paying to apply for a job, coworkers won’t stop talking about my weight loss, and more

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

1. Employer wants me to pay apply for a job

I recently learned of an internship position at a nonprofit organization that I think would be a great opportunity for me. I started applying through a third-party website, but I quickly ran into a roadblock when I was instructed to pay a $25 fee in order to submit my application. Even though I have no doubt that the posting is legit, I have serious reservations about paying an application fee for a job.

I’m not sure how to proceed. At this point, I’m considering dropping it all together. I’ve also considered contacting the person at the organization in charge of this internship. If I decide to go the second route, I’m having some difficulty with how to word that email. I’m curious to know your thoughts.

You absolutely should not have to pay to apply for a job. But did they say what the fee is supposed to cover? If it’s for a background check — as opposed to getting your application looked at — that’s a thing that sometimes happens. (I don’t love it; I think it’s a cost of doing business that the employer should cover, but it’s not unheard of.) But if this isn’t about the background check and is really just to apply, no, that’s totally ridiculous and not okay.

2. How can I get rid of some of my work?

I was hired to help with a specific job function, but my first day I was handed a bunch of extra duties. These are thankless administrative tasks. I would like to talk to my boss about not having these duties on my plate for much longer. In a recent conversation, he agreed that I should be working primarily on the job that I was hired for, but there wasn’t any follow-up as to whether those other duties would be given to someone else. How can I bring up that I don’t want to do these job functions with being whiny or looking like I don’t want to be a team player?

“You mentioned recently that you agreed I should be working primarily on X and Y and not getting so pulled into administrative work. Is this something we can work to change? I’d love to talk with you about how feasible that is and what we’d need to do to make that happen.”

3. I saw coworkers smoking pot at work

I’m a manager and witnessed two guys under another manager smoking pot, as I was driving into work. They were on work property, and it was during work hours.

While not being judgemental on a personal level, I am not sure as to my fiduciary duty to my employer on whether or not to report this. I feel compelled to report them but have to work with them, and know they will not get fired. I’d just as soon shut my mouth. Thoughts?

I’m as pro-privacy and as anti-Prohibition as they come, but what you do on work property during work hours is your employer’s business. And as a manager yourself, you have a higher level of obligation than if you weren’t.

So. Is there a safety issue? Would you report them if it were alcohol? Would you want to know if they’d been your own employees? If the answer to any of those questions is yes, then yeah, you do need to tell their manager what you saw. (You can ask them to leave your name out of it if at all possible, since you need to work with these guys.) If the answer to all three questions is no, then I’m not going to tell you that you’re obligated to take this on.

4. My coworkers won’t stop commenting on my weight loss

About 10 months ago, I decided to lose the weight I had put on after my last marathon. It was keeping me from being my best and feeling good about myself. I took off about 70 pounds and now am at a healthy weight for my height. The problem is the rudeness I am getting from coworkers. I have had comments ranging from “you’re too thin” from my boss of all people, to “put on some weight” from another coworker. I am 5’2 and 125, NOT underweight. I am muscular and have low body fat, so I do appear lighter than this (I wear a size 0) but I am in proportion. I do not wish to discuss my weight, my body or have constant intrusive questions as to what I am eating at lunch. I am an athlete, and my standards of fitness and weight are not the same as an ordinary person. Yes, this does happen. Almost daily.

I am uncomfortable with this and at the point of going to HR, especially with my boss’s comments. How do I proceed?

“I don’t want to discuss my weight, thanks.”

“Let’s not talk about my body.”

“My body’s not up for discussion, thanks.”

Because our society is so weird about weight, lots of people think that talking about how thin you are is borderline-complimentary, or at least neutral, unlike talking about how fat someone is. So it’s likely that they genuinely don’t realize that they’re putting you off (clueless as that may seem). Clearly let them know them know that the comments aren’t welcome, and they’ll probably stop. If they don’t, you can escalate (“Hey Jane, I’ve asked you to stop commenting on my body and you haven’t stopped; you’re making me uncomfortable”) but try the lines above first.

5. Can I put work on my resume that I can’t verify?

What should you do if you have valuable work experience that can’t be proven? For two years after high school, I worked in a local copy/print store. Unlike a typical copy place, though, we also ended up doing a lot of design work as well, making things like fliers, pamphlets, and business cards for local businesses. While I was there, I picked up a lot of skills relevant to the line of work I’m hoping to enter-graphic design, copywriting, editing, desktop publishing, etc., and it’s also the only real office experience I have (a bad job market and family emergencies have left me working freelance since college.)

Until recently, I’ve been keeping it off my resume because, at this point, there’s no way to verify it. Not long after I transferred schools, the place went out of business and the manager I worked under has disappeared (I heard a rumor she moved out of state.) However, as my job hunt drags on, I’m realizing I need all the help I can get, and I’m considering putting it back on. Without anybody to back me up and prove I’m not simply making it up, should I add it back on, or would it be more trouble that it’s worth?

There’s no requirement that every detail on your resume be verifiable — and it would be odd for employers to try to verify every single detail. They’ll verify the stuff they care about most, but the fact that you can’t prove that you did design work at this job is no reason not to talk about the fact that you did. It’s true, and it’s relevant. If someone wants to talk to the shop, you can explain they’re out of business (which is not exactly unheard of with employers), and you can offer to demonstrate your design skills in other ways. (In fact, if you’re applying for design jobs, you should have a portfolio displaying your work anyway — and they’re far more likely to focus there anyway.)

{ 249 comments… read them below }

    1. VW Bug*

      I think that would seem weird. Drawing attention to it before they ask might make it seem like you’re making it up. I’d save that info until they ask or the reference stage.

      1. Seal*

        What??? Relevant work experience is EXACTLY the type of information I want to see in a cover letter and a resume. Given the number of applications we tend to get for job openings here people who don’t include relevant work experience – verifiable or not – will get weeded out before we even get to the interview stage.

        1. Leah*

          I think they meant the detail that the company was out of business, not the actual experience. It would be weird to say in a CL “I worked at Teapots International and did all sorts of relevant work, and it’s totally real, but they went out of business so you can’t verify it but it’s real, I swear.”

          1. OP Number 5*

            That’s the kind of thing I’m worried about. I’m looking at ad agencies to be a copywriter, and I figured some of the kinda low-level design work would be an asset, but if they ask for references, since it’s the closest thing to “agency experience” I have (a new buzzword in job postings I as a freelancer have come to loathe,) I’m afraid that if they ask for a reference for it, if I start saying “Yeah, about that, the company went under years ago and the manager vanished” it would sound like an elaborate lie I concocted to pad my resume.

            1. KarenT*

              It won’t at all! If you can speak in detail about specific things you’ve done no one will think you are making it up!

      2. Stranger than Fiction*

        It would seem weird. Several of the companies I used to work for are now out of business and/or have been bought by other companies. I assume background checkers have ways of verifying this, it’s never ever come up and I’ve never been questioned by my new employer. Also, when you fill out the application, you provide details like their former address, phone number, owner’s name, etc. All those are avenues that I’m sure background checkers can use for verification. Also, though, maybe look up the former boss on LinedIn and connect with him or her if they’re there.

        1. Evan Þ*

          It came up once with me; I got a polite email from the background checking contractor saying “Hey; the place you worked that one summer has gone out of business; can you send us something like a paystub or a W2 to verify this?” I uploaded scanned copies of both; apparently it worked, since the next thing I heard was that I’d passed the check.

      3. M-C*

        In the cover letter?? Work experience belongs in your resume, not your cover letter.. And most of my own resume is from defunct startups, so there’s no real ‘verifiability’.

        That said, OP, there are maybe ways you can manage more legitimacy, or at least in the future. One is if you want design work can you cobble together some sort of portfolio? Online would be best, but failing that something that you can bring around to show, include as a sample.. The easiest would be, when you’re finishing a project you’re pleased with, to save some files for yourself, and directly ask the client for permission to save that work for your personal portfolio. Because, you know, work you do for hire is not yours. But still, I’d make copies all the same, and just make sure they don’t circulate in the future.

        The other thing is LinkedIn. Make sure there’s an entry in there for every company you work for, asking HR to create one if necessary. Then link that to your profile. Friend the old co-workers you like, whose work you respect, and who you think would speak well of you (nobody else). Friend the individual clients who’re thrilled with your work. Keep this up during your entire career. Voila! Instant, easy source of references. You may well be able to find your old manager on that right now, especially since she probably updated her profile while she was looking for the new job. And think about old clients too.. The great part is that your old manager may be friend with them already, saving you some detective work. Good luck!

        1. OP Number 5*

          Thanks, and I’m doing that now with my work now, but the big problem is that this was so long ago: I can’t remember my coworkers (I only remember my boss’s first name,) I probably couldn’t find my paystubs, and it was such a little hole in the wall place, there were a grand total of four employees, so a LinkedIn page isn’t likely (the more I look back, the more I think it might have been one of those “hope it goes under to declare a loss on your taxes” kind of places.)
          The real reason I want to include it is that it’s the only real office experience I have. After college, my grandmother fell ill and I’ve worked freelance so I could stay at home and take care of her. Since all the posts I see specifically ask for agency experience, I just want to show I’ve worked in an office before and that I’m not some loose-cannon writer who plays by his own rules.

  1. Usually post under different name*

    #4 Weight Loss
    I’ve also recently lost 70+lb and concur with Alison 100%! People really are SO weird about weight.

    I’ve had comments ranging from nice like “you look great” to NOT nice like:
    “You’ve lost SO much weight”
    “Now that you’ve lost weight, you look pretty”
    “No! Don’t eat cake!” (implying I would get fat again)
    and my favorite was the person who wanted to sit down and give me advice on how to lose MORE weight (at the time I had already lost 60lb).

    I’ve been having difficulty dealing with some of the hurtful comment and shocked at what some people consider a “compliment” so you are not alone in that. What I try to keep in mind is the comments about weight say more about the person saying them than about you, their own issues, insecurities, etc. It’s not always easy though, I’m with you.

