I heard my coworker having sex on a business trip

A reader writes:

My employer has recently added a new member to our remote/in-field team and, since she and I will be working the same territory, I’ve been tasked with training her. While not her supervisor, I’m responsible for making sure she understands the company’s standards/expectations and for getting her set-up in her new role. Our field of work is associated with the hospitality industry and we travel extensively to visit with high-end clients on-site at their properties, often times requiring overnight stays at these properties. This new coworker and I recently took a trip together and were booked in adjacent hotel rooms. After a long work day, she mentioned that she was going out to get dinner and check out the town, while I opted to stay in and relax. Fast forward a few hours when, to my complete horror, I realize the very loud sounds of drunken “adult activities” are coming from her room! This went on for hours; yes, hours!

I’m at a loss as to whether I should say something to her. On the one hand, she’s a grown woman (single in her 20s) and who am I to judge. On the other hand, she’s “on the job” during these trips and I feel she should conduct herself in a more professional manner. Then there’s the mother-hen in me (I’m only 10 years older than her, but still…) that simply wants to warn her about the dangers of a young female traveling alone, inviting strange men to her hotel room. This is her first job of this nature and I’m worried that this behavior demonstrates not only a horrendous lapse in judgement but could potentially be a sign of bad things to come. This is the second time I’ve seen something in her that’s caused me concern (the first was drinking related as well).

Help! Do I have the awkward conversation or do I let it go and hope for the best? Do I say something to my boss?

I was about to tell you that it’s really not your business; she’s an adult, this was after work hours, and she was on her own time. But if you were visiting clients and staying at a client’s property, I could see it coming across pretty unprofessionally if a client heard about the commotion.

To be clear: It’s the loud, drunken commotion that’s at issue here, not the sex. If she’d had quiet, private sex, that would unequivocally be no one’s business but hers.

Because she did make a commotion, I could see saying to her something like, “You probably don’t realize this, but you were pretty loud last night. It’s no one’s business what happens in your room at night, as long as it stays in your room. But when we’re staying at a client’s property, it’s important that we not do anything disruptive or that could cause guest complaints.”

You mentioned that this is the second time you’ve seen drinking-related behavior that caused you concern. Was the other instance about conduct in her personal life or professional life? If it was about her personal life, leave it alone. But if it affected how she was operating in a business context, that could certainly be something to mention to her and/or her manager. It’s hard to say without knowing specifics about that one — but do guard against the possibility of letting judgment about her personal life stray into how you’re assessing her professionally.

Speaking of which … For what it’s worth, I’m not sure why you’re assuming that was a stranger in her hotel room; she could have met up with someone she already knew. But stranger or not, it’s not really relevant. It’s definitely not appropriate for you to “warn her about the dangers” of traveling alone and inviting men to her room. She’s an adult; assume that she doesn’t need to be told that part of it.

{ 686 comments… read them below }

  1. AMG*

    I wonder if there is a guideline for talking to her manager or the coworker herself? Perhaps it depends on the coworkers response? I would also make the arguement that she really shouldn’t have visitors at all if she’s on the client’s property so as not to rthe clients’ eyebrows. I think I sound like a prude typing that and I’m really not, but I stand by it. Save it for home.

    1. Helka*

      Oh good lord, I would not take this to her manager unless it becomes a repeated issue *and* it escalates beyond what is — let’s be real here — pretty normal hotel behavior. I’ve stayed in plenty of hotels in my life and I have very often heard “monkey business” going on through the wall. They are very likely not going to be scandalized by this as long as she doesn’t make a show of bringing up the entire Chippendales troupe or something.

      1. MP*

        It’s not just a normal part of hotel behavior, its a normal part of work/life. In Australia an employer was told to pay worker’s compensation for an injury an employee sustained while having sex while on business trip when a light fixture struck her on the head.

        “the court ruled that if the applicant had been injured while playing a game of cards in her motel room she would be entitled to compensation and the fact that the woman was “engaged in sexual activity rather than some other lawful recreational activity while in her hotel room does not lead to any different result”.”

        1. BadMovieLover*

          A light fixture struck her on the head while getting it on??? Sounds like a sexy comedy.

        2. Lauren*

          Just reminds me how in America, I fractured my foot after trying to walk on it after it fell asleep while sitting at my desk at work (dead weight). My boss refused to make it workers comp and denied my short term disability too. I couldn’t drive so I worked from home, and then he made those all sick days so when I went to Europe months later – I had no PTO according to him and found out 2 days before my non-refundable trip. So I ended up in the hole for paying bills since I was counting on that vacation money, defaulted on my student loans, but had a great time in Spain. I’m still paying for this dictatorship 6 years later with very bad credit, no credit cards, and no chance to get a mortgage.

          I would have been fine if my short term was approved so that it didn’t count toward my PTO. Workers comp was denied because ‘I wasn’t injured in the course of my duties’. In reality, he never submitted it at all so I don’t know if it would have been denied, but his workers comp didn’t go up which is really the reason he denied it was worker injury. I wondered what type of injury an office worker has to have for him to say its workers comp? Severe papercut? He would prob say it was my own fault and not the business’ responsibility. I was young, and didn’t know I could force him to submit paperwork for it.

          My ex-boss sucked.

        1. Meg*

          That makes no sense at all. I wouldn’t wear pajamas in my cubicle either, or undress at all, but it’s obviously not reasonable to expect her not to do either of those things when she’s alone, in a hotel room. You can’t equate a hotel room to a work cubicle, even if the hotel room is on client property. They’re entirely different situations with entirely different sets of social expectations.

          1. maggie*

            ? I’m talking about the super loud intimate relations part. And the ‘so smashed that you don’t have common sense / your hearing has apparently stopped working but your voice hasn’t’ behavior. Both of those show a total lack of respect for the client and the coworker. Applying the smallest amount of emotional competence and common sense would have eliminated this entire thread. I doubt very seriously anybody’s boss’ boss would be okay with their traveling employees to treat their work travels like it’s an episode of Mad Men at Club Med. You’re paid to work and to represent the company to the clients, and they’re happy to pay for your food and cocktails – as long as you don’t behave like a child, which is what this young woman did.

            There is nothing wrong with doing all of the above as long as you treat it like you’re staying at the Disney Hotel, eg fairly PG/fairly quiet when you’re nekkid. That’s not a very oppressive thing for your employer to ask of you.

            1. Meg*

              Ok, but now you’re contradicting yourself. A blanket statement like “if you wouldn’t do it at your cubicle, don’t do it on client property” is an unreasonable expectation for employees. “Not making a drunken commotion” is a perfectly reasonable expectation, which I think most, if not all commenters would agree with. Your point about acting like an adult is completely understandable, and I agree that the employee in question should be expected to act like one. But simply saying “if you wouldn’t do it in your cubicle, don’t do it here” is a broad generalization that doesn’t really apply.

            2. TrainerGirl*

              The drunkenness is an assumption. Unless OP was in the room, she really doesn’t know if that is the case. And “super loud”??? Perhaps, but I stayed next door to a colleague, heard her television and then went to her room, and realized that it wasn’t loud at all, but the walls were super thin and I could hear everything. Making the coworker aware that sound carries and that OP could hear her is really all that’s needed here. Acceptability isn’t the issue.

            3. MP*

              Putting aside this specific case where the hotel was the client, I would not tolerate my work telling me what I could and could not do while off the clock and travelling. They can restrict the way I spend their money (i.e. only cover certain expenses) but if I want to party like Mad Men at Club Med on my own dime and it doesn’t affect my work, it is none of their business. I spend upwards of 40 weeks per year on the road and I’m not wasting my life (not exaggerating here, it would be a large part of my whole life) by conforming to the same standards away from work that I do at work.

              Indeed because I decided long ago that I was going to enjoy rather than tolerate travel for work, I have had some of the best experiences of my life: St Patrick’s Day in Dublin, Apres-Ski in Switzerland, Oktoberfest in Munich… all of which involved more than a little alcohol. And, albeit under different circumstances to the subject of this letter, I was caught by my boss with a “stranger” in my hotel room when we were all evacuated because of a fire in the middle of the night.

              I honestly can’t tell you how these actions have impacted my career (in subtle ways I’m sure it has both positively and negatively) but I can say without a doubt that it has made my career and my life much, much more interesting.

              1. Anna*

                The fire alarm thing made me giggle. Did you introduce them? :) Other than that, I think you’re approaching it wonderfully. But still. Maybe no loud sex at the hotel. I don’t want to hear it whether or not we’re working together.

              2. VeryEmmappropriate*

                It’s funny that you mention Mad Men with your hotel fire story since Salvador was “found out” by Don under a very similar set of circumstances if I recall correctly. Hehe.

              3. ReanaZ*

                Heh. I was once nearly caught in a Walk of Shame (STRIDE OF PRIDE) by a VP at my old nonprofit. I used to travel one week out of the month to another one of our offices. I had found my own preferred hotel because I didn’t like the one they normally put people in (mine was cheaper AND had a breakfast buffet… which is relevant in a moment–but it has a reputation for being pretty blue collar and my nonprofit was actually kind of snotty, so other people didn’t like to stay there). Because I was there so regularly, I had a… gentleman friend… I usually hung out with. To make it worse from a getting-caught-by-work-people perspective, I was in an open relationship back in my home city, and most of my coworkers knew about or had met my primary partner (but definitely didn’t know we were open).

                I wasn’t expecting any other work people at all at that hotel and I had no idea the VP was even in town. So my gentleman friend and I rocked up to breakfast, in our pajamas… only for me to see the VP at the buffet. I had just enough time to tell my gentleman friend “I don’t know you!” and dash away from him before the VP saw me and told me how great it was I had recommended this place to the office manager.

                He didn’t catch me with my gentleman friend… but I did have to eat breakfast with a VP of my org in my pajamas, while he was in a full suit and my friend sat confused and awkward a few tables away pretending not to know me.

                Also, if a coworker heard me having sex on a business trip, I’d be mortified. But if coworker tried to tell me about the ‘dangers’ of having a sex life while traveling, I would be outrageously pissed off. That would probably damage my relationship with that coworker forever.

            4. Ethyl*

              This reads like someone who has never had to travel a lot for work, frankly, and is kind of absurd.

        2. Koko*

          This doesn’t quite match up – I wouldn’t watch movies in my cubicle/office at work, but I watch them in my hotel every time I travel for business. Leisure and recreation activities don’t happen at work but they do happen during downtime on business trips.

        3. DarcyPennell*

          I see what you’re getting at, but the rules for a hotel room are very different than for a workplace cube or office. I wouldn’t watch television, sleep or relieve myself in my cube, but those are all perfectly appropriate in a hotel room even if it is client property.

          1. DarcyPennell*

            Whoops, sorry to be redundant. neither of those comments that say the exact same thing were there when I started typing.

        4. A.*

          Well, I don’t usually shower or poop in my cubicle, both of which I’d need to do if i were at a client’s hotel overnight.

      2. Arbynka*

        Something like this happened at my friend’s office. Employee complained to manager about hearing co-worker having sex in her hotel room. According to my friend, the manager said :”So were you worried they were going to ask you to join in or insulted that they haven’t?”

    2. Just Another Techie*

      It sounds like the clients are hotels or soemthing similar, in which case, I’d be very surprised if anyone handling vendor relations was monitoring who enters and exits the building late at night. The key decision makers won’t be staffing the door or elevators, you know? So I don’t see how having a quiet visitor would cause problems. The issue is the noise.

      1. Tedy Mosby*

        Upscale hotels almost always have a manager on duty. Even without one, what if there was a noise complaint? One yawn or sleepy look the next day and the client would be thinking “she’s not focusing because she was up all night having drunken sex.”

        1. just another techie*

          Right, the problem would be the noise complaint. But the comment I replied to was about just having a guest at all, because a worker might see you come in with the guest. And my point is, as long as you aren’t so disruptive as to garner a complaint, no one is going to even know, much less care, because the night staff have no idea who you are and aren’t going to be in the business meetings the next day.

          1. Ann without an e*

            More to Teddy’s point, if she seemed tired, un-focused, or hung-over the next morning they could lose the client.

            1. Anna*

              If, if, if. There’s no way to know if she’s not able to focus the next day. The OP didn’t even mention her ability to do the job because the late night; all the OP said was she was concerned about it being a noisy encounter and that it was a client property.

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Sure, but you’d address that if it happened. Otherwise, we’d also need to give a stern talking-to to people who stayed up until dawn reading a novel.

              1. Editor*

                If you have a headache or are heavy-eyed the next day after reading late, it’s because you “couldn’t sleep” the previous night. :)

        2. Allison*

          That’s more or less my concern too. A noise complaint can really strain things with the client.

        3. Daniel*

          I worked the graveyard shift at a fairly upscale hotel for a couple of years and the only people who would be aware of a noise complaint are the people who answer the complaint call. There was no policy to inform anyone else and nothing was written down so unless they’re meeting with the night manager AND the night manager knows it was their room, no one will put the two together.

    3. Graciosa*

      I think someone in this position needs to avoid being so disruptive that hotel management becomes aware of it.

      In my mind, this includes not trashing the hotel room, avoiding disorderly conduct in public (for example, no drunken dancing on the reception desk), and not generating noise complaints as a result of activity in your room.

      It does not include not having any visitors at all, which is a perfectly normal activity. If you’re traveling and want to speak privately with your grandmother about your grandfather’s chemotherapy, this is where you do it. The quiet activities you engage in while staying in your hotel room are none of anyone else’s business as long as you don’t violate overnight occupancy limits.

      I admit there’s a part of me that would be tempted to suggest that she consider a gag, but I’m going to fall back on not offering advice about private matters until I’m asked. ;-)

      Just limit your advice to telling her to be quiet and let her figure out how.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Yep. The hotels aren’t my clients, but more often than not I meet up with friends or family when I travel for work, of all ages and genders, and we’ll often hang out in my hotel room or the lobby if they have time to hang out before or after dinner. It would never have occurred to me that having guests in my room could look “unsavory”, but then again, it’s no one else’s business but the people in the room.

  2. AnnieNonymous*

    I’m getting a tiny impression of this new employee as someone who sees business trips as an excuse to get out of town and party. It’s too soon to vocalize something like this, but I’d keep it in mind going forward. The sex isn’t the issue – it’s the fact that she’s going out on the town and drinking when she’s supposed to meet with clients in the morning.

    1. Bend & Snap*

      I don’t even think this matters. Assuming she’s not blowing off work and/or showing up hung over, or making a scene that reflects poorly on the company (loud hotel room activities aside), she’s completely free to go out drinking at night.

      1. Sadsack*

        I agree. It is not the OP’s place to monitor her coworker’s off-hours activity. If the coworker’s behavior is poor on the job, that’s what needs to be addressed. Neither the sex nor the going out on the town is the issue here; the issue is the disruption to other guests at the client’s establishment.

    2. VintageLydia USA*

      So long as she’s sober and ready to work in the morning, does that really matter?

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        I think it’s only an issue when her drunken sexcapades cause complaints at a client’s property. Because that’s embarrassing all around.

        1. some1*

          It sounds like the LW is only one complaining, though, or else she would have mentioned it in the letter. And I am not seeing how the LW could know either one of them was drunk.

          1. MicheleNYC*

            I would have just called her room & knocked on the door and said can you please keep it down.

            1. maggie*

              I don’t think it’s fair that the OP should have to interrupt that during a required part of her work efforts. She should be able to depend on her colleague as acting the teensiest bit professional.

              Shouldn’t sexual harassment be considered for traveling hospitality teams?

              1. Melissa*

                There’s nothing unprofessional about having sex during a work trip. The coworker might not have realized that OP could hear her.

          2. MK*

            It doesn’t really matter if they were drunk or not; the problem is the noise/disruption, which the OP knows because she heard it. If the coworker wants to get quietly drunk, that’s her right, as long as it doesn’t affect her performance. As for the complaints, it’s actually a good idea to address this before other people start complaining. This time, it’s possible that the nearby rooms were empty or the guests staying there are heavy sleepers or tolerant about noise or kindly souls who never complaint about anything. Or there may have been complaints, but the hotel stuff shrugged them off or didn’t make the connection that the noise came from the room of their business associate, so they didn’t report them to the person dealing with the OP’s company. It’s possible the hotel stuff did report the complaints, but this particular manager didn’t think them a big deal. However, the problem is not this particular incident; if it’s isolated, it’s going to come to nothing. But the coworker needs to know this is not professional behavior, so that it won’t develop into a pattern.

            1. maggie*

              Or, worse yet, the hotel manager IS AWARE but didn’t want to get involved and quietly told his/her boss….who now knows how this company behaves when they’re at client properties.

            2. Coach Devie*

              It’s also possible and highly likely that the LW is being overly sensitive to any noises she heard, often hotel walls are incredibly thin, and that there wasn’t any outrageous amount of noise. Also, very judgmental on LW behalf that she automatically decided that co-worker was drunk, with a stranger, and involving herself in dangerous behavior. All of which could be and probably was untrue.

              Also, many jobs include traveling for several days a week or during the year. You aren’t expected to have absolutely no social life because you are traveling. When you aren’t on the clock, you can do the same things you would do if you were punching out and driving home and then going out for a drunken night on the town, mid-week, to pick up a stranger and have sex later. Thats your business. If you show up to work and do your job, then why is anyone else worrying about that?

              The LW made it pretty clear she has judged and made decisions about the co-worker already, whether baseless or not. She doesn’t know if it was a stranger! Just because she didn’t know anyone in that town, doesn’t mean the co-worker only has local friends.

          3. Dot Warner*

            Maybe she heard drunk-sounding speech in the hall? Or maybe later on, the coworker told her how drunk she was the night before? But yes, assuming that the client doesn’t mind and the coworker is able to function the morning after, it really isn’t the LW’s business.

            LW, I know you want to look out for this woman and that’s commendable, but remember that part of being a teacher/mentor is letting people make their own choices and learn from the consequences. It’s one of the hardest things about mentoring, but it’s also one of the most important.

          4. INTP*

            The LW may have been the only one complaining because she was the only one in an adjacent room, but if the room on the other side have been occupied, there WOULD have been complaints. Or other customers did hear but kept quiet, while the next ones might complain. Or the client may not have informed anyone that someone made a complaint about sex noises. I could imagine someone just choosing to keep it quiet from the vendor rather than endure an awkward conversation about how one of the reps had loud sex onsite and would she please refrain from it next time. I don’t think no one telling the OP of any complaints is necessarily indicative that there wasn’t an issue that was brought to the client’s attention or might be brought to their attention next time.

          5. Tedy Mosby*

            If I were the client and got a noise complaint of that kind, I wouldn’t bring it up (awkward) but I’d be very annoyed.

            1. maggie*

              Me too. I’d wonder if you’re here to conduct business and truly bring your A Game to our project or if you’re just considering this a free trip.

              1. Coach Devie*

                These “free trip” comments are annoying. Consultants, for example, often work out of their home town 4 days a week, and fly home on Fridays to work remotely if not overseas (and sometimes even then)

                They don’t look at their regular job, being at their client location for projects that can last for weeks or months as “Free trips.” Sounds like you have never traveled much ever, or for work at least at all.

                You’re not on the clock the entire time, just because you are sleeping on-sight. You can have a life.

      2. Minding your biscuits...*

        Agreed. I’ve been in a similar situation myself to the OP and even though I really, really wanted to warn the person, I decided not to.

        I used to work with someone who was a few years younger than me. On business trips, she would frequently stay out really late and then show up hungover, looking unkept, and plain unprofessional to meetings this next morning. There was one instance where she tried to go home with a guy, but our manager intervened and said politely, “Hey, probably not a good idea to go home with a guy you just met in a bar in a strange city. We’re leaving now.” I personally thought coming to a meeting hungover, looking like something you cleaned out of the drain, and being non-functional (in a work sense) reflected poorly on our company and showed low emotional intelligence on her part.

        No matter if you agree with her behavior or not, it’s best to mind your own biscuits (referencing a great Kacey Musgraves song.)

        1. MP*

          Just a question: would the manager have intervened if a guy wanted to bring a girl back to the hotel in a strange city? Because in my experience (and this is only from people I know and clearly only anecdotal) its men who have the most problems with “strangers” and they were in the “safety” of their own hotel (think: stolen money/watches/laptops)

    3. Sassy Intern*

      Right on. In my field there’s a certain amount of social drinking that’s expected to happen at events. It’s a joke/truth that reporters won’t come to a dry event. But! While working we’re expected to be on point 24/7. One or two drinks is okay, but it’s not party town central here.

      Getting tipsy (or sloppy) would be nigh fire-able.

      1. Koko*

        Liz Lemon: I’m feeling pretty drunk.
        Jack Donaghy: Well, it’s business drunk, it’s like rich drunk. Either way, it’s legal to drive.

