only part I would like to focus on here is that, it is never a good idea to lie for many obvious reasons. And if you were to use this particular lie, it is true that it’s not typical to have schedule surgery on a weekend. Which could lead to your story starting to fall apart quickly and then it would come out that you lied, and that is just not something you want to do your reputation so early on. As many others have stated, it is absolutely fair to ask for the day off, but be prepared to hear “No” and accept that.

      As an anecdote, where I worked through my high school and college years, it was mandatory for everyone to work on New Year’s Eve, and if you took it off, you were fired.

    12. Iro*

      I think it’s really out of line for you to make any judgements about her relationship at all on this thread.

    13. INTP*

      To be fair, she probably won’t have this same job a year from now either. I don’t agree with exploiting a parent’s illness to get out of work, but it’s not like she’s sacrificing her entire career here or anything.

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        In life you have to make compromises. There have been times when I could not take a vacation day, or a particular week because someone with more seniority than me had claimed it.

        My family was in the retail business until 1967. Growing up – I knew – between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, my parents would not be available. When I was old enough to work in the business I had to work in the store as well. As was said in the Godfather = “This is the business we chose!”

        1. INTP*

          I agree that the OP needs to compromise in this case because a) it’s what she signed up for and b) in the grand scheme of personal things one might need to bail out of work for, Valentine’s day is pretty low, especially when one has a sick parent that might need surgeries or care. I just think it’s a bit dramatic to castigate the OP for trying to bail out on work specifically because this is a teenage relationship that probably won’t last very long when it’s also a teenage job that probably won’t last very long.

      2. Observer*

        The thing is that whether or not she has this job in a year, this COULD affect her career in the long term. It can be very hard, and take a long time, for someone to shake of the damage to her reputation that could result if she does this.

        1. INTP*

          I guess it depends on how her career plays out. By the time I graduated college, the retail and restaurant jobs I had at 18-19 were all off my resume, and even when I was in college and applying to internships, no one ever called those jobs for a reference. I’ve also never called a job like that for a reference for a candidate. So, how I behaved at those hasn’t really impacted where my career has gone and I have no regrets about stuff like calling in sick to finish papers (I could have managed my time more wisely but it wound up that bailing on work impacted me far less than bailing on homework would have). But I do see how it could matter in some situations, especially if the OP needs to stay in the service industry a few more years.

          1. themmases*

            Same, I had several retail and service jobs in high school and college that did not end well, and it never held me back. I put them on my resume as a college student applying for research assistant type jobs, the people hiring for those (very sensibly) never called the grocery store or department store or whatever, and I use those real references now. Jobs the OP could get through school in the future are intended to give students professional or bridge to professional experience, not necessarily to reward people who already have a lot of it. And even in retail and service industries, references are often not bothered with.

            My retail experiences were so bad (think being added to the schedule on school breaks when I wasn’t even in town, minimum wage on-call hours preventing me from taking a relevant job… sewage) that I would have had no problem telling an employer why I e.g. quit abruptly, would be unlikely to hold it against a young candidate who did the same thing, and would be if anything more comfortable walking off some of those jobs now than I was back then.

            1. Observer*

              Sure. Quitting, even abruptly, is one thing. And I would also hope that any employer would understand that. That’s not dishonest. At worst, people understand that young people do some growing up and are less likely to job hope than when they are in high school doing service jobs that are known to have notoriously high turn over.

              A lie is a different thing. And although many employers don’t check these types of jobs, they sometimes do. And, unlike walking off a job, a lie is such a big issue, that it really could make a difference.

              1. INTP*

                In my experience, lying to get a day off is much less likely to get you in the “not eligible for rehire” list than walking off a job abruptly. I think most people categorize that under “Something everyone does at some point or another, just don’t selfishly do it on a day that everyone else wants off too.” If your boss is nosy about your reasons when requesting time off, it’s basically your only option if you want to go to job interviews or have doctor’s appointments or divorce lawyer appointments or anything else without discussing it at work.

                I’ve only been exposed to the HR back end in office environments – maybe retail and restaurant are different, but I still doubt most managers would prefer an employee that walks off the job without notice to one that tells a white lie to get out of working one day. (The nature of the white lie in this case, with the sick father, is sensitive, but I’m talking about the principle in general.)

                1. Observer*

                  Well, that’s the thing. In a lot of offices, it’s understood that people grow up. But those same people would not see lieing as something people “outgrow”. And, most of the bosses I know would NOT consider a lie meant to get you out of working on a “blackout” day a “white lie” or “something we’ve all done on occasion.”

                  If you really don’t have a choice, that’s one thing. But, though I get this is important to the OP, this is a “want” not a “need”.

    14. Karyn*

      Actually, my father in law (may his memory be for blessing) had a planned surgery on a Saturday. So there’s that.

      I agree that the OP shouldn’t lie to get V-Day off, and I even agree that V-Day is overrated (and I even said that when I was coupled up). But she’s 17, and those things are very much a big deal to 17 year olds. A year in the life of a 17 year old feels like 20 years, as I recall, and is a big deal for most people to celebrate. After all, we celebrate a year of marriage together – why not a year of coupledom?

      Anyway, this particular 17 year old had the good sense to write to Alison asking advice, whereas most 17 year olds (and this would be expected, as they are not biologically fully matured yet!) wouldn’t even consider it. I’m not sure why you’re feeling snippy about all this, but I hope you try to remember what it was like to be a teenager with his or her first love and consider that before judging the teenage OP based on an adult worldview.

    15. Anna Smithe*

      I will work for the 17 year old on Valentines Day! I only want to know if I get a free scoop of ice cream for doing so?

      When you are 17 and you have a boyfriend, Valentines Day is very important, and there may be others who may be willing to work for you.

    16. Nervous Accountant*

      Well that’s meanspirited and more immature than the OP who had the sense to be civil and ask.

      And who gets planned surgery on a Saturday? Really? REALLY?

      (FWIW I did feel a little irked at reading this question, and another one posted today–but I remember I was 17 once and did MANY things that I still regret so… least this one had the good sense to KNOW this was wrong and ask for advice!)

      I’m not surprised a 17 year old asked this; I AM surprised that her mother initially signed off on it. No, just….no.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        To clarify–I’m shocked that surgery on a Saturday is something to be skeptical over.

        Whoever posted this sounds like a bag of fun to be around :-/

  6. Erin*

    #4 – Please do not lie! Especially when it comes to your father and his health. As someone who believes in karma, I would feel so so awful. Like Alison stated, you are going to face work situations in the future that may fall on a special day or something you have planned, but it’s learning to make it work into your life. Many couples don’t “celebrate” on their actual anniversary. Just this week my best friend and her BF went out to dinner three days after their actual anniversary date because they both work and found the right time for their schedules. It didn’t make the celebrations and less special either.

    1. Artemesia*

      My daughter and her husband just celebrated their 10th anniversary — I am baby sitting for them next weekend so they can do a weekend getaway — it will be about a month after the date — but given their work and my schedule this was the first weekend that came together. You can make a fun anniversary celebration the day before — even make it a surprise for him.

      I think anniversaries are fun. My husband and I married on a Friday the 13 and so we celebrate each one that comes along — we are having our 74th anniversary Feb Friday 13 of this year. More cake.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I think she means 74 Friday the 13ths. She’s counting how many times Fridays have been the 13th of the month since they got together. (I could be wrong here, though.) Novel idea, I’d say.

  7. anonymous educator*

    #1 While your boss is right about keyboard shortcuts being faster/more efficient than mouse clicks, it is a bit weird he’s being so overbearing about it. The focus should be on performance. Are you not producing good results quickly enough? It doesn’t sound as if your job is primarily data entry. In any case, even though he’s being unreasonable, you may just find you end up with another tool in your toolbox (if you’re equally comfortable with the mouse and the keyboard).

    1. De Minimis*

      I agree, the keyboard is a lot faster, but this is really micromanaging.

      I’m on the other end, my boss continues to use the mouse when we go over monthly spreadsheets and I just want to slap the mouse out of her hand sometimes because she takes forever to paste data into a cell!

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        LOL. Been there. Spent all of last week there…software testing with users. They really did do a great job, and things went very well. But sometimes, when one of them would be working through something going very slowly, it would make me twitchy and I just wanted to do it myself so we could move forward. But of course, you can’t do that when you’re training, because then no one learns anything.

    2. Student*

      Keyboard shortcuts are only more efficient if:
      (1) They are for a program that the OP spends a lot of time on. Memorizing shortcuts for minor application #173 is more of a pain than a gain.
      (2) There are not extenuating circumstances that make the OP more efficient with the mouse. These could range from difficulty learning the shortcuts (hard to look up, written in a format she doesn’t recognize, genuine difficulty on the OP’s part with memorization of this type) to difficulty using the shortcuts (hand injury, lousy keyboard, clumsiness, shortcuts are poorly planned or implemented as to make it easy to destroy your work accidentally, physical difficulty executing shortcuts – my hands are too small to do them for some programs).

      Keyboard shortcuts are a nice idea, but it’s naive to think they are always implemented well. Sure, lots of people are familiar with the Microsoft keyboard shortcuts, after using them repeatedly across many Microsoft programs. However, a custom ERP application may have dreadful, poorly-thought-out, poorly documented shortcuts. Never underestimate the difficulty of creating a good human-machine interface.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Well, of course, it’s not always more efficient, but most of the time it is. And, even though the boss is micro-managing here and being a bit obnoxious, there’s probably a good reason why he is—in all likelihood, whatever program they’re using at that office is probably faster to use with keyboard shortcuts.

  8. EE*

    I’m sorry to hear that your dad has throat cancer. It is sadly quite likely that he’s going to need surgery. Imagine if you had difficulty getting off work to be with him because you’d previously lied about his health? That would be just awful.

    As for the specialness of the day, a friend of mine has a husband in the navy and they have spent both their one-year and two-year wedding anniversaries continents apart. You’ll be able to see your boyfriend for a couple of hours at some point on that day, which should be enough time to do something fun and romantic.

    1. StuckInTheHotel*

      +1,000. I’m really sorry to hear about your Dad too. I remember when I was dating my boyfriend (now husband) in the beginning. It was so very hard to be apart from him, especially on romantic or special days like Valentine’s Day. I agree with Allison. Just ask for the day off and if granted … great! If not, plan for something earlier/later that day or on Sunday. It might not be the same, but the important part is that you will be spending time together. Spent my 10th, 13th, 16th and 20th wedding anniversaries apart from my beloved (while he was deployed). Just celebrated #22 (together!) Try to focus on your time together, not a date on the calendar.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        Hee. When my husband and I were dating and approaching our first Valentine’s Day together, he called me to tell me that it had been a really long time since he’d been with anyone on Valentine’s Day. So when he tried to make reservations for us, every place he called pretty much laughed at him and hung up. And I think it was still a couple weeks out, but Valentine’s Day that year was on a Saturday, like it is this year. So he asked if we could go out on Friday night instead, which was fine with me. Plus I thought it was funny that we’d be celebrating our first Valentine’s Day on Friday the 13th. We’ll celebrate our 10th anniversary in May.

  9. How I Rose From The Dead In My Spare Time And So Can You*

    In re No. 2 – I might suggest preparing a written statement explaining the issues with your previous boss. Ideally you’ll have a talk with your current boss about why you passed on previous boss – but writing it all down will help you organize your thoughts. If you write it up, then put it down for an hour – and then go add the stuff you remembered during that hour. Repeat as necessary.

    One important thing to remember: he may have been a jerk, but here you want to focus primarily on his incompetence and his inability to do an effective job. If you only say “he was mean!” your boss may believe you – but he might think “so the guy’s a little rough”. But if you present a story that illustrates your previous boss as incompetent, a screw-up who caused everyone extra work, who wasted employee time and company $$$s – you boss will think “this guy is a disaster – thank god she told me!”

    1. SJP*

      +1. Hit the nail on the head.
      You have to write something down that is clear and concise and avoids name calling etc and just lays out experiences where he was incompetent.
      Sadly sometimes people see something on paper and that person may look amazing on the CV but is in fact, awful. Be aware that you boss may override you on this as they see what they wanna see

      1. Natalie*

        It’s the title of a book-within-a-book in a Phillip K Dick novel. (Not my username; just recognized it)

          1. De Minimis*

            Now I want to know which one it was…I enjoy reading PKD but have to be in the right mood for it and haven’t been in that mood for a while.

            There’s a great book called THE CARDBOARD UNIVERSE by Christopher Miller which is a fictional bibliogrpahy of an writer “Phoebus K. Dank” who is like an alternate universe version of PKD. I loved it, but I think it would have no appeal to anyone who didn’t at least have a moderate level of familiarity with Philip K. Dick and his work.