    Thanks for writing in. I’d love to hear other ideas on how to handle this.
    And cheers (to both of us!) :)

    1. Ruth (UK)*

      4. Yes, people are so weird about weight.

      First you get the people who are rude about what they consider to be too much weight. Fat-shaming. Those people are nasty.

      Then you get the ones who are weird about people being what they consider too thin. Thin-shaming? Is that a thing? Those people are sometimes weirder as they will sometimes refuse to acknowledge that what they said could possibly be rude.

      I’ve had people insult me for being ‘too thin’ but then attempt to tell me they’re trying to ‘help’ me with a positive body image? (ie. ‘gain some more weight and then you’ll be happy’ is somehow helpful while ‘lose some weight and then you’ll be happy’ is not?)

      I work out regularly because I enjoy it and do competitive sport and still field ‘but you are thin already’ comments if I mention the gym or exercise. I’m not allowed to talk about healthy eating. If I say I went to eat more healthily (because I know I eat generally not enough and most of what I eat is bad) I get incredulous sounds or comments or even just rude noises.

      As a teenager I did have an eating problem. Not the traditional/stereotype ‘I think I am fat’ that everyone seems to assume if you say ‘eating disorder’ but I had a phobia of choking on food and had an over-reactive gag reflex. I did choke a lot as a child and became really worried of biting into things or putting large pieces of food in my mouth. I couldn’t eat things like grapes or tomatoes that I felt exploded with juice in my mouth and I believed I would definitely choke on. I didn’t share this info at school but people did notice I was very thin and that I liked to eat privately when possible (because I was embarrassed by my need to tear or cut food into smaller-than-bite size pieces before eating – including sandwiches, burgers etc).

      Once at high school:
      Kid 1: Are you anorexic? You’re anorexic aren’t you?
      Kid 2: No she can’t be. She’s eating a burger
      Kid 1: Oh… are you the other thing then? The one where you eat and then make yourself sick?

      All in all, for some reason people think it’s less rude to be rude about someone’s weight as long as they’re being rude about how thin you are.

      (Then sometimes you have the people who are genuinely concerned and don’t realise they’re rude. Or the people who don’t know what to say or how to compliment someone, or even think they’re being complimentary. If you have a body shape someone else covets, I’ve found they can sometimes be quite insulting about while seeming to think they’re paying a compliment…)

      1. Sam*

        I had a similar experience. I lost some weight due to anxiety issues. A former boss was always making nasty comments about “you’re going to end up on MTV’s True Life I’m an anorexic!” and she would watch me everytime I ate. This would make me so panicky that I’d run to the bathroom to have have a panic attach which made her believe I was bulimic.

        It took years of therapy and medication to be able to eat in public again, and i STILL struggle with it a bit.

        1. JMegan*

          :( Some people are awful. I’m sorry this happened to you, and I’m glad to hear you’re putting it behind you now.

          1. Sam*

            Thank you. I still have a hard time eating out, because I’m always worried if I don’t eat enough, I’ll be judged. Ugh.

      2. manybellsdown*

        Yes, my daughter says it happens to her a lot. It’s not the same as fat-shaming, because “thin” is seen as an ideal, but it does happen. She’s got a rare disorder that actually gets worse the thinner she is (and then she can’t eat, so vicious cycle!), and because she was naturally slim it took us awhile to realize it.

        She’s been accused of having an eating disorder more than once – she actually kind of does, but it’s a physical problem with her stomach and nothing she can help or control. Her school this year basically accused me of covering up her anorexia. Fortunately she has a therapist already helping her with ADHD, so we were able to put that to rest.

        1. Judy*

          I get frustrated when people think it’s great that my 11 year old son is so thin. Why yes, someone who is 80% height should be at 15% weight on the charts. For him, it’s an appetite issue due to medicine.

        2. blackcat*

          It’s also very typical for ADHD meds to suppress appetite. As a teacher, I saw multiple super slender kids with ADHD. I knew that keeping on weight was a big deal for those kids, but I’d only ever say something if the parent had specifically communicated with me (eg, going on a field trip, and a parent asked me to remind their child to eat. That happened a lot, because some of those kids wouldn’t be hungry due to meds and then would simply forget to eat, in the same way they’d forget where they’d left their books. Breaking normal routine meant it was hard for the kid to remember to eat).

          If I was worried about the weight of a kid with ADHD, I would never go accusing the parent of helping the kid hide anorexia. I’d ask if there was anything I could do to help to counteract weightless side effects of drugs (for one kid, I let them keep high calorie protein shakes in my personal fridge because my class fell at “snack time”). Sorry your daughter’s school was not so understanding :/

          1. afiendishthingy*

            Yeah my ADHD meds plus being naturally slender plus some GI issues mean I have to work at maintaining my weight and I HATE when people “compliment” me with things like “You look extra skinny lately” or “Oh my god you’re the skinniest person in the world.” I’m currently at a technically ok weight but it’s about 5 pounds under what I prefer (out of vanity mostly), and I just don’t want to hear others confirming that it shows.

          2. Lindsay J*

            Yeah, when I was younger and on ADHD meds they had to come up with specific strategies to help me maintain weight healthily. Mostly drinking a Carnation Instant shake in addition to whatever I managed to choke down for breakfast and lunch, and loading things up with cheese and peanut butter.

        3. LeighTX*

          I can emphathize: my teenage daughter has a GI issue that keeps her thinner than normal, and her own doctor refused to believe she wasn’t anorexic. We have since changed doctors and she’s doing much better–I think the stress of having her own doctor not believe her was making her worse.

          And yes, she gets tons of comments about her weight, and none of them are particularly welcome.

          1. blackcat*

            One of my friends had late unset type 1 diabetes which caused her to drop A TON of weight very quickly. Her docs all thought it was anorexia, too, even though diabetes testing is so easy. Her parents thought the doctors must be right. She eventually went to a library (this was before you could find stuff on the internet), read up on stuff, and demanded to have her blood sugar and urine tested. She was way more resourceful than a 16 year old should have to be, and she never did forgive her parents. She was at the point that she was having major complications and suffered permanent damage due to the time it took her to get a diagnosis. The fact that her parents didn’t believe her means that 15 years later, she has zero trust in them to this day.

            Why people, including doctors, don’t often think to look for medical causes for weight loss boggles my mind.

            1. Michele*

              It is awful that they were so dismissive of her just because she was a teenage girl. Sudden weightloss is never a good thing, and medical causes need to be addressed. In addition to diabetes, it is often a symptom of severe kidney problems, and it is basically malpractice to not bother to look into those things.

          2. Prefer not to say*

            When I was in college I had a doctor accuse me of being anorexic because I’d lost 3 pounds since my last checkup a year previous. That put me at a BMI of 18.5 or a little higher, so I wasn’t even technically underweight at that point. But the visciousness of her accusation, plus the stress that had caused me to lose the weight in the first place, triggered a lot of anxiety around weight and eating, which spiraled into further weight loss and actually being underweight. I talked to a different doctor about the issue and she waved it off as being “not too low of a weight” (at that point, I was under 18.5 bmi) and advised that I should stop running if I was worried about weight loss. Um, nope, running was the only thing keeping my appetite up and keeping me sane!

            This was all three or four years ago(?) and I am almost back to a normal weight and not having as much anxiety around eating. But my trust in doctors, especially in the weight/nutrition area, is now pretty much zero.

    2. Saurs*

      “What I try to keep in mind is the comments about weight say more about the person saying them than about you, their own issues, insecurities, etc.”

      Not just about them, but their / our / your culture, as well. I try not to hold their bigoted, presumptuous comments against acquaintances who offer unprompted opinions about my looks (irrelevant) and “health” (can’t be gauged by my weight or figure) either, but it is hard to sound diplomatic about something so personal; I sometimes employ the confused, head-cocked “what do you MEAN I’ve lost weight?” gambit, or a dry “I hadn’t noticed” or a blunt “Yes, I’ve been under a lot of pressure at home.” My aim is not so much to reject complimentary language as to fail to acknowledge it and to counter-assert the notion that weight loss is, at best, a neutral and private activity borne out of many different, sometimes opposing choices and motivations and often a side-effect of something else entirely, good or bad. A few colleagues have suggested that I change the photo for my laminated ID thingie to something “prettier” (they mean thinner), to which I’ve responded that I’ll look odd either way, just with a more prominent clavicle, and I’d be out the five bucks or whatever it costs to get the lamination.

      Making your interlocutors slightly uncomfortable with a probing comment and request for clarification, de-sexualizing and de-gendering weight loss — those are hard strategies to pull off, and I don’t think I’ve quite got there yet, but I do them anyway because someone’s got to and I haven’t got such a sterling reputation that a pointed comment or two would mortally wound. We have the most ridiculous puritanical ideas about bodies, especially female bodies, and the many ways in which (aesthetically) they can be found excessive or lacking. Because we’ve found a polite way of shoe-horning these arbitrary standards into comfortable, anti-intellectual everyday discourse — “HEALTH” — we somehow think we’re obliged to proffer or suffer completely inexpert and unwanted medical advice and diagnoses (usually regarding food or a pseudo-scientific food fad or a pseudo-scientific exercise regimen, about which we feel comfortable being evangelical and preach-y). Meanwhile, invisible disabilities aren’t sexy enough to feel self-righteous about, and those with them often experience splash damage from loud, well-meaning people who want to “congratulate” you on your New-Found Health.

      Personally, I’d rather have a cheering section accompany me to the bathroom after a nice, satisfying bowel movement, which I haven’t had in years and would trade a dozen or so of the 140 lbs I’ve lost just to experience again on a regular basis.

      1. Saurs*

        Also, somehow this fixation on weight loss as a medical fix-all is tied up in weird notions about sanitary, “clean” bodies (removing “toxins,” “shedding” weight and all). Have these people ever dropped a hundred pounds or more? There’s nothing, necessarily, “clean” about it, whether you’re ill or have had surgery or on pills or are counting calories or are exercising like the dickens. All of those activities involve blood, sweat, and weird, sometimes grotesque bowel and urinary things. They just do. You don’t magically become a clean, hairless, genitalia-less, white Barbie or Ken Doll because your weight’s changed.

