my boss is forcing me to fly, my company didn’t send a funeral arrangement when my husband died, and more

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

1. My boss is forcing me to fly

I have recently been promoted to a leadership position in my company and am on track for management. We are a small company and recently expanded with a new office on the other side of the country. My boss has been talking about visiting the new office for a couple of months now and is insistent on bringing me along. Each time I tell him I am not going but he laughs it off. I truly have a fear of flying (have flown 3 times in my life) and would never sign up for a job that would involve flying. I have only ever flown with my significant other and, to be frank, it’s not pretty. I cry, panic, and hold on to him for dear life.

He says that it is important that I go so that I can help train the new manager there on our policies, procedures, industry, etc. but this person has way more experience than me and I just don’t see the business sense in me going. It will also affect my productivity because I won’t be able to complete my own tasks, which is important as we are highly commissioned.

He has recently become more concrete with these travel plans and has said we are going on a specific date. I sat down with him to explain why I didn’t want to go and why I didn’t think it made business sense. He made me feel silly and told me to pop a gravol. He wasn’t taking no for an answer. I really don’t feel comfortable going but don’t know how to get my point across any clearer. Can he make me go? Could someone lose their job by refusing to go? What else can I do besides barricading myself in my apartment?

Yes, he can make you go and could fire you for not going, unless you can demonstrate that your fear of flying rises to the level of a disability covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (which, from the cursory reading I just did, looks like it’s unlikely). But assuming this isn’t a truly crucial or key part of your job, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense for him to do that.

I’d sit down with him and say, “I’ve given this a great deal of thought, and it’s just not possible for me to do. I’m willing to train Jane via Skype or other virtual methods, or perhaps we can bring her out here and I’d be glad to devote time to training her. But flying isn’t possible for me, and I’ve specifically sought out jobs where it wouldn’t be a requirement.”

You say that he’s not taking no for an answer, which makes me think you’re debating it, when instead you need to simply repeat, “No, it’s not possible. Given that, how should we proceed?”

However, do be aware that it’s possible that this will color the way you’re perceived (people may dismiss your fear as petty or wonder why you don’t find a way through it, especially among people who see flying as a pretty normal thing that can happen in some jobs), so you might also consider looking into treatment for panic attacks, both for career reasons and quality of life ones. (Sorry if that’s obvious; this didn’t feel like a complete answer without mentioning that.)

Read an update to this letter here.

2. My timesheet was changed to indicate I used vacation time when I didn’t

I was entering in my weekly hours in my company’s online timesheet software a few weeks ago and noticed that some of my hours had been changed from what I had originally put into the sheet–in several cases, marking days as vacations when I was at work! I brought the issue up with my HR department, who referred me to my manager, who referred me back to HR, who referred me to finance, and who then referred me back to HR. So, in short, I still don’t know who changed my hours, and who can change my hours to reflect that I didn’t take vacation on those days! (I cannot go back and edit old timesheets.)

I’m concerned about my benefits being affected by this, and very concerned that someone else can just change my hours without my knowledge. My company is an operating unit of a higher level corporation, but I’m not sure if this is something that merits going “up the food chain” either within my OU or to the corporate HR to handle this. How would you recommend handling this?

Go back to HR and say this: “I need to get this resolved, so that my accrued vacation is correct. I’ve been referred from HR to finance and back to HR. How can we definitely determine who can fix this, and what is the timeline for ensuring that it’s corrected?”

If you don’t get a satisfying answer, at that point I’d talk with whoever’s above the office you’re currently talking with.

And it’s probably obvious, but keep watching your timesheet even after this is fixed to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

3. My company didn’t send a funeral arrangement when my husband died

In our company, when a coworker experiences the loss of an immediate family member, the company sends an arrangement. I work for the director so I make the purchase with the company credit card. My husband died and there was no arrangement sent to his memorial service nor to the funeral, which had to wait five months because he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. This hurt more than I can express. Everyone at the company believes that an arrangement was sent; the VP of HR even reminded the Director to send an arrangement, but he did not. When I returned from Washington, the director, my boss, said, “Oh I’m sorry. I forgot.”

Now a manager in a different department that also works directly for the director has lost his brother. The director sent me an email asking that I send an arrangement to the funeral, which of course I did. This however brought up the old hurt and certainly makes me feel like my value to him and the company is diminished. I am trying really hard not to be hurt but do not know how to “get over it.”

I’m sorry for the loss of your husband; how awful.

What you’re describing is unfortunately often the case with the person who’s in charge of handling remembering these occasions for others. Because no one is charged with doing it for that person, it’s not at all unusual for it to end up not happening. That doesn’t make it right, of course, but maybe it’s helpful to know how very common what you’re describing is.

I’d try to pay more attention to how your company and coworkers have treated you aside from the funeral arrangement: Are they compassionate? Did they give you generous time off? Were they understanding when your focus was elsewhere in the aftermath of your husband’s death? Are they generally good people who treat you with respect? If the answers to those things are yes, that’s what I’d focus on. (And if the answers to those things are no, those are bigger problems worth focusing on.)

4. Sending a second follow-up after a phone interview

I had a phone interview for a really competitive out-of-state graduate assistantship position that I really want. During the interview, the interviewer said that she would be deciding who to hire during the next week. I already sent the standard “thanks for the interview” message, to which the interviewer replied with a “please don’t hesitate to send me any additional questions.” However I want to stand out as much as possible.

What are your thoughts on sending a second email, like something that restates my interest and my willingness to do an in person interview? Good idea? or does that come across as desperate or needy?

Needy and a little annoying. You’ve already sent a thank-you that reiterated your interest, and they almost certainly already assume you’re willing to do an in-person interview … although if you wanted to specifically say that, the thank-you note was the time; sending an additional email at this point comes across as impatient. (And it’s only been a week!) At this point, the ball is in their court, and you need to wait for them to decide if they’d like to move forward.

5. I’ve expressed interest in internal roles three times and not been interviewed

A job at my company was posted internally. I answered that I was very interested. It is the third time I have told them that I was interested and I am more than qualified. The manager has yet to give me an interview date and has now opened up job to outside company. Is this legal? What should I read into this?

Well, they might not think you’re among their strongest candidates, or they might not be interested in considering you for other reasons. It is indeed legal; they’re not obligated to interview you.

However, if you’re just telling them that you’re interested and not actually formally applying, that could be the issue. If you haven’t submitted a formal application — personalized cover letter and resume — that’s the next step here. You could also talk with the manager directly and ask if she thinks you’re a good match for the role or not.

{ 397 comments… read them below }

  1. fposte*

    #1–I have a flying phobia myself, and while I don’t think this trip with your manager is a good plan, I think you’re going to find a lot more possibility in your professional life if you can fly. I think you’re right that over-the-counter stuff probably won’t do it at this point, but if you go to a doctor and explain that you need help with a flying phobia, there are a lot better medications that really can help.

    I know it’s not what you wrote in for, but I thought it was worth noting that there really is stuff that can make this possible. And Canada is a heck of a big country to be limited to driving in :-).

    1. fposte*

      And if it really is “go or be fired,” then definitely go to the doctor ASAP; it’s just easier to get the hang of an anti-anxiety regimen without a deadline.

      1. jag*

        I was going to say see a doctor and/or a therapist. The OP might be able get the phobia under control.

        I don’t have a phobia about flying but greatly dislike it. I’m able to reduce the amount in my life, but can’t eliminate it completely. In today’s professional world, never flying is probably going to hurt your career a bit.

        1. Anon369*

          I have a mild phobia about flying – I do it but not without a fair amount of lead-up distress and white-knuckling on the plane. I may have missed it, but is driving or taking a train an option? I love the train in particular – better wifi and I’m able to work pretty much the whole way if I need to, so adding a travel day is OK.

          1. Elder Dog*

            Get a doctor’s note saying you can’t fly. Doesn’t have to say why, but does have to say it’s a medical condition. It IS a medical condition. People who don’t have panic attacks aren’t qualified to say otherwise.

            Then tell your boss to schedule you on the train if he really thinks you must go, and this isn’t some kind of “you’ll do it because I told you to” problem he’s having. You may be able to work on the train, btw.

            Then get signed up for some kind of help with your fear of flying. There are even programs through some of the airlines. It probably won’t cure you, but it will help a lot. It’s worth doing even if your boss is an ass about this and you have to quit.

            And yeah, your boss is being an ass about this.
            Of course, if you want to cure his problems, go ahead and fly, and let your boss take the place of your husband. He’ll choose to let you take the train home.

        2. Vicki*

          >> In today’s professional world, never flying is probably going to hurt your career a bit.

          Add: as a manager.

          I’ve never been or wanted to be a manager. As an Individual Contributor, not flying has never been an issue. I’ve never been asked or told that I need to travel in 30 years. I used to go to out of town conferences which I had to request, but I haven’t done that in 15 years.

          1. Traveler*

            There are lots of other reasons it can come up even when you’re not a manager, especially depending on field. If you opt out of every conference, every job interview where flights are paid for, it can hurt your career.

            1. MissDisplaced*

              Agreed. I’m not a high level position, yet I’ve still had to travel on many occasions (most recently Europe). For domestic travel, trains are definitely an option, especially for East Coast cities.
              So yeah, as suggested, if he says you MUST GO, see if the train is an option.

      2. Loose Seal*

        I’d suggest getting to the doctor anyway, even if you’re able to get out of flying for this trip. People react differently to meds and you (anyone in this position, not just OP) need some time to try them out while in the comfort of your home, with family or friends present to help you if you wig out on it. It’s good to know in advance which pills work for you so that if there ever comes a time where you can’t get out of flying, you can call up your doctor and ask for the pills you know work best for you. A great part of managing one’s anxiety comes from being prepared and knowing what to do to mitigate your stress.

        Signed, someone who can’t go to the dentist without being drugged to the gills.

    2. Liz in a Library*

      Totally agree. I have controllable flying fears, but my father has a really deep phobia (relating to a trauma from his time in the military). He deeply wanted to travel abroad and never thought he’d be able to, but was able to be prescribed a medication that made significant international flight possible. I cannot tell you how happy he was that he did that.

    3. UKAnon*

      On the other hand, there are people who have zero interest in the sort of travel that flying opens up and who have big objections to taking tablets. OP, do you think a doctor’s note would say that it is severe enough that you need a reasonable accommodation? If so, you may want to think about that too.

      Slightly differently, I have a huge phobia of spiders, which several workplaces have refused to believe – until somebody brought a spider near to tease me. Running out of the building screaming and crying seems to have got rid of the spider problems and a simple “There’s a spider over there, can somebody please remove it?” whilst cowering several feet away is now sufficient. I know it’s far from an ideal solution, but if pills aren’t your thing, and if your boss does force you to go, maybe one flight with you would be enough to convince him not to try again? (This is an “all else fails” option, though, I know)

        1. Audiophile*

          As someone who has a fear of, well, most insects and bugs, I can relate. (Strangely enough, not mice. ) Poor spiders don’t see what’s coming, when I smash them with a broom.

          I don’t love flying but it’s not so debilitating that I can’t fly. I’ve flown a few times, though I don’t think I’d be able to do it regularly.

          1. Stephanie*

            I’m the opposite. Bugs don’t bother me, but mice turn me into a blubbering idiot. I’ll deal with your bugs and you can deal with my mice (which I thankfully don’t have at the moment)?

            1. Audiophile*

              I will totally deal with your mice. Dead or alive, no problem.

              I hate bees, wasps, (I get bad reactions and blow up like a balloon), flies (especially fruit flies, they’re just annoying), spiders, worms.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                Mice I can handle, and I can also handle snakes (I saved a baby snake that got stuck to some tape in my garage). Worms are not a big deal either.

                Bees don’t bother me either, but I get paper wasps in the top of my clothesline pole. I blast them with spray and run like hell. We also had the mud daubers outside the entrance at Exjob. I found the best way to deal with them when they got inside was to take the can of hairspray from the ladies’ room and spray it right on them. It gums up their wings, they drop to the ground, and then you can stomp on them. Impressed the hell out of my coworkers. :)

                1. Erin*

                  I’ve never heard of them before. Just googled them and now I’m so happy they don’t seem to live where I live! Terrifying.

                2. Audiophile*

                  Never heard of mud daubers, something tells me I don’t want to google it.

                  I can’t really explain the worm thing, except that I saw some jump once and I was done. I hate gardening for that reason. Long earth worms, forget it.

                  I’m not really “afraid” of bees, I just don’t like them. If I get stung by pretty much anything, I get a bad reaction right where I got stung.

                3. Not So NewReader*

                  Hair spray works great on almost anything that flies. They can’t build up a resistance to it, because it’s an external coating.

                  But… I think I have gotten worse on snakes this past year. I saw a snake RUN- as in arched way up and coasting right over tall grasses. I did not know they could move so. very. fast. like that.

            2. Ella*

              Will somebody please deal with house centipedes for me? I’ll take your mice, your dead birds, your bees, your unleashed dogs, and all your plane flights. Just…somebody kill all the house centipedes.

              1. Cat*

                Ugh, those are such freaky, awful, alien-looking things. I hate them. (Almost as much as I hate spiders and man do I hate spiders.)

                1. Not So NewReader*

                  Some can get to be the size of the palm of your hand. Their legs look more like spider legs than centipede legs. They dart about- it is hard to catch them to stomp on them.

          2. Mander*

            Wow, I guess it is more of a gift to not be too bothered by “creepy crawlies” than I realized. I mean, I still jump ten feet in the air if a spider lands on me but then I’m not afraid to catch it and move it. Sometimes even with my bare hands!

            Snakes, scorpions, etc. only freak me out to the extent that they bite. It’s certainly an issue I had to be aware of when doing survey projects out in remote areas where there was a lot of wildlife to disturb. I was fortunate to only run across rattlesnakes and cottonmouths a couple of times but bugs of various kinds are everywhere.

            Maybe I should have been an exterminator.

            1. BeenThere*

              Just make sure you adjust your level of fear if you move to Australia. I assume something is poisonous unless I absolutely know otherwise.

      1. Graciosa*

        The ADA still requires that the person be able to perform the essential functions of the job with the reasonable accommodation. In a managerial role, traveling to meet and train individuals in a satellite office in person may be considered an essential function.

        In an odd coincidence of timing, the WSJ has an article today about the importance of face time and how other forms of communication (including video chats) are just not an adequate substitute for meeting in person. One CEO fired the head of his Latin America team for not traveling to the region enough, and informed his new hire that the expectation was 20-25 days per month on the road.

        This is way more travel than I would be willing to do, which means that job is not a possibility for me even if I were otherwise qualified. If the OP can reach a mutually satisfactory arrangement with her boss, that would be great – but if the boss says travel is essential and the OP is not willing to do it, this may not be the job for her.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Also, from what I’ve read, fear of flying isn’t covered under the ADA at all (because it doesn’t rise to the level of interfering with daily functioning).

      2. Natalie*

        I think a doctor would still be worth talking to even if OP will never take an anti-anxiety drug. There are other treatment options for phobias that can help. No matter what OP chooses regarding travel, it might be nice to have flying as an option even if it remains unpleasant and something OP would only do once or twice a lifetime.

        1. Blurgle*

          Anti-anxiety drugs are not a panacea for phobias; they don’t even work in the majority of cases. The gold standard is cognitive behaviour therapy, but that can take months, be expensive (in the US), and has about an 80% success rate on average – which means one in five aren’t cured. In rare cases it can even make things worse.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        Ugh! I don’t like spiders. I know they’re extremely beneficial, but they are so freaky. I usually leave them alone if they’re outside, but if they’re inside, BLAMMO!

        I can deal with them, however; I’ll be the one to handle it for you but I’ll also shriek if one drops onto my desk unexpectedly. Whoever brought the spider to you is a jerk.

      4. Vicki*

        >>maybe one flight with you would be enough to convince him not to try again?

        Screaming, crying, clutching, and possibly throwing up on him.
        Yeah, that should be a convincer. But it it worth the trauma?

    4. SJP*

      I agree with Fposte, because OP you say that you want to go up to managerial level and with an office at the other side of the country I think it’s a little more likely that if you were promoted to that level they’d want you to periodically fly out to that other location for important meetings etc.
      It may not be all the time but just imagine if you put your foot down and say no outright and then when it comes to promotion time they pick someone else from inside the company, or even employ someone in to do that managerial job because they can fly out without any problem.
      Unfortunately fears like flying are overlooked by managers and they try and dumb it down or say it’s irrational or something and cause of that they may look past you when it comes to put someone in a managerial level job because they can fly easily and you cannot..
      Which would be a shame really

      1. JB*

        As someone with a former flying phobia, it *is* irrational. But people who try to make you feel better by telling you that (using followed by saying, “you’re more likely to die in a car accident”) are not helpful. People with phobias often know that their fears are irrational, but because the fears are also real, you can’t get rid of them just by saying that.

        I think you are totally right that if the OP really wants to go up to a managerial level, she should seriously consider addressing the phobia either with medication or therapy or both. You miss out on an awful lot in life if you let phobias control your options.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          “You miss out on an awful lot in life if you let phobias control your options.”

          Thank you, this should really be put on a poster. People have no problem with the idea of being told that they shouldn’t allow fear to stop them from doing X or Y but as soon as they use the “P” word, all rational argument goes straight out the window. I’m going to try and remember this for the next time I have a discussion about phobias.

          1. Natalie*

            People may use “phobia” to mean “I’m adverse to that” the same way they use “OCD” to mean “I’m somewhat of a neat freak”. That doesn’t mean phobias (or OCD, for that matter) aren’t a real mental health condition that can be deeply limiting without treatment. A phobia is by definition uncontrollable and irrational (meaning one fears something innocuous or the fear isn’t based on the actual danger).

            Exposure therapy is a valid treatment, but it doesn’t happen by just pushing a phobic person to be exposed to their trigger. Exposure therapy has to be done with the full consent and knowledge of the phobic person, it has to be done gradually, and it generally has to be done with some kind of professional helping the phobic person process their reactions. Without this, say if someone threw the OP onto a place without her consent, the resulting anxiety response (up to and including a panic attack) can actually have the opposite effect and strengthen the phobia. (My boyfriend found this out the hard way, by misinterpreting “fish phobia” as “I don’t like fish but it would be funny to tease me with one”. Nope, and the mild panic attack means I never need to explain that again.)

            1. Elysian*

              People may use “phobia” to mean “I’m adverse to that” the same way they use “OCD” to mean “I’m somewhat of a neat freak”.

              I think this is important to point out.