    4. Robyn*

      Nope, that’s not an issue either.

      The noise is the *only* issue that concerns her job/company because it could lead to complaints from other guests.

      Everything else is none of anyone’s business but the woman.

      1. Laurel Gray*

        Thank you. And if it was so loud and went on for hours, the OP could have knocked on the door or had the front desk do it. Actually, asking the front desk would have been the less embarrassing option for her colleague.

        1. Tedy Mosby*

          That would mean OP admitting to the client that her coworker was behaving inappropriately on a trip to look at the hotel. Terrible idea.

          1. Laurel Gray*

            Not necessarily. We don’t know the detail of what the OP does. If the OP is staying at the Marriott and Marriott is their client, her dealings could be more with people at the corporate level and not the overnight front desk staff. I have worked in a hotel before and from time to time we would have VIP clientele who did consulting etc for our hotel stay in the rooms. Things would go on but I was just a peon at the front desk. If I had to tell someone to keep it down, I did, no need to rope in my manager or big boss.

            1. Sunflower*

              So true! I think this is what some people are missing. The people running the floor, especially at night, are not big decision makers. Usually they are just trying to get in and out of there without having to deal with too much BS. On the scale of small to large problems in a hotel, people having loud sex falls pretty low on the importance scale.

              1. Coach Devie*

                Definitely not something a night staff at a hotel, for crying out loud, is going to think is salacious or reportable. People have sex at hotels, a lot. crazy concept, right? lol

                A night staff getting a noise complaint about sex isn’t going to be reddened in the face by it or find it so rare that they must write the CEO and VP of their chain.

                I still think LW was being over sensitive and judgmental.

      2. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

        I would assume though, that perhaps if she were getting sloshed at the bar of the hotel she is supposed to be doing business with, that might blur some lines. (Though I agree 100% that if she’s partying off the premise it’s no one’s business)

    5. Treena Kravm*

      But for a lot of industries, they -are- an excuse to get out of town and party. Especially hospitality! As long as nothing else is affected, it’s all pretty normal behavior.

    6. Stranger than fiction*

      Unfortunately that kind of behavior is very common in some industries for traveling employees, although if it bothered the op, maybe it’s not very common for their company

      1. Bwmn*

        I work for a humanitarian organization and a number of staff I know travel with dehydration medication primarily for hangover purposes. A number of professions still have an “off hours” culture that definitely does not frown on that kind of behavior as long as you’re functioning the next day. This is definitely a case where only the noise is the issue.

        1. BananaPants*

          A friend of mine from high school is a medic in a branch of the military and his hangover cure involves starting an IV (on himself if a buddy isn’t available!) and pushing a bag of a particular type of IV fluids. My brother’s military and went through a combat lifesaver course where he was trained in starting IVs (among other things). He’s done this a couple of times himself after a long night out partying, and it really does seem to work. Definitely not for someone who’s untrained, though.

    7. Lee*

      Oh Lord, I can’t do it but I know 48-year-old married lawyers who still party until 3 a.m. — in town or out of town at conferences — and are still at meetings behaving professionally at 8 a.m. five hours later.

  3. Mike C.*

    I dunno, if the purpose of the overnight stays is to evaluate the properties, it might be useful feedback to know that the walls are thin…

    1. Stranger than fiction*

      Ha, exactly…she was probably just giving the mattress a thorough quality test

    2. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      Perhaps she was testing to see how often the linens are washed – including comforters.

    3. Editor*

      Lately, it seems like all hotel walls are thin. The quietest rooms I’ve been in have had large bathroom-dressing room areas designed to be long and narrow between rooms, which doesn’t hide the flushing noises but seems to keep the television and talking noise down.

  4. Laurel Gray*

    There is also the possibility that she was in the room doing these activities with the client. Maybe she’s one of those people who take the term “client relations” a little too literally. That’s all I got.

    1. nicolefromqueens*

      That was my first thought as well. She could (possibly unknowingly) be in bed with (an employee of) the client.

      1. fposte*

        It’s not like you get extra points for bonking the receptionist, though. It doesn’t really change the basic problem. (Though, you know, points for stamina.)

  5. MP*

    Oh please, the only complicating issue is that its client property. Being out on the town and having a few drinks is one of (the only?) benefit of spending a lot of time on the road. As long as you are ready for work the next day it shouldn’t be anyone’s concern (again acknowledging that this is client property so maybe this specific situation is different).

    1. VintageLydia USA*

      This is my thinking. It looks like this job is a lot of travel, not an occasional business trip here or there. What’s the point of traveling that often if you don’t go out at all? It’s not like you have the normal amount of chores or whatever to do after work. Hotel rooms are boring.

      1. maggie*

        So by your logic that means it’s expected that all business travellers to have loud s** FOR HOURS every time you travel? Gee, I wonder how the married/otherwise engaged folks feel about that.

        1. My two cents...*

          i’m sorry, but did you just censor yourself saying ‘sex’?

          their comments are about the LW’s puritanical commentary regarding the coworker’s drinking. yes, people do drink when they’re traveling for work.

          1. Coach Devie*

            I know this post is a month old but I am newer to this site. so I am reading back, but come on Maggie!! LOL You need to relax. Are you the LW?

        2. Koko*

          That’s plainly not what VintageLydia or MP were saying. They’re saying that it’s not unusual for someone to go out and do the nightlife/partying thing on a business trip. For some singles, that does include sex. Whatever your judgment might be about people who do nightlife/partying that includes sex, it doesn’t matter as long as they’re ready and performing at the appropriate level at work the next day.

        3. VintageLydia USA*

          I don’t care two bits if my husband goes out to drink and have fun when he’s on business trips. Which he does, often. He’s not bringing anyone back to his hotel room, but he has absolutely played wingman to a colleague. I just don’t care. The comment MP was replying to was about going out *at all* regardless of whether people got drunk or brought someone back, anyway. So long as people are awake, sober, and ready to work the next day, do whatever you want. Keep the noise down (the coworker’s ONLY misstep in all this) but otherwise, have fun!

        4. TrainerGirl*

          Umm….are you implying that married/engaged folks never have engaged in loud carnal activities??? I assure you that is NOT the case. As it seems that OP is making a lot of assumptions based on what she heard through the walls, anything other than the noise level (which, I have to wonder how much is hyperbole, being that she claimed this went on for HOURS!!!!!) is her business or her concern. Many here have questioned whether or not OP would’ve brought this up had it been a male colleague, and the admission of her “mother-hen” nature leads me to believe that her pearls would’ve most likely stayed unclutched if it had been. The noise level, whether it was from the tv, a loud phone conversation, laughter or sex, is the only issue here.

          1. Leah*

            No, her point was that married/otherwise engaged people would (hopefully) not be bringing people back to their room to have sex, since they’re away from their partners.

            1. TrainerGirl*

              Married/engaged people do sometimes travel with their partners, as some have mentioned here, and I’m guessing that since they’re married/engaged, they’ve heard of sex and are familiar with it. Again, the activity isn’t the issue…the noise is.

            2. Coach Devie*

              Open relationships, partners coming to join them on business (this is common for industries like consulting where you are away more often than home) or someone with extramarital relations… salacious maybe. but, still… not. your. business. If the work is being doing, not/ your/ business.

              Not to mention, often times the client furnishes much of the “after work” activities with the consultants, or whomever, which includes a lot of alcohol and fun times. These are people, afterall, not some storybook fairytale.

        5. Snarkus Aurelius*

          I’m married and I honestly don’t care.

          Also is the word sex really that taboo to post?

        6. Meg*

          Oh, please. No one is saying that it’s expected, or demanded, or anything else. Just that sometimes it happens, and it’s not a big deal.

          And please stop censoring the word “sex”. It is far, far from a dirty word, and we’re all adults here and know what it is anyway.

          OP – I think most commenters have it spot on when they say to discuss the loud noises only, and not act like a mother hen and lecture your coworker about the “dangers of strange men”. Your heart may be in the right place and you may want to help, but as a woman in her mid-20s who has occasionally had one-night stands after a night at a bar, giving her a motherly lecture is only going to annoy her, not convince her to change her ways.

          1. Koko*

            “After receiving heavy-handed advice about personal choices from a workplace proximity associate, I completely changed my lifestyle straight away.”

            …said no one ever.

          2. maggie*

            Do people reading this actually think I’m censoring it because I am clutching my pearls? Do none of you go onto this site while you’re at work? I do, and I know our compliance and IT team and what their tasks are. I’d rather not get written up over a couple of comments.

            AAM – officially out of here. Good luck, enjoyed your content.

            1. kt (lowercase)*

              Their tasks are looking through all the text that passes through their network for mentions of words like “sex”? Where on earth do you work?

                1. My two cents...*

                  someone needs to teach you how to internet. if your i.t. IS monitoring, they’d be annoyed you’re at this website at all instead of working diligently.

                  though, usually it’s ‘randomly selected’ based on who’s eating bandwidth.

              1. Coach Devie*

                Make sure you don’t accidentally open any applications that ask “Sex:” on them then! Omg, the horror!

            2. DMented Kitty*

              Assuming your IT does keylogging for each and every employee, damn sucks to have that type of monitoring.

              OTOH, I still don’t see the reason for this much of an explosive reaction. VintageLydia just said if your work involves a lot of travel, then have fun and make the most out of it. It doesn’t have to be sex. It doesn’t even have to be drinking. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be going out of your hotel room. Whatever works for you – just make sure it doesn’t affect your work during work hours. As long as you’re not miserable.

      2. the gold digger*

        What’s the point of traveling that often if you don’t go out at all?

        I have a space to myself for an entire evening with no cats whining to be fed and no husband whom I love dearly wanting attention. I have cable TV, I have a book, I have room service. I am in heaven. Please do not make me go out and be around – shudder – people.

        1. VintageLydia USA*

          Hey you do you! It just sounds like this job is a LOT of travel and spending so much time in a hotel room by yourself with little else but TV, internet, or books would feel isolating after a while. It’s nice to have adult (or *ahem* “adult”) interactions with people outside of work from time to time.

            1. Koko*

              Ha, I’m with you. The daytime parts of my business trips are usually so exhausting that I can hardly wait to get back to my hotel room and be in pajamas by 6pm with a movie I’ve seen 15 times before on the TV and room service dinner on its way, idling checking up on all the work email I missed during the day.

              My colleagues generally prefer to go out and see the sights, but I’m already very well-traveled and have seen most of the sights in most of the big business hubs anyway. I also tend to beg off the mixer/networking events that happen after hours claiming that I’m too busy or not feeling well.

              But of course I don’t bat an eyelid at the fact that they want to go out and blow off some of the day’s steam out on the town. It’s very normal.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                Agreed. The few times I’ve traveled for work, I was too tired to paint the town red. We had to be up pretty early anyway.

                When our college choir traveled to DC, our director told us, “I don’t care what you do tonight, as long as you can sing two concerts tomorrow.” Then he got off the airport bus and disappeared. None of us got a lick of sleep.

        2. Anna*

          I’m traveling for work next week. I’ll be gone all week and have an event every night except Wednesday. I could get together with friends who live where I’m going. Or I can sit in my hotel room, order pizza, and just chill out. Guess which one I’m probably going to do.

      3. JDD*

        Keeping your job in a recession is the point. It’s a buyer’s market for labor — no matter how good you are, there are probably at least a dozen people who would take your job immediately and put up with whatever pet belief your boss has decided makes good employees, whether it’s following a curfew, being able to pass random drug tests, group calisthenics, or always wearing a tie. :-)

    2. Ed*

      Going out on the town when traveling is the only reason half of my co-workers stay here. And it’s the only reason they put up with the non-stop work trips. I tend to be more like OP in that I would rather spend the night in or at least make it an early evening but I’m very aware I am in the minority. Occasionally things do get out of hand but that’s none of my business as long as they can function the next day.

  6. illini02*

    I guess its hard for me to judge without really knowing how loud it was. I mean, if it was like keeping you up late, which in turn could mean its keeping someone else awake, then I guess its fine to say something, just about the noise level though. I wouldn’t even bring up the sex, just the noise. It would be similar to if I was at a clients property and had a gathering in my room that got overly loud. Aside from that, this seems overly judgy for a co-worker. Keep your mother hen opinions to yourself. IF she is old enough to have a professional job, she is old enough to make her own decisions about who she wants to hook up with.

  7. Katie the Fed*

    Agreed with Alison – keep this ONLY about the noise. The rest of it is absolutely none of your business. BTW, OP – you’re making quite a few assumptions. This might not have been a “strange man” by any stretch – it could be someone she already knew, an ex she wanted to see again. Really it doesn’t matter at all. Just keep it focused to the noise.

    1. Laurel Gray*

      I want to know how the OP can tell that the activities she was hearing were “drunken” ones. There’s unfair judgment in that. Never mind the fact that this went on for hours. It may have reflected poorly on the OP’s opinion of the coworker but come on….one has to be pretty impressed by her guest.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        “one has to be pretty impressed by her guest.”

        yeah, I assumed much exaggeration there. :)

        1. Dana*

          +1 I am a very loud talker, especially once I get into telling stories, laughing, and such. But I don’t drink. Please don’t assume loud talkers (or loud…having sex-ers) are drunk because if she wasn’t (even if she *thinks* she wasn’t), that will put her on the defensive and anything else you say to her will be lost.

          1. Anon for this*

            I’ve uh actually have the police called on me for uh my rather impressive lung capacity. And I was stone cold sober that night too.

            1. A Dispatcher*

              Am terrified of this, as all of my coworkers know where I live! Then again, I work in the sort of environment when I’d come into work to friendly cheers, lol

      2. Anna G*

        Agreed, unless the noise included one of those fantastic-to-overhear-while-sober proclamations of “I am SO wasted right now!”

        1. HeyNonnyNonny*

          Maybe along with, “I am so happy I picked you up from a bar, good-looking stranger man!”

            1. Creag an Tuire*

              “My conservative property management firm would be SCANDALIZED to hear what I’m doing to you!”

    2. Blue Anne*

      Yeah, really.

      I’ve been in a somewhat-related situation – my ex-girlfriend came back to my hotel room while I was on a business trip to her city. I was slightly nervous about her being noticed because it’s a hell of a way to come out to your boss, but that’s about it. Since we weren’t disruptive and I wasn’t hungover the next day, it was no one’s business but my own. I’d have been pretty irritated if a colleague noticed and tried to lecture me about being a party girl.

    3. A Cita*

      For that matter, how do we even know there was another party involved in the goings-on at all.

      Some can be very vocal in their proclamations of love for oneself. And it would explain the stamina.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          You can usually tell, though; TV doesn’t thump around the way two people do when they’re confined in a motel room, whether they’re having sex or not. You can hear people walking in some places even if they’re not above you. And if you can hear their voices in different spots in the room, it’s probably humans.

    4. maggie*

      This is the only thing that I agree about this whole issue.

      Why assume it’s not a family friend, friend, ex, etc?? Just because she didn’t tell you that she was meeting up with someone doesn’t mean she doesn’t know them. Maybe she just didn’t want you knowing about her personal life (snort, oh the irony).

  8. My two cents...*

    i’d imagine that if OP just mentioned how audible the…encounter…was, the coworker would be pretty embarrassed. if not, and the coworker seems rather nonchelant about it, then OP might think to raise the noise issue (ONLY) to the manager.

    though, the tryst itself is really no one’s business.

    and the “first drinking-related offense” might have been pretty innocuous, based on how much OP is flipping out about a noisy hotel encounter – suggesting that she ‘warn’ the coworker about being a female traveling ‘alone’. though, i’m certainly curious to hear more if OP is willing to elaborate!

    1. Anonsie*

      I don’t like the idea of basing your decision to escalate something on an individual’s emotional reaction because people don’t all respond to things the same way, especially when you’re talking about how people respond to uncomfortable situations. People respond to discomfort (and embarrassment specifically) in a huge variety of different ways.

    2. Melissa*

      I think if someone mentioned it to me I would act nonchalant about it, especially if it was a coworker I knew relatively well. I’d give a sheepish “Oh boy, better keep it down in the future” kind of flippant response. That wouldn’t however, mean I didn’t care about how I came across or plan to make a change – and I’d be miffed if after we had this discussion the coworker went to the manager to say…what, exactly? “Melissa was having really loud sex when we were on a business trip and I just thought you should know that”?

      1. My two cents...*

        this isn’t about gauging an emotional response. it’s that escalation is likely not even needed/warranted so long as coworker doesn’t act like an ass when i try to politely address it directly with them. had the LW just simply mentioned the walls seemed *rather thin*, so long as the coworker didn’t act out or be rude about it (like, “yeah, whatever. get over it.”) it wouldn’t be an issue and the coworker would likely get the gist of the message.

        honestly, if i was trying to be pleasant and ask a coworker to keep the noise down while traveling to work and was met with eye rolls and sarcasm, i’d be pretty pissed at the eye rolls and sarcasm – probably even more so than the noise.

        and even IFFFFF lw then said something to their manager, it’d still be a noise-related issue and the remarkably rude response. “hey…i tried saying something to coworker about the noise level while we were at and got a surprisingly rude response. i don’t want to press the issue, but i was pretty taken aback.”

        1. Coach Devie*

          If my co-worker came to me about afterwork activity that wasn’t illegal, or wrong, and I had to travel with them in the future, I’d be sure to get my room assignment moved away from theirs if we were booked next to each other, from then on. I don’t have time to be judged by someone who has obviously decided to make hyperbolic assumptions of my activities.

  9. Katie the Fed*

    One other thing – she also might have been watching TV, not participating. Which is another reason to keep it focused on noise, not behavior.

    1. Mike C.*

      That’s actually a really good point. Imagine if the OP gave her lecture about safety only to find out there was just a movie rental.

    2. Ann O'Nemity*

      Even if the OP is pretty sure it was real, live drunken sex, blaming it on loud TV would be so much less awkward.

      1. Katie the Fed*


        “Your TV was REALLY loud last night – might want to keep it down – these walls can be pretty thin!”

        Always go for the face-saving move.

      2. Kelly L.*


        (I’m now thinking of the OP whose roommate had loud sex while she was on a work call from home, and the co-workers thought it was OP’s “movies.”)

    3. fposte*

      While this is a good out, she probably recognizes her co-worker’s voice pretty well. (Though of course her co-worker could have had a career that would lead her to be appearing on pay per view, too.)

      1. UKAnon*

        IDK, without knowing how loud is loud, you can hear general noises which… er…. give it away, without knowing exactly who it is. I used to live under a very squeaky bed with a very thin ceiling, and you could tell when the occupant was alone and when there was a companion, but that was about all.

        In fact, I’d go so far as to say that if OP is the only one who is likely to have heard this then to let it go the first time or at the very most mention casually at some point that they aren’t to be heard doing anything while on the clients’ properties. It’s the sort of thing that you’re only going to hear if you’re on the other side of a wall with two bed-heads together (hence the query as to how loud is loud)

        Indeed, approaching this as if it was just a case of a too loud TV and not anything more scurrilous is an excellent approach to take.

      2. Anna*

        I think it’s more along the lines of giving the coworker an out. More like “Your TV was on really loud last night! I could hear everything!” The subtext being, “I know it wasn’t your TV and you know I know it wasn’t your TV, but we’re both going to save some face here.”

    4. nona*


      If it was a TV, it might not have even been what it sounded like. Things can sound really weird through a wall.

      If it wasn’t a TV, you could still suggest it to give her an “out.” I can’t imagine how uncomfortable this conversation will be.

      1. Meg Murry*

        Yes, any chance she was catching up on Game of Thrones? Or just about anything on HBO? Some of that stuff can sound really inappropriate from another room – I’ve been known to come into the living room more than once to ask my husband “what in the world are you watching?!?”

        1. Anonsie*

          Oh man, last night I was watching a video recorded by scuba divers who were holding a camera with a wee microphone while my partner was trying to sleep, and all I could think was that if he woke up and heard that from the next room he’d think I was watching some adult entertainment.

    5. BTownGirl*

      Yup! Years ago I was living in an apartment and spent a snowstorm catching up on Showtime’s Secret Diary Of A Call Girl. My then-next door neighbor and I became great friends and, later, when another snowstorm was on the way, she was all, “HEY! I never told you I overheard that marathon session going on in your apartment, who WAS that dude?”

      To steal a line from HBO, “It’s not f******, it’s Showtime.”

  10. Treena Kravm*

    Alison hit the mark on this one. People who work in the hospitality industry have seen it ALL. (My favorite stories come from a male friend who worked the overnight shift at a 3 star hotel; he got propositioned for threesomes all. the. time.) Someone having quiet sex in their room isn’t even going to be on their radar, and it’s a non-issue. The only way they would even notice is if they happened to walk by when she was entering/exiting the room or if they viewed the security footage of the hallway, and that’s soo unlikely to happen.