          1. Michele*

            It definitely has. Just look at how often food is refered to as a guilty pleasure or a sin. Then after people indulge in something they feel that they should have avoided, they confess to everyone as if they are looking for absolution.

      2. esra*

        Re: your tmi: YEP.

        Weight loss is a big issue with Crohn’s, and every time I’m at my unhealthiest, feeling my absolute worst… I’m also at my thinnest. I get lots of compliments, and feel completely terrible physically.

        1. ali*

          I get the opposite with my Crohn’s because I have 25 years of prednisone weight. “Oh, you have Crohn’s? I thought that was supposed to make you skinny!”

          1. Shiarah*

            I also have Crohn’s and I’ve been at both ends of this spectrum, so I feel for you both!

            Please, world, just stop commenting about others’ bodies.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Yes, please. The only remark I want to hear about my body is if I’m with someone in an intimate situation and he says, “My God, you’re spectacular.”

            2. gingersnap*

              A third Crohnie chiming in here. Worst moment was when I had to tell my dad to quit teasing my cousin about watching out for her girlish figure so he could have the last cookie. He used MY DISEASED BODY as an example of how thoughtful he was (“look at my skinny daughter, I know what’s best for you”). I don’t care that he thought it was funny, it wasn’t.

      3. the gold digger*

        I have a friend who lost a lot of weight suddenly. She had posted a photo of herself and people were raving about how thin she was.

        She had lost a lot of weight because her 42-year-old husband had died suddenly of a heart attack.

        (And she didn’t look bad before she lost weight.)

        (And even if she had looked bad, you don’t comment on someone’s weight.)

        1. TheLazyB*

          Sometimes people suck :( how awful for your friend. A girl in my old work had something similar happen about five years ago and it still makes me ache to think about it.

        2. blackcat*

          In high school, one of my friend’s mom’s was super blunt when anyone would say, “You’ve lost so much weight! You look great!”

          Her response: “If only had I known that cancer was such a full-proof weight loss strategy, I would have gotten it sooner!”

          I saw this happen exactly once, and it was epic. I have so much respect for her. And I’m sure those people thought twice about commenting on weight loss after that!

      4. themmases*

        I really agree with this. I once lost a ton of weight unintentionally due to illness and anxiety. I’m 5’3″, was about 130 lbs at the time, and lost 13 in a single semester on accident. I *hated* the comments and I refuse to believe I looked good because I was not sleeping and basically starving. People would tell me I definitely shouldn’t lose anymore, but I didn’t necessarily need to gain any of it back, either. I’m still kinda mad.

        Several years later when I lost some weight intentionally, I was working in health care and I knew a lot of people who were friendly enough with me to be interested but not enough to know whether I was dieting. So they actually discreetly checked if it was intentional! Imagine that. Only after I said yes did they compliment me and we had a nice chat about the app I use to log my meals. Those conversations made me feel great– like people in my department actually noticed and cared what was going on with me, good or bad.

        1. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

          That second story is really nice. It’s good to hear about people being decent and caring, especially in this thread full of stories of people acting like assholes.

    3. Snoskred*

      In the past, when this has been an issue, and people simply would not shut up about it, I’ve written down the name of my doctor and the clinic phone number and handed it to them with a “Oh, my doctor thinks I’m at the perfect weight now, but if you disagree here is his number, you can take it up with him. I’m following his instructions because he went to medical school and I believe he knows what he is talking about. KTHXBAI..”. :)

      Alternatively, “I’m in training for X sports event at the moment.” sometimes works.

    4. Wanna-Alp*

      “Would you like me to comment on your body?”

      “Ok then don’t comment on mine, thankyouverymuch.”

      1. Jazzy Red*

        “You know, I could help YOU lose some of that extra weight you’re carrying around.”

    5. nona*

      What I try to keep in mind is the comments about weight say more about the person saying them than about you, their own issues, insecurities, etc.

      This is so true.

    6. Jillsy Sloper*

      I read this this morning on the train on my way in to work, and what did I hear from the first client of the day today? “Wow, you’re wasting away–you look great!” I had no idea how to respond. I think I stammered something like, “I’m not sure those two things are the same thing?” But I SO wish I’d had some kind of witty response to point out how broken that sounds.

      (For the record, I’m not wasting away.)

    7. Hellanon*

      “I’m really just grateful my friends love me for more than the size of my ass, but thank you.”

      I’ve said that to people. Followed by a tight smile, it tends to shut people up.

      1. Michele*

        Oh, I wish I had the nerve to say that.
        The sad thing is that after I lost a lot of weight, women became much friendlier to me. I was invisible when I was fat, then suddenly they wanted to be friends.

        1. nona*

          The opposite happened for me. It was OK at an average weight, but the lower weight that works for me is a problem. :/

        2. mina*

          I’ve lost a lot too; I was always invisible before. People look at me now, and they definitely feel free to comment about my weight. Thankfully that finally stopped. Mostly.

    8. Florida*

      I’ve never been overweight. I’m pretty athletic and a normal size for my height. I remember one time I was at a chamber of commerce event where I was talking to a woman. Another woman came up to both of us, and said, “You ladies look like you want to lose weight?” Then she vomited a sales pitch on us about her MLM weight loss shake. After she walked away, I said to the first woman (who is also a reasonable size person), “She needs to come up with a better opening line. She might has well come up and said, ‘Hey Fatso.'” I’m pretty sure she didn’t sell many weight loss shakes that night.

      1. I'm a Little Teapot*

        “Vomited a sales pitch on us” is an awesome phrase.

        Also, evangelizing fad dieter + MLM = AAAAAAAAaaaa!!! Two of the most obnoxious types of people in existence combined into one.

    9. MissLibby*

      I bet the person wanting to “give advice” on how to lose more weight was actually trying to sell shakes or patches as part of MLM scheme.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Before I make my comment, I just want to note that I have seen comments from another Phyllis, so I will now be PhyllisB.
        About the weight loss issue, what IS the proper response? If I someone I know (and have not seen for a while) has lost a significant amount of weight it seems odd not to comment/compliment them on their efforts. I would certainly never want to upset anyone, but I feel it deserves an acknowledgement of their efforts. I realize if it’s from illness of course don’t say anything. I mean like someone has been going to Weight Watchers/joined a gym or other ways of intentionally losing weight. Suggestions?

        1. SevenSixOne*

          Why not just “You look great!”?

          It saves face if they haven’t lost any weight or if they have but aren’t happy about it, and if they have deliberately lost weight, they won’t waste any time telling you allllll about it.

  2. Kathlynn*

    Relevant question. I once worked at a location that closed a few years after I worked their. When it reopened under the same company, it had different owners. Should I indicate that it changed hands in my resume?

    1. snuck*

      I wouldn’t… unless you plan to use them as a reference – and then I’d treat it the same as a reference who’d left the company and moved on somewhere else. Effectively it sounds like that what’s they’ve done. Sure they were the owner, but they’ve sold it (I assume) and moved on to something else. So treat it as though it’s the same business, but if you want to give a contact as a personal reference give the person and their current details (and put in there something like “Manager Joe Bob, previously Teapots Inc. now Fruitcakes Delicious”

      1. Kathlynn*

        They didn’t sell it, their contract with the head company ran out, which is why the business closed. And, no I wouldn’t be using them as a reference. Just in case it makes any difference.

        1. Apollo Warbucks*

          If it was me I would just list the company details and dates of employment if someone calls to check it out for some reason the new management can e plain they have just brought the business.

          1. MK*

            The problem is that they didn’t just buy the business, they just opened a new business, that has the same brand. The person who answers the phone might not even know that there used to be a similar company operating under the same name and you risk coming off as a liar.

            1. fposte*

              The person answering the phone is almost never going to know about a former employee, though. If Kathlynn is worried she can put “under new ownership” in parenthesis after the business name, but really, if it’s several years ago and it’s not listed as a reference, it’s not likely to come up.

              1. MK*

                It’s not the same thing. If the reference checker says “I would like to ask about A, who worked at your company in 2009”, it’s pretty common to get “Let me put you through to B, who has worked here for 10 years”. But in this case, the answer could well be “You must be making some mistake, our company was funded in 2013”; if the person on the phone doesn’t know about the past company, they might not even think to pass the call along or ask someone. And the reference checker could be left with the impression that the candidate lied.

                1. fposte*

                  I just don’t think the scenario you’re imagining is that likely. If you’re calling outside of references, you especially don’t expect whoever picks up the phone to know anything, and you don’t worry a lot about what they say; you always expect to go deeper to find out. You also don’t expect whoever’s at the main number to recognize the person’s name–you’d be moving to the division and to the manager first. Plus, it’s pretty easy to find out online that the business existed before, and if you’re diligent enough to hunt down people not on the reference list, you’re not a slacker who’s not going to bother to do that.

                  This is a job several years ago that’s not included on her references list. I think you’re worrying about a black swan here–the likelihood that somebody’s so diligent that they try to hunt down all former managers and not just references but is also such a slacker that they accept the word of whoever answers the phone. But, as I said, she could also just put “under new ownership” after the business name.

            2. Apollo Warbucks*

              That’s a good point, the way I read it was they had brought the business so I assumed the new owners would know about the old business, but they might not

  3. FiveWheels*

    Ugh, 4, I feel your pain. I’m an athlete as well, but also naturally thin and muscular. When my sports season is beginning I think ‘time to get fit again’ and work to add some muscle, I’ve never really had to work to change my body shape. I know my metabolism is very fortunate, but I just can’t handle people acting like it’s a normal thing to talk about weight!

    Intrusive comments about me don’t bother me so much because I’m naturally sarcastic and tell people I only eat bacon. But how do you deal with other people disparaging themselves? People -ranging from fit and athletic to obese – tell me they’re disgustingly overweight and have to count calories and they have a new exercise plan… And their body shape never changes at all… And I’ll talk fitness all day long but talking about appearance like that makes me want to run and hide.

    1. Wanna-Alp*

      Could try something like this:

      “Are you telling me this because you want me to agree with you? Because I have to say, I find it really hard to hear, when you put yourself down so much. If you don’t have something nice to say about yourself, please don’t say it.”