    2. BRR*

      I was thinking “write it down” too. I would do it as bullet points probably and keep it objective as possible. I would be cautious if this is all new information and contradicts anything you said in your interview since you’re still pretty new at this job. You could lose your credibility if you only talked about in your interview how awesome your boss was or anything like that.

      Also go ahead and apply if you want the new job. I’m not sure how the really complicates things but if you’re qualified and want it apply. Good Luck!

      1. Sleeping Over Eating*

        Thanks BRR. Luckily I didn’t gush over this person in my interview. I don’t think I talked about him at all really. I think that’s part of it…I’m still quite new at the job and also working another project out-of-state, so not a lot of face time. It can’t hurt to apply. I think I’ve been in the high-level administrator mind-set for so long, I don’t give myself enough credit.

    3. Lia*

      I am going to say if you write it down, do it ONLY for your own eyes. If they hire this guy (and sorry, if he looks that good on paper, they well might), the last thing you would need is your own words coming back to haunt you. Write it out, sure, but use it as a starting point for a personal conversation with the hiring manager.

      Also, leave most of the personal interactions out of it and focus on how he cannot do the work — even better if you have specific examples.

      1. LBK*

        Yes – write it down so you have concrete thoughts you can present instead of a rush of emotional responses. Then once the conversation is done, shred that list.

        1. kozinskey*

          Yeah, I have the heebie-jeebies at the thought of that list getting out if Bad Boss does eventually get hired. I would jot down some notes for myself before the meeting, and trust a combination of my illegible handwriting + prompt use of the shredder to make sure no one sees or hears anything I choose not to disclose verbally.

        2. Ann Furthermore*

          Yes — do it on your own computer at home, if you have one, or by hand. Organize your thoughts, then rehearse what you want to say a few times so you can sound professional and tactful, rather than petty and vindictive. It’s soooo easy to have things come out that way in a situation like that.

          And like others have said, focus on the concrete things, instead of just saying, “He’s an a-hole.”

          This reminds me of a quote from Sue Grafton, one of my favorite authors. I had to look it up a couple weeks because I had a very bad moment on a conference call where I completely lost my composure, when someone verbally poked me one too many times:

          “I was monitoring myself, trying not to use what an English teacher would probably refer to as the screaming accusative verb tense.”

      2. Artemesia*

        I didn’t even write it down but just argued against hiring the man who became my boss; I supported a different candidate. He evidently was privy to who supported his candidacy (and he was an outside hire) and was nasty to those of us who hadn’t been on his team before he got there. You only have one chance to make your case, so make it very business oriented — think of the sort of things your boss now will think are important and your not liking the guy won’t be that thing. And do it fast.

        1. Meg Murry*

          Yes, make your case quickly, and make it mostly about his failings on the job front, not just personally. Then mention that you are applying for the position and ask if you need to recuse yourself from the search committee. Depending on your relationship with the search committee members, I personally might say something about how he was one of the factors that drove you to search for this position and you aren’t sure how long you would stay if you had to work for him again (if that is in fact true). Not in a threatening or “it’s him or me” ultimatum type of way, just a matter of fact way.

          Is there anyone in your network that also worked for or with oldboss who’s opinion new company could trust? Especially if its a small industry – possibly someone who has left your old company a while ago. You could offer up that person as an negative reference, if they are willing. As in “I personally didn’t click with him as a boss, but I know Jane Smith at OtherPlace worked with Bob at ABC Corp, maybe you could ask her about working with him?” In my small industry, it was very common to say “who knows someone who worked at ABC Corp with Bob Jones?” and get informal references (positive or negative) that way through the network. I just applied for a new job last week, and they didn’t ask me for references, but I worked with one of the people I interviewed with at a former company, and I know he is calling his personal network to say “who worked with Meg Murry and can tell me about her?” – that’s the way it works in our industry.

        2. Lia*

          Ouch. Same thing happened to some colleagues of mine at another institution across town. The new hire has already forced three people out with more coming, I am sure — and they are all the folks who backed the other candidate (who, coincidentally or not, was an internal one and turned out to be the first against the wall when the outside person was hired).

        3. Sleeping Over Eating*

          Yeah “Artemesia” it’s a dicey situation. I don’t think he’d push people out that didn’t support his bid if he was successful, but considering he knew he’d be working directly with me and didn’t list me as a reference….well…makes me wonder if he does have something under his sleeve. He has viewed me as competition for so long that I might as well support those fears and run for the same position, AFTER I explain why this person is a poor fit for our organization. I too am apprehensive to put anything in writing that could get into the wrong hands, but I am out-of-town, so don’t have lots of choice of how I can communicate with my current higher-level boss. He’s so busy phone calls have to be scheduled with him, but I’ll do what I need to now.

      3. C Average*

        I’m of divided mind on this.

        I think, yeah, you absolutely have to protect yourself in touchy situations like this.

        On the other hand, I’ve occasionally has colleagues say, “No, I don’t think we should hire Jane, because I used to work in her department and, while she’s effective in some says, she’s incredibly unpleasant to work with. She demeans her direct reports, penalizes her colleagues for not reading her mind, and is arrogant and unforgiving. I know people who have left jobs they liked just to escape from her. I am very against bringing a personality like her into a department like ours, where we respect each other and work harmoniously.” Or, less candidly, “I’ve had direct experience working with Wakeen, and he’s a difficult personality. I don’t think he would be a good fit here.”

        If people want these assholes to NOT continue moving up unimpeded and sowing discord wherever they go, they do need to speak up if they have the clout and the leeway to do so. It’s the right thing to do. I’m always grateful for a discreet but honest heads-up when I’m about to deal with someone like this, and I’d think a hiring manager would be, too. (Of course, I’m assuming this is a sane and healthy workplace. If that’s not true, scratch what I said.)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          OP, if you speak up, like C Average is saying here, they are going to listen to you.

          I have spoken up and I was listened to. So please don’t worry about that part.
          C Average has a great example of how to make a short list of very undesirable behaviors. Copy what she has done here. It is enough and it WILL work.
          I know this because they are asking you. They want to know.

    4. Elizabeth West*


      This was my nightmare when I was job hunting and I heard that Bully Manager from Exjob had been fired. My first thought was, “Boy, I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for that one!” and my second was, “Oh God, please don’t let us end up working at the same place again!” Had I been asked to weigh in on his hire, I definitely would have expressed concern. I too probably would have had to ask how to convey that he really could be a liability without appearing hysterical. Even thinking about it now makes my eye twitch.

    5. Sleeping Over Eating*

      Thanks “How I Rose From The Dead…” I am much better when I can write out and gather my thoughts vs. an off the cuff discussion. The timing is so difficult, as I am now away from my job on a 2-week project in another state, but my hotel time will provide some respite where I can write out solid reasons that are based in fact and not emotion.

    6. M-C*

      I totally agree with producing a clear written explanation of why the ex-boss is a horror. Be sure to include the management perspective “had to train 26 new employees in a year because most of them fled” etc. But may I make a further suggestion? If you’ve only been at the new job a couple months, it’s likely you still have many good relationships at the old one. I’d call up the put-upon assistant to Schmuckface, and amuse her by telling her what a quandry you’re in. She may have some juicy tidbits to share you hadn’t even known about. She may be able to use the information that he’s looking elsewhere. And you may be very happy to be invited back at your old company, to work under her instead. Be sure to slip in a little “if I had known -you- were going to be the boss so soon, I’d never have moved!” into the conversation :-).

  10. Marzipan*

    #4, in addition to lying to your boss to get the day off never really being a good idea, it’s an especially bad idea to do it on ‘big’ days like Valentine’s day. When there’s a day everyone is likely to want off, like this one, bosses tend to be particularly attuned to this. Your boss will almost certainly not be thinking ‘Gosh, what a coincidence #4’s dad is scheduled for surgery on Valentine’s day!’; s/he will probably be highly suspicious of this.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      +1. There are people who are often “sick” on Fridays or Mondays, or have some kind of emergency the day before or after a holiday (or ON a holiday, if you’re in a job that requires holiday work). It never goes unnoticed. Even if the boss isn’t willing to deal with it, coworkers notice and it hurts your reputation.

      So, OP, this is one of many reasons not to lie.

      1. INTP*

        Yes, people can be very attuned to this. I was once accused of leaving work to go to a bar because I asked to leave early on Friday afternoon to go get a strep test. My boss believed me, but my coworkers were suspicious even though I’d never taken a sick day before, just because it was a Friday afternoon. Obviously I wasn’t lying so they were being unreasonable, but if I had recently left early on another Friday, I would have cemented my reputation as a Friday-afternoon-ditcher. Holidays will be watched even more closely. Skip out on Valentine’s day and you will not be able to skip on the next minor holiday, no matter how valid a reason you have. It’s just best to be judicious with your holiday requests for time off and make sure it’s for things that are really worth it.

          1. INTP*

            Hah! I have to admit that I’d be skeptical of that one. But wouldn’t hold it against someone unless it happened too many years in a row, or that person also had food poisoning on a lot of Mondays.

    2. Felicia*

      Also for places that people are more likely to go on Valentine’s Day (anywhere that sells food including where LW works), it’s even less likely to give people the day off . Especially on a Saturday. .Most people I know who work in restaurants have to work valentine’s day.

    3. Christy*

      Totally agreed. And the (rude) poster above is right–a planned surgery isn’t going to be scheduled for a weekend. It’s going to be scheduled for some time during the workweek.

    4. Angelfish*

      Also, I’m noticing that that you’ve been at the ice cream shop less than a month. That means you’re going to get cut the least slack by the owner/manager because you don’t have months of working there to prove yourself. If you only work weekends, that’s just a couple shifts during a time of the year that’s probably fairly slow for the business. As a result, you have a high risk of being fired if the boss finds out you’re lying. If you can’t get a shift that works with plans on the actual day, can you celebrate with your boyfriend Friday night instead?

    5. DeadQuoteOlympics*

      +1. Those of us who supervise or supervised lots of young people know exactly which days everyone wants off — notably Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve, and especially Mother’s Day which typically was the most requested day off (which is sweet and heartening, but yeah, you still have to work your shift or find a substitute). If you ask for it off, with all of the red flags that other commenters are pointing out about timing, your boss will most likely know you are lying, and will lose trust in you.

      Can you arrange a substitute by swapping shifts with someone, and come to your employer with the problem already solved about shift coverage? And here is a life lesson about cooperation that I saw many of my college student employees learn the hard way — if you step up for others when they need a favor, they are much more likely to step up for you when you need one. We had a system of trade slips for shifts — I would tell them when I hired them to “bank” their favors by picking up shifts preemptively if they could, because those are the people that would step up for them if they needed a swap. What goes around comes around.

      1. Editor*

        When my oldest was in high school, one of the local fast food places allowed workers to trade shifts, but was totally difficult about prom night.

        Whether there had been a history of problems on that evening, I don’t know, but one year several workers there quit just a few days before the prom because the managers had scheduled them for prom night with less than 10 calendar days’ notice, and the managers were also not authorizing shift swaps as they often did for other weekends. Most of the teens I knew decided to buy food elsewhere for a while because they were upset by the way the managers treated their fellow teens.

        Managers need to find fair and consistent ways to staff the business yet allow teens some flexibility, whether it’s to take the SAT, go out on Valentine’s Day, see Grandma on Mother’s Day, go to a funeral, participate in band camp, or attend a church youth conference. Teens know when managers are being jerks.

        And OP, like many others have advised, don’t lie about taking time off. Even if you call in sick because you need a “mental health day,” spend the day off social media and at home. People are right that you need to have built up good attendance over time so your manager knows you don’t want time off too often. Finally, it’s too bad you didn’t know this, but the time to ask about Valentine’s Day was before you were hired — that’s always Alison’s advice for adult, full-time workers who want time off soon after they’re starting a new job.

  11. Another Anon*

    #4, first of all, good on you for asking for advice and frequenting this site in the first place. I wish I had access to something like this when I was your age. Second, believe me, if you told a lie like this your boss WILL see right through you. Most people really aren’t that dense, and if they did happen to be trusting enough to believe you, when you get found out your reputation will be ruined. Third, lies like this in the workplace set a horrible precedence. It’s just better to learn the skills to be honest and upfront in the first place about what you really want rather than to get into the habit of hiding behind “white lies”. Do yourself a favor and be honest, and be understanding about whatever your boss decides. Who knows, maybe they will be willing to change around your hours on that day to make it easier to go out on your date.

    p.s. When I was in an assistant management position back in my college days, a lot of the younger staff would pull these stunts and soon they’d be left off of the schedule altogether… and then I’d be left to cover their entire shift plus my own. It was never cool having to both open AND close a store several weekends in a row. So please, be a model employee instead of a deadbeat one.