    Before I was “out” at work as having an open marriage, I would have to sneak my partner into my hotel rooms on business trips. One morning at breakfast my co-worker complained about loud sex and I froze like a deer in headlights. Was it me? Were our rooms even near each other? Was I even being that loud? Luckily, after she shared a few more details, it became obvious it wasn’t me, but it freaked me out. Definitely spurred me into coming out sooner rather than later, and now it’s a non-issue.

      1. Treena Kravm*

        I didn’t either! Apparently, people see hotel employees as “safe” for going out of the bounds of their relationships. Which actually makes sense. They’re employed and aren’t going to murder you, but they go away as soon as it’s done and no emotional messiness. I just don’t think people realize they’re actually on the job and they can’t leave the desk (for too long, according to my friend. He indulged a couple of times.)

        1. Anonsie*

          Oh man I hate outing myself about this but in their little interview series thing, Cracked had one from a guy who worked at a very expensive luxury hotel talking about all the bizarre things guests would just immediately trust them with. The women who asked him to get all their drugs out of their car and bring it to their room comes to mind.

    1. Blue Anne*

      This is off-topic, but can I ask what industry you’re in and how coming out has worked for you? Hubby and I are poly, and being shifty about it at work is bugging the hell out of me, but I’m in a really conservative industry.

    2. Blue Anne*

      Treena, can I ask what industry you’re in and whether coming out at the workplace has worked well for you? My husband and I are poly and I really want to stop being sneaky about it, but I work in a very conservative industry.

      Alison, just let me know if this is too off-topic.

      1. Treena Kravm*

        I’m in sexual/public health, so it’s probably the one industry you’re guaranteed to not have issues with. I still wasn’t sure because my boss was a middle aged monogamous mom, but she has tattoos and drinks, so I spent a good year reading her before I was sure. I tested the waters on my good friend at work first, and she was fascinated/curious. That’s been the typical reaction I’ve gotten, but industry does play a huuge role. No one wants to look judgmental or out of touch in my industry, so any negative feelings are usually suppressed.

        1. Blue Anne*

          Damn. On the one hand, that’s fantastic and I’m really glad it worked out that way for you! On the other hand, yeah, I’m in public accounting. Oh well.

    3. Sunflower*

      I used to work at a romantic couples getaway resort. I worked there for one summer and that was enough to see it all

      1. Sunflower*

        Nope in Pennsylvania in the Poconos. We got a lot of honeymooners. Some of them had never been taught what happens when you have sex and we received many a ‘what the heck is happening, am I dying?’ phone calls. I used to joke with my manager that she was a concierge half the time, sex-ed teacher the other. Google ‘champagne glass jacuzzi’ if you dare…

        1. maggie*

          Awww, so like that couple on Saving Sarah Marshall. That’s kind of sweet (but a little gross).

        2. Melissa*

          LOL, me and my husband were going to honeymoon there! We ended up not, though. Half-concierge/half-sex-ed sounds like an interesting combo, lol.

    4. Anonsie*

      I’ve always wondered how couples in open relationships handle the possibility that someone of importance to them (especially people at work even though it shouldn’t be their bee’s wax) will see them somewhere and think they’re having an affair and judge them or make a big deal about it… Versus how freaked out people can be by polyamory in the first place.

      1. Treena Kravm*

        thats actually my only concern. If they saw me but I didn’t see them and then rumors. No thanks!

      2. Kathryn*

        People who make a big deal about it are actually pretty easy to deal with, you get a chance to respond like it is the non issue it is, and layer on heavy “and we are all adults here so I have no idea why you care about my private life anyway” subtext, which usually sets things back on track.

        People who just get quietly judgey can cause issues though. I haven’t had a problem since college, honestly. (And even then, eventually someone decided they wanted to cause public drama … Which fizzled when we got to the “and everyone who gets a vote thinks this works fine, what is your issue again?” part of the discussion)

        I am so glad I’m relatively out at work. I hate secret drama shenanigans.

      3. Blue Anne*

        I’ve worried about this happening, but it actually never has in almost a decade of practicing poly, even though I live in a pretty small city where if you’re walking around for more than an hour or so it’s very normal to run into someone you know.

        I think if it did, though, it would just be a case of clarifying with the person that there is not an affair happening, everyone involved is aware and happy, and letting them know that I trust them to be an adult about it.

        1. Anonsie*

          I think most people are unlikely to bring it up with you directly though, wouldn’t they? It’d just go into the rumor mill.

  11. Bend & Snap*

    I wonder if the judgement would be the same if the colleague had been a man. Would the OP think he needed a talk on how to behave while traveling?

    Being on the road is boring. People go out. They drink. They get laid. And it’s nobody’s business unless it impacts the work.

    1. MK*

      But’s that is (or at least should be) the issue, that it could impact the work. The coworker going out and drinking and hooking up with someone is no one else’s business and the OP should stay out of it. But the noise is a problem; it would reflect badly on the OP too, if her company was to receive a terse letter from the hotel management saying “We would appreciate it if the next time your employees stay here on business, they refrain from disrupting our guests’ rest with noisy late-night activities”. And that has nothing to do with the gender of the coworker.

      1. Bend & Snap*

        Wanting to warn a young woman about the risks of traveling and entertaining men is gender specific.

    2. Tedy Mosby*

      This is totally inappropriate for either gender. Your colleagues should never be forced to learn about your sex life. Business trips aren’t an exception.

      1. AMG*

        This, for pity’s sake. It’s not sexist. It’s discretion. Nobody is being repressed. I also love you, Ted.

      2. Tracy Flick*

        So people are warning men about the dangers of being around women in hotel rooms? Ha. I don’t care what people do as long as I don’t hear much of it. This is a noise issue,

        1. MK*

          I have heard managers warn men about this many times. They tend to be less safety conscious than women. The difference is that they don’t usually get raped, just stolen from.

  12. Ann Furthermore*

    Yep, just keep it to the noise. Even though I totally get the mother-hen instinct, of wanting to help someone in their first professional job, it runs the risk of coming across as judgmental or prudish, even if you’re neither of those things.

    1. Laurel Gray*

      If I was going to bring this up to my colleague I would also suggest that they look into getting rooms away from whoever they are traveling with so that their off hours activities are their business. I’d rather the OP be a mother hen from this standpoint – helping colleague to protect her reputation.

      1. MK*

        That’s really bad advise, in my opinion. To begin with, the issue here is not how the coworker will appear in their colleague’s eyes, but the client’s, so the important thing is to avoid making enough noise to cause a disruption. Secondly, it’s going to sound really strange if they specifically ask a room far away from the coworker they are traveling with. And, if you are going to hook up with someone in a strange town and bring them to your hotel room, it would be better to have someone you know in the next room.

        1. Viva*

          My question is more how did they get rooms together, if they presumably made their own reservations, the hotel wouldn’t have necessarily put them together.

          If one person booked for both, it’s fine to call and request a hotel room on another floor.

  13. amaranth16*

    I’m no prude either, but I think having loud sex in a hotel room on a business trip is really poor judgment. As Allison said, it’s not about the sex, it’s about the commotion. I think in this case it’s exacerbated by the fact that she is in a room adjacent to her coworker and by the fact that they’re staying in a hotel owned by the client. But when you’re traveling for business you’re representing your company. If I had loud sex on a business trip and my employers got word that a guest had complained about me, that’s a pretty major black mark – so the idea of doing it where your colleague can hear you, and in a place where the hotel is the client, seems beyond the pale to me. It has the potential to damage your professional reputation and it places your colleague in an uncomfortable position – the LW didn’t ask to be disturbed by loud noise, particularly loud noise that puts her colleague’s sex life right under her nose. I think Allison’s advice here is spot on.

    1. fposte*

      Right, I think that’s the risk here–that somebody’s going to complain and a staffer is going to have to knock on their door and ask them to keep it down. They know who you are, they know you work for the company, and you’re likely getting the room either free or a reduced rate. That’s a bad position from which to be a problem-causer.

      1. INTP*

        That’s a very good point. And it would apply even if the noise issue wasn’t sex. If you were practicing your guitar (with an amplifier), watching TV or listening to music so loud that your hotel neighbors could hear it clearly, screaming at someone on the phone, or otherwise causing a disruptive commotion in your room in the middle of the night for hours on end, it would be a non-brainer that it’s unprofessional activity and would reflect horribly on your employer if the client had to get involved. While the OP’s coworker shouldn’t be criticized just because her disruptive activity was sex, I also don’t think we need to be extra lenient about it versus another entirely optional activity that someone chose to perform at an excessive volume (which I think people can do when they’re overcompensating in an effort not to be judgmental about the sex).

      2. EngineerGirl*

        Thank you for saying this. A business trip is paid for by the business, which means you are representing the company at all times. You don’t want to do anything that brings censure to your business, including loud noise. People who are saying “none of your business” don’t seem to understand this concept. It’s like a work party – you don’t get to do whatever you want.

        1. Kelly L.*

          I think it’s different because the “work party” includes an area that’s supposed to be your private space. You wouldn’t shower, shave your legs, sleep, or poop in the middle of the room at a work party–unless you’re in one of our weird co-worker threads!–but you can do all those things in your hotel room.

          The more I think about this, the more I think the hotel needs to do something about its walls, honestly. People come to high-end hotels, in part, to get away from it all and have some privacy. Paper-thin walls like this are more the province of the Motel 6.

          1. Kelly L.*

            *Before someone misunderstands me, I do not advocate pooping on the carpet in the hotel room. I mean in the bathroom there.

          2. EngineerGirl*

            All of the activities you mentioned don’t affect anyone else (usually). That’s the difference. Its is important to be a good ambassador when you are interacting with someone even if it isn’t intentional. The OPs coworker involved the OP (and maybe others) because of the noise. That is where is crossed the line.

            1. Coach Devie*

              Unless the OP was being over sensitive to every noise because she was a judgmental nosy mother hen…

  14. TotesMaGoats*

    Given the occupation of the OP and employee in question and that they stay at the client’s hotel/resort, I would say that her behavior is fair game to raise a red flag about either with her or with her manager. Part of that is company culture. If getting wild and crazy at the hotel bar or in your room where others can hear, is frowned upon by the company then someone needs to tell her this. It depends on the image the company wants to present. The other part is professionalism. Just because you are staying in a hotel and your “work day” is done doesn’t necessarily mean you are off the clock.

    When we go to conferences, just because the conference day is done doesn’t mean we can let loose at a bar. People are still watching and we have an image/brand that we represent. A drink or two at dinner, if that’s what you can handle, is one thing. Going beyond your limit and generally making an ass of yourself is another. And I do think it should be addressed. My boss addressed it with us before our first conference.

    However, if she is still behaving appropriately at dinner/bars and you can’t hear her activities through bedrooms walls then it’s none of your business.

    1. Laurel Gray*

      I disagree. The OP never saw her colleague drinking, the colleague went to dinner and out to check out the town. The OP is making a major assumption about her colleague being drunk based off “sounds”. I don’t even know if that is fair. I don’t even think there is a standard definition of what drunk adult activities sounds like compared to sober ones. If the OP wants to say something, I rather it be to the colleague, not to a manager.

      1. TotesMaGoats*

        That’s why I said if. If she’s actually seeing/witnessing all of these things then she could say something. I agree that I’d rather the OP do it than report it.

      2. INTP*

        We really don’t know that she’s making unreasonable conclusions, though. Maybe she’s just making assumptions because the sounds happened to be loud, but she also could have heard voices – slurring or just saying things that the coworker would clearly not say while sober.

    2. My two cents...*

      yeah, the tech conferences i’ve attended are nothhhhing like that. haha

      hell, they’ll even start serving beer during the final hour or two before show-close for the day.

      1. TotesMaGoats*

        Oh, tech conferences are WAAYYYY different than the academic ones I go to. Faculty get to have a bit more fun than most, or so I’ve heard but our boss keeps us pretty straight laced.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          Academic conferences I went to were always hookup central. Socially awkward academics + much booze = MUCH fun times.

          I mean, that’s what I heard.

        2. Beebs the Elder*

          Okay, I’ve been to a lot of faculty conferences and it was about the last place I’d call hook up central. It’s one drink with dinner and then then everyone’s off of pursue their socialist leftist agendas (i.e. watching The Daily Show) in the privacy of their hotel room in their jammies.

            1. Beebs the Elder*

              Maybe it’s discipline-specific. My discipline is not know for its hot party atmosphere.

            2. anonforthis*

              Indeed it does vary by field.

              In my small subfield, I think a bit over half of the grad students have slept with 1 or 2 other grad students in the field at our annual conference. We all know each other, and I’m just wondering what things will be like 10 years down the road. “Oh, James Bond? OH THAT James Bond! Oh yes, I do know him.” Unstated is that they knew him in the *ahem* biblical sense. The fact that my subfield is split down the middle by gender makes this more likely, I think. At any time, there are about 50 of us grad students in the field. And most stay in academia (it is a mythical subfield where academic jobs do not greatly outnumber produced PhDs).

              Faculty in the subfield are much more discrete. Post-docs are, predictably, in the middle. There is some cross over in terms of young faculty/post docs hooking up with grad students, but it’s always within the under age 35 crowd.

              [Also common in my subfield: people bringing along infants, if they have them. The conference is known as being family friendly, and daycare is provided for parents of tiny ones.]

              I love the culture of my subfield, but it is a bit odd… Better than my last (95% male) subfield, where, as an *undergraduate* multiple faculty from various institutions propositioned me (20 year old woman). I still feel icky thinking about it.

      2. Brett*

        Depends on the tech. My tech field is dominated by government. You have to be very very careful about drinking alcohol in public, especially if you make a mistake and leave your conference badge on. I’ve had a complaint lodged against me for drinking a single beer at a bar on the other side of the state (and it was actually an O’Douls).

    3. KT*

      There was nothing though to hin that she was “making an ass of herself”. She had sex. In her private hotel room. Whoop dee do. She wasn’t strip teasing in the lobby, she was in her own room!

      1. TotesMaGoats*

        Thus my last statement….
        However, if she is still behaving appropriately at dinner/bars and you can’t hear her activities through bedrooms walls then it’s none of your business.

    4. Stranger than fiction*

      Very good point. You’d think if the company was concerned with image, she would have been trained or talked to on company travel policies

      1. INTP*

        Maybe they thought “Please don’t have sex so loud that the client’s customers can hear you and may complain about you to the management of the client” went without saying. I mean, I consider myself a pretty sexually liberal person and I would assume that was an unspoken rule.

  15. Eva G.*

    While I agree with Alison that causing a loud, drunken commotion while staying at a client property is indeed unprofessional, parts of the OP’s letter (it went on for hours!) remind me of H.L. Mencken’s satirical definition “Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”

    1. KT*

      THIS. This pearl clutching and “the danger!” attitude is a little much. She’s an adult. She’s off the clock. Mind your business and watch Game of Thrones on HBO or something.

        1. HeyNonnyNonny*

          Though if a person tends to clutch at pearls, perhaps Game of Thrones is not a good choice…

    2. EngineerGirl*

      Or the OP actually couldn’t sleep because the noise kept going on. and on. and on. I’d be annoyed if I had a meeting the next day and my coworker kept me from getting my requisite sleep.

      1. Eva G.*

        I’d be annoyed too in that case, but OP doesn’t say anything about that aspect. Her focus is elsewhere.

  16. shep*

    Yeah, really the only thing I’d be concerned about would’ve been my inability to sleep due to this co-worker’s enthusiasm. I might’ve strategically “tripped” and thumped against the wall in an effort to illustrate, “If you can hear me, I can CERTAINLY hear you.”

  17. Snarkus Aurelius*

    You may not realize it, but you’re being extremely sexist.  

    “Then there’s the mother-hen in me (I’m only 10 years older than her, but still…) that simply wants to warn her about the dangers of a young female traveling alone, inviting strange men to her hotel room.”

    Really?  Would you say that to a man?  Because I always hear about the dangers for young women for traveling alone, usually as an excuse to deny them an opportunity, but somehow men escape those same risks.

    You and your convictions are in need of some serious self-examination here.

    Looking for Mr. Goodbar indeed.

      1. Snarkus Aurelius*

        Yep, yep! Got to love the people who assume you’re being ignorant instead of outright disagreeing with them.

        That will make any conversation get ugly real fast.

    1. Different name for this post.*

      Honestly, sexist though it is, if it were a man I would probably be even more disgusted. Right or wrong. Was in Las Vegas once, and the man next door (a stranger fortunately) brought a hooker home with him at 3:00 am and proceeded to have very raucous sex, followed by a loud disagreement over the money afterwards. The walls weren’t paper thin, they could have kept it down, but gathering from the conversation that everyone in my room had to overhear, the noise is what turned him on. I almost banged on the wall, but my friends convinced me not to, fearing that was his goal all along, and figuring it would just be playing into his kick.

      That said there are certain hotels that I would not put people up in in my area as they are notorius for paper thin walls and it makes no difference how discreet one is being.

    2. Sunflower*

      Also, hate to break the news to you but traveling alone is very safe for women. I am a woman, I travel alone 97% of the time for work. I go out, I drink, I talk to strangers at a bar and I’m totally fine. Usually if you are in a place where it’s truly unsafe for women, it’s pretty unsafe for men as well.

      1. MP*

        Sunflower, you are 100% right. The modern world is actually very safe despite everyone’s fears (maybe because of everyone’s fears?). In all honesty, the most dangerous thing most people do on a business trip is the cab ride from the airport.

        1. fposte*

          And, in fact, in many years of women I know traveling on business, that’s the only fatal incident I can recall.

      2. Snarkus Aurelius*

        I’m sure the OP is not aware of what she’s implying, especially as most forms of discrimination these days are quiet and/or indirect.

        This letter is a great example of soft sexism.

        If I were this employee’s friend and I got wind of that line, I’d be warning my friend to be on the look out for getting cut out of opportunities.  Citing the false notion that young women are unsafe when traveling alone will disproportionately affect, well, the female staff.  

        And gee, guess who will be the only people the company feels comfortable sending out on travel?  With travel opportunities available, who will be the only people eligible for a raise and advancement?  With the raises and advancement, who will be eligible for more plum assignments and (surprise!) more travel?  With all the men doing all the big assignments, guess what duties will be left for the female staff?

        Do you see where I’m going with this, OP?  Do you see why you cannot say or think stuff like this in the workplace?  

        If you think I’m being melodramatic, I suggest you take a look at the gender lawsuits in Silicon Valley right now.  These discrimination claims started out very small and VERY similar to your approach.

        1. Steve G*

          You make a valid argument about travel/type of work/opportunities for advancement. However, I do think you made a leap when labelling this soft sexism. A company feeling “comfortable sending (someone) out on travel” may have just as much to do with their fit into the company’s cultural norms as it does with unwarranted safety concern. Also, and not to play devil’s advocate, but I noticed you’re assuming that travel = good assignment. I for one have travelled overnight to do some pretty mundane places doing some pretty mundane things like meeting with no-name companies in the suburban expanses of the NE corridor, that were pretty much forgotten by everyone else at past co….

          1. Tinker*

            Yeah, it definitely would excuse a company from soft sexism (or other prejudice) if they just weren’t comfortable sending a person out on travel because, well, they just don’t quite fit into the company’s cultural norms. You know, they don’t really… look like… what the company really is. It’s not that they’re not hard workers or that there’s anything that can be pointed to that they’re doing wrong, they just… they’re different from everyone else. You know. Because. It’s just that there are other people who represent the company better in a big picture cultural sort of way, and that should probably be kept in mind when we’re making decisions about how to allocate assignments.

            Seriously though, serving as a catch-all excuse for acting on what are ultimately demographic-based prejudices is a notorious failure case (or not-failure case, I suppose, depending on perspective) for “culture fit” type judgements.

            As to the matter of travel being mundane — yes, it’s more obvious when it’s a high-profile assignment, but what is it that one thinks of a person who can’t be used for a mundane and yet useful task (else it would not be assigned) that would generally be part of their job “because-you-know obviously we can’t have this person do THAT”? If there was a decision to make between keeping person A who can do their job perfectly well but can’t go out alone after dark and person B who can do their job just as well as person A and also can do things after sunset, use a cordless drill, and drive a stick-shift truck (in a case where these abilities can come in handy), is person A really going to come out ahead ever? Even if cordless drills are not, except in certain edge cases, the sexiest and most glamorous things to be seen using?

            At the least, I can tell you from having been in A’s shoes that the appearance strongly leads one to draw a certain conclusion.

          2. Snarkus Aurelius*

            Tinker summed it up quite well. Culture fit is notorious for excluding anyone who isn’t white or male. It’s a great catch all term that can be bandied about to exclude a person who is completely qualified.