      1. FiveWheels*

        The problem is I’m so sarcastic that I’m sure if I expressed genuine concern for a colleague like that they’d think I was either insulting them or seriously ill ;-)

        It’s just one of those things I guess that wasn’t done in my family – no-one ever judged each others eating, weight etc – so even though it’s fairly normal in the real world, I feel like I’m talking to aliens.

        1. Helen of What*

          I’d probably go with “This might shock you, but I’d actually rather not listen to you insult yourself.” In a dry tone. (I’m imagining April Ludgate’s usual flat expression.)

    2. Sunshine Brite*

      I try to ask them if they’d say that to a friend and then encourage any fitness efforts if it seems to be making them happy and healthy.

      I felt like I was in waaaay too much of a bubble at my last job because the conversation would almost always turn to fitness and then appearance a lot of the time. We had a really casual environment so we knew a lot about each other. There was a lot of runners and then a few people with body image issues and a couple clean eaters and it all seemed to intersect and eventually people would end up talking about how they hated how they looked. It eventually had me starting to do some behaviors I did in high school when I was unhappiest with my appearance which made me feel super unhealthy. Plus, I was going through a 40lb weight loss when I started doing challenge groups with a friend from high school

    3. Michele*

      I remember when I was in school, girls would bond by disparaging their bodies and talking about how fat they were. I think that a lot of women never outgrow that and learn that there are much better conversations to have. They also feel the need to apologize for not being good enough. Unless someone is into the same activities as me, I don’t like to talk about fitness with them. I have had people at the gym interrupt my workouts to make comments about how they can’t swim as much as me or to say that they would do X, but they do Y instead. I really don’t care, and I don’t want to talk about it, especially since the second group is always including a put down of me in there.

    4. nona*

      Neutral, vaguely supportive comments + advice to see a doctor for better input.

      I’m tempted to let them say what they want and not react to it, because wow I do not want this conversation, but that can hurt.

    5. cv*

      I had a moderately overweight coworker at one job who would make comments about her weight, and I never knew how to respond, especially since I’m pretty thin. When she talked about exercise or a new diet it was easier, because I could make comments that felt positive – things like “I’m glad you have a plan you feel good about,” or “It’s great that the new exercise routine is making you happy,” or whatever. I always tried to say things that were supportive without commenting on the content of the diet or on her weight directly, but it was much harder when she said negative things.

  4. CAinUK*

    #1 – I would reach out to the recruitment agency/website and ask what the $25 is for. If it’s a background check, you can mention that you’re happy to provide the $25 should you progress to an interview stage (there really is no reason to front the cost if you’re not even on the short-list).

    If they say it’s merely an application “fee” then absolutely reach out to the employer and mention the situation. Say you want to apply but you’re put off by the application fee as it’s not a standard practice – and ask if they are aware of the situation. In all likelihood they aren’t, since I’d be pretty miffed if our recruitment firm/webportal was charging us a commission for any hires AND charging fees to applicants as well (especially as this will alienate professional candidates who would call shenanigans on this).

    1. UKAnon*

      OP says it’s an internship, so I’m afraid that I’m much more inclined to think that they think they’ve just found a way to make money easily off of recent grads who “won’t know better”. I second your approach, though – just because I’m a grumpy old miser there’s no need to tar everyone with the same brush ;-)

      1. Artemesia*

        This. No one who is in the employment/recruitment business would not know that this is scammy. This is a way to make money and I would have my doubts about a desirable job being at the end of this rainbow.

    2. James M*

      OP1 should definitely seek clarification. Charging a fee per job application is a discriminatory practice. Unfortunately, socio-economic discrimination isn’t within the EEOC’s purview.

    3. Xarcady*

      If the fee isn’t a background check fee, I’m wondering if this is a way the company has developed to reduce the number of applicants. If they were getting inundated with applications, and most of those weren’t qualified for the internship, they might have thought that charging a fee would weed out those who really weren’t qualified.

      1. MK*

        That would be a rediculous strategy. Why would anyone assume that the people able (and willing!) to pay the fee and those qualified are the same group? There are plenty of unqualified people with more money than sense; and there are plenty of qualified ones who have no money to spare and enough sense not to pay for something that has no usual fee.

        1. Melissa*

          That was my thought as well. In fact, I’m willing to bet that their strongest candidates are going to be the ones who refuse to pay this fee, because they’re going to be the ones who are competitive for positions that don’t require an application fee.

          1. KarenT*

            So much this.

            And I wonder if because they are a nonprofit they are (mistakenly) justifying it as donations.

            1. MinB*

              It might even just be a mistake left over from a reused form. I work at a small nonprofit and we are on the smallest available plan on a form building website, which means we only get 10 forms at a time. We have to clear out the old information to build a new form a few times a year. Once, I accidentally left the credit card payment plugin turned on from a form for fundraiser tickets, so a few people paid for what was supposed to be a free application. I refunded them as soon as I noticed, but it was probably pretty confusing for the first few applicants.

      2. Cheesecake*

        I would seriously question the recruitment policy if they set up a fee to “weed out unqualified candidates”. The fact that someone has $25 bucks in their pocket to spare has nothing to do with how qualified they are. On the contrary, the most qualified candidates won’t apply at all, why would they bother spending 25 bucks if they can just apply for free somewhere else.

      3. Artemesia*

        You would weed out anyone with any good options, any common sense, who is not hopelessly naive enough to think s/he should have to pay to be considered for a job. Thus the pool left would be the doofuses, desperate and naive. Unless you are recruiting to sell knives this is not the pool you really want is it?

    4. fposte*

      It’s been mentioned here that some government openings (I think the poster was in state government) require a similar fee for application, which is waivable in the event of need. Sucks, but with government there’s not much workaround.

    5. Sunflower*

      Totally agree. Also is this job posted elsewhere on the internet? For some reason, TheLadders is coming to me in this letter. They steal job listings from websites- so obviously they are legit – then charge you to join the site or something?

    6. lowercase holly*

      Also it seems like a background check fee shouldn’t be collected unless the candidate was under consideration.

    7. Cheesecake*

      I came across a german-speaking recruitment site, where you had to pay monthly fee…just to see job offers and apply for them! The funny thing is, you would see a job name on a platform that aggregates offers, click on the advert just to be transferred to a page that says “this and much more exciting offers can be viewed for $10 bucks a month”. Nope!

    8. Jackie*

      I’m a teacher and it SUCKS how many site memberships I have had to pay for. Some districts only post their openings on 3rd party websites. In order to submit a job specific cover letter, you have to be a member. It is ridiculous and wrong.

      1. Chinook*

        I too am disgusted that patting to apply via a 3rd party website for teaching jobs has become standard practice (at least here in Canada) . They sell it to school boards by eying it streamlines hiring and to teachers by saying you boy hive to upload documentation once and , if you pay, you can make your resume searchable (which is good if you have a unique background). Unfortunately, it is mandatory if you want to apply and not every board uses the same system.

      2. Sara*

        And on top of that, we (at least in my metro area) have to pay for our own fingerprinting too!

    9. Ama*

      Yes, at the very least, I think you should attempt to (politely) let someone at the hiring company know that it’s unclear what the application fee is for and that it may be discouraging candidates. I manage some grant applications through a third party system and I track the questions and comments we get during the application cycle every year so that if there’s a major issue I can bring it to the attention of the group that sets out our application criteria. If no one comments, it’s hard to know there’s a particular problem.

    10. LW1*

      Thanks to Alison and the commenters for the feedback. I ended up emailing the organization shortly after I emailed Alison. I stated that I was interested but had reservations about paying a fee, and I asked if I could submit my application directly to the organization instead of the third party site. The organization representative responded promptly and instructed me to contact someone at the third-party site to get the fee waived.

      Once I submitted my application, I emailed the organization rep back to thank him for the waiver and to let him know I had submitted. Within an hour, he responded back to set up a phone interview. My interview is later today, so wish me luck.

    11. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      Is this $25 fee paid to the state agency – OR – is it someone who will promise to deliver your application for the fee?

      There are a lot of hucksters out there – willing to rip off desperate people.

      Be careful.

  5. V.V.*

    When I was an intern with the Student Conservation Association, like a billion years ago, there was an application/placement fee of $25.

    I remember when I first saw that, it seemed like a scam since I had always heard I should never pay to apply to a job.

    Well as it turned out I needed an internship to graduate, and had absolutely no luck using the free channels. I finally cracked and paid the money (which was a one time only deal, I could apply to a different internship later and wouldn’t have to pay again) and I was placed within 2 weeks.

    I am not excited that I had to part ways with my cash (especially then when I had close to none), but the organization is still popular, around, thriving, and presumably legal. Considering I would’ve had to have paid thousands more in tuition had I not found an internship that summer… well I am glad I just paid it in the end.

    Now if someone wants to read something:

    Nothing against aquaponics and those who make their living using them, but I have no idea exactly how either of the above qualify as internships, other than that is what they are being called. Considering the hefty fees, I doubt I’d ever find out either.

  6. Fee*

    Re OP#4: This is a not-helpful tangent but I was just discussing yesterday how crazy this drives me on social media too. I have one friend in particular whose group of friends almost invariably respond to FB photos of each other with comments about how ‘skinny’ they’re looking. With maybe one exception – and I do wonder if she notices the comments – they are all very slim girls and into “clean” eating and exercise. Which is great, it just makes me kind of sad that that’s the standard ‘reward’ compliment for the lifestyle. I’d feel completely weird if my friends regularly commented on my body shape publicly.

    1. Melissa*

      The “clean” eating industry seems to have losing weight as a tacit goal, even if they mask it under the guise of health. Most of the people I know who have done those juice cleanses, for example, were women, and most admitted that they were doing them at least in part to lose a bit of weight.

  7. Katie the Fed*

    #3 – pardon my ignorance, but how do you even know it was pot, and not a hand-rolled cigarette or something else?

    1. Expendable Redshirt*

      I’d guess the smell would give it away. After working in a homeless shelter, my nose developed the ability to easily discriminate between weed and not-weed. These days, my head will whip lash towards a funky smell in public. Scans detect weed! Also, I will feel like I want to throw up if I smell it. That doesn’t happen with other types of cigarettes.

