I’m missing my bus because of my manager, husband’s inappropriate new employee, and more

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

1. I’m missing my bus waiting for my manager at the end of the work day

I work every day from 9-5:30 for a small company. At 5:30, we all leave together. The problem is that my boss is never ready at 5:30. She takes her time getting ready and we don’t end up leaving until 5:40-5:45. I don’t get paid for the extra 10-15 minutes waiting around, but I wait around to carry her bags to be nice. But now I have to take the bus home, and because she’s not ready at 5:30, I miss my bus and the next one doesn’t come until 6:05.

I want to leave at 5:30, but I’m sure she’s going to have a problem with it because she always makes little comments when one of us leaves on time. If I tell her I need to leave at 5:30, on time, can she say no or fire me if I do?

I think it’s fairly unlikely that she’s going to refuse to let you leave earlier or fire you over this. Just say, “I’ve been missing the bus lately, so I need to start leaving right at 5:30. I’m heading out now, and will you see you all tomorrow!”

If she does tell you that you can’t leave until later, then she’s telling you that your work day doesn’t actually end at 5:30; it ends at 5:45 — and if you’re non-exempt, you’d need to be paid for that time. But it doesn’t sound like that’s really the case; it sounds like an informal habit has developed where she assumes you’ll wait for her just to be polite, not because it’s the kind of strict job requirement where she’d need to be paying you. Explain you can’t wait around because of your bus and assume it will be fine, because it probably will be.

2. When I list off my work, my manager always asks, “Anything else?”

The manager of my sales team requires us to read off our planned appointments for the week each Monday morning, plus a few other items. At the conclusion of our statement, when it’s completely obvious the entire statement is completed, he asked “Anything else?” *every* time.

Coming from him, it has a tone suggesting insufficiency, which is really annoying. Each person then has to then answer “Yes, that’s everything,” or some variation.

Is there another way to answer that question to communicate more confidence, or to deflect the negativity?

It’s possible that he’s implying your list isn’t sufficient, but it’s also possible (and maybe more likely) that he’s just asking “anything else?” as a transition to move on to the next person. I’d just answer it matter-of-factly and with confidence (“Yes, that’s everything!”) and not let it rattle you.

If you get the sense that he has concerns about your productivity from other things, you could address that head-on by asking him about it directly: “When I share my plans for the week, is it about in line with what you’d expect, or do you want me to doing anything differently?” But absent that, I’d assume this is just his repetitive way of moving to the next person, and that you shouldn’t read anything into it.

3. My husband’s new employee is being inappropriate with him

My husband manages a small business and this weekend there was an expo where his business had a booth. One of the employees working the booth is new to the company (two weeks). Her supervisor reports directly to my spouse. Yesterday we ran up there to bring more advertising materials, and my husband introduced me. She ignored him the first two times, and finally on the third she said “hey.” It seemed odd to me, but considering that her job responsibilities don’t require much skill, I chalked it up to her being young and not having professional business manners.

But when we went today, she ran up to my husband and put her hand up his shirt sleeve and held it there for him to feel how cold her hands were. I was glaring at her and she was looking right at me. My husband froze and was looking at me like he didn’t know what to do. It was incredibly inappropriate and very uncomfortable. In all my experience as a manager, I have never encountered something like this, much less as a wife. My initial reaction is that my husband should terminate her. Do you think that I am overreacting?

I’d also like to add I have no doubts that my husband is faithful, and I have no intention of directly confronting this employee, but my husband and I constantly bounce ideas off each other and he really has been at a loss on how to handle this. I want to make sure that my thoughts are not based in emotions.

Yes, she sounds like she’s being inappropriate.

Just to be clear: This is really for your husband to handle himself. She’s his employee, and he’s the one who needs to set boundaries with her. (I think you’re saying that you know that already, so this is just to reinforce that.)

Firing her over this seems pretty extreme to me, when this kind of thing can usually be handled in a far less severe manner. Sometimes managers can correct this kind of thing just by how they react in the moment (for instance, your husband could quickly move away if she touches him) and by modeling boundaries and being extra professional in their interactions. Other times, it might take direct conversation about what is and isn’t appropriate.

On your side, I’d cut out the glaring if you encounter her again; if this woman really does want to flirt with your husband, you’ll come across far better if you don’t appear threatened by it or like you’re engaging in battle with her. Be above it, and let your husband handle it.

4. I missed a week of work during the first month of my internship

I just started working as an intern in January. I really like the company and the work they do, and I was hoping that after my 8 months of internship I might get a full-time position there after I graduate. However, in the first month I’ve worked, I had to take 5 days off because I was really sick. I don’t get sick days or vacation days since I’m still a student, so I don’t get paid for the 5 days I took off. My manager noticed this and pulled me aside and told me that I was missing too many days of work. He told me that I’m doing a great job, but that he is expecting me to be there at all times. I understand where he is coming from and I felt really bad and guilty that I had to take those days off even though I wasn’t feeling well.

Now I’m scared that I’ve made a bad impression and I’m worried that it will affect his decision when I do ask him for a full-time opportunity later on. Do you think I still have a shot at a full-time position?? Or I shouldn’t even bother asking since i’ve screwed up?

It’s tough to miss five days during your first month; it’s a time when you’re not yet a known quantity, and so employers worry about whether this was a legitimate and unusual thing for you or whether it’s a sign about your reliability. And it’s even more concerning when you’re a new intern, because employers know that some interns haven’t yet figured out workplace expectations yet and don’t quite realize that “show up every day” really does mean “show up every day.”

But reasonable employers also know that sometimes shit happens, and sometimes it has the bad timing to strike during your first month. That means that if you prove yourself to be hard-working and reliable going forward, that should be what counts, not the time you got sick for a week right after starting. (I don’t mean to imply that getting sick means that your’e not hard-working and reliable — just that employers don’t know one way or the other when you’re new, until you show them.)

That said, internships are never guaranteed to turn into full-time jobs, no matter how well you do (unless you have an explicit agreement to the contrary), so don’t look at it as something that should happen if the internship goes well. Even if it doesn’t happen, there are all sorts of other things it can lead to, from the experience itself, references, networking, and so forth.

5. I was supposed to get a job offer, but the employer isn’t returning my calls

I went for a job interview three weeks ago. I then received a phone call from the employer; the HR manager left me a message indicating she was done with all the interview process and that she had exciting news for me regarding a potential job offer and to return her call. This was three days ago. So far, I have left her two voicemails since I’m so eager to hear about this job offer! She has not returned my calls. Is it a good idea to send an email to the HR manager as follow-up, since I’m not sure why I’m not getting a call back?

I’m so eager to hear about this job, and I don’t want to accept another job offer if her voicemail indicated that she has a potential job offer for me.

It’s reasonable to wait a few more days and then follow up one more time by email, but then I’d move on. It’s really in her court, and if she’s not getting back to you, there’s a reason for it — she’s on vacation or out sick or the hiring process has gotten hung up in some way or they’re going with another candidate or who knows what. But I can promise you that it’s not that she wants to make you a job offer but won’t remember that unless you contact her; when employers want to hire someone, it doesn’t slip their mind.

Sometimes job offers seem like they’re about to burst into being, only to then fizzle out. That’s true even when an employer says things like “I want to talk to you about an offer.” Sometimes they just don’t come to fruition. And yes, a polite employer will get back to you and tell you that, but this one isn’t doing that — so all you can do is make one final attempt and then move on.

{ 411 comments… read them below }

  1. KarenT

    #3. Alison’s advice is perfect, of course, but OP I feel your rage. I would be mad as hell too. Her behavior inappropriate on so many levels.

    1. Jessica

      Yeah, I’m glaring as I read that one. It is SO inappropriate. But I understood it that OP’s husband is not the offender’s direct supervisor…someone below him is. Is this perhaps something the direct supervisor should handle, or should the husband be the one to nip it in the bud? I’m all for people calling out bad behavior when it happens, no matter who has to call it out.

      1. anon17

        I’m pretty unqualified to answer, but if I were the one behaving like this and was completely oblivious that it was inappropriate, I’d be mortified if someone else talked to me about it. I think the employee deserves one chance to have this manager speak to her directly so that she has the opportunity to say “Oh my gosh, I didn’t realize, I’m so sorry” (apology is key). Without that opportunity to apologize, it could be awkward for a time – it would be weird-feeling to bring it up after the fact (I’d spend days winding should I? Shouldn’t I?), but also weird to not apologize. So I think one chance to apologize directly in the moment. After that, she had her chance and missed it, her supervisor can provide the repeat talkings to (if they take a multiple warnings approach).

        1. Jessica

          You’re right; perhaps she just needs a quick bit of behavior modification and be given the chance to see the error of her ways and apologize. And yes, she must apologize and acknowledge how very wrong it is.

          But quite frankly, the employee sounds like a twit and I don’t care if she’s young…she should not be putting her hands on a coworker, much less a married one, and it pisses me off that seems to be mad at OP for having the audacity to be married to him first. I know, I know, we are only hearing one side of the story…but I have also met someone exactly like this. OP should definitely not be involved in how it is handled, but good grief, who can blame her for being pissed?

          1. Calliope

            She didn’t just put her hands on a coworker — she put her hand *up* his shirt sleeve. That’s crossing a clothing boundary. I know it’s just a shirt sleeve, but still — ugh, I have no words.

            1. NewishAnon

              I somehow missed that it was *up* his shirt sleeve. Now that I realize that it’s a lot more inappropriate.

              That said, as the wife, I don’t think I’d be flying into a rage or mad as hell about it. I would not be standing there glaring at her like an enraged, jealous wife. I’d be upset that my husbands personal space was violated and more concerned about the uncomfortable position he was put in. I’d would encourage him to tell her it was inappropriate, but not worried about continued flirting or anything overtly sexual, not at this point anyway.

              I wonder, would the perception be different if he had been wearing short sleeves? I’m not sure. On one level the act of slipping your hands under someones clothing is…weirdly inappropriate for work. On another, it may have been that she’s clueless and was just thinking she was touching his arm, which doesn’t seem quite as bad.

                1. NewishAnon

                  I agree it’s extremely weird and inappropriate and needs to be dealt with, not ignored. But I’m not any more upset about it than that and not yet at the point where I think this woman is flirting or deliberately causing trouble. I’d need a lot more than one incident of awkward touching and a “hey” to conclude that.

              1. Annonymouse

                I get where OP is coming from.
                Worker girl has (in her eyes)
                1) initiated weird non work conversation
                2) touched the husband
                3) crossed a clothing boundary to do it
                4) clearly made him uncomfortable
                5) in front of his wife!!! Which might cause trouble for him
                6) and shows she clearly has no concept of boundaries

                Notice most of it is upset on his behalf instead of “get your hands off my man! I saw him first!” Anger.

          2. Zillah

            I don’t think his being married makes any difference – this would be equally inappropriate if he weren’t.

            1. Jessica

              Yes, that’s what I meant to imply, but it wasn’t clear. It doesn’t matter that he is married…you just shouldn’t be putting hands on anyone at work, or anyplace really, but in the case where someone is dating someone or married, I feel like you are disrespecting two people, not just one. Case in point: I had a boss that would stand behind my chair and put his hands on my shoulder beside my neck. And linger. He would also put his hand on my arm when he would talk. Both gestures were surprisingly aggressive, to the point it shocked me, but I did just flat out tell him I don’t like to be touched. I can imagine though, if I were in a relationship, that a partner would be offended too that someone put their hands on me. So I don’t blame OP for being pissed enough to write a letter and seek feedback.

            2. Koko

              Yep. Even with long sleeves, even if she had only touched the back of his hand or some other “innocent” location, there’s simply no professional reason your boss needs to feel how icy your hands are. “Feel how cold my hands are!” is a flirtatious overture/pretext for skin contact that I’ve only ever seen executed by people in intimate relationships/friendships, or flirting with each other. Professionals do not flirt with their boss regardless of his relationship status.

              1. Dynamic Beige

                I do conference work and it can get pretty damn cold in those buildings. I was once on a job and when I finally saw my male coworker in more light I laughed, pointed and said “your lips are blue!” He then pointed out that so were mine. Yes, it was that cold.

                It is not an uncommon conversation at all that I’ll say “I’m so cold!” and someone else (usually a male team member/coworker but not a supervisor) will say “How can you be cold?” because of that men having a slightly higher body temp than women thing. So if he’s within distance, I may touch the back of his hand with my icy one to show that I am, in fact, not just bitching but really cold.

                I do not, however, stick my hand up his shirt, I have done this to women too, it is not done flirtatiously or out of a need to get attention or to ingratiate/insinuate myself with The Boss which it sounds like this completely tone-deaf young woman is doing. He needs to stop this right quick by being stern, telling her that he is married and “this is inappropriate” until it sinks in.

          3. Samantha

            “She seems to be mad at OP for having the audacity to be married to him first.”

            Where are you getting this from? I think people are reading things into this letter that aren’t there. Was the behavior inappropriate? Of course. Should it be addressed? Absolutely. But I don’t think it’s cause for immediate termination and I don’t see anything in this letter that indicates that she hates the OP and wants to steal her husband.

            I am married and while I would be annoyed at this situation, I trust my husband (as the OP says she does) and I would have no doubt in his ability to handle the situation appropriately.

            1. NewishAnon


              Also think that regardless of what trust exists between OP and her husband, the situation doesn’t warrant firing her or indicate that this woman is hoping to become his mistress. She said “hey” on one occasion and then touched his arm on another. That’s it. Strange and inappropriate? Yes. But hardly anything else.

              1. fposte

                I don’t really get the “hey” part of the story anyway. It seems to be in aid of suggesting that this woman is a poor employee in two ways, but the first part doesn’t really seem to matter much.

                I think husband should tell her not to touch co-workers and they should move on.

                1. LBK

                  I had to read it a couple times but it sounds like the husband tried to say “This is my wife, Jane” to the employee and she just ignored it/didn’t respond the first two times, and then finally on the third time she acknowledged it?

                  If that is how it happened I can see that as a perceived slight against their relationship, as if she was indicating her diminished regard for their marriage. But that would be heavily reading into it.

                2. Koko

                  What LBK said – it seems her husband tried to introduce her to the new employee, who ignore the attempt twice and then gave a flat, dismissive response when she finally did acknowledge the wife. And then the next time the wife was present, she put her hands under the husband’s clothing in a flirtatious manner right in front of the wife, while making eye contact with the wife (!!).

                  If I were OP I wouldn’t be worried about my husband but I wouldn’t know how to interpret the employee’s behavior as anything but disrespect and contempt for me and for my marriage.

                3. nota"jealouswife"

                  The “hey” part of it is exactly as LOL and Koko have said. It came across as dismissive and disrespectful.

              2. Artemesia

                The gesture was flirtatious. I doubt there is a woman on earth who doesn’t know what she is doing when she devises an excuse to stick her hands up someone’s shirt sleeve to share the ‘news’ that her hands are cold. She needs to be set down on this clearly and if she does this sort of thing again or with others, she should be fired.

              3. Annonymouse

                As pointed out it wasn’t so much the “hey” as it was the two ignored attempts to introduce our OP as his wife first then only getting hey in response.

                Not “hello, I’m worker flirt girl” or
                “It’s nice to meet you”.

                Two ignored attempts to introduce and then “hey” as the only acknowledgement. Then the “I’m cold, let me feel you up in front of your wife while I stare at her”

            2. Jessica

              Yeah, I was reaching a bit on that statement, and rereading the letter in the light of day after getting some sleep, I think I was most likely projecting from experiences that happened to me, where this WAS the case. I don’t think she should be fired. A simple talking to should, hopefully, do the trick for everyone. And, what a great learning experience for her as she enters the job world. The stakes only get higher as you go along, so it’s best to stop this behavior immediately.

          4. some1

            If you’re correct that the woman did this to piss off the LW, the LW played right into her hand, so Alison’s advice still stands – she needs to be above this so the the issue stays where it needs to be, the woman’s behavior. The behavior would be wrong even if the LW didn’t care.

          5. afiendishthingy

            I went to happy hour with a few coworkers and our boss a couple months back and one coworker kept inappropriately touching our (married) boss – putting her hand on his (shaved) head, playfully touching his chest, etc – it was incredibly awkward just as an observer. My boss looked totally uncomfortable, not sure if he ever said anything to her about it. (No spouses were present.) And this woman is in her late 30s, definitely old enough to know better! No advice here, but yeesh, people need some JUDGMENT and BOUNDARIES…

            1. Poohbear McGriddles

              Yikes! As someone who tends to keep his hair short, let me say that it feels “really good” when it’s touched. That could get inappropriate real quick.

              1. afiendishthingy

                I’m fairly sure this coworker has a crush on the boss and it was inappropriate from the get-go. Boss is a great guy and pretty adorable, but he is a) our boss and b) married and c) our BOSS, hello. Keep it in your pants, girlfriend.

            1. Michele

              Agreed. People keep acting like the fact that he is married is relevant. The employee was being particularly brazen with the wife there, but this is about respecting the boundaries of the person who is being touched, not about the wife’s claim on her husband.

              1. Remy

                Someone two weeks on the job does this to their supervisor’s director? Yikes. I mean, seriously, what’s to stop that person from doing something equally or more egregious with a client? At this point how could the employer possibly know this person has judgment that would keep her from doing something considered way out of line and offensive?