            1. steve g*

              I never thought of it that way. My experience is limited because my last two jobs were mostly men (though lots of races). I wonder what would have been if there were more women

      3. Anonsie*

        There is something I can’t quite articulate that really grates on me when people talk about when going out alone, traveling, doing x activity, etc is specifically not safe for a woman to do alone. It feels like it always has the air that a woman who does walk to their own vehicle at night or go on a vacation solo or whathaveyou is somehow behaving immorally themselves, like the real menace here is women who aren’t afraid of the dark.

        1. steve g*

          But despite the “false concern” mention above and below, sometimes the concern is real. I really hate my sister travelling with my niece to all of the rural but also crowded places they go. Yes because she is a woman. She is thin and wouldn’t be able to fight off a big man. It’s not sexist to worry about these things when someone announces they r travelling – it can be real concern.

          1. Sunflower*

            For some reason we have an idea that there are places that are safe for men but not women- MP is right that the world is a pretty safe place, for all people . The reality is if your sister is going somewhere that is truly unsafe for her, it’s probably just as unsafe for you to go there.

            Besides countries with obvious oppression to women, I can’t think of a single spot I would say ‘yup totally safe for a man but not for a woman’

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Would you worry about a man with a similar build? Why not say “i worry about people with smaller builds traveling alone”? (And yes, that sounds a little silly, which probably should tell us something!)

            1. Hiring Mgr*

              Our company’s travel policy prohibits the small-framed from traveling alone to certain cities with a higher crime rate such as NYC, Detroit, Vancouver, LA, etc..

                1. Katie the Fed*

                  If it’s not I’d REALLY love for Alison to do a posted interview with Hiring Mgr.

              1. Sunflower*

                What?? I am a tiny woman and I feel safer walking around Manhattan at 1am than I do in my parents neighborhood(where no one locks their doors) after sundown.

              2. Zillah*

                Thanks, but NYC actually has a much lower crime rate than many other places in the country. If you’re not sending people to NYC because “omg crime!” you should really look at some stats from this century.

              3. Katie the Fed*

                Considering my work has sent me to Baghdad and Kabul, I’m going to go ahead throw the bs flag right there.

              1. Lizzy*

                What is the truth? That you struggle to see women as human beings who are capable of taking care of themselves?

              2. SR*

                Steve, I’m assuming you’re worried about your sister’s safety because statistics show that women are more likely to be the victims of certain types of crime. That’s not crazy. (A little on the paternalistic side, but not crazy.) But it’s not that women are more likely than men to be assaulted/mugged/whatever by strangers jumping out from dark alleys, it’s that women are more likely to be the victims of violence by *people they know* through domestic partner violence, date rape, etc. So don’t worry about your sister traveling alone or going to a “bad” neighborhood any more than you’d worry about a male friend doing the same thing. Instead, maybe point her toward some helpful links about the signs of emotionally, mentally, and physically abusive or controlling relationships (or get her a copy of The Gift of Fear – I haven’t read it but I’ve heard great things). That’s far more likely to help protect her from real threats than telling her not to go to X country/city or Y neighborhood after dark.

                1. Zillah*

                  Right. If we’re talking pure statistics, Steve, you are far more likely to hurt your sister and/or your niece than a random dude on the street.

              3. Zillah*

                She’s a girl or a woman? If she has a daughter, it seems likely it’s the latter.

                Also, just so we’re clear, the fact that you genuinely think that has no bearing on whether or not it’s “sexist or whatever.” It is sexist. What it isn’t is based in logic.

                You say,

                She is thin and wouldn’t be able to fight off a big man.

                Okay. I don’t know your sister, so let’s take that at face value.

                Could you fight off a big man? Multiple big men? Multiple medium sized men? Do you think that most people who target women for crime are big men? Weapons and/or substances are often used in stranger crime – do you think that men are innately more capable of fighting of an assailant carrying a weapon or drugging their drink/food?

              4. Ellie H.*

                I think it’s natural. My mom worries about me like that too. I don’t think it’s intrinsically sexist. You worry about people you love, it’s a basic feature of our species to have the instinct to protect female relatives even when we know rationally they are totally capable of looking after themselves. It’s not unreasonable to think that IF someone is going to attack a random stranger esp. with a sexual motive, which is very very very rare, a woman is a slightly more likely target than a man. It’s so rare it’s an unreasonable fear, probably, but it doesn’t make you a horrible person to worry. We all have irrational worries about people we care about, some take different forms than others.

                1. Tinker*

                  Mothers can be sexist too. Of this I can ASSURE you.

                  Look, I think there’s this idea floating around that sexism requires conscious ill intent — that one has to know that one is explicitly and intentionally treating someone badly out of dislike targeted at their gender — and that if not being sexist would require restraining ingrained impulses, one gets a pass.

                  That is not how it works.

                  Regards the former I have books, particularly (as implied above) concerning misbegotten expressions of love in the context of family relationships; the gist of it is that unintentionally being hurtful or biased or being intentionally so and stating (even feeling) that this is done out of love does not negate the fact.

                  Regards the latter, a general axiom is that people never just go and do things for no reason. Things seem normal to people for reasons inclusive of that they were implicitly or explicitly taught; they do the things because they feel it is a normal and appropriate response. Even if most people would contend that it is not, and even if the action is unethical. On this matter, while restraining judgment (although believe me, I have it) regarding the notion of “protect the female” as a pure and unsullied biological response, we have the power and indeed in many cases the obligation to restrain and challenge impulses from whatever source if doing so is not in our interests or representative of our true will.

                  So, in this case — one’s mother might be in other ways a good person and have a loving attitude toward oneself, but if they have irrational impulses that lead them to act in a way that overtly promotes sexism and they act unrestrainedly on these impulses, that is still what being sexist IS, excuses or no.

          3. MP*

            I also wouldn’t be able to fight off a big man… or a big woman… or a determined small man/woman for that matter. It’s amazing how rarely that personal shortfall has been exploited by the world at large.

            There is always a case for keeping your wits about you, whether travelling or just around your own quiet neighborhood, but can we just try to let go of some of the fear that comes from the unknown. The vast majority of people, in every corner of the world, want the same things as you: a nice, safe, comfortable existence… and maybe some occasional sex in hotel room.

            1. Tinker*

              I’ve floated the notion before that if I really thought I couldn’t undertake ordinary life activities (of which I consider travel in most places a part) without the risk of being unable to defend myself physically in the event that I was attacked, I have a bag full of level playing field in the basement from which I could at any moment equip myself to avert that specific problem. So — as I say, when people bring this up — we are not debating whether it is okay for me to take a stinky sardine can out to the garbage after dark, but rather whether the sardine can is the only thing that comes with me or not.

              Personally, I think it’s not worth the bother given my current life circumstances. As you say, surprisingly often (given the impression one gets from media) random people have better things to do than lurk in dumpsters, and those who do are not necessarily completely undetectable and unmanageable.

              That, and statistically speaking acquiring a boyfriend for the purpose of providing escort to the stranger-danger-rapist-infested garbage (as I’ve been told I should do) is a poor bet on the not-being-raped front, if one wants to be completely blunt about the matter — that’s another case where it is reasonable to take a calculated chance in the name of greater life satisfaction, if one is the intimate-relationship-having sort.

              1. MP*

                You’re correct in that statistically at least (and we can make those statistics say anything, forfty percent of people know that!) the boyfriend is a bad bet for preventing rape. So is leaving your child in the care of a close relative to prevent molestation. Or driving rather than flying to prevent death. And yet… I’m sure someone will argue the contrary on all fronts.

          4. Snarkus Aurelius*

            So your solution is what… Lock them up and throw away the key?

            We all have to live in this world. If you want to be governed by fear, that’s your choice. It’s not mine, and you don’t have the right to impose that on other people.

            We have a life to live.

        2. Tau*

          I have a friend who is vehemently against this sort of thing and calls it a form of terrorism, designed to make women live constrained lives through fear. I honestly think she has a point – it feels like often there’s this undercurrent of “well you just shouldn’t do X” when X is a perfectly reasonable thing to engage in and no one would dream of warning off a man like that.

          I like cycling and do long-distance trips for my holidays. Generally alone, since my friends aren’t interested. It feels like half the time I tell people this I get met with expressions of abject horror, immediately followed by “oh but that’s so dangerous!” hand-wringing. It’s honestly absurd and completely out of proportion to any actual risk involved. I can very well imagine that someone who’s less confident and is maybe just trying out long-distance cycling might be put off it entirely by those reactions, and that is a crying shame.

      4. Rebecca*

        Absolutely! People traveling alone in general are at risk. One of my good friends was recently on a business trip where a a couple of (male) colleagues decided to go out for drinks after dinner. One of them showed back up the next morning beaten to a pulp, the other one had managed to make it back to the hotel but with no memory of what had happened. The best they can figure is that their drinks were drugged for the purpose of robbing them. My friend said it was awful and a real eye-opener for him as he often travels alone.

        1. Tinker*

          Funny thing about this, actually. If we exerted special caution to restrict the activities of people who were statistically more likely to be assaulted by strangers on the basis of their apparent binary gender, the people who we’d apply that special caution to would be: men.

          (With a broader view of gender the answer is somewhat different. To our shame as a society, given the cause.)

          A potential assertion that follows on from there is that it’s different for men, because they have a chance of fending off any attackers whereas it is popularly held that this is never the case for women — and hence a man can do things that might even be very risky in the assurance that he has a chance of averting an assault in progress (even if he is unarmed, untrained, and substantially physically impaired), whereas a woman (even if athletic, well-trained, and armed) is held to the standard that her only hope of bodily integrity is to avoid the possibility of an attempt. I don’t know for sure, but I’d actually bet that this belief is implicated as a cause in the disparity.

          1. Zillah*

            Everything you said, really.

            I’d also like to point out that if you are unarmed and the person threatening you is armed, any nonsense about physical ability goes out the window.

            I don’t know for sure, but I’m assuming that most strangers looking to attack someone alone are likely to be using substances, knives, guns, or other weapons to help them. Is being a big strong man going to help you then? I tend to think not.

            1. Tinker*

              Yeah, and I think also an issue that gets obscured in these matters — seriously injuring or killing another person would still rate pretty highly on my list of bad days, even if I was unhurt and the situation was provably unambiguous enough that all who heard of it would agree I acted correctly. And of those the former is unlikely and the latter has never happened.

              Because of that and because of the intrinsic uncertainty associated with physical conflict, I tend to think of reality as being somewhat closer to the model taught to women. Namely, that efforts to keep oneself safe should in fact be properly aimed mostly at the “pre-event” portion of a potential incident, because the payoff is greater there.

              The bit where I diverge is in the implications of the model — yes, it is in a sense a risk for me to go to a grocery store in the early evening, to take an example I’ve dealt with. The issue is that I don’t think it therefore follows that I must refrain from many common everyday activities because it would be safer to stay inside, or that — and this I think is the real point of some of the times this stuff has been foisted on me — I must limit my independent engagement with the outside world and be dependent in my relationships due to my purported inability to accomplish essential tasks without a minder.

              So, there is a matter of calculated risk there — not zero in one case and infinite in another, or zero in all cases, or infinite in all cases, but rather a set of tradeoffs that applies to everyone.

              1. Zillah*

                I agree with everything you said, especially this:

                Because of that and because of the intrinsic uncertainty associated with physical conflict, I tend to think of reality as being somewhat closer to the model taught to women. Namely, that efforts to keep oneself safe should in fact be properly aimed mostly at the “pre-event” portion of a potential incident, because the payoff is greater there.

                I do think that women are taught to be too afraid, but I think that’s generally surrounding the likelihood of something happening, not their ability to respond if it did. Men, on the other hand, I think are taught to have a bit of a better handle on how likely something is to happen, but have serious misconceptions about their ability to respond to situations if they do arise, particularly since they’re also taught to not back down from a fight – because they’re men, doncha know!

                1. Tinker*

                  I think it probably varies; I agree that women are taught an unrealistically high probability of event, but in my case I have also had unrealistic assertions made about my ability to respond or to effectively use force generally.

                  There’s a difference between “the odds are pretty non-awesome for realistic scenarios taken as a whole, although if you have no choice you have to work with what you get” and blank noncomprehension and denial when I go back to basics like “It is at least possible that if I were to hit a man, he would be injured” when I have in fact caused injury to men with the unassisted use of my body or even “I can provably cause bullets to pass through a specified area with some reliability; if a man were standing there, he would sustain injury due to coinciding with bullets”. I have talked with folks who had nontrivial and apparently legitimate issues with understanding that this could be a thing.

                  It’s a less meaningful distinction in this case, perhaps, but it matters a lot in the case, say, of whether I have any obligation not to hit people or whether a person should reasonably fear for their bodily integrity should my unethical doppelgänger act with clear intent to harm them. It also does rather matter with regard to my mindset should I find myself despite my best efforts in one of those non-awesome sort of cases.

                  It’s ridiculous all around, I think is the ultimate point.

          2. Anonsie*

            I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Tinker, you always put things into clear words that I have a lot of trouble articulating.

            I think your last point there is most apparent when the idea of owning or carrying defensive weapons (usually blunt objects or tasers or mace, realistically, but also guns though there are other factors at play there) is even more dangerous for women because they will be taken from you and used against you. And while I will of course concede this is in the realm of possibility and has probably happened, I can’t even begin to describe how baffling I find the assumptions one has to have about the bodily and psychological integrity of women for this to be the most likely scenario or even a common scenario in one’s imagination.

  18. Steve G*

    There are certain things you just do and don’t do: you hold the door for people behind you, you let someone go in front of you in the store if they have 1 item and you have 20, you give up your subway seat for the old or pregnant, or heck, someone who looks tired, you tip appropriately, you don’t litter, you say thank you……….and you are never loud in a hotel and don’t get drunk at inappropriate times.

    Call me conservative, but life needs to have boundaries. I also think that you need to have class to work in any “high end” industry such as the OPs. You need to dress to impress and have poise, which means you are ready for action when needed – not hung over, and not fatigued because you couldn’t get rest with the loud neighbor.

    1. Steve G*

      I pressed “enter” too soon as usual.

      I wanted to also say that I think this person needs a talking-to or some mentoring. I think this person made it your business by being loud, so…I think it is appropriate to bring up. Maybe you have some examples of people who were the most successful at your company and can show the tie between how the behaved and what led to their success. It is hard to be more specific without knowing exactly what you guys do and what your schedules are like.

      1. Bend & Snap*

        Ugh to all of this. Life DOES need to have boundaries and those include not commenting on a colleagues’ after-hours activities or applying perceptions of her personal life to her professional one.

        There’s no indication that her night impacted her work. None at all.

        1. Steve G*

          But this isn’t 100% in her personal life.

          Also, we can assume drinking will impact your work, that isn’t a leap that we need spelled out in a letter. Also, we can assume that the person was tired the next day, because the noise started late and went on for hours.

          And this can be a rhetorical question: who would you rather work with – the person who is engaged in work on a business trip, and is sitting in the breakfast room at 8:00 doing work, well rested and with a smile on their face, or someone who is running downstairs at 9:10 apologizing they are late, with wet hair, making you wait while they hunt down something to eat and checking emails on their iPhone all morning because they didn’t have a chance to look at them before the client-focused part of the day started (because they are hungover and tired)?

          1. Kelly L.*

            OK, now you’ve made up a whole pile of fanfiction.

            Believe it or not, many, many people have managed to have drinks, or sex, or both, and then show up to work on time the next day and be up to the task. I mean, that’s what coffee is for, kwim? (And certainly with smiles on their faces, ha!) Where in the OP does it sat she ran late, had wet hair, delayed the meeting to eat and check her email, etc.? If those behaviors happened, you can address those behaviors. But I don’t think they did, or they’d be in the letter.

            1. Just Another Techie*

              And if they did happen, it’s far more useful to address the wet hair and the email checking than to go all paternalistic and inappropriate over the colleague’s sex activities.

            2. steve g*

              Just saw that minding my biscuits and aramanth16 posted very similar sentiments. They rnt fiction

                1. Steve G*

                  I didn’t mean my “rhetorical question” to mean that it was exactly the way to person in the letter was the next day, or wasn’t on other days. The letter reminded me so much of the 2 borderline functioning alcoholics I’ve worked with, which is the difference I was describing in the morning-after behavior…between them and my other coworkers. Boundary issues were the first thing you noticed about these people. Then they both had real performance issues that impacted other people (made me work for a few Saturdays cleaning up their stuff last minute).

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  But then you would address those issues if you saw them. There’s no need to speculate that the behavior the OP observed would lead to those. If it does, those things should be addressed on their own, unrelated to what she does in her hotel room at night.

              1. Kelly L.*

                Well, in that case, it was also totally unprofessional when the co-worker rode in on a dragon and roasted the clients and then declared herself khaleesi. There’s just as much evidence for that, really.

                1. KT*

                  Especially because Drogon escaped to terrorize a new client because of Khaleesi’s wardrobe choices and lack of poise…unprofessional wench

                2. jag*

                  Oh come on. Riding a dragon isn’t the issue *at* all – roasting clients is the only problem. Riding dragons is none of your business.

                3. TrainerGirl*

                  And we know that Khaleesi had sex the night before the meeting with one of her soliders. OP should give her a good talking to.

              2. amaranth16*

                I said that creating a disruption — which we know happened — was unprofessional, not any hypothetical-next-morning unprofessional behavior that you allude to. I do not think it is appropriate to speculate beyond the scope of the letter and I don’t appreciate being invoked here.

            3. Connie-Lynne*

              Not to mention with, as a late riser on the US West Coast, if I’m travelling the last thing I want is the coworker who is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 8am.

              Give me the late riser who shows up to breakfast at 10am and needs an hour of coffee to get started, especially if we’re on the east coast or in the midwest. _That_ person won’t object working until 7pm!

          2. VintageLydia USA*

            You are making a heck of a lot of assumptions. I know a lot of people who can get by well on little sleep and even more who can suck it up regardless of how tired they are, ESPECIALLY young adults like this coworker. If her actual work was a suffering as a result of these activities I think the LW would’ve mentioned that.

          3. Bend & Snap*

            WHERE are you getting this? At this point you’ve strayed so far from the letter that you’re straight up fabricating scenarios.

            1. steve g*

              From life experience. Alcohol leading to hangovers is certainly not some crazy thing I just made up. I’ve dealt with too many sluggish hungover coworkers in my short life already…..

              1. Bend & Snap*

                Oh, life experience! That definitely qualifies you to make up stories about the OP’s behavior and professional demeanor with no other indicators from the source.

                Nobody has ever had a night out and done just fine at work the next day, apparently.

              2. Kelly L.*

                But (a) we don’t know that this woman had a hangover at all, and (b) I promise you, you have seen many, many more hungover people in your life than you’ve ever realized. Because most of them popped some analgesics and chugged some coffee and did their job anyway.

              3. TrainerGirl*

                Can we say PROJECTION????

                You are not OP’s coworker, and your past experiences have no bearing on what OP reported in this letter. No need to make assumptions based on fiction.

              4. The Cosmic Avenger*

                …we can assume drinking will impact your work, that isn’t a leap that we need spelled out in a letter. Also, we can assume that the person was tired the next day, because the noise started late and went on for hours.

                Ah, so in your dictionary the plural of “anecdote” is not “anecdotes”, but “data”? Well, here is my experience.

                I drink almost every night, because I never really need to drive anywhere once I get home from work. I also have sex many nights. Yet I’m in the office before anyone else, getting shit done. I don’t get hangovers unless I drink a pint of rotgut or a little more of the good stuff that I actually drink. And while I don’t have sex for “hours”, I start early enough to get a good night sleep, because my wife (who also likes the good scotch) and I both have very good white collar jobs.

                You can say that you don’t mean people like me, but you’re focusing on the actions, not the results. You need to focus on the results only, and let the person worry about the actions. This is why a good manager shouldn’t say “I don’t want you to spend so much time on AAM” or “Stop texting at your desk”, they say “You’re not getting your tasks done, and you have been turning things in late. You need to figure out how to put more effort into your work and get things done in the same time that everyone else does”.

          4. Laurel Gray*

            Steve, I occasionally travel with the Mr. on his business trips because it’s a perk that keeps our relationship awesome. When we go out, we usually end up out later than he would have been had we been solo. We drink, we have a good time, we retreat to company paid hotel room to do the grownup. And guess what? He wakes up on time, no hangover, his class in tact, polished in his suit with extra poise to boot! And at no time during these trips does he do less work because I am around.

            I think it is ridiculous to make these assumptions which is extreme.