              OP, if you have something serious enough to be a medical phobia, you should seek treatment and discuss your options with your doctor/mental health professional. From there, you might need to have a conversation with your boss about whether travel is essential to the job, whether there can be an accommodation, etc. If travel is essential, this might not be the job for you.

              If this is just a deep dislike or more general fear, my personal opinion is your need to find a way to manage it. It’s not far outside business norms to require some mild amount of travel, and refusing to travel just because you dislike it (even if you legitimately dislike it an awful lot and it causes you some anxiety) will cause you professional problems. I’m not a huge fan of traveling in cabs over long distances (I get really, really motion sick) but sometimes my job requires it. I seek other options if possible (like Uber, who lets you sit in the front seat!) and medicate when its not possible. I know a ton of people who have anxiety about flying (which doesn’t rise to the level of needing consistent treatment) who have gotten a short term prescription for anti-anxiety meds when they’ve had to travel by air. Maybe that would work for you for this trip.

              1. Elysian*

                Oh, for long flights where I’ve been afraid of motion sickness, I’ve also taken some OTC sleeping pills. I don’t know if that’s a possibility for you, but when I’m asleep I’m not nauseous, and I’d bet sleeping would make a long anxiety provoking plane ride go faster.

            2. nona*

              Good points, and thank you for explaining that about exposure therapy. Exposure worked for me (I actually like flying) but forcing someone into it, particularly “flooding,” can backfire really badly.

            3. Observer*

              All of this is true. But it doesn’t negate the fact that phobias are quite limiting and choosing to not treat is essentially a choice to limit yourself. If there are no treatment options that you (generic you) can access that work for you, that’s not a choice anymore, but it’s still going to limit you, as any medical condition might.

              And, for the record (though it should not need to be said), phobias should never be treated as a light issue. If someone has a phobia (or allergy) DO NOT EVER decide that “just a little” is ok because “It’s irrational and it can’t hurt.”

              1. Natalie*

                Absolutely, I’m totally in favor of treatment of phobias. I was just getting more a sense of “phobias are an excuse; just do it” from the comment I replied to.

              2. John*

                +1 on the limiting.

                I suffered from a debilitating fear of public speaking. It was making me miserable and potentially limiting my career opportunities (heck, my ability to function in my chosen career).

                The first step was decided I wasn’t going to let it beat me. Of all things, I tried hypnosis and it made a real difference…that and my determination to beat it.

                Especially if you want to move up in an organization, it can be really hard to find a position where no air travel will be required. I know in my company that’s not a promise that would make to anyone. That is quite a limitation.

                I feel for OP and wish her the best.

              3. Blurgle*

                Yes they are. So is cancer. Neither is easy to get rid of – and as I noted above, neither is predictably treatable.

            4. fposte*

              Yeah, and my problem, when I was trying to work with that, is that it’s tough to do gradations of exposure with flying (on the other hand, you’re rarely exposed to flying without your knowledge, so it was a lot easier on a day to day basis than most phobias!). That was one of the advantages of the airline fear of flying programs–you got to get on a plane at the gate and get off it again, and then the flight really was basically circling the airport rather than even a short destination flight where you’d have to reboard. I did get an incidental boost from a delayed Southwest flight where for a few hours they did let us go on and off the plane as we pleased; that was really helpful!

                1. Ella*

                  OT but important: some airports now have one day a month or so for kids (or adults, I suppose) with autism to practice going through the airport going through security, and getting on the plane. I don’t think they go so far as having the plane take off, but for kids with autism who need to know what’s coming next, airport practice runs sound amazing.

              1. Tennessee*

                What helped me A LOT was taking a few flying lessons. My fear didn’t rise to real phobia level, but I did have to take Xanex for every flight. Now, no problem at all; I actually look forward to flying. There was a great non-credit course offered by the local college on flying for those who had extreme fear of flying. It guided you through the basics, let you get on and off the plane. After that, I was brave enough to actually get up in the plane with an instructor. I found once I understood what the sounds were, what the motion of the plane was like and what it was doing, I had no problem. Knowledge is power!

            5. Connie-Lynne*

              I am icthyophobic to the point that I had to leave the theatre during “Finding Nemo.” My brother, who is an otherwise stellar person, decided to get married at the Aquarium. Complete with family photos in front of the large tanks!

              Cue a whole lot of “it’s not really funny, you guys are jerks” conversations that day between me, my family, and the photographers.

          2. jag*

            I have phobia to heights and very wide open spaces that are windy. Not debilitating enough to see a doctor, but I’ve gotten very strong reactions to high places and still do – heart rate goes up, I feel extremely tense, etc.

            I’ve worked on it a little because sometimes I need to be in high places. I can’t say I’ve completely beat it, but I have some control over it. The automatic physical reaction is less severe.

            I see Natalie using the term “exposure therapy” – that’s how I’ve dealt with heights.

        2. SJP*

          Yea I meant it as in the boss might think it irrational in a mocking or looking down way rather than an knowing it’s irrational and understanding it and due to that, overlook the OP for a higher position.

          You’re right though and I am extremely lucky not to suffer from any type of phobia and I feel for those that do
          Good luck OP and as Ella says below, if you can get a flight which will allow some down time and a good nights sleep afterwards would be highly beneficial

        3. TBoT*

          I also have a former flying phobia. I’d have nightmares for days any time there was some kind of aircraft incident in the news. Just the thought of flying gave me tunnel vision, a racing heartbeat, and all the classic symptoms of panic. Even the thought of *buying an airplane ticket* would send me into a state of terror. (I had always been uncomfortable with the idea of flying, but then, in college, on my first-ever trip by air, we had a mechanical problem so bad that it literally broke one of the engines, causing a fluid leak that was visible to the passengers behind the wing. No more flying at all for me after that, for a very long time.)

          I similarly sought out jobs that did not require travel for many years, and then, like the OP, I was promoted into a role where I needed to travel to offices that weren’t in driving distance. For the first several trips I took Amtrak. It was an overnight trip in coach, which was uncomfortable and exhausting, but to me was an infinitely better option than flying.

          Finally, a number of other life factors made me want to be able to expand my travel options beyond just “where Amtrak runs … slowly … at times that are not actually convenient from my city at all.” So, I talked to my doctor. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps a lot of people with fears. And, she gave me a prescription for Xanax.

          I basically flew on Xanax until it wasn’t scary anymore, and now I can fly without fear in all but the most extreme circumstances.

          (And after about 5 years of flying almost once a month, I have never had an experience that was anywhere near as terrifying as that one in college that put me off flying for well over a decade.)

          In hindsight, it was absolutely, totally, 100% worth it to get that fear under control.

          1. Traveler*

            Yes. I hated flying – just getting near the airport to drop someone else off would send my heart racing but I managed to get over it in a similar way (Though, I still refuse to fly puddle hoppers). I didn’t go as far as Xanax, but I would take 2 benadryl just as the boarding process started. By the time take off happened, I was so tired I couldn’t do anything but sleep. Then once I was back in the rhythm of flying again (and all the sounds/turbulence/etc became familiar) I wasn’t nearly so panicked anymore.

      2. Stranger than fiction*

        Exactly, SJP. It seems the OP is not realizing the implications this has to her career track. I get she has a real fear, but if she’s just been put in a “leadership” position, and is on the track to “management”, going out to the new location, helping it get off the ground, training and getting to know the new employees there…these are all very important things for her position/career.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          It could be that OP does realize and is willing to forego the leadership roles because of it. Hopefully, she reads about other people’s experiences and decides on a new path for herself.

    5. INTP*

      Agree. I would also suggest a test trip before the one with your boss if at all possible. If the solutions given by a doctor or psychologist (whether that’s therapy or benzos) don’t work or have unforeseen side effects, you don’t want to find out by, say, getting loopy and weird on Xanax or breaking into a panic attack right next to your boss.

    6. LuvzALaugh*

      #2 Go back to HR. Any half way decent HR rep at this juncture will take the matter over and if there is a need to go to a manager and to finance, they will do it to resolve the issue. I can see the initial sending you to management. Sounds to me like someone made an error in the time keeping system. I wouldn’t necessarily jump to the conclusion that your timesheet was changed purposely at this point. I am not sure about your workplace structure, the time keeping system used and where payroll duties lie but I know where I work supervisors and managers make needed manual changes and entries in the time keeping system and then sign off. HR does the final sign off. If you don’t hold the managers accountable for figuring out an error and correcting it, guess what happens? More frequent errors start occurring because HR will fix it before the final sign off. (Sometimes it’s necessary to kick other people’s sand out of your sandbox) That’s why you got the initial response to go to management. Your management (supervisor) also has more personal knowledge of your work hours than HR. Personally, I would have called the manager and finance myself rather than sending the employee because a mistake with vacation or a paycheck is a huge deal in my opinion and customer sevice matters to any effective HR rep. IMHO.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        Yeah, hopefully she’s just getting the run-around because nobody wants to “take the blame” so to speak because I’m sure going back to fix an error like that is going to put someone in an awkward position and have some explaining to do, assuming they need approval from someone higher up to correct this. That being said, I hope that’s the case and it’s not something more unscrupulous than that.

    7. LuvzALaugh*

      #3 I am in charge of ensuring arrangements get sent as well. I would be shocked if in the unfortunate situation I required an arrangement that I actually got one. I wouldn’t take offense. Focus on the current state of the work relationship and current treatment. This was not an indication of a slight unless you can back it up with alot of other instances. Someone dropped the ball when they had to complete your duties. I am sorry for your loss. In your understandable state of grief, is it possible you are magnifying the incident? No judgement from me there. You have alot going on and if you can get past the forgotten flowers it may make things slightly easier. Was sympathy expressed to you in other ways? Is your grieving process being reasonably accomadated?

      1. cuppa*

        Yep. I missed out on my arrangement when I had a death in the family. It’s not an intentional slight. So sorry for your loss, OP.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Agreed; I was the one who put birthday cards into the round robin for signing at Exjob and I had to pick out my own every year. If I had been gone, there’s no way my last boss would have done it. I know that’s hardly the same as a funeral arrangement, but when the person who does those things is absent, the task often won’t get done. It’s just not on the radar of other employees. And I’m sure you have a point about magnifying the issue–in the thick of grief, even the smallest things feel huge and overwhelming.

        OP, I’m so sorry. *hug*

      3. Michelle*

        Thank you for your comment, it actually does make me feel a bit better knowing that this “oversight” seems to be the norm. How very sad though. I suppose by my boss asking if I remembered to change my wiper blades, that may have been his way of expressing his empathy for me. The HR VP sent me a lovely card, of course referencing that she hoped the flowers sent might have offered a small bright spot. Of course I did not and would never tell anyone that there was no arrangement sent. Again, thank you.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Ugh. I totally get the flower thing. Others have offered great suggestions. I wondered if you could ask to be relieved from flower “detail” perhaps someone else can take that one for a while.

          My knee-jerk response to your situation was total sympathy. But I know logically, that this is what grief does, we can get fixated on one thing and it becomes a crutch to avoid other more important issues. I have done it myself. “Cousin Jane did not send a card or call.” A week later I am still thinking about Cousin Jane and what is up with that. All I have done is avoid processing the real issues that need to be processed.

          Alison is right, check to make sure there are not bigger issues at work that you have been ignoring. No raise? No advancement? Nasty cohorts? Okay, maybe all that is good, no problems. But maybe you want to do something else with your life right now. And that is perfectly fine. Start thinking about options and talk with people whose opinions you respect.
          I know first hand that people will keep giving/offering you little “helps”. So, don’t be afraid to ask people here and there.
          I am sorry for your loss.

    8. AnotherAnon*

      And OP1, there are other options besides or in addition to medication. For one, you could try cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which would hopefully help you develop coping skills and techniques for being able to tolerate flying, and help you gradually build up to being able to fly through a series of exposure exercises.

      1. OriginalEmma*

        +1000 for CBT. Working through your irrational thoughts by creating and rehearsing rational thoughts (through the process of creating rational responses to the phobic thought, which eventually and ideally replaces totally that thought) helps train yourself to react differently to the phobia/trigger.

      2. Smallephant*

        Yes to this! I had some really life-limiting phobias, and CBT plus mindfulness helped me to finally get past them. It really opened up my career options – no pills needed. It is hard work, and it doesn’t happen immediately, but so worth it.

    9. Ella*

      If you do end up going, OP1, ask about arranging your flight for the day before you have to do anything. I can’t imagine that going straight from a highly stressful situation to meetings will be helpful or productive. Tell them you’ll need downtime at the hotel to rest and calm down, if the schedule works out so that you can put a full night’s sleep between you and the flight before you’re expected to be work-ready, even better.

      1. jag*

        I don’t have such an extreme phobia as the OP, but for me the moment I’m out of the situation that triggers it, I feel much, much better. I would not need to wait long to be functional afterwards – I feel such a huge change by getting away from the problem.

        1. Ella*

          True. Me personally, if I get so far into anxiety that I get a panic attack, I have a sort of…anxiety hangover? for a couple hours and I’m only running at about 85% capacity. It may come more into play if she takes any meds (especially OTC sleeping pills, which I’ve seen recommended, or alcohol, which is a pretty common self-medicant) and needs time to come down off those, but I don’t take anxiety meds so I don’t know the timeframe of effects.

    10. Sunflower*

      I think fear of flying is very common and I’m so sorry you’re dealing with that. I’d strongly recommend trying some different things (maybe pills, maybe therapy?) to deal with this. In addition to limiting yourself on professional opportunities, your quality of life has gotta be suffering a little too? Fear of flying is a phobia lots of people have overcome it so I think it’s definitely worth giving it a shot for so many reasons

    11. BTownGirl*

      Definitely cosign getting treatment for this! In my late-20’s, I all of a sudden started having panic attacks brought on by feeling claustrophobic – totally random and not something I’d ever had an issue with before. Naturally, plane rides were a shaky, Tanqueray-sodden affair and I wish I’d taken my tuchus to a doctor way sooner than I did. OP, I think you’ll be surprised how many helpful strategies and medications there are for this and how much happier life will be once you’ve started treating it. Hope this helps! :)

      1. fposte*

        Sooner is a really good point–the longer the phobia goes on untreated, the more established the brain habit gets and the more it takes to unpeel it.

        1. Natalie*

          Which, as far as I know, goes for all anxiety disorders. You’d almost think they were a living thing, they are so good at perpetuating themselves.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            This is true…I did read somewhere, however, that phobias (not arising from trauma, which are kind of a separate thing) are among one of the more easily treated anxiety related issues. Not that treatment itself is easy, just that it can be extremely effective without requiring years of therapy.

            1. Loose Seal*

              Exposure therapy generally does work pretty fast. At minimum, for most phobias, the client can very quickly reach a place where they can function day-to-day without the phobia crushing them. If the client wants to completely be on top on the phobia, it might take a bit longer. So if you wanted to be able to see a spider and not flip out so you can ask someone else to get rid of it, it might take a few sessions. If your desire is to actually move the spider outdoors yourself, it might take a bit longer.

              There are a couple of ways to handle this that are from the behavioral therapy school of thought: systemic desensitization and its offshoots, in vivo (live) exposure and flooding. Basically, all of them require exposure to the stimulus in a graduated format. To start, the therapist and client would make a list of what the client finds fearful. Then they would rank them in order of least fearful to most fearful. The client would be taught calming techniques then they would work on the least fearful part until the client is able to calm down on their own. Then they would proceed to the next greater fear and repeat the process.

              Systemic desensitization works through the process by having the client imagine the fear scenario while in a safe place (the therapist’s office, for example) and then work on calming. In vivo exposure follows the same procedures except that the stimulus is live but short-lived (example: a client dealing with fear of elevators might accompany their therapist to an elevator and practice stepping in and out, then calming). In vivo flooding is also live but the stimulus is longer-lived and the client has to work on the calming while currently exposed to the stimulus (example: riding the elevator while calming). I can see a therapist working with a client on fear of flying using all three of these techniques in the course of treatment. Behavioral therapy is generally a collaboration between the therapist and client so nothing should come as a shock to the client as they would understand the goal, the purpose of the techniques, and feel in charge of their therapy. If anyone is looking for a therapist to treat phobias, ask if they have been trained in these techniques and what their success rate is. You should be looking for a therapist that subscribes to the behaviorist school of thought as one of their therapeutic focal points.

    12. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

      I too have a flying phobia- and a contradicting love of travel. From the moment I book a flight to the moment I have the return trip I am a crying, shaky, barfy mess of a person. The fact that I’ve made upwards of 20 uneventful flights in my shortish life has done nothing to relieve this fear, it actually makes it worse!

      I’ve started taking Dramamine when on the actual flights- I tried benadryl but my anxiety was strong enough to fight off the drowsy side effect. The downside to the Dramamine (other than being a drug) is that I can’t take it until I’m already on the plane because it does such an effective job of putting me to sleep. The super upside is that if anyone is super nosy you can just say it’s for motion sickness and don’t have to have a conversation about your fear of flying that always seems to end with someone bringing up the “you’re more likely to die in a car crash” statistic.

      Meg Keene over at A Practical Wedding has talked before about her fear of flying, and she eventually enrolled in a program that cured her of it. I am not having luck finding the post where she names it ATM, but I will post it if I can find it.

      In summary, definitely try Allison’s approach, but don’t discount the suggestions in this thread if it turns out you will need to fly or quit, and can’t afford to leave your job.

      1. fposte*

        Just to note that the Gravol the OP was rejecting is the Canadian name for Dramamine (that’s why I figured she was Canadian).

        Speaking for myself, the adrenaline levels of the phobia means that the soporific effect doesn’t happen for me without an anti-anxiety agent. Actually, it might *now*, but it sure didn’t before when I was still in the worst of it.

        1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

          Aha! Well, Dramamine is out then (and I’ll know what I need if I’m ever trying to find it in Canada)!

      2. OP*

        OMG!! When people tell me you’re more likely to die in a car crash I really do want to punch them. I know, I know, but it’s just different.

        Here’s the deal…there are many reasons I am fearful of flying so it’s hard to be able to combat them all. I am claustrophobic (so I have tried sitting on the aisle seat which I find has helped a tad). It’s the fear of the unknown (when there’s turbulence I don’t know if it’s normal or not). I do have motion sickness a bit (I take ginger gravol b/c I’m actually allergic to the gravol that puts you to sleep…of course!). I don’t like not being in control and I think this is the biggest issue…in a car, I’m usually driving, or if I’m not, I know that I could escape the car if need be (at least it’s on the ground!!!). I hate knowing that i’m stuck in this plane for x number of hours and I just have to be okay with whatever happens.