    1. Matt*

      Agree. This one reminds me of the old joke about the employee who went to his grandmother’s funeral for the third time ;)

      1. SystemsLady*

        Incidentally, I actually HAVE three grandmothers (my dad’s parents divorced and remarried), so I might legitimately be in this situation if I stay here long enough. Heh.

        1. Natalie*

          I have a very blended family, so I grew up with 10 grandparents. Thankfully this usually comes up a lot so no one would be terribly surprised if I had “too many” funerals.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            This entire situation makes me think of that episode of M*A*S*H where Henry is going over Klinger’s excuses for compassionate leave:

            Henry: Uh huh. (reaching for a file behind him) Here we go. (pulls out other letters) The father dying, right?
            Klinger: Yes, sir. (feigns sobbing)
            Henry: (leafing through the other letters) Father dying last year. Mother dying last year. Mother and father dying. Mother, father, and older sister dying. Mother dying and older sister pregnant. Older sister dying and mother pregnant. Younger sister pregnant and older sister dying. Here’s an oldie but goodie: half of the family dying, other half pregnant.(puts down the letters) Klinger, aren’t you ashamed of yourself?
            Klinger: Yes, sir. I don’t deserve to be in the Army!

      2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        I once worked with a woman who had two mothers-in-law pass away in three years’ time.

    2. Cheesecake*

      I used to be surprised about the lies, we also had cases of young stuff lying to get some time off. And it was indeed outrageous. I was thinking “why didn’t you just come and ask???”. But recently we were discussing the fact how unprepared kids are to “work life”. So they are terrified to ask and think “something serious” will definitely help.

      Also, on the same note, you know this test with monkeys and cold water? We are used to be in the office 9to5 (or 9to6 here in Europe), rain or snow. And if you had a boss who thinks the only way to succeed is to have no personal life, you think it is NOT normal to occasionally come late-leave early and cover up later or not because work is done. And we pass it on. And here we have new generation who is terrified to even ask….Ouch, i went a bit too far. Does it even make sense? :D

      1. NoPantsFridays*

        I think this is why when I was in college, students who missed class (not even exams or tests, just class) would give these intensely detailed descriptions of their illnesses to professors and even to other students as excuses for missing group work or lab. I’m talking vivid descriptions of projectile vomiting and explosive diarrhea and lumpy green mucus. It has to be something very serious or at least sounds very serious in order to be taken, well, seriously.

        1. INTP*

          I had a student like that, but she was in her 30s or 40s (based on looks). I stopped even reading her entire emails. We had a pretty straightforward policy about what we could excuse. There would be entire novels about the drama keeping her out of class. Sometimes of the projectile vomiting variety, sometimes just way too much information about how she didn’t feel safe walking on the ice because of all the knee injuries she’s ever had. She never asked to be exempted from the excused absence policies, I think she just wanted me to know, but I really didn’t care.

        2. Hlyssande*

          I still struggle with this even though I’ve been at the same employer for 9 years now. I feel like I have to justify taking a day with a description of what’s wrong.

          Pretty sure I’m not alone in this even as an adult in the workforce, though.

        3. Melissa*

          I once had a student take a picture of her malady and text it to me at 7 in the morning. I was…not pleased.

      2. Lynn Whitehat*

        Makes sense to me. Plus we tell kids that “school is like your job”, and we would never ever in a billion years let a high-schooler inform the school that they would like to miss school for personal reasons. High fever, vomiting, or death in the family are the only acceptable reasons to miss school ever ever ever. In the “real world” (as it is always called when speaking to young people), you are in fact occasionally allowed to take a personal day.

        1. Melissa*

          Is that a recent thing or no? Because when I was in high school, your parent writing you an excuse was good enough to give you an excused absence as long as you had not exceeded the limit for excused absences, and my mom let us take a personal day pretty much whenever we wanted to as long as it didn’t get too excessive. I rarely took them because I liked school (plus missing one day would’ve put me SO behind because I had a really demanding schedule), but it did teach me about balancing absences/mental health days with my need to complete work, which was useful in college.

          1. Kathlynn*

            It might not be most school’s policies, but I do know that was the guild line my mother followed, even when I was in elementary school.
            I was sent to school coughing so much one day that the teacher told me that I shouldn’t go to school if I was still coughing (as if someone in gr.6 gets to decide if they stay home or not. She should have contacted my mother, not me). In highschool the only thing that got added was “too sick to focus” (or cramping to much to). But I still had to go to school first. (this was usually when I was just starting to get sick, and would pick up a fever while at school).
            I usually had less then 9 sick days for the whole year. Which was good, because I have a hard time self teaching, and you didn’t get any help making up the lessons you missed, and your homework was due the first day you were back.

  12. Cheesecake*

    OP #3. Firstly, congrats on exciting opportunities. I am often baffled about the fact they come in “bundles”. You started thinking there is nothing and then bam! – decisions, decisions.

    Anyways, Alison is spot on. Hiring decisions and moving across the country are not happening in one-two weeks. When there is a burning project – maybe, but “understaffed” doesn’t seem like this to me. You must be open about your timelines. Also, if they really want you, they will wait and a month is not too long.

    1. OP #3*

      Thanks! It really is weird how you’ll go a long stretch with nothing on the horizon, and then you suddenly have things flying at you left and right. The funny thing is, this happened to me to a lesser extent back in October. The day after I submitted my last secondary med school application, thinking I had finally decided what to do with my life, I got a call asking me to apply for this same job. Like the universe just likes to mess with me, the minute I think I know what I’m doing.

      I went through the process then and it did move fairly quickly. I made it to the final 2, but was told that they went with the other candidate because she was local. Now they’ve created another position, same job, and they’ve reached out to me again.

      He says that he wants someone out there ‘yesterday’ and has asked if 2 weeks is enough time to give my manager. The position is within the same company, so he wants to speak with my current manager and give him a heads up that they’re looking to poach me (I managed to delay that until next week, because we’re in the middle of our performance ratings). I’m worried, worst case, I’ll screw up my situation in my current position (and possibly my bonus which won’t come until March), and then not get the job or the med school spot. Argh!

      Thanks again for your comment. I’ve never been in this position before and, with my future so uncertain, I don’t want to burn any bridges.

      1. AnotherHRPro*

        It is great that you have such good options. Since the possible job is an internal one, it might move more quickly than an outside opportunity. But you may also have more flexibility in timing.

        I would really encourage you to think about what it is you want to do. Long term, do you want to go back to school or not? If you do, that is your answer. When I joined my company I was in the process of applying for Law school. I had gotten to the point in the process where I had been offered a partial scholarship for one of my preferred schools. I was also interviewing with a Fortune 10 company and was trying to decide which path to take. In the end, I realized the job opportunity was more inline with my longer term goals than Law school and took that path. 17 years later I am still with my company and do not regret my decision. I would have found Law school interesting and do wonder where I might be today if I had gone down that road, but I couldn’t be happier any happier with where my career has gone. I really was looking at Law school as an ends to a means, but I’ve gotten to the same place without that degree.

        So I guess my advice is to really think about why you want to go to medical school and how important is that to you?

        Good luck!

        1. OP #3*

          Thank you for the advice! I’m glad your choice worked out well for you!

          I 100% will go to medical school if I get in. I took the last few years to make sure that it’s what I want to do, that I wasn’t going to apply for any reason other than it’s what I want to do. The school I’m looking at, historically, will extend acceptances (either outright or off the waitlist) to about 60% of applicants who interview. So, while getting the interview was the hardest part (5000 applicants, 500 interview slots), nothing’s guaranteed. Which is why I want to keep this other offer viable. Just in case.

          I never really intended to be in the field I am in today. I just…fell into it. I’ve worked hard and been able to succeed despite the lack of background – and if I can’t be a doctor, it wouldn’t be an awful career to have – but it’s not where I want to stay if I have a choice.

          I want to be a doctor, but I don’t want to screw up my back up option just in case.

          1. AnotherHRPro*

            I’m glad to hear that you have really thought this out. I hope it works out and you get into the medical school of your choice and achieve your goal of being a doctor. Any thought of applying to other schools if this one doesn’t work out? If your real objective is to be a doctor, I would recommend taking steps to make sure it happens. I would hate for you not to go to medical school just because you didn’t get into one specific school.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            Please send us an update of how this all lands and how you are doing! My fingers are crossed for the best possible outcome for you!

    2. sally-o*

      #3 – I hate to say it, but if you only have 1 med school interview, you may want to take that as a sign that you are not a very competitive candidate and may have trouble with school and with matching to a residency. I am married to a med student who went to the only school he got in to. It’s been a rough, expensive, exhausting ride. Several of his med school friends dropped out. Your only option may be family or internal medicine, which are both wonderful and important specialties, but not what many students dream of selecting.

      I do not mean to be a downer – just realistic! Med school is a massive commitment! If you would highly regret doing anything else, though, you should go for it.

      1. OP #3*

        I only have one because I only applied to one school. For various reasons both personal and academic, this is the only school that I want to go to.

        Believe me, I know the odds. I know the risk I took only applying to one. But so far so good. If I get into med school, I’m going. But I’m also realistic. Hope for the best, plan for the worst.

      2. Cheesecake*

        I think OP is very realistic by not putting all eggs in med school basket.

        OP, if i understand right this is indeed an internal position. I believe dealing with internal stuff is easier, you are an internal candidate and they come before external (well, mostly). Again, a month is nothing. We have recently moved internal candidates between countries and even though she had not much “personal commitments” the whole process took 3 months (that was considered quick). Basically, part of the “excuse” to wait is your current job; you can’t just move tomorrow without replacement. And then you have xyz to finish before moving ( eg. sorting your housing out).

        What i don’t know is if you can openly talk about med school. If you have great relationships with boss/they knew you always wanted to go, then i guess you can say. Otherwise if i am the employer, it would seem to me you are not so interested in the job and want to move on whenever opportunity arises. I am usually absolutely about being transparent. But in this case i totally get what you mean by “burning bridges”

    3. Christian Troy*

      I’m not sure I entirely agree with you. I’ve interviewed for companies that wanted someone to start within a week or two of the interview, and it sounds like OP is talking about staying at the same company by the way the colleague was going to give her manager a head’s up. There are other organizations that don’t function like that at all and it takes them six weeks to schedule someone to start.

      I think honestly based on my own experiences, it’s hard when you feel like you’re impossible situations like this but if you commit to giving a decision by x date, then you have to make a decision even if you don’t know about the opportunity. It’s not ideal, but I don’t think its a great expectation to make someone wait more than a week after an offer for a decision without making yourself look bad in the process.

  13. SJP*

    OP 4 – Above some people have written some kinda harsh comments but really think about what you’re proposing to do and how actually not cool it is.. remember that some people have other family and friends who have cancer and other terminal illnesses who may get rather cross at your comment as it is very uncouth to use your fathers cancer to get out of work!
    As someone mentioned above, imagine if you do actually have to go visit your Dad after he has surgery and they say “hasn’t he already had surgery” and everything unravels? First of all I think your boss would be cross about you lying just to spend a ‘card company’ holiday such as valentines day with your boyfriend instead of doing your agreed hours with your boyfriend.
    Everyone, I can guarantee, would have wanted to take the day off to be with a loved one for something but had to sacrifice not being able to because of work. You signed up for that job on the weekend and if it doesn’t fit your social life then that is your choice to stay or leave.
    I’m glad you’ve emailed Allison to ask her advice, but I think if you’d looked deep down inside before you even asked you’d have known that the answer is no, you shouldn’t lie.
    Allison always makes a point about how having an employee lie is a very big deal, and to lie to get out of work is an even bigger deal. If your employer ever found out, and these managers are all human too, will figure it out and you’ll look extremely unprofessional and not understanding work commitments..

    I hope your Dad gets better, but please never use his illness as a way to get out of something

    1. The Maple Teacup*

      Yup! The idea you have is not a good one OP. In the employment world, work is often scheduled on romantic anniversaries. Hopefully your time off request will be approved. Have you considered celebrating your anniversary on another day? (Say, 24 hours on either side). Or perhaps making a small nod of acknowledgement about the days significance with your partner, and having something big later on. For example, my boyfriend was working on our anniversary. We met in Starbucks, raised a lattee toast of congratulations and spent an hour talking about the good times we had over the year.

  14. Apollo Warbucks*

    #4 Lying is never a good move, it will only come and bite you in the ass when you least expect it, your creditability is worth way more than a day out with your boyfriend no matter how pleasant it might by, and the lie you’re suggesting is particularly bad as it is very likely to elicit sympathy from you manager and co-workers, which will only make them angrier if you get caught out.

    If you want to go out for the day then ask your manager for the day off, swap a shift with a co-worker or let your boyfriend know the hours you’re working so you can plan your day around that.