      1. Bekx*

        I have the same reaction! I was an assistant residence hall director during grad school and had to deal with a ton of weed calls. To this day it makes me really stressed out and sick to smell weed.

        1. Melissa*

          I was a residence hall director in graduate school as well and am also really good at sniffing out pot, lol. I still get that feeling of alertness when I smell it, like I have to do something, before realizing that I don’t work there anymore. (No stress, though – dealing with weed calls was a resident assistant’s job, so unless I really had nothing else to do and had the time I would call an RA to deal with it.)

        2. Lizzy May*

          Yes! I was an RA with weed nausea and it was the worst. Our smoke detectors were so sensitive so I had to stop people from smoking in their rooms before we had to evacuate the whole building and my stomach could sense weed two floors away. I’d always tell the smokers to just do it outside but they’d ignore me.

          1. Rene UK*

            Oh, me too. In college my neighbours smoked it all the time, and our vents were connected–we had to tape over our vent to(mostly) keep the noxiousness out. Gag. It smells like something dead and rotted to me.

      2. Ani*

        This. It’s also true that now that I’m a non-smoker, I can smell regular cigarette smoke on anyone within seemingly 50 yards.

      3. Zillah*

        Yeah, I’m super sensitive to the smell bc I’m seriously allergic to it – one strong whiff could make my throat start to close up. (I live in nyc, and this is about as much of a problem as it sounds. :( )

        As a result, I’ve gotten very very aware of it, even from a car.

        1. april ludgate*

          I have the exact same reaction! I’m glad I’m not the only one, no one ever believes me how sensitive I am to it. I had friends who used to smoke it and just the smoke that would get into their clothes could set off my allergies, it was awful.

      4. Kelly L.*

        Though, oddly, I think there are now some vapes that smell like it without being it!

      5. Muriel Heslop*

        I didn’t know what pot smelled like until I started teaching high school. Now, I am like a hounddog and can sniff it from a mile away.

      6. Elizabeth West*

        It smells gross, tastes gross, and I don’t want it in my house. Or at my job.

        Seriously, just like drinking, pot is something you need to do on your own time. In your own house. And not when you’re behind the wheel. Under those circumstances, smoke away.

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      Yeah the smell is very distinct, but you’d have to drive pretty close to be able to smell it whilst driving by.

      Also joints tend to be bigger than roll ups and maybe they were passing is between them each other which is less likely with a cigarette.

      1. MK*

        I find it hard to believe that someone would notice the smell or the size while driving by. But, yes, if they were passing it around, it is pretty telling.

        1. Ella*

          You would be surprised how the smell permeates, even outdoors. I live in Denver, and on my bike ride to work there’s a few intersections that *always* smell like weed. There’s nothing obvious going on in nearby cars, nobody standing on the corner, nobody even sitting in their front yards. All I can figure is that someone is either in their house with the windows open, or is sitting on their back porch enjoying their early morning toke, and the smell is basically permeating the neighborhood. So yeah. I can totally believe that the OP could smell it driving by, especially if her windows were open or she had to stop at a stop sign while going by.

        2. Nerdling*

          My husband and I were out on the motorcycle one night driving home from a friend’s house. Helmets and all, from at least 100 feet away from the apartment complex we drove by, we almost got contact highs. So it can happen.

          OP may have had the window down; here, at least, the weather has been nice enough for that lately. The OP may also have run into them later and caught a whiff.

    3. Blue_eyes*

      Perhaps there is a regular smokers area outside the building, but these folks were off behind some bushes at the edge of the parking lot. That would likely indicate they weren’t smoking hand rolled cigarettes.

    4. Artemesia*

      I was walking down the street yesterday about two steps behind a couple of guys smoking pot — the smell is totally obvious.

    5. peanut butter kisses*

      I work in a library and once smelled students smoking weed outside of the building on campus. I reported it and then got grilled by my boss and my boss’s boss about how I knew that the smell was weed. It seemed as if everyone was more interested in that rather than the fact that we needed to let the campus police know. If I had to do it all over again, I would just walk on by and say nothing.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        You could have told them the D.A.R.E. program drilled it into you. We had the same kind of thing when I was in primary school and they had an actual cop come and burn weed in the classroom so we could know what it smelled like, so we could report it. LOL

        1. OP Number 5*

          So the guy who is supposed to convince you to never take drugs comes into the room, burns weed, and apparently has never heard of the concept of a contact high? That’s funny.

  8. Sunshine Brite*

    #3 If you noticed them driving into work and you go into a main entrance of sorts then others likely were able to see the coworkers or had the potential to as well. It’s not that one is anti-pot if it’s specifically breaking policies and if it’s not legal in your state because then it could attract unwanted attention to the company. Might as well report it so they know to go further behind the building or the bush or wherever they were thinking they were invisible next time.

  9. Michele*

    #5–The last place I worked went out of business about a year after I was laid off. There is no way for my former manager to be contacted, but I leave it on my resume because it is relevant. Places go out of business, but that doesn’t mean you never worked there.

  10. Sunflower*

    #3- I’d be REALLY sure they were smoking pot before I did anything. You said you saw it while you were driving into work. You’d have to be driving really close and extremely slow to be able to even get a wiff of pot. Workplace isn’t a court of law but I’d treat this like stealing- be really really sure before you accuse anyone.

    Also you say you feel compelled to report them but you know they won’t get fired. That confuses me a bit- are you saying because your company/their manager wouldn’t care or is this about these employees getting some sort of undeserved preferential treatment?

    1. Michele*

      This is one of those things where the work environment matters. Where I would now, we are under an incredible amount of federal regulations as well as safety regulations. We would face severe fines if a federal regulator showed up and saw someone smoking pot. Doing drugs on company property is about the only thing that will get someone fired without warning.

      However, back when I worked in the restaurant industry, you could get a contact high by walking past the the dumpster, and I had one manager who dealt coke. It was just par for the course that most of my coworkers were doing drugs, and probably while at work.

      1. Erin*

        I agree. It depends on the work situation. If you have to get drug tested to work there and/or you’re lifting heavy machinery or something, then that’s significant. Otherwise, I would probably avoid mentioning it if possible. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt – maybe one of them was having a horrible day, or needs it for medical reasons.

        I would definitely mention it if it happens again, though, cause then it’s clearly not a one-time indiscretion.

    2. ThursdaysGeek*

      As others have commented above, some can identify the smell of pot very easily. I can’t identify pot, but I do sometimes smell cigarette smoke, from someone driving in another car, as we drive down the same road. If I can smell cigarette smoke in a moving car, from another moving car, then it doesn’t seem so far-fetched that the OP smelled the smoke.

    3. Beancounter in Texas*

      This. OP #3, be sure to report what you saw, not what you conclude they were doing. “I saw Bob & Joe smoking and it appeared they were smoking marijuana. At least, they were not smoking store-bought cigarettes.” If you are sure you saw marijuana, then say that. It is up to the manager and the company to decide what to do about it, so don’t worry about the consequences. It may mean that these two employees are “randomly selected” for drug testing in the near future (if such a policy already exists), or as in the case with one of my former employers, reports of drug use on site instigated the establishment and execution of such a policy. If these two have it for medical purposes, then they’ll have a prescription to show for it. I feel you should definitely report it, though, to protect the company’s liability should anything happen when these two are under the influence.

    4. Student*

      Report it, even if you aren’t sure. If the company considers it actionable, it’d be pretty simple to just ask the employees to take a drug test. Or, simply to supervise them more closely for a while. Closer supervision will make it clear very quickly whether or not there is an ongoing problem with employees being intoxicated during work hours.

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        Closer supervision is one solution. Student, unless you are in an environment involving public safety, heavy equipment operation, truck driving/ train / airplane operation, and so forth, drug testing generally isn’t done in the workplace anymore with the exception of strong suspicion – based on odd or erratic behavior.

        The reason – not discussed much – random testing, especially the way it’s done in many workplaces (cheaply) can produce a low number of false positives. And if counseling/disciplinary action is taken against an employee based on a false positive?

        Ca-ching! It can cost a company hundreds of thousands of dollars. So companies steer clear of it unless they have to go there.

  11. Michele*

    #4–I go through the same thing and it drives me crazy. I am probably more sensitive than I should be because I was overweight my entire life and have always had to deal with people trying to control what I eat, making fun of me for being fat, or making fun of my efforts to be active. Eight years ago, I lost the last of 60 lbs, and I have since started doing triathlons. Because I train so much, I eat all the time. I am always hungry, but when I workout 12-15 hours a week, my body requires a lot of food. People constantly make comments about what I am eating (whether it is fruit or a cookie) or how much I am working out. People who struggle to walk a mile will make condescending remarks about my training, and people who are obese will give me diet tips. It is all I can do not to tell them to STFU.

    I think we would all be so much healthier and more active if we stopped policing each others’ bodies.

    1. mdv*

      Yay for triathlons*! And ditto on what you (and so many) others say here — we’d be so much healthier if we just didn’t worry about everyone but ourselves!

      *I am (ahem) very overweight, although relatively healthy for my weight (says my doctor). I am extremely proud of the fact that I did a triathlon last fall, in spite of my weight and lack of training (due to pneumonia). And, I’m planning to do it again!

      1. Michele*

        Pneumonia will really put a damper on your swimming ability.

        Tris are surprisingly addictive. I really didn’t expect them to be so much fun. Of course, when anyone asks why they are fun, I can’t really answer. It is that weird, challenging thing.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Maybe that’s why I keep flinging my bod around on the ice every weekend, even though I suck at it and I fall down a lot (ouchies). But when you do a really fast change-of-edge spiral, it’s like, WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! :)

  12. Allison*

    Generally speaking, I find it super rude to comment on a coworker’s weight, diet, or perceived exercise habits. Most of us are trying to do what we feel is best for our own bodies, and there’s no one “right way” to be healthy.

  13. penny*

    #1 are you sure it’s the website of the company hosting the internship? Someone contacted our company once about a posting of ours on a website making people pay to apply. you never have to pay to apply to us and we aren’t affiliated with that site, but lots of job sites scrape job listings from companies to post on their own site. Always go to the actual company’s site.