        I really loved the idea of learning more about planes because I think that might actually help me!!! Can you go somewhere that they give you a tour of the plane like I’m a 3 year old? lol.

        Bottom line is, I really love my job and quitting is not an option so I need to look into some of these good ideas you have all provided and try and pull myself together as it appears more and more that I do not have a choice.

    13. Newbie*

      #1 above – WOW – I can so relate and it is terrible to live with and manage! I have not been required to fly for work, but I have very pointedly taken jobs that do not require air travel – I literally ask if any travel is or may be necessary. I am absolutely terrified to fly, and it is not just an irrational phobia (although many have – and would still try to debate that point all day long!). I flew many times when I was younger for vacations and to see family, and while I would never claim I loved to fly or enjoyed the experience, each trip seemed to get worse for my anxiety. It would actually start building several weeks out before I had to travel, and got so bad – I could not enjoy my trip away at all – because I still had to fly home before it was overwith and I could actually try to relax and just breathe. The last flight I took was absolutely awful – three plane changes and there was really bad turblence. I think I made the flight home on a wing and a prayer – and a combination of an OTC medication recommended by my doctor, and a lot of whiskey! I DO NOT condone this – but completly understand where OP is coming from. I wish I had a good solution, but I no longer travel via air, and everyone that knows me well – knows this. I often worry my boss will come to me one day and tell me I need to travel to one of our other locations (based in Texas, but have locations all over the US). If and when that happens, the answer will be no. I am so very sorry, and I will do anything else (that is legally, morally and ethically correct), but hell no I will not fly. I will not fly for personal reasons, business reasons…just…will…not…do…it. I know this is not the correct response, or the smartest one for my career – not to mention the fact that it would all be so much easier if I could just force myself to grow and overcome this phobia, but I have become very comfortable in my own skin and know what I can and cannot give. This is really the only thing on the table that I cannot offer up. It is a very big deal to many in our business world today, but it is just something I can not do. I really hate responding with such a negative sounding comment – but OP – you are not the only one of us out there with this problem. Keep your chin up, and hopefully you will find some good advice to follow to help you through this – good luck!

    14. lowercase holly*

      yes, i’ve spent many flights crying the whole time and finally got meds from a dr. it’s pretty common. you’d just have to explain to your boss that you probably couldn’t do anything work related on the flight or post-flight because, drugs. including driving a rental car, etc.

    15. Corporate Attorney*

      Yeah, a doctor or a therapist. I had cognitive behavioral therapy for acrophobia, and it worked quickly and was life-changing.

    16. OP*

      Everyone tells me to get some meds and I know it is an option but it really isn’t an option I want to explore if at all possible. Someone in my immediately family has fairly severe anxiety (yes, I guess that could explain my anxious tendencies with planes lol) and relies heavily on anti-anxiety pills. If I’m going to overcome my fear I want it to be because I have overcome it, ya know?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Not for everyone, but if you want to avoid meds, have you thought about homeopathic remedies? I was taking one for stress when my husband died/his funeral/etc. My stress levels were off the charts like you are saying here. And it did help. I don’t know what I would have done without it. Because you do have such high levels of stress regarding flying, I would say go to a practitioner, don’t stand in a health food store and try to guess what to take. A practitioner will customize it to fit your unique needs.
        This is not a stand-alone treatment, I would do this in conjunction with the behavioral therapy people have mentioned here.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        It’s not an either-or situation, particularly if you seek behavioural therapy as well as medications. The medication can cut the edge of the panic, helping you get more used to the flying while you re-train your mind. At the very least, it’s worth talking to your doctor about – tell them that you want to move past depending on medications for flying, and how you would go about it.

        Flying isn’t a daily activity, so you won’t be dealing with the anxiety on a daily basis, unlike a phobia like agoraphobia.

    17. CleverName*

      Long time reader, first time commenter here. Love this site by the way!

      I had a crippling fear of flying. I have runaway anxiety issues in general, some trauma in my background, and the flying thing was a nightmare.

      Here is what worked for me:
      Xanax. I tried Ativan, it didn’t work. I found that my anxiety peaked 48 hours before I had to leave for the airport. If I packed before that time, all the way down to my carry on, then took 1 mg of xanax to sleep that night (2 nights before I left) then I could manage until take off.

      The day of flying, I take 0.5 mg of Xanax before I leave for the airport (maybe you can get a cab, or a friend to drive?) Then I take 1 mg of Xanax 30 min before boarding. I repeat on the 2nd flight. I can also have a drink with it, but the warning labels say *not* to do that.

      I got a really good carryon packing list from a fashion blog (outfit, and that helped me also.

      These are just what I have found helpful. I hope some of this is useful. Good luck!

  2. i don't care what you say, you say*

    #1: I think the usual advice on this is to go to your doctor, tell ’em about your anxiety, and get an Rx for 2-4 tablets of some nice benzo like Lorazepam.

    But what worked for me was getting life insurance. It’s probably not the fix for everyone, but knowing that my family is covered reduces the stress a LOT. I’m not suicidal, I don’t want to die – but if my number comes up, I know my loved ones won’t be living in a cardboard box somewhere.

    1. Former Computer Professional*

      I had a hideous fear of flying. While a small tranquilizer helped at first, what really did the trick was learning more about airplanes and flying itself. I used to read a column called “Ask The Pilot” (Seriously! (-: ) and learning about why planes bounce around and why turns feel weird and stuff, and it helped a LOT.

      Then I took a flight with a coworker, who described it as having “the worst turbulence, EVER!” (and he flew a lot). I wound up sitting next to two off-duty (“deadhead”) pilots and they read the whole time and not one bounce phased them! I realized, if it is this bad and the pilots aren’t freaking out, we’re fine.

          1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

            Sub in a common urban pest-bug whose name I can’t even see/type without feeling a panic attack come on and you have me. I can’t even read the highly recommended book “Stiff” because of the author’s last name!

        1. fposte*

          Unfortunately, phobias don’t usually work like that. In fact, that’s one of their little tricks–they’ll convince you they’re going away if you talk about them correctly or learn enough, and then they back out on the deal. I knew more about planes and aviation safety than just about any non-pilot who wanted to explain how safe planes were to me, but it didn’t make a blind bit of difference to the flight-or-fight response.

          1. Traveler*

            This is very true. I’ve had phobias where knowing more helps, but I’ve had others where I’ve just become convinced that I was going to be the .5% that something terrible happened to. For some people, percentages and information don’t do much.

      1. INTP*

        On that note, I like to reassure myself by looking at the flight attendants’ faces. I figure they know what feels normal and there would at least be some hint of stress on their faces or they’d be in a hurry to go sit down if anything was off.

        1. BRR*

          This is my method as well. I got a call from a friend after a bad flight and she said even the flight attendants looked worried.

        2. blackcat*

          Yes, this is true. When things are really off, you know. I’ve flown a TON for being pretty young, and I’ve been in 2 situations ever that were bad. To my knowledge, that’s way more than what’s statistically probable. In both, though one more so than the other, it was very clear it was not business as usual on the plane.
          My dad as flown on hundred and hundreds of flights. (I think he as 5 million miles with one airline) He has only experienced 2 bad situations (1 overlapping with me, it was a family trip when I was a kid).
          Our three combined situations left people rattled, but all of the people were fine in each. The plane was fine in 2/3. (My dad experienced a partial landing gear failure).
          Commercial jets are really very sturdy, and their systems are highly redundant. For example, in the case of the landing gear failure as described by my dad, the undersides are designed for sliding to a stop. It’s actually quite safe *for the passengers* to land without the landing gear! The plane will be what suffers, just as cars are designed to crumple to protect the passengers inside. Also in the hands of a skilled pilot, they are surprisingly maneuverable. LW, maybe learning more about how planes work and how they are designed to be safe would help. I bet Boeing has stuff explaining this on their website.

          1. INTP*

            But I know that, say, during takeoff and landing or when it’s extremely bumpy, they have to sit. If they’re in view I just check and see if they’re relaxed and chatting or look worried. I tend to feel we’re plummeting out of the air at every change in gravity so it’s helpful to see them relaxed.

        3. Artemesia*

          The one emergency landing I experienced freaked me out a bit because the FAs looked terrified. It turned out to be nothing as it usually does; the nose light said the nose gear wasn’t down, but it was. But they foamed the runway and made us give up our shoes. (I guess they think in a belly landing with perhaps ripped up metal and pools of burning gasoline we would be better off barefoot than in shoes — made me furious since no one near me and certainly not me had high heels on)

          1. Observer*

            Yes, you are better off barefoot. Shoes are not going to protect from almost anything that can come up in these scenarios, but they are more likely to get snagged on something, slip off and add another item for someone to trip on, or cause you to slip than your shoes.

          2. INTP*

            An old internet acquaintance of mine that had some professional experience with plane crashes (I forget what exactly she did) said that any shoes with a rubber sole would melt and burn your feet if you had to step on something hot in a crash. She advised wearing leather soled shoes to fly but if you wouldn’t wear those, suggested other natural materials. Of course, the flight attendants can’t really check the soles of everyone’s shoes to determine if they’re heat-safe materials or not so making everyone be barefoot was a reasonable way to handle it. I guess. It’s always annoying when requirements are placed on you only because some person in the crowd is going to be too dumb (or too young, or too language barrier-ed) to follow an instruction like “take off your shoes if they have rubber soles or heels.”

          3. Traveler*

            Unpopular opinion time: If you wear heels to fly, I’m judging you. If you need them at your destination that’s what your bag is for. Likewise to flip flop wearers – but this is mostly because I think its disgusting to walk barefoot through security.

        4. Cath in Canada*

          I do that too. I’ve only ever been on one flight where the flight attendants looked worried, and that was an El Al flight from Tel Aviv to London the day after a specific threat against the airline had been made.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Same here, and I also read that column! I have a strange obsession with the type of aircraft I’m flying in (I don’t choose flights based on aircraft, but I like to know what I’m getting into, so to speak).

        I would also encourage the OP to see a doctor. There are a few non-benzo drugs that can help. I am not a doctor, but beta blockers helped me immensely with terrible stage fright and may help here without knocking you out.

        1. HR Generalist*

          +1 to this. I think the scariest flights are the tiny planes with between 2 – 50 seats. I’d take a huge commercial jet over one of those rickety things any day!

            1. Hermione*

              I read this wrong at first, and thought it was a pick-up line. I think “With you there, even I would enjoy flying” would be a great start to an AAM love affair…

          1. LizB*

            I agree. The scariest, bounciest, most turbulent flight I’ve ever been on was on a tiny plane that sat maybe 25 people. I’m totally comfortable flying most of the time — that was the only flight I’ve ever been on where I was actually worried I was going to die.

            1. Pilot Here*

              Perceived turbulence is somewhat inversely proportional to wing loading and aircraft weight.

              In layman’s terms, heavier (i.e. bigger) airplanes have more momentum and are harder to jolt out of place.

              So, if you flew a small airplane and a big airplane through the same pocket of rising or falling air (what we feel as turbulence) you would generally feel a bigger bump in the small plane.

              Of course, the small planes I fly sometimes only have 2 seats so I’m always slightly amused to see people call 25-seaters small! ;-) (To be fair, I hate the cramped cabins of little regional jets, too).

              1. fposte*

                Weirdly, I like the commuter planes better; they seem more mentally manageable. My brain can’t wrap itself around the scale of an Airbus 380! (Plus the ones Northwest Airlink used to fly out of Detroit–the Saab 340s–had really nice interiors with leather seats and generous seat pitch and width, so it felt kind of cosset-y.)

                1. Pilot Here*

                  a) Well, being an aviation nut, I don’t really hate flying in anything (and I nearly always get a window seat!)

                  b) No matter how much you know about aerodynamics, you’re right – watching at A380 or 747 (I’ve flown on both) or C-5 take off or land always makes you shake your head a little. Fighting gravity and all that.

                  c) I think I flew a 340 one time, it was a cozy little thing. I liked the Avro RJ-85s, too – those are quite unique!

            2. Cath in Canada*

              I was once on a flight from Victoria to Vancouver in a float plane with about 20 seats. I had earplugs in – those props are loud! – and was sitting right behind the pilot. About halfway through the flight he went into a steep descent, turned around, and started yelling something at me. I’ve never been more convinced that I was going to die than I was during the few seconds it took to fumble my ear plugs out and shout “WHAT DID YOU SAY?” He pointed at the water and yelled “LOOK – ORCAS!”


        2. KJR*

          You know, it’s funny you mention that…I am taking a low dose blood pressure medication to control migraines, and I have noticed quite a difference in my anxiety levels when it comes to speaking in front of groups of people. I recently did a reading at a funeral, and barely had a problem!

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              Those things are amazing. I felt nothing different or weird, just a sense of, “Oh, cool, I can do this without shaking.”

        3. Natalie*

          Alcohol is also super effective at mediating anxiety. It probably wouldn’t be a wise option if OP had, say, a social anxiety disorder or driving anxiety, but it might work like gangbusters for the occasional flight.

          1. INTP*

            Yeah, I have a Xanax script but getting a little buzzed helps me so so so much more. I’m a light but regular drinker and a friendly, never hot tempered drunk though. Definitely don’t try it if you aren’t sure of your limit (I’d also say try any new benzo at home before on a plane) or if you aren’t very self controlled when buzzed.

          2. Elsajeni*

            Hah, yes. Actual advice from my therapist when I was working through my own flying phobia: “Lesley, the medication stops me from having an actual panic attack, but I still feel super anxious and terrible. What else can I do?” “Well, you could try a glass of wine.” (She also gave me some other, more standard suggestions, but you know what, the glass of wine worked at least as well as the breathing exercises.)

            1. Natalie*

              The first time I had a panic attack I was on my way to a party. I proceeded to get unintentionally (or at least not consciously intentionally) quite drunk by 10 pm. Therapist wasn’t remotely surprised that the one followed the other.

        4. Elizabeth West*

          When I get on a plane, I always, ALWAYS count rows to the nearest exits, both ahead and behind. I read the safety card (each plane is different and I have to fly tiny planes out of my home airport and connect at a hub to a larger aircraft). I listen to the safety demo. If seated in the exit row, I spend extra time reviewing the procedure. Yeah, I’ll happily chuck both that door and your ass out so I can leave too!

          I’m not fearful, but I’m cautious. It’s been a belief of mine for a long time that if you’re prepared and informed, you’re far more likely to survive a disaster than if you’re not.

          1. C Average*

            I always do the same. I read a book a few years back–wish I could remember the title!–that talked about crisis preparedness in general and devoted a couple of chapters to airplane safety. It pointed out that a surprising number of plane crashes actually have survivors, and that those who know how to use the emergency exits typically fare the best. Why not put the odds in your favor by paying attention?

            Also, as someone who’s written my fair share of process docs and instruction sheets, I’m fascinated by the safety pamphlets on planes. Some of them are really well-written, and some of them are awful! You can tell that some airlines take them seriously and revise them regularly, while others seem to have last revisited theirs in the 1970s.

            1. Happy Lurker*

              I read that book too! I always used to read the inflight safety cards, now I scour them (and test my children on them too).

          2. Mephyle*

            Yes, the idea is that if there is a fire and you can’t see anything through the smoke, you can count the rows by feeling them and you’ll know which is the exit row.

          3. Traveler*

            I wish every airline did their safety demo like Southwest. Say what you want about the rest of their business model, but making those things funny actually has me paying attention and relaxes me as I contemplate attempting to escape my death “in the unlikely event of a water landing”.

      3. Pilot Here*

        This is a great point. I’m a bit biased (private, small airplane pilot here) regarding aviation and I certainly don’t experience similar fears. That said, I know many people get over major phobias by gaining a better understanding of exactly what’s going on.

        In your case, I’d highly recommend reading Patrick Smith’s Ask A Pilot series as mentioned above. He has his own site ( and also writes for Salon ( and even wrote a book (

        An0ther awesome resource / Q&A is this ( seemingly never-ending forum thread written by a Delta pilot. He’s been answering people’s questions about flying for over 5 years now and it’s still going strong.

        Finally, if you do have any pilot friends (or pilot friends of friends) I would see about going to the airport with one of them – even if only to walk around an airplane on the ground. Most of us love nothing more than talking about airplanes and aviation and introducing new people to general aviation (i.e. small airplanes) is one of the most rewarding things possible.

      4. C Average*

        I’m not afraid of flying–I actually quite enjoy it–but just wanted to throw out a +1 for “Ask The Pilot.” I loved that column and wish they still ran it! (I think it was on Salon, right?)

        One of my favorite flying memories is of flying in to Boston while seated next to an off-duty pilot. Our landing was perfect–seriously, you couldn’t even tell when the wheels touched down–and as we were deplaning*, my off-duty pilot seatmate said to the pilot, “Beautiful landing,” and the two of them exchanged this kind of insider smile. It was a nice little moment.

        *I have been told that the word “deplaning” was coined to allow the flight attendants to avoid saying “getting off.” I don’t know if this is true or not, but my inner 12-year-old boy likes to THINK it is.

        1. cuppa*

          I have a book at home called “Ask the Pilot”. I think it was from 2006 or 2007. Might be by the same guy if you can find it somewhere — it’s a good read.

  3. Mike C.*

    Hey OP1 – I work in the aerospace industry on the very planes your boss is asking you to fly on. While I understand that the nature of phobias may prevent this from being useful but if you have any questions at all that may make you feel more comfortable about flying, I’m happy to answer them.

    1. Pilot Here*

      Same here from the general aviation perspective. I’m a private pilot and happy to answer any questions about flying, airports, or airplanes!

      1. Mike C.*

        Now we just need to find someone who turns old planes into scrap and the circle of life is complete.

      2. OP*

        Thank you! Very sweet of you. Gosh where do I start?!

        I am going to check out those links above ( and also look to buy a book I can read. My sister actually has a friend who’s a pilot…I can’t believe I never thought of that before. I should definitely speak with him and see if he can give me a plane tour. I truly think this could help.

        As a side note, the couple times I have flown I always appreciate when the pilot comes on the PA system to announce him/herself and the flying conditions. When they don’t I feel like it’s just some computer flying it. When I know it’s a real person and they sound nice and knowledgeable I feel a bit more at ease.

        1. i don't care what you say, you say*

          When I know it’s a real person and they sound nice and knowledgeable I feel a bit more at ease.