        2. INTP*

          Not this time, but what if next time it’s a customer in the adjoining room and not a coworker? It would hardly reflect well on the OP’s employer if there were customer complaints about a vendor’s loud sex onsite. Is the OP more obligated to serve the interests of her coworker than her employer? What happens in her hotel room is her business, but it didn’t stay in her hotel room, and it was behavior that could have caused problems under slightly different, very realistic circumstances.

          1. Kelly L.*

            The client is a hotel. A customer could just as easily be situated next to a loud other customer. Sex is a thing that happens in hotels. If anything, I think it reflects poorly on the client hotel’s walls!

      2. Laurel Gray*

        Wow Steve G! “need to have class” “need to dress to impress and have poise” ??!! I am totally not trying to read your comment as sexist but come on….I think these are very unfair assumptions. The OP did not say she was hung over the next day.

          1. steve g*

            But how does that make this a sexist issue? I’m not seeing the sexist slant here. You are assuming that people commenting on this also haven’t had issues with men. Just because the person in this letter happens to be a woman doesn’t mean they are immune from critique.

            Also, this type would have been a fireable offense at past past job (which was, albeit, fire-happy). At past job, it would have stalled career promotion until you were “more mature,” whatever that means.

            Saying “live and let be” sounds great on the Internet, but isn’t helpful to the subject of the letter. They may realize too late that their behavior may impact their career, regardless of whether it is considered fair in all situations.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              For one thing, because women are far, far more often on the receiving end of this kind of criticism and judgment than men are, and you’ve got to acknowledge that in any conversation like this.

              1. Steve G*

                OK. Unlike our conversations on race where I knew we were discussing race from the get-go, I honestly do feel blind-sided having sexism put in under my comment that was about being conservative/traditional vs. liberal. I personally was not divvying out what is appropriate for men or women separately.

                1. Anonsie*

                  Because the specific assumptions you made about the woman in the letter are the same classic snipes that get tossed at professional women, similarly out of thin air, all the time. If you are entirely unaware how loaded those statements are, I would suggest being very observant in the future as to when that type of language & judgement is used in the workplace and exactly who is being spoken about. You are likely to notice a pattern, and you are quite unlikely to hear someone suggest that a male employee– even one behaving badly –is having issues with “class” or “poise” or have “unimpressive” dress, and I would wager you will not ever hear all three mentioned in one breath. I would almost guarantee you wouldn’t hear someone talk about a man’s drinking or sex life extrapolated into a single one of the things you’ve assumed, either. It has whiffs of Jezebel.

                2. LBK*

                  Sexism (and racism, and any form of prejudice) aren’t something you decide to attach or not attach to your words. They’re inherent in what you say. You can’t just say “Well I wasn’t being sexist so don’t call my comment sexist” when everything you said in the comment was sexist. You may have been intending to talk about something else but you espoused a sexist viewpoint in the process – that a woman choosing to have sex or drink means she lacks class or poise and is therefore unprofessional, to say nothing of the fact that you extrapolated an extraordinary amount of information (basically insinuating that she’s a complete mess and an incompetent worker) just based on a description of one incident.

                  I’ve honestly been confused a few times now by comments like this from you where you assert that because you didn’t realize what you were saying was sexist, that means it isn’t. That is not even remotely how it works. This is the whole concept of institutionalized or culturally ingrained sexism – you do it without realizing it because you don’t think twice about how your views are formed by and ergo serve to reinforce sexist stereotypes.

        1. Steve G*

          Sexist????!!!! Seriously? Where did a make a division between men and women? Do you honestly think that I think have lower standards for the men I work with? Honestly, that assumption is the sexist assumption, assuming that all men have different sets of standards for either gender

            1. steve g*

              Framing things as purely sexist issues when gender isn’t the main issue is not a fair argument technique. The person being accused of sexism by default loses and gets silenced, even if gender isn’t the issue.

              People have written in this thread “would you behave differently if the person was a man?”. Well, my answer would be “yes.” actually, as a man, I’d be more direct with the guy

              1. LBK*

                Gender is an issue here because you’ve made assumptions about a woman and held her to standards that men aren’t held to.

                1. Zillah*

                  Yes. And, even if you did hold men to those standards (I doubt it, but for the sake of argument), the fact is that the larger world does not, and that can’t be eliminated from the equation.

                  Put another way:

                  You’d like for your opinion to be considered according to terms that you set. You’re frustrated that this isn’t happening.

                  This is a thing women go through all the time. If you don’t like it, what makes you think we do? The responsible thing to do here is say, “wow, let me be more aware of this,” not “but don’t put words in my mouth!”

                2. steve g*

                  But I’m not holding her to standards I (capitalize the I) have that are different than for men. Regardless of society at large my comments are from me. I’m not here to mimic standard sociological ideas or what the media says. I have my own opinions from my own opinions. Yes, I was judgemental of the subject of the letter. No, it is not sexist. That is absolutely stuff that is being attached to my comments. If the subject had been a man, I’d a said the same thing. It’s a conservative vs liberal discussion NOT a man vs woman discussion. I don’t have anything to say about sexism in this regard. You commented above that you are confused about some apparent discrepancy in my comments. That is because you are making sexism the main issue here. I am not. I do not care about sex/gender. I had a conservative upbringing and apply my standards of conservative behavior to both sexes. If you don’t believe me, that is not my problem.

                3. Zillah*

                  But I’m not holding her to standards I (capitalize the I) have that are different than for men. Regardless of society at large my comments are from me. I’m not here to mimic standard sociological ideas or what the media says. I have my own opinions from my own opinions.

                  Yeah, so what I’m getting from this is that you didn’t actually read my comment very closely.

                  I said: Even if you did hold men to those standards (I doubt it, but for the sake of argument), the fact is that the larger world does not, and that can’t be eliminated from the equation.

                  You seem to want to live in a world where your opinions can exist in a vacuum from the rest of society. You don’t, though. Your opinions, like everyone else’s, are affected by the society you live in, and the people you interact with are affected by the society they live in as an aggregate. You don’t get to be in your own special category.

                  What all of that means is that it’s really important to think critically and acknowledge your own prejudices (and if you’re saying you don’t have them, you’re definitely not paying attention – we all do!). It also means that when you talk to people, you should be treating them with consideration and respect not for what you experience, but what they experience.

                  Your word choice reads as sexist. Many people are telling you this. If we all see that, it’s clearly not coming out of nowhere. Rather than argue that it’s your right to be taken on your own merits (which, by the way, again, this is what women deal with all the goddamn time), why don’t you modify your language and approach so that it doesn’t read as gendered?

                  Why is it more important for you to be able to express yourself without any fetters than it is for other people to go through their day not wondering whether you’re judging them based in part on their gender?

            1. KT*

              THIS. And Steve’s fanfiction (best description ever) of her running late with wet hair…no man has ever been described that way.

              As compared tot he dutiful employee, who is sitting there with a smile on her face. Because that’s what women are there for.

            2. steve g*

              No, but I wasn’t telling a man to have poise, I was using it as an adjective in a sentence….sorry, I like the word, and I don’t like when it gets misused to describe clothes

              1. LBK*

                Missing the point. You’re assigning a characteristic to someone (that she must have poise to be professional) that isn’t assigned to men. If you wouldn’t expect a man to have to act with poise, you shouldn’t expect a woman to either.

                1. steve g*

                  I know where you are coming from, but this sort of nitpicking of comments really gets exhausting. God forbid I like the word poise. Give me another word for “keeping yourself in good condition so you can handle all things at all times” and I will use it.

                  I wasn’t assigning anything to a woman. I was talking about an employee not any particular person. Please reread my comment to see that. Not to sound curmudgeny but I don’t get the policing of word choices. I read these comments really quick and don’t feel the urge to call out people on small stuff like that

                2. Zillah*

                  It’s not nitpicking, Steve. Words have meanings beyond what what the dictionary says, and they matter a lot. You’re annoyed by this conversation. Think how annoying it must be to be female and have subtly gendered words tossed into feedback, grades, performance reviews, and interpersonal relationships, and to know that if you call them on it, 95% of the time people will say, “But that’s not what I mean!”

                  Rather than “poise,” how about self-assured, confident, composed, prepared, or organized? You see, it’s not that hard!

              2. Just Another Techie*

                > I wasn’t telling a man to have poise

                That’s exactly the point. Men don’t get told to have poise, ever, just like men aren’t called abrasive or shrill. Those are words that get far disproportionately applied to women as a means of social control of a woman’s actions and as an excuse for not giving women the same fair chance in the professional world that men get.

                1. steve g*

                  That isn’t exactly the point because I wasn’t particularly talking about a woman. I was talking about any employee

        2. thisisit*

          agree. let’s not let our own personal biases color the situation. there’s no indication this late night actually affected work, so i think the only boundaries needed here are the ones that allow people their own personal choices and lives.

      3. Stranger than fiction*

        I hear ya Steve all good points but I would add that you can do all that poise and still have a little fun but discreetly very discreetly. And if you can’t be discreet skip it, that’s called maturity

    2. Allison*

      For sure! When I stay in a hotel, I’m definitely aware of the noise level in my room – not that I ever have visitors, but I do watch TV, and especially late at night, I’m careful not to have the volume up so high that it would keep my neighbors awake.

      I agree that life has boundaries, and rules – both spoken and unspoken – that need to be followed, especially when you’re trying to foster a professional relationship. Or any important, relationship for that matter.

    3. AMG*

      I agree with this. Err on the side of being conservative. You may not be a prude yourself, but the fact is that some people are and they will judge you. It’s not fair and it’s not their business, but it will happen.

      1. thisisit*

        you know that’s like telling women to dress modestly because otherwise men will leer at them.

        1. Allison*

          More like telling women to err on the side of modesty when dressing for work, especially when they’re new to the workforce or a specific office. I’m not a prude or a slut-shamer, I think a lot of current dress codes are a little old fashioned and I disagree with AAM’s general opinion that sleeveless tops are unprofessional, but if a woman’s trying to figure out what to wear to a job interview or new office, or just putting together her professional wardrobe, I may tell her to keep the skirts knee-length, the necklines safe, the makeup natural (if work), the heels sensible, and stick to sleeves, until she gets the sense her office is okay with clothing outside those general rules.

          Same goes for behavior. When in doubt, don’t do it.

          1. thisisit*

            not really. if there is a dress code, then everyone has a level playing field. if there is no dress code, then there are standard norms around what constitutes “business formal” and “business casual” and you can abide by those. and, that is workplace attire-specific advice.

            however, telling someone to err on the side of being conservative because other people will judge you is essentially telling someone to alter their behavior because of other people’s judgement. adhering to standards of workplace of attire is different. pandering to “prudes” is another. it’s moral judgement.

          1. Stranger than fiction*

            Professional mature people know to err on conservative side especially when brand new to a job. Men and women. The safety thing was a stretch and probably the gender biased part but that’s it. Imo

            1. Zillah*

              But if the OP is biased in that way, it really raises the question whether she’s got subtle biases in other ways, too.

    4. Just Another Techie*

      But what if the person in the neighboring room had been a stranger, and not OP’s colleague. If you’re traveling for work and need to be poised and well rested for morning client meetings it is entirely your responsibility to bring earplugs, sleeping mask, maybe even a dose or two of Valium (with a prescription from your doctor of course) to make sure you can get enough rest, because there’s just so many things you can’t control.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        “But what if the person in the neighboring room had been a stranger, and not OP’s colleague”

        Then this letter wouldn’t exist. LW would have either called down to the front desk to register a noise complaint or put a pillow over their head and tried to stifle it themselves as best they could. Then they would have had a *really* good story to tell the rest of their colleagues the next morning “You would not buh-lieve what the people in the room next to mine were up to last night! They were going at it for hours!” Much giggling and discussion about people on vacation/their honeymoon/hotel sex/how rude/that one time that happened to me/why didn’t they keep it down would then happen and everyone would go about their day.

        1. Zillah*

          I’m not sure “people in the room next to mine were having sex” quite qualifies as a good story, let alone a really good story.

    5. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      Those are fine boundaries for you. Doesn’t give you the right to impose them on me.

      And I agree with others on the sexist slant and am disturbed by your inability to see it. No one asks men to work on their poise or to dress to impress. Those are directed at women almost exclusively. Your examples of holding the door and giving up a seat play into the idea that women are weaker than men, and need men to look out for them.

      As a woman, I will hold a door, give my seat, dress as I wish, and conduct myself as I wish according to my own beliefs and boundaries. That’s my choice as a woman and as a human being, just as your boundaries are your choice. I won’t impose mine on you, don’t impose yours on me.

      1. AMG*

        I honest to God to not see the sexist in this, and I don’t see anyone imposing their opinions on another person here. I see men being told to dress to impress, and upholding a standard of professionalism every day. In fact, I never get that comment (I am a woman) but my male coworkers do.

        You should do as you wish and I don’t think anyone argues with that. What I am seeing in this thread is that some people–myself included–think that it’s not professional to have sex in the hotel when the client owns the property. Especially if it’s noisy. The reason is that some people will pass judgment over it. They should not, but they will.

        I am not looking to change society. I am trying to provide for my family. I don’t see the problem with erring on the side of caution and waiting to go home to tend to that particular need so that I am not judged by a priggish client. There’s just no sexism there.

        1. Marcela*

          Oh, yes, there is sexism. You are just accepting it as unavoidable and dealing with it in a cautious way.

  19. M*

    I’m having trouble posting and others have brought up my original points.

    Would your concern be the same if coworker was a man?

    Unless your job has a written code if conduct it’s not up to you to police the actions of your coworker. One is not “on” 24 hours a day & she certainly is not obligated to be held to your personal actions. Hotel walls are thin and sex gets loud sometimes. Let her live and mind your business.

    If someone brought this up to me I’d question the judgement of the tattler not the new worker.

    1. KT*

      Amen. As a manager, if someone came to me and said “Mr. so-and so had SEX at 10:00pm last night when we were at the Teapot Hotel!” I would be appalled…at the reporter. Private lives are private. Hotels often have sex happening in the rooms.

      Move along, nothing to see here.

    2. Steve G*

      Well, we don’t know if the person is intended to be “on” for more than 8 hours a day, and the drinking too much can become an issue if it impacts performance during the day.

      Also, I totally don’t agree with the “hotel walls are thin deal with it” attitude. Why should someone who also paid for a room not be able to use it/enjoy it/sleep because of you? What if the person in the next room really needs rest, it is quite rude to be making noise.

      1. Helka*

        And if her performance during the day is impacted, then by all means, point that out! If it isn’t… then it’s nobody’s business but hers.

      2. Snarkus Aurelius*

        But the OP never indicated this employee’s performance was a problem. If it is, then you address it when it happens. But if she’s doing well the next day after a night of doing whatever, then it remains no one else business.

        You don’t preemptively address it in a cloud of sexism and maternal judgment.

      3. M*

        I live in a big city. Noise happens.

        Based on the original letter I’m not convinced new coworker even drinks too much. My mom is a straight prude. Have more than one drink in front of her and you’re labeled a drunk for life. If any of this was her affecting the new workers actual performance then bring it up but again no one should expect everyone else to live by the limits they put on them self. Short of more specific details or a neutral vote from a third party I wouldn’t advise OP to say anything.

        Let the new coworker write in and share that OP tried to get her written up for actions done outside of work obligations and the comments would be flying. Sometimes the writer to this forum needs to be told to stand down and for me this is one of those times. I traveled in my 20’s. How I carry myself now and what I did back then are night and day. As long as they are being safe I would not expect those in their 20’s to conduct themselves by MY current standards.

        1. Snarkus Aurelius*

          Exactly. I’m getting a lot of pearl clutching from this OP over something that occurs pretty frequently on with trips and everyday life.

          What is it with young 20 something women that bring out the protective mom or dad in some people? Young men never seen to receive similar “help.” Yes, I get that standards are different for men but rushing to protect and warn young women does nothing but perpetuate the nasty double standard.

        2. Sunflower*

          Good point about the noise. Some hotels I’ve stayed at, esp in NYC, every time someone opens and closes a door near me, it sounds like my door and I get pretty startled. So I’d imagine if you can hear a key unlock and a door open then….

  20. Laurel Gray*

    The more I think about this letter the more the assumptions and the contemplating getting a manager involved make me upset. As others have wondered, would the OP feel the same if it was a young male colleague? And I reread the letter 3 times and the OP does not say that she had drinks with this colleague or saw the colleague drinking so how can the assumption be made that what she was having was drunken loud activities?

    1. Steve G*

      I would hope that the OP deletes the part about sex when bringing this up to a manager. Hopefully the story still makes sense without divulging every detail.

      Also, I am surprised that people are bringing up gender here. The OP is a woman as well.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Women can be just as sexist as men. In fact, in terms of discussions on propriety and behavior of other women, I think we can be even worse.

        1. Zillah*

          Seriously. The fact that Steve G seems to think that being female is a defense to accusations of sexism really make me wonder about his judgment in general.

      2. Laurel Gray*

        I would hope the OP takes some of the advice given here and DOES NOT bring this to the manager but rather talk to the colleague and admit what she heard, and suggest she be more discrete in her activities when on business travel. If there is one thing this site has taught me it is that everything does not need to be brought to a manager.

        And as far as the OP being a woman, make no mistake, women play a role in perpetuating the double standards and sexism toward women.

          1. Steve G*

            I wasn’t a part of any discussion on gender/sex. I just looked and I only commented a couple of times on oversharing, alcohol, and Coachella. If one of those conversations took another turn after I commented, I wasn’t there for it. I was travelling this weekend so only looked at it a few times on my phone

            1. nona*

              Don’t worry about trying to find this (esp if you’re still on your phone), but it was my mom’s bad job advice.

      3. some1*

        “Also, I am surprised that people are bringing up gender here. The OP is a woman as well.”

        Slut-shamers don’t get a pass if they have a uterus.

      4. Snarkus Aurelius*

        Women can be sexist too. Look at her choice of words. Mother hen? Really? When I don’t see the male equivalent of such terms, I see misogyny.

      5. KT*

        Women can be worse than men in criticizing “loose, immoral women”–anyone different than themselves.

    2. Graciosa*

      Actually, I tend to believe that.

      I have absolutely been able to tell that people passing my room in a hotel were utterly smashed.

      This isn’t a court of law where you need a breathalyzer test, or eye-witness testimony. And yes, it is possible to identify drunkenness without either of these.

      Now as a manager, I’m certainly open to hearing some bizarrely innocent explanation of why someone was only pretending to be obviously drunk – but, like Katie, I’d prefer not to have to deal with this as a manager at all.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I think it would be a very short conversation. “Stella – what you do when you’re not working isn’t my business, but please keep the noise down – we don’t want to bother our clients. OK?”

        1. Sadsack*

          I think this says it all. The coworker should get the point pretty clearly without any further conversation.

      2. Laurel Gray*


        Passing your hotel room and talking with slurred speech and possibly bumping the walls is one thing. But if you are telling me that you can tell that someone is intoxicated by their moan or role play dialogue in the moment, I admit I am skeptical.

        1. A Cita*

          role play dialogue

          I just envisioned bedroom Shakespearean larping activities:
          “What thou hearest when thou dost alie in hotel room awake?”
          “Fair colleague, you faint with wondering about the wood. And to speak troth, I have forgot you were next door.”

            1. A Cita*

              I think Midsummer’s Night Dream lends itself well to the topic at hand.

              Now, bring me my goddamn changeling boy!

  21. Allison*

    It might be a good idea to tell her that what she does in the privacy of her room is her business, and what she does offsite is her business, but because they’re on a client visit and staying at the client’s property, she does need to be careful not to draw attention to any seemingly unprofessional behavior she may engage in, even if it’s after hours. It’s fine to drink, or have visitors in her room, as long as she’s discrete about it, because if she gets in trouble with the hotel staff over a noise complaint or drunken behavior, that can strain relations with the client.

    1. Snarkus Aurelius*

      See? This is perfect. It can apply to anyone of either gender and any loud activity.

      Zero judgment.

    2. nona*

      I agree. And maybe this is because of my own discomfort, but I think treating it like any other noise problem (music, TV) might be best?

    3. thisisit*

      i don’t even think it needs to get into this much detail. she’s a grown woman.

      i’d just say, hey, fyi, hotel walls can be thin. we don’t want the client to get any complaints about us, so keep the noise down.

      and if other issues come up, then possibly address those. if there’s a larger pattern of unprofessionalness emerging, then surely her manager is seeing it too, and can address it. if it’s only happening at site visits, then you can make the call whether you want to address it yourself or bring it up to a manager.

      1. LBK*

        I agree. The only issue is the noise – no need to bring up anything else, especially not as part of a discussion about what’s professional or unprofessional, because then that lends itself to enforcing a different standard of professionalism for men and women. Chiding her about being discreet with visitors feels a little too much like “Don’t let our clients know you’re a hussie”.