                1. nota"jealouswife"

                  Remy, thank you!!!! This has been a huge concern. This is the reason I reached out. I needed confirmation that my train of thought was justified and that I wasn’t being mislead by emotion.

                1. Chinook

                  “On what planet is it okay to pet your boss?”

                  When your boss is a cat, but even then most cats only want be petted when they want to, not when you want to.

                  I can understand why the OP is upset – if the employee looked her in the eye while touching her husband inappropriately, it would definitely feel like someone marking terrritory. Add to that the fact the OP’s husband freezes when this happens, and the OP can feel like she needs to protect him in that moment.

                  That being said, AAM is right in the OP’s husband needs to mention to the employee directly that she is not to touch him (unless it is a handshake). If she continues to do it, then she is directly disobeying a supervisor as well as touching him inappropriately, which to me should be a fireable offense.

                2. Chinook

                  BTW, a joke that, as an independent contracto who is self-employed, my Board of Directors consists of my dog (who is senile, so his position of President has become more honorary than active. He also lost signing authority when he was shown to be bribable by dog treats) and my cat who is CEO. I retain the position of CFO only because I am the only who can count past 2.

        2. Cheesecake

          Agree, in this particular case, the “touched” needs to talk to the employee directly, not her supervisor. It will be very awkward if the director explains the whole drama to supervisor who has to say to the employee “this is not professional, don’t touch our untouchable director again”. It can do more harm than good, particularly if not solved immediately via 3rd parties. Under other circumstances supervisor should handle stuff, but this just gets overly awkward and he is this “3rd party”, assuming he didn’t even see the whole thing.

          And it is a bit harsh to assume employee is a twit and must be fired based on this one thing. I have a very touchy-feely colleague, who doesn’t really get that it makes some people uncomfortable, but it takes one chat for her to stop. And she is a good employee.

          1. Jessica

            I definitely don’t think she should be fired for one infraction, but her behavior is both rude and inappropriate, which I view as acting like a twit. Rude because she had to be introduced three times before even acknowledging OP, when basic human decency would dictate that you respond. Inappropriate because she is 1) putting her hands on another person, which is bad, who 2)happens to be married, thus offending two parties and not just one and is 3) her boss, which is weird and wrong, no matter how young and inexperienced you are. I’m glad your coworker takes the hint and I hope this employee does too, because this behavior needs to stop immediately on so many levels.

        3. Jessie

          Sometimes people are just awkward and aren’t thinking (me, for instance). Your initial impression might still be correct: that she’s young and doesn’t know how to act around people in a business setting.

        4. Miss Betty

          How does an adult, no matter how young, not understand that touching anyone in a flirtatious manner (hand up the sleeve) is entirely inappropriate in the workplace? And how does an adult, no matter how young, not understand how rude it is to completely ignore an introduction twice in a row then barely acknowledge it the third time. She would’ve (should’ve, anyway) learnedly these things before she graduated from high school. I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out she did them on purpose.

          1. LD

            I’m constantly amazed at the behaviors that have to be taught to employees, no matter their age or experience. That’s when good feedback skills come into play and the director could say something like: “Hey, I need a minute of your time to share an observation with you, is now good?” “So the other day when I introduced you to my wife, I made the introduction three times before you responded and it appeared as if you were ignoring me. I want you and all our employees to be perceived as respectful and not ignore anyone. What are your thoughts?” Then listen and wait for either apology or push back. Then you’ll know more about how to proceed. If she apologizes and sees the error of her ways and understands that the behavior is unacceptable, then further observation and feedback regarding any future warning signs or behaviors that need correction may be appropriate. If push back, or demonstration of judgment or intention so bad that you don’t have the time or skills to address, then termination might be the best option. Either way, provide respectful feedback.

              1. ThursdaysGeek

                Although I think I would add something about the touching: “And, this is awkward, but touching another person in a business setting, beyond just shaking hands, is generally discouraged. It’s better to err on the side of no touching at all other than those initial handshakes.”

                1. Jessa

                  I like this script too, but I’d pause after the politeness bit, first, because to me that’s even more important. As long as she refrains from being touchy feeley in the future, I might even leave that and address it in the instance if she ever did it again.

    2. Helen

      I’m also not her why her husband is being so passive about it. I 100% understand that some sexual harassment situations in the workplace can be so shocking and awkward that the best you can come up with in the moment is nervous laughter, but he’s her manager. I don’t know why he didn’t immediately pull his arm away.

      I keep thinking of the first episode of Mad Men, when Peggy puts her hand on Don’s and he removes it and says something like, “I’m not your boyfriend.” (Not that Don is someone to emulate in this regard.)

      1. Michele

        He was probably taken off guard and didn’t know how to handle it in the moment. Like many women who face unwanted advances, he could have been afraid of embarassment or causing a scene.

        1. Cordelia Naismith

          Agreed — or he could have just been taken totally by surprise. I mean, who does that? I tend to freeze when confronted with completely unexpected situations, too.

      2. LBK

        Yeah but Don is an actor with a prepared line to give in response. I can totally see being caught off guard and not knowing how to respond in the moment.

      3. nota"jealouswife"

        My husband is not the type to cause a scene. I really feel like this caught him off guard and he, in all honesty, is used to working with a lot of men in his industry and has never encountered anything like this. I have posted farther below but wanted to give you a reason why his initial reaction wasn’t to jerk his arm away. I’m fairly confident that if he could go back and have a do over he would have, but he was not prepared for something like that.

        1. fposte

          He doesn’t need a do-over, though; he can just say now “By the way, putting your hands on my arm the way you did at the trade show is inappropriate; please avoid touching co-workers like that again.”

        2. AnotherHRPro

          This is very possible. With these types of things, it is always best to give direct feedback as soon as possible after the incident. Ideally, right at the time. But we are all human and sometimes don’t react in the moment. Afterwards, he should have collected his thoughts and talked with the employee telling her that her actions where inappropriate and that if she demonstrates such actions again, she will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination.

        3. Elizabeth West

          A vendor did that to me once–came up behind me and did the shoulder rub thing. It was completely out of left field and I was like o_O

          I had no idea what to do, so I did nothing. It only happened the one time, thank goodness. Your husband does need to shut this down, however, before it becomes even more problematic, either with him or other coworkers.

          1. Jessica

            Ahhh, doesn’t that suck? Has happened to me as well and while I am usually an outspoken person, the fact that someone WOULD touch me was so shocking that I didn’t immediately shut it down. I see shock being the main factor here for the husband. I don’t think he did anything wrong, as people often don’t react immediately in situations that are so shocking.

        4. Van Wilder

          My husband would totally freeze also. Some people are just not confrontational and, frankly, we would all do well to take a beat before reacting. That said, he absolutely needs to say something to her now, or she’ll think that her behavior is ok.

          1. nota"jealouswife"

            Yes Van. I admire my husband for really thinking things through before reacting. I am more of the bulldog type, he is not. He’s more patient. But when he is mad you know its something really serious that he has put a lot of thought in to.There’s a time and place for both styles. But neither are perfect on their own or for every situation that comes up. We really balance each other out well. Sometimes I wish I could be more like him. Other times hr wishes he could be more like me. Hence why we bounce ideas off each other.

      4. Chinook

        “I keep thinking of the first episode of Mad Men, when Peggy puts her hand on Don’s and he removes it and says something like, “I’m not your boyfriend.” (Not that Don is someone to emulate in this regard.)”

        Why shouldn’t he be emulated with this line? I think it is a perfect response as it showed Peggy that this behaviour was inapprorpiate and clarified their relationship. He also never held that action against her in the future.

        Honestly, I never saw Don as being a poor role model for how to mentor a woman in his field (for his time). True, he treated women poorly outside his professional life, but when he came across a woman who was capable of doing the job, he always held them to the same standard he held the men and was clear about it. He also gave them opportunites to grow but left it the them whether or not they would take them. When you considered how those around them treated the women they work with, his actions were groundbreaking.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Well, he was great with Joan, but beyond that, he slept with numerous coworkers, was horrible to his highly competent assistant Alison after sleeping with her, and treated Peggy pretty poorly at times.

          1. LBK

            I would love to read some posts about how you would handle workplace issues from TV shows. I think I remember one about an employee being fired for lying about being pregnant that you fielded, I always hoped there would be more!

            1. Jessica

              Yes, please make this happen!!! You could write a novel on Mad Men alone, but I am having a hard time thinking of fictional workplace stories more messed up than some that I’ve experienced myself or read on here. Like how my Christmas bonus last year was a bag of gummy bears. A huge bag, mind you, but gummy bears nonetheless.

            2. nota"jealouswife"

              That would be great! It would be a great way for everyone to really see the whole situation the same way and how it could be perceived differently or handled in different ways.

        2. Laura Renee

          Mmm, like Alison said, Don wasn’t so great. He threw money in Peggy’s face that one time, and even with Joan — he impulsively and authoritatively made the movie to ditch the big client (Jaguar) she was responsible for contracting (at a terrible personal cost to herself). It really pissed her off, and I understand why. (But SCDP, or whatever the company name is now, has terrible communication issues.)

      5. Stranger than fiction

        Yes and that was 1963 and she was encouraged to do that by Joan the head secretary at the time

    3. Kay

      Yeah, I mean I do this to my own husband… in our house… but I would NEVER do it to a coworker. Wow. Just wow…

    4. Elder Dog

      This wasn’t an off-key attempt at flirtation.
      First she refused to acknowledge the wife till she was forced to.
      Then she was looking right at the wife, while putting her hands inside the man’s clothing.
      This was a direct challenge to the wife.
      This woman needs to be sat down with the man and HR and told what sexual harassment is, and given a written warning.
      If she does it a second time with the same co-worker or anyone else, she needs to be fired and walked out.

      I suspect there has been some flirting back from the husband that he sees as “harmless.” He needs to understand it isn’t and he’s made a very big mistake. If he really hasn’t been flirting back, even harmlessly “just being friendly” then he needs to be very careful because there’s a real possibility this will develop into a stalking situation.

      This is not harmless, not “just an issue between coworkers and none of the wife’s business” (see putting her hands under the husband’s clothes while staring down the wife) and absolutely not something that the wife should just let go. This is a challenge to her family and her marriage, even if it was issued in a setting where the husband was “at work”.

      What should the wife have done? She shouldn’t have glared at the chippy. She should have laughed out loud at the little worm, and walked away. Her husband should have immediately followed her. If he didn’t it’s time to get advice from a lawyer about what to do to protect herself and her children.

      1. Stranger than fiction

        Agreed, Elder. And how about sit her down in front of a sexual harassment dvd or online course?

      2. fposte

        You’re missing the part where the manager directly addresses the behavior with his employee, though. That’s the crucial thing that has to take place. It’s not managing to put a DVD in front of her but not directly tell her to knock it off.

      3. nota"jealouswife"

        Thank you elder. My husband is a fairly shy man. He keeps to himself in situations where he can, and he truly has had little interaction with this employee. She is in the office and he has been spending the past month out in the field with new reps.
        He told her to go ahead and go home after this situation happened. I personally would have addressed it right then and there, but I’m much quicker on my toes and that’s my style. It’s not his. He really thinks things through before he opens his mouth which in a lot of situations is admirable. Is it what I would have done? No. But we’re different people and I respect that.

  2. Tackley

    RE: 2. When I list off my work, my manager always asks, “Anything else?”

    Excellent suggestion to not read into it. I now see that the manager is just using a repetitive (perhaps thoughtless) approach to move from person to person. Putting myself in the manager’s shoes, I’m trying to think how I could shift the focus to the next speaker in a more neutral manner.

    The more typical approach is that when it’s obvious the person has finished, simply say “Ok – thank you” and move on. It’s control-freakish to make the sales person formally state “Yes, that is everything.”

    Thanks Alison – your comment response was really helpful.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger

      Look at it this way…even if your manager has completely unrealistic expectations, yet only expresses that passive-aggressively, what could you do about that? It’s my experience that people who refuse to be direct will often deny any ulterior motive when confronted about their passive-aggressiveness.

      Now, if there were other signs of not meeting expectations, it might make sense to address the most direct one and ask about it. But if this is it, and you feel your workload is reasonable and have no good reason to believe otherwise, don’t assume anything on their part. It could just be that they’re not a good communicator.

    2. there had been rather more than seven of them so far, and rain hadn't been invented yet

      Just another datapoint: I’m prone to saying something like “Anything else?” in scrums as a way of asking if there is any new business or new issues or news or concerns that the person wants to raise. It sounds like OP2 is takng it as an expression of “that’s all you’ve got?!” Perhaps a statement like “I believe I’ve got it all covered” would work in his situation?

      With this having come up, I’m inclined to talk to my people and make sure we’ve got a ‘meeting of the minds’ on this. I’m pretty sure we do, but – it won’t hurt to check.

      1. Revanche

        I was going to say the same thing. I managed a fairly large group and when we went around with updates, I wanted to give them the chance to throw out any new thoughts (related to their list or not) before I moved along to the next person. If I didn’t, we tended to miss the signals that one or another person had comments that would be valuable to share because I tended to move our meetings at a quick pace.

    3. fposte

      I really don’t think it is control freakish, though, and I think reading stuff into it risks unnecessarily souring a relationship with a manager. It’s just a final check phrase, and it’s really common–this is one of those things where the absolute literal meaning is the likeliest. The manager wants to make sure the employee has finished her report; that’s it.

      1. MJH

        I agree that it’s not a big deal, but the way the manager is asking does make conscientious (some would say anxious!) people feel a bit on edge. At my OB appointments, my doctor or midwife always asks multiple times if I have questions. I generally don’t; my pregnancy has been low-risk and not particularly troublesome and if I have a question between appointments I just google it and generally find the answer. BUT… getting asked usually 2x per appointment if I have questions makes me feel like I NEED TO HAVE QUESTIONS. What do you want me to ask? What should I be concerned about? TELL ME?! It’s funny, because I recognize it in myself. I want to do and say the right thing in response! But I have nothing!

        1. The Cosmic Avenger

          You’d probably be surprised how many people say they “don’t want to bother” their medical professionals with questions or even symptoms. It’s possible your OB’s office tries a little too hard or doesn’t adequately distinguish the reticent patients from the content ones, but from a healthcare perspective prompting for input or questions multiple times sounds like a very good idea.

          1. MJH

            Oh, it’s not a bad idea and I totally appreciate that I am not rushed! I am poking fun at myself and my overthinking tendencies.

        2. fposte

          That’s not the way he’s asking, though; that’s the way people are responding to an innocuous signoff, and it’s going to be a good growth thing for them if they can learn to accept the literality of it.

          1. Judy

            Every team meeting I’ve been involved in, if there was a “roundtable” would have this.

            Boss: Judy, what projects are you concentrating on this week?
            Judy: BLAH, BLAH
            Boss: Anything else, Judy?
            Judy: That’s all.
            Boss: OK, Wakeen, what are you working on this week?

            I’ve done that when I ran my team meetings.

          2. LBK

            Yeah, my manager ends every meeting with “anything else?” and I’ve never given it a second thought. It’s a chance to double check that you went over everything you wanted and sometimes it’s actually helpful because it will spark the “oh right! I also meant to tell you…” moment. I’m surprised people are reading so much into it, honestly.

        3. Artemesia

          Doctors talk about the ‘hand on the doorknob questions.’ i.e. many people are reluctant to talk about what they are really concerned about and so it sometimes slips out as an ‘oh by the way’ as they are leaving. And those are often the most important questions. So they are trained to probe further.

        1. Elizabeth West

          It’s fun when you say, “Well, no, not everything,” and watch their faces. Nobody ever expects an answer to that. But then they tell me where to find the thing I didn’t find.

          1. Dynamic Beige

            I love it when I get that question at Costco. Because probably the second rule of Costco shopping is: do not get attached to anything they sell there. Just when you get used to buying it, they will run out of stock, decide not to reorder it, it was something that didn’t “work” commercially and the manufacturer was dumping the stock there. And you will never see it again.

            1. Natalie

              Ugh, so true and so disappointing sometimes. If they ever stop selling my favorite sparkling water in giant flats, I will be sad.

              1. Snork Maiden

                I try to look at Costco discontinuing things as “here is an opportunity for them to bring in something I may also end up liking!” It takes a bit of the sting out, sometimes. But then, I have a short attention span.

            2. Carrington Barr

              Yes! An all-too-common grumble of ours is, “So they discontinued it? They must have heard we liked it.”

          2. Elder Dog

            At my grocery store, if I say I didn’t find everything, the cashier usually sends somebody to fetch it if she doesn’t have a long line waiting behind me. Very nice.

    4. LQ

      My boss always does the anything else at the end and it’s never come off as anything other than, hey if you have anything else you might be working on or that you think will come up. It’s not a passive aggressive anything. On days where someone is extremely busy for the upcoming week the response is, “Well when I finish that Director asked me to work on that time machine too.”

      I think giving people an opening to say if they have anything else, questions, etc, that’s a good thing. Not a bad thing. It doesn’t require a formal “Yes, that is everything.”

      I really think that this has to already be an adversarial relationship to have a simple “Anything else?” come off as an accusation.