          Absolutely. Apologies if I’m repeating someone else’s suggestion, but I was thinking about this and it occurred to me that one thing you might do, if you’re feeling the jitters as you board the flight, is to see if you can meet the pilot. I’m not the “road warrior” that some people are, but I’ve probably traveled by air 200+ times in the past 33 years, and I’ve never met an airline pilot that I felt was less than a consummate professional who was going to deliver my butt safely to the destination. Not “or die trying”: the term “failure is not an option” came from guys like this in the aerospace industry.

          So – seriously: meet your sister’s friend who’s a pilot. See if you can meet the pilot on your flight. I’ll bet it helps.

        2. Pilot Here*

          Yep, some pilots are wonderful about providing good announcements/updates and others… not so much. That’s one thing I love about the Q&A thread with the Delta pilot I mentioned above – he’s great at explaining everything and a great example of the airline pilot we all wish we have on every flight. We’ve actually spoken by email a few times; he’s a really great guy.

    2. jamlady*

      Great offer. My father just retired from a career as an aerospace engineer and my husband is an aviation mechanic. The mounds of knowledge I have received about flying is ridiculous – I think said knowledge has prevented me from having any anxiety about it.

    3. Traveler*

      I love this. You all and pilots should really do your own Ask an Aviation Professional blog. I would read religiously.

  4. Chriama*

    OP#3 – I don’t think the lack of flowers indicates much about your coworkers. You’re in charge of sending funeral arrangements, and you pay with the director’s card. When you should have been sent one, the only person with the authority to pay for it was your boss. Quite frankly, I doubt anyone else in the company thinks about this stuff when a coworker’s friend or family member dies. They might express condolences or sign a card sent around by someone else, but otherwise they probably don’t make any gestures.

    Anyway, I wouldn’t try too hard to analyze the behaviour of your co-workers. The one who needed to make an effort here (getting you time off, managing your workload, paying for the flowers) was your boss. If he did the other stuff well, then this is more that he didn’t remember to do an administrative task he never does, than that he singled you out with a callous refusal to acknowledge your loss. If he didn’t do the other stuff well, then your boss isn’t very good, and I’m sorry for that.

    As a final note: I think it’s normal to have a disproportionate sense of hurt over this missed gesture, because the emotional response occurred at a really painful time for you. Therefore, every time you remember it, you’re experiencing the same emotional context as when your husband died. I don’t think you need to force yourself to “let it go”. Acknowledge it as a valid emotion and let yourself feel it, rather than leaving the hurt to fester by suppressing it.

    1. HeyNonnyNonny*

      I think it’s normal to have a disproportionate sense of hurt over this missed gesture, because the emotional response occurred at a really painful time for you.

      In this vein, OP, could you request that this responsibility comes off your plate for a while? Being reminded of your loss like this would be easily avoided if someone else took on the role in your company.

      1. Marzipan*

        This is a really good idea. And it would also mean that more than one person in the company was aware of the process, so if one person wasn’t available to do it (for whatever reason) it still got picked up.

        1. Belle & Sam*

          +1 For asking someone else to take over this responsibility for awhile.

          I have to agree with Alison that often times people forgot to remember occasions for the person that usually handles these kinds of things. As soon who used to take on this responsibility in their offices, it DOES hurt a little bit deeper when people forget your birthday, wedding shower, deaths in the family, etc.

          At one point, I decided that I didn’t want these types of responsibilities anymore, so I went to my manager and asked to be taken off of it. The OP might not have this option (maybe it’s part of their job duties) but it’s worth a try. I also don’t really participate in this type of stuff at work anymore (unless it’s someone I’m friends with outside of work, and even then I privately acknowledge it) because I saw the differences made for some people and not all (i.e. huge birthday parties with custom cakes for some birthdays and silence/nothing for others on the team).

          1. AdminAnon*

            +1 It’s not the same situation at all, but I am responsible for coordinating the birthday celebrations in my office. Last year, no one even acknowledged my birthday, but a week later one of the directors came to a meeting with a custom cake from the nicest bakery in town for one of her direct reports, despite the fact that it was closer to my birthday than hers. It took me a while to get over feeling hurt by that, so I can’t even imagine how you must feel. I second the idea of asking someone else to take that responsibility on for a while if possible. I’m so sorry for your loss, OP.

            1. mel*

              Ughhhhh birthdays. My Job did inconsistent “birthday celebrations” once a month as a bit of a catch-all, but in the three years it went on, they skipped my month EVERY YEAR. If you were a boss or bosses’ favourite, we were pressured to buy you a gift. And friends are no good either… they decided that my birthday weekend was the best time to host a Second-Re-Birthday for a friend who got too drunk on hers (3 months prior), and of course they wanted to host it at my place. Thhhaaannnkkks.

          2. Dynamic Beige*

            “At one point, I decided that I didn’t want these types of responsibilities anymore”

            That’s what I was thinking in this case. It might be because of the thread yesterday about monitoring bathroom breaks “If you’re bothered about how much they go to the bathroom, there are probably other performance issues there under the surface of that annoyance”. If you are this upset OP about not receiving a floral arrangement, there is something else underlying that. Are you happy with your job/compensation? Do you feel that people respect you/your position in the company? Or are you the one who toils without much (or any) recognition, everyone assuming that you’ll just take care of whatever needs taking care of without being told, asked or thanked?

            If you can’t just give these duties away to someone else, you need to make a case for having someone trained up enough so that when you go away on vacation they understand what they are meant to do — such as in the unlikely and unfortunate event that there is a death within the company “family”. If they hire temps, that person wouldn’t be tasked with something like this. If there is such a person in your office who is supposed to cover for you while you’re away, start training that person now to do these things, or write up some documentation for the procedure and show them where you keep it. You may know that you are allowed to spend $X on an arrangement for a certain level, or perhaps $Y for another but is that a written policy? You are allowed to use the Director’s card, but who else is? I have a feeling that if one (or more than one) of your coworkers had known that they were supposed to do it, they could have picked something out, then met with the Director to get them to order it. I don’t think it was an intentional slight, I think they just assumed that someone else had it covered.

            1. Chriama*

              The thing is, this isn’t really a routine task. It’s not like OP going on a vacation and training her replacement to remember to check the mail room once a day. And honestly, what’s to stop OP from ordering the flowers herself?

              I think sending flowers is more of a perfunctory gesture (like ordering a birthday cake), rather than a true expression of sentiment. It’s not relaying the feelings of your coworkers, because they likely don’t even realize it’s happening (unless they happen to receive one themselves or personally know the coworker who lost someone) — so if the boss went out of his way to express condolences or sent you a card or something, that would likely be his equivalent of sending flowers.

            2. fposte*

              I’m generally not somebody who cares about the birthday cake thing, but this would be way, way different to me and it would bruise me even if I otherwise liked working there. I agree that it wasn’t an intentional slight, but losing a spouse is huge, and it’s a moment where I’d really want significant acknowledgment from my workplace. The perfectly logical reasons why this happened–it’s a duty on the OP’s slate so nobody else thinks of it–kind of make it feel worse, because what the OP was missing was an acknowledgment that she as a person suffered this terrible grief, so an explanation that’s all about procedure may be accurate but seems to replicate the ignoring the human element that makes it feel so crappy to begin with.

              I don’t know that that acknowledgment would have to come in the form of a funeral arrangement, but that seems to be what this workplace does. I can’t tell how much other sympathy was offered the OP, but I hope it was a lot.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          I second this and the above comment. If the OP were out sick and someone else had a death in the family, if there were no backup, the same oversight might have happened to them. It’s always good to have a backup.

    2. changing my name for this one - again*

      I was the department’s birthday card person for about 20 years. I think I got only three in that time span. I also have had deaths in my family and no one ever said or sent anything and it definitely hurts. This year, I brought in my own birthday cake in the hopes that my co-workers would wish me well and a few thoughtful people sent around a card for the office to sign for me and I so very much appreciated it.

      My advice – try to have more than one person who handles these things for the office on a regular basis. And if anyone who is reading this would like, put your-co-workers birthdays on your office calendar so everyone can see (if the co-worker would like to be skipped then leave theirs off). If you leave things up to one person in the office then when things happen to that one person, things like this happen more often that you would like, heck – even once is too much.

  5. i don't care what you say, you say*

    #2: Every so often here on AAM, someone asks about “going open door” to address some kind of problem. It’s not something to be done frivolously, and you need to have some kind of feel for your corporate culture. But if you go back to HR again and they blow you off, then going open door seems quite justified.

    If you do so: a) document everything you can (dates, times, who you spoke to, etc), and b) talk first to your boss and see if he’ll go to bat for you on this. Some bosses just don’t wanna hear about these kinds of issues. But it sounds like you’ve been egregiously screwed around – even if his heart is as black as the night sky over Milk Wood, he might be interested in raising a little hell on your behalf.

    Good luck with this.

    1. OP2*

      Thank you, i don’t care–I appreciate the advice. I’ve been trying to do as much as this over email as possible–I’m in a field site anyway, so the choices are phone or email, and email is way more traceable.

      I don’t want to go up the corporate ladder or “go open door” if I don’t have to–I’m just tired of going around in a circle trying to resolve this. The more concerning portion of all of this is I discovered that HR has NO knowledge of how our timesheets work and how time and vacation are tracked.

      I have a manager who is notoriously a less-than-stellar manager (not so much mean as bumbling), and I’ve already spoken with him about this issue, and he referred me back to HR. I can count on him for a good “oh, gosh, that’s awful”–but not much more than that.

      After I wrote this, I was on the phone with my IT department for a different issue, this issue came up, and they showed me a way to look up in our system who had changed my timesheet data. I figured out who did it (our head of compliance, if you can believe it), and sent him a note yesterday (with accompanying screenshots of when and how the changes were made) that cc’ed those I had spoken with in my quest. Most of the people who I had spoken to trying to track this issue down were equally concerned by this situation, and are really interested in how this all resolves. I haven’t heard back yet, but I’m hoping I will soon.

      1. BRR*

        Ugh I’m sorry you’re going through this. In the future you might also try something like calling HR with your manager.

      2. Chriama*

        Good job on following up with this, OP2. In the future though, I don’t think it’s unusual that your smaller hr unit doesn’t understand the technical system (which I’m assuming is used across the whole company). I think it would have been perfectly fine to take up the issue with corporate HR.

        1. Leah*

          Good that there are other people who realize the importance of resolving the issue! Also so odd that the head of compliance changed your timesheet. Did they just think for some reason you weren’t there? Do you work directly with them?

          1. OP2*

            I work on a field site, so I’m not in the main office more than a few times a year. The dates changed were around the holidays, so it’s not outside the realm of possibility that he just assumed I was on vacation during that time–but I was more bugged that no one told me about it before they went and changed it to vacation! No, I don’t work directly with compliance at all–just use them for reference as needed.

            I had an issue last year where they changed my timesheet from 11 hours per day to 8 hours per day without telling me “for accounting reasons” and I managed to convince HR and accounting that, yes, because I do work 11 hours per day as scheduled, that’s what goes in my timesheet–so this has been a long-running battle for me with this company.

            1. Meg Murry*

              Any chance that he meant to change someone else’s vacation time instead of yours? Maybe there was a typo in the employee ID number, or he accidentally clicked your name instead of the one above it?

              Alternately, did you take a vacation in an earlier pay period that wasn’t accounted for? I once got confused with a paystub that showed I took vacation during a week when I was in the office all week, but after talking to my admin (who entered all our hours into the payroll software) she explained that because I took vacation days during a previous time period that hadn’t got into the system on time (she was out on vacation during that week and had pre-filled in payroll), she had to charge them to the next pay period in order to have my PTO totals correct (and my paycheck amount was still the same).

              1. OP2*

                I’m not sure exactly what was going on that caused the chain–hopefully a few more emails and I’ll at least have a few details. Another employee on the same site has the exact same problem–so it’s not limited to just me. I didn’t take any vacation around that time and I enter in all of my own hours, so I don’t have an admin or anyone who checks my hours (weird structure in my company, but workable).

                I’ll be sure to send Alison an update when I finally get this resolved.

                1. fposte*

                  I’m at least glad that it doesn’t sound like it’s quite as sinister as it initially appeared.

                2. Meg Murry*

                  Any chance that the main office or some other field office was closed for those dates around the holidays, but yours wasn’t, and someone accidentally marked everyone as taking those days as vacation?
                  Sounds like its not sinister but a mistake – but the question now is how are they going to fix it?

            2. Leah*

              Thanks for clarifying! That makes more sense now with more context.

              But it sounds like this is a bigger issue of the company not generally caring too much about making sure time is accurately counted for. If you hadn’t noticed, you would have lost vacation days, which would be totally unacceptable. And altering your time sheets by that much? Sketchy.

      3. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

        HR won’t necessarily know much about timesheets and vacation accrual– sometimes HR is in charge of those, but other times it’s all left in the hands of Payroll, which is more likely to be in the accounting department. Sometimes the duties are split. Depends on the company.

        1. OP2*

          Good point, Emily! I think it just surprised me–I figured that vacation, pay, benefits, etc would all fall under HR’s ultimate purview, and that payroll dealt with the more day to day portions of it. Thanks for the info!

        2. HR Pro*

          Yes, I was going to say the same thing. I’ve been in HR for many years at various companies but never been in charge of timesheets or vacation accrual. I’m aware of how much accrual employees are entitled to, since that’s a company benefit, but I’ve never had the computer access to change it.

          On the other hand, at some companies, the HR person also does the payroll, or supervises the payroll person. So it all depends how the company has set things up.

        3. Anne*

          I’m in payroll; in my current job we fall under the same VP as HR and are technically part of the HR division, but certainly don’t report to the HR Managers, and in my previous workplace we fell under Finance and reported through the CFO – in that job HR didn’t even use the same HRMS as we did, and they had no more understanding on the timesheet system than other end-users. So it varies pretty widely.

      1. LBK*

        I assume it means to take advantage of an open door policy, ie escalate the issue to someone higher up in the hierarchy.

        1. i don't care what you say, you say*

          This is what I’ve always understood it to be. Ie, if your management is not helping you fix an important issue, you can go above their head, as many levels as necessary, to get the issue fixed. Not all companies support such a thing, but I’ve been told that many do, especially larger firms (Wal-Mart, IBM, HP, and so on).

          I noticed on one episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation that the Enterprise (under Jean-Luc Picard) ran with an Open Door Policy (although they didn’t call it that). Although then, as now, it was expected that everyone was savvy enough to know that you didn’t go bugging the Captain unless it was damned important.

      2. HR Pro*

        I’ve never heard the phrase, either, except in a positive sense like “we have an open door policy – you can come in and ask us anything.”

      3. Sadsack*

        I wonder if it means something like talking with the door open, speaking about it openly and making others aware of the issue. Drawing attention to the issue may cause the powers that be to expedite the matter.

  6. MK*

    OP1, stop reciting lists of reasons that it makes no business sense for you to go. Your arguments are bound to sound like a list of excuses, even if you are perfectly right (though, frankly, it’s a bit of a stretch to claim that you going on a business trip is going to be so bad for your work, at worst it might not be totally necessary, and your boss arguably has a better understanding of what is essential for the business as a whole). In any case, you are not going to be convincing if you try to sell your boss the idea that the thing he seems certain is important, but that you are really afraid of doing, is really a personal peeve of his; in view of your phobia, you have too strong a bias to make a case.

    This might not be a realistic possibility, but have you considered if alternate transportation might be possible?

    1. Chriama*

      I just wrote the same sentiment below! I think OP is having a hard time being taken seriously is because she’s trying to act as if it’s not necessary for her to go – which is convenient, given her phobia, since it means there is no real limitation to her ability to do her job even with the phobia – rather than just acknowledging that the phobia is creating a limitation to this specific job duty and doing something to accommodate it (in the practical, if not legal sense).

    2. Jen S. 2.0*

      Co-sign. You say it doesn’t make business sense. Your boss thinks it does. It is your boss’s opinion that matters.

      Further, the “business sense” arguments you are giving your boss seem to boil down to “it’s not 100% necessary.” Lots of things aren’t 100% necessary but make life in general and working together much easier. Spending time face-to-face with colleagues — even distant ones — is one of those things. But you are communicating “it’s really not necessary” when what you mean is “I cannot go” or “This can’t happen.” That is why your boss is not taking you seriously. He may even be thinking of this as a fun vacation for you, and blowing you off because he thinks you’re being coy or trying to save the company money.

      I am not minimizing your phobia at all. I’m not quite phobic and I suck up and do it, but I don’t like flying much and have had flying-related panic attacks. I can imagine a very little bit of what it’s like to have an issue that is larger than mine by orders of magnitude. But framing the crux of the issue as the trip not being 100% necessary is not getting your point across. You’d likely get further telling the unvarnished truth and making them understand that this is not just a preference of yours or something you just don’t want to do, and/or looking much harder for ways to manage the problem.

      Side note: I also find that people who are arguing that something is not necessary are fishing for ways to get out of doing something that they really should do but don’t want to put in the effort, time, or money to do (see: people who insist acknowledging gifts is not necessary. No…but it’s polite, and it’s a good idea if you ever want to get another gift from that person).

    3. AnotherFed*

      +1. Flying is such a totally normal part of business when dealing with other offices – sure, you waste a ton of time on airplanes, but the in-person collaboration is considered worth it.

      Maybe you can agree to drive instead of fly? Your boss might make you take PTO to make up the extra day(s) it takes you, but at least now your message is “How can we get me there, given that I can’t fly?” instead of “I hate flying and your reasons to make me are dumb.”

    4. BRR*

      I was also thinking could you suggest another mode of transportation. If I was your boss I would at least appreciate that you made an alternate suggestion.

      I would also try being honest about the flying thing. It doesn’t sound like you brought it up, it sounds like you just have said no.

    5. LBK*

      Exactly what I was going to say. Reading the letter it sounds more like a list of excuses than a list of good reasons. These are all presumably things your boss has considered and is aware of – for example, obviously your boss is aware you won’t be able to do your own work if you’re at the other office but has decided that taking this trip is more valuable.

      I wonder if there’s an element of not realizing what a leadership position entails here, mixed with a little imposter syndrome? It sounds like you didn’t realize that moving up meant having to do more than just your own day-to-day tasks, that your purview has now started to expand to include bigger organization-wide goals. And it also sounds like you’re not believing that you’re good enough at your job to provide any insight to this other manager, but if you’ve been selected for this promotion, obviously you’re pretty knowledgeable, right?

      Finally, you say you would never take a job that required flying…but you already did. If you know this is a crippling fear beyond what might normally be expected, I think it’s on you to ask if flight is a possibility during the interview/promotion process (and if this goes to the level of falling under the ADA, you’re actually required to disclose it yourself – they legally can’t ask you).

