update: my project leader falls asleep in our meetings

Remember the letter-writer in February whose team leader kept falling asleep in meetings? Here’s the update.

I really appreciated the advice from you and the other commenters. I was shocked how common sleep disorders are. The thought crossed my mind when I emailed you, but mostly I just thought he was lazy and disrespectful. This really changed my perspective about him.

I talked to my coworker (who was also in those meetings and who has roughly the same level of experience as our project leader) about it, and he also thought it could be a sleep disorder. I just let the issue lie at that point. I think my coworker may have said something to our project leader or our manager (the 3 of us share the same manager) because I haven’t noticed him sleeping since then. We also haven’t had long meetings for quite a while.

Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end there. Over the course of the project, our project leader’s other behaviors have indicated laziness and disrespect: Sometimes he doesn’t follow our manager’s direction if he disagrees (which results in me and my coworker hearing conflicting direction), he shifted blame in a situation that was clearly his responsibility, he’s frequently late, he doesn’t let us know when he will be in late/out sick, recently he just didn’t show up for a critical team meeting and I’m not really sure why, and our team has never met a milestone that he’s set for this project, usually because of him not finishing his assigned work. (Our projects take 4-6 months on average, and this will end at the one-year mark, if not later.)

When we miss a milestone, our manager usually asks me and my coworker to finish our project leader’s work, just so we can get that phase of the project done. My coworker tells me this is consistent with his previous projects – no one challenges him, and everyone else finishes his work because they just want the project to end.

This week our manager decided enabling him time after time is unfair and that there would be consequences for his behavior. I think they are building a case for firing him. Firing government employees is very difficult, so I think this could be a very messy process if they continue with this route. I can update you if you’re interested.

Also, side note, he told me on one occasion that I should’ve worn heels to an interview. I wore a suit to this interview – do heels matter? On another occasion, our manager once said something along the lines of work being her pride and joy, and he said, jokingly, that she needs to have kids. I know he didn’t have a malicious intent in saying either of these things, but my instincts tell me this isn’t ok to say in the office. What are your thoughts?

Plenty of people don’t wear heels to interviews and look perfectly professional (like pretty much every man, for instance, but women too). And yeah, his comments aren’t okay; they’re sexist and kind of gross. Telling people that they need to have kids is obnoxious for a whole host of reasons (starting with it being none of his business, but also including it being potentially emotionally charged topic, people who may be dealing with infertility, etc.) But this guy just sounds like a problem on a number of fronts; I wouldn’t give too much credence to anything he says on anything.

{ 103 comments… read them below }

  1. AMG*

    Glad this is being addressed. I wold keep notes in meetings and discussions so that when there is conflicting information, you can either call it out and/or make sure you are covered. Make sure he doesn’t blame you for his mistakes (even if your boss already knows he’s a problem).

  2. Preaction*

    For the kids comment, it sounds more like “If you had kids, they’d be your pride and joy instead of work”. Does he have kids himself? If so, maybe there’s some room to assume reasonableness. If not, that sounds a bit unreasonable…

    1. AW*

      Even if his intent wasn’t “you’re a lady-person, therefore you should have kids” that doesn’t change the fact that he might have wandered into an emotional minefield there.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        Being firmly childfree, I would NOT be happy to be on the receiving end of a comment like that. If a stinging retort was not an option, I might resort to the: “Why do you say that?” tactic.

        And make him explain until either I got bored or he himself realized how sexist, gross, and inappropriate that comment was.

        1. CAsey*

          I hope the reaction to his comment was like on TV: the scratch of a record followed by dead silence and an occasional cricket.


          1. Elizabeth West*

            I have a t-shirt that plays sound effects. I wish I had been in the room and been wearing it and it had the record scratch/cricket thing, because I totally would have pushed that button.

            1. Elektra*

              Your user name seems so familiar to me, and I can’t figure out from where! This must be the internet version of being unable to place a face.

              1. AnonEMoose*

                I only use this name here, so you’re probably thinking of someone else. I know how maddening that can be, though!

    2. JTD*

      It doesn’t matter if he has kids himself. There are so many reasons people don’t have children and if you do it with people you’re not close to, you’re tapdancing in a minefield.

    3. kt (lowercase)*

      Unsolicited opinions on other people’s reproductive choices are never reasonable.

      1. Chartreuse*

        But this *wasn’t* an opinion on her reproductive choices. Words aren’t always meant literally and the commenter says specifically this comment was said jokingly. I’m with you if you say that it was not a great joke because it’s clearly so thoughtless. But to say that it is an unsolicited opinion I think gives it way more credit for depth of meaning than it deserves.

        1. Amanda*

          Sorry but the “it was only a joke” excuse is tired and doesn’t really fly anymore. It’s actually usually the one the sexist assholes who say things like this use to get out of owning up to their sexism. I firmly believe that if it’s not already common knowledge it should be that “jokes” about someone’s childlessness or reproductive choices are never funny and also HIGHLY INAPPROPRIATE, especially in the workplace.