      2. Lindsay J*

        This. No need to bring up sex, or blame it on the tv, or anything.

        “Coworker, I could hear a lot of noise coming from your room last night. Please keep it down in the future – we don’t want to cause any problems for the client if a guest complains.”

        There, done. Minimally awkward. You know you’re talking about sex noises, she knows you’re talking about sex noises, but it doesn’t have to be explicitly stated. She’s now aware of the problem and hopefully fixes it (I world be mega embarrassed if I knew my coworker heard me having sex, and even more embarrassed about potentially causing issues for my company so I would make sure to be really careful about it in the future. )

        And that’s the end of that. No “mother hen”-ing, no passing judgement about her sex life or drinking, just addressing what needs to be addressed.

    4. Laurel Gray*

      And this approach and wording can be something so quick and give off an “I’m not judging you, this is just a heads up” vibe and then the OP and colleague can move on hopefully with no awkwardness.

    5. illini02*

      The only problem I see with this is that you are essentially saying sex is unprofessional and she needs to hide that she is doing it. Hell, I don’t even think getting super drunk is unprofessional. The ONLY thing I can see being judged as rude is being loud because of your neighbors, but even that isn’t something I’d call unprofessional.

      1. Lindsay J*

        I’m as sex positive as anyone, but I do feel that you should hide that you’re having sex to an extent.

        If you’re being loud enough having sex that it is disturbing other people around you, you’re involving them in your sex life without their consent. And that’s not cool. Now obviously sometimes you might not realize that you’re being *that* loud, or that there are other people in earshot. It happens. But generally you should be discreet about it if at all possible. It’s not about shame, it’s about respecting boundaries.

        (I’m talking just about the noise here. I don’t think she should have to hide that she has OMG a strange man in her room. Even though most of us would assume that two drunken adults entering a hotel room at night are going to be engaging in sexual activity, they could just as well be going in to watch tv or play cards or work on a PowerPoint display – it’s just our imagination drawing the line to sex. I guess my line is directly presenting people with evidence that you’re engaging in sexual activity at the present time – being super loud, having sex pressed up against the picture window, walking your partner on their hands and knees on a leash down the street, etc.

  22. Celeste*

    Because she made a point of ditching the OP, I think she had these plans all along. I’m guessing she had a date planned, but it really doesn’t matter. I realize it’s embarrassing to the OP, but I would step away from it and leave the hotel to handling complaints on noise (if any).

    I think noisy hotel sex is something people can certainly be into, and it may not even bother them to get caught. If it actually does cause her a work issue in this job, maybe she needs to figure out if this is even the right job for her and her interests. I think you can only train people so far. They’re still going to be themselves.

    The most I might say is to ask how she liked the room, so you can say “yeah, my room was nice, except the walls are thinner than I prefer–I got quite an earful from the next room.”.

    1. Bend & Snap*

      The right job for her and her interests? Like her interest in drinking and having sex?

      Two interests that MANY MANY MANY functioning adults share and yet nobody uses those things as reasons their jobs might not be a good fit for them?

        1. Connie-Lynne*

          Dear Teapot Hospitality Inc,

          I was absolutely thrilled to see your posting for “cocktail, bed and wall QA test lead,” as this combines two of my lifelong interests…

      1. Celeste*

        I’m only taking it to the logical conclusion of getting caught like OP is worried about. Maybe the coworker has a kink, maybe she doesn’t. I don’t really care. But if she does and is going to be staying in client hotels as part of her job and it ends up causing her problems for drawing attention to her noise level, maybe it’s a poor fit for her.

    2. M*

      Why does it have to be so nefarious that she plotted to ditch her? Being on the road in your 20’s is different than in your 30’s. Of course new coworker doesn’t want to hunker in with room service and Law and Order marathon.

        1. Laurel Gray*

          I fly halfway across the country at times to join the Mr. to order room service and watch Forensic Files! LOL!

          1. Connie-Lynne*

            Hee hee, I take advantage of business travel to sleep with the TV on _all night long_!

      1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

        Precisely. I’ve traveled with coworkers and after an entire day glued to the hip, when we get back to the hotel, we split into our rooms so fast to get a break. I wouldn’t think she was immediately planning a random hookup just because she wanted her own time after hours away from the OP.

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          Yes, this times 1000. I travel quite a bit for work, and most of the time, I’d rather not have dinner with my co-workers. Not because they’re not very nice people, because most of them really are. But at the end of the day, after constant human interaction, I’m craving some alone/down time. But I haven’t yet come up with a tactful or polite way to say, “No, I really don’t want to go out to dinner. I’ve been trapped in a conference room with you for 10 hours.”

          1. Connie-Lynne*

            I recently traveled with a colleague who I know can feel really hurt if she’s not included in after-work socializing. I truly like this person and enjoy spending both at-work and outside time with her, but when we travel together, I don’t want to spend _every_ day with my coworkers.

            What I said to her when we were out was “J, let’s make dinner plans together on Wednesday, but on Tuesday I am going to have some ‘me time’ with local friends. I love spending time with you but I need to recharge a little bit from all-coworkers-all-the-time.” I could tell she was still a little hurt, but because I set the expectation before we traveled, she had the option to make other plans herself, and we both had something interesting to talk about, that wasn’t work, at our Wednesday dinner.

        2. TrainerGirl*

          Absolutely. I just got back from a trip where, because we only rented one car, I was tied to my coworker from 8am through dinner every night. I couldn’t wait to get away from him, and I’m sure he wanted time to himself as well. And I’m pretty sure OP said she would stay in her room and the coworker didn’t “ditch” her. She decided to go out for dinner and OP stayed in. If that was the start of OP’s pearl-clutching judginess, then perhaps she can make an effort to unclench.

      2. MK*

        I am in my mid-to-late thirties and I wouldn’t dream of spending the evening in a strange town in my hotel room; there is nothing more depressing than leaving a place, no matter how uninteresting, having seen only the airport, the hotel and the workplace.

        I think it’s pretty obvious from the letter that it was the OP’s choise to not join their coworker on the outing.

    3. Sadsack*

      Are you kidding?

      “After a long work day, she mentioned that she was going out to get dinner and check out the town, while I opted to stay in and relax. ”

      Where in there is the coworker making a point of ditching the OP and having a big drunken sex date planned all along? Also, none of us have any reason to think that the coworker would not be mortified to realize that her coworker heard her having sex. She’s in the wrong business? Where are you coming up with all this judgmental crap?

      1. Celeste*

        If you read what I said, I’m all for letting her have the consequences of making noise. Maybe it will cause her problems, maybe it won’t. Maybe she doesn’t even care. To reiterate what I did say, if it causes her problems, maybe the job isn’t going to work out for her.

    1. Chris*

      Ummm…I think that reason would be so that people who want to read the Bible have one available.

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        I am actually a hiring manager, and due to my company policy as well as laws I have to sometimes hire those who don’t believe as I do. Yet it’s important that we remind others what our true purpose is.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          No, actually that’s religious harassment, and it’s illegal. Please don’t do that. That’s really offensive to other people and I can’t imagine your employer would be okay with you doing that.

        2. Dr. Johnny Fever*

          WTH? I promise you, if you tried to remind me of my “true purpose” in the workspace, I’d be going over your head on that discrimination complaint tout suite. Just don’t go there.

        3. nona*

          No, it’s not necessary for you (not a nebulous “we”) to “remind” others of your beliefs about their (not “our”) purpose.

        4. amaranth16*

          Absolutely not. Representing the Bible as “our true purpose” to your employees is straight up harassment.

        5. Tedy Mosby*

          oh my god. I thought this was a hilarious joke that was going over everyone’s head. Thanks for the laughs!

        6. Bend & Snap*

          Jesus Christ.

          No, it’s not important that you ram your religious views down other peoples’ throats. It’s actually important that you NOT do that. And yes, policies and laws requiring you to hire people who “don’t believe as you do” are there to prevent discrimination. Good thing for your company and its employees.

          This comment is absolutely hair raising.

          1. Hiring Mgr*

            Just to clarify, I don’t mean just approaching people at their desks or walking around the office. I meant more like casual conversation while we’re in the kitchen, waiting for the toast to pop out of the toaster (meaning that the toast is finished cooking–though to be clear it could be bread, english muffins, waffles, pop-tarts etc..in other words anything you might normally put in a toaster)

            1. fposte*

              Still likely to be illegal in the US. And absolutely certain to be offensive to many. It’s also going to undermine your job–people aren’t going to believe that isn’t a factor in your hiring if you can’t restrain yourself from proselytizing in the workplace.

                1. Sadsack*

                  Isn’t all bread in hell automatically turned into toast? Wait, is there bread in hell?

                2. A Cita*

                  @Sadsack–yes, all bread automatically becomes toast in hell. I was just confirming that simple carbs were the devil’s work and would be freely available there.

            2. Anonsie*

              I don’t know if it was intentional but your elaborate summary of the office toaster’s potential is so funny that I’m not gonna say anything contrary about the rest of the comments here. It has brightened my morning, and given me a craving for poptarts.

              1. Ann*

                Seriously. I can’t figure out whether it was supposed to be funny, or whether it was a very odd attempt at redirecting the thread.

              2. Hiring Mgr*

                One thing I should mention, by way of further clarification, is that it’s a proper toaster I’m talking about, not a “toaster-oven”. I would be more than happy to respond to all toaster related questions but in a separate thread, so as not to derail the discussion here.

                1. Ann*

                  You are really not helping your case by focusing on the weird toaster thing (even as a joke) and ignoring what everyone else is saying, such as the fact that what you’re doing is probably illegal and very likely to blow up in your face someday.

                2. Anonsie*

                  I don’t know, Ann, I would much rather discuss the intricacies of toaster oven/proper toaster differentiation than fall into the the religious discrimination quicksand. Toast is great. Can’t get angry about toast.

            3. Ruby*

              Keep your religion to yourself. End of. I do NOT go to work to have anyone proselytise to me. It’s illegal, it’s offensive and it’s just plain rude.

              1. Nerdling*

                Best office parties ever, I’m sure! “Come on, everyone, we’re going to play Pin the Jesus on the Cross! Closest one gets a fresh King James!”

                1. Hiring Mgr*

                  Nobody ever said being moral and righteous would make me the most popular person in the office, but believe me, there’s only one person I care to impress.

                  That’s Jim, our head of Northeast accounts. He’s a really great guy and sharp as a tack.

              1. nona*

                You’re probably joking, but I live in the Bible belt and there are people who actually do this.

                1. Katie the Fed*

                  It’s a sad state of affairs when the line between satire and reality is that thin. And I still don’t know where it is with this person!

            4. Panda Bandit*

              No one cares about your religion and no one needs to know more about it. Keep it to yourself.

        7. Tinker*

          I hope this is just unfortunate phrasing and not that you’re reluctantly compelled by law and company policy to *sometimes* not engage in open discrimination based on religion. Or that this is a joke.

          Because, wow.

    2. INTP*

      But what if it’s a Marriott? They might find the Book of Mormon and start worshiping the wrong Jesus.

      1. HRish Dude*

        I like to picture Jesus in a tuxedo T-Shirt because it says I want to be formal, but I’m here to party.

        1. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

          Well I’m the one saying grace and I like baby Christmas Jesus the best!

    3. Fun-&-Games*

      Yup. If you’ve left your regular implements at home you may find that it makes a workable substitute for a paddle.

      And if you find the weight/balance if a tad off, often you will find a Book of Mormon provided as well.

    4. If I had a crystal ball*

      The phrase “to know someone in the Biblical sense” comes to mind.

      Sex and drunkeness occur in the Bible.

  23. some1*

    I’m a woman and about the same age as the LW. I guess, for me, if I had concerns about my 20-something brand-new coworker’s safety while on a business trip, I’d say something when she announced she was going out alone.

    I wouldn’t wait until after it became apparent that she hooked up and decide it’s a bad idea because Safety.

    1. Snarkus Aurelius*

      Or you could assume she’s an adult and knows the minimal risks of venturing out alone in a new town.

      1. some1*

        I probably *would* do that — my point is the timing is off here. If the LW was really just concerned about her coworker’s safety, she had plenty of time to address that before she heard her in her room.

    2. Laurel Gray*

      Thank you for this. One of my pet peeves is “fake concern” – I define it as someone feigning concern and worry for another person through judgments and assumptions. I am not accusing the OP of this in this case, but that is exactly how I would take it if I was the colleague and was approached from this angle. There is something demeaning about being talked to about safety (particularly around adult activities like drinking and sex) by a colleague, even if the colleague means well.

      1. Anonsie*

        I mentioned this above but I’ll say it again, a lot of the time when I hear people talk about things that are dangerous for ladies I get the feeling they are really throwing shade on the women they’re supposedly worried about for indistinct reasons.

        1. Laura2*

          There’s a certain “asking for it” air to the whole idea that women should know that going out alone, going out at night, etc. is just dangerous.

          I’d also like to know how, as a person who lives alone, in a city where it gets dark at 4:30 during the winter, I am supposed to do things like have a job and do errands (never mind having a social life, women with social lives are asking for it too).

    3. Sarah Nicole*

      I agree. If I were truly worried about someone’s safety, I’d make sure they have my phone number, the number to a great taxi service, and the local police number. I’d also let him or her know what i know about the city, if anything.

      I do agree that hooking up with strangers can be dangerous, but there’s nothing indicating that this person actually was a stranger. And even then, plenty of people have one night stands. I do think if this were a man, most people would roll their eyes about the noise and move on. When it’s a woman having this type of encounter, you get the general noise: be safe, no class, need to have poise, inconsiderate, what if the client found out, etc…(and I’m referring to some other commenters’ statements here, not saying the OP said all of these.)

      1. fposte*

        And hooking up with people you know can be dangerous, too. Nothing special about strangers there.

      2. MK*

        However, I don’t think the right answer is to hold everyone to the same low standard. Not every case, in my opinion, is one where women should be treated as men are, but sometimes men should start getting the same treatment as women have always gotten. The eyerolling is the wrong reaction here, whatever the gender.

        1. Sarah Nicole*

          I disagree. Unless it truly affected anything about their work, the eye rolling is the best reaction. It’s none of my business to say something to someone about their personal choices. I’m not holding them to a low standard, I’m simply keeping my mouth shut when something doesn’t concern me. I don’t want to start giving men the same treatment as women have always received – the whole reason women receive that treatment is because others think they have the social right to comment on women’s sexual lives. In reality, none of us really have any business commenting on the sexual lives of others at all! I’d rather not bring men to the same treatment, but stop the treatment altogether.

          In either case, no one should say anything unless it impacts the work. However, to be fair, if my coworker kept me up all night with something like that, I’d probably knock on the door and tell them to shut up. But that’s male or female.

          1. MK*

            I wasn’t saying that men should get the same treatment women had been getting for centuries in general. Just that the argument “men never get this kind of reaction” isn’t always a convincing one. In some cases, the way women have been treated (judged for things that are no one else’s business but their own) is the problem; in many other cases, the problem is that men have been getting away with things they shouldn’t have, so that needs to change.

            In this case, neither a man or a woman should be judged for having sex in their hotel room during a business trip. But since they caused enough noise to be heard in nearby rooms, which creates a very unprofessional impression, it should be addressed, regardless of gender.

    4. Allison*

      I wouldn’t say it at all! Your 20-something, brand-new coworker may be younger than you, but that doesn’t mean you’re in charge of her, and you certainly don’t get to act like her parent in this situation. I understand that, for some older women in the workplace, their maternal instincts kick in when dealing with younger colleagues, but that’s an urge you need to resist. She’s an adult, treat her like one.

    5. Ann Furthermore*

      This is a tricky area, because I do agree with what you’re saying. It’s often construed as sexism, but I think it applies to both men and women.

      Example — years ago, I was in Cabo San Lucas with my sister. We were out at a bar one night and met a couple guys we spent the evening with, drinking margaritas and having a great time. At one point (I think because we were hoping to find something stronger than cigarettes to smoke), they invited us to come back to their place. They were Americans living there…I think they were surfers or something, and they said they had what we were looking for.

      My sister asked what I thought, and I told her I didn’t think it was a very good idea. We were far from home, in another country, didn’t know the area, didn’t speak the language, didn’t really know the guys we were with at all, and had no idea where they lived (apartment building vs remote area, etc). Chances were they had nothing sinister in mind, but if they had, we could have found ourselves in big trouble with no way to get help. So we declined their invitation. And to their credit, they were very nice about it and understood why we were hesitant to go off with complete strangers in an unfamiliar place. We continued our evening and ended up having a great time.

      I’ve talked to my 17 year old daughter about this kind of stuff, and told her that while it’s fine to let loose and party with your friends, you are responsible for yourself, for staying aware of your surroundings, using good judgement, and doing your best not to put yourself in a situation that might turn dangerous. Of course, that’s no guarantee that nothing will happen, and if she found herself in trouble I certainly wouldn’t blame her for it. I used that story as an example when explaining to her what I was trying to get at. And if I had a son, I would tell him the exact same thing.

  24. justcourt*

    It sounds like I’m in the minority, but I don’t think the only issue is that the co-worker did this on a client’s property.

    I would have an issue if the co-worker had noisy sex within earshot of me at any hotel. That puts the OP in the very uncomfortable position of doing nothing and listening to her co-worker or having to complain to the co-worker about her sex life. I would really not appreciate being put in that position.

    Anyway, my solution would be to talk to the co-worker about the importance of not creating a disturbance on client property, and moving forward I would make sure not to book adjoining rooms.

    1. Sunflower*

      Or you can call the hotel front desk and complain about noise like any other guest would do

      1. justcourt*

        That’s part of the problem, though. With any other person it would be easy to bang on the wall and then call the front desk if the noise maker didn’t quiet down. With a co-worker, you’re going to see the person again so you run the risk of harming the relationship by ratting them out. (Not to mention that the OP really can’t call the front desk).

        I would also like to clarify, what my co-workers do is their business, so I don’t care if it’s loud sex or loud talking (though loud sex does make the situation more awkward). I just don’t want to be put in a position of having to choose between offending a co-worker or putting up with a disruption.

        1. Laurel Gray*

          When u call the front desk and tell them the room next door is being too loud, they call the room and do the dirty work for you. And with rooms on either side and across the hall as well as up and downstairs, the loud party really doesn’t know who made the complaint.

        2. fposte*

          I think the OP absolutely can call the front desk, but in this case it sounds like she was more concerned about the co-worker’s professional lapse than with being disturbed.

          1. Steve G*

            Also, if they worked at the hotel that day as well, the people at the front desk might know who is calling anyways!

            1. Sunflower*

              The people at the front desk always know who is calling- phone systems are set up so when a phone call is received, the room number and guest name appears. But they would NEVER reveal to the guest in question who called to complain about them.

        1. Sunflower*

          People may disagree with me but I think LW is overstating the potential to get in trouble with the client a bit. At night, the night auditor is the only guest services person on staff. The night auditor gets a call that someone is loud. They *might* check in the system to see who is in that room but it’s doubtful. They talk to the room and discover it’s just one or two people, no large party going on. Some hotels make you log all guest calls/complaints and it could end up there. ‘Heard loud noises coming from room 666’. I doubt a manger or agent is going to go through the trouble of matching up the name, finding out it’s someone from LW’s company then calling their GM about it. Their GM probably doesn’t care! There are 100 more important things to worry about!

          I also wouldn’t call this ‘creating a disturbance’. She was in her private room, doing something she probably didn’t think anyone would hear. Not a big deal IMO

    2. A Cita*

      Hey, my downstairs neighbors have super loud, super gross sounding sex every. single. night. I handle it like an adult: When the witching hour arrives, I put in my earplugs.

      They’re free to get nasty. I’m free to not be aurally violated. Win-win.

  25. Brett*

    I do think you have to look at how the activity fits with the job.

    I work local government. Something like this would cause huge problems for me with my job. As I mentioned up thread, I’ve had people track down my employer and report me over drinking an O’Douls while out of town at a conference. I also know I’ve been reported to my employer for having a woman in my hotel room (who was my co-presenter the next day for a workshop presentation). It is not like I was walking around in a government logo’d polo when this happened, but someone noticed at some point who I worked for and put two and two together and called my employer to complain.

    So, flipping over to this letter. It is probably a lot safer situation because there is a smaller number of people that would be concerned and the connection to the client is really not as strong. I think the real question to ask is simply, “Will the client see this as a waste of their money?” That is exactly the questions that leads to the complaints I am talking about above. I do not really see that same nexus here though.

      1. Brett*

        It was in a glass! I learned my lesson though. Now I just order tequila neat since I could probably drink a water in a bar and get it reported as me drinking an entire glass of vodka.