      1. MK*

        What a job requires can and does change. And no sane employer is going to list things that might or might not happen once in a blue moon as part of the job duties. After a certain level, most jobs are going to involve a certain amount of travel, most often by air.

        1. LBK*

          That too – it’s often hard to predict if a job might requiring flying at some point down the line for a random trip, conference, meeting, whatever. I would never be comfortable telling a propsective employee that I could absolutely guarantee that they would never have to fly for their role. And that especially applies as you move up the chain.

    6. Lia*

      I have a colleague at another company who refuses to fly. Our industry’s big annual convention is, at its closest, about 1000 miles from her site. What she does is take the train or drive, BUT it is made palatable for her employer in that she takes vacation times for the extra travel days this adds to the convention. So, last year, the convention was in Orlando, and she took the train partway and drove the rest, which took about a day and a half extra on each end, and used vacation time for the 3 extra days. Our industry standard is that travel time is paid, but they strongly encourage people to take the quickest means to places, which is usually flying.

      1. Someone Like OP1*

        This was going to be my suggestion.

        My spouse has a couple phobias and flying is one of them. I suspect that at some point in his career or personal life, this is going to come to a head and he’ll be forced to cope with a flight or two, but for now he organizes his professional and personal lives around ground transportation.

  7. Nachos Bell Grande*

    #1 – I’m also terrified of flying – My stomach hurts just THINKING about the possibility of business travel as I type this. I’ll jump on the anti-anxiety meds bandwagon. They really, really work. I’ve had to fly from one side of the country to the other several times for work, and I’ve had to develop some coping strategies. I handle my panic attacks with rituals, so I’ve built my ritual around getting to the airport early enough to have a way fancier meal than I would if I wasn’t eating on the company dime. (Pro tip: Newark airport has some damn good ceviche.) If you have flexibility in your travel, think about whether non-stop or connecting flights work better for you. On one hand, one takeoff and one landing may be less stressful, but on the other, flying for several hours straight makes me stir-crazy. I always take a layover in Detroit so I can go through the pretty light tunnel and relax in the middle of my trip.

    Good luck to you!

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      My stomach hurts thinking of ceviche at Newark! Nah, I kid, because I happen to like airports and relish the “novelty” of spending time in one and all the goodies I let myself eat and drink. I think this is very good advice.

      1. JB*

        I was also surprised to hear a recommendation for airport ceviche, but Nachos lived to tell about it, so I guess we should trust them. :)

    2. Miss Chanandler Bong*

      LW1, if you do schedule a layover, I would suggest making it a long one. I don’t have any fears of flying, but I get very stressed and neurotic about possibly missing my flight. So even if it’s sort of ridiculous, I give myself looooooooooong layovers so that even if my flight is delayed, I will probably still make my next one. And if I have a ton of time in the airport? As Nacho Bell Grande said–I eat somewhere nice, or track down somewhere serving local beer (obviously only if I don’t have to go straight into a meeting. my work usually schedules me to get in one evening and go in the next day). I give myself permission to read trashy gossip magazines, or crappy pop novels. It makes a chore into a treat, if I know I get to finally read that new Shopaholic novel for several uninterrupted hours.

      1. KJR*

        Love the shopaholic novels, can’t wait for the next one to come out! They’re such a guilty pleasure!

      2. JB*

        I do my best to avoid layovers, even if it means taking flights at weird hours or paying more. I know that there’s a good chance that once the plane lands I’ll refuse to get back on the plane for the next leg. Even though I’m mostly over my fear of flying, nothing has helped the motion sickness, so every time I go up in the plane there’s another opportunity for me to vomit in public.

        1. Miss Chanandler Bong*

          To be fair, I live somewhere that it is hard to find nonstop flights unless I’m specifically going to a major hub. So layovers are a way of life for me. I do avoid them if I can, it’s just not always (usually) an option. I should have clarified.

    3. Someone Like OP1*

      My spouse is terrified of flying and there is no amount of medication short of a quantity that would render him physically unconscious that would make his symptoms manageable enough to get him on an aircraft.

      I wish I was joking because having a spouse who can’t/won’t fly SUCKS. I suspect that a family reunion coming up at the end of this year may force his hand in getting treatment because he REALLY wants to go, but its location and timing makes driving impractical.

      1. Elysian*

        Would it actually help him to be rendered unconscious? I mentioned this upthread, but on some long trips (I get super super motion sick) I take OTC sleeping pills so I can literally just sleep through all the awful parts. There are of course risks to this kind of medicating, but for me at least the risks have occasionally outweighed the benefits, so perhaps its an option to consider.

      2. fposte*

        I think you’re underselling the power of Xanax there :-). That was me too for years, and now I fly several times a year without much problem. So if he genuinely hasn’t tried any prescription or treatment, I think there’s a good possibility this can improve; his inability to believe that is actually part of the phobia.

        You have to find your own way of working with medication, so it may not be exactly what the doctor suggests. As Case of the Mondays suggests below, I start the night before so that I have a level going already, and then I also take some in the morning if my flight isn’t until later; then I just take a pre-flight dose and then a renewal 4-5 hours later if I’m not heading home. I originally tested it by just going to the airport and going back home, and then taking a short flight with a companion. I take less now than I used to because my phobia’s gone down as a result.

        1. Someone Like OP1*

          @Elysian – I think so, but we’d have to knock him out well in advance of getting to the airport. His anxiety begins a couple weeks before the trip, peaking the day of the trip in what I can only describe as terror. He’d have to be unconscious before he got onto the plane and that presents logistics nightmares. Plus, he’s a grown man and needs to sort this out for himself.

          @fposte – He has tried Xanax but even the maximum “crisis” dosage his doctor allowed wasn’t sufficient. The last time we tried it, he made it close enough to see our departure area from afar, but couldn’t get any closer. We turned around and went home, losing our ticket $$$. He’s missed out on several great trips that I’ve taken without him – something I warned him would happen before we married, but also something that he hasn’t been sufficiently motivated to change. Travel is not, yet, that important to him.

          Also, flying isn’t his only phobia. Good thing for him he’s awesome in so many other ways. :)

          1. fposte*

            Oh, that sounds tough, and yeah, you definitely don’t need to be wheeling Unconscious Man around. Just curious–do you remember what the maximum “crisis” dosage was? I know my doctor waaaay underprescribed me initially so I take an interest :-).

    4. OriginalEmma*

      Newark, NJ is a wonderland of Portuguese food and I miss it so much. Love the Ironbound. Unfortunately it’s a smidge inconvenient from EWR since you’d have to grab the bus over to Ferry Street and Market Street.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Ha, the fancy meal thing is a great idea. I don’t like flying because security is annoying, I don’t get to do it in the comfy business/first class part, etc., but it’s the only way to get to certain places in a timely manner. Making an occasion out of it gives me something to look forward to. I got all excited when I realized BA goes to and from Terminal 5 at Heathrow; that means I can hit up Gordon Ramsay’s Plane Food finally (I’ve got my eye on one of those little picnic hampers, heh heh). Stuff like that takes the sting out of the less-fun parts of traveling. If I traveled for work, I’d take time to figure out what cool stuff I can buy or eat at different airports. :)

      1. C Average*

        I very much like the idea of making an occasion of it.

        I have to admit I’ve always found airports fascinating places. As children, my sister and I invented a game we called “what’s in the bag?” that involved picking a random person in the airport and speculating about what he was carrying in his suitcase or backpack, where he was going, why, etc. I still like playing this game! Major journeys are such inflection points in people’s lives. Some of those people are heading somewhere to reunite with loved ones, some are starting new jobs, some are headed out for the vacation during which they’re destined to meet the person they’ll eventually marry, some are fleeing justice . . . the possibilities are endless!

        (True confession: When I want to write well, I sometimes take the light rail to the airport and just hang out there and people-watch and write. I think my Muse lives at the airport.)

  8. Chriama*

    OP#1 – the thing is, I think you’re coming across as disingenuous by claiming that it’s not necessary for you to visit the other office and it’s very possible that such an attitude is what’s causing your boss to not take you seriously. The boss obviously seems to think there’s value in you going, so to claim that it shouldn’t be necessary when what you really mean is you don’t want it to be necessary wouldn’t be convincing to me either.

    Therefore, you need to get clear with your boss:
    A) You can’t fly to this office.
    B) Given that, what does he want to accomplish with your visit, and how else can that happen?

    TL,DR: Rather than trying to convince your boss that you don’t need to go, focus on identifying what his objectives are and how you can meet them.

    1. Another Day*

      This. You need to tackle issue that you don’t want to fly, not argue that there’s no need for you to go anyway. That would free both of you up to look at alternative ways of meeting the objectives, like Skype training or bringing the other manager to your site as someone else suggested.

  9. i don't care what you say, you say*

    #3: “Oh I’m sorry. I forgot.”

    Well, bless his heart!

    Or – don’t. I’m just a random stranger on the Internet. And arguably it might be better for you if I were to try to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness. But I think your boss the director is simply (please pardon my language) a huge dick. This is one of those situations where the guy simply has no excuse: either he didnt send flowers because he couldn’t be bothered – or sending flowers wasn’t important enough for him to remember. Or – I’ll give him a slight break: he’s a complete idiot.

    And what really gets me is that if he’d simply sent the flowers – he probably would have cemented your loyalty to him forever.

    I’m sorry. If it helps in even the tiniest way, please know that there’s at least one other person out in the world who thinks your boss is not worthy of his position and his finery, if he could not send flowers to your husband’s funeral.

    1. Vancouver Reader*

      I don’t think the boss was being a dick, he was just so used to the OP doing the flower ordering for everyone. I do think however, he could’ve given a much better apology.

            1. JB*

              Why is it that on a day that something as perfect as this comes my way, I don’t have an opportunity to use it?

      1. Puffle*

        +1 I could forgive it if the boss told me they felt really bad about it and made a proper heartfelt apology, but brushing it off as if they forgot to order more printer cartridges is definitely not the way to go. A poor apology is almost worse than no apology at all.

        1. Artemesia*

          There is no acceptable apology here EXCEPT to send flowers to her at home with a note that says, ‘I am so sorry about Bernie; we are all thinking of you.’ Missing flowers for the funeral is one thing — not sending any at all, is just nasty. At our office, flowers were sent to the person’s home anyway rather than the funeral — I was sent a lovely plant when my father died and had it for 20 years — it was that kind of plant. Divided it as it grew and gave one to my daughter. Missing the funeral? Understandable. Knowing you are responsible for the flowers and then just saying ‘oh sorry’ rather than belatedly sending flowers to the employee? Inexcusable.

          1. Leah*

            OP #3, I am so sorry for your loss.

            Honestly, your boss sounds like he really sucks. The proper response is a heartfelt apology and a huge belated flower delivery to the grave site, or a generous donation to a relevant charity. Just because he didn’t send any flowers to the funeral doesn’t mean he can’t send flowers, or make any other kind of gesture, now.

            Also wondering why your boss didn’t go to the funeral. How long have you been working there? At my office, when an immediate relative of one of the secretaries unexpectedly and tragically died, half the partners and associates (at least) left work early to attend the funeral. Assuming you’re not three hours from cemetery, your boss should have gone.

          2. i don't care what you say, you say*

            Sometimes I make comments here late at night, and I’m tired and the words don’t come as easily. “Inexcusable” is exactly the word I needed last night.

            (In real life I’m actually a very forgiving, easy-going person. But AAM really seems to attract tales of extreme behavior).

      2. Jen S. 2.0*

        I think these things are not mutually exclusive.

        He may well be very used to flowers just happening and not really have focused on how and when it happens.

        He may ALSO be a massive jerk who couldn’t even be bothered to Google for a site to buy an FTD Pick-Me-Up bouquet and pay for it, even out of his own pocket.

        OP, I’m very, very sorry for the loss of your husband.

        1. Merry and Bright*

          I agree. But as the bills for funeral flowers go through his credit card, that should give him a clue about where the flowers come from.

          One mark in the “idiot column”.

          1. Liane*

            And here’s another clue! “…the VP of HR even reminded the Director to send an arrangement…”
            One he really should have picked up on, IMO.

            1. Camster*

              I wonder (just wondering “out loud”) why the VP of HR couldn’t have his assistant order the flowers? OP#3 Just wanted to say I am so sorry for your loss. My husband passed away some years ago and it’s a painful/life changing event for sure! And your emotions are so raw! No other suggestions here, just wanted to express my sympathy.

          2. Beancounter in Texas*

            Who pays the credit card? I order flowers for employment anniversaries and charge it to a personal credit card in the boss’ name, but the card is solely for company expenses, and is handled as such. He never reviews the bill (other people do) so it’s one of “those things” he assumes is proceeding smoothly since he never hears otherwise.

            Also, some people simply don’t review their credit card charges before paying.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              That’s what I was thinking. I had access to the manager’s card at Exjob for supplies, and all I had to do was get the number from him one time. The rest of the time, Accounting took care of the bills. My supervisor or the purchasing manager were the ones who approved the purchase.

      1. Snoskred*

        And a third person.

        I am also the person who refuses to heed “In Lieu of flowers”. I want to bring flowers. I WILL bring flowers. That is how I roll.

        Anytime someone I love has passed I have been lucky enough to receive flowers that I could take home and have a little piece of beauty to cheer me up a little. I’m sorry but donations to a charity do not have that same effect, nice as that might be.

        1. Anastasia Beaverhausen*

          I get why you want to ignore the ‘in lieu of’ (personally I love flowers) but remember that there’s people who are allergic or bothered by the smell! Or don’t want to deal with the cleanup of 100s of dead flowers two weeks later.

          1. Maggie*


            Chucking out the dead flowers after my Dad’s funeral was so unpleasant. Just another reminder of death and decay in so many ways.

            1. JB*

              Agreed. Sometimes you’re just creating an unpleasant chore for someone who really doesn’t need to deal with that.

          2. BananaPants*

            When my now-husband’s mother passed away (we were dating at the time), my parents sent a potted plant arrangement to the family home rather than a floral arrangement to the funeral. My father-in-law still has the potted plants in his living room 13 years later. He appreciated very much that he didn’t have to throw away dead flowers a week after burying his wife.

            1. Natalie*

              I have some snake plants from my aunt’s funeral. They’re nice, and it’s an oddly appropriate metaphor for our relationship.

              (Note to future funeral-plant-givers, snake plants are also called mother-in-law’s tongue, so probably get an arrangement without those.)

        2. Apollo Warbucks*

          Flowers are a lovely gesture and many people will welcome them but if someone makes a specific request I think it’s pretty rude to ignore them.

          My granddad would have hated flowers at his funeral, he would have viewed it as a massive waste of money, we had a collection for a charity that he had always supported.

          1. Marzipan*

            My mum really disliked cut flowers so we specifically asked people not to bring any to her funeral for that reason.

            1. Snoskred*

              My other half also hates cut flowers and considers it flower murder, so I understand how your Mum felt. :) Just once I would love me some apricot roses.

              1. Anomanom*

                My mother feels the same way, she finds cut flowers depressing. For years, I bought her a rose bush every year for her yard for Mother’s Day to accommodate. She has quite the garden now.

                1. Cautionary tail*

                  I hate cut flowers too. My spouse and I get each other plants and they all go in the garden. After all these years it’s now so spectacular that people park their car in front of our house and just relax, taking it all in. Then, 5 minutes later they leave and carry on with their lives.

                2. tesyaa*

                  FYI, from a cultural point of view, observant Jews don’t use flowers at all for funerals and cemeteries.

            2. Cath in Canada*

              My Grandma hated white lilies with a surprising amount of passion for a mild-mannered English lady. My mum and her sisters agreed that not one white lily should be allowed anywhere near the funeral, so they specified “no flowers, please” because it was easier than requesting “no white lilies”. The immediate family supplied lily-free arrangements instead.

          2. Snoskred*

            Thus far it hasn’t been a problem and I have known the people involved well enough to know they would appreciate it.

            If it was a funeral of someone I did not know so well, I would be more likely to do a card instead of flowers in any case. I do think cards are a major thing that goes missing when people say in lieu of. Nobody really seems to do cards anymore, either.

            Also, putting flowers on the coffin gives people a moment – I think if people are not allowing flowers, they need to be mindful of that missing moment and provide a moment in the service when people can approach the coffin and say their personal goodbyes.

            The most recent funeral I went to, nobody got a chance to go up to the coffin and really say goodbye – the coffin vanished behind some curtains and that is the end. I was lucky because I got to go in before everyone else and put my flowers on top of the coffin and have that goodbye moment.

            I am never sure if it is a specific request or just “the done thing” these days.

            This might also be another Australia VS the US thing – you guys have viewings etc – we do not have that here. The funeral is your one and only chance to say goodbye.

            1. the gold digger*

              If it was a funeral of someone I did not know so well, I would be more likely to do a card instead of flowers in any case.

              Condolence note. Handwritten. Mailed to your mourning friend. That is even better than a card. I ha wondered what you would say about a person whom you didn’t know well, but then a friend did it for me when my dad died. He had never met my dad, but he wrote, “If he raised you, he must have been a pretty good guy.” (Which I realize is not necessarily true – it was in my dad’s case – but awful parents can have really great kids – but that has become my go-to phrase in condolence notes, of which I have had to write way too many lately.)

              1. John*

                Totally agree. Adding one’s signature to a canned sentiment imagined by a syrupy Hallmark writer is…well, I appreciate the effort when I receive one, but think we should try to do better.

                Just a few sentences from the heart can be extraordinarily powerful.

                1. Cautionary tail*

                  We go further. We create all our cards that we send to people. I hate the whole Hallmark generic blah so on our computer we create custom cards in Microsoft Word that have special meaning for each person. We then print it out on our high-end colour laser printer on good stock and fold down the middle. Voila the perfect sentiment for the perfect occasion.

                2. ThursdaysGeek*

                  @Cautionary tale – but please add something handwritten too, in addition to your signature. My mum makes her cards, cuts out the shapes, and they are lovely. But then she just signs her name. I long for something written by her to me as well. I want the words, and like the gold digger says above, it needs to be handwritten and mailed. The cards I got like that when I’ve lost people are the ones that provide the most comfort, no matter what was actually said.

                3. Snoskred*

                  I had a friend make up some blank with sympathy cards some years back, they are absolutely gorgeous and completely blank.

                  If I don’t have a memory of the person who passed, chances are I do have a memory of the person I am sending the card to telling me a story of that person, so I will relate that memory.