    5. AnotherHRPro

      It is always best to not try to read into others intentions. I agree with Alison that this is very likely your manager’s way of transitioning and making sure he doesn’t cut anyone off. If it really bothers you, you could end your list with “and that is it for me”.

      1. BadPlanning

        We have a lot of scrum meetings and I also often end with, “that’s it for me” otherwise there’s a pause and my team leader asks, “Anything else?” before calling the next person (we’re on the phone so there’s no visual cue). In my case, the “Anything else?” is a courtesy — not wanting to interrupt or cut short your turn.

    6. M-C

      Sounds like the manager wants to make sure you have an opportunity to speak up about things that may not fit neatly into a list of appointments. I really wouldn’t get paranoid about it :-). And it’s especially nothing to worry about if he does the same to everyone, every time. To you alone, with meaningful look and tone, that’d be something else, but to everyone?

  3. MK

    OP1, I think you and your coworkers have been overly polite with waiting to leave with your manager. There is no expectation that coworkers will leave the workplace together (barring some specific reason for it, like security, car-pooling, etc), much less is it expected to wait aimlessly for someone to gather their belongings so that all of you can leave. And I am not sure what you mean by carrying her bags, unless these pertain to the work somehow; if these are personal items, it might be nice to help out, if you are going in the same direction, but you shouldn’t arrange your schedule to do it.

    You say she’s going to have a problem with it because she always makes little comments when an employee leaves on time; frankly, these comments are what needs to be addressed. I think you should leave on time for your bus, without making a big deal out of it, like it’s the most natural thing in thw world for you to leave the workplace once your job is done (because it is!). If/when your boss makes a “little comment”, address it then and there, in a very confused “what am I missing here” manner: “I thought we all got off work at 5:30; do I have that wrong?”. It’s not impossible that she has been “spoiled” by employees being overly polite and that, once she tries to rationalize her reaction, she will realise that it’s not actually reasonable to expect people to wait for her.

    1. Sadsack

      I agree with Alison’s response and this. Say, “Hey, gotta go now or I will miss my bus,” and then don’t think twice about it. If something is said to you about it, then you can deal with it.

    2. Sadsack

      Whoa, I just caught the part about helping carry the manager’s bags. How many people have to carry her bags? She probably carries them into work by herself. She can manage without OP.

      1. John

        We had an exec who would travel in with his boss every day and escort her to her office, carrying her bags for her.

        It was supposed to be chivalrous but people who saw it did not respond well to it; it seemed demeaning and like he was sucking up in their eyes.

        It also didn’t reflect well on her — it made her seem imperial and it played into gender stereotypes.

        1. Chinook

          “We had an exec who would travel in with his boss every day and escort her to her office, carrying her bags for her.

          It was supposed to be chivalrous but people who saw it did not respond well to it; it seemed demeaning and like he was sucking up in their eyes.”

          Someone carrying their bosses’ bags around here would not go over well culturally for the boss. Once it is known that you are not disabled and capable of carrying them yourself, the boss would be seen as stuck up and full of themselves. Then again, this is the place that believes the person at our pancake breakfasts actually cooking the pancakes should be the bosses, executives, premier, etc. and not their staff. I think this may be a remnant of our pioneer culture where everyoen is expected to pitch in.

      2. LizNYC

        Whoa, I didn’t realize that either! (I misread it to mean the OP waited until the boss got her bags ready to go.)

        OP, STOP CARRYING THE BAGS. This woman should be capable of moving around without assistance from you. If she needs to make multiple trips to her car, that’s really her problem.

        And just say what Alison suggests. If your boss has an issue with it, others will see her issue with the person who takes public transportation to be out of line.

    3. thick imperial slices melting frigidly on sun-parched tongues

      I think AAM’s advice here is good, but I wonder if there is more to the story.

      There’s a cable show called House of Lies about a ruthless consulting team, it’s 4 people and they refer to themselves as “The Pod”. Splitting off from The Pod can be dangerous, as it can be taken as a show of disloyalty. I know it’s television and it’s fiction, but I wonder if OP fears being thought of as a lesser part of their team? Or – will the team talk about her or backstab her while she’s not present?

      That said, the bit where OP always carries her boss’s bags strikes me as odd. To be blunt, it’s kind of a suck-up move and / or the boss has delusions of royalty. If it was me personally, I’d work to quickly end this. Not to put on airs, but I don’t want my management to think of me as their private baggage handler.

      1. AnotherHRPro

        While it might be unusual to this this every single day, it is not uncommon for people I work with to help each other if they have multiple things to carry. I would take the OP at face value in that this is just a nice gesture and that due to her bus schedule it will need to stop. It should not be a big issue to make that change as their is a very good reason for it. Sometimes things quickly become cultural norms/expectations that really shouldn’t be. What started out as something courteous has turned into a hardship.

      2. Kathryn

        I’m super pregnant right now and have a skeletal issue that is exacerbated by pregnancy hormones.

        While I’m usually totally capable of carrying my own stuff (and pack lightly to accomedate my needs) right now coworkers have helped me carry my bag or fetched things for me (lunch, water bottle refill)… if they are also leaving at the same time or generally headed in the same direction.

        I would not see this kind of help as a requirement though, currently I see it as kindness and am really greatful to work with people who handle themselves like this. As a general rule, it would be odd, beyond the occassional “You apear to be lugging a box of books, your computer bag, and a crock pot from the potluck… can I get this door for you and help get you to your car?”

        1. Chinook

          “While I’m usually totally capable of carrying my own stuff (and pack lightly to accomedate my needs) right now coworkers have helped me carry my bag or fetched things for me (lunch, water bottle refill)… if they are also leaving at the same time or generally headed in the same direction. ”

          I think this is a perfect example of the exception to “you should carry your own bags” rule. You are temporarily disabled and it woudl be wrong to risk injury to yourself for something that someone else can do for you. But, at the same time, I bet you don’t demand someone else do it for you either (they probably offer).

          As for whether or not a pregnancy is a disability, I would agree with those who say it generally isn’t but it definitely changes your centre of gravity (one of the reasons why pregnant women should be given a seat on a bus) and you ability to maneouver gracefully or without frequent pit stops.

          1. Revanche

            Definitely a YMMV situation. I have serious chronic conditions that are more fatiguing/debilitating than pregnancy was (and that was a pretty terrible experience by itself) but I hate telling people offline about it as it feels like being weak. It’s particularly bad professionally as I need accommodations but don’t want to be discriminated against for being too honest about my conditions. So when people were considerate about the pregnancy I was taken aback at how nice people could be and how incredibly helpful it was to have ONE condition that was understood to be really physically tough. It’s the kind of consideration that makes the difference between my being able to recover from a potentially multiweek crippling episode in fewer days or riding it out the whole way. It really put pregnancy in perspective for me too as I had no idea it could be that bad. (It’s hilarious when people who ENJOYED their pregnancies would look at me wistfully and said they missed it. We clearly had totally opposite experiences.)

    4. Not So NewReader

      Some places do have a rule that everyone leaves together. It could be because of the security system in the building or it could be for safety outside the building. But I assume if OP was concerned about safety outside of the building she would have added that to her description of the problem. It could be that people need to witness each other leaving the building without stealing anything. If that is the case, perhaps someone would volunteer to leave with OP.

      Maybe the boss is older or has a health issue and that is why OP carries her stuff. Or maybe the boss just lugs too much stuff around with her. I can see me offering to carry the boss’ stuff thinking that would help her get out the door sooner. Mileage may vary on that one because some people are just slow to collect themselves and no amount of assistance is going to make them speed up.

      Because the boss has made remarks about other people leaving earlier and not waiting for the group, it might be worthwhile to find out why that is important. Maybe if the boss realized that OP had to stand at the bus stop for an additional period of time, that would cause the boss to reconsider.

      1. JMegan

        some people are just slow to collect themselves and no amount of assistance is going to make them speed up.

        I’m one of those. I’m always the last one to pack up my stuff after a yoga class, the last one out of the changeroom if we have been swimming, the slowest one out of the office, etc. TBH, it drives me nuts too, because no matter how hard I try, for some reason I’m always slow. So I’ve learned to work around the problem, since I can’t seem to solve it. One of the workarounds I have developed is simply to say “Oh, please don’t wait for me – it’ll be a few minutes before I’m ready to go yet.” (And if I were the OP’s manager, I would add “I wouldn’t want you to miss your bus!”)

        OP, I agree with the others that there’s no need to say anything other than “I need to leave at 5:30 to catch my bus,” and then go. You have established a pattern of waiting, so it may take a week or two for everyone to get used to your new pattern of not waiting, but it’ll all work out just fine.

        1. Elizabeth West

          Ugh, me too. I wouldn’t expect anyone to carry my things because I’m a slowpoke.

          Regarding what Not So NewReader said above, my boss is older and if I tried to carry stuff for her, I’d get a very raised eyebrow look of “WTF”.

        2. Chrissi

          My whole life it’s annoyed me to death how long it takes my mother to get out of the car when we arrive somewhere together (or house or whatnot, but especially the car). Like I’m out of the car and could be all the way into the house and she’s just managed to open the door. But in the last year or so I’ve found myself doing the same thing – taking FOREVER to get out of my apartment or the office just like her and I now feel the need to call her and apologize for being such a brat about it for 20 years :) I’ve decided that your 30’s is just an entire of decade of turning into your parents and the feelings of comeuppance that ensue.

            1. UncoolCat (formerly Manda)

              Ugh, me too. About the only thing I can think of that I don’t do at turtle speed is walking. It seems no matter how much time I give myself, I always seem to take longer than anticipated, even doing things I’ve done countless times. Either I get distracted by mundane crap, things take more time than expected, or I realize I have to do something else I hadn’t thought of. I’m slow to leave work or wherever. I usually have to stop at the washroom, and bundle up if it’s winter. And people who are walking out the door when I’m working until the last minute piss me off and I sure hope they’re starting a little early. I’m sure not gonna start packing up early just cause I take awhile. I get mad at myself but it’s just how I am. I’ll never have a good sense of time management and the best I can hope for is to make small improvements.

        3. Cath in Canada

          I was just at the wedding of a very close friend who, ever since we were five years old, has taken forEVER to get herself sorted out. I must have spent whole weeks of my childhood waiting for her in her kitchen before school (she was supposed to walk to mine to pick me up before we walked onwards to school, but I always ended up getting impatient and walking in the opposite direction from school to her place to make her hurry up), or standing in an otherwise empty classroom while she put all her stuff in her bag. I congratulated her after the ceremony for running on schedule for the first time in the 33 years I’ve known her :D

    5. Lily in NYC

      I think this is the perfect situation for a little white lie. I’d suddenly have a “new hobby” like a gym class with a set start time so I could just say I have to leave at 5:30 sharp so I won’t be late. I normally wouldn’t fib but it sounds like the boss is passive aggressive with the little comments when OP leaves at 5:30.

      1. LBK

        Is there really a need to lie? She already has something with a sharp time requirement – her bus leaving.

        1. Lily in NYC

          I think it’s the easiest way to deal with a passive aggressive boss in this situation. The boss makes comment when OP leaves on time and I got the feeling the boss already knows that OP wants to catch the bus and doesn’t care. Like I wrote above, it’s not the way I would normally go about things.

          1. Colette

            I don’t know that she doesn’t care – it’s entirely possible that she thinks the OP is an adult who will leave in time to catch the bus.

          2. some1

            Possibly, but as Anon Analyst pointed out, this could be an area where people don’t use transit as much as other people do aren’t even aware. I live in a fairly large area and know people who have never rode a city bus.

            1. Colette

              And even if taking transit is common, I wouldn’t expect the manager to know when the OP’s bus leaves, unless she takes the same bus.

            2. Monodon monoceros

              Yes, and people who have never relied on public transport really do not understand what it means to miss your bus. I think they think it means you’ll be delayed “a bit” where in reality it can mean you are delayed for an hour…

              1. Sandrine (Huet)

                I actually had a friend who didn’t get my transportation woes. I had to move out of Mom’s place and found a spot about 2 hours from where we worked with Friend (living at Mom’s it was maybe 45 minutes tops) .

                Friend didn’t understand when I started pushing for my trains… I had to repeat over and over for about six months that the train scheduling for where I live can be really whacky at times (to the point where you wonder why they need a schedule at all, really) and that it means that yeah, sometimes I’ll just have to dash!

            3. Cath in Canada

              I agree with this – if you don’t take transit on a regular basis, you might just not get that a 10 minute difference in the time you leave the office can translate to a >45 minute difference in the time you get home.

              1. LBK

                Or even if you do take transit, you might not take the commuter system, which typically runs on a much more spaced out schedule than the regular train/bus. Even after years of using the train, I didn’t realize how painful it is to miss your ride until I started taking a commuter bus that only came once every half hour.

          3. Elsajeni

            I got the impression that the need to catch the bus is a new thing — “now I have to take the bus home” suggested to me that it was a recent change. But even if it isn’t, I think it’s more likely that the boss just isn’t tuned in enough to the bus schedule to realize when it leaves or how long the wait is for the next one than that she’s deliberately being a jerk. (And if she is deliberately being a jerk, I’m not convinced she’d be any less of a jerk about making someone late for a class than about making them miss their bus.)

        2. A Dispatcher

          Agree – I wouldn’t like about it regardless, but especially not when OP already has a very good reason. In fact, I’d be much more sympathetic toward an employee needing to catch a bus versus something like a gym class to be honest. The commute is a part of her job, albeit it indirectly, whereas the hobby is something totally personal and non job related.

          1. Sadsack

            I agree, the OP has control over where and when she attends a fitness class, but she has no control over the bus schedule.

        3. Burlington

          I think the thing is, OP has been leaving later (and catching the later bus) an unknown number of times to this point. It can be harder to say “It wasn’t a problem last week, and nothing has changed, but now I need to leave 10 minutes earlier to catch the bus” than it is to say “First day of new Awesome Class! Gotta go!”

        1. fposte

          And I think the OP’s post sounds very uncertain about her right to do that, so I’d love it if she could just own the valid truth rather than feeling she needs to make something up.

          1. LBK

            I wonder how much happier the average worker would be if they just got into the habit of being direct and trusting the validity of their view rather than engaging in doubt and passivity.

              1. LBK

                I don’t know if it’s totally about bravery. I think it’s more about the misconception that a manager is unlikely to say yes to a request unless a higher authority forces them to (HR, DOL, lawyer, etc.). Since people usually assume the answer to any request will be no, they go into the conversation already defensive and annoyed about a decision that hasn’t actually been made yet. Their tone ends up putting off the manager, who in turn completes the self-fulfilling prophecy by rejecting the request. That creates more annoyance on the part of the employee, which fuels an endless cycle of negativity where the employee always feels like their perfectly reasonable requests are being ignored and the manager is frustrated that their employee is always contentious.

                One of the most valuable things I ever learned to do (both for my professional and personal life) was to stop playing out conversations in my head before I had them. I would think of a million potential objections and get frustrated with my brain’s version of the other person, then end up getting mad at the real person for saying no to a question I hadn’t even asked them yet.

                Now as soon as I catch myself starting to play “what if?”, I take that as a sign that the conversation is important enough to me to have in real life and I go have it ASAP before my jerkbrain starts chiming it with its opinion (seriously, your brain is a jerk, it is programmed to protect you and that means assuming the worst all the time).

                1. fposte

                  I also wondered–and I’m definitely willing to admit I might be projecting–if the OP is trying to “nice” the manager into behaving the way she wants without acknowledging anything directly. And that’s a hard habit to break, but it doesn’t work.

                2. LBK

                  Oh yeah, that definitely runs rampant in the working world, although I think it’s more typical for a manager to do that to their employees than vice versa.

      2. AnotherHRPro

        There is absolutely no reason to lie. It is never a good answer. And in the case the OP has a very good reason to leave at 5:30 – her transportation home – which is a better reason than a hobby.

        1. beentheredonethat

          Agreed. OP, you could make it out almost as a joke with “I need to get myself in gear, I keep missing the bus and standing there in the cold stinks!” And then head out the door. If your boss wants to still leave with you she will get her stuff together in time.
          Also, this does sound very much like “devil wears Prada”. Is there a physical limitation that socially makes you feel like you need to carry her things? If she’s pregnant, in a cast, just had surgery, or brought in a crockpot for the potluck I think it’s totally the right thing to do, but shouldn’t be expected. It’s not part of your job requirements. It’s just you being a kind person and the best way for her to show her appreciation is to make sure that you get to your bus on time. No reason to make up a white lie.

      3. jag

        Don’t lie. It’ s not right. Plus, now the OP would have to consistently remember her lie to keep the fiction going.

    6. weasel007

      So many many years ago I was a temp in an office with a control freek of a boss. The boss’s cube was right in front (you had to pass it to get out of the area) and she watched everyone like a hawk. At the end of the day she made every wait to be dismissed. Sometimes she just felt like keeping people an extra 10-15 minutes while she put on her lipstick. Evil Evil woman. My BP goes up just thinking about that job.

      1. Carrington Barr

        I had a manager who, when you were on evening or night shift, would often call your desk to make you were still there and hadn’t “left early”. One time she tried it on me, got no answer, and came to work the next day screeching “WHERE WERE YOU YESTERDAY?!?”.