    1. Arbynka*

      This. As I said above, I did lie before simply because at the moment it seemed like way less hassle than being straight forward and honest. Boy, was I wrong. I really learned the meaning of hassle when it boomeranged back to me. So yes, do not lie. And especially about loved one having a surgery.

  15. Julia*

    #1 honestly that would drive me nuts!! I work in IT and I know a lot of keyboard shortcuts, but I would never, ever force my way of using the computer on someone else. That boss sucks royally and is an intense micromanager. The time your boss is wasting on forcing you to use the keyboard is probably equal to the time you might hypothetically save if you used the keyboard they way your boss wanted.

    1. Wanderer*

      Yep, i think the same thing. I actually like to use shortcut a lot, and even helped my friend who is not computer savvy ti use them so he could cut the time he pass on the computer (his least favorite task at work), but doing everything with the keyboard is overboard.

      Your boss seems like the sort that would make me search for another job…

    2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      I once had a seriously, ultra-controlling micro-manager who objected to the way I found things in an IBM manual!

      I’d look up a key word in the index, rather than reading the manual from start to finish.

  16. Willow+Sunstar*

    #1 That boss is a micro-manager. Something like that would make me seriously start looking for a new job elsewhere. Life is too short to put up with that kind of bologna. Also, as someone with a 2-year programming degree, banning people from using a mouse just means he does not understand computer technology. Maybe he wants to look like he does, but instead, he looks the opposite.

    1. FD*

      Yeah, I love keyboard shortcuts, but I COULD NOT function without a mouse. I would probably quit over this kind of shenanigans.

      1. Helen*

        Agreed on both counts. If I put my foot down and he wouldn’t back off about it, I wouldn’t be able to work there. It’s different than being forced to use a certain font (Allison’s example)–it decreases productivity and makes literally everything more irritating for someone who’s used to using a mouse. (Which is.. everyone? I’m all about shortcuts but need a mouse.)

      2. Kelly L.*

        I had a college professor who was obsessed with keyboard shortcuts and nobody using a mouse ever. But (a) this was almost twenty years ago, and (b) it was a class, where learning the shortcuts was part of the curriculum, so as annoying as it was, there was at least a point. I really don’t get the issue in a workplace as long as the work gets done.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          As I said in a recent open thread, I love efficiencies, so I know a ton of keyboard shortcuts, but great FSM, not using a mouse would waste a ton of my time! I highlight a lot of text, and sometimes I use Ctrl-A, but when I have to select a portion of it, that is sure as hell NOT faster with the keyboard. And then I often use Ctrl-C to copy it, but if I’m moving a section within the same view, it’s a LOT faster to just drag it. Or if I’m moving it between programs, I just click on the destination instead of Alt-Tab, then tabbing or arrowing through the destination program.

          Ugh, I’m getting ill just thinking about all the time that would waste.

    2. NoTurnover*

      I’m surprised no-mouse guy isn’t getting more outrage in the comments. I use a few keyboard shortcuts, but there are tons of basic job functions I don’t know how to do with shortcuts (off the top of my head, logging in to our time clock system, opening a program, selecting things from a long drop-down menu). I’m sure I could be trained, but eventually the number of shortcuts would be hard to memorize and I’d have to refer to some sort of cheat sheet, which would cut down on productivity again. Plus I probably use 6-8 different programs per day, at least–are shortcuts really the same across all of these?

      1. Kelly L.*

        For many years, I used a PC at home and a Mac at work, and there are slight differences between the shortcuts. If I had a nickel for every time I tried to use the wrong one on the wrong machine…

        1. Chinook*

          “I used a PC at home and a Mac at work, and there are slight differences between the shortcuts.”

          BTDT – I ended up having to talk myself through ctrl=apple/squiggly thing when I had to use a Mac at work. I don’t even get me started on the words I used on the computer while I went through the process of discovering that not all MS shortcuts work on MS products on a Mac OS.

      2. Meg Murry*

        Plus some programs don’t actually use keyboard shortcuts well, or don’t use ones that make sense. If you get used to ctrl-v for paste and ctrl-p for print and then you find the oddball program that uses ctrl-p for paste – ugh, it messes with your mind. And don’t get me started on poorly written programs, webforms or access databases where hitting tab or return doesn’t go in the order you would expect – the bane of my existence.

        I noticed OP say she was a bookkeeper/admin – is the boss familiar with the software she is using, or is he assuming that all software has logical shortcut keys? Have you told him that the software you use doesn’t have easy shortcut keys if that is the case? Is he familiar with the software you are using, or is he just assuming it has shortcuts?

        However, if your boss wants you to get used to ctrl-x or -c for cut or copy and then ctrl-v for paste – it does in fact save a ton of time compared to right mouse clicking, especially if you do it a lot. I got used to doing it when I had a laptop with a tricky touchpad, and now it does make me cringe a little to watch someone slowly right click for copy and paste, or even worse use the drop down menus – but not enough to say anything to them, even when I want to do a “Nick Burns, your company computer guy” style “MOOOOOVE!”, I manage to bite my tongue (barely). The day Microsoft takes “/ – i- c” from me, or ctrl-z will be a very, very sad and frustrating day.

    3. AdAgencyChick*

      +1, and I say this as someone who uses a lot of keyboard shortcuts. It does drive me a little nuts when I sit next to someone who is slowly scrolling with the mouse and I want to scream, “Just hit page down already!” But I would never dream of asking that person to change her mouse habits, much less threaten to take the mouse away!

    4. Goldie*

      This. Not only is this boss placing demands on OP#1 that are not related to getting their job done, he’s going one step further and placing a demand on OP#1 that GETS IN THE WAY of OP#1 getting their job done. To me it’s like the boss had a weird aversion to people’s right hands and couldn’t bear the site of one; so he’d demand that OP#1 do their work with their right hand tied behind their back. Weird and counterproductive.

  17. Willow+Sunstar*

    #4 You shouldn’t have to explain your reason for you to use a PTO day. Just say it is for personal reasons and leave it at that. Your company should not need more clarification.

    1. FD*

      LW works for an ice cream shop, is 17, and it’s Valentine’s Day. It’s extremely unlikely it’s PTO (though not impossible). If it’s anything like the place I worked, everybody and their uncle wants that day off, and not everyone who wants it can have it off, and it tends to be first-requested, first-served, unless there’s an extenuating circumstance. Especially since most restaurants and shops are extra-busy on Valentine’s Day from all the couples going out.

      1. FD*

        (I say the 17 in conjunction with the ice cream shop because a lot of entry-level food service jobs don’t provide any PTO unless you’ve been working full time for at least a year, which is not impossible, but pretty uncommon at that age, given that you’d still be in school too.)

        1. BRR*

          I agree with everything you said about time off and also the OP has also not even been there a month on top of it.

          1. fposte*

            Yes, that’s the kicker. If she’d been there for a year and had covered for others during the Fourth of July and whatever other big ice cream days exist, she’d have built up cred. But this means the first way this employee will be standing out is by asking to bail on a very busy work day. That’s not the association she wants to make. (I also agree with the people who believe the OP wrote in because she has reservations about doing this–good for you, OP, for having reservations, because those are good instincts.)

          2. Willow+Sunstar*

            Ah, I did not see the part about the OP not having been there a month. It is generally not good to take PTO if you have been at your job for a short time period.

        2. Willow+Sunstar*

          Well, yeah, then if she doesn’t get it, she shouldn’t be requesting it, and most certainly should not be lying about it in any case.

    2. matcha123*

      I’m going to assume that the OP’s job doesn’t have PTO. I could be wrong, but I know I didn’t have PTO when I worked part-time. And the last part-time job I had, I held for 8 years.
      If I couldn’t go in, I definitely had to call in or talk with my supervisor in the days/weeks/months before-hand.

    3. Zillah*

      As others have said, this is a situation where I think context matters. If the OP worked in an office environment where coverage wasn’t super essential, I’d absolutely agree – though I also don’t think that it’s wrong to share details. However, they don’t – they’re a minor working part-time in a food service job, which means that it’s very likely that any time off will be unpaid and require coverage.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Retail and food service live by a different set of rules. They can absolutely grill you about why-oh-why do you have to have this particular day off? It gets harsh, which could be part of the reason OP thought of surgery. That would raise the stakes in bargaining.
      In a lot of these retail places being on your own death bed is not a reason for not showing up at work.

  18. FD*

    #4: I know it’s tempting, especially in this kind of environment. If your shop is anything like the one where I worked, I bet you hear people say they do this all the time. It can be really frustrating to want a day off for personal reasons, be honest about it, and not end up getting a day off when other people get it off by lying.

    What other people have said is very true–there’s a high chance your boss will see through it. Most people are worse at lying than they think they are, and just because a manager may not say anything doesn’t mean they won’t know. It’s also wrong, of course–regardless of what you think about karma.

    But there’s a bigger picture too. I know it’s easy to think that the job you have when you’re 17 doesn’t really matter. I also know that a lot of entry-level food service jobs leave you working with people who don’t take it very seriously. (At least, that’s how it was in the place I worked.) I’m guessing by the fact you decided to write in to Ask A Manager that you’re probably thinking abut your future career at least a little. And here’s the thing: even if what you’re doing now is nothing like what you do in the future, the reputation you start building now can really help or hurt you in the future.

    Smart employers call a previous employer, and your reputation tends to follow you. Having a reputation for dishonesty can make it hard to get hired and make it slow to get promoted. (It’s not impossible to overcome, but it IS an obstacle you’d have to overcome.) On the other hand, having a reputation for having integrity and being hardworking can open doors that might not be open otherwise, especially since it’s a great way to get a good boss to go to bad for you. You may not be going right from this job to your career–in fact, you probably won’t–but having a great reputation will help you in this job and to help land future jobs that can help you towards your career.

    Valentine’s Day has a lot of cultural baggage–people put a lot of pressure on couples to do ‘something special’ on that day, and I think there’s more expectation on people who are getting established in their relationships to ‘prove’ something by how they celebrate it. It can be a hard pill to swallow to say “Oh, I worked that day,” or “We ended up celebrating Sunday instead.” Just remember that you and your boyfriend can still have a great time celebrating on another day, and that if anyone else wants to judge the strength of your relationship for that, they aren’t worth your time either.

    1. Cheesecake*

      +1000 to V-day pressure. On one hand, i feel like “why not, additional reason for celebration” but then it just gets ridiculous with overbooked restaurants and those forced gifts. Like we love each other only one day a year. So we do Vday on April 22nd just because we can. The whole hype is annoying.

      1. the gold digger*

        While we were dating, my then-boyfriend, now-husband

        1. Went to Wal-Mart in the middle of the night to buy a new battery for my car and then installed it immediately so I could use my car in the morning
        2. Flew 500 miles from his place to mine to repair my washing machine
        3. Bought a space heater for each room in my house so I wouldn’t have to trail the one I had behind me every time I went into a different room (old house, very expensive heating)
        4. Unclogged my shower
        5. Threw away the dead rat in my basement

        He hates Valentine’s Day (the forced aspect of it). I told him that he never had to feel obligated to do something for me on Valentine’s Day – that he did things every day that showed me how much he loved me.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Your rat story reminds me. How I knew my boyfriend was a keeper:

          The first night he stayed at my place, my geriatric dog barfed on the floor. He noticed it when he got up to use the bathroom. And cleaned it up without waking me. I wouldn’t have even expected that–I would have been OK with him leaving it till I got up. But I was super impressed that he did.

          Ah, true love. ;)

          1. the gold digger*

            Does he still clean the dog barf? Because now that we are married, husband has been known to say, when I comment that Crap! One of the cats threw up!, that oh yeah he had noticed that a few hours ago.

            To which I respond, “Why didn’t you clean it up?”

            If you are going to notice pet vomit but not do anything about it, better to keep your mouth shut.

            1. Kelly L.*

              Alas, that dog is no longer among us, but he does clean up the barf of the dog he brought to the relationship! Though that dog doesn’t barf nearly as much.

        2. ThursdaysGeek*

          Wow, very nice! I can see why he’s worth it, even with having to put up with his parents.

          1. the gold digger*

            e’s worth it, even with having to put up with his parents.

            He is a great guy. And he very wisely did not introduce me to his parents until I was already in love with him.

        3. Coco*

          Wow, he’s a keeper for sure!

          I knew my partner was “the one” when I got terribly sick on a bus ride and he held my (filled) vomit bag for a half hour until we could stop.