                  I *never* just sign a card and I always buy blank cards deliberately, in fact if I am our somewhere and I see a card stand I will pick up any cards that appeal to me and check the insides – if it is blank I’m buying it.. I have a card drawer where I put all my spare cards so I always have a spare one.

                  I tend to cover both insides of the card and write a bit of a letter. :)

                  The most recent funeral I went to, I did not know the family of the person but I knew the person (their Mother) very well, we worked together, and we’d had many long discussions so I had many memories to share, it was hard to pick which ones to write..

                  I also had some lovely photos which were taken at work and I printed those out and put them inside the card. I gave them my email address when I signed off, saying I would send the digital copies of the photos if they wanted, and they did, so we ended up emailing back and forth and I got to share more of those memories. I think I would always include an email address in future after that experience.

            2. AvonLady Barksdale*

              It’s more than an Australia vs. US thing– I’m Jewish and we, as a general rule (there are some cultural exceptions) do not have flowers at funerals or in houses of mourning. If you sent me flowers, I would thank you but be very uncomfortable. If I specifically asked you not to send flowers and you did it anyway, I’d be pretty pissed because you added this awkward situation to an already difficult time.

              That is the key– if someone expressly says, “Please don’t send flowers,” don’t do it.

        3. Monodon monoceros*

          Please don’t bring flowers when someone asks that you don’t. I hated seeing the flowers die after my dad passed away…the flowers did not bring me any comfort.

          Some of my close coworkers asked me what they could do, and instead of flowers I asked them to donate to the bunny shelter where my dad got his bunnies, because he loved that place and would go there to buy bunny supplies. That to me was WAY more of a comfort than the dying flowers.

          1. Snoskred*

            As I’ve said above, on further thought, I have always known the people left behind well enough to know the in lieu of flowers statement could be safely ignored. :)

            I would be very unlikely to do either flowers *or* a donation in a situation where that was not the case. I’d just do a card, and as always, I’d make sure to put a personal memory of their loved one in there, maybe even a photo if I had one and thought it unlikely they would have a copy of that particular photo.

        4. Snoskred*

          Ok, you can all stop beating me up for saying this now. :) I would edit my comment if I could but seeing as I can’t, I’ll just say this –

          This might also be another Australia VS the US thing – you guys have viewings etc – we do not have that here. The funeral is your one and only chance to say goodbye.

          Thus far it hasn’t been a problem and I have known the people involved well enough to know they would appreciate it.

          If it was a funeral of someone I did not know so well, I would be more likely to do a card instead of flowers in any case. I do think cards are a major thing that goes missing when people say in lieu of. Nobody really seems to do cards anymore, either.

          1. Zillah*

            I get what you’re saying, but just for the record, we don’t all have viewings – in my family, the funeral has always been it.

            1. HR Generalist*

              Canadian here. We don’t really have viewings – we have ‘wakes’ and they’re basically the same thing but 80% of the ones I’ve been to have closed coffin or urn. We aren’t “viewing” anything, just paying respect to the family and sharing in their loss.
              I find them horribly uncomfortable and the worst part of a death in the community, to be honest, but if I walk in and there’s an open casket I’ll just turn around and walk out. Maybe I need some of those benzos like OP1.

              1. Cautionary tail*

                Canadian relatives here. I have had very different experiences with my in-laws in Quebec. They have three full-day viewings of an open casket; some people come all three days. People kiss the dead person and hold their hand (gross gross gross). Finally a church/funeral service and then the cemetery. Everyone brings flowers.

                1. HR Generalist*

                  Quebec is like an entirely different world! But now that you say that, I did go to a Roman Catholic funeral in Montreal once and it was excessive with the presentation of the body. Very European-style I guess, I know they do that in Italy as well. *shudders*

                2. JMegan*

                  I’m from southern Ontario, and this is my experience as well. Three-day viewings, usually with an open casket, followed by the funeral and burial. (Imagine standing in a windy, snowy cemetery, in the middle of a field, in funeral clothes, in January! We cling hard to our traditions, even if it means freezing our butts off for them.)

                  I have been to a few funerals where the body was not present, and one where the body was present but the casket was closed. I think this will become more the norm as my generation ages and dies, but as long as my grandparents generation is dying, we’ll still be going to the viewings.

            2. nona*

              From the US here – My family only has memorial services. I’ve never been to a viewing or funeral. I’m wondering if this is a regional difference or a religious one.

              1. Artemesia*

                I lived in the south for my career; people generally had viewings the day before the funeral and that is where I went when an employee of mine had a loss. The funeral would be in the church the next day and could be an open or closed casket or even no casket.

                Many people in the US have wakes with or without the body present. Many people have memorial services without the casket. It depends somewhat on the religion. In my experience, Catholic funerals were somewhat impersonal and the casket was present but closed. Protestant funerals depended on the denomination and the preference of the family but more often had open caskets with viewing done as part of the highly personalized service. Jewish funerals I attended didn’t usually have the casket present.

                1. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)*

                  NJ Irish Catholic–two days of viewing, open casket, visit from the priest to lead prayers is standard in my family.

                  Now ask me about my grandmother’s Eastern Orthodox funeral in Paterson–if you don’t know what to expect, it it uber weird.

                2. Mags*

                  I’m from New England, and my Portuguese and Irish-American Catholic families do like Kerry’s– sometimes one, often two days for the wake, usually open casket, with the priest making a brief appearance, and then a closed-casket funeral mass the next day. Before the mass, the family will usually gather at the funeral home and so will closer friends/relatives, who’ll then all process to the church, following the hearse.

                  Portuguese wakes, at least in my family, involve lots of vivid displays of grief. It was unsettling when I was a child, but I’ve come to accept it as part of what many of the older generation needs to do. Wearing mourning is expected, especially for women. My grandfather passed five years ago, and my grandmother is only beginning to venture into grays and slate blues.

              2. Chinook*

                “My family only has memorial services. I’ve never been to a viewing or funeral. I’m wondering if this is a regional difference or a religious one.”

                I think they are a combination of both. Funeral services/rites are often part of a religious ceremony and can vary even among the religion. I am an Alberta Catholic with francophone roots and not only did we not view my grandparents after they died, there was a prayer service the night before, a funeral that day and, dependign on the season, either a burial right after or we waited until the ground thawed (Grandma was cremated and would have hated us wasting money on thawing the ground when she could just sit quietly on someone’s closet until it was warm enough. She probably would have even laughed at being temporarily lost in a subsequent move).

                I don’t think I could have handled the Quebec version.

              3. jamlady*

                Absolutely. Customs vary. My brother-in-law is Syrian-American (his parents/aunts/uncles came to the states in adulthood) and his father’s funeral was a day-long viewing with a wailing woman followed by days of Mourning in which men and women were separated for reflection. This was particularly difficult for my sister and brother-in-law because they couldn’t be together. They’ve been together since they were 15 and had obviously developed a certain way of getting through the hard times – but it was very important to the older generation that they follow custom. His mother also wore black for a year following the funeral.

              4. changing my name for this one - again*

                It might also be due to how the person died. In my family, we go all out for someone who died from natural causes because it doesn’t happen too much. We do several days of sitting by the body and then the church service and burial followed by an elaborate restaurant meal. The suicides in my family are downplayed – just a simple service and only talked about when people start drinking.

              5. ThursdaysGeek*

                US Protestant in the Pacific NW, and I think I’ve been to one funeral where the body was actually present and visible. I’ve been to many, many memorials with no body, no casket, usually no urn. There is often a graveside service with just the family, but the public memorial service is often after the burial, at a time that is convenient for family to come.

              6. Elizabeth West*

                I’m not sure- I always thought it was more prevalent in the southern US. I remember as a child seeing Polaroids (yes I’m old) that people would bring to school of their dead relative after a funeral. I always thought the pictures were a little creepy. I’d rather have a picture of them when they were alive. But I’ve been to viewings (one a coworker’s daughter), and an ex’s mum’s funeral was open casket, and that didn’t bother me much.

          2. LBK*

            Unless you’ve been through a grieving period with these people before, I don’t think you can possibly know them well enough to know they don’t have a problem with it. The ways people act immediately following a death and the things that they do and don’t like are never the same as their everyday life. Someone who might stock their house full of bouquets on a daily basis might still hate to have them at a funeral because of the link to their loved one’s death.

            Far be it from me to tell you that you don’t know your own friends, I suppose, but it does come off a little selfish to not respect the wishes of the people who were actually close enough to the deceased to be arranging the funeral.

            1. fposte*

              I think it’s also hard to tell the difference between people who are grateful for your kindness and support even if it came in a way they’d asked to avoid, and people who are happy to have gotten flowers.

              1. LBK*

                Indeed. When someone’s dealing with the death of a loved one, making sure they give you an honest opinion of you getting them flowers is probably low on theirist of priorities – most people are just going to say thank you whether they liked it or not because it’s the least stressful option during an already stressful time.

          3. jhhj*

            In Judaism you are explicitly not supposed to send flowers, because it is killing something which is considered inappropriate in the context of another death.

          4. Camster*

            And we don’t always have funerals here. Both my dad and my husband preferred to be cremated and my family has the ashes.

          5. Anonypoo*

            I’m with you & I feel so deeply for the OP. Flowers is how we roll in my family. It would be considered intolerably heartless not to send a flower; it’s also the way that I, as an individual, need to say goodbye. And isn’t a funeral about letting us all say goodbye? As my father once said “Don’t be determined to take it the wrong way.”

            As to tossing flowers some period after a death, I would like to remind people that many charities – especially nursing homes – love donations of arrangements which they then subdivide to into cheerful vases and share with the residents.

        5. RR*

          I am sure you mean well, but perhaps it is worth noting that in some cases, the “in lieu of flowers” reflects religious practices — for example, many observant Jews would consider flowers — a sign of celebration — to be inappropriate at a funeral.

        6. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Keep in mind that Jews don’t do flowers for funerals/deaths. (I don’t know a single Jew who would mind if you sent them anyway, but it’s also respectful to be aware of that tradition and follow it.)

          1. Allergic Jew*

            While I have luckily never lost anyone close to me when I’ve been old enough to remember it, I would have to request please no flowers, both in keeping with Jewish tradition, and also because nearly any flower will make me sneeze until it disappears.

    2. Anastasia Beaverhausen*

      I agree. Sorry, but her husband died; the least the boss could do was make sure he remembered to send flowers. Also, “Oh I’m sorry. I forgot.” sounds so flip to me – if I had been the one who had forgotten, I would have been mortified.

      1. the gold digger*

        Yes, but you are sensitive to things like that. Some people really and truly do not get it. (Ie, my VP, who was startled when I started crying when he expressed his condolences over my dad’s death. He said, “Oh! Were you and your dad close?” Clueless.)

        1. LBK*

          Well, some people aren’t close with their dads, so it’s not like that’s a completely invalid question.

          1. Monodon monoceros*

            I think when there’s a death, though, you go with the assumption that the person was close.

            1. LBK*

              Eh. I think it’s just better to react to how the person is acting. I was really annoyed at how pitying everyone was treating me after my dad died – we weren’t close and I really just wanted to try to get back to normal ASAP.

              That being said, someone bursting into tears probably merits a more tender response than that question.

          2. esra*

            It might not be invalid, but it’s still crappy.

            Like if you weren’t close, is there a limit to the amount of sadness you get to express?

          3. Artemesia*

            There are many things that might be true that are just not said. I think we should assume that people are ‘close’ to their parents. To express surprise that someone cares if their parent lived or died seems unusually callous.

            1. OhNo*

              I agree. Unless you know the person well enough that you’re familiar with their relationship with their parents, it’s generally assumed that they were close enough to them to grieve.

              I mean, I imagine in this case, the VP was just flustered and maybe a little panicked because they are suddenly dealing with a crying person, but still. It’s not like it’s surprising that you should be sad your father passed away.

          4. INTP*

            But even people who aren’t close with their parents are often very distraught after their death. Someone could burst into tears because they were so close to the loved one or because they weren’t, or were even estranged, and now realize they never will be. So it’s a socially oblivious question to ask but having no social skills doesn’t make one an inherently bad person or anything.

        2. C Average*

          I could see this. A lot of it’s conditioning, I think. My father was orphaned very young, and my mother lost both of her parents in her early 30s, when I was still small, and I always have a hard time wrapping my head around people being extremely upset about grandparents dying. In my worldview, grandparents are dead people in black-and-white pictures whom you never really knew. When someone my own age takes off work for a grandparent’s death, I have to remind myself, “Grandparents are actually a big deal to most people.”

        3. Dynamic Beige*

          “He said, “Oh! Were you and your dad close?” Clueless.”

          Might not have been cluelessness, but embarrassment. I have noticed that some men cannot stand a woman’s tears and will say or do really stupid things because they’re slightly panicking about how to stop it (or will just quickly run away). Could be a similar thing with the OP’s boss — not knowing what to do in an unpleasant situation, putting it off to tomorrow, forgetting about it, when being reminded that he forgot is mortified and just doesn’t have the emotional depth to react in an appropriate manner. Yes, he could have just delegated the responsibility (if there was someone to delegate to) but I can see how it could go from a “No, OP is important to me, I should do this for her” to a “I’ll do that after lunch” to a “What on earth can I say on the card? I’ve never done this before and everything seems so wrong… I’ll think about it some more” to eventually just forgetting. Or even worse, thinking he did actually do it and just moving on.

        1. Judy*

          I generally take a veggie tray.

          Except for when one of my high school friend’s mom died. I made the cookies that she always made when we were hanging out at their house.

    3. Monodon monoceros*

      #3, I totally empathise with you. As I noted above, some of my close coworkers were wonderful and made a lovely donation in my dad’s name to a bunny rescue.

      But the “upper management” did nothing, not even a card, even though I knew they had done stuff for other people who had relatives die (and the employee manual actually said that they did stuff like flowers or something for loss of immediate family members). That place was like high school, if you were not part of the “in crowd” (or you were a thorn in their side trying to get them to do things correctly, like I was) you were completely ignored. I understood why I was not a cool kid, and didn’t want to be, but geez, please show me the same courtesy when my dad passes away that you show others when they lose someone.

      It’s hard to get over that type of slight, I can understand. It helped me to just think “What a bunch of jerks” and not “get over it” but try to move on. Thankfully I don’t work there anymore, that helps too…

      1. LizNYC*

        It’s during difficult times that people show their true colors. That upper management showed they weren’t human and were incapable of the most basic form of empathy and sympathy. I’m so glad you don’t work there anymore.

    4. BRR*

      Well I don’t think he shouldn’t be in his position just because he didn’t send flowers. He could have made it up to the OP better though. As Alison said I would look at everything else. To me, sending flowers isn’t the only measurement of someone’s sympathy for you.

      1. Merry and Bright*

        True. But when it is the company’s custom to send flowers, it added to the OP’s hurt when it wasn’t done for her own loss. It is the lack of thought at least as much as the lack of roses or lilies etc.

      2. i don't care what you say, you say*

        I’d like to politely disagree. The boss – let’s call him Dick – Dick could have handled the flowers by delegating to, say, the HR VP’s secretary. It would have been a single 5 minute phone call: “Hi Vera. Can you help me out? OP usually handles flowers, but … oh, thank you so much! Here’s my credit card number …” This is not rocket science. You don’t need an MBA to figure this out. But Dick couldn’t execute on this. (In his defense, he only had 5 months to work with).

        So I gotta wonder: if he couldn’t perform this task correctly, what else is Dick screwing up?

        1. BRR*

          I have to disagree. I don’t think remembering to send flowers is a measure of somebody’s overall performance and it’s a serious reach to go there. Especially when we don’t know what the guy does.

          I definitely agree he dropped the ball. It’s not a difficult task and he missed multiple opportunities to remedy the situation. I am with you on how hard is it to send flowers (and other people reminded him *face palms*. But I think as to whether you are upset or not isn’t hinging on the flowers, sympathetic people can not send flowers and non sympathetic people can send flowers. I think it might one of those situations where the boss was overall unsympathetic and the focus is on the flowers.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          While I agree that the boss is so impressive I am forced to yawn, I think anything from him now would be too little too late. I am not sure that the boss can make it up to her in any manner. This throws the ball back in her court to find a coping mechanism to go up against her desire to choke him. Okay, so she’s not going to hurt the boss, but she has to figure out how not to let this fester.

          It does suck. In my imagination, someone sits Boss down and tells him he has screwed up massively. But that seldom happens.

          It’s been interesting to me to see a pattern, OP. In times of crisis, it sometimes seems that the people that owe us the least do the most for us and the people who owe us more, do nothing or next to nothing. I can’t explain why this happens, I don’t get it myself. I do know that if you make a list of people who have touched your heart, it will help to put the boss’ neglect off in the distance somewhere. We just don’t get to pick who does what. Not everyone does what they should do. Again, I can’t explain that, either.
          If you cannot come up with any other train of thought, my go-to in stuff like this is: “If I hang on to this thought, it will not serve me well. For my own well-being, I must focus on the things I can fix.”

  10. Marzipan*

    #5, like Alison, I didn’t get the sense from your letter that you’re actually applying for these jobs…?

    1. HR Generalist*

      +1 . Also this is a major problem with our internals. As a federal employer we have a very formal hiring process and we NEED an official application, during the open competition period, or you do not exist in consideration of filling the vacancy. We try to explain that to our internals but we have so many who will say to their manager, “Oh I’d like that” or send a blank email to the recruiting inbox (no attachments) and think that’s enough. It’s not.

      1. L Veen*

        Same here. Our hiring process has rigid guidelines and instructions that must be followed or you risk getting eliminated from the candidate pool. Your cover letter must clearly demonstrate how you meet the criteria listed in the job posting. Most candidates address the criteria one by one, as in “2-3 years of experience designing chocolate teapot spouts: For the past 4 years I have been the Senior Spout Designer at Teapots Inc.”

        One internal candidate did not do this because “the hiring manager knows that I have experience in this area.” He got screened out because the hiring manager couldn’t base her decision on anything other than his application materials, and he had failed to demonstrate his experience whereas many other internal and external candidates had.

        1. Jen S. 2.0*

          Heh. A friend of mine and I were laughing not long ago about how showing up on time, decently dressed, with a resume with no typos puts you ahead of 75% of the job-hunting pack. Case in point.

      2. AVP*

        The “blank email to the recruiting inbox” is a new one for me! Are you just supposed to see it and think, oh yes, that person must want this job, let me do up a cover letter and track down his last resume for him?