        I was in the bathroom, sweetie. Would you like a status report?

  4. Sherm

    #5. Dear employers, if you give people the idea that an offer is coming, they very well might suspend their job search while they wait. Yes, they should have kept looking, but they’ve been running a marathon, so you can’t blame them for resting when they think the race is over. Taking 5 minutes to call/email/text them about a change in status is not only polite, it’s humane.

    1. Monodon monoceros

      I agree. Even if it is just a quick email saying things are held up due to HR, or they’re busy with unexpected deadlines or whatever, but things are still on track (or things have changed…) and they will contact them soon (or they should move on). It’s a small courtesy that makes a big difference to someone.

    2. Swedish Tekanna

      I agree. I don’t know what it is with some interviewers, HR staff, hiring managers etc, but professionalism seems to go right out of the window. Would you treat the customer who buys your product or service like that? Not if you want your business to thrive. It might be slightly different in HR but it is still your image and reputation at stake.

    3. Laurel Gray


      I am so tired of the new “norms” in hiring where it is now completely reasonable for an employer to not follow up after they gave their word that they would or to leave someone completely hanging for weeks after an interview when that person followed up with a thank you note. Yes, yes, I know the ball is in their court but it’s getting ridiculous.

      1. ThursdaysGeek

        ‘New’ norms? Crickets during the job search has been pretty standard in my experience, for the last 30 years.

    4. AnotherHRPro

      It is very possible the HR person is sick, on vacation, experiencing bad weather, etc. Just because someone doesn’t call you back right away does not mean they are being rude. They might not be able to.

      1. Burlington

        Yeah, it’s usually good (for one’s own sanity) to assume the best. Perhaps the HR person went on vacation and sent an email to their assistant, asking them to let OP know about the delay… but she missed the “send” button and that email will pop up, unsent, the day she gets back. Maybe the hiring manager was suddenly fired for cause and it’ll be a week before anyone gets through enough of their email to realize that there was an offer about to go out. Maybe someone was hit by a car, maybe someone won the lottery. Who knows? But ultimately, you’ll be happier if you assume the best rather than the worst.

        It’s been three days. That’s not that long to make a LOT of scenarios plausible!

      2. Sherm

        In #5’s case, I agree that it’s too soon to consider the job lost, but unfortunately there are times when employers disappear for good. Once, a hiring person told me “You got the job!” After about a week of silence, I politely inquired what my status was. He said “Oh, yeah, yeah, things are still good, we just are working on it.” And that was the last I ever heard from him. (And this was a pretty well-known company.)

      3. Mimmy

        True….but when you SPECIFICALLY ask the candidate to call you back, as in OP5’s case, you don’t just drop off the face of the earth. Sorry, I know that’s a bit dramatic, but one of my biggest pet peeves is if Wakeen specifically asks me to contact them for whatever reason–I call Wakeen as asked and leave a message, and Wakeen doesn’t get back to me. I know unexpected issues come up, but at least let me know!

    5. Elder Dog

      Hmm. I wonder if employers would do this as much if there were a website that rated them on it. Sure, there are all kinds of reasonable explanations why this could have happened, but most of the time, it’s just entitled behavior, and that’s a point of information applicants should be able to take into account before accepting a position.

      1. Stranger than fiction

        But wait there is! Glass door has a specific section to review interview experiences…or were you being sarcastic?

  5. Apollo Warbucks

    #2 Don’t worry to much about it people get sick it’s no big deal, just do the best work you can over the rest of your internship and I’m sure it wont be held against you.

    1. azvlr

      And if you otherwise prove your value to the company and they still hold it against you, this may not be a place you want to work.

    2. AnotherHRPro

      Agreed. Do not focus on what has already happened. Focus on making sure that you are making the most of your internship (learning, developing, networking) and proving to be a good employee (meet and exceed deadlines, show up on time every day, be inquisitive, go above and beyond).

    3. GigglyPuff

      Agreed, just show that you’re responsible, and hard working.

      It’s super annoying and causes so much guilt when you get sick on a new job, happened to me twice. Started a new job during the month of Nov. got sick a week later, with a horrible cold (I have a compromised immune system, so my colds now last longer, almost a complete week of symptoms), that kept me out for a week. Felt really bad about it, but felt even more horrible, when Jan rolled out and the same thing happened again. I was just really apologetic, said I usually only get sick about twice a year, which if it’s not true, don’t say that, and worked really hard to make up for the time lost.

      Started a new job in January, third week in, bam! I think I’m to the point, where I’m now going to actively try not to switch jobs in the far future during the cold season.

      1. UncoolCat (formerly Manda)

        Would the stress of starting a new job maybe have something to do with it? I used to regularly get colds when I was writing exams. I was typically lacking sleep and too stressed to fight them off I guess. And when I get colds they’re nasty. It was awful because I couldn’t just sit at home and rest. If it was during midterms I didn’t want to miss class right before a test. During finals I was at home when I wasn’t actually writing the exams, but I still had to study.

  6. Apollo Warbucks

    #4 Maybe you could try changing the way you wrap up your part of the conversation, by throwing in phrases such as

    “finally …..”
    “the last thing ….”
    “on a final note ….”

    That might make it clear you are coming to an end of what you are saying.

    1. Kas

      “…and on Friday at 4:30 I am meeting with Wakeen to discuss the handle adhesive pilot project. And that is everything.”

      1. Not So NewReader

        Ahh, love it. The preemptive strike.
        Any expression people use repeatedly tends to grate on others in numerous ways.
        I think all of us can watch our speech patterns and make sure we do not have automatic replies in use.
        I caught myself saying the same things over and over when I worked in busy retail stores. It felt like I was coasting on automatic pilot. This gets me to thinking that the boss herself actually hates the process that OP is describing. She has checked out of the conversation even though she is still physically in the room. Would it just be easier for the employees to email her their list of to-dos?

        1. the gold digger

          The trick I learned when I was in retail (after being laid off from my corp job, I worked at Macy’s over Christmas) was that even though I desperately wanted to convince customers they were wrong and I was right, my life was easier and less stressful if I just smiled and said, “Yes ma’am” or “No ma’am.” That became my automatic response.

          1. Kelly L.

            I am in so much trouble if people ever figure out that the more “ma’ams” and “sirs” I’m dropping, the madder I am! :D

            1. Apollo Warbucks

              I’m British and if anyone ever uses the phrase “with all due respect” it means you are about to be horribly patronised :)

              1. Monodon monoceros

                Ha! My boss is British, and I learned this quickly when I first started here (luckily not directed at me…)

  7. Just Visiting

    For #1, I would just tell her that you have to leave promptly because of the bus. At a former job one of my coworkers always left ten minutes early because otherwise she’d have to wait 45 minutes for the next bus out to her suburb, nobody cared. I used to come in five minutes late on a regular basis at the same job because otherwise I’d be showing up twenty minutes early, also because of the bus. (Currently I’m often 2-3 minutes late because of a similar situation, nobody cares and I usually wind up staying a few minutes late to wrap up so it works out.) If you’re a good worker and your manager isn’t insane, they’ll be understanding. Why does she need help carrying bags anyway?

    1. HeyNonnyNonny

      Yes– I live in a city where using public transportation is pretty common, and most people have 2-10 minutes of wiggle room. As long as the work is done, no one has a problem– but then again, when you see the department head on your long-delayed train, they know you have a good reason for being late!

    2. AnonAnalyst

      This is what I would do, too. I live somewhere where a lot of people rely on public transportation so this is a totally normal thing to hear, especially if someone uses a line that runs more infrequently.

      I actually wondered if the OP maybe lives somewhere where fewer people use public transportation, since in my (limited) experience living in such a place, people seem much less likely to consider transit logistics when making plans as it’s more common that people will just drive themselves. If that’s the case, the manager just might not have considered that waiting a few minutes has a large impact on OP’s commute home (unlike the coworkers, who get the snarky comments for not being willing to delay their trips home by only a few minutes), so hopefully mentioning it will be enough to resolve the issue.

    3. themmases

      I agree, most people I know (including me) have let their manager know when public transportation lines up funny with their work schedule and just worked something out. Buses in particular can run early or late by a couple of minutes due to traffic, so it’s normal to want to be out there a little early to be sure you’ll catch it. My experience with using the bus to get home is that if you *must* be outside by 5:30 in order to catch it, then it’s really prudent to be ready to go at 5:25 and have an understanding with your boss that makes that OK. In my city we can track buses and trains online, so if mine is less than 10 minutes away and it only means packing up a minute or two early, then I do that. If the OP just asks their boss at a neutral time, “My bus home only comes every 20 minutes. If it’s due to come right at 5:30, what would you prefer that I do– leave 5 minutes early that day to catch it, or stay late and make up the time later that week?” then it will already be on boss’s radar at closing up time.

  8. Boo

    #1 – sounds like a case of no good deed going unpunished. You sticking around and carrying the boss’s bags has gone from a small, kind favour to something she expects you to do even when she’s faffing around for a further 15 minutes. No need to make a big deal out of it, just tell the group you can’t wait as you have to catch your bus and you’ll see them tomorrow. Your boss sounds a little weird anyway – firstly, why does she need help carrying her own bags, and secondly, why does she care if people leave on time when all they’re doing with the extra time is hanging around waiting for her? Not like anyone’s getting any extra work done.

    #3 I feel like I’m missing something here. I don’t see anything to get hugely wound up about. In the first instance, is it possible she just didn’t hear your husband introducing you? The second instance is inappropriate I agree, but I think that could easily be chalked up to lack of professional boundaries or just lack of personal boundaries – I’ve had plenty of coworkers touch me on the hand/arm to show me how cold they are. That doesn’t make it right, and I personally didn’t like it, but I wouldn’t be so quick to assume dodgy motives. All that’s needed here is for your husband to seize the moment she does something like this to say hey, I really don’t like being touched thanks, and move the conversation on. There’s no need for firing or glaring (although if she is behaving like this on purpose, you behaving like the jealous wife may just make things worse).

    #4 like Alison says, shit happens. You can’t help being sick, all you can do is perform to the very best of your ability going forward, maybe make a point of showing a little early or staying a little late to help with any perception issues your manager might have. I once got gastritis in the first week of a new job. I was there for a grand total of one day before I had to call in sick for the rest of the week, and right after telling my boss that I was rarely ill. Awk-waaaaard! It wasn’t held against me though :)

    1. UKAnon

      Yeah, I wasn’t going to say anything because it will just get jumped all over and piled on, but I’m struggling to see what’s so big a deal in #2. Unless he was stood dead in front of her repeating his wife’s name, I think that you have to assume she didn’t hear, and whilst we go over touching a lot here, and I hate being touched most of the time (seriously people, I can feel your germs burning into my skin for hours afterwards), “feel how cold my hands are” is pretty normal. I think that a certain amount of arm touching is going to happen in the workplace. Which isn’t to say that there isn’t something else going on, but I think the boss’s boss considering firing her over this is a tad inexplicable…

      There’s also something about this which feels like it’s happening only because she’s a young woman, which is giving me an uncomfortable feeling about it all.

      1. I'm a Little Teapot

        I think putting your hand *up someone’s sleeve* is creepy and wildly inappropriate regardless of age or gender. Completely not OK for work.

        1. UKAnon

          Depends how you read it. The most likely thing is that she put her fingers under his cuffs, so she was holding his wrist. That… seems fairly normal, if a bit odd in the context.

          1. NJ anon

            But she’s only been working there for two weeks. It would seem odd to me but I think horrified hubby just needs to address it with her.

          2. The Strand

            He was wearing short sleeves, so she put her hands onto his upper arm. It’s a fairly sexualized touch.

        2. Purr purr purr

          I’m with you on this. It seems some people want to downplay this as being an issue with a jealous wife and the female colleague is just behaving innocently. The fact that the husband was shocked kind of suggests that he also thought the behaviour was inappropriate.

          1. Stranger than fiction

            Agreed the op doesn’t seem the jealous type and said she specifically looked at her while doing it. It’s 100% clear she was aware of what she was doing.

        3. Swedish Tekanna

          Yes, yuck. I might do it sometimes with a personal friend or family member but even then it would just be on the back of the hand.

      2. Juli G.

        I agree. It ends up being inappropriate because the person being touched is so uncomfortable with it. Basically, I wouldn’t take action just from observing the interaction – only if OP’s husband made a complaint. Termination seems way over the top without a warning.

      3. Boo

        “There’s also something about this which feels like it’s happening only because she’s a young woman, which is giving me an uncomfortable feeling about it all.” – Yeah, I think you’ve put your finger on what’s bothering me here. But then it’s entirely possible I’m projecting slightly since I have been the young woman whose co-worker’s wife was convinced was after her husband, just because we got on well at work. She’d swing by the office every so often to give me the stink-eye, occasionally with one of her equally stinky-eyed daughters.

        1. UKAnon

          Yes – I don’t mean to imply at all that this is definitely the case, but it feels like a factor which *might* be at play.

          (There might also be other things we don’t know about too of course – the general feeling of the situation can be hard to explain but change things drastically – it’s hard to say either way with the info we have)

          1. nota"jealouswife"

            Thank you for putting words to my feelings. It felt odd and off. There’s no way to accurately describe the tone and feeling of it all. I appreciate you recognizing that.

        2. some1

          I’ve been the woman whose coworker’s wife gave me the evil eye, as well. The LW’s husband needs to tell her not to touch her coworkers, married or not.

      4. Tenley

        Nah, “Feel how cold my hands are” isn’t a typical (normal) exchange with your supervisor’s supervisor.

        1. Lyssa

          I think that it depends on the type of workplace. That would be way out of line in a professional office, but when I was in restauranting, no one would have batted an eye – the servers and hostesses were constantly cutting up and acting “inappropriately” with the general manager, and he right back with them, and it was normal. It seems possible that the employee is young and immature and that she has only really had experiences with the less professional sort of workplace, but means nothing inappropriate. A simple “don’t do it again” seems like it should be fine.

      5. Sadsack

        ““feel how cold my hands are” is pretty normal. I think that a certain amount of arm touching is going to happen in the workplace.”

        Nope, not in my workplace, and definitely not like this. Even if the new employee had no ill intent and was oblivious to the awkwardness of her actions, the fact is that it is not a normal interaction to put your hands up the sleeve of your manager’s manager, whom you have only known for a couple of weeks. OP’s husband thought it was weird, and his is really the important opinion here. If he was made to feel awkward in his workplace, then the employee needs to be aware of it. I don’t recommend firing the employee, but the next time the employee crosses boundaries, it needs to be dealt with.

        1. Kat M

          And, as a good rule of thumb, the workplace isn’t a place to be touchy feely.

          Not to say we can’t have friendly interactions with our coworkers (my coworkers and I will hug) but you really need to know that this is OK ahead of time. It’s also not good to touch someone in the way that this young lady touched a supervisor. If a man did this, we’d all be up in arms. It’s not more OK just because the genders are reversed.

          1. Poohbear McGriddles

            Yeah, if you flip the script and it’s the boss touching the young employee – especially an older married man touching a younger single woman like that – it would probably seem more inappropriate to those who don’t see a problem with the LW’s scenario.
            Of course, IMO, cold hands are not near as useful for flirting as warm hands. Unless it’s summer in Texas, then it might be appreciated.

        2. catsAreCool

          “is not a normal interaction to put your hands up the sleeve of your manager’s manager, ” This!

      6. Lily in NYC

        So much of this depends on tone and facial expressions. I think we should trust the OP and her gut reaction about the employee. We are primates and in my opinion, sticking the hand up his sleeve in front of his wife was a (misguided) attempt of showing possessiveness. It’s a very common flirtation technique.

    2. Cheesecake

      OP1. On first glance, i wanted to advise to just pack, say you have to go and run run run. I have similar issue: i need to catch my buss to catch a train. If i don’t catch my bus, my train will leave and i will be home an hour later. So i never let anything interfere with this schedule (as long as it is not an emergency), noone ever had a problem with this or got upset because i don’t wait.

      Now, on 2nd glance, two things caught my attention. You carrying her bags (is that just a good gesture or a requirement?) and she making little comments. Also your fear of getting fired over this seems a bit concerning. So you need to talk and voice it with the boss and after that be firm and leave on time. Meaning, your time.

    3. Not So NewReader

      For #3. I think that the husband and wife are working this through in spite of having some concerns, no one is stalking or doing anything like that. If that were my husband, I would just encourage him to have a standard reply to that type of situation.

      Reality is that it can happen from time to time. One place I worked I saw a female coworker drag a male coworker through his department by grabbing on to an article of clothing. The man was dumbfounded and had no idea what to say. It wasn’t my monkeys/circus so I could not really say too much. Many years ago, I saw a manager knock an assistant manager to the floor and drag her across the floor. I made the mistake of saying something and the assistant manager (!!!!) informed me that she was quite alright, stay out of it.

      So good standard replies might look like this:

      Nancy, here, we do not touch people unless there is an absolute emergency.
      Nancy, please remove you hand right now.
      Nancy, please do not ever touch me again.
      Nancy, for purposes of maintaining professional conduct, we do not touch each other.

      The sad fact is what feels like remedial training to one person can be a news flash to another person. It’s good to have standard/go-to replies in place to be prepared when things like this come up.