  14. Mike C.*

    Holy crap, application fees for a job?! How trivially easy would it be a for s sketchy employer to periodically set up a few ads, rake in the money and then “decide” that “oh well, no one seems to be qualified”?

    I really cannot imagine someone being an honest person and demanding such a thing from an applicant.

      1. Mike C.*

        In principle perhaps, though one could easily tell if a college didn’t accept a new freshman class.

        It still feels like a complete scam.

        1. Joey*

          I think higher Ed is starting to feel that way too. I Sure hope it gets figured out before my little ones are ready for college.

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            It doesn’t make sense that university tuition in the US is going up so much faster than inflation. That’s true.

            Still, higher ed isn’t raking in the dough from application fees…

  15. Labyrinthine*

    To the OP in #4, I’m sorry people are talking about your body.

    I have a problem on the opposite end of the “don’t talk about my weight” spectrum. I work in a very health conscious office (in over a year I’ve never seen a single soda or fast food item – ever.) and I’m the only overweight person that works here. I am very, very overweight. I eat healthy, physically I am very healthy and strong. But there are about 4-5 people I work with that feel a need to state their concern for my health regularly. And it hurts. I know I need to lose weight and I’m trying. But it is hard. And it is so much harder when people are busy telling me how fat and unhealthy I am.

    All that to say, I don’t think it is any better that people feel a need to comment on your body just because you are thin. It would be one thing if they were friends/family and were concerned for your health (as it would be different in my case, too). But that isn’t the case and they need to back the heck up.

    1. Michele*

      That sucks. People just need to learn to mind their own business. I would be tempted to find some less visible flaw and start going after that. Maybe after you comment about their failed marriages or something else that is painful everytime they concern troll you, they would stop.

      On the other hand, it might be easier to just tell them to stop being a concern troll.

    2. Me*

      The media has really gotten everyone confused about ‘correlation’ vs. ‘causation,’ especially about weight. Carrying extra weight doesn’t mean one is unhealthy. If one is unhealthy, the weight may be a result and not a cause.

      Being thin also =/= healthy. Plenty of skinny people die of heart attacks.

      IOW, everyone should shut up.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        For that matter, some people that are overweight are perfectly healthy, and really don’t need to lose weight. So, fat =/= unhealthy either.

      2. SR*

        That’s…. not totally true. Being overweight is kind of like smoking cigarettes; just because you don’t have emphysema or lung cancer doesn’t mean that it’s a healthy habit to smoke cigarettes, and just because you don’t have diabetes or a heart condition doesn’t mean it’s not a major risk factor to be significantly overweight (or just because you don’t have skin cancer doesn’t mean it isn’t a health risk factor to use tanning beds, etc).

        I think the more important aspect is that other people’s health (especially at work!!) is not any of one’s business. The same way you wouldn’t tell a naturally pale coworker that she looks too tan and should wear SPF or interrupt a coworker’s smoke break to warn them about the dangers of tobacco, it’s completely unacceptable, unprofessional, and incredibly rude and nasty to comment on a coworker’s weight. So yeah, I totally agree with you that everyone should shut up even if I disagree about why. :)

        1. Zahra*

          The research on the link between weight and health is contradictory. Some will say that increased weight comes with increased health risks and others will say that healthy habit matter more than weight. Of course, all things being equal, people with a “normal” BMI and healthy habits have the healthiest and longest lives (and still, you’re lowering your chances to get some diseases, there’s no guarantee you’ll be disease-free is you do this or that).

          What is important to know is that yo-yo dieting puts a strain on the body, increasing risks of high blood pressure (which is associated with obesity) and weight gain, among other things. Yes, dieting leads to weight gain over the long term. That’s why it’s far better to focus on healthy habits than the number on the scale. Personally, I go with increased exercise in my day-to-day life and the pants test (do my pants still fit or are they loose or tight?). I don’t even own a balance.

        2. Labyrinthine*

          SR, you might want to revisit the research on that because more and more what we know about these risk factors is changing. In fact, it is based far more on what you eat and your general lifestyle than your weight (and let’s not even get into how if I just ate better and exercised more I’d be thinner because that is the biggest crock I’ve ever heard….)

          Epigentics is changing everything we thought we knew about risk factors. Hell, it turns out your grandfather’s diet might have more of an impact on your health than your own. We are a complicated machine.

    3. simonthegrey*

      This. And you can’t even tell them why you’re upset because then you’re “too sensitive” about your weight. I’m taking kickboxing and even with back pain and asthma I can punch circles around girls ten years younger and a hundred lbs lighter, but there are still people who feel a need to remind me of how pretty I would be if I lost 50 lbs. Well, it took a decade to put on 100 lbs and so far in a year I’ve lost 15.

      When my coach/trainer points out that she can see a difference in my fitness levels, it means something. Everyone else has no right to comment.

      1. Michele*

        When they tell you that you could be pretty if you lost weight, are you tempted to use your kickboxing skills?

    4. Arvid*

      Wow. That’s terrible, I’m sorry you work with people like that. I am the only really overweight person in my whole company, and no one has ever said a word to me about it. I think I would die of embarrassment if that happened.

    5. HRish Dude*

      What’s worse is getting comments about your weight when you are losing weight. When you’re fat and you’re not at your goal, for some reason people seem to not understand that yeah, I can lose 50 pounds and still be pretty freaking fat. I’m not done, so please shut up.

    6. Pennalynn Lott*

      I’d hit them with, “How’s that working for you?” When they give you a questioning look, say, “You’ve told me X number of times that I need to lose weight and, yet, here I still am, overweight. So how’s that working for you? Are you getting the results you want? Because, really, it’s beginning to annoy me.”

      I did this with my dad when he wouldn’t shut up about my weight every freaking time I visited him. So I pointed out how all he was doing was making me not want to visit him. His nagging certainly wasn’t affecting my weight, so why was he doing it. He said, “But, but, you’re *overweight*! And I’m trying to help!” I said, “OH MY GOD, I’M OVERWEIGHT??? WHY DIDN’T ANYONE TELL ME THIS BEFORE?!?” And he finally shut up about it. [It probably helped that we were in a busy restaurant and I really did shout. Never underestimate the power of embarrassing someone who is behaving badly. >;-) ]

      1. I'm a Little Teapot*

        That is a brilliant response. And embarrassing people who are behaving badly is both very useful and great fun.

      2. Labyrinthine*

        I would love to say something like that but I’m often so embarrassed and hurt that if I said anything, I’d probably cry.

        I think the worst was when we had birthday cupcakes a few months back. Now, I love cupcakes, ok? But I know that I have to be careful and watch what I eat because, like I said, I really am trying to lose weight. So, I had a healthy, sensible breakfast and a healthy salad for lunch and thought hey – why not treat myself to one? Only to be stared down by two girls and one guy and have one of them tell me I should really not being sabotaging myself like that and how do I ever expect to lose any weight if i just give in all the time?

        I no longer eat treats at work. Ever.

        1. Book Person*

          Your co-workers are awful. I am so sorry they are so rude to you. Cupcakes are amazing, and everyone damn well deserves a cupcake if they want a cupcake. If you aren’t up to saying anything snarky or trying to embarrass them back, could you maybe practice something more neutral like “my health and fitness status is between me and my doctor. Kindly stop commenting on my body”? Even if they bleat about just being ~~concerned~~, you can repeat the same line. You don’t need to justify yourself to them or anyone.

          If you aren’t feeling up to it in the moment, that is completely understandable–I know I never know what to say when someone comes out with something both breathtakingly rude and very personal. If practising beforehand doesn’t help, maybe you could address the rude coworker later when you’re feeling more centred? Because really, “I would like you to stop commenting about my body” is hardly an unreasonable request, except to unreasonable people.

        2. meesh*

          WTF. people are ridiculous. stop policing! i would have smooshed the cupcake in their faces lol

    7. Usually post under different name*

      Ugh, I’m so sorry about the comments you are getting at work. Is it possible to respond and shut the comments down right in the moment? “I’ve spoken to my doctor, I appreciate your concern but I don’t want to discuss it anymore.”… I know how difficult it must be.

      “It would be one thing if they were friends/family and were concerned for your health”
      I respectfully disagree with this. I feel a lot of people excuse intrusive/rude comments under the guise of concern for your health and I just don’t buy it. After all, how many times have friends/family asked when you had your last dental check-up, teeth cleaning, pap smear, prostate exam, or BM? Nope, not buying.

  16. KT*

    I am so sorry OP #4–people are really insensitive about weight.

    At my past job, I had coworker who got similar comments because she had lost weight drastically. Daily people would tell her to eat a sandwich, she needed to fatten up, etc.

    She was undergoing chemo for cancer, but was keeping it quiet (as is her right as her decision!) and wore a wig.

  17. kozinskey*

    #1 screams scam to me. I would reach out to the company directly and say something like, “I’d like to apply to the __ position, but I was wondering if you could tell me what the $25 fee is for first.” That way, you get an explanation if the company is legit and you can decide from there what you want to do; or, if a shady company has sniped the legitimate company’s posting, they have warning that it’s happening.

    1. Retail Lifer*

      Seriously. I have probably applied to 60 jobs in the past 6 months and have never been charged fee.

    2. Florida*

      Agree that it sounds like a scam. Even if it’s for a background check, it seems wrong. They wouldn’t ask you to pay the salary of HR, job advertisements, profit lost from spending time on hiring, or any other expenses of hiring someone, so why should you pay for the background check? I would’t do it. Even if it was a legitimate company, it sounds like they want to nickel-and-dime their employees, so I wouldn’t apply. But that’s just me…

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        My current job asked to do a background check. They paid the fee. I’ve never had to pay to apply for a job.

    3. Stranger than Fiction*

      This and I would also have all my friends email and ask, as well. That way they can’t single you out as “well this one person had a problem with it, forget them”.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Or just use a throwaway email account, not the one you use for job applications. (For those of us without any friends.)

    4. Allison*

      Even if it’s not a scam and the job does exist, it doesn’t sound like a good place to work. Charging an application fee is unethical, and should be a considered a major red flag. I’d wonder what kind of management strategies they’d be using.