        1. HR Generalist*

          Yes! They honestly think that just “putting their name in” is enough. Or calling HR and saying “I saw ___ position is open, I’d like to apply” and then no follow-up at all when I tell them they have to send in a resume.

          And to L Veen, yes, ours is very similar as well. It’s meant to be very fair and transparent and based on merit, so when we have 30+ candidates with well laid out resumes explicitly stating why they meet the requirements, and then one internal with an old, not-updated resume (or a blank email, or what have you) it makes it very difficult for us to justify even considering them!

  11. Lipton Tea For Me*

    #2 When you turn in your timesheet, make sure you print off a copy so the printer will show the date printed. Where I work I do this and I also save a copy of who has audited payroll up to said date so if there are any changes after the fact, we all know it was not with my authorization.

    1. OP2*

      Hi Lipton–OP2 here. That’s a great idea–thanks for the feedback. I think I’ll do that from now on just to be sure.

      After I wrote this, I was on the phone with my IT department for a different issue, this issue came up, and they showed me a way to look up in our system who had changed my timesheet data. I figured out who did it (our head of compliance, if you can believe it), and sent him a note yesterday (with accompanying screenshots of when and how the changes were made) that cc’ed those I had spoken with in my quest. Most of the people who I had spoken to trying to track this issue down were equally concerned by this situation, and are really interested in how this all resolves. I haven’t heard back yet, but I’m hoping I will soon.

      1. Monodon monoceros*

        Send Alison an update! I’m curious to know why the person changed it, and then what, if any reaction there will be. I would think the proper thing would be that they’ll make sure that people can’t change this without at least notifying you, but as we see time and time again, the proper thing isn’t always done.

      2. Apollo Warbucks*

        I was going to suggest talking to IT, I’ve been supporting a time and billing systems for years and there is all sorts of audit information tucked away most of it is completely useless until you need it.

        I hope the person that made the changes explains why they made them.

      3. Jennifer*

        Oh good, I was just about to suggest that. On the timesheet screen our system just shows the employee ID number of the person who last updated the timesheet, but a few of us in HR also have access to run a report that tracks every entry or change made, with not just the ID/name of the person who did it, but a timestamp. I can’t imagine that most online timesheet systems don’t have something similar.

        I’m actually one of the names that might show up as having made changes to an employee’s timesheet, but changing worked time to vacation time would never happen without an email from the manager with employee included or vice versa. I’m very curious as to what happened here without your manager’s knowledge!

      4. mutt*

        OP #2, can you check your other dates and times to make sure nothing ELSE has been changed? If he changed this, he may have been changing things all along, and no one ever thought to look.

      5. Lipton Tea For Me*

        Great! That is why I started keeping copies of who audited what as it shows who changed my timesheet.

    2. AVP*

      Back when we had paper timecards, they would have a carbon copy for the employee to keep – those were so useful! I always kept mine for tax references, landlords, insurance, etc.

      Now we have a pdf that gets emailed, which is also useful because they’re forever archived in my “sent mail” folder.

  12. CAinUK*

    #5 – I wasn’t sure how to read “I’ve told them I was interested and I am more than qualified”.

    If it means you told them BOTH these things that would rub me the wrong way. A candidate (even an internal candidate) would seem high maintenance to me if they presume they are more than qualified and tell me as much.

    If it means you told them you are interested but only THOUGHT you are more than qualified, that’s less a problem but that mentality is probably causing you undue angst. As Alison points out – you have no idea what the other wheels in motion are, and there are lots of posts on AAM about never assuming a job is a “sure thing”.

    But if all else fails, ask: “Hey Jane, I’ve been interested in the job three times. Do you have feedback for why I have not been considered?” Or – as others note – if you have not actually APPLIED, do that first and foremost.

    1. AnotherFed*

      Talking to the hiring manager is a great idea. Where I work, a sort of informational interview with the hiring manager before they apply is pretty much a must for internal candidates. It lets both parties sort out exactly what the job is, what part(s) of the organization it supports, and what are the specific skills and abilities needed to do the job well. This meeting should be a huge indicator to you on whether your qualifications match what they need/want.

      After the fact, you should absolutely ask for feedback. Internal candidates are much more likely to get useful feedback from their interviews, and maybe even advice on what skills or experience must be picked up to be a stronger candidate or dispel a poor reputation for a particular thing.

      1. Graciosa*

        I think these conversations are critical.

        Adding to what you and INTP contributed, sometimes candidates believe they are much more qualified than they really are. I once had someone apply for a job who technically had the required years of experience, but it was very clear from her interview that she had not learned what she should have from it (think ten years of experience versus one year of experience ten times).

        She continues applying to positions at this level and appears to remain clueless about why she isn’t moving forward in her career – despite clear feedback from her direct manager, me, and other hiring managers who have also interviewed her. At this point, she’s no longer getting interviews and could probably write a similar letter to OP#5.

        So OP#5, yes, you need to ask for feedback – and if you get it, LISTEN.

        Do not dismiss it with “Oh, that was just X’s opinion” (and Y’s, and Z’s actually),
        “Hiring Manager just doesn’t know what she’s doing” (Yes, actually I do which is why you’re not joining my team),
        “The interview panel didn’t realize how perfect I would be for this job” (Do you understand that it’s your job to demonstrate this rather than expecting us to be wowed by your mere presence?), or
        “The reason I’m not getting interviews is that everyone is poisoned against me” (Actually, we’re all hoping you wake up and smell the coffee because we want you to succeed, but we admit to having an increasingly pessimistic view of the odds).

        OP#5 may have none of these issues, but please pay serious attention to anything you hear in the way of feedback. It is normal and human to deflect negative messages or make excuses – and I don’t deny that there are occasional jerks out there or others who are just plain wrong – but the ability to use feedback well will make a huge difference in your career.

        Seek it out repeatedly, consider it seriously, and be grateful for every bit of it you can glean.

        1. INTP*

          Yep, this is so common. When a particular software or skill or task is listed, candidates will often think “I’ve done that enough to be familiar with it, so I’m qualified” or “I have the required amount of years of using it so I’m qualified no matter my skill level.” But what the hiring manager is looking for is someone who has engaged in that skill/task/software for a significant amount of their working time at the vast majority of their career and essentially become an expert at it.

          You also often see people who think they are qualified because they are vaguely familiar with it and “can train themselves.” Well, a lot of people think they can train themselves but they aren’t really capable of learning software or processes independently for whatever reason and they become very high maintenance so no one is going to bank on that when other candidates who have the demonstrated experience are available.

    2. HR Generalist*

      Yup. Another thing I thought was that they might just not be considering this person as a candidate because they may have burnt a bridge or made a name for themselves there. Some managers will quietly forget to tell a candidate they need to formally apply so as to avoid the awkward “we will never promote you” discussion.

      1. Artemesia*

        If the OP has been passed over without comment 3 times, she is probably on the ‘we will never promote you ever’ list there and should move on. BUT only if she has actually applied, had the conversation about what she needs to do to advance etc. But if you keep saying ‘I’d like to do that.’ and get no response, that is a strong message.

        1. Another Fed*

          “I’d like to do that.” is a statement, not a question or a request for advice getting there. Many of us overly-literal people would think variations of “don’t care/that’s lovely for you/can we get on with task X now?” Even if OP5 is just throwing an application in without looking into what the specific role requires, I wouldn’t think that was a request for advice getting there, and as a manager, I absolutely would not expect to have to go to my promotion-desiring employee and explain to them what they need to do for that promotion instead of having that employee say “Hey, I’m really interested in a promotion to X. Can you sit down and give me some advice on improvements/growth to make myself a stronger candidate for something like that?”

  13. INTP*

    For #5, please remember
    That no one ever really knows if they’re qualified for a job posting unless they’re intimately familiar with the job and the team. There may be a mismatch in your idea of what constitutes “extensive experience in X” and theirs, or they may be looking for specific personality traits to either deal with stresses of the job or get along with the team. If you go into any line of inquiry about this with the attitude that you’re qualified for the job you may put people off.

    Also, have you been in your position a significant amount of time to grow out of it and is your manager completely supportive of you taking a promotion right now? Internal hiring managers are usually conscious of preserving their business relationships and will not consider “poaching” you if your manager would not be happy about it.

    1. Not Today Satan*

      I once had a phone interview, and the manager started with–“Oh, the job posting you saw was made by corporate and they try to be as general as possible. A lot of what you saw doesn’t apply to the job.” And then she gave me the actual job description.

      1. Merry and Bright*

        Interesting. Might explain some interviews I have been to where the job has borne little similarity to the job advert! I now take a copy of the advert along with my spare CV/resume.

        1. Not Today Satan*

          It’s frustrating since we take so much care to make our resume specific to the job description!

        2. Elizabeth West*

          I always did this too, so I could formulate questions to ask the interviewer. I usually made a pdf of it because sometimes quite a long time could elapse between my application and when they scheduled an interview. Not only did the pdf remind me, but often they would have taken the posting down.

  14. Henrietta Gondorf*

    OP 1, what stands out in your letter to me is “each time I tell him I’m not going, but he laughs it off.” From the rest of your letter, it sounds like you started out by saying no, then making a business case, then bringing up your anxiety. Is there a possibility that your boss just thinks you’re being silly and is taking it as a running joke?

    1. nona*

      He might also be taking the change in your answers as a sign that you’ll be persuaded to change your mind.

  15. Ann Furthermore*

    OP1, my advice is to seek out some treatment for your flying phobia. Having to travel for work is pretty common, and it seems to get more common all the time. Being unable to accept a job that requires travel could very possibly limit your opportunities for earnings growth and professional development, which would really be unfortunate.

    If you can figure out a way to get through it, it really will be to your advantage.

    1. Graciosa*

      Some airports offer help for people with a fear of flying – it might be worth investigating if there are programs available at one nearby.

      I think this is a tough one for someone in business since business travel is so common and considered to be so routine. For a business person, this may be similar to someone telling a driver that they are afraid of cars and only travel by foot or by horse and buggy – if you’re not sensitized to the actual phobia, it may sound like an attempt to be funny.

      Almost all of our job postings are listed as requiring travel at some level (the minimum is 10% of the time), so this phobia does have the potential to significantly limit the OP’s career. Unfortunately, I’m not sure that knowledge makes it easier to overcome.

      1. nona*

        I had no idea airports had those programs! I like flying now, but used to have a big problem with it. Panic attacks, nervous for days before, etc. I hope this can help OP.

    2. OriginalEmma*

      There are programs called Travelers Aid or Travelers Assistance at many different airports. You might look that up to see what they offer at your local airport. Additionally, at my old airport, we had people we called “red coats” who were more like roaming customer service agents to help folks navigate the airport. Your local airport might have some class of employees like this, too.

    3. Jennifer*

      I have to second this. The higher up you get, the more this is going to be A Problem, and I can easily imagine the boss being all “Suck it up. Adults fly. If you want a career here, fly.”

      I have sympathy about phobias, but your boss, and future bosses, probably won’t. And he sounds dead set on you flying, period, no matter what you say.

  16. JW*

    #3- I understand how this was originally overlooked, but i think her boss should have felt worse than just saying “oh, sorry we forgot” when she brought it up, and should have arranged for something nice to be sent after that. I’d like to hope that if I was in her boss’s position I would be mortified by the oversight and would try to make it up to my employee to let her know that her coworkers do care about her.

    1. Hlyssande*

      Yes, this. Any reasonable boss would have been 1) mortified that they forgot and 2) done something to help ameliorate the problem, like send something to the OP’s family, make a donation in her husband’s name, etc etc etc. SOMETHING other than “Oh, sorry.”

  17. illini02*

    #1 To me this falls under the “other duties as assigned”. Yes, flying isn’t a part of your normal job, but things come up and need the attention of managment sometimes. If you want to be management, you kind of have to suck it up. If not, thats your choice, but then don’t be mad if you don’t get the good assignments or move up in the company since you refuse to do something that isn’t THAT uncommon. If I was in your managers shoes, I may very well choose to go another direction. Not fire you per se, but I would look for someone who could do the travel when needed.

  18. The Cosmic Avenger*

    OP4, please don’t try to “stand out” for the sake of standing out. This most likely means you’re annoying HR or the hiring manager, and they might well decide to pass you over for someone who can do the job just as well or better, but with less fuss. You need to impress them with your ability to work with them, not just with your ability to impress. If you read Alison’s columns, you should know that there’s a lot of bad advice out there about standing out and making an impression, but for most companies, the best way to do those things is to come across as exceedingly competent and professional.

  19. TotesMaGoats*

    #1-I understand how the fear of flying is a huge barrier to you. My hubs is so terrified of flying that talking about dropping me off at the airport gives him sweaty palms and anxiety. He doesn’t even need to fly anywhere to get nervous. However, every couple of years we’ll go on a vacation that requires a flight or if his company wants to to attend an industry conference (Blackhat), he’d take the pills from his doc and get on the plane. Moving up in management typically requires this type of travel. And you usually can’t drive everywhere. It sounds like you are in Canada from the comments and I know that’s a wide country. So, this probably isn’t going to be the only time this is going to happen. You need to get a plan in place. Maybe your spouse could come with you and take a vacation while you do work? If my DH had to go to Vegas for the conference, I’d be going with him. He couldn’t do it without me.

    #2-You need to go higher up the chain on this. My gut tells me that the people who could probably change your timesheet are your manager and someone in HR, maybe finance. But someone will know who did it and why.

    #3-I’m so sorry for your loss and that thoughtlessness of your coworkers. It’s hard when you are normally the person who does those type of things to be forgotten in your time of need. And it sounds like your boss wasn’t very apologetic. It’s going to be hard to get past this. I think Allison is right though. Was the company supportive in other ways?

    #5-Maybe I’m not getting the proper impression but at most places even internal candidates have to actually apply. If you haven’t done that, why would they consider you. For internals especially, you want to follow procedure and you saying you are interested isn’t enough. Do an actual application. Then if you are ignored you have more data to figure out what’s going on.

  20. OriginalEmma*

    OP#1: Do you drive? I know phobias by their very national are irrational (as someone with general anxiety m’self) but your likelihood of death and disability are magnitudes higher from traveling in a car vs. traveling in a plane. Seriously. How many times do you hear about car accidents on your morning commute and not care a wink besides “Ugh, now I-95 is going to be jammed?” Road traffic collisions are so mundane now that no one bats an eye at getting behind the wheel or traveling as a passenger, and yet car collisions are one of the leading cause of death and injury in the world. How often do you hear of plane crashes? Not that often – and you must work hard to account for recency bias in this case. I’m saying this to suggest an appropriate sense of risk, not to encourage another phobia.

    Planes are incredible machines with many safety precautions baked in, flown by professionals with years of training and practice, with a crew of professionals versed in safety as well.

    I second cognitive behavior therapy as well. One great activity with CBT is writing our your irrational thoughts, refuting them with rational ones, then rating how believable the new rational thoughts are. You do this until the rational thought becomes more natural in the triggering situation, instead of the irrational one. It’s not perfect, and I’m no figurehead of anxiety reduction, but it worked for me.

    1. Anony-moose*

      +1 to CBT, if this is something the OP wants to tackle with some therapy.

      OP, a few years ago my significant other’s anxiety got so bad that he couldn’t get on a plane. Like, was at the gate and just flat out refused to get out. He was in London and needed to get back to the states. Ultimately his mum had to fly over to London and fly back with him. His anxiety was just too bad for him to do it alone.

      Three years or so of CBT and his anxiety is completely manageable. He’s been on international plane travel since then, and is flying to England and back next week.

      For anyone who suffers from serious anxiety like this and wants to explore treatment options, a good CBT therapist can really open doors.

      1. OriginalEmma*

        Yes! A good therapist is very important. When you’re working through your irrational thoughts, having a good therapist is like having a friend to bounce your irrational – then rational – thoughts off of.

    2. Camellia*

      “…no one bats an eye at getting behind the wheel or traveling as a passenger…”

      So not true.

      Some of us have intense anxiety in vehicles. For me, merging into traffic terrifies me, as does having to change lanes. I have to struggle not to jerk away from trucks as they pass. I’m also one of those people who is struck by an intense desire to drive off of overpasses and bridges, so no fun there either. I can force myself to drive routes that involve one or more of these by exercising a firm control on my breathing and a death grip on the steering wheel – once in a blue moon. No way I could deal with this day in and day out.

      I actually had to drive to another office last week, three hours each way. On my way home, on the interstate, in the rain, just coming off of an overpass, I saw a vehicle upside down in the trees at the side of the road. Really. When I got home and told my husband, he looked it up. A semi had “bumped” the back of the SUV causing it to fly/roll through the air, ending upside down in the trees. Everything else was gone by the time I drove by, just one officer and the car. In the trees.

      Oddly enough the fear doesn’t carry all the way through to the thought of getting injured or killed; just the absolutely flinching terror of the crash.

      Oddly enough, my terror

      1. Camellia*

        Okay, odd scrolling there while typing my answer.

        I was going to add that, since this involves driving, I can’t take any medication that would be helpful.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I’m the same way with bridges, especially bridges over water. HUGE phobia. I think I explained about this in an open thread once–someone asked about car fears (it goes back to driving through floodplains that were full of water with no guardrails). Even riding or walking across high bridges over water is an ordeal, and I had to do it more than once in London! I just grit my teeth and do it, but I’m soooo happy to be off that bridge.

        And OMG the accident you saw- wow.

        1. Cath in Canada*

          I used to work with someone who was also phobic about driving on bridges over water. Look at a map of Greater Vancouver and imagine that… she had to cross two to get to work, and one to get from home to the closest therapist she could find.

  21. Coffee, Please*

    #3, I am so sorry for your loss and for the lack of a simple gesture by your boss. I know that must hurt.

    In situations similar to this, I have seen a potential solution. I once worked with an amazing Executive Assistant who handled all the sympathy gifts, birthday cards, baby showers and retirement celebrations at the office. She had to use the boss’s company card to pay for everything, but she had a procedure that made sure everything ran smoothly and everyone felt appreciated.

    When her birthday was approaching, she printed off a single page with “Procedures for handling birthdays” and her birthdate highlighted. She then went to another Admin Assistant and asked them to follow the procedure for her birthday, which included working with the boss to get the company card to pay for treats. The other admin was always happy to help and made sure it ran smoothly for the EA.

    I once asked her if she felt sad that she had to essentially ask someone to celebrate her, and she said no. To her, it was a business-task and could be trained and delegated like any other.