      1. afiendishthingy

        “Many years ago, I saw a manager knock an assistant manager to the floor and drag her across the floor. I made the mistake of saying something and the assistant manager (!!!!) informed me that she was quite alright, stay out of it.”

        ….um, WHAT?

      2. Cordelia Naismith

        Many years ago, I saw a manager knock an assistant manager to the floor and drag her across the floor. I made the mistake of saying something and the assistant manager (!!!!) informed me that she was quite alright, stay out of it.

        What?!?!? My jaw is on the floor right now. I literally cannot imagine a situation where this would be appropriate workplace behavior.

      3. Jessica

        Wow. Just wow. I’m glad you said something, even though it didn’t change anything… what can you do there when the assistant manager is fine with it???

  9. SJP

    OP 4 – Maybe just when you have a quick catch up with your manager soon just pop in the conversation – “I’ve been thinking about what you said about me being off so quickly after starting my internship and I want you to know I realise how it impacts me and that it is important. I was mortified at having to me off sick so soon after starting. I had X (if you feel like sharing or it’s not TMI) and I never usually get sick but this one was a doozy. I understand you bringing it up with me as I appreciate your honesty but I wanted you to know I take this internship really seriously and this was a poorly times one off occasion”
    Or something like that. Others way in?
    It just shows that you realise the seriousness, reiterates it’s not something you regularly do and that it did concern you having to be off so soon after starting and something you addressed rather than ignoring and hoping your manager wouldn’t notice..

    1. Apollo Warbucks

      I really like your suggestion, to address it directly with the manager that was concerned about the absence. It might be worth the OP stressing they realise the impact on the business / team when they miss work, not just the impact it has on them personally.

    2. Zillah

      I’d honestly just let it go unless the OP has to miss another day in the near future. Bringing it up again feels weird and a little overly defensive to me. It’s not an ideal situation, but if they hold one bout of sickness in the winter (!) against the OP after the OP spends eight months working for them, I suspect the OP would do better to find employment elsewhere.

      1. AnonAnalyst

        I agree. I think this would go over okay if OP had said it when the manager gave her the feedback, but bringing it up again seems defensive to me, too. If OP does an awesome job for the rest of her internship, this won’t matter to a reasonable employer (and if it still does matter, totally agreed that this probably isn’t a place you want to work at post-internship anyway).

    3. Michele

      I like that. We have had several interns who didn’t take the work seriously and acted like we should be privledged to allow them to work for us. Reprimands get blown off, then they are shocked when we don’t hire them permanently. By calmly and directly addressing the matter, the LW would be setting themselves apart.

      1. SJP

        I disagree though AnonAnalyse and Zillah, it’s not defensive because it’s showing that you acknowledge that it was a big deal, you’ve reflected on it and just wanted to point out how sorry you were and that you’re taking working for these people seriously. Like I first mentioned, if the OP didn’t manage to apologise at the time and just acknowledged it that manager may still be thinking about it or having it in the back of their mind when working with OP so by just a quick sentence or so to show that you’ve reflected and are aware it’s a big enough deal to be pulled up on then the manager might just remember that when it comes to hiring times…

  10. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.


    We are always concerned when someone new misses a lot of time their first month.

    We usually don’t address the issue, unless the person seems clueless to the part where work means showing up, because one of two things happens next:

    1) Yep, it’s a pattern and we’ve got a problem on our hands OR
    2) New person just had bad luck, it’s not a problem ongoing, and there’s nothing to address.

    If I had an intern, someone completely new to the workforce, I’d likely say something in case they didn’t understand 5 days the first month is not something you want to repeat if at all possible.

    OP, don’t sweat it. Bad luck happens, good work habits over time win out. The suggestion above to check in with the manager who mentioned originally is a good one.

    1. Tenley

      This is really sound advice, and it makes sense — newly hired employees often cannot take any time (paid sick or vacation anyway) their first 3 months. I’m guessing most employers will probably struggle with whether to use this as an opportunity to teach the intern what to expect outside of an internship or worry saying anything might come across as criticism for something beyond one’s control or suspicion that the intern wasnt really sick.

    2. Richard

      All good comments. Would add – a lot of people have different thresholds for what constitutes being unable to work and/or not taking responsibility for being ready for work. For some people, “sick” can mean a headache, being too tired because of staying up too late the night before, partying too hard, etc. Normally, I’d see that many days off as a sign that someone has a mis-calibrated threshold, aren’t responsible, or they have a legitimate disability that needs to be documented. So I can understand the manager’s concern, and though it doesn’t sound like any of that applies here, I’d still bear it in mind.

      On the other hand – if it corrects quickly, as it sounds like it did here, then it’s just life happening and you move on, and impress them with how you do your work going forward. If at the end of your internship or in a future job, all they can talk about is your lack of attendance in your first month, then there’s a problem in the relationship that goes beyond attendance.

      1. Natalie

        Really? it seems like quite a leap to assume someone is either capable of working but doesn’t realize it, or must be disabled. The OP probably had the flu or something.

      2. UK Nerd

        When I g0t food poisoning I was off work for a week. Same when I got a serious chest infection, and when I had flu. People aren’t likely to take five days off from staying up too late or serious partying.

        1. Boo

          Yeah I’d see more cause for concern if there was a pattern of small absences, particularly Mondays/Fridays. Taking a whole chunk off at a time seems far more likely to have a legitimate cause to me – I’ve taken a week off for gastritis before and a few months back I had to take nearly two weeks off with antibiotic resistant tonsillitis.

      3. Sandrine (Huet)

        Richard, I’d add more: it also depends on the job and if, say, you face customers or not. When I was working in a call center, I had to call in sick more times than I would have liked simply because I just could.not.talk . Had I been in a regular office, I would have been fine to come in on those days.


    3. Not So NewReader

      OP, years ago I landed a decent paying job. I was on the job for 5-6 weeks and then I had an accident. I must have had 9 miles of gauze on me, I was pretty banged up and scrapped up. The doctor wrote me out for 6 weeks.

      Oh how impressive for the new bosses to see. NOT.

      I hobbled in there (it was an effort) and sat down to talk to the boss. I let him know the job was important to me, I was very upset to be missing so much time and that I did not ordinarily have something this extreme happen to me.

      Because I did not wait for the boss to mention it (I did not wait for the boss to ask) and because of being so direct in conversation the situation went much easier than I thought it would. The boss was very understanding (and almost afraid of me with all that gauze!). He was glad I had the initiative to start the conversation and he said he had a much clearer understanding of what was going on and why. He thanked ME.
      I cannot say enough for being the first one to open the subject, telling the truth and apologizing for the disruption.

      1. Cath in Canada

        I did the same thing when I had to take a week off during the first month of my last job with food poisoning so bad I had to go to hospital to be rehydrated. I kept the hospital bracelet on for that conversation :)

      2. Revanche

        I have a friend who managed something of the same the Sunday before she started a new job. I think she also had to be out at least six weeks before ever working a day! I was beyond impressed the employer just rolled with it and didn’t even bat an eyelash apparently.

    4. BananaPants

      I ended up missing my entire last week of an internship because I had pneumonia and was nearly hospitalized (in August, no less). My doctor wrote a note stating that I was too ill to work and since the return-to-work date was a day or two after my internship was to end, my mentor and supervisor told me to feel better and have a good fall semester at school. It didn’t stop them from bringing me back for a month during the winter semester break, or for another internship the following summer, or from hiring me when I graduated from college – I’ve been here nearly 12 years now. I don’t think all is lost, but OP really needs to make an effort to not be absent without very good reason. I think if you’re diligent about doing the job and working hard then there’s a good chance this will all be a distant memory 8 months from now!

      OP, if your office culture is one where people come into work with minor illnesses (even if they shouldn’t), then unfortunately you need to think about doing the same. My company offers VERY generous sick time separate from vacation, but people still come to work with relatively minor (and potentially contagious) illnesses because it’s expected. It takes a lot for someone to actually call out – usually being sick enough to see a doctor – and it’s rare for an employee to miss more than 2 consecutive days due to illness. So in an office culture like this an intern or co-op (or temp) missing 5 days in a month would be viewed a bit negatively in the short term.

      Three years ago the intern who I was unfortunate enough to mentor was really bad about being “sick” or missing work because of various minor personal issues. He’d leave after lunch on Fridays so he could get to his family’s home 4 hours away without hitting rush hour traffic in the major city en route. He started his internship a week late because he had a hard time finding short term housing at the price point he wanted to pay. He told us last minute (literally with two days’ notice) that he was ending his internship 2 weeks earlier than planned. Overall, he was very flaky on top of not doing good work when he was in the office. Our supervisor and I repeatedly addressed his absenteeism and reminded him that it didn’t leave a good impression about his work ethic, but he either didn’t get it or didn’t think it really mattered. Six months later he was shocked that we didn’t offer him a job after graduation and got snippy when I refused to provide a reference for him.

    5. fposte

      I’m with Wakeen’s Teapots–I think the manager wanted to make sure this wasn’t because the OP was taking absence too lightly throughout, not because it’s inherently a problem to be sick.

      I’m wondering a little about the OP’s phraseology in another point, though–she says “it will affect his decision when I do ask him for a full-time opportunity later on” and wonders if she should “bother asking.” It could be she’s just speaking in shorthand (or there’s a field convention I don’t know), but I’d be really taken aback if an intern asked me if she could please have a permanent position. I’d say you can ask how to apply for one, but if OP really means an outright question I would wave her off that.

  11. Purr purr purr

    Re: #3, I’m just going to play Devil’s Advocate here and wonder if the response would be different if the gender roles were swapped. If it was a female manager at the expo and her husband visited and a male employee had put his hand up the female manager’s sleeve, would the answer still be that they should talk directly to the employee? Or would it be viewed much more seriously? I’m female btw (not a guy with an axe to grind) and I’m surprised that the answer wasn’t to get rid of this person. Sure, talking to this girl would be nice but everyone knows it’s inappropriate to touch a colleague like that, especially when it comes across like she was marking her territory in front of the wife! Then again, maybe I’ve just seen these situations blow up one too many times because management spent too much time using a softly-softly approach…

    1. Regulant

      If you are a regular reader here, you’ll know that Alison’s advice in sitautions where you have an iussue with soneone’s behavior is almost always to start with talking directly to the person. It’s amazing what being clear and direct can achieve. There’s nothing “softly-softly” about this.

      1. Purr purr purr

        I wasn’t criticising Alison at all and I am a regular reader here. I was referring to management in other jobs I’ve had where problems such as this weren’t taken seriously but were seen as a jealous spouse, usually female, as being the cause of the issues rather than them recognising that there was an actual issue with the employee. It staggers me that sometimes the solution is to ‘talk to the person.’ How many times have we seen on here that talking to a weirdo doesn’t always work and that they use their gender to their advantage. I can think of a very recent example with the nursery worker who was touching the kids and colleagues despite being told to stop. Anyone who doesn’t appreciate boundaries before being told off is unlikely to respect those boundaries afterwards. Again, I’m just saying that based on situations I’ve experienced.

        1. Cheesecake

          But the huge difference here is that the nursery worker was talked to. Problem is that the chat was too soft and nothing was done after. It staggers me that you would just go terminate a person for touching someone with cold hands. In some countries this will be an unfair dismissal btw (firing for this without a warning).

          1. Kelly L.

            This. That was one of the most important parts of the nursery worker story–that she’d been talked to, but was still doing the behavior.

        2. some1

          First of all, if she doesn’t respect those boundaries in the future then she should be fired.

          Secondly, if you want to mention that women get away with physical contact in situations where men don’t, I believe it’s fair to acknowledge that women are socialized to offer physical affection much more often and might need explaining that it’s not okay in the workplace if it’s been okay their whole lives.

          1. Laurel Gray

            I agree! That warning should be upfront in an attempt to nip this behavior in the bud and help the touchy feely coworker do some reflecting about her professionalism in the workplace. However if she is not able to curb this behavior then yes she should be terminated.

        3. Cordelia Naismith

          I think it is very important for co-workers to respect each other’s physical boundaries and not engage in unwanted touching. However, the first step when a boundary violation occurs is to use your words and tell the other person not to touch you. That’s true for any combination of genders. There may be occasions where the person feels unsafe doing so and therefore relies on softer refusals (moving away, saying you have a boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse, etc), but that doesn’t seem to be the case here.

          If the boundary violator doesn’t listen and continues to touch people inappropriately, then there should be some sort of consequence (putting the person on a PIP or whatever makes sense for your workplace). But skipping the intermediate step and going straight to termination seems like overkill to me. She’s a new employee. It’s not like this has been going on for years and been consistently ignored by management. This is a first offense.

          1. Elizabeth West

            However, the first step when a boundary violation occurs is to use your words and tell the other person not to touch you. That’s true for any combination of genders.

            Exactly. Regardless of whether the touchee is a woman or a man, if it makes that person uncomfortable, they need to address it themselves first. Often that will do the trick.

            1. Cath in Canada

              Exactly, and not just for unwanted touching. My husband recently told me that his boss’s boss’s wife, who also works with him, had been repeatedly commenting on his weight (which is something he knows about and is successfully dealing with). He was quite upset, and said “if it was a man doing that to a woman there’s no way anyone would think it was acceptable”. I informed him that it wasn’t acceptable regardless of the genders of the two people involved, and that he was quite within his rights to tell her to stop. This was a revelation to him! He used the wording I suggested, which I borrowed from this site – “please stop commenting on my body” – and it worked. AAMFTW!

    2. Cheesecake

      Softly-softly chatting or skipping this altogether approach is one polar and you are on the other “fire immediately” polar. This is equally ineffective. Golden mean is to have a direct firm conversation about this behavior and the clear consequences.

      We all agree that the behavior was silly and inappropriate but drawing conclusion that is was deliberate “marking territory” out of this one blurry event is a little too much.

    3. fposte

      I don’t see why talking directly to the employee would make it not serious–that’s exactly how you seriously deal with employee behavior.

  12. Michele

    #2, We have a VP who says “what else?” after we have covered the topics he came there for. It comes across as brusque, but we have just learned to recognize it as a window of opportunity if there is anything we need to talk to him about. Alison is right–don’t read anything into it.
    #3, Your husband needs to let the employee know that her behavior is inappropriate, but he should also let her supervisor know that she is behaving inappropriately in case anyone else complains about it. I have seen complaints from one person go ignored because the person was being “too sensitive” or some such nonsense, when the problem is chronic.

    1. Laurel Gray

      My Chinese takeout place doesn’t have the best phone etiquette and the woman who answers the phone has a “what else” that can julienne a carrot! But I am glad she asks because I would constantly forget the shrimp egg rolls if she didn’t!

  13. TotesMaGoats

    #1-I get that you are waiting for your boss to be nice. And maybe you are helping carry her bags because she can’t for whatever reason but if you need to leave at 5:30 then leave. Address any comments in the moment but if you clock out at 5:30 then you should go home.

    #3-This is so weird that I’m not even sure if I can add anything.

    #4-My specific advice to you OP is to work very hard for the rest of your internship. If you do that, that first week will be a distant memory. However, because I supervise interns, I’ll add this. I think part of the struggle for the younger generations is that in college, if you don’t feel “well” you can just skip class and there usually isn’t a consequence. While there is debate over how sick you should be to go to work, not feeling “well” generally doesn’t meet the criteria. Actively bleeding, throwing up, anything contagious, and hacking up a lung, those are good reasons to stay home. I had an intern last semester who had her car broken into and stuff stolen. She was understandably upset. She wanted to call out. I told her that it would really be better to go to work. If this was her FT job, I would expect her to be at work. So, she went and then called me at the end of the day thanking me for pushing her. It was good to get her mind off of it. I’m not painting with a broad generational brush here but I think a lot of people going into the working world for the first time have a hard time with that transition. Interns especially because you are sort of in a gap. Not a real employee and yet doing that work but also still a student.

    1. long time reader first time poster

      Your point to #4 is a good one. Missing a week of a full time professional job is a huge deal to most managers. I’ve been in the workforce for over 20 years and aside from maternity leave I’ve never had more than two sick days in a row. But when you’re in school, missing a week isn’t the end of the world as long as you play catchup later. I think that a lot of new-to-the-workforce workers just don’t know yet that the consequences to missing work are greater.

      1. TotesMaGoats

        Wow. I’ve lost track of the times I’ve been out for more than two days for an illness. I’m lucky that in higher ed we tend to have really good sick leave policies. I was out after gallbladder surgery for two weeks. Almost a nervous breakdown complicated by some virus from hell was another week. Some lovely stomach bugs.

    2. sittingduck

      #4 This is the same thought I had. Coming from a college environment, it can be a steep learning curve to understand how the working world differs from life on a college campus. While you are in college, if you decide not to go to class, you are usually only affecting your own performance, whereas in a job, you can affect others performance as well, if they are depending on work you do to get their own work done. So I wonder if this may be a case of learning workplace culture – but OP I think you are taking a step in the right direction asking AAM and getting feedback from the readers. I’d examine your workplace culture on sick days, and make sure you are on par with how everyone else operates – aka how sick people are before they decide to stay home.

      Since you didn’t detail what your sickness was, or if it was 5 days in a row, or spread out, its hard to determine if you had a really bad illness, or were just feeling under the weather – but this is a great learning experience.