  18. Mena*


    Why do Americans feel it is ok to question people on their weight? While a lot of people will say, “Wow! You’ve lost weight” is it not as appropriate (or inappropriate) to say “Wow! You’ve gained weight.” We are way too focused on appearance and not respectful of boundaries. Alison gives great suggestions – let’s not allow the conversation at all.

    1. Jillociraptor*

      I’m sure this expands far past the borders of the U.S. but we do have a particular preoccupation with controlling urges and bringing our bodies under our own control. Self-control and self-governance is a key American value and we filter most of our politics through that idea–if you’re not controlling yourself in the best interest of the nation, you’re selfish and lazy, etc.

    2. catsAreCool*

      Why do some people feel the need to act as if all Americans always do or say or think the same thing? There’s a whole lot of us – we aren’t clones.

      1. Marcela*

        Maybe because we hear all the time, when in the US or visiting it, about all the horrible countries where we live, where there is no liberty at all! XD

  19. Joey*

    Screw application fees. If a company is so cheap they’re going to pass the cost of doing business onto applicants what does that tell you about the way they treat employees. What’s next? Charging people to interview?

    If you can’t afford to hire interns then don’t. Is this even a paid internship or do you have to essentially pay them to work for them?

    1. James M*

      Our lucky contestants who win a chance to interview with us get their choice of: the silver interview package for $50, the gold interview package for $200, and the platinum interview package for $500! That’s right folks! Just $500 for a deluxe interview experience and an improved chance to win the top prize: an exclusive job with us and the coveted title of Executive Assistant Vice Peon.

      … I feel nauseous now.

  20. Mimmy*

    #1 – I know this isn’t your case, but my state personnel agency (for county and state government jobs) charges a $25 application fee, at least for the public competitive positions, where you can get on a list, and the hiring authority picks from the top scorers–I think based on how well your application matches the position requirements–of that list.

    I’m just curious if other states do this.

    Other than that, yeah…I’d be leery of that job. I agree with the others to check with the employer itself. I bet this fee is that of the third party website, not the employer.

      1. Retail Lifer*

        Interesting. I’ve applied to a ton of state jobs where I live and I wasn’t charged a fee, so I’d be wary of being charged anything. I wasn’t aware this was actually a thing anywhere. I also feel really bad for anyone who is on the job hunt and could benefit from applying to many different places, as a fee would prohibit that at some point.

    1. Joey*

      I worked in govt and we were always super concerned with attracting the best so this would have been a seen as a huge hurdle. And I imagine it’s probably harder on poorer and therefore minority candidates to afford these types of fees so i couldn’t see it ever happening.

      I’m curious, do you drop the fee if you are having a hard time filling a job or finding minority candidates?

      1. Mimmy*

        I just looked at my state’s website – People on certain welfare programs are exempt from the fee (with proof); plus, veterans who established “Preference” pay a reduced fee. I don’t know what happens when they have difficulty filling a job or finding minority candidates – I don’t work for the personnel office. I’m just a job seeker :)

    2. More Cake Please*

      Wow, never seen this practice in my state. It would make me very sad if this was implemented here as our wages on average are notoriously low. I would’ve never been able to apply for my current position with my state if there had been a $25 fee, and I’d probably still be working part-time, minimum wage somewhere.

    3. Doreen*

      I know you’re not from my state, because the fees here start at around $40 – although the fees only apply to jobs that require some form of an exam. I know that both the state and my city charge fees and I believe the surrounding counties do as well. Of course, there are waivers for those receiving public assistance or the unemployed.
      It’s a large state and a huge city and the jobs are desirable ,so the fee doesn’t really affect the number of applicants to the point where it’s difficult to fill jobs – 94k people took the last sanitation exam and over 10 k take the police officer exam each year.

    4. NYS Employee*

      New York does this, although not for all job titles, and the fee is waived if you’re on public assistance or if you are unemployed and the head of a household.

  21. Retail Lifer*

    #5 My background is (obviously) in retail and I’ve worked for one company that’s completely out of business, one company that shut down all its stores in my part of the state, and one company that was bought out and has a new name. With the economy being the way it is (was?), I don’t think anyone is surprised that you’ve got a former employer that went out of business on your resume.

    I still have a couple of co-workers that I’m “friends” with on Facebook and one on Linked In from the company that went completely under. I rarely talk to them, but in a pinch I’m sure I could get them to verify that I worked there and what I did. Is that an option for you?

    1. Allison*

      Similar thing happened to me, for my first job the background check people had me list every job I’d held in the last 7 years, along with contact information for each place, so they could verify my employment there. While I’m sure everyone knew Borders had gone out of business, I made a note of that fact on my e-mail to them.

      Also, some background checkers will request W-2 forms or pay stubs from places you’ve worked, if they can’t verify that employment from a phone call.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I do the same on mine–like “XYZ Laboratories, Inc. (closed) – Receptionist/Office Clerk, 1999-2001.” But it’s been long enough that I drop that one off the resume now; I only bring it up in interviews when asked what kind of work environment I like. *I LOVED that job*

  22. Orange*

    To #4, I am so sorry you have to deal with this, it is very awkward. I have always been a thin petite, person, and one of my coworkers thinks that this fact is fair game for discussion. She says things like “when you get to be my age, you won’t be able to eat that anymore” or when I pick up my dry cleaning and hang it on the hook in my office she says “That dress is so tiny, it wouldn’t even fit over one of my legs!”.

    I am entry level and she is senior to me, so I have to be careful what I say. Sometimes, I wish I could say back to her ,”That dress is huge, I could probably use it as a tent when I go camping”, but I don’t think that would go over well…

    1. Retail Lifer*

      I’ve gained some weight over the past couple of years, but yeah, this used to happen to me too. It’s apparently acceptable to make smarky comments at thin people but not the other way around.*

      * It’s clearly not OK to make comments about anyone’s weight, but somehow skinny jokes aren’t perceived to be as insulting as fat jokes. If you’re making comments about someone’s weight, no matter what their weight is, you’re being a huge jerk.

  23. baseballfan*

    #2 – The level of detail in this letter isn’t much, but I have to wonder if these “thankless administrative tasks” are simply part of the job. Everyone’s job involves some of this. I don’t love submitting consultant invoices to accounts payable, or putting certified mail receipts on mailings to taxing authorities, or setting up purchase orders – but these things have to be done. They’re not the majority of my time, obviously, but it’s disingenuous to think one shouldn’t have to do any “administrative” tasks.

    Now, if this is a disproportionate amount of time spent, then yes, there is an issue.

    1. Retail Lifer*

      I think everyone has a fair amount of administrative tasks that come along with the job. You’re right that it’s hard to judge in this case as to whether or not they’re excessive. Is the OP doing the administrative tasks of others, too, or just those that center around the OP’s own job?

      BTW, a former co-worker referred to these tasks as “administrivia.” I don’t know if he coined that himself but I still use that word because nothing better describes it.

    2. themmases*

      I sort of wish the OP had shared some detail too. Alison and the commenters often dispense good advice about this topic. It’s important for everyone to realize that there will be parts of their job they don’t like, and to have a good idea how they will appear to others when they try to get rid of specific tasks. Thanksless administrative tasks can be a political minefield, and so much depends on the person’s role, how long they’ve been there, even how the office is set up.

      That said, it’s as normal to not see yourself doing expense reports forever as it is to not see yourself making $30K forever. I don’t see the same pushback on this site when people say they don’t believe their pay is right, but when people really hate certain tasks or feel they shouldn’t be assigned something, the comments always seem to imply that the OP doesn’t realize work isn’t always fun. I rarely see people speculate that the OP’s employer is so short-sighted they’re willing to alienate a valuable employee over a task that anyone else in the office could do as well or better.

      This is personally important to me because I’m a young female researcher and at my previous job I was expected to spend tons of time on administrative tasks that weren’t research, were low-value to me and the department, and undermined me to people I also had to deal with for my real job. When I pointed out all of that, I would be told I that that’s just the job– which it isn’t. I definitely feel my sex and age (and that of my similarly situated coworkers) played a role.

      1. doreen*

        “but when people really hate certain tasks or feel they shouldn’t be assigned something, the comments always seem to imply that the OP doesn’t realize work isn’t always fun. ” I don’t think that’s really true if you look at letter writers who are specific about the tasks and business reasons why those tasks shouldn’t be assigned to that person. I remember there was one person who wrote in that she was required to answer the phone because the admins inexplicably all had schedules where they left at least 30 minutes before the office closed , and that she was the only person in her job who was required to do so. I think there was only one commenter who said something to the effect of 30 minutes a day isn’t a big deal. But those details had a lot to do with that. It would have been very different if the same person had complained about being expected to cover the phones for 30 minutes per day in an office where 16 people in her title each answered the phones for 30 minutes per day because there were no admins.

        Sometimes tasks that aren’t ideally part of the job just are – just today, someone came to me to complain about being assigned some cases that don’t fit her caseload. Ideally, she wouldn’t be assigned these cases. But one person is out on sick leave, one person left for a promotion and two others were transferred out – and so far, I only have one replacement and won’t get any more until July. She does not cover all the cases that do fit her caseload for personal reasons, and that left her with half a caseload and increased her coworkers’ caseloads ( and these cases don’t fit them any better) . My choices are assign cases to her that don’t fit or give everyone else more cases than they should have – but she is convinced I made the wrong choice. Certain tasks may not fit well with anyone’s job- but someone still has to do them.

  24. Mz. Puppie*

    OP #3: If you only *saw* it and did not also *smell* it, then I’d keep mum. Hand-rolled cigarettes look just like joints and you could end up getting somebody fired for legal tobacco use.

    1. Joey*

      Let’s not kid ourselves . Has anyone actually ever seen anyone roll or smoke rolled tobacco. ive seen a whole lot of rolled stuff and I’ve never seen it. Besides it’s easy enough for the company to tell whether they smell like tobacco or pot.

      1. LCL*

        Depends on how poor you are. Home rollies were the thing for my crowd in my late teens/early 20s. Tobacco.