        4. Professional Merchandiser*

          1000+ Gold digger, on other ways to express love. I do merchandising work, which includes re-setting an area (like cosmetics, for example.) I climb up, stoop low to install fixtures and such and use different tools. I saw someone with a toolbox that you could stand/sit on and had plenty of space for work items. I went home and mentioned to my husband how I wished I could find one like that. (I asked person, but theirs was company-issued and they didn’t know where to find them) Well, my husband scoped out every store in a three-town area to find me one. He presented it to me, and said “Is this what you wanted?” He was baffled at my delight (which included many hugs, kisses, and thank you’s.) The thing here is: He actually listened to me (I only mentioned it once) and tried to find something to make my life easier. I told him if he never bought me another gift the rest of my life, I would be happy because this showed his love more than candy, flowers, or jewelry ever could.) BTW: He didn’t take me seriously on the last statement. :-) But if he had it would have been ok because this made my life so much easier, and every time I use it I remember the effort he went to finding it. That is true love.

          1. the gold digger*

            Merchandiser, I love this story! Yes, that effort definitely showed love.

            (And it’s so practical, too, which reminds me of how my dad would always insist on checking my oil and making sure I had emergency supplies in my trunk. Another friend’s dad spent a few days at her house putting non-slip strips on her stairs – which she does not want to carpet – so her toddlers would be safer. Practical love.)

      2. AdAgencyChick*

        Nicely done.

        Husband and I quit going out for Valentine’s Day after our second year of dating. That’s when we thought, “Hey, we’ll beat the crowd on Valentine’s Day by being offbeat and going to a dive-y BBQ restaurant! No one else will be doing that, right?” Pshaaa. We had a reservation and we STILL waited 45 minutes for our table. If you didn’t have one, you were looking at 2-1/2 hours.

        Never again. Valentine’s Day is for making a steak and drinking wine at home.

        1. Natalie*

          “Valentine’s Day is for making a steak and drinking wine at home.”


          Last Valentine’s Day I worked late. My whole office apparently decided it was a holiday and left, so I took my shoes up, cranked up my music, and drank some wine while I finished a report. It ruled.

        2. Melissa*

          that is the true meaning of Valentine’s Day! Yummy home-cooked steak. Maybe some cupcakes. Definitely wine.

    2. Zillah*

      + 100. This employer could be really, really useful when you’re looking for a job after high school/college (not sure which one is applicable to the OP) – where other grads may only have their education and professors as recommendations, you could have experience and a real supervisor or two to offer up. That could help push a job into your lap where you wouldn’t have gotten it otherwise.

    3. Willow+Sunstar*

      I agree. There are probably many couples throughout the world who can’t celebrate certain holidays together because of their jobs. I think about emergency service personnel, police officers, doctors, etc. Many of them probably have to work on Christmas or Thanksgiving as well.

  19. matcha123*

    For the V-Day writer, no, don’t lie to your boss.

    If you read the replies, let me ask you a question: Why would you think that lying would be OK?
    Is your place so slow that someone could cover for you? Would you be happy to cover for someone who lied to get out of work? What would you do if someone at work saw you out with your boyfriend or saw pictures of you on facebook with him when you were supposed to be being by your ailing father’s bedside?

    Are you scheduled to work all day or are you working 8 hours a day?

    I’m sure you’d like to do something with your boyfriend, but you’ll have to talk with each other and figure out what times work best for both of you. If that means doing something early or later or even on a different day, so be it.
    On the other hand, if you explain to your boss or coworkers that you’d like to leave a bit early or something, you might find someone who is willing to pick up extra hours.

    Honestly, even if it’s a part-time job, you should take it seriously. And there will be many times when you can’t do what you want and many times when it’s not fun. But, that’s life. If your coworkers can’t trust you and your boss can’t trust you, that’s going to suck for you.

    And finally, you’re old enough to know better. I know you might think that sounds harsh or unfair, but it’s not fair to your coworkers either. And yes, I was working at 17. I was working waaay before 17, too. And it sucked having to go in when I wanted to do other things, but money doesn’t grow on trees :)

    1. Matt*

      My girlfriend and me celebrated anniversary last Thursday – a normal work day for both of us, we went for an evening in a nice restaurant, and that was it … I don’t know how long OP#4′ s ice cream shift would be or what she would have planned with her boyfriend, but under normal circumstances and some planning I don’t see the big problem here. It would be more understandable if it’s about something that absolutely can’t be postponed or planned around … like a concert of one’s favorite band on their first tour after ten years or so … I actually had to ditch exactly this some years ago as my country’s governmental parties decided to split up their coalition and a new election was set for exactly the date of the concert. Too bad I work in government IT in development of the election software and am considered an absolute necessity to operate the system whenever one takes place. Boy, was I p***ed on the politician who initiated this (and how I enjoyed looking at the numbers as it became clear that his party had to endure a substantial loss of votes :-)

      1. matcha123*

        I was thinking something similar; a V-day date doesn’t take all day.
        But, then again, I didn’t get my first boyfriend until my mid-20s, so what would I know? :p

        1. Kelly L.*

          Yes! OP, what time does your ice cream store close? You might still have a big chunk of evening left to work with even if you can’t get off.

          1. VintageLydia USA*

            In my experience most ice cream shops stay open pretty late–late enough that it might be past municipal curfew time if her city/county has one. (Those laws give exceptions to minors who work that late. They just need to go straight home the moment they get off work.)

        2. Me Again!*

          LOL! I was just talking about this with a co-worker. She said the same thing…that this shouldn’t take all day. But I remember that first boyfriend and that need to spend the entire day together…just basking in the love that we had for each other. LOL! Now he’s married to my best friend. So much for the love. LOL!

  20. knitchic79*

    #4 I remember having my first job and there were times when I wished I could go do something fun instead of working, that doesn’t change there are still times when you just don’t want to go to work. Don’t lie though, be upfront with your boss and yes maybe try to switch a shift with a co-worker, but don’t lie. Your boss will see right through it; if you are honest it will be remembered and only serve you well in the future in the boss’ eyes.
    So sorry about your dad, we went through this with my father in law recently, it’s a hard time for everyone. Good luck to you all!

  21. Cherry Scary*

    #4. Be truthful in why you would like the day off, but be prepared to negotiate. If you can’t get the whole day off, can you possibly ask for an earlier shift? You would still work, but it might not feel like you’re giving up your whole day. I had to work around work schedules in high school often, and I was lucky enough to have a boss that would be willing to consider our schedules.

    1. INTP*

      Asking for an early shift is actually a good idea. Whoever does the scheduling is probably ready for everyone to be full of excuses about why they need the day off. If OP goes in and says “Would it be possible for me to work the 8am-2pm shift on Valentine’s Day?” she’s communicating that she’ll work without a fuss on Valentine’s day and simply has a preference for the shift time, so she might get her request granted. (Of course, if the manager says “no,” she’d need to accept it graciously.)

  22. steve g*

    Dear op #4 – I know it is annoying, but if you get caught in one lie at a parttime HS-student type job, they’re probably going to start cutting your hours and giving you bad shifts. You’ll need to suck it up if you can’t get off. Fortunately, if you have lots of older coworkers who don’t care as much about the holiday, you just might get it off!

  23. MissDisplaced*

    #1 I had a boss like this one time too. She considered the use of a mouse “unprofessional” as we were graphic designers and thought we should use the key commands 95% of the time. It was super annoying, and she would stand behind us and tell us “Use command shift 3 for that!” and so forth. I finally had to tell her that everyone does things their own way, and as long as the result is the same it doesn’t matter how you get there and to please stop hovering over my back when I work (needless to say, I didn’t work there long). While using the keys can be quicker, I bounce between MAC and PC and so have different sets of commands, so I just find I’m a mouse gal. I think you may need to assert yourself if you want to the mouse, and/or get a more quiet mouse or trackball kind of thing that is silent. If your boss still has issues with that, then you have much bigger problems than with just a software quirk.

    #2 I don’t know what to say, except that sucks. Small world.

    #3 I think you need to be honest. Either decision (med school or a cross country move) is a HUGE step in your life. Is there any option to perhaps help your friend and the company by doing a little freelance work while you’re waiting to hear back from med school? You would really want to take your time and check out this job anyway.

    #4 Suck it up buttercup. You can ask for the day off, or to maybe leave a little early, but if this is a scheduled day, it’s a scheduled day and the owner may say no. Welcome to the working world! Your boyfriend will wait and you can do something after or the night before. Valentine’s day isn’t that big of a deal anyhow. It’s a manufactured marketing holiday, NOT an indication of true love.

    1. Zillah*

      Valentine’s day isn’t that big of a deal anyhow. It’s a manufactured marketing holiday, NOT an indication of true love.

      You’re not wrong about it being a manufactured holiday, but I don’t think it’s really for you to dictate what holidays are and aren’t big deals for other people – they’re allowed to find meaning in it and want celebrate it.

      1. NoPantsFridays*

        Yeah, Valentine’s Day is no big deal for me (I was raised in a faith that doesn’t celebrate it, and I don’t celebrate it in my faith either…I actually thought it was in November until last year) and I still wouldn’t say it’s no big deal for other people. In general, I don’t look at other people’s holidays and try to claim that they are objectively and universally unimportant.

        1. Another Ellie*

          In all fairness, Valentine’s Day (and St. Patrick’s Day) are only nominally religious holidays. The Catholic church isn’t encouraging people to go out to dinner and buy candy on Valentine’s Day, nor is it promoting public drunkenness and ridiculous amounts of green food coloring on St. Patrick’s Day, and the vast majority of people celebrating the day are Protestants, many of whom actually reject the cult of the saints. They’re basically days that have taken on an outsized cultural meaning, not actual times of religious devotion.

          1. NoPantsFridays*

            Regardless — my point was that the holiday is not objectively meaningless just because it’s not important to me personally. I guess I shouldn’t have mentioned religion.

          2. Chinook*

            “The Catholic church isn’t encouraging people to go out to dinner and buy candy on Valentine’s Day, nor is it promoting public drunkenness and ridiculous amounts of green food coloring on St. Patrick’s Day,”

            Nope but you do get special dispensation to celebrate a saints holiday if it falls during Lent (or atleast that is what the chocoholic priest friend I knew claimed and I am not going to disagree.

            As for St. Patrick’s Day – only the Irish would have their patron saint holiday during a time of fasting – we really do want to make ourselves either suffer or feel guilty.

    2. JustMe*

      MissDisplaced, I remember when I was 17 my BF meant the world, and I’d want to spend whatever time I had with him. Let’s fall back to our teen years for a bit when talking to teenagers.

      1. CheeryO*

        I vividly remember how upset I was when I had to leave my first serious boyfriend for Thanksgiving weekend (i.e., less than four days) – and I was almost 19! Our first V-day was so special, too, even though we barely acknowledge it these days.

      2. NoPantsFridays*

        I’m not MissDisplaced but I am definitely falling back to my teen years when I say I wouldn’t have dreamed of lying to get the day off (or even getting the day off at all). Let’s not pretend all 17 year olds (or all adults, for that matter) are the same.

      3. Melissa*

        I remember one of the most difficult parts of transitioning my relationship from high school/college to adulthood (I met my husband when I was 14 and he was 15) was trying to figure out why we didn’t “feel the same” about each other that we did in high school. It took me some time to realize that it’s just because the intense feelings you have in adolescence are fueled by hormones and a lack of maturity and experience – every feeling is magnified like 1000x times, and you just can’t recapture those feelings post-22ish. I was seriously distraught at first, but now as I near 30 I’m super relieved. I can’t imagine feeling like that forever – oh god!

    3. OP #3*

      Unfortunately no, there’s no chance at freelance. I was asked to apply for the same job back in October (but they needed someone immediately, so they went with someone local), so I have had time to think about it. But I see your point. I don’t want to jump into something without doing my research.

      And the fact that the research might buy me a few extra days doesn’t hurt one bit!

  24. Cautionary tail*

    OP 4.

    Sometimes you just need to sigh and shift your celebration. My spouse was deployed to Saudi Arabia for the US Air Force and there obviously no way we were going to celebrate our anniversary together. I mailed some dehydrated ice cream and we planned to be on the phone and would each eat our half of the dehydrated ice cream together, even though we were seven times zones apart. When the time came she could only make the call a half-hour earlier than scheduled so I missed the phone call and we didn’t even get that little bit of time together.

    Sometimes you can control life and sometimes it controls you.

    1. Kelly L.*

      Yup. My SO isn’t in the military, but we were long-distance for several years, and we had a lot of celebrations not-on-the-official-day. And we started a tradition of celebrating our winter festivities on the solstice instead of Christmas, which was partly because we’re both somewhat pagan, but also because it was much easier to arrange travel+dogsitting+time off work+etc. on a day that wasn’t actually Christmas. It’s stuck–we’re in the same area now but still always do something on the solstice.

      But I’m rambling, and my point is that sometimes you shuffle the holidays around and don’t do them on the actual day, and it can be annoying but can still work.