      I also agree with everyone else, as long as you can show during the remaining 7 months that you are a reliable employee(intern) then they will most likely forget this. Employers (reasonable ones) understand that interns are learning and that performance can evolve over the span of and internship – if this was your last month I’d be more concerned, but since it was your first, I think you will be okay.

      1. Artemesia

        When someone says they didn’t go to work because they weren’t ‘feeling well’, I assume they are dogging it. (perhaps wrongly) Not feeling well and being too sick to work are in different categories for me. But then I once taught a class that lasted 13 hours over a weekend with total laryngitis because the students flew in and there was really no other option. Of course if I had had stomach flu then there would have been no choice and the students would have had to rebook those flights, but as long as I could stand, I coped. It is surprising how effective you can be in the classroom with no voice but good technology and recruiting students to facilitate activities under your direction. A lot of learning occurs when the teacher is not talking.

        1. Natalie

          One thing to keep in mind is that some people are going to say “not feeling well” because they think it’s a good way to avoid oversharing or discussing something they might be a little bit embarrassed about.

          1. Anx

            I’ve come in a little late because I was ‘not feeling well’ because ‘sick’ implies I might be contagious or still not well but having a bad period can mean waking up fine, being bathroom bound and immobile 10 minutes later, and perfectly healthy 20 minutes later. “Cramps” is useless because cramps can mean a little bloating or nearly blacking out from pain and nausea. I will be more direct in the future so as not to come across as flaky.

        2. Revanche

          I use “not feeling well” because I have chronic conditions that are crippling. It’s not accurate to call it “being sick” because I’m not, I’m broken. When most of my body’s in strike (burning, stabbing, and other kinds of immobilizing pain), I most certainly don’t feel up to working but I don’t really want to get into all that detail with an employee I don’t seriously trust not to hold it against me either. Too many employers make decisions based on their perceptions of understanding and it’s not what’s best for both me and the business, I’ve been a very valuable contributor for as long as I’ve had these health problems.

    3. Elsajeni

      #4 – Yes. I know this was a problem for me when I first started working as a college student — I treated my job too much like my classes and assumed that, as long as I called to let them know and sounded appropriately apologetic, it wouldn’t be a big problem for me to miss work because I was feeling slightly under the weather or tired from an all-nighter. After all, if you miss class, the only consequences are to you: you don’t learn that day’s material, you don’t get to turn in your assignment on time, etc. It took a little more experience for me to catch on that my not showing up had consequences for other people, not just “I don’t get paid that day.”

    4. Julie

      I’ve always found the opposite re: college. My university was strict on attendance. Professors could dock a letter grade after 2 absences and could drop you from the class after 3. Because of that I’ve had a hard time giving myself permission to miss work when I am sick or just need a personal day. Part of this might be my history in customer facing roles where I feel like I have to be there or else work backs up.

    5. blackcat

      I agree with your point on #4, but I have had multiple people around me come down with DEATH FLU this season. Each of them was out for 5+ days, and two of them are now back at work *with bruised ribs* from all of the coughing. So maybe the intern had this flu. While you never want to be TMI in the office, sometimes being clear about how sick you actually are, particularly when you’re young/new to the workplace is helpful. (For example, I have called in with “I have a fever and am likely contagious.” That’s much clearer than “I’m not feeling well today.” In the future, I recommend that the OP aim for this type of language.)

      Also, I once got in a wreck on my way to work about 1/2 mile from my workplace. About half my coworkers drove by me, sitting on the side of the road with my busted car. It was SUPER embarrassing. I was also all sorts of disoriented/upset/ugly crying, despite being entirely uninjured (I was bruised in a few places, but otherwise fine). I was young (23) and it was my very first car accident, totaling my ancient, but beloved, car that I had had since I was 16. Once the car was towed, another person involved in the accident (who worked in another division) had her husband come and drive her and me to work. Multiple coworkers, and even my boss, came up to me to tell me that I could go home if I wanted (though I was unable until another coworker drove me to fetch a rental car during lunch). I had the new employee “must never miss work unless it’s an emergency” attitude, which I took too far–I really should have gone home. I’d say there’s a fine line that’s workplace culture dependent on what constitutes a reason to call out. As a new/young employee, erring on the side of going in is probably a good idea, but there are limits.

  14. nota"jealouswife"

    I’d like to thank everyone for the comments. In case you can’t tell by my posting name, it’s me. The wife.
    These comments have been very helpful. I would like to add a few things.
    My husband was wearing a short sleeve Polo shirt. There was no touching of the wrist. This was up his Polo shirt sleeve and on his upper arm. Just wanted to clarify for those that thought this was at his cuff and on his wrist.
    I realize now that glaring wasn’t the right thing to do, in this situation at least. I felt backed into a corner and it’s really difficult watching this happen to your husband and nearly biting your tongue off because it’s my husbands company and not my own.
    My husband talked to HR, who reports to him as well. She was appalled and asked if she could speak to me (some of you may think this is strange, but this is a small company and things don’t always go according to normal business protocol.)
    She profusely apologized and assured me it would be handled. She, as well, had the initial reaction to let this person go. The employee has only been here for 2 weeks and if she feels that this kind of behavior is acceptable with anyone, much less the person that her supervisor reports to and in front of his wife, who knows what kind of mess she will eventually cause.
    In the end, it was decided to hold off on terminating and a serious conversation was had. She chalked it up to just “being friendly”. :/
    I’m not naive, and neither is the woman in hr, so I would assume it is only a matter of time before she does something else inappropriate and gets herself terminated.
    Thank you for all of the comments. This has been a tough pill to swallow. It was very difficult watching my husband be put in such an awkward position. He does not like to cause a scene and I think his reaction of just freezing in place was a reflection of that.
    My reaction to this has not been out of jealousy, but more of a “where do people like this come from/ what is she thinking/ what other boundaries would this girl cross”. I’m concerned for the other men in the office as well.

    1. Kat M

      I totally understand. And I agree. As a young woman myself (who has a “resting nice face”), I’ve experienced similar versions of this (being touched because people are “just being friendly”). I don’t care what gender is involved, it is creepy. And, unfortunately, when a man experiences something like this, we don’t always take it as seriously as we do from a woman (who aren’t taken seriously enough as it is). I could imagine my own husband not knowing what to do!

      I will say though, now that it’s been handled, try to separate yourself from this as much as possible (I know, easier said than done). It looks like everything has been handled and they are taking this seriously. If the men do have trouble, maybe your husband can give some advice to them about how to handle it…..but it should be his concern. It shouldn’t be on you to worry.

      1. Laurel Gray

        Good luck OP #3! Also, Kat M has some solid advice here. I think your husband’s company is handling this pretty well so far.

    2. Oryx

      If anything, I find the fact that it’s his upper arm and not his wrist to be far more egregious. That’s falling into the “Oh, let me feel your muscles” territory.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        That, and you can touch someone’s hand or wrist and remain at arm’s length…quite literally! While if you’re touching their upper arm, you’re already into their personal space. It’s definitely got very different social connotations based just on the physical distance between the two parties.

        1. Laurel Gray

          This! I have to admit I am surprised so many people are giving this new employee the benefit of the doubt when what she did is something that is a huge no-no in relaxed social settings when a spouse is present. I’m assuming this woman is a troublemaker and I get the feeling that the initial reaction by the OP was from the audacity of it all.

          1. Artemesia

            Yeah exactly. There is no read of this that is innocent. It has trouble maker written all over it. Since his arms were bare, laying a hand on his forearm would have demonstrated how cold her hands here. Yes that is inappropriate, but not as egregiously as crawling up his upper arm under his clothes. There is no situation where that doesn’t scream, ‘this woman is a disaster waiting to happen.’ Nothing ‘friendly’ about it; lots that is predatory about it. I have seen women who behave like this run through several men in an office and create all sorts of havoc. Of course men who respond to it are also twits, but that doesn’t mean an employee who makes predatory behavior in the workplace her style should be cut any slack.

            1. fposte

              I think that’s overimputing motive, though. There are lots of young people who’ve been taught that stupid stuff is cute and engaging. It doesn’t make the stuff appropriate, but I also don’t think you can automatically consider it predatory.

          2. ThursdaysGeek

            While I agree that the behavior was inappropriate and should be stopped, there are cases where some touching is not a big deal. For instance, while out shopping with my husband, I ran across a former co-worker out shopping with his wife. We’ve been friends, and we gave each other a hug.

            One difference is that no-one in our situation had a problem with the touching. When there is a problem, someone needs to speak up. (Although, I admit a hug is different.)

            1. AGirlCalledFriday

              I keep thinking that if the genders were reversed, everyone here would be up in arms. Her being a woman and perhaps ‘friendly’ is no excuse.

    3. Cheesecake

      I am not sure HR contacted you because it is a small company where there is a different protocol. Either HR is incompetent or you are indeed involved and she felt a need, or was instructed by your husband, to talk to you. And since she even apologized , you are actually too involved in this.

      The behavior of that employee was strange/nasty/yuk and actually you had a right to glare or raise “wtf” to your husband. The fact that you went as far as deciding her employment is jealouswify

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Yeah — HR contacting you is really weird, small company or not. It’s a workplace issue that should be handled in the workplace, and it would be an issue regardless of whether your husband was married or not. Reaching out to the wife about this is making it a much stranger situation than it needs to be. I’d strongly urge you not to engage with HR about this and if you’re contacted again, direct them back to your husband.

        1. Elder Dog

          If the employee responded to HR and the manager with claims she was just being friendly and the manager was projecting his own feelings onto her or something, it would make sense to ask the wife what she saw and how bad she thought the situation was, especially if they are deciding whether or not to let this person go.

          This behavior was a direct challenge made by the employee to someone else at a company event. If the employee had challenged a client, it would have certainly been appropriate for HR to ask the client if they wanted the employee fired over this.

          I think most people here are not seeing this situation as serious as it is. There may be, and should be, an element of protecting the senior staff, and thus the company, from false accusations.

          1. Cassie

            I disagree – it’s behavior that most professional workplaces would consider appropriate and it doesn’t matter if the employee didn’t mean anything by it. The manager said it’s inappropriate, HR says it’s inappropriate, it doesn’t matter if anyone else (spouse or not) also thinks its inappropriate.

        2. nota"jealouswife"

          Agreed. My husband very well may have asked her to assure me that it would be taken care of. I won’t be able to ask him until he is home tonight. I saw hr this morning and to the side told her I appreciated her taking this seriously and that I had full confidence in her that she would make sure it was addressed properly. My way of saying it’s in your hands now. Do you think that suffices?

          1. LBK

            Do you work at the company or visit the office often? I’m just trying to clarify how you ran into the HR person this morning (unless she called you in for a meeting?).

            1. nota"jealouswife"

              The owners wife and I bought up food for the employees. It’s not all the time but not out of character hrs offices is right by my husbands. We’re talking a small company. 10 or so that are on payroll. Others are subcontractors. Everyone knows each other, especially when you’ve been around for a while. Bringing food in today has been planned for a few weeks.

      2. BananaPants

        Yeah, I agree. The employee’s action was really inappropriate for the workplace and she needs to be counseled on it, but it’s wrong that the boss’ spouse (who is not employed by the company) is involved enough in daily operations of the business that HR calls her to discuss confidential personnel matters – including potentially firing the new employee over it!

        Depending on her background (cultural background, family life, previous work experience, etc.) this young employee may have had no clue that what she was doing was unprofessional and inappropriate. Or it may have been legitimate flirtation, in which case the recipient (OP’s husband) needs to make it crystal clear that it’s an unwanted advance/unwelcome physical contact. But either way, OP needs to have no further direct involvement.

      3. GigglyPuff

        Yeah this makes me think about what is happening at the company as a whole. Cause HR, “when they report to” the husband, makes me think they are trying to placate the boss. It makes me wonder how other people treat the husband…

      4. Anonicorn

        Agreed. I’m in no way condoning the employee’s behavior, but I would be 50 shades of livid if I found out HR teamed up with someone’s wife to decide my employment fate.

          1. Anonicorn

            Getting the facts from the wife is perfectly valid but quite another matter to share how she will be disciplined. OP did admit we might find it strange, and I do. It’s highly unusual behavior for HR and I wouldn’t put much trust in them to treat employees impartially.

            1. fposte

              I don’t think it was valid to have “gotten the facts” from the wife, though. This isn’t something you need additional testimony on (and it’s not like a wife would be unbiased anyway); supervisors are routinely expected to assess and correct behavior without involving non-employees.

    4. A Dispatcher

      Up a short sleeve? Okay that’s just weird regardless of any type of married situation. Who does that, to ANYONE they’ve known for 2 weeks, let alone someone they work with?

      I still don’t think firing should be on the table at all for this, especially before it was directly addressed with her though. And while flirtation it’s certainly very likely, there is the chance that it’s not flirtatious behavior but rather she just really has no personal boundaries and would’ve done that to anyone, regardless of gender or relationship. Ascribing such horrible ulterior motives and pretty saying it’s just a matter of time before she causes a mess/that all the men in the office need to be worried is pretty extreme to be honest.

      1. A Dispatcher

        Ugh, so many typos! My apologies – I kept changing my thoughts on what I wanted to say and words seem to have gotten left out in the process.

      2. Michele

        I am surprised by all of the people saying that she should be fired. That seems like an extreme overreaction. I hate being touched by people that I am not close to, but even I would think that a conversation is the first step.

        1. Student

          This is a pretty clear double-standard for slut-shaming.

          That said, I wish this same standard was applied to men who’ve touched me creepily or weirdly in the workplace. They seem to get away with it with impunity even after repeated complaints, whereas this woman’s job is on the line immediately.

          1. LBK

            Can you clarify? I’m not sure what you mean about the double-standard – are you saying that a woman is penalized more harshly for inappropriate touching than a man, due to standards of “purity” being higher?

        2. schrodinger

          No it’s not. I’ve been fired for literally NOTHING. I’ve been fired over mere accusations that later proved to be FALSE but I had already been ‘de-jobbed’, so the fact that the accusation was proven false didn’t matter. I was still unemployed, and there wasn’t a dadgum thing I could do because our state is an ’employment-at-will’ state. You can be fired for a good reason, a bad reason, a fake reason or no reason. You can be fired over lies and there isn’t anything you can do about it. “Shit happens and it sucks to be YOU”. This creep should have been let go ON THE SPOT.

        1. nota"jealouswife"

          M-c, thanks for sharing. I will make sure to read it. I have admitted that I shouldn’t have been glaring at her. It was my initial reaction and I was just shocked and couldn’t believe what was happening in front of me. This has been a learning experience for both me and my husband. I will now be very aware of my tone and facial expressions around this employee bc it is going to require some effort on my part to keep it cool.

          1. BananaPants

            Especially in such a small company, word will get around about your involvement. If the new employee is liked by others (or even if they just haven’t seen her act inappropriately) it will be bad if her employment is terminated and word gets out that, “She got canned because Manager’s wife didn’t like her!” If the perception from employees is that you’re a jealous wife who’s too involved in the operations of the business, female employees may limit or avoid interaction with your husband when you’re around for fear that they’ll wind up as next on your hit list.

            I’d recommend that you not go to your husband’s place of business for a period of time. I think it’s weird that you’re so involved in their day-to-day operations to begin with, but consider getting some distance. HR should NOT have involved you in discussions about possible discipline or termination and if the HR person tries to continue to involve you, I’d suggest you politely decline further involvement. This is your husband’s issue to deal with, not yours, and as a manager he needs to be able to appropriately counsel employees on their performance and correct problem behaviors.

    5. HarperC

      Thank you for adding some details. I agree with others that the fact that it was a short sleeved shirt makes it worse, because she could have just grabbed his forearm, which would have been inappropriate as well, but going for the under-the-fabric touch is just even more … deliberate to me now. It does sound like the company is taking this seriously, so that is a good thing.

    6. Persephone Mulberry

      It sounds like it is being handled, so that’s good.

      You’ve already said you realize the glare was the wrong response, but if something like this happens again (hopefully it won’t) and you witness it, I’d probably make eye contact with hubby instead and give a supportive eye-roll that shows you know he’s not initiating, you’re not jealous, and you get that “she just doesn’t get it, does she?” Make it an inside joke rather giving any outward sign that this bothers you, and trust that your husband and HR will, again, handle it.

    7. Sam

      I honestly have to say, in your initial letter I don’t think you came off as jealous at all, it seemed much more protective towards your husbands discomfort. Which is good :)

      Best of luck in this situation

    8. Joey

      concerned for the other men in the office? Cmon, I think adults can take care of themselves.

      i can tell you as someone who has worked in this situation employees hate hate hate when the spouse starts influencing business decisions. Because it frequenty becomes more about pleasing the spouse than making a good business decision. Your husbands employees will respect you much more.

      My advice. Stick to giving your husband advice in private and let him handle the business decisions.