    1. Prismatic Professional*

      Wait, what? Really? Do you work in politics or have a high profile job on the Morality Board? It seems strange to me that someone (not even a co-worker) would call your employer to complain about these activities.

      1. Brett*

        Just an average government worker. But I am supposed to wear a work shirt for presentations, so I spend part of each conference walking around with my employer’s logo on me (plus the whole conference badge issue).

        1. Prismatic Professional*

          Oh OK! I’m still confused as to why people would complain about things that are so trivial. I’m glad I’ve never had to deal with something like this!

          1. A Dispatcher*

            You would be amazed at what people will call and complain about when it comes to public service employees. My current favorites are the people who get super annoyed when they see an officer stopping for a quick bite to eat/stuffing a sandwich down in the 5 minutes he or she has between his calls for the day. I always want to ask these people if they are chained to their desks for 8, 12, or 16 hour shifts and never allowed to eat and/or if they’d like an officer responding to their emergency to pass out from not being able to eat.

            1. Prismatic Professional*

              That makes me really sad. An EMS team saved my life a couple years back and I’m very glad they were alert and capable of quick, complex thinking. I keep mini snickers bars in my desk in case clients come in with seriously low blood sugar (I’ve had a couple who hadn’t eaten in a couple days). They are always shocked that I treat them like human beings. I wish treating people with compassion and dignity wasn’t so uncommon that it is a shocking thing.

  26. Glorious Tresses*

    Whenever I hear someone describe themselves as a ‘mother hen’, they really mean they are a busy-body that like to pry into others’ personal matters under the guise of ‘concern’.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      ok, I do think the OP was a little overzealous, but let’s not go too far on bashing her. I mean, she didn’t take action – she obviously knew there was enough of a question there to write and ask for advice before doing anything. I know I have my judgmental moments about my colleagues too. It’s just a matter of knowing what’s for silent judging and what’s for speaking up.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Wait, now, I don’t think that’s fair (or kind) to the letter writer. I’ll repeat my call to be civil and kind here, especially to letter-writers, who are the whole reason we have letters to discuss at all.

    3. Steve G*

      I read “mother hen” to also refer to the communication style she was going to take with the younger person. She is saying that she wants to discuss this in a nice, gentle tone, not in a harsh, disciplinary way.

  27. HRish Dude*

    I find the most fascinating part here is how many apparently immaculately conceived commenters think that drinking and sex are deviant behavior.

    1. Laurel Gray*

      Deviant here. Assumptions have been made but I would make one more and that is the assumption that the colleague had no idea how loud her activities were. I don’t think any person young or old would want their colleague knowing specifics like that about them. I would personally be mortified.

      The most fascinating part about all of this is how thin hotel walls are and at $159-400 a night you can’t even have the complete privacy you need!

      1. HRish Dude*

        I do find hotels to be eerily quiet to the point I will turn on the fan just to get some white noise going.

    2. If I had a crystal ball*

      Also the ones saying the sex is fine but better complain about the TV noise…

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I think you’re missing the point of those comments (of which mine is one). If you say “wow your TV was loud!” you’re giving her a face-saving way of knowing she was too loud.

        1. Bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover*

          Depends though. Shielding your employer from noise complaints by the hotel is one thing. That is professional. But if the sex itself is no problem where does face saving come into it? If it was loud music on its own would there even be this amount of fuss about what to say or do? Truth be told people are more prudish about other people’s sex than they want to let on.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            OK. Let me see if I can explain it really clearly.

            It’s awkward to talk about sex with coworkers. Mentioning the TV avoids an awkward conversation.

            I honestly can’t think of a more simple way to explain it.

            1. Bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover*

              Because the sex is seen as a problem. Point demonstrated.

              And you just got to patronize two people for the price of one.

              1. Bend & Snap*

                The sex isn’t the problem. The noise is. That’s been hashed over and over on this thread.

              2. Elsajeni*

                No, because the sex is seen as private; the noise is seen as a problem. Suggesting that it must have been the TV allows the OP to point out the problem (noise) without forcing either her or the co-worker to discuss something private (sex). “I think that’s private/personal and don’t want to discuss it with my co-workers” is not inherently the same as “I think that’s gross and weird.”

                1. Swedish Tekanna*

                  But obviously it is noisy sex in particular else why find a roundabout way of letting the woman know you heard but use the TV as a face saving device? Just complain about the noise in general otherwise. Looks like that’s the point other posters were making.

                  Not sure gross and weird was mentioned.

        2. If I had a crystal ball*

          I was in a similar situation to the OP last year as it happens. I handled the situation during the coffee break by letting my coworker know quietly and simply that I heard everything, and left it at that. Was able to avoid undue embarrassment and be upfront this way. Problem is that if someone lacks self awareness to that extent they might actually take any TV/music/movie complaints at face value. It is possible to know too much about your coworkers; context is all.

  28. Macedon*

    I’m not entirely sure where to begin with this letter. From the unwillingness to type out ‘sex’ to the mortified wonder that some people enjoy it for hours (yes, hours!), to the belated concern over the co-worker’s ‘safety’ as a lone travelling woman, then the horror over potential ‘bad things to come’ from a so-far isolated incident of moderate indiscretion – the amount of pearl-clutching thinly veiled as ‘professional concern’ is staggering.

    Sure, take her to task over the noise. Whatever its cause (sex, TV, exercise), she needs to be mindful of not letting this get out of hand again in the future. But, LW, even more pressing than that is honestly the need for you to review your own attitude and its underlying sexist values, especially if you’re going to continue in a position of mentoring young women.

  29. Sunflower*

    One Friday night I got home very late from a work event. I ran into my neighbor who lives below me(we’re pretty friendly) the next morning and she asked what the heck was going on in my apartment last night. I was home alone(I do talk to myself a lot and kind of loudly) so I was somewhat worried what she meant. She said it sounded like people kept falling and rolling around on the floor and she could hear me screaming a variety of phrases including ‘oh god’ ‘Sean, are you trying to kill me’ and ‘I’m almost there’ a lot.

    I was doing my insanity workout DVD.

    Things aren’t always what they seem and the actual act isn’t your business. Mention to your coworker you heard some loud noises(TV maybe) and it’s really important that other guests not hear any loud commotion and thus complain about you when you’re on their property for work.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      “I was doing my insanity workout DVD.”

      YES! The noises that my poor husband had to hear when I was doing P90X. But they definitely sounded more pained.

    2. HRish Dude*

      There’s a comedian who has a bit about how his downstairs neighbor thought he was filming porn in his apartment when his friends came over to play video games.

    3. Sarahnova*

      All I can think of is the scene in Spaced when Daisy and Tim are faking sex noises for the benefit of the neighbours.

    1. Maude Flanders*

      I don’t think we’re talking about love here. We’re talking about S-E-X in front of the C-H-I-L-D-R-E-N!

    2. Steve G*

      Now that is some “fake concern.” No 90s talk show audience was every complete without someone standing up and saying “but what about the children” even when the topic had nothing to do with children. I miss me some Maury or Jenny Jones

      1. Anonsie*

        Oh my god I was JUST watching some old daytime talk show on Youtube last night where they were interviewing these Teen Girl Gangsters (*gasp*) and the first thing they did was start interrogating them as to whether any of them had kids and when they didn’t, they were like “well the houses you guys cause trouble at could have kids in them!”

    3. A Cita*

      I thought the phrase was:


        1. Jean*

          I recall that comment as “as long as they don’t do it in the street and frighten the horses.”
          Sigh. I suppose the next stop on the Bawdy Express is “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?”
          Time to resume clutching my pearls.

  30. M*

    If OP comes back I hope she will take time to understand the difference between training a coworker, acting as a mentor and being a mother hen. Mother hen expectations have NO place in the work environment. Some of these comments are too much. Trust me when I say I don’t care when others judge me by the limits they place on themselves but it took years to get here. I would never pass that burden on to a young woman new to the work force. Being scared of what others will think is no way to live.

    There’s a huge difference between sharing concern if dangerous actions were actually observed and clutching pearls over *gasp* loud sex. I traveled for work in my 20’s. My older coworkers tugged my tail when necessary (like don’t try to keep up with host when shots come around, don’t mix your liquors and drink plenty water between drinks adding a last glass with aspirin before bed) but unlike the OP here no judgment was involved. As I got older I may not have been drinking or hanging out but I’d pop by where ever they were meeting to make sure the newbies were ok and safe. Then we all showed up for 8 am meetings and no one else was the wiser.

    If someone is loud bang on the wall and yell keep it down. Stewing about it makes no sense to me. Bringing it up afterwards and adding all this speculation makes even less sense.

  31. Mena*

    Lots of assumptions here. The ‘drunk’ part is an assumption – did you see her drinking? You’re also assuming she picked up some stranger (likely yes but cannot assume that her old college fling dsn’t live locally).

    You are responsible for training her, so focus yourelf on just this. How she conducts herself outside of business hours is not your responsibility.

  32. INTP*

    Out of curiosity, those of you who think there is nothing wrong with what the coworker did and that this is not a professional matter, is that just because the noisy activity was sex or would you say the same about any sort of optional activity performed at a disruptive volume for hours in the middle of the night? Would it be fine to go onsite at a client hotel and, say, practice your musical instrument, watch a movie at an insane volume, scream at someone on the phone, do some sort of loud and bouncy workout, or something else like that? I feel like any of those would be considered clearly unprofessional and maybe this is being excused either because people don’t want to judge specifically because it’s sex or maybe people are assuming the OP is exaggerating about the noise base on the other content in her letter.

    I could care less that she had sex or had some drinks. However, I do think it’s unprofessional to do anything that could damage relations between your client and your company or even damage your client’s business. If it were another customer instead of the OP in the adjoining room, there could have been a complaint (which may or may not have gotten back to the OP’s employer), or the customers may vow never to come back, or they might say nothing but then go on TripAdvisor to say “Don’t bring your family here! It’s clearly a party hotel, the people in the next room had loud sex all night!” Assuming the sex was, indeed, loud enough for the OP to hear, I don’t see how you can justify why it’s not remotely a professional concern. If the coworker had quiet sex in her room or had loud sex somewhere other than the client site, that would be a nonissue, but this became a professional issue when the noises left her hotel room on the client site imo.

      1. INTP*

        I totally agree with your response, but some of the comments read as though even the noise should not be considered an issue. That’s what I’m curious about hearing the rationale for.

    1. AnnieNonymous*

      I think that it’s not the best idea for someone who’s young and new to the industry to gain a reputation (even just within her own company) for being someone who parties into the night on business trips. I would think the same of a male employee as well. This isn’t about her being a sexually active woman.

    2. HRish Dude*

      It is about the noise and Alison put that in her initial response. It’s just that a lot of follow-up responses seem to believe that having sex or drinking indicates a lack of judgment.

      1. Laurel Gray*

        This. And with more context from the OP’s follow up below it is now more understandable that perhaps this colleague does not have the right balance yet with work and play on these trips and is lacking in judgment.

    3. Just Another Techie*

      I don’t think anyone is saying that the coworker did nothing wrong. The overwhelming majority of commenters are saying that the noise is a problem, and that amount of noise would be a problem no matter what the activity, so focus on the noise, not the ZOMG SEXXORS.

  33. OP*

    Thanks Alison for sharing my letter! I haven’t had a chance to read through all your comments yet (in all day meetings today!) but skimmed and wanted to give a little more detail. My issue/concern was not “the sex”. Hey, good for her for gettin’ some! It was the excessive noise coming from her room that god only knows who else heard. We’re not talking a few headboard bumps on the wall and some muffled moans, this was a full blown “F*ck me! Harder! Do it to me!” situation that went on until 2am. Again, good for her for gettin’ some and good for him for the stamina but… really?

    As for knowing whether or not she was drunk; trust me, she was. I know her pretty well and know that she’s a bit of a partier. The “other incident” was also on a business trip, though technically in our off time. It was the last night of a company retreat and a few employees went out on the town. Again, no problem with this as I do it too! My issue was her god-awful hangover the next morning that caused a car full of colleagues to almost miss their flights because we had to keep pulling over so she could puke on the side of the road. Someone else told the boss about that one!

    I guess my concern is more for what could happen in the future than either of these specific incidents. I really like this person and want her to succeed at this company as I know it’s a job she’s wanted for a long time. I referred her to the position so maybe I’m sensitive because of that? She will also be supporting me at my client properties (luxury 5 star hotels/resorts) so maybe I’m sensitive because she’ll be representing not only our company but me? I did speak to her about it, focusing on the noise and never mentioning the sex. I simply explained that we, as representatives of our company, need to be professional at all times while traveling. It was quick and hopefully, didn’t cause her any embarrassment.

    Looking forward to reading more of your comments!

    1. Laurel Gray*

      OP thanks for coming back and providing more context….the puking incident….the fact that you referred her to this position – I now understand your concerns as this can impact your reputation too. WHOA.

    2. fposte*

      So sounds like she’s not good at judging the acceptable limits to cutting loose on a business trip. Her right to get drunk and have sex ends at other people’s noses and ears.

    3. MK*

      Thank’s for the clarification OP. If I may say so, I think you need to mentally distance yourself from your coworker a little bit. As it stands, you are a coworker senior to her; you have a right to expect a certain behavior in your prefessional interactions and you should express that. But your mindset seems to be that of a mentor, and an overly-involved mentor at that, without any indication that your coworker wants this kind of relationship with you. Your intentions may be good, but it’s not really your place to offer unsolicited advice; and it will probably goi down badly anyway.

    4. Different name for this post.*

      So I am guessing you sent this letter a bit ago and handled it before it was published, cause this does shed a light on things. It sounds like you were above board, which is good.

      Pulling over more than once and almost causing people to miss their plane? I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t complain. I wonder if she’d have the guts to write in if Alison solicits unprofessional stories again. It would be amusing to read about, but it would take a braver person than I.

    5. Katie the Fed*

      So this might be where you want to frame it as professional decorum. You’re supporting elite clients who expect a certain degree of decorum – and that extends to activities outside of working hours while on these trips. It’s fine to have fun, but she needs to be discreet and private.

      1. Arbynka*

        Yes. Professional decorum. And professional courtesy. I mean, to make co-workers almost miss flight because you are throwing up from drinking last night…That is just .. gosh, what’s the word I am looking for ? Inconsiderate.

    6. KT*

      So the vomiting on the side of the road with coworkers is a whole different issue. That’s harming your actual work, and that’s something to talk about.

    7. thisisit*

      i think going into this with the idea of focusing on being professional would go a lot further than “mother hen”. as a 30-something woman, i hate this idea that being a female mentor to another woman somehow translates to “mothering” her. being treated like a child only makes a person behave more like a child.

      instead, it sounds to me like she needs to learn more about boundaries, separating personal/professional, respecting other people’s time, etc. frame it like that, instead of focusing on the specific activities. since you referred her, i assume you have a relationship where you can have a conversation about professional expectations that doesn’t sound like a reprimand. so now you just need to focus on it not sounding like a scolding either.

      1. M*

        +1 The original post sounded very judge mental. The follow up better explained the actual issues. Addressing the true problem and the potential professional consequences will go a long way for the new worker.

        1. M*

          *Hit send to soon.* It will go a long way for the new worker but this is also a lesson for OP on how to be a mentor if that is her goal. The first post seemed personal while the second stated what the actual concern was. Keep the feedback and conversation neutral. The approach should not be “this is what you should do” but “these are the expectations in this role” and explain your concerns on how her actions could jeopardize her current career aspirations.

          Its not that she shouldn’t drink but she needs to recognize the difference between drinking with friends and drinking to the point that her actions are affecting others. The first post made it seem as if OP thought she shouldn’t drink at all. The loud sex was a red herring that still has some clutching pearls.

    8. EngineerGirl*

      The real issue is that her behaviors are negatively impacting other individuals. This will affect her relationship with those individuals and her ability to perform her job at the company.
      The real discussion is that there is a **pattern** of behaviors. People are losing respect for her because of this and it will definitely harm her in the company.

      1. Koko*

        Yes, this. Star performers will be forgiven the odd misjudgment/misbehavior.* Average or below-average ones won’t, and even star performers only get a couple passes.

        *I recall one former colleague who got so drunk at a holiday party that she took off her top and started dancing on a table. She was so brilliant and eminently respected among the staff that nobody really even talked about it except every year around holiday party time as a cautionary tale with her name removed.

    9. Snarkus Aurelius*

      Okay so this is a different take than what you originally wrote.

      If someone’s behavior and professionalism are harming the group and the company, THEN you have license to say something.

      You cannot, however, make it gendered.  Whatever you say has to apply to both sexes so no more of this “mother hen” nonsense and the dangers of women traveling alone.  (The last part isn’t even true.)  If you go down that route, you’ll run into the problems I mentioned above.

      Have one friendly conversation with her.  One.  Singular.  That’s it.  Focus on her behaviors and their professional consequences; do not focus on her personal life choices.  Tell her what to do; do not tell her how to be.  Do you see the difference there?

    10. HRish Dude*

      Holy moly does this change my opinion.

      I assume this is the sort of business relationship where if you just let her crash and burn it doesn’t only affect her perception negatively but also the business.

    11. Purr purr purr*

      Ah OK, now I’ve read this for more context, it’s more problematic. First off, I’d pull her aside and tell her that her behaviour would reflect badly on you since you referred her to the position. Knowing that this a repeating pattern with regards to getting drunk then I’d mention that too. Does your company have an alcohol policy? Maybe you could talk to a manager about implementing that or enforcing it more strictly.

    12. Zillah*

      Yeah, this changes things pretty significantly for me – though I would caution you to be very careful how you approach this, because the tone of your original letter definitely made you come off as having very different concerns than this one does.

      Tbh, if there have been any incidents since you talked to her, even incidents that aren’t necessarily a huge deal, I’d sit her down again and be explicit about what exactly you’re talking about. It might be embarrassing for one or both of you, but sometimes, I think it’s what has to happen, especially for younger people who are newer to the workforce.

  34. Different name for this post.*

    Yeah, how come no one else has brought up this point?

    I would like to bring up another point. My neighbor was once a night shift desk person at a busy hotel in Honolulu. As there are strict occupancy limits in that county (perhaps statewide, though I am not sure about that), he was instructed to notice when guests arrived in late with people who were not officially staying at the hotel.

    There were several “tradesworkers” that frequented the area, and many were quite well known. Without being too overt, my friend was instructed to intercept and strike a conversation with the guest before they reached the elevators in an attempt to suss out whether or not the unknown person was a registered guest. If it was a TW, they would usually become uncomfortable enough to leave.

    Even if the person was not a TW and just a person off the street or someone who had just arrived, he still had to find out if the person was a registered guest, and if not, register them with the applicable surcharges, often to some displeasure. When my friend was interviewed for the position he was even asked if he would be comfortable with this aspect of the job, as it was considered an employee duty.

    As one can imagine this resulted in scenes on occasion and every once in a while a paying guest had to be removed and the police called. When I asked about fears that the guest might take his business elsewhere, my friend pointed out that since all hotels had to abide by the same ordinances, and all but the shadiest establishments had similar staff monitoring (the shady ones were watched by the police), so it would still be costly if they tried to go elsewhere as refunds were rarely given in such circumstances.

    Though I am not sure where the OP’s incident happened, I brought this up this wouldn’t necessarily go unnoticed, considering that they are conducting business with these hotels.

    1. Allison*

      Huh, I actually had no idea that was a thing in Hawaii. I’ve never heard of it being a thing in my state, or maybe it is and just not strictly enforced. What’s the official reasoning for it, do you know?

      (also, reminds me of Miss Congeniality when Miss Hawaii says “that’s not allowed, no men in the room” and someone says things are different on the mainland . . . now it makes sense!)

      1. Different name for this post.*

        The official reasons have to do with the fire codes, and that they have to account for everyone in the building. Hotels use it to try to discourage partying, room trashing, and among other things, to curtail prostitution on their premesis. More importantly it is to make sure everyone is paid up.

        If you go to a travel booking website, the prices and available rooms change depending on the number of adults. For example two adults and two children are allowed in a room with two double beds, but depending on the hotel, 3 adults in the same room seem to have a surcharge for the “extra person” (if they are allowed at all). Otherwise they generally want you to purchase another room.

        That said, I have only ever been on the market for a modestly priced hotel, I am not sure if this changes with the number of stars.

        1. Allison*

          Fair, that’s sort of the case in some places I’ve been too. In NYC my friends had a hotel party and crammed, like, 15 people into 2 hotel rooms for a night, and people went upstairs in small groups so no one got suspicious. I think hotels everywhere frown upon people cramming rooms to save money, because it means the hotel’s not making as much money as it should off of that many people, and there may be some health/fire safety codes to adhere to as well. But I think in most places, a person taking another person to their room wouldn’t raise a whole lot of suspicions.