    2. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Yup. My husband is military and I can’t count the number of days we’ve missed–never spent a Valentines Day together, several birthdays, anniversaries, you name it. But celebrating on a different day can be just as enjoyable and meaningful–but I would definitely not have absorbed that lesson at 17. It’s one of those things that takes time to learn and sucks hard along the way.

      1. Melissa*

        …yes, I think it does originate in part from the space program. They’re actually pretty tasty. There’s actually one brand who markets it as “Astronaut Food,” and they sell them at places like the Air & Space Museum.

          1. Jean*

            The freeze-dried ice cream in the Air & Space Museum gift shop is one of the many unusual offerings around DC. I haven’t tasted it myself. If I want ice cream, I want the whole, traditional, cold-fat-and-sugar experience!

  25. Algae*

    Hi, OP#4. I hope you don’t take this as a pile on, but there is one point I want to ask. Was this your idea? Or is someone pressuring you into asking and you’re trying to use AAM to show why that’s a bad idea?

    A 17 year old reading a management/work blog is amazing. It shows a willingness to think ahead and think through actions. I am fairly sure I wouldn’t have thought of doing so when I was that age.

    So, my concern is that someone told you to do this and you’re uncomfortable because you don’t want to, but don’t want to say no to this person.

    Listen to the voice that’s telling you this is a bad idea. Not only is it dishonest and will follow you in the future (it always does), it’s a stupid lie (surgeries that are scheduled in advance aren’t scheduled on Saturdays) and you will get caught.

    And then look at the voice telling you to do this. What else has that voice said to you? Have you felt uncomfortable with that voice’s ideas before but was afraid to speak up? I don’t know. But please think about it and talk it over with a guidance counselor or a teacher if you still feel uncomfortable afterwards.

    1. Cautionary tail*

      +100 to Op #4 for reading a management blog. I have a 17-year old who could care less about all the items discussed herein, even those on WTF! Wednesday.

      1. Boo*

        Yeah I think the very fact that a 17 year old is a) reading this blog and b) has written in to ask for Alison’s advice shows that actually she already knows the answer to this, and the correct answer is indeed to be honest about what you want the time off and be prepared for the manager to say no. Which is, I suspect, exactly what your gut has been telling you all along ;)

  26. LBK*

    #1 The method of enforcing this is totally overbearing, but there may be some merit to his reasoning. I’m a keyboard shortcut nut – if I can avoid using the mouse at all, I do – so I was a ridiculous efficient processor when I was working on a system that could be manipulated entirely via keyboard compared to my coworkers who always used a mouse. Maybe just take it as really aggressive training for something that will ultimately help you, because once you force yourself to get comfortable with the keyboard it probably will improve your work speed notably, which is better for you in the long run.

    1. KT*

      I’m with you. So much better and, not that this is a reason for micro-managing, but if the boss had to spend a significant amount of time watching someone use a computer without the shortcuts, I can see why he would be frustrated. Watching someone mouse excessively drives me insane. Not that I’d sit there and make them change, but I’m fuming on the inside…which I have loads of time to do, because it takes them so long to do everything! :)

  27. Allison*

    for #4, I get it, I was 17 myself once and I definitely remember those relationship milestones being a big deal, especially for your first few serious relationships. So I totally understand wanting that day off for a special date with your boyfriend.

    However, the reality is that a lot of people are going to want that day off, especially the night shift. You’re not the only employee with a significant other, you’re not even the only employee with a long-term significant other, and not only will priority be given to employees who have been there longer, asking for time off is a very precarious thing to do when you’ve only been working somewhere for a month – whether it’s an ice cream shop or an office. So just be very careful about asking, and be very understanding if the answer is “no.” If you can’t get a whole day off guaranteed, I’m sure you can figure something out. If you have to work that night, look into grabbing breakfast or brunch with him instead.

    1. Sadsack*

      Good advice. I had a similar situation when I was OP’s age and lied to get out of work, got caught in the lie and got fired. I didn’t use anyone’s health as an excuse, I made up another ridiculous excuse instead. Anyway, the fun I had instead of working that day was short-lived and not worth it considering all the trouble that getting fired caused me.

  28. Sadsack*

    #2 Just want to say that I really feel for you and hope things work out — even if you do not get the job, I hope your old boss doesn’t either. That just sucks, like a living nightmare, to have someone you thought you were rid of coming back to haunt you. Good luck!

    1. Sleeping Over Eating*

      Completely “Sadsack”, thanks for getting it! Ugh, I was like…nooooooo….how could this be happening?! The city I live in is too small, so certain professional circles just end up with overlap, and now that the economy is picking up, I wonder who else may land on my new organization’s doorstep…

  29. JustMe*

    The last thing on my mind at 17 was reading and asking questions to a manager blog. For that alone you get a gold star. That is awesome! So glad you asked first. Don’t lie to your manager. A few years from now OP, you’ll look back at some of your thoughts, decisions, and actions and ask yourself, what in the heck was I thinking.

  30. Wanna-Alp*

    #5: A happy ancedote: I once found a job advert one day after the deadline had passed, and contacted them explaining that I had only just found the advert and apologising for being late, and asking whether I could still apply. They said yes and to send along my application details immediately. I did so (the same day), and was later interviewed, and got the job!

  31. Katie the Fed*

    #4 – One of the things you’ll realize as you spend more time in the working world is that there’s often no need to lie at all. A LOT of things can be solved with a simple conversation – look at how many times Alison tells people their first step is to have a conversation with the boss or coworker. That might make you uncomfortable, but it’s a great skill to learn now – it will serve you VERY well in your career. Just talk to people.

    Also, try to look at the situation from your boss’s perspective, especially if having that conversation makes you uncomfortable. All your boss cares about is having coverage at the shop. So, how can you make that easier for him? Can you ask a coworker to trade shifts or cover? Worst case, just tell him you need a day off and ask if he can grant it. There’s no reason to assume you have to lie – you’d probably get the same answer if you just say “boss, I need the day off, please.” ANd then you don’t have to worry you’ll be caught or anything.

    1. Natalie*

      “That might make you uncomfortable, but it’s a great skill to learn now – it will serve you VERY well in your career. Just talk to people.”

      It’ll serve you well in school and your personal relationships, too. It’s magic, practically.

    2. Another Ellie*

      I sometimes think I should give my high school interns coaching in how to lie to me. An email saying “I’m sick and can’t come in” is way more convincing than a three paragraph email going into details about why you’re sick and can’t come in. Also, asking for time off and having no excuse is way more convincing than “…er, I need some time off because…um…there’s a school thing…I can’t get out of it…I really tried…” You’re either coming in, or you’re not. I don’t really care why as long as I know in advance and can prepare. It just makes it worse if I feel like you’re lying to me.

      1. Zillah*

        Yes! One of the tell-tale signs of a lie is someone giving too many details – someone who’s telling the truth (generally) doesn’t feel the need to back what they’re saying up.

      2. Katie the Fed*

        I remember a time a couple years ago I called in with general malaise – “I’m not sick, but I’m exhausted and I really need a day off. If you really need me, I’ll come in, but otherwise I’d love to lay around the house like a sloth all day. Cool?”

        And my boss laughed and said it was fine. I’ve done the same things for my employees now. They’re adults – I figure they know when they need a day off and I’d rather they take care of themselves. As long as they don’t abuse it – it’s not a problem at all.

  32. Not Here or There*

    #1 puts me in mind of an opposite problem, when you take those stupid office tests that don’t allow you to use shortcuts. I almost always use shortcuts for things in MS Word, not because its necessarily faster but because they keep changing everything around (pointlessly) from iteration to iteration and I never know where to find everything.

    Part of me wonders if perhaps the boss insists on using keyboard shortcuts because that’s the only way HE knows how to do it. I ran into this situation a while back. Over the past several years, I’ve learned to do some graphic design type things (mostly, learned how to use the Adobe Suite software). I learned on my own through online tutorials and messing about with the programs. While I am by no means an expert (barely even a beginner), I was able to find a way to make this a useful talent at work. When I changed jobs, I needed to teach my replacement to take care of all the things I did, and this included how to do some basics with Adobe. The person I was teaching didn’t like shortcuts and I really didn’t know what to tell them. I had no idea how to do some of the things I did without shortcuts and right clicking (as opposed to finding them in the different menus).

  33. C Average*

    Hey, 17-year-old! I hope you’re not getting too discouraged by the comments, and that you’ll stay around and continue reading this site. It’s a great resource, and the commenters are a wealth of knowledge.

    The advice you’ve already been given about why lying is a bad idea is spot-on, and so is the suggestion to find a way to celebrate that also enables you to keep your work commitments.

    I’m going to throw out something else I hope you’ll think about.

    In the past, it was pretty easy for teenagers to get part-time jobs, which was really invaluable for them: it gave them an understanding of what work was like, a sense of what kind of job they might and might not enjoy, and some all-important actual work experience to put on a resume.

    With the poor state of the economy in fairly recent years, more and more of those starter jobs have gone to people with degrees and work experience. When jobs are at a premium, employers don’t HAVE to hire teenagers anymore; they have the option to hire more experienced people they perceive to be more dependable and trustworthy.

    It’s commendable that your employer is still giving teens a shot at a first job. I wish more employers would. Please do not disappoint this employer. Please be honest, be trustworthy, be mature, and do a good job. Show your employer that he or she made a good choice in taking a risk on a young and inexperienced person. Make it easier on the next teenager looking for that all-important first job to actually get it.

    (I am still so grateful to the local businessman who gave me my first steady job in his grocery store. He was wonderful–firm but patient. I learned so much from him! I’m sure I did some dumb rookie stuff. Never anything to do with a boyfriend, because I was way too mousy to HAVE a boyfriend, but I’m sure I did at least a few eye-rollingly naive things.)

    1. AnotherAlison*

      Really good point!

      When my son turned 16 a year and a half ago, he got a job at McD’s. He put in his app, they called the next day, he interviewed the next day, and they hired him on the spot. He bitched and moaned about this job. My response was just, yeah, you work at McD’s and you’re 16. You were expecting something else? What job exactly do you think you’re qualified for?

      He ended up quitting for baseball in the spring doing some farm work over the summer, and then when October rolled around we told him to get a freaking job already. He put in probably a dozen applications at various fast food places, retail, etc. He got ONE interview and did get that job LAST WEEK (4 months of looking), and an old friend of ours is a manager their (someone who has known him since he was 5). He had another friend apply with him and the friend did not get a job there. Point is, it IS hard to get a job, even a crappy fast food job. My son did not see it with his first job and thought everything they made him do was “stupid.” Now, with $.04 in his checking account, he’s finally employed again. I hope he appreciates it more this time.

  34. Formerly Bee*

    #4: Celebrate before or after work or another day. It sucks, but I don’t think you’ll get the day off.

    1. catsAreCool*

      Celebrating the day after has some advantages – restaurants aren’t as full, roses and cards might be half price :)

  35. Mike C.*

    The amount of time saved by not using a mouse is negligible and I’m almost positive that no manger enforcing this rule has ever bothered to do a time study – mostly because the sort of calibrated stop watches needed to overcome the ~300ms human response time and methodologies needed to properly test these issues are out of the hands of most people.

    That’s a really long winded way of saying this manager is an insane micromanager.

    /It’s metrology, not meteorology.

    1. Not Here or There*

      Exactly, the only way I could consider the keyboard commands vs mouseclicks to be in any way a difference maker is if you’re doing serious data entry. But then, most data entry jobs I’ve ever seen use systems that require keyboard commands and don’t even give you an option for mouse clicks. Plus, there are situations where a mouse click is actually advantageous: scrolling through a long document, getting to the correct field on an Excel spreadsheet, using one of the paste options in MS Office (there are 3 or 4 options if you right click, one if you use the keyboard command), etc.

      1. Hlyssande*

        Lucky. Our database system does require mouse clicks and there definitely isn’t a shortcut for everything. I still tab between fields on the same page and use Ctrl+S to save rather than clicking. It works best with a mix of the two.

    2. NoPantsFridays*

      I think this is basically right. I use keyboard shortcuts whenever possible, I love them. I work with people who do everything by click click clickety click too — they don’t even Alt+Tab, for instance. In the course of a day, I save maybe 10 minutes for the kind of work we do. This manager probably has more important issues to think about / work on than obsess over OP’s mouse use.

  36. Marissa*

    #4, good on you for asking for advice! We can all go back to our knitting now, the point has been made.

  37. Chriama*

    OP#4 – a lot of commenters have given a lot of useful advice, so I’m not going to add to that. But I do have a couple questions.