      1. nota"jealouswife"

        Joey, I may really be reading too far into the future but here is my fear and why I’m concerned for other men in the office. Also, I will be honest and say that I feel this way because I have seen in happen many times before on other companys.
        Toucher continues to touch to her little hearts desire. Other people chalk it up to her just “being friendly” and don’t read into it. They think that toucher is comfortable with that. One day, they come in from the freezing cold and give her a taste of her own medicine. Toucher goes to HR and says that one of the men out their hands up her shirt sleeve and around her bicep. My husband now has to have a counseling meeting with one of his hardworking employees that he had invested a lot of time, energy, money, and training in. Husband knows that male employee meant nothing at all by it, but now it’s become an issue. I just think that I could quickly become a much bigger issue. Also, as I posted earlier, she has now done this to another employee.
        They’re grown men and can look out for themselves. I am concerned that my husband may lose a great employee because of this girls lack of boundaries. Or heaven forbid she does it to them in front of their wife and everything hits the fan.

        1. LBK

          Toucher continues to touch to her little hearts desire.

          Your hypothetical doesn’t need to continue after this sentence, because the sentence should be “My husband terminates her because he’s her boss and she is directly violating something he told her to do.” Period, there is no need for the situation to continue now that she’s been spoken to.

    9. Chinook

      “My reaction to this has not been out of jealousy, but more of a “where do people like this come from/ what is she thinking/ what other boundaries would this girl cross”. I’m concerned for the other men in the office as well.”

      I can totally understand it not being jealousy. Your instincts were probably all abotu wanting to help/protect your loved one. Heck, I am married to a big, burly police officer who is quite capable of taking care of himself and yet if I am in a situation where someone makes him uncomfortable, I want to help and protect him. (ex: he is tall enough that small children who aren’t paying attention will walk into his crotch, so I often stand right in front of him when small children are careening around). It isn’t just men who feel protective of “their people.”

      1. blackcat

        Off topic, but oh man, the child careening into crotch problem. My husband and cousin still feel awkward around each other, because the first time they met, my cousin (then about age 6) careened into husband’s crotch. Hard enough that my husband was in pain and for my cousin to realize he had injured another male’s nuts. Both my husband and my cousin remember this vividly today, 8 years later.

        Children get a pass on some wildly inappropriate touching because they either don’t watch where they’re going or don’t know what they’re doing. But adults?! Nope.

      2. nota"jealouswife"

        Yes chinook. I really don’t want this to be taken as being a jealous wife or possessive wife. I feel very secure in my marriage and my husband is extremely devoted to me and both of our young children. I have no doubts of that. I’m not naive to think it doesn’t happen. I know people that it’s happened to. But I have full faith in my spouse.
        I am, however, very protective of those that I care about and this whole writing into Alison thing had came from a place of love and protection for my spouse.

    10. catsAreCool

      “up his Polo shirt sleeve and on his upper arm” that was so inappropriate! It makes me shiver a little.

  15. nota"jealouswife"

    One more thing. The reason I mentioned she was young was because I felt it could contribute to her lack of professionalism. I’m still young myself, but I was raised right. Not everyone else was. Believe me, there is nothing about this woman that makes me feel threatened by her.

    1. some1

      You don’t know why she’s behaving this way, and it doesn’t matter. If you’re not threatened by her, then you don’t need to imply that she wasn’t raised right.

    2. Laurel Gray

      Professionalism in the workplace has nothing to do with how a person was raised in their family home. I understand you being puzzled by her lack of professionalism, but do know that not all young professionals are equal and most of what we learn about how to operate in a work environment is NOT taught at home.

      1. Iro

        Yeah. For example, maybe she was raised by individuals who didn’t work in a corporate environment. My father and mother both worked in construction and they were a lot more touchy-feely than would ever jive in a cubicle jungle. They’d slap each others construction hats, elbow each other, etc.

        1. nona

          Yeah, and I can see how someone coming from a very small or family-owned business without much other experience could be a little behind other employees in learning professional norms. My first job was for a tiny, family-owned company. Didn’t learn much that could apply to other working environments.

          But, I mean, putting your hand up the sleeve of somebody’s short-sleeved shirt?

    3. KT

      Then why such condescension towards her? Implying she “wasn’t raised right”? She made a mistake. She may have been trying to join the bond this close knit company has-it sounds like a dysfunctional place if HR consults with the wives of employees when making decisions.

      1. Boo

        Yeah I agree with this. What a weird way to go about things. And the HR person’s first instinct was to let this employee go, over one instance of arm touching which it doesn’t sound like anyone has tried to have a mature conversation with the employee about first? Honestly, that sounds pretty crappy to me. Thank god I wasn’t fired for the eleventy billion mistakes/bad judgement calls I made when I was new to working/still figuring out workplace cultures.

      2. A Dispatcher

        Agree. She may be one of those people who is just really touchy-feely? She may be naturally flirty with no actual intention behind it (which of course needs to be corrected and changed for the workplace but if she’s brand new to work she may need time to learn that). She could be fresh out of college where this kind of behavior seems more normal and just hasn’t yet realized coworkers =/= friends.

        Don’t get me wrong, the arm touching thing is totally weird and inappropriate and I have no issue at all with any future behavior like that being addressed seriously and immediately, nor do I think it’s not in the realm of possibility that she could be after OP’s husband. However, there’s also the chance that she’s not and I do think she is getting branded with a scarlet A so to speak over very little.

      3. nota"jealouswife"

        KT, please keep in mind that this is my husband. To meet a new employee who would barely look at me and then turn and put her hands up my husbands arm like it was no big deal was a bit unnerving. From the conversation that happened between HR and the toucher, she wasn’t making the connection that this was inappropriate, which is concerning.
        With that being said, I was raised to offer a handshake when meeting someone. If someone introduces me to their spouse I acknowledge them, etc. It appears, in my opinion and interaction with this individual, that she has little to no etiquette.

        1. A Dispatcher

          “It appears, in my opinion and interaction with this individual, that she has little to no etiquette.”

          Aaaand? Why is that really any of your business or concern? She’s not your employee.

          I am really not trying to pile on here, I promise. Your original question to Alison sounded very level headed and detached, but the more you add to it, the more it kind of seems that this woman does in fact bother you and you are threatened. She doth protest too much and all that… Not that there is really anything wrong with being uncomfortable with this woman’s behavior. I just think you may need to acknowledge your own feelings which may help you better navigate the situation. I also think you need to extract yourself from any conversations with his workplace/HR about this.

          1. Kelly L.

            If husband is an owner, then she might also be an owner. But I agree that if she’s not directly involved with the business, the people directly involved with the business should be the ones dealing with it.

        2. Judy

          Although it is not your husband’s company’s purpose to teach this person etiquette, remember that not everyone has the same upbringing. We’ve had discussions here before about the advantages for those of us raised in white collar situations vs blue collar situations.

          Some guidance from those within the company could turn it around for her.

        3. nona

          Okay. I’m not sure how your or her upbringing is relevant.

          I really don’t want to join a pile-on here (and I haven’t hit refresh in a while), but I do want to be clear that her parents aren’t responsible for her being inappropriate. It’s on her.

          1. nota"jealouswife"

            Nona you are completely right. She’s a grown woman and should act like one. I think this is me trying to justify a reason for her behavior other than she’s trying to get in his pants, per say. I’m trying to give the benefit of the doubt, which if this were between my employees would be much easier. I’m trying to remove myself emotionally but it is very challenging when you see a girl you’ve just briefly met (who blew me off like I was insignificant) putting her hands around my husbands bicep. Lol. Very challenging.
            End of the day, she’s an adult and should be acting like one. A discussion has been had with her and should she continue to behave in such a way she will end up walking herself out the door, essentially.

        4. Chinook

          “To meet a new employee who would barely look at me and then turn and put her hands up my husbands arm like it was no big deal was a bit unnerving.”

          nota”jealouswife” I totally get where you are coming from. If I were in your shoes, it would feel not only disrespectful to your husband but also to you because it would feel like she was staking a claim on him (i.e. treating him like a piece of meat) while at the same time saying you have no claim on him despite being introduced as his wife.

          I have been in this situation (had a coworker of mine hit on DH at my company Christmas party while I sat next to him). I shot daggers at her because I didn’t want to make a scene and DH brushed her off and he and I laughed about it moments later. Even though she may not have seen it that way, I totally saw it as her making a point that my existence is irrelevant (even if I happen to have great taste in men). I never brought it up with her in the office but she has lost all respect in my eyes as a colleague.

          1. nota"jealouswife"

            Yes Chinook. I will be polite for my husbands sake but any respect that could have been had is lost… as an employee or just another woman. Not cool!!!

      4. catsAreCool

        Maybe I’m missing something, but when a young woman barely acknowledges someone she’s introduced to and then puts her hand up the shirt sleeve of someone she barely knows, “not raised right” sounds like the most charitable conclusion. Either she doesn’t know any better, or she’s got some issues.

    4. Case of the Mondays

      Non a “jealouswife,”

      I just want to add a story that might put you at ease. I was a young female touchy employee at one point in time. I was also inappropriately flirty without realizing that I was being flirty. I worked a couple of blue collar jobs that encouraged and rewarded such behavior. My interpretation of social was very different from what would be appropriate in a white collar world. Luckily, a female colleague in my blue collar job asked me to stop touching her. She said it matter of factly and said that she just didn’t like people touching her at all, period, full stop. That made me re-evaluate how much I touched everyone. Luckily, I just sort of figured out how to behave differently as I got older and moved into white collar work. I still have some ingrained mannerisms that are perceived as flirty (like I smile a lot) even though I don’t intend them to be.

      What the woman did was egregious but she may also have thought it was just no big deal and she may not have realized she was being flirty at the time as crazy as that sounds. This could be the wake up call she needs to change her behavior.

      As for your husband, I recommend that he just tell her “please don’t touch me” if she does it again.

      1. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)

        Yep, I’m going to chime in as someone else who was the overly flirty/touchy-feely young woman. Until my boss told me the whole office was gossiping that I was sleeping with a (married) colleague, I honestly had no idea that I was acting unprofessionally — I’d grown up with a group of friends who were very comfortable around each other and thought nothing of resting a hand on your upper arm to talk to you, for example. I was horrified and humiliated when I found out that everything thought I was blatantly homewrecking. And I was raised just fine, by the way — I just hadn’t learned to temper my natural touchy-feely-ness for the workplace.

        Which is to say — sure, the coworker may want to get into hubby’s pants, or she might just think she’s being normal friendly. Hubby needs to set the boundary. Even before the above convo with my boss, I always respected anyone who said “actually, I like my personal space/please don’t touch me”.

  16. Helka

    #3. Here’s the thing, really. You’re not this woman’s employer. You’re not her supervisor, you’re not her boss, you’re not in any way a part of her chain of command. So your ability to manage her behavior or determine her employment status is pretty much nil — as it should be. The stories we hear in the media about someone getting fired because their boss’ spouse wanted them gone never look good for the spouse in question. You say you have no doubts in your husband’s faithfulness — that is good. That is the best armor you can have, assuming that your worst fears are true (that is, that she has some sort of inappropriate designs on your husband). If he’s not going to stray, then all she’ll be doing is making herself look like a fool, and opening herself up to getting slapped with sexual-harassment discipline, up to and including firing. Your part in this is to be supportive of your husband, and if he wants to, discussing with him ways he could respond if she does make another unwanted advance.

    (Which, from your description, sounds like a conversation he might want. If he was looking to you during that interlude, he might appreciate some direction from you on how you want things handled, even if it’s just a strategizing session.)

    One incident of this, particularly with a young worker, doesn’t warrant firing — and it still wouldn’t if the genders of the participants were swapped around. It does warrant discussion between your husband and her — “That was not appropriate, please do not touch me again” — and if it continues, then revisiting her employment is on the table. If it were your husband writing in here, then the discussion would look a lot different. But for your part — focus on your husband, not on her. Support him, be a safe person he can discuss this with, and encourage him to handle this. It’s his job — quite literally.

    1. some1

      This! LW, I strongly urge you to shut down the conversation if the HR person contacts you again with an update. Right now, you ARE being treated like a jealous owner’s wife.

    2. KT

      Seriously, is there a reason why the husband in this can’t take some ownership of the situation and say to the woman “I don’t like being touched, please don’t do that again”, rather than running to his wife, HR (who calls his wife) etc?

      The woman absolutely made a mistake–but to be fired for it? Little extreme when a simple conversation would end it.

      1. Sadsack

        I am confused, where is it written that the husband’s HR called his wife? Also, I don’t exactly think the husband is “running to his wife.” It happened to him in front of her. He wants to be sure that he handles it correctly, so he is talking about it with her. Why is that wrong? The OP’s letter seems to indicate that she was put-off initially, but is now trying to find advice to offer her husband to handle it, exactly like Helka is suggesting. I am not understanding the reason for negativity toward the OP in this case.

      2. Helka

        I actually don’t think that the husband’s reaction was inappropriate. HR calling the wife was inappropriate, and the wife’s desire to see the employee terminated is understandable, but she doesn’t have any position to be weighing in on that decision.

        I dislike the idea that someone who has been subjected to boundary-violating behavior needs to “take ownership” of the situation.

        1. KT

          Perhaps take ownership was the wrong wording. But as the superior, he should handle it directly and in the moment. “That is inappropriate, don’t do that again”.

          1. afiendishthingy

            Yes. He is indirectly in charge of the inappropriate toucher (and yeah, hand up a short sleeve is SUPER weird, I don’t think I’d do that to my best friend of 10 years). I understand it’s uncomfortable to see someone touching your husband that way, and it makes sense for your husband to bounce ideas off you, but ultimately this needs to be dealt with as a professional situation and your marriage is completely separate. HR should not be coming to you to address the situation. The company’s response to the situation (which in my opinion, for the first offensne, should simply have been a firm statement of expectations for professional boundaries) should be the same regardless of your presence, or whether anyone involved is married/single/same gender/gay/”raised right”/what-have-you. Outside of a handshake or maybe discreet shoulder tap to get someone’s attention, don’t touch your coworkers.

            As far as “taking ownership” I just took it to mean your significant other shouldn’t be fighting these battles for you, or feel like they themselves are the victim – not that the person whose boundaries are violated should take the blame or be afraid to go to someone else IN THE COMPANY if they don’t feel comfortable addressing the violator themselves.

    3. Iro

      “Your part in this is to be supportive of your husband, and if he wants to, discussing with him ways he could respond if she does make another unwanted advance. ”

      To be fair, OP #3 is asking what advice she could provide to her husband who is asking for her opionion.

      The OP is actually being extremely level headed through all of this. Yes she glared in the moment, but since then she has tried to extract herself from the situations and has admitted that her ability to advise her husband on this could be jaded by emotions so she asked for Alison’s advice.

      1. some1

        She’s NOT trying to extract herself from the situation, though — she’s discussing it with her husband’s HR employee.

        1. Sadsack

          Where are you getting the part about OP discussing it with husband’s HR? I just read the letter again and I apparently am completely overlooking this. My understanding is that OP was discussing it with her husband because he is asking for her opinion. Am I missing something?

        2. Sadsack

          Ignore my other response, I found it in a follow-up post. Still though, it was husband’s HR who contacted the wife, apparently with the husband’s permission. I don’t think OP is doing anything wrong here, as long as she continues to step back and let the husband handle things going forward.

          1. Elizabeth West

            As I said above, I’m thinking the HR call might have been because the wife witnessed the behavior. However, HR should not have been discussing termination options with her.

            1. fposte

              I still don’t see that as a justification enough to make it not weird. Employees get disciplined all the time without external witnesses being dragged in. If this had been a vendor they knew instead of the wife, would they have called as well?

      2. Helka

        I was answering this specific question from the OP: “My initial reaction is that my husband should terminate her. Do you think that I am overreacting?” And that’s my answer — putting her husband in the position of “my wife thinks you should be terminated, so out you go” is not a good response. She is overreacting, yes.

        As well, in the part of my comment you quoted, I don’t mean decisions on disciplining the employee. That’s not the wife’s job. What I mean is scripts like “Please don’t touch me,” pulling away, his actual response to her. The wife’s job is not to advise the company or her husband in his official capacity as a boss on how this woman should be disciplined, but helping her husband as a human being react to a situation in the moment is a different matter.

        1. Kat M

          Yeah, but that was her immediate reaction. Are people not allowed to be upset by things anymore? We know those emotions are irrational…….I think people piling a bit, here.

          1. Helka

            That was her immediate reaction yes. And she asked if it was inappropriate, so I’m answering. That isn’t piling on. I never said she wasn’t allowed to have that reaction — what I’m saying is don’t act on it, or push her husband to.

          2. nota"jealouswife"

            Yes, Kat. The original email to Alison was written at 2:30am. I was very upset and couldn’t sleep. Thank you for recognizing that!

      3. nota"jealouswife"

        Iro, you hit the nail on the head. My husband comes to me for advice, just as I have come to him for years looking for advice when it comes to our positions. I have no plan in speaking with this employee, but I am trying to support my spouse, just as he would do for me. I reached out to Alison to get her opinion as she is not married to the man and wouldn’t have any emotional bias. I am bringing up muffins for his reps today (another expo this weekend) and have no intention of seeking this employee out. In fact, I’d prefer to not have to see her.

        1. GigglyPuff

          After reading everything, and really just trying to offer up a suggestion (just a suggestion!), maybe take this as a chance to back away your involvement in the company a little. If this gets around to other employees, it could turn into a gossip storm. I would suggest taking a step back, maybe just meet your husband outside the building to say ‘hi’ and give him the muffins to take to his employees.