    I am not sure this would work in a situation with a death in the family, but it might be a good way to handle the recurring problem of who celebrates the organizer’s birthday and milestones.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Actually, people should be cross-trained and have multiple backups so that tasks don’t get ignored when they’re on vacation, or if they leave the company. That’s a great reason to have someone else who does these tasks occasionally to make sure they can pick it up smoothly, and stuff like birthdays, work anniversaries, and condolences for the trainer are a perfect thing for the trainee to practice on, ensuring that they handle these tasks at least once a year or so.

      1. Coffee, Please*

        Yes, I agree! That’s one reason she had all the procedures written up, so that others could be trained on them. It this situation, she did most of this type of task as it was in her job description, but if she were to leave suddenly, the other Admin knew where to find the procedures and how to pick up the task.

        My main point is sometimes the “arranger” has to delegate or remind someone to arrange something for them.

      2. Laurel Gray*

        If anything, I think tasks and procedures specifically related to employee morale/fun/appreciation should be handled by a few different people. I do not think one EA should be responsible for all birthday/sendoff/bereavement/promotion organization duties and all the time. Just like I don’t think the office daredevil should get to pick where the company does it’s seasonal company event all the time. Everyone might not want to go rock climbing in the fall and horseback riding in the spring.

      3. Chinook*

        “Actually, people should be cross-trained and have multiple backups so that tasks don’t get ignored when they’re on vacation, or if they leave the company.”

        I agree 100%, especially for things like condolences which are by their very nature unplanned and unexpected. For a while, it would seem someone would die when our AA was on vacation and I knew that this was something that shouldn’t be missed, so I took it upon myself to find out the parameters of what can be done (I am not an AA myself, just look like one) because many people on the floor were wondering who should take care of it (there was a fear of too many people doing it instead of no one because the people I work with are that considerate if just unorganized). Our AA appreciates that she can come back, hear the sad news and know that we handled this in a way that makes to company look thoughtful.

      4. fposte*

        “Actually, people should be cross-trained and have multiple backups so that tasks don’t get ignored when they’re on vacation, or if they leave the company.”

        That sounds good, but really, in practice, it’s not workable for most places; the cost of genuine redundancy like that is more than most organizations can absorb. Plus a lot of jobs can’t realistically be cross-trained for–you couldn’t for mine–and you can’t keep people freshly up to speed on a job they don’t have to do while still allowing them to excel at their actual job.

  22. Another Day*

    #3. I’m sorry for your loss. I know it hurts not to have an acknowledgment from your company because this happened to a friend of mine. The people who would normally have coordinated collecting $$ and arranging for the flowers (including me ) were out, and it never crossed management’s mind. They were busy, focussed on other things, and didn’t think about it. I think the lesser pain of feeling forgotten by people at work just added to her bigger feeling of loss. I’m still sorry that this happened. And to be the one who always takes care of it for others could make this hard to forget. Maybe you could ask to have this duty assigned to someone else?

  23. Sunshine DC*

    Re: #1 – Why can’t the OP just take an Amtrak or whatever to the other office? (Unless it’s going from like Atlanta to Anchorage or something extreme.) Sure, a train takes much longer but that’s the option available to those who can’t/won’t fly. We have offices in Chicago and if one of my staff was needed but couldn’t/wouldn’t fly, I’d send her on the train. She may have to leave the day before, but she could use some time during the ride for any prep work for the meetings (which can’t be done while driving a car.) Ultimately, it’s her choice in the end: seek out a therapist to help resolve flight anxiety -OR- deal with the inconvenience of very long train rides.

    It certainly wouldn’t make sense for an otherwise good employee’s job to be at risk because of her extreme fears when there’s a simple, if far less convenient solution for her to do what the job requires.

    1. fposte*

      She says “the other side of the country.” Even assuming that’s just Toronto and not, say, Halifax, to Vancouver, that’s over 2000 miles. The train takes four days, and given how hyped it is, I bet it’s pretty expensive, too.

      1. Colette*

        Yeah, it’s usually cheaper to fly across Canada than to take the train, especially if the OP wanted to sleep in a bunk instead of a seat. I’d guess it would be about two days from Toronto to Alberta.

        1. Natalie*

          Same in the US, sadly. I love trains and would take them a lot more often, but they’re 3x as expensive as a plane ticket. :(

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Yes, freight trains in the US take priority over passenger trains, and a lot of places don’t have a station anywhere near anymore. Where I live there used to be a train station, but that was a couple of generations ago. Now I’d have to drive three hours to St. Louis just to get to one. :(

        2. Chinook*

          “Yeah, it’s usually cheaper to fly across Canada than to take the train, especially if the OP wanted to sleep in a bunk instead of a seat. I’d guess it would be about two days from Toronto to Alberta.”

          From experience – 2 nights and 3 full days and sleepers are twice the price of just a seat but includes meals and a comfy bed. Plus, there are parts of the trip with no cell services (northern Ontario). Price wise, just a seat is comparable to a flight on a short notice but that doesn’t include manhour costs.

          I just did a day trip from Calgary to Kamloops. I could have driven (no train) but it would have had to have included an overnight stay somewhere. By flying in and out, I was saving the cost of a hotel and an extra meal or two.

      2. MsM*

        And outside the Northeast corridor (and even there), Amtrak is notorious for delays and breakdowns that could add at least an extra day to the trip. If flying weren’t an option, I’d just drive.

        1. Anony-moose*

          Ugh, certain Amtrak routes are just ALWAYS terrible. In college I would take the Amtrak from Chicago to Kalamazoo, MI. I spent many an hour sitting in Indiana on a completely stopped train.

      3. Sunshine DC*

        Well, Amtrak from DC to Denver booked a couple weeks in advance costs under $500 r/t. About the same as a flight. One can leave DC at 4:05PM one day, arriving Denver at 8:45AM the next day. Of course the time is not ideal, but that’s comparable how long my international travel is to Cape Town and Singapore, stuck on a plane, so it’s still within “norms.” Amtrak regular seats (i.e. not business class or sleeping cars) are way, way more comfortable than coach airplane seats.

        I think the train is a reasonable accommodation. And it will definitely weed out those who are just being picky-weird about not flying (I’m not saying there are people like that, but if OPs boss is truly skeptical of her difficulties) from those with a genuine serious issue.

        1. fposte*

          You arrive in *Chicago* at 8:45 am the next day. Then you change to the California Zephyr and get in at 7:15 a.m. the day after that, so it’s a two-day trip.

          Additionally, that $500 round trip is a coach seat, sitting up all night for all four nights (there and back), and not including food.

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      The trains in the UK are hideously expensive and depending on the location can mean a number of changes so they are not the most efficient means of getting around and the size of the UK is nothing compared to the US or Canada.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yeah, the only reason I even dared try it is because the UK is so small. A friend of mine took the train from Denver to Los Angeles for a meetup and he had to allow several days just to get there and back. So it made what was a weekend trip for the rest of us a whole holiday for him. FWIW, he did enjoy the train ride, so it wasn’t a hardship. But if he had had to do it for work, it would have been hideous.

  24. Joey*

    Why can’t the person you’re training come to your office? Usually it makes a lot of sense for them to see the home office, how their work fits into it, and copy stuff that works there once they return to their office. Then your boss can visit by himself.

    1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

      Because depending on where you need to go the amount of time it can take to get there can be incredibly prohibitive by train (and upthread people have also mentioned cost)

  25. KAZ2Y5*

    OP3 – I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my husband suddenly 10 years ago and know how hard it is. In my experience most people really do care and want to help you but they often have no idea what to do. Alison’s advice is excellent – I would look at how everyone treated you after your husband passed away and evaluate your job by that. Having said that, I can totally understand you being hurt and wonder if you are in counseling or a support group? I think it would help immensely to be able to talk this over with someone who could help you look at it clearly.

  26. Case of the Mondays*

    Here is a free online fear of flying course that really helped me with my fears. It covers all of the noises that planes make and what they are so you don’t get more stressed out when you hear them.

    That and xanax. I get a small dose so I can take some the night before, some on the way to the airport and some as a I get on the plan. In total it adds up to a regular dose but it lets me bump it up as my anxiety increases so I don’t feel knocked out.

    I would also want to sit away from the boss on the flight in an aisle seat near the bathroom. Being near the bathroom is great in case you get so anxious you get sick. You don’t have to worry about making it down the aisle. Also, if the seatbelt sign is on, you can still sneak in and out. It isn’t the safest but it is better than pooping in your seat. Bring immodium too and take that if you get your guts in an uproar w/ your anxiety.

    Now you can use electronic devices during take off and landing and this helps me tremendously. I put on some music I can really get into, use noise canceling headphones, put on an eye mask, lean back w/ my pillow and blanket and do some deep breathing and counting exercises. This is why I wouldn’t want to sit near the boss. On the plane I am just working on getting through, not doing other work.

    Now my anxiety is a lot better and I can sometimes do other fun things or work things on the plane. I haven’t had to travel for business yet.

    Also, when I was really bad I would ask to speak to the pilots before the flights. This was recommended in the course I took. When they knew they had someone really scared on board they gave more frequent updates. “We are hitting some mild turbulence now and expect it to last about five minutes. Nothing to be concerned about as long as your seat belt is on.” I only did it once or twice but it did help. Flying next to an off duty pilot helped too. Maybe you can call ahead and ask the airline if there are any staff flying as passengers on your flight if you could be seated next to them.

    It may seem insurmountable now but you CAN work through this.

    1. Natalie*

      “It covers all of the noises that planes make and what they are so you don’t get more stressed out when you hear them.”

      This makes me think of The Simpson’s episode about Marge’s fear of flying: “that’s the engine powering up… that’s just the engine struggling… that’s just a carp swimming around your ankle”. It also has a bunch of great therapy jokes.

    2. Cath in Canada*

      Cool, I’ll check that out. I’m not full-on phobic, but I definitely feel that increased heart rate and those sweaty palms during turbulence, even if it’s quite mild. The one thing that’s helped me more than anything was flying with a friend who’s really, really phobic. She took some Atavin and a couple of G&Ts before boarding, and was already really tense when we hit some truly nasty turbulence just outside Vegas. Being forced to be the calm one (“oh, this is just because we’re flying over a mountain range. At this time of day there’ll be lots of messy air going up and down the slopes. Totally normal. Look, the flight attendants are just chatting and laughing with each other. Nothing to worry about here”) was incredibly therapeutic for me.

      On a side note, US Immigration agents don’t like the answer “to get off that f*&%ing plane” in response to the question “what is the purpose of your visit?”

  27. Case of the Mondays*

    I left a very detailed comment but included a link. It just disappeared. Not sure if it went into moderation or somehow got deleted. The link was check out “fear of flying help dot com.” As for the rest of my advice, hopefully it will reappear because I can’t retype it now.

  28. puddin*

    #3 – I wonder how much the Director actually values the gesture of giving flowers if he is unable to do so when he is the one who actually has to do the (minimal) legwork. This could be a tradition that he does not ‘get’ and just goes along with it. If he did understand the importance of it, he would have made doubly sure that his direct report was well taken care of.

    If it makes you feel any better, order the flowers for yourself and charge them to the Director’s card as normal. You should not have had to do this, but if it helps to assuage your hurt and serves as a memento of your husband, I would go ahead. Might even be a clue to the Director about how important these types of things can be to people at work.


  29. Michelle*

    For #2- yes, definitely take it further up if the people you have already talked with keep transferring you around. This is *your* time that you *earned* and you deserve to have it and have it logged correctly.

    My company does something similar for exempt employees: they have to enter any PTO (vacation, sick, personal, bereavement, etc.) time into a spreadsheet and initial. Then I have to cross-check it to the calendar to make sure it is correct (I’m the admin assistant/office manager), contact anyone where there’s a discrepancy and send it to HR. The only people who have access to this folder are the exempt employees, me and HR.

    For #3- my sympathies on your loss. I am the person in charge of flower arrangements, cards, etc, too and I have been forgotten in the past and it does sting. What I did when my father passed away in Dec and I traveled out-of-state for the funeral was to send a “reminder” email to my direct supervisor (the executive director ) and copied it to the other admin assistant, stating that I would be leaving on x date, return on x date and if anyone wanted to send flowers, the address of the services.

    When you are the person who normally handles those things, people do simply forget that it’s not getting handled. Sure, they should know that if Jane has a death in the family, Jane is not going to send herself (or her family) flowers, but it happens. If they treat well otherwise, I would let it go this time.

  30. soitgoes*

    #3 reminds me of a question from last week – the OP was going the extra mile in her day-to-day life, and she was annoyed that other people were piggybacking on her hard work without helping out (because she got all of it done ahead of time). To all of the people who didn’t understand why she would be frustrated, read today’s #3. It means that other people always assume that the work will get done, to the extent that they take it for granted when someone does an exceptional job of keeping things running smoothly.

    OP3, you have my deepest sympathies.

  31. Lauren H*

    For #1: I reiterate what AAM said about seeking therapy and or stronger medications, for both professional and quality of life purposes.

    You said you have intentionally sought out positions where you would not have to fly, but then you also said that you just accepted this new leadership/management track position. It is safe to assume that the new position carries different responsibilities and expectations than your previous position. If you continue to refuse to fly, keep in mind that your employer may decide you are no longer a good fit for the management position and may find someone else who can carry out the responsibilities as expected.

  32. RubyJackson*

    #3 – First, my condolences to you for the loss of your husband. The pain of losing your husband compounded by the lack of sympathy from your boss must have really hurt, and it’s understandable that this wound still stings. I believe your boss’ comment about ‘forgetting’ says a lot about him. Because it’s not just that he forgot to do something that’s perfunctory at work which someone else usually handles, but that he himself did not sympathize enough for it to even cross his mind to send you flowers to comfort you in your time of need. Your boss is your boss, not your friend.

    For what it’s worth, I completely empathize with you because something similar, actually worse, happened to me. When my sister committed suicide, the staff assistant send out a department-wide email to inform everyone that the department would be sending flowers to my family, and included me in the email. She then continued to include me on emails about the flowers and a card, including the final one which stated that our department manager had decided that we were not going to send flowers and if anyone wanted to, they would have to do it on their own, with their own money! You can not even imagine how shocked and hurt I was over this. And dumbfounded at the staff assistant’s stupidity and insensitivity to include me on that email, basically letting me know our manager didn’t give two fracks about me and wasn’t willing to spend one hundred bucks of our department budget on something small, yet meaningful. Of course, a year later when we were all informed that a flower arrangement had been sent to another staff member when her mother died, I was apoplectic. It was like a knife through my gut. But, what I have never forgotten was those staff members who DID spend their own money and send flowers.

    So, my advice to you when you are asked to make floral arrangements for someone else, is first, do so with a truly compassionate heart, for they are grieving. Then, think back to when your husband died and remember those that were kind to you, count them among your real friends, and stop at the grocery store on the way home and buy yourself some flowers to make yourself feel better. You deserve that.

    1. Cheryl*

      I just want to echo the part here about valuing those who did step up or offer condolences. I was really surprised the people who didn’t say a thing to me when I experienced a major loss. In retrospect, I used to be like that too. I wouldn’t say anything to people because I didn’t know what to say. And I thought it would “remind” people of the loss – as if they ever forget. But then, I had people at work that I barely knew who came over to me to express their condolences, and that meant a lot to me. Then I realized, those are the people who have probably experienced loss in some way. Realizing that made me feel a lot more compassionate to those who said nothing – they don’t understand the pain of the loss and someday it will be a big shock to them.

      So, my condolences to you on your loss. I hope you have been able to find some peace and comfort in your memories of the time you shared together. <3

      1. RubyJackson*

        @Cheryl, you make a really good point. People who have not experienced the loss of someone like a husband, sister, parent, or child can not fully understand what the survivor is feeling. But, that also does not make up for lack of compassion.

  33. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

    LW3, first, my sincerest sympathies for the loss of your husband. I think this might be a good time to talk to your bosses about setting up a “second in command” to take on these tasks when you are not able to. This would include making sure that flowers got sent to you, but also that no one would miss out if something happened in their family while you were sick or on vacation.

  34. Gene*

    For #1:

    He made me feel silly and told me to pop a gravol.

    Since he suggested an anti-motion sickness drug, I’m wondering if you failed to make it clear that the problem is a phobia and not airsickness. It sounds like you haven’t made it crystal clear that you are phobic and it’s not a “little thing”.

  35. Student*

    #1 It’s across the country, not across the ocean. Tell the boss that if he wants you to go there, he’ll have to spring for train tickets, or bus tickets, or pay for you to drive there yourself over a week.

    My mother is also highly phobic of flying. She also screams, cries, clutches the person sitting next to her, and gets very drunk. I sympathize with your problem. However, as a family member of someone with a severe phobia, I suggest you consider getting treatment. It affects you, and it affects your job, and it affects your family. My mother missed my wedding because she’s afraid of flying (and because I’m not close enough to her to want to schedule the wedding to suite her phobia). Her fear of flying influenced and limited a number of things while I was growing. There were relatives we lost contact with, vacations not taken, vacations taken and tainted by her behavior on the plane (nothing like having your mother screaming like a lunatic on the plane to spoil an 8-year-old’s trip to Disney World), battles over things like whether my wedding location should be chosen to cater to her fears or my and my husband’s dreams.

    Now, my mother is dying of heart problems. She will die years earlier than she has to because she won’t (can’t) get on a plane in order to seek treatment at a distant hospital with specialists on her condition. The drive is too long for her to make it through, but the stress of flying while phobic in her condition is just as deadly to her as the long drive. Her fear of flying, never treated, is going to cost her 3-5 years of life. I hope you are never in a similar position, but I also hope it may compel you to get treatment so that you can keep your life options more open than my mother did.

    1. Judy*

      My parents in law did not get to go to my sister in law’s wedding because her future mother in law wouldn’t fly, so it was decided that parents were not invited to the wedding.

  36. Sunny*

    Hey #5 If you have formally interview and you do meet all the qualifications and you’re still not getting interviewed, maybe you can send your boss an email. Not in a defensive way, but more in a lighthearted but honest way. Perhaps let her know that you are very interested in the next opportunity that comes up and is there anything that can help you become a stronger candidate? (Again, without a trace of bitterness.)
    This will give your boss time to craft an email that may be softer than if she said it in person. So you may need to read between the lines.
    If this happens often, maybe it’s time to move along.

  37. Smiles*

    I had a fear of flying and then my doctor gave me a low level of zanax and it’s made all of the difference in the world. Unless there’s really bad turbulent, it puts me to sleep. You’ll miss out on a lot of cool vacations, etc. if you don’t find a solution. It really, really helps.

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