    1) A lot of commenters write in asking for “advice” when all they want is validation of their existing opinion. However, your phrasing makes me think you really aren’t sure what to do. In that case, I’d like to know your reasoning for thinking of this idea in the first place. I get that for someone whose dad has cancer, surgery doesn’t seem like a huge lie (and the ‘karma’ thing other commenters have mentioned may not occur to you if you already know a lot about his treatment and prognosis). However, even if that story is believed, surgery (and especially surgery for cancer treatment) is a big deal to many people. Did you choose that story because you think it’s important enough to get you the day off, or because you think people will be less suspicious than if you fake sick? People may want to follow up, send flowers, or even ask for details like where his hospital is, so I’m not sure it’s really the best option for a lie.

    2) I’m curious to know how the conversation with your mom took place. While you may not be superstitious about ‘jinxing’ your dad by making up a fake surgery, I can’t imagine someone who is (or was) married to the man being comfortable with that. Why did she originally think it was a good idea, and what reason did she give you when she changed her mind?

    Overall, I think you know you shouldn’t do this. But I’m just curious to hear about the reasoning that led you to consider this as an option in the first place.

  38. Me Again!*

    #4 – Lies have a way of catching up with you. When I was 20 I lied to my employer for something that I thought was important – and to be honest it couldn’t have been that important as I can’t recall what the reason was. I do remember lying about my grandfather being sick and having to go to the hospital. It was a total lie. A week or two later my lie came out when something I said revealed that I had done whatever it was I thought was important. My manager wasn’t happy, but what could she do? She gave me a lecture about lying, I internally rolled my eyes, and life moved on. Life moved on to about 5 or 6 months later when my grandfather did get sick. Really sick. He ended up having a leg amputated due to diabetic complications. He was in the hospital for a long time. What do you think the answer to me was when I asked for the time off for his surgery? You can bet it was a big fat no.
    Valentine’s Day is just a day. Is it really worth it to risk your job and the trust of your boss for a card holiday? Imagine that you lied and then you really needed to be there for your dad? How would that explanation go? Lying is never a good idea…especially for something like this.

  39. Graciosa*

    Graciosa’s Guide to Finding a Good Guy

    Watch his behavior. A guy who lies to his boss is – well, not to put too much spin on it – a liar. If he lies to get out of work, he will lie to get out of other things he perceives as unpleasant. Like family dinners with the less amusing part of the family, or helping you move, or being there when you come home from work and want to collapse when he wants to go out. Just a “little” lie to get out of things and free up some fun time can turn into bigger ones to avoid hurting you by letting you know too much about just who is having what kind of fun with. There’s not much of a line between lying to protect someone from information that would upset them and lying to protect oneself. Avoid guys who lie even a little – and even if you would prefer to convince yourself that he only does that to other people and never to you.

    Second, you want to find a guy who does what he said he would do (preferably one who does it pleasantly and without a lot of moaning) and does what needs to be done. Lots of life is not fun – from doing dishes every night, to listening to Barney for the six millionth time, to trying to balance the checkbook, to going back to a tedious job when you are not at all in the mood, to sitting around in a hospital room for hours with nothing to do just so you’ll be there for thirty seconds of semi-consciousness. A guy who tries to avoid unpleasant stuff he said he would do just because there are more amusing options (but The Game is on!) is not a keeper.

    So, to OP#4, keep your eyes open and see if your guy is a Good Guy. I hope he is – but either way, the best way to get a Good Guy is to be worthy of one. At seventeen, you’re forming your character and deciding who you want to be – and that will have implications for the rest of your life. Character is formed in little decisions that become a pattern – keep that in mind, and choose carefully.

    Best wishes.

    1. LBK*

      I don’t know that white lies are a reliable indicator of being a bad person. Pretty sure almost everyone has used them at some point. White lies to get out of relationship-related stuff, maybe, but if my boyfriend tells me he’s making something up to get out of going to a dinner with friends he doesn’t want to go to, that doesn’t send red flags to me that he’s a horrible deceitful person. I do the same thing if I don’t want to go out that night or I don’t particularly want to hang out with those people.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        I’d say not lying is definitely an indicator of a good guy/gal, but all lying isn’t necessarily an indicator of a bad one. You have to understand the environments some people are raised in. I’m not excusing bad behavior, but my father was abused growing up and my husband’s mother was a serial cheater. Both men have been confirmed to lie. You have to be willing to help someone work through all their issues if you want to take a chance on a man like that.

        In general both men are “good guys” but, wow, there have been some times. . .

      2. INTP*

        I agree. I once worked for woman who was so nosy about requests for time off, she’d ask me what kind of doctor’s appointment I was going to, and sometimes she’d ask me about the results of my doctor’s appointments. I booked my colposcopy right before a dentist appointment where I had 4 cavities filled just to avoid having to tell her about my vagina problems – that was not a fun afternoon! So if I ever had a doctor’s appointment that I didn’t want to discuss, or a job interview to get away from this crazy employer, I had to lie about it. In an ideal universe we all have employers that respect our privacy so there’s no reason to lie when you can just say “I have a personal appointment.” Not everyone has that, though.

        And socially, I don’t know that I even consider white lies “lying.” If a friend says “I’m too tired to hang out,” I don’t take that at face value, I assume she just wants to stay in and watch Netflix and doesn’t want to say so in a hurtful way. So is it even lying if everyone knows what the little white lies are code for? Or just the socially acceptable way to phrase something that is considered rude to say outright?

        Lying about your cancer-ridden father having surgery is in a different boat than “I’m tired” or “I have a dentist appointment,” of course, because people will worry about you, but the OP is young and probably just hasn’t thought it all the way through. I don’t think that any white lies, used judiciously, indicate that someone is a bad person, a bad partner, etc. I’m sure some people excuse their compulsive lying as “white lies” but in that vein, some people excuse their desire to say hurtful things as “honesty.”

  40. Joey*

    #4. I think the comments so far on lying are pretty easy to dismiss. Most people don’t need to be told that lying is wrong. And a 17 yr old isn’t really going to care about that.

    I think the more important lesson is if you lie, it becomes easier to lie again and again. And when you eventually get caught (and eventually you will) you’ll not only ruin your reputation, but it will be really hard to stop lying because you’ve made it a habit. Not to mention that getting caught lying is hugely embarrassing and potentially humiliating.

    1. Zillah*

      YES. The occasional white lie isn’t a huge problem – e.g., “I love the sweater!” your in-laws give you when really you hate the color and it fits horribly, or “Yes, I slept great, Grandma!” when your bed was super uncomfortable. However, when you fall back on lies all the time, you stop being able to deal with uncomfortable situations responsibly and can really end up destroying some of your relationships. And, when people see you lie to others, they’re going to wonder whether you’re being honest with them.

      I am grappling with this with someone I’m very close to right now. It’s difficult, because I love them very much but am concerned that they’ve begun to turn into a pathological liar who I should eject from my life.

  41. Observer*

    #4 – I’m recapping a lot of what has been said, but…

    Good for you that you asked the question and that you are reading a blog like this. And, I do get how important this seems. Having said that…

    Lieing is a bad idea. Full stop. When the person to benefit is yourself, it’s only justified where your safety is at risk (or a TRUE threat to your health.)

    It’s also a good way to get fired, and to develop a reputation that could haunt you for years to come. A while ago there was a post by a young person who was dealing with the fallout of being charged with assault after having gotten into a fight with his father. Finding a job was turning into a nightmare. You’re likely to run into the same problem if any future potential boss hears that you were fired for lieing. While it’s true that this wouldn’t be a public record like this other kid’s arrest, word travels, and you don’t know who will talk to whom.

    Your reputation will also take a hit in other ways, if go ahead with this particular lie. You’ll be seen as selfish, self-centered and callous. Also, not willing to step up to the plate and fulfill your responsibilities, never mind going the extra mile.

    And, make no mistake – the chances of getting caught are astronomically high, even if you are very careful not to post anything on any of your social media accounts. This is just a reality.

    The other thing to think about is why you feel like you need to get this time off, by hook or by crook?

    If it’s because your boyfriend is pressuring you, you need to get out of the relationship ASAP. If you think your boyfriend is going to be mad about this, then you need to rethink your relationship. You could be wrong – in which case that’s great. But IF you are correct, then you have a problem on your hands. Someone who gets mad at things like this is NOT a good partner – not in business and not in life.

    If this is not about your boyfriend, but about YOU, then you need to do some soul searching and figure out why. Your relationship will be just as “real”, special and important whether or not you get this time off. So, what’s driving this?

    If it’s someone else that’s pressuring you, then what I said about your BF goes, as well. People who pressure you to do things that are unwise or inappropriate are not good for you. Reduce their importance in your life.

    I hope your father recovers. And, I hope you get to have a good time with your BF, whether or not you get the time off.

  42. Loose Seal*

    #4 — Celebrate Valentine’s on Feb. 15. It’s exactly the same holiday but 50% off!

    Seriously, celebrating on a different day can make for a quirky tradition that just you and your boyfriend share. Things like that can be more special than doing things just because the calendar says it’s the proper day to do them.

  43. Case of the Mondays*

    What cracks me up about number 4 is that when I was in high school, I also worked at an ice cream shop and had a long term boyfriend. I got extremely sick on valentines day with a very high fever and truly could not work. I called out sick and my boss didn’t believe me. I HATE valentines day so I was so angry. When I went back to work I still had some symptoms but he just could not believe that I was too sick to work on Valentines day. He still “accepted” the sick day because he had to but it just fried me that I lost credibility with him when I wasn’t lying. That time might have been worth going to the doc for a doctor’s note even though I otherwise didn’t need to see the doctor but just ride it out.

  44. Observer*

    #1 – No mouse.

    I’ve seen the comments about how the keyboard really IS more efficient. As a general statement, that simply is not true. In some situations the keyboard IS more efficient, in some cases it’s a wash and in some cases it is actually LESS efficient. A lot depends on what you are doing, what the workflow is, and how the system you are using is designed. And that’s without even getting into people who have issues like Carpal tunnel syndrome.

    I also disagree with Allison that it’s like a ridiculous font, etc. because this isn’t just stupid, and doesn’t just make you want to scratch your eyes out. It can actually interfere with your ability to get work done. But, if your boss really won’t budge, it’s something you’ll probably just have to live with. On the other hand, it’s the kind of thing that would make me look closely at the work culture. If this is his only real hang-up, I’d shrug. If this is indicative of a larger issue, then you may want to start looking around you one year mark at the job.

    1. Iro*


      Especially since keyboard shortcuts do vary by program. CTR-C may mean copy in MS Office products, but who knows what it does in that obsure ‘business intelligence’ tool you are using.

      Also as a tangential comment, I hate when people use keyboard shortcuts to navigate when they are training me. Please show me where you clicked, don’t just click a few keys and have it pop up I’m trying to learn where to go here!

  45. Julie*

    OP #4- Your manager is probably making the schedule right now. When I was 17 and a senior in high school, I wanted to be able to go out with friends that last semester. I compromised by volunteering to work the earliest shift (that no one else wanted) every single weekend because it meant that I got off work early enough to have fun. My boss rewarded me by guaranteeing once a month I’d get a Friday night or full Saturday off too (though I was available weekdays to cover as well).

    Consider being up front with your manager and ask what you can do to make sure you have 2-4 hours off at a mealtime that day. Being honest and clear about your expectations will go a long way. There were times working so early meant I couldn’t do as much the night before so there were sacrifices on my end too but I got to keep dating my boyfriend and 12 (that can’t be right, can it!?) years later we are still together and married. I can’t say the same about my Valentine’s date from when I was 17 but still, there’s always the chance.

    1. Cautionary tail*

      Op #4, I had a similar experience way back when where honesty turned what I thought was a bad situation into an incredible one. In college I was a security guard in a skyscraper big-name hotel in a big city. I wanted to have New Years Eve off or at least get the evening off. I was scheduled to work till 10PM and had to work at 7AM the net morning and big boss came and said I needed to stay till after midnight to make sure there were no incidents. Since hotels are packed during NYE I didn’t really have a choice and knew my own NYE was blown. Boss said that out of the 1300 rooms in the hotel only one was out of service and I could have it if I worked till after midnight. The room happened to be be an executive suite that had only furniture issues. I told my significant other about the situation. It worked out for all as I worked till midnight, did not have to try to get home and back in less than 7 hours with all the drunks on the road, and still got to have a New Years Eve celebration with my SO. Many years later we still talk about how wonderful it was.

      Admittedly and ice cream shop does not have the same perks as a big hotel but your good deeds now may help you now or later.

  46. Iro*

    #1 The problem with keyb0ard shortcuts is that it doesn’t always work the same way in each program. While MS office products tend to use the same shortcuts, I still recall the day I was diligently writing a program in R and clicked CTR-Z to undo a line.

    In R CTR-Z immediately shuts down the program without saving!!!!

    1. Chinook*

      “In R CTR-Z immediately shuts down the program without saving!!!!”