          This just kind of reminds me of parent etiquette at school. (and things mighta changed, no idea, but this was standard when I was little) If your parent was bringing a class snack for a birthday or something, the child typically met the parent outside to get the food and bring it in, it was much more disruptive for the parent to bring it into the classroom.

          Just an idea, I know the situation sucks, sorry about it all.

        2. fposte

          I’m with GigglyPuff, I think, in that between HR calling you and you bringing in muffins for your husband’s staff it sounds like a situation where there’s a lot of bleedthrough between the personal and the professional in this business. And while that’s just how some businesses go, I don’t think that’s leading anywhere good, and it’s complicating this situation.

        3. nota"jealouswife"

          And an update: Hr had a conversation with toucher and how it was not acceptable, was inappropriate, and disrespectful.
          Then the news of her doing the same to another employee came to light. So to me this behavior is not just with my husband but with other employees as well, which was a concern.
          After her conversation with HR, she asked another male co worker out to get drinks after work. Is going out for drinks sexual harassment? No. But it is alarming that she was so quick to jump to that after just having a conversation about appropriate behavior.

          1. fposte

            Okay, she’s definitely out of line, but it’s also not appropriate that you know all this. This workplace really needs to separate the business and the personal.

          2. some1

            I’m confused; you already wrote an update this morning that the employee was warned about the touching. Did they warn her again today for some reason?

            1. some1

              ETA, you also mentioned that you were concerned about the other male employees in an update this morning — did you mention this to HR, and they asked the other guys about anything? I’m not getting how the drinks invitation thing came up.

          3. Ann without an e

            “I have seen women who behave like this run through several men in an office and create all sorts of havoc. Of course men who respond to it are also twits.” ~ Artemesia from further above

            Questions 1) Is this is a close team of people that work well together
            2) Are all the spouses just as involved with work functions as you
            3) Does everyone get along, including spouses really well
            4) What is the male female ratio of this office
            Multiply the point above by each number you answer yes. Then determine how expensive it will be to replace some of the men she will run through and the number of women who will quit after losing respect for the men. Her behavior has the potential to create a very toxic work environment. Your best people will not put up with it for long and will leave. I used to work at a 20 employee consulting place, we had one through three going for us it was so wonderful, don’t let a bad fit ruin that.

            1. some1

              “Her behavior has the potential to create a very toxic work environment. Your best people will not put up with it for long and will leave.”

              I don’t think their “best people” will put up with HR discussing private disciplinary matters with the owner’s wife, either.

          4. nota"jealouswife"

            This is from what my husband has told me. Nothing heard from HR. And the other man that was touched mentioned it to my spouse… his supervisor.

    4. Beezus

      If I put myself in your husband’s shoes, the hard part, for me, would be that there are two right ways to respond in this situation – the right response as a spouse, and the right response as a senior member of management to an employee, and they’re not necessarily exactly the same thing.

      In a purely social setting, without the complications of a work relationship, in your husband’s place, I would trust my instincts that I was intentionally being hit on, in front of my partner, in a way intended to disrespect my partner and my relationship. My reaction would be fairly blunt and would not leave a lot of room for a continued social relationship with the offending party.

      In my professional life, on the other hand, on a first offense, my reaction should probably be to discount my instincts a little and accept the explanation that it was a friendly misunderstanding, firmly set boundaries, and leave stronger reactions for a second offense. There are two key differences here – one, I am an individual party in my professional life. I would be reacting as an individual receiving unwanted attention; my relationship is not relevant. Two, I have a greater need to preserve my relationships with people in my professional life, and nature of a professional relationship demands that I give someone the benefit of the doubt, within reason.

      I think you need to step back, especially as someone who feels strong in her relationship and isn’t threatened by this woman’s attentions, and leave your husband the room he needs to make the professional response to this one, not the social response. Your husband trusts your professional instincts and comes to you for advice in those matters (which is so admirable!), but in this particular situation, you really need to distance yourself and let him handle it on his own.

      (Side note – as the recipient of unwanted attention, I would expect *my* read on the situation to take precedence, and I would expect to have the lead on reacting to it. I would want to hear about it in private if my partner felt disrespected or saw things differently, but if that didn’t change how I saw it, I would expect my partner to trust my gut and let me handle it. Worst case scenario, if I am wrong and treat it as if it’s innocent when it isn’t, if my partner was glaring, or squabbling with me in the background over it, or getting directly confrontational with the offending party, that would signal a lack of unity on our part that would be exactly what that kind of person would take pleasure in, which puts me in a position to be approached again.)

      1. Beezus

        I just realized that my final paragraph was coming from my own personal grindstone, not anything the LW said. The LW has been pretty solid in letting her husband handle the issue himself, aside from the glaring, which she already addressed, so I didn’t really need to bring in my own dead horse to beat. *cough* Sorry about that.

      2. Helka

        Thank you, I think you really eloquently hit a lot of what I was feeling around the edges of but not putting into words. The dichotomy between a social response as a person-with-a-partner and a professional response as a person-at-work is a really good piece of insight.

  17. nota"jealouswife"

    Some1, I was the witness. We cannot contact the other vendors who may or may not have seen the situation.

    1. some1

      If the HR person just wanted a witness account, she should not have apologized to you or discussed possible outcomes. Whether it was your intention, you were being treated more like an owner’s wife than a witness.

      1. Helka

        This. Discussing possible outcomes is a really uncomfortable boundary-crossing of its own! This woman did not trespass against you, OP, and the company should not be discussing with you something that is a 100% internal matter.

        1. nota"jealouswife"

          Helka, I did not make any suggestion as to what action should be taken, nor did I provide any feedback. I am relaying what was told to me. I agree that their plan of action should not have been relayed to me.

          1. Helka

            I’m glad that you see that — if HR does contact you again, I’d suggest directing them back to your husband. I think the more you get yourself extricated from the employment side of this, the better you’ll feel about it. Getting too looped in can make it into a much bigger deal to your gut than it really should be.

      2. nota"jealouswife"

        Agreed. My husband has been with this company since it was just a concept and sometimes lines can get blurry, I will admit that.
        I know the HR person has a lot of respect for my husband (her boss) and knows that our family has had to make a lot of sacrifice for his job role and responsibilities. She may have, in a round about way, felt guilty that her employee made this uncomfortable for both of us. She has nothing to feel guilty over, it isn’t her fault, but I personally have always had some sort of guilty twinge when one of my employees made a mess out of something for someone else… afterall, I’m responsible for them. I can’t speak for her, just speculating.

        1. some1

          All of that may be true. I do think it’s important to realize, from the outside, it looks more like the HR person was trying to placate you as her boss’s wife. I’m telling you this not to rag on you, but because I don’t think that’s the impression you want to give.

      3. Chinook

        “If the HR person just wanted a witness account, she should not have apologized to you or discussed possible outcomes”

        I disagree about the apology – the OP was put in a very uncomfortable situation by the employee. HR apologizing on behalf of the company and acknowledging that they are looking into it (without details of how) would be appropriate IMHO. If the OP was a client who saw this behaviour and was made uncomfortable, I would think someone would want to apologize to them.

        1. some1

          Then they can apologize to the husband — he was the one who was touched inappropriately. He’s the victim and the employee. The wife is not. By apologizing, this company is treating her like she’s an employee when she is not, and, imo, feeding into an inappropriate role for the wife.

  18. RosebudJan

    As a manager, I use the “Anything else?” query to allow my staff the opportunity to discuss anything else on their list or any concerns they might have.

    I started doing it because I wanted to give my staff a chance to cover items on their agenda instead of only covering my agenda.

  19. Laurel Gray

    Re OP#3:

    Something to consider is that this “touchy” woman may have come from a work environment where this type of thing (flirtation?) is completely acceptable. I remember an acquaintance telling me how much she hated her new office job because of how stuffy it was and how she got reprimanded for her “socializing” and “style”. She painted a picture of a very stuffy micromanaging work environment. However, she had been a bartender (and pretty successful!) for 10+ years where touching, flirtation & innuendo, and cleavage were a part of the job. She was struggling to segue out of that environment and into something more polished and professional. She definitely heard the whispers from coworkers and many women wouldn’t even speak to her. She was popular among single male workers and whoever was into locker room talk in the office but that wasn’t helping her career there obviously.

    1. nota"jealouswife"

      Thank you Laurel. Another reason I mentioned the fact that she was young. This very well could be her first time working in a professional environment.

    2. Anon Accountant

      I can see this being a possibility. A warning to the employee to not do it again and then the possibility of termination after that seems like good steps to take. For what it’s worth I’ve worked with people that have started a new job with bad habits from a prior job. Not to the level of putting your hands up a manager’s sleeve but they’ve been quick to argue with managers and coworkers. It was just a way of life they’d adapted to at their prior jobs. It could be behavior that was “normal” at her old job as odd as that may sound. Some jobs encourage flirting and even touching.

    3. Elizabeth West

      Yes, I’ve seen this coming from blue-collar work into office work. Sometimes people struggle with the new workplace norms. I wrote a post on my other blog about office culture for newbies; I’m wondering now if I should go back and add “Don’t flirt with your coworkers even if it was okay at your last job.”

      The post, if anyone is curious: clericalchick.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/5-things-for-newbies-to-know-about-office-culture/

      1. Case of the Mondays

        Only problem, as I mentioned above, is they might not know what “flirting” is. What I thought was normal harmless social others thought was flirting (and it probably was). I was in a long term relationship and not on the market looking for love. At the time, I thought only actions related to the latter were flirting. I was young and naive. I just clicked your link and it seems that you included some behaviors instead of just “no flirting.” I think the way it is written is perfect.

        1. ThursdaysGeek

          True. When I was young and naive, I was the flirtee, but I didn’t realize that anything was happening. I thought we were just joking around, never realizing that he was trying to make a pass at me.

      2. Chinook

        Wow, AAM – your fans are fast and good. She actually refers back to this exact post (or is clerical chick you, Elizabeth?)

  20. Cupcake

    I can understand her husband being taken off guard and not knowing how to react. But, at this point, it appears that the moment has passed and I think it would give the impression that he can’t get it out of his mind if he brings it up several days later. However, now that he has been forewarned, he can prepare himself to react more appropriately if a similar situation occurs again. “I realize that this is your first job, Lolita, so you are probably not aware that behavior like that is inappropriate in a workplace.” If said in the tone of a superior offering guidance, rather than in pearl-clutching shock, he should be able to make his point comfortably.

    1. fposte

      I disagree pretty strongly with this. The employee engaged in behavior that she shouldn’t have, and it’s not just fine but appropriate for a supervisor to inform her of this later if he doesn’t at the time. It’s especially true since this was a thing that really mattered to the supervisor at the time and is likely to affect future decisions about her job; the fairest thing is to let her know.

      I think it’s a mistake to get bogged down in the kind of behavior it is or might be; just focus on the fact that an employee needs some behavioral guidance if she’s going to stay an employee.

    2. LBK

      Waiting for a second occurrence of a problem to bring it up is one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a manager. It robs the employee of the opportunity to make sure they don’t cause a second occurrence – I’m sure you would want to know if you did something wrong at work, whether it happened 30 seconds ago or 3 days ago.

      1. catsAreCool

        “you would want to know if you did something wrong at work, whether it happened 30 seconds ago or 3 days ago.” I would want to know.

  21. BadPlanning

    OP#1 — I think you’ll find that if you stick to Alison’s script and leave on time, soon your coworkers and boss will be trained. If need be, I might make a comment that makes the consequences clear — some people don’t think outside their bubble and don’t realize the impact on others. Unless your boss is nuts, of course.

    OP#1:I’ve been missing the bus lately, so I need to start leaving right at 5:30. I’m heading out now, and will you see you all tomorrow!
    Boss: Oh, but it’s one more minute, I just have to finish packing my gigantic totebag.
    OP#1:Sorry, but I do have to run. When I miss the bus, I have to wait at the stop for another 20 minutes for the next bus. Have a great night, everyone”

    1. Bio-Pharma

      As I mentioned above, I dont’ think it’s a good idea to bring this up as it’s happening. I think having the conversation earlier in the day would be better…

  22. Beancounter in Texas

    #5: Maybe something internal changed and before they get you involved again, they want to clear up an internal issue. My husband was in the same boat as you – verbally discussed plans for three months for a new position to be created March 2nd with this potential employer and was flown out of state for an interview. An employment contract was verbally agreed upon. Suddenly, radio silence. Finally found out yesterday that an existing employee who learned of the position also expressed interest and is applying for the position too (whereas before, my husband was pretty much their shoo-in). It’s not pleasant to be the bearer of bad news (HR), particularly once promising news has already been delivered, but hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Good luck.

  23. JaneJ

    #3. Can I ask why, in general, you would shove your hands on another person and say “feel how cold my hands are?” I’ve had people do this to me (the hand feeling thing, not the inappropriate touching at work thing) and it’s so socially weird. Am I the only one who just thinks it’s just really weird human behavior? I’m not really sure what reaction I’m supposed to have as the recipient of these hands. Like am I supposed to be impressed at your body’s ability to withhold blood from your extremities? It’s so confusing. No one wants clammy, gross hands shoved on them in any context.

    1. fposte

      It’s an amusing joke in a lot of families to do that. That doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for work, but it’s not like adults are just making it up out of nowhere.

      1. Judy

        I certainly do that to my kids and husband (although I usually use the back of the neck). I’ve seen my mom do that to my kids. I’ve not ever done that to someone I wasn’t very close to.

        1. fposte

          I wouldn’t either. But there are joking work cultures where that kind of extension of family intimacy happens. I’m not approving of it, just making the point that this isn’t confusing in the circles where people do it.

  24. beentheredonethat

    #4: I would maybe take this as your supervisors round about way of saying “I get you were sick and understand that stuff happens, but now that you’re back I really need you to work hard to show that you’re serious”… so to speak.
    A few years ago I had started a new position, and found out a week later that I was pregnant. 3 months later we lost our baby. Needless to say my husband and I were devastated. To top it off, I needed surgery and had complications. I was off for 5 work days. When I returned my boss called me into her office and told me that being gone for 5 days “doesn’t look good for you”. It was at that point that I knew that I wouldn’t be there long. I lost another baby a few months later and just quit. She didn’t deserve my time with her negative comments over such a sensitive topic.
    Anyway, this isn’t about me, it’s about you. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the way your manager said it sounds pretty right to me, and as I originally said maybe just a way of saying “ok, we’ve been patient…. prove yourself now!”.
    Either way, an internship is never a guarantee for a job offer, but it does give you a leg up. Make the most of this time and opportunity and prove yourself. At one point you may even consider saying something to your boss in a casual way, like “thanks for being so patient and understanding when I was sick right when I first started. I’m really excited to have this opportunity and I really appreciate your patience.” It shows your enthusiasm and that you recognize that it’s not the norm to be brand new and miss a week like that.
    Good luck!

  25. Vicki

    #4 – Does your manager understand that you were out sick and not just “forgetting” to come to work?

    This sentence: “My manager noticed this and pulled me aside and told me that I was missing too many days of work. ” doesn’t sit well with me. If he didn’t know you were sick, he should have. You should have called in sick when you knew you’d be out and checked in on the days you were unable to come to work.

    If he did know you were out sick, he’s a jerk. There’s no relationship between “sick” and “too many days out”. You shouldn’t have to drag yourself into work with the flu and infect the office because you only “get” so many days to be sick.

  26. Vicki

    FYI to #4. Life definitely happens.

    At one job I had, I managed to catch chicken pox (At 33. Ugh.) during my first month on the new job. Good news for me was that my manager and team all knew me from a previous job. But still. It was weird. Nothing I could do about it, though. (And my doctor put me under quarantine for a week at home.)

  27. Frank

    Hi, this is OP#1.

    I wanted to wait a few days before I posted what happened. Last Wednesday and Thursday I waited around an extra few minutes because it seemed like she was at least making an effort to get ready on time. But then Friday I had a show to go to and had to meet up with my friends at 6 so I took a cab home. I went into her office at 5:30 and said goodnight. My friend that I work with was going to load up her car with water and soda that she takes home to her parents and he asked her for her keys so he could start loading it up.

    I was already downstairs so I couldn’t hear what she said but I heard him say “yeah, we would all like to leave on time”. When he came downstairs I asked what happened and he said that when he asked her for the keys – to do something nice for her – she responded with an attitude saying yeah go ahead and load my car but this rushing out at 5:30 won’t be happening next week. That’s when he said we would all like to leave on time. Her response to that was what’s waiting around an extra 5-10 minutes.

    She hasn’t come in yet today so I don’t know what she’s going to say about it but it’s getting so frustrating and I’m trying not to blow up and get myself into trouble with what I say but that what’s 5-10 minutes line really annoyed me.

    I’m thinking it would be best to just go into her office and talk about this and let her know that the situation on how we get home has changed and she needs to understand that we need to leave on time to catch a bus/start a long car ride home.

    Thanks to everyone who commented on my problem here. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  28. AlwaysHatedTheDuggars

    So you don’t want to hear this but…you husband is Fk’n that girl. The coldness that you witnessed the first time was set up by an agreement to “don’t get all flirty with me when my wife is around”. The next scene was her uncontrolled closeness to your man. –

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