      2. kac*

        Where I live, I regularly see people rolling their own cigarettes. It’s cheaper and, in certain circles it’s also seen as “cooler.”

      3. caraytid*

        Yes, all the time. It can be a lot cheaper to roll your own tobacco cigarettes and the hipster city I live in seems to be a haven for “rollies”.

      4. FiveWheels*

        When I was a student, I almost exclusively smoked hand rolled cigarettes. It was for the cool factor rather than cost, but even so.

      5. Lady Bug*

        Yup, my husband did when he smoked. He’s from Europe, it’s much more common over there.

      6. Marcela*

        Yup. I have two friends who smoke rolled tobacco. They even let me make one, although I don’t smoke. It was a disaster :D

      7. Elizabeth West*

        Well, yes–I have a relative who has smoked hand-rolled cigs for years. Of course, she also smokes weed, but that’s completely separate.

        When I smoked, I wanted to smoke those, because it used to be cheaper but I’m not sure if that’s the case now. I never got the knack of rolling, though, so it was just cheap-ass Dorals for me. Even those are more expensive now. Augh. So glad I quit.

      8. salad fingers*

        Yep. When I smoked, I rolled cigarettes because I was poor and I smoked infrequently enough that it made sense to keep the tobacco fresher. In fact, I ran into a very similar issue when a rollie fell out of my coat pocket in the closet at work and someone freaked out and thought it was a joint. Seeing someone smoking a rolled cigarette wouldn’t surprise me at all :-)

      9. MegEB*

        I see plenty of people do this. I used to live in a pretty hipster neighborhood of a major city, and it was definitely the “cool” thing to do. Of course, hand-rolled cigarettes don’t smell anything like weed, which is why I think so many commenters are suggesting that the OP not say anything unless she smelled it as well.

      10. Meadowsweet*

        yep. used to ride to school with someone who not only rolled his own cigs but grew his own tobacco.

      11. ZoomaZoomZoom*

        I think this must be regional/cultural. Most of the tobacco smokers in my social group roll their own. Goes farther that way and has a nice little ritual feel to it.

      12. _ism_*

        Hand rolled tobacco is pretty popular where I live. It is pretty cheap and lots of people do it to save money.

    2. Sunshine Brite*

      I think it would also depend on if they were in a designated tobacco smoking area too since so many companies are now trying to redirect that as well. I know at my last couple jobs you have to be off grounds to smoke.

  25. illini02*

    For #3 I really think it depends on the job/company. As Alison said, if its a safety issue, then yes, absolutely report it. Otherwise I’m a bit less inclined to say you should. Some jobs you really could work better after smoking a bit. I do get the fact that it was on work property slightly changes it, but I think a lot of context that we don’t have would be necessary to say for sure either way what you should do.

  26. Rebecca*

    #4 I’ve lost weight, too, and most of my coworkers are supportive and not jerks. But you always have those few people who think it’s their duty to comment. “Oh, you ate a donut? You’re not being good today?” Or, “there are cookies in the break area, but I know you won’t eat any because you’re so good”. I really HATE IT when people equate being good or bad with food choices. It’s very difficult for me to lose weight, and if I eat a donut (maybe 2x per year), it is not going to cause me to gain weight. And if it does, that’s my business, no one else’s.


    1. Allison*

      Yes, I read in Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters that assigning morality to food is really unhealthy. When my coworkers do it – “I’m gonna be good and eat a salad today,” or “oh no get those Munchkins away from me, I’m trying to be good these days,” or “look at you eating veggies, you’re so good” – it sounds like nails on a blackboard. This is why I worry about people seeing what I eat, or how much I eat, because I worry that they won’t just think I’m unhealthy, but that I’m “being bad.”

      1. FiveWheels*

        If people see me eating greasy fast food and tell me it’s bad, my standard response is ‘no such thing as bad food!’ with a big smile on my face.

        It does my head in. Food is morally neutral, and healthy for one person isn’t healthy for another.

      2. SevenSixOne*

        I won’t buy any food item that uses moral words like “guilt” or “indulge” or “decadent” in its marketing, because that’s infuriating.

    2. Lucy*

      I relate to this so hard. There’s a woman in my office who is always commenting on what people are eating (or not eating) and it just makes me super uncomfortable.

      I’m getting married in September, and she frequently makes comments like “Four more months to go, right?” when she sees me leaving the office in workout clothes. I just hate the implied relationship between getting married and losing weight.

      1. Sunshine Brite*

        I was a wreck leading up to my wedding because (what I didn’t know at the time) was that PCOS symptoms were making it harder and I felt like such a failure going into the wedding not having hit my weight loss goals and while I felt good on the day of – leading up to then and after when going on honeymoon I felt horrible. :( It’s such a thing that I don’t think people even hear themselves sometimes.

        My one former coworker is a thin woman, intelligent, lots of friends, etc. and all she could seemingly talk about was how fat she was. I don’t think she even recognized how often she did that and I used to take it on myself being like well if she feels that bad, how bad should I feel?

      2. Allison*

        Right? I understand people want to look and feel their best on their wedding day, but why is weight loss so closely tied to this? You’re getting married because someone loves you for who you are, so much that they’ve already decided to spend the rest of his or her life with you. With all the stuff that goes into planning a wedding, it doesn’t seem like a good time to obsess over your weight. Pick a dress that makes you feel beautiful, not one you have to torture yourself to fit into.

        That said, I can imagine that making healthy choices during the planning process can help you retain your sanity and actually enjoy the big day, but that also includes things not directly pertaining to weight, like getting enough sleep.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          It’s tied to wanting to look good in pictures, I suppose–though I don’t think I’ve ever seen a happy bride who didn’t look good.

      3. KT*

        UGH I hated this! When I got married, I bought a dress that fit me…at my current size, with no plans to get smaller (and I am plus-sized). This seemed to boggle people’s minds!

        I would be eating a normal lunch, or *GASP* have a piece of cake during a birthday party, and people would say “Aren’t you getting married next month!!! How on earth are you going to squeeze into your dress?”

        Like duh, it fits me, right now? As in, not it will fit me only if I lose 10 lbs?

        The implication that I needed to lose weight for my wedding and everyone watching my every mouthful made me so self-conscious :(

        1. hermit crab*

          “Like duh, it fits me, right now?” <— yes, this! Why is this such a hard concept? I am, in fact, spending a lot of money to have a dress tailored so that it fits me, and not some hypothetical future version of myself!

  27. RMRIC0*

    Working with desktop publishing software and doing some graphic design isn’t unheard of for copy/print shops, especially independent locations. It’s probably safe to put it on your resume if you can back it up with other portfolio work.

    1. JB (not in Houston)*

      I was going to say this. I wouldn’t think it at all strange to see that in the job description of someone who worked at such a place.

  28. Dasha*

    #4, I hate this. I hate weight comments, I hate height comments, I hate hair color comments, I pretty much hate any appearance related comment, especially at work. I know most of the time people mean no harm but it is one of my pet peeves and I can totally relate. I don’t know why people think this is some sort of polite conversation :-/ don’t let them get to you! It gets easier.

    1. Mimi*

      I totally agree! Just today someone came by and said, “What is that red mark on your chin?!” A zit. Thanks for loudly pointing it out, jackass. Why do people do this?

      1. Marcela*

        :( I have big sunspots in my face. I’ve lost count of the people telling me my nose is dirty or there is something on it. And I have a big scar in my right leg. An old man in Spain told me I sgshould be grateful my husband didn’t mind. WTF?

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I love it when people I will never see again say stuff like that, so I would have answered, “Oh he loves it! He thinks women with scars are sexy as hell!” with a big old wink, ha ha ha. But I’m just slightly evil. :)

          1. Marcela*

            I’m stealing that! I always planned to tell them I fought sharks or pirates or I was in one South American guerrilla, but I’m not as fit as I would need to do that, so I gave up. But your answer is GOLD.

          2. Michele*

            My legs are covered in small scars from a lifetime of being outdoorsy. I also have a patchwork of tanlines. They are indicators of a life lived fully, and if a man doesn’t appreciate that, HE is the one who isn’t sexy.

            1. Marcela*

              You know, I think it would be ok with me if somebody completely ignore my scar. I got it when I was 3 years old (it covered all the side of my leg then) and I don’t have to treat it, only remember to use a high SPF sunscreen in the summer, so for me it’s almost invisible and out of memory. Sometimes I had to think hard to remember in which leg it was! I don’t really know what my husband thinks about it, but I guess he just doesn’t think about it. It would be like having a strong opinion about my knees or ears: weird.

  29. LawBee*

    One thing I love about Allison’s response to #4 is that it is a reminder to the LW’s coworkers that “weight” is not an abstract concept, or something that is separate from one’s self like a scarf. One’s weight is one’s BODY, and no, you cannot comment on my body.

  30. kac*

    #3: Is there a way that you could call them into your office, as a suprivisor if not theirs, and say “hey, i saw this. it’s an issue, do not do this again.” That way you’re calling out their behavior (and giving them a heads up to do this sort of thing NOT on company time/property) but you don’t have to go down official routes? It would work sort of like a warning.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I wondered that too–even if it wasn’t pot, if it looked like it, I’m sure anyone who saw them might have thought the same thing. And the next person who sees them might be their own supervisor. Or the big boss. Or a customer.

  31. HR Dave*

    #3 – You say that you know they won’t get fired. To me, this says that management doesn’t consider something like this to be that serious. With that in mind, I’d think about whether it’s worth it for you to say anything. You won’t, from the sound of it, be adding any real value for your employer, and you could be damaging your own reputation with your co-workers and even with management (depending on their take on both pot-smoking and “tattling”.)

    #1 – My first thought would be to try to find another website where you can apply for this internship. Google the company name and “internship” and see what comes up. You may find another site (possibly even the career page for the company itself) where they don’t want you to pay anything. Sounds like a fishy situation all around to me, and that this 3rd party site may not have the full authorization from the company to be doing what they’re doing.

  32. Pennalynn Lott*

    #5 – I worked in tech during the bubble (and burst). If I didn’t list the companies that went out of business after I left (or while I was there!), my resume would look like swiss cheese.

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