        2. Koko*

          So what if the guest said, “She’s not registered here, but she’s just visiting for a few hours and not staying the night?” Would the hotel still insist that the guest pay extra for his visitor? (Assuming the guest was a single person booked into a room with an occupancy of at least 2.)

          1. Different name for this post.*

            Many of these hotels do not allow anyone but registered guests to enter the upper floors, and have key card operated elevators. I think in the circumstance you suggest, they might be asked to register their guest (surcharges seem to apply only with a 3rd adult), or sign them in, though depending on the hotel, signing them in as a visitor may or may not be allowed. Otherwise they might be asked to stay in the public areas. If the vistor is a TW, or out to cause trouble, they probably will not want their name on any ledger and will leave.

            I am not saying that people couldn’t sneak in, or even just walk in with someone with a key card without being questioned. But if the guest was intoxicated, a person in my friend’s position would definitely be required to intercept and talk to them before being allowed upstairs. If the guest said something “she’s just visiting for a few hours and not staying the night,” they would not be allowed to proceed unless they were registered. As I mentioned above, some people didn’t like this and sometimes the police would have to be called.

            I have stayed in Honolulu several times, and most of the hotels I stayed at either had a seperate elevator bank to the parking garage, or the elevator always stopped and opened its doors to the lobby regardless of using the key card. You had no choice to walk by or be seen by the front desk; even if no one was there, there were cameras.

    2. MK*

      If I understand correctly, you mean that the room was paid for as a single, so it was against hotel rules to have two people staying the night? Would that apply if the other person only stayed a few hours?

      1. Kelly L.*

        Most places I’ve seen, one person was the same price as two, and you only incurred extra charges if you went up to three. This might vary by locale, I suppose.

        1. Koko*

          This has been my experience too. I traveled extensively as a broke student and often split hotel rooms with 5 or 6 other girls. We only ever booked for 2 – because then you had a reason to ask for 2 room keys, and you could put 2 names on the reservation officially for check-in in case one car got there faster than the other – and because you didn’t have to pay extra until guest #3.

          1. Kelly L.*

            And I think it’s that they plan for utilities usage, laundry, etc. for 2 automatically, and they figure that a larger party will use more stuff all around. Like, if I were to go stay in a hotel by myself tonight, there’d probably be enough towels there for 2 anyway.

            (An aside, though: As a ladyperson who (a) once had a serious girlfriend and (b) then had a boyfriend with really long hair, I did sometimes laugh at what seemed to be an assumption that the 2 people in a room were hetero and that the man had short hair and the woman had long. Because there were always exactly 3 towels. I figured they thought the woman needed a hair towel, the guy didn’t, voila! An extra towel was requested many, many places. But that’s a whole other story.)

            1. Koko*

              I never even thought about the 3-towels thing before, but you’re right, there’s always 3!

              I tend to roll with a crew that uses a lot of towels…it’s sort of become a running joke among my traveling group that the first thing we do when we get to a hotel is order extra towels, and we always remind each other to pack extra towels from home because the hotel won’t be able to keep up with our demand! (We do a lot of short visits to the hot tub and take a lot of soaking baths and then don’t want to use damp towels from the previous hot tub excursion).

        2. MK*

          I suppose it varies by location and perhaps by hotel. In most hotels I booked, if only one person stays in the room, the price is about 1/3 lower.

      2. Different name for this post.*

        Most single rooms I know in that area are at hostels, and they are even more strict about not allowing visitors into the guest areas.

        I believe the rooms at my friend’s hotel were double occupancy at the least. He was primarily on the lookout for unregistered guests getting past the lobby.

    3. Anonsie*

      Huh. I also used to live around there and actually never encountered this at any of the hotels when visiting people staying/working there, or when I’ve gone back and brought friends to my room… Especially since for a lot of the hotels, there are street entrances that go straight to the elevators with no staff present at all. I also have heard that the folks working on Kuhio keep apartments for this purpose rather than risk the hotels, but that’s second or third hand info at best I suppose. I’m really curious which hotel this was now and if they had a specific problem or what.

      1. Different name for this post.*

        Admittedly I have not stayed at every hotel in Honolulu, but the ones I stayed at (Equus, and Ohana West to name two) you had to walk past the lobby. During busy times such as afternoon check in afternoon, I don’t think anybody noticed or cared much who was going upstairs as long as someone had a key card. It wasn’t until things slowed down later on in the evening that more attention was paid to comings and goings.

        Management at the Ohana explained their occupancy limits were set by the fire department (no more than 3 adults in a room), and that the price of the room was higher with 3 people after having a small dispute with them. (Settled quickly and professionally, would stay there again.)

        I don’t know what hotel my neighbor worked at, but he wasn’t surprised when I told him what had happened. Just to be clear, I don’t think he went around accosting people and demanding ID or anything like that. The majority of guests probably wouldn’t have even known part of his job was to be on the lookout. If I were to guess I would say most of the problems his hotel encountered stemmed from loitering and drunken behavior, which it certainly did not wish to be known for.

        Perhaps it was just my luck that I never encountered a hotel in Waikiki where I could go straight to the upper floors from the street bypassing the lobby without a key card. I don’t think I would like that.

  35. DrPepper Addict*

    I couldn’t help but think of that Seinfeld episode where George’s boss confronted him about having sex with the cleaning woman on his desk. Not the same exact situation, but in the general sense about sex at work.

    George: “Was that wrong?”

  36. Joey*

    Personally, I’d probably raise my hand in the air looking for a high five the next time I saw her and say “well done! I didn’t realize the walls were paper thin around here. Sounds like you found yourself a winner last night! You guys were so loud I could hear everything.”

    1. Different name for this post.*

      Ha! A friend of mine would have probably shouted “YEAAAAAH! Gettin’ SOME!” at the wall. Especially if it was one of their coworkers on the other side. Probably because they were drunk too. Or even if they weren’t.

    2. Swedish Tekanna*

      Much better response. Honest and shows humour. Beats all the “No, it’s not the sex thing, it’s the noise that’s the problem but we want to save the woman’s face” stuff. Yeah, right.

  37. Dynamic Beige*

    Dot Warner said:
    “LW, I know you want to look out for this woman and that’s commendable, but remember that part of being a teacher/mentor is letting people make their own choices and learn from the consequences. It’s one of the hardest things about mentoring, but it’s also one of the most important.”

    Minding your biscuits… said:
    “I personally thought coming to a meeting hungover, looking like something you cleaned out of the drain, and being non-functional (in a work sense) reflected poorly on our company and showed low emotional intelligence on her part.”

    OK, I’ve read most, but not all of the comments and I have to say that when I was in a position to mentor a bunch of people, I had a very frank discussion with them about what was considered appropriate behaviour on a business trip — before they ever went. Because if you are new to an industry and have never traveled for anything other than personal vacations, you probably don’t know that business travel is different. I was once purchasing something at a pharmacy for a business trip and when the cashier asked me where I was going, I told her and she practically swooned about how she would love to travel for business. Uh… no, you wouldn’t because it’s not like Spring Break in Cabo.

    Because if you are traveling for business, then you are representing your company — even in your personal time — and a lot of people just don’t get that. You order up a bunch of adult movies in your hotel room? Entirely within your prerogative — but don’t try and expense that. If you decide you need something to help you “relax” and you go out looking for that, but get arrested? Doesn’t matter if it was on your personal time. No one from your team or company is going to just shrug their shoulders and be all “pfft! it was on your personal time!” as they bail you out. I was on a job once in a foreign country where one person showed up the next morning drunk, they had apparently been out partying all night as they were still wearing the same clothes, were being inappropriate with the clients — never saw them on another job. I have heard of clients firing employees for inappropriate behaviour at the national sales meeting/big conference.

    So LW, if I were you, when you get back to your company, take your trainee out to lunch and don’t tell them about how you heard her having sex… tell her general things about what it means to travel professionally. Set down the rules as you know them. Offer up some suggestions like: “Here’s what you need to know — discretion is the better part of valour. When you travel for us, you are still being judged by the other people on the team. If you show up late, if you don’t look professional, if someone from the team catches you in the hall making out with a client or some random guy, they are not going to be all ‘you go girl!’, they are going to file that away. Believe me when I say that people notice what you do and are paying attention, even when you’re done work at the end of the day. You do not want to be the person at this company who everyone has to watch because it’s common knowledge you drink too much or you flirt with the clients or you’re known for picking up random men in the hotel bar… all of that will build up to a place where no one will trust your judgement and you will not be in consideration for the better trips or clients. Too much of that stuff, and you will be let go.” If you have any pertinent examples of people you know who that happened to, tell them without using names.

    It’s one thing to let people make their own choices. It’s another when they don’t know what the rules of the game they are playing are. I hate to say this, but it’s like that episode of Star Trek:TNG where Wesley is playing some sort of ball game with kids on some planet and one them throws the ball really hard, so he runs to catch it and falls into some specially marked area no one is allowed to enter and sets off an alarm — the penalty for being in that area was death. No one had told him about this, it wasn’t a big obvious no trespassing sign, but all the people he was playing with knew. That’s essentially what’s happening here without training. She’s playing a game she thinks she knows — it’s like having a vacation while you work! — but no one has laid out for her what the expectations are.

    This time, you “caught” her. What if next time the room that’s adjacent to hers is the owner of your company? A key person on the client side? If her job is manning the reception table, what’s that going to be like when her neighbour shows up after hearing her all night to pick up their name badge? Or ask a question about the day’s agenda? Because sometimes you bump into the people who have the room next to yours in the hall — they’re going out for an early run for example. I can just see an attendee going into breakfast, sitting with one of their work friends and being all “you would not believe what happened last night… and then I ran into her this morning — she’s one of the people from X Team at the front desk.”

    1. NickelandDime*

      I like this response the best out of many of the comments here. I think she just doesn’t know better. I think if someone told her the rules she would adhere to them.

    2. The Toxic Avenger*

      Bravo!! This, times 1000 – especially since the OP-s update provided a lot more context.

    3. QAT Contractor*

      Good reference.

      Also great advice. Some people just have an inate ability for knowing most of the rules, but everyone should still have them spelled out; prior to having to work within them. If you don’t know what’s expected and continue to do what you believe to be right, there is almost alway a point where it comes back and bites you.

      After a time or two, you learn to start asking what the rules are before engaging in the activity, but that doesn’t mean you will always have them provided. Treating this situation as a learning and coaching experience for your coworker help her a lot in the long run, but only if she’s actually willing to accept the guidance. Beyond that, it’s up to her.

    4. OP*

      Dynamic Beige, get out of my head! lol You just perfectly summed up the very essence of my letter. At least someone gets it! Thanks!

  38. Ultraviolet*

    Leaving the noise aside for now, would anyone argue that it’s a problem that the coworker was noticeably intoxicated? The OP and her coworker frequently travel to client property and stay there overnight. On a given visit, the odds of encountering the client-side people they’re working with late at night are low. But if they travel often, there is a solid chance that one of these times those people will end up on the property dealing with an emergency or having late meetings in a hotel conference room or restaurant or bar. It could look pretty bad if the OP’s coworker happens to come across them while drunk. Is it unprofessional for someone in her job to get drunk on these trips, since the odds of eventually meeting someone relevant while drunk are significant? Or is it okay because those accidental meetings will not happen most of the time?

    1. Koko*

      I think this would vary a lot depending on the LW’s company/industry culture. In some cultures (the “we’re hip and we know how to have a good time!” kind of companies), noticeable intoxication would be fine as long as it was off-hours and limited to harmless things like slurring, bumping into the corner of the wall, laughing too loud, and eating a whole bunch of chips. In other cultures (the “we are paragons of professionalism and we’re on call 24/7 for your every need!” kind of companies) those same harmless signs of drunkenness would be frowned upon as casting the company in an unprofessional light.

      1. QAT Contractor*

        I don’t think there is any industry where “we’re hip” translates to public drunkeness. If it does, I would seriously wonder how they stay in business and don’t manage to shoot themselves in the foot with clients/employees/employers.

        Any good bartender will know when a person has had too much, and slurring speech is one of the obvious signs to cut someone off. Any company that knowingly allows their employees to drink that much does not seem like a responsible company.

        1. Koko*

          They’re out there. I’ve worked for them. All business from 9 to 5, but anything goes after 5pm as long as you don’t turn racist/sexist/violent/criminal.

    2. Dynamic Beige*

      TL:DWR — it depends

      I personally do not believe it is a good idea to get drunk where your coworkers/clients can see and judge on business trips or company functions in general — better to err on the side of caution. But what I think isn’t necessarily what other people do and I can’t control how other people behave, any more than they can control my behaviour. Because as has been shown in this thread, people judge, it’s what we do and your innocent one-time “it’s my birthday!” can become “remember that time when we were in ______ for that client meeting and it was Coworker’s birthday and they _____?” I think most people don’t have a problem with the odd glass here or there — but a lot of people have a problem with problem drinkers.

      If you’re in the hotel industry, you’ve probably seen all kinds of bad behaviour, so your yardstick might be different than someone else’s. There’s a book called Hotel Babylon (and was adapted into a TV series in the UK) that tells a lot of stories of what happens in a hotel — I believe the person who wrote it (they’re credited as Anonymous) had worked in one for many years.

      Having said that, whether or not it’s a problem depends a lot on who the client is, and what the circumstances are. If the client ran into LW’s coworker drinking they might just chalk it up as a one-off if they were feeling charitable or simply didn’t care because hey, a lot of people like to have a few drinks and unwind and they probably see that all the time on their properties. A lot would depend, I think, on how Coworker was behaving, were they dancing on the bar? Were they belligerent? Did they recognise the client, come up to them and engage them in any way? Destroy property by accident or on purpose? As probably 100 L&O:SVU episodes have covered, a drunk woman alone in a bar can be a target for people with loose ideas around what consent means. That could translate into bad publicity for the client, police investigations, lawsuits, which they wouldn’t like. This client might not bat an eye at slurring or staggering, but puking in the fountain would flip their switch. They might have different expectations of behaviour from a paying guest vs. someone they have hired — there’s no way to know.

      But, if LW and Coworker are doing the same trip often enough, Client may pick up on that Coworker behaves like this A Lot (or All The Time) and may say something to Coworker’s boss if being obviously drunk bothers them. Youth, inexperience, birthdays, bad days, unwinding, at some point you run out of excuses. The other thing to consider is: if Coworker is seen drinking at the bar, they may be on an expense account. If they’re drinking a lot, they’re running up a lot of expenses that are then potentially being billed back to the Client — and Client might be thinking about that enough to pull records.

  39. Allison*

    I would point out that just because someone’s “off the clock” doesn’t mean there can’t be work-related consequences for their actions. For example, employers can tell their employees they have to act a certain way while in uniform, even if they’re not clocked in, because they’re still representing the company. Same goes for tech conferences, if you’re there representing your company, or people know you who you work for, your actions will reflect on your employer. If you say something really dumb on social media and your profile says you work for a certain company, again, that may make your employer look bad. If catcall women out the window of a company van, you’re gonna make the company look bad. I know there has to be a line somewhere, your employer can’t govern everything you do at home, but you gotta use good judgment. If you’re traveling for business, you are representing your employer and certain activities are going to be risky, so either don’t do it or be very discreet.

  40. FD*

    Can’t resist commenting on this one.

    To me, the bigger issue is that she’s doing it at their prospect’s/clients’ workplace. You’re not only on a business trip, but you’re staying in the location you want to do business with. That means the bar is even higher than it would be otherwise, because almost everything you do is going to be visible to the people you want to sell products to. Buy adult moves via the hotel system? Come down to breakfast with bedhead and PJs? Those are things that are legitimate to do on a general business trip, but not a great idea in this setting. It’s going to inform the overall image your customers have of you, for good or bad.

    1. Joey*

      Well the expectation of privacy is far different for the things you’re talking about. People dont expect near complete privacy about their hotels bills and walking in public.

    2. Purr purr purr*

      It doesn’t say that she’s doing it at the client’s workplace though. It was in a hotel. It only said that sometimes they would stay at a client’s workplace, not that this had ever happened at one.

      1. FD*

        Hm, I read that as that it occurred while staying at a client’s workplace, but yeah, after rereading the letter, it isn’t clear if this was while staying at a client hotel or not.

        My comment was based on the premise that this was while staying at a client hotel, since you’d want to adhere to higher standards in that case than you’d need to normally.

        1. fposte*

          I think the implication’s pretty clear that it was at a client’s property. That’s the only kind of traveling that’s described, and then it goes on to state what happened on a stay. Otherwise there’d be no reason for the OP to talk about staying at client properties in the first place.

  41. Purr purr purr*

    I’ve got to be honest, I’ve been there and done that. Sometimes I was staying on client properties (so I behaved myself) and other times I wasn’t so… I didn’t. Since it was in a hotel, I don’t think the fact she was messing around is an issue. That side of things isn’t your business. I’d probably mention ‘the noise’ and asking her to be more courteous of the people around her next time. And of course, if this ever took place on a client property then I would also say something about that because it would reflect poorly on the company.

    As for the rest of it, this isn’t a mother hen situation. She’s old enough to make her own decisions and to understand the consequences of her actions. Presumably she’s also aware of the company’s expectations because, most of the time, it’s common sense. It sounds more like you disapprove of her having a one night stand but apologies if I’m mistaken in that judgement.

  42. voyager1*

    So glad you gave a follow up.Frankly you need to talk to this young woman about her behavior when traveling for business. And I think some of the commenters owe you an apology for some of the name calling that went on in this thread too.

    1. Zillah*

      And I think some of the commenters owe you an apology for some of the name calling that went on in this thread too.

      On the basis of her follow-up post? I completely disagree. I don’t think there was name calling so much as criticism, and the fact that her follow-up contained other information that’s definitely relevant doesn’t mean that there weren’t problems in her original letter that commenters were very right to point out.

  43. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    OK, OP’s co-worker is female.

    Wondering what the tone of this thread would be if the OP’s co-worker were male, and had a woman in his room (next to hers) and the same thing happened?

    Would your comments be as supportive of the OP’s co-worker? Just sayin’.

  44. OP*

    Of course AAM posts my letter when I’m nearly 100% unavailable for comment. Argh! Nevertheless, I have enjoyed reading everyone’s feedback and wanted to provide some of my own:

    1. Obviously, the overall tone of my letter didn’t quite come across as intended. I think the words I read most often were judgmental, puritanical, sexist (holy crap!), oppressive and my personal favorite: PEARL-CLUTCHER! lol I’m none of those so this is a good lesson in choosing your words carefully.

    2. The “mother-hen” comment was meant to be a bit tongue-in-cheek. Another example of intention being lost in the written word. Oh well. I think this is what drove a lot of the “sexist” comments but, honestly, my concern would’ve been the same if my colleague were male. It wasn’t about a hapless female out alone in the big, bad world; it was about anyone in an unfamiliar place, whose judgment/faculties may have been compromised with alcohol, and ending up in a potentially harmful situation. Point taken: not my business.

    3. The bottom line for me was the issue of professionalism. How someone should act while traveling for business is obviously where many of our opinions differ. This is not a job with occasional travel. If it was, maybe I would view each trip as an opportunity to get out an have some fun. In reality, I (and my counterparts) can be in the field up to 45-50 weeks a year. Our “office” is the airport, the car, the hotel, the client’s establishment. There are, quite honestly, a whole different set of rules when you aren’t 9-5 at the office. In my opinion, I’m on the job from the minute I leave my front door until the minute I return. While I may not be working every minute of every day I AM a representative for my brand every minute of every day. I make sure that my appearance and my behavior reflect that at all times. My thinking is, “You never know who may be a future client.” (side note: I learned this the hard way in the beginning of my career when I flipped off/yelled at someone who cut me off on the road only to realize a few minutes later, as we both pulled into the same parking lot, that it was one of the clients. Oh the horror!) No one in my company has ever specifically told me to follow these standards, I just do because I thought it was common sense. I take my career very seriously and am fairly well regarded in my industry so maybe that’s the difference. I have a reputation to protect; she’s brand new, with a different approach. Que sera sera!

    Thanks again for all the comments! I read AAM every day and was so excited to hear from Alison that she’d be publishing my letter!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Thanks for this!

      I might argue that being on the road 45-50 weeks a year is MORE reason to have sex on the road — when else are you going to do it with that schedule? :)

      1. MP*

        I had a situation where I was travelling 45-50 weeks of the year too and returning to the same city very regularly so I decided to join match dot com in that city rather than my home city (there being more weekday nights for dates than weekend nights after all!).

        After some adventures, some funny stories and seeing the new city from the locals’ point of view… one of those dates turned out to be my future wife and that work city became my new home! :)

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