      Please name that program (or is really called “R”) because a)I want to remember to never ever do that in that program and b)that company, and programmer, deserves to be lashed with a hundred wet noodles for something so evil.

      1. NoPantsFridays*

        Yes, it’s really called “R”. I don’t use it at my current job but used it before and did the same thing Iro did.

    2. V. Meadowsweet*

      in one program I used Ctrl-Y deleted the entire line instead of redoing a change you’d undone. arg.

  47. HR Manager*

    #1 – Did this boss “grow up” during the days of those green/yellow screen PCs? Really, the mouse has stuck as an innovation for input for a reason. If the boss is really intent on helping the team learn shortcut keys, why not just create a cheat sheet and distribute that. Can you do that and say, I really prefer the mouse, but I’ve created a cheat sheet for everyone so that those who prefer the shortcuts can use them as well. This particular degree of crazy micromanaging would drive me nuts – for me personally, I’d be looking sooner than later, but I guess it depends on your tolerance level for wacked out quirkiness.

    #4 – You’re a young worker, who is going to face a myriad of professional challenges as you start your career, and I hope how you handle this situation sets the tone for your career to come. You have a date – I know this is a special day for many, but you need to prioritize what is more important. Is this date more important than your commitment to the job? I wouldn’t lie in these situations (because they can be found out, is one of the least important of reasons not to lie) — this speaks to your integrity as an employee. If you want to see if your boss is flexible, you should ask up front if it’s possible to switch schedules for a day.

  48. Scott*

    The mouse thing is just pain old micromanagement. I wouldn’t care if my employees used a mouse, a pointer, or even if they turned their keyboards upside down as long as they got their work done in a timely fashion. That kind of personal preference is something that should be a personal preference.

  49. Goldie*

    #4 – Two things. One, in my long-ish life, I only ever was in one relationship where the man wanted to celebrate Valentine’s Day – all my other SOs, including the man I was married to for almost 20 years, frankly didn’t give a hoot – which was fine by me. It’s an overhyped Hallmark holiday, which I’ll still celebrate if it makes my SO happy, but it really isn’t that big of a deal. More importantly, two, with the one that did celebrate, both times we did it in the two years we were together, we did it either the day before or the day after. Because, like someone already said upthread, restaurants are overpriced and overcrowded on February 14 – probably even more so if it’s a Saturday. Go have your dinner on Friday. Your boyfriend will thank you.

  50. Brett*

    #3 I was in a similar situation when I was applying to grad school. I had an opportunity as a research assistant in a DoE program with _long_ term funding (15 yrs and counting) that was similar to my field of study. But I had already started applying to grad school and was pretty set on going to grad school if I could afford it.

    I told the employer this up front; that I was expecting a grad school decision too and might need to wait until I knew that before I could decide whether or not to take a position with them. This will not happen every time, but they told me that they would be happy to employ me right up to the day I left for grad school, even understanding that I would not be coming back to the program after grad school. Ending up being extremely accommodating to my application process too with time off to visit schools, assisting with letters of reference, etc.

    As it turned out, I was offered an institutional fellowship at my first choice school and did leave. My employer threw me a going away party. Since your job offer is across the country from your current location, this is unlikely to happen exactly like this for you, but just realize that potential employers can make a situation like this very positive and easy for you.

    1. OP #3*

      I wish. :) I don’t think that would be feasible. If they pay to move me out there, they’ll expect to get their money’s worth. Knowing that I’m leaving in 6 months wouldn’t fly.

  51. Gene*

    Though I may have missed it, one more thing for OP #4.

    You’re 17 and you don’t mention being emancipated. Odds are really high you live at home and all it would take to blow your story is for your boss to call your dad to see how his surgery went.

    1. Kelly L.*

      Dad lives in another state. Unless OP has him as an emergency contact, there’s no way for the boss to get his number.

        1. Kelly L.*

          I’m not advocating the fake surgery as a course of action! But if the parents aren’t together, I doubt the boss would call one about the other. I would think that would be a potential minefield a boss would want to stay away from.

          1. Observer*

            I’m not saying the boss WILL call. But, it’s not inconceivable that boss calls the house and says “OP said she’s going to visit her dad who is seriously ill and having surgery. Do you think she’ll be back by the coming weekend?” Or something else about scheduling, referencing her “visit to her father.”

            The reality is that this is just one potential scenario. I don’t think it’s highly likely, but I don’t think it’s very unlikely, either. More important, it underlies that fact that it’s really hard to think of all the scenarios in which the lie could be discovered.

    2. Melissa*

      Why would the boss call OP’s parents? Most bosses don’t do that, even with their underaged employees.

  52. MommaTRex*

    #1. As much as I love hot-keys, the idea of being told like a child not to use my mouse makes me want to scream “Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!” like Darth Vader SHOULD have at the end of Episode III.

    I’m a little snarky, so the next time he told me not use the mouse, I might reply with “Thanks, Dad! Can I go potty now?”

  53. WanderingAnon*

    To OP#4 – I think everyone has been piling on too harshly. Full stop.

    Good for you for asking the question! I agree with Alison’s advice – be straightforward and confident and ask if you can have the day off. If you can’t, try to plan something fun in the time you have that day or on Sunday (if possible).

    Work is important, your relationship is important, but the relationship is (hopefully!) more flexible. (If it’s not, that’s another conversation!).

    Good luck!

    1. Katie the Fed*

      “I think everyone has been piling on too harshly. Full stop.”

      I think maybe you didn’t read everyone’s comments then.

      1. WanderingAnon*

        I did, and I do. I really feel there was some piling on to this particular person that wasn’t deserved.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          Yes, but to characterize it as “everyone” is inappropriate – a lot of people gave good, thoughtful advice without piling on or beating her up. In fact, MOST people gave good, thoughtful advice without piling on or beating her up.

  54. Michele*

    #2, definitely speak up about your old boss. Unless someone is a buddy of theirs, upper management does not want to hire people who are going to be trouble. It sounds like the person in charge of the search committee is genuinely concerned, and you may be pleasantly surprised by his response to the issues that you bring up.At my last job, I had a bad boss. There were a lot of little things, but after I started, I found out that he had almost been fired the previous year when several women complained about discrimination. After I had worked at my current job for a few months, old boss applied for a position here. I spoke up about the problems he had, and he was rejected.

    1. Sleeping Over Eating*

      Oh that’s good to hear! It seems like such a rare situation, glad to know it worked out in your favor!

  55. themmases*

    I really feel for OP 4. Their dad is far away with a serious illness. If they have a typical 17-year-old schedule, then they either work or go to school every single day. And a day of big personal significance to them (this is their anniversary, not just Valentine’s Day) happens to fall on a holiday where half the world wants to go out– so it’s hard to take time off– and the other half seems to feel that other people shouldn’t even want to celebrate. Anyone worth dating for a year while someone in your family has a serious illness is probably pretty special. I think plenty of people in this type of situation would feel that they really do need some leeway somewhere but might not get it unless there is a specific conflict. I once considered telling a very similar lie at 17: I missed an assignment deadline due to my own negligence, but it happened to be the week after my grandfather really did die. I thought better of it, and it sounds like the OP will too.

    For the OP: in service jobs, even impossible time off can become possible once you discover the magic of shift switching. You might be surprised by who is looking for more hours– without even wanting you to pick up their shift– or doesn’t mind working the holiday because they’ve made different arrangments. One time I got scheduled to work at Target at 5:45 Black Friday morning. They didn’t tell us ahead of time they were opening so early, I never said I was available then, and at first I thought it was a mistake. It turned out my coworker’s son was visiting that afternoon and she actually wanted to work at 5:45 a.m. instead of 3 p.m. that day. If you strike out with the people working your next shift, ask your manager to suggest people who are open to switching. People do it all the time.

  56. Alistair*

    I’ve been chuckling about the no-mouse manager all day. What if you have a program that you simply HAVE to use the mouse? Yeah, I could probably get around in Word or Excel without a mouse. But I use AutoCAD on a daily basis. Yes, I use plenty of typed commands (polyline, copy, move, draworder, trim, extend), but I can’t do 90% of my work without a click in model space or paper space, as AutoCAD is such a visually based program.

    If my boss asked me to forgo my mouse, he’d probably get some variation on “WTF? You can’t be serious!”

    1. BRR*

      Even in excel sometimes I have to edit something in the middle of a cell. Maybe the boss can start handing out type writers (although I possibly think the boss hates the clicking sound).

  57. Not So NewReader*

    Just food for thought. My heart goes out to OP 4. I hope you were able to read through the “suck it up” comments and the “you should know” comments.

    I didn’t “know” when I was 17. I had a dying mother and a father that was all involved in that. My parents did not/ could not teach me these things. And none of the teachers in school mentioned this stuff. I never saw advice on these matters in any books I read and that was back in the day where I read several books a week, especially in the summer. I was an only child so I did not have siblings to learn from. This made my learning curve a little steep. Compounding matters, there was really no one around me that understood work questions, so it was not easy to find someone reliable to ask. I heard a lot of suck it up and you should know. The odd there there was – that was not an informative answer. I did not learn much.

    If we don’t know the answer to something, how do we find out? by osmosis?

    I have stepped in poop a few times, sometimes I hit the same pile twice because I did not get it the first time. This happens when you do not have any orientation to your new environment.

    We don’t know and cannot ascertain why people don’t know something. We don’t know where they have been, what they have seen, what they have not seen, etc. Everyone has a different experience and it takes to long to tell the story. I hope you look at the people who are actually explaining and/or sharing their own stories as role models. Because it will be your turn to explain stuff to someone-and answer their questions- and your turn will come up very soon.

  58. West Coast Reader*

    I’m at a startup that runs an internship platform. It gets tiresome at times answering student questions on Facebook as it seems like they expect us to find them a job. Reading Alison’s calm and non-judgemental answer to the 17-year old has restored my perspective. These are young people who don’t have work experience. Thank you Alison. :)

  59. NE*

    #1, your boss is nuts. You said this isn’t the only controlling thing he’s doing? I would look for another job.

    You might tell him you want to do timed trials to prove that working with a mouse is actually more efficient for your line of work.

    1. Observer*

      Except that he’ll claim that it’s because she uses the mouse too much. Note that he’s already told her she needs to practice the shortcuts more.

    2. Workfromhome*

      I agree with NE

      Start looking for a new job ASAP.
      He’s stuck in the 80s. If he can’t allow you to use “technology” like a mouse what do you think is going to happen when any realy technology system changes happen. Its a sure sign he’s a control freak who thinks his ways are the best and only way.

  60. beckythetechie*

    Hi OP #4. I just left a position managing “entry” level employees. From that perspective, if one of my associates came to me and said “Valentine’s Day is my anniversary and my week is packed. Can we talk about how I’m scheduled that day?” I would do my best to work something out for hir. The idea of take the early shift to have dinner with your other half is probably the easiest, if you can’t just switch the shift with someone who (like me, tbh) hates this particular holiday instead. If your boyfriend is the one telling you to just lie about it, show him this page full of responses and remind him that any job is a good job when it meets your needs so you really don’t have the leeway to screw it up if you get caught.

    I’d like to have someone this conscientious in my team. Sure it’s just Rita’s Custard or Dairy Queen or whatever, but it shows you’re taking the “throw away” job seriously, which a lot of the adults with college degrees who work fast food because it’s what they can find won’t make themselves do. :) Keep up the good thinking and you’ll be VP of chocolate teapot storage and packaging in no time.

  61. Ash*

    OP4, not to pile on you, but please don’t lie!

    I used to schedule the staff roster for a few retail outlets, and your excuse would raise a lot of flags for me. Has a boyfriend and wants Valentine’s day off? Hmm. Your anniversary is on Valentine’s day? Yeah…

    While I’d accept your excuse and give you the day off, I’d also would be on the lookout for other suspicious excuses in the future.

    Just be straight with your boss and request vday off. Are your vday plans for the whole day or night? If it’s night, see if you can take an earlier shift or to leave a few hours earlier. And, check if any of your co-workers are willing to cover or swap shifts with you, so when you talk to your boss (and do it as soon as you can) you can offer him a solution and that will hopefully make your boss more amendable to granting you time off, ie: “Boss, can I have v-day off? If that’s not possible, can I take the morning shift and leave at 2 instead of 4? Co-worker says they come in earlier at 2 to cover me.”


    That is some solid advice right there, but I have to say these questions are crazy mad. If your boss is being a total pratt then go look for another one who isn’t such a A-hole. But then again good luck with that.

    It’s important to realise that managers who are control freaks are usually trying to protect their patch. So if you have career ambitions then look elsewhere as you’re unlikely to move past this type of manager.

    Eeek! I’m glad I’m my own boss these days.

Comments are closed.