          Women already deal with enoufbgross and sexist shit, now we also have to tolerate “jokes” about our reproductive choices? I’m wondering if he meant it so jovially if he would have made the same comment to a male coworker who said work was his life.

          Apologizing for senseless inappropriate and frankly shit head, sexist remarks is not cool.

          1. AnonEMoose*

            Yes. This. Exactly. See also “Don’t you have a sense of humor,” “You’re so sensitive” and “Can’t you take a joke?”

            1. False dichotomy*

              No, it’s not a situation of “don’t you have a sense of humor”. I acknowledge it is a poor joke. I simply think this fellow sounds too dumb (see commenter’s letter for the list of examples of his level of aptitude/intelligence…) to actually be thinking about deeper issues regarding childbearing choices. I think he simply picked something out of the “thing that isn’t work” hat and it happened to be children.

        2. Observer*

          Unsolicited opinions about someone’s reproductive choices are not appropriate, whether offered as a “joke” or not. Jokes about people’s reproductive lives are also inappropriate, especially ones that tend to denigrate people’s choices, priorities or life.

          There is nothing at all about the comment as reported that makes his possibly having children more “understandable” or less offensive.

    4. Chartreuse*

      Agree Preaction. Unless there’s more context than is being given, this just does not sound like an intended meaning of “You are a woman and therefore you should have children instead of being in the workforce.” It sounds much more to like a lighthearted tease of “You are waaay too into your job and need one or more non-work interests.” (Which a man could perfectly well (and some men do) say to another man) He might as well have said “You need to get a hobby” or “you need to get a pet” or “you need to take a vacation” or even “you need to get a life” (that last could be said in either an insulting or inoffensive playful way depending on tone of voice, I’m of course referring to the inoffensive playful way). There’s no need to read into his original comment any deeper meaning than just “lighten up, work isn’t all there is to life.”

      1. Amanda*

        But why couldn’t he have made one of those other comments to a woman? Women have hobbies. And pets. And lives. Comments about having children, whatever the context, are almost exclusively thrown at women.

        One does not need to be overtly intentionally sexist to still be sexist.

      2. Observer*

        Even without context, the choice of that phrase rather than any of the others was incredibly poor. Given that this is a guy who also saw fit to tell a woman how she is supposed to dress (well beyond the norms of office dress codes), I think we DO actually have context to assume that it was more than just an unintentional poor choice.

      3. Melissa*

        Even then…unless it’s someone you’re close with, I still think it’s a weird and offensive comment. There’s nothing wrong with someone’s work being their pride and joy, and by saying they “need to get [insert something else here],” he’s implying that there’s something wrong with her being so connected/satisfied by her work that she’d describe it that way. Just because someone says that an aspect of their work is their pride and joy doesn’t mean that they think work is all there is to life.

        1. Chartreuse*

          Sure, I can agree with that. He does sound like someone who would misjudge whether he had a close enough relationship to safely tease about things (any things).

    5. Melissa*

      Even if that was the meaning, it’s still kind of gross. It sounds judgmental (“you need to have kids”), like there’s something wrong with someone having work as their pride and joy instead of children.

  3. sam*

    ugh on the heels and the kids.

    I like wearing heels a lot, but I went through a several-year period where I *couldn’t* wear them. I broke two toes in succession on the same foot, and between the recovery, the (gross alert) bruised/lost/regrowing toenails that took over a year to fully grow back (end grossness) and the general, retraining my feet to wear heels after not wearing them for over a year, I took to wearing loafers or very low heels for quite some time. When I started wearing heels again more regularly, one of the senior folks here (a woman, mind you) would very pointedly compliment me on them in a not-so-veiled message of “keep doing that” way. It annoyed me very much, even though I preferred the heels too, just because of the assumptions about work appropriate shoes, fashionableness, etc. 3-inch heels do not make me a better lawyer. Especially when my job involves sitting behind a desk staring at a computer for 95% of the day.

    Children? I never wanted kids (and I’ve finally reached the age (post-40) when people have stopped regularly telling me that I’ll change my mind when I get “older”) but I’ve still got a variety of stinging retorts at the ready for when someone is stupid enough to suggest that I have some to make my life somehow “complete”. For particularly horrid people, I like dragging out the stories of how all the women in my family died tragically young leaving their children without mothers at a young age, and I could never burden my own children with such a life.

    (This has the benefit of being relatively true – my mom was 49, my grandma was 59, I don’t know how old my great-grandmother was, but my grandma was only 12, so she couldn’t have been very old. I leave out the fact that they all died of completely unrelated, non-hereditary, random things and that all the women on my father’s side of the family lived to be about 100.)

    1. KTM*

      I wouldn’t mind hearing some of the more milder responses. The whole ‘children will make your life complete’ really ruffles my feathers. I realize that if you are a parent, it is often the case that your children are your most fulfilling part of your life, but I don’t understand how people can’t comprehend that without children, I still have a fulfilling life… I haven’t found a graceful way yet to say this to people.

      1. Luckier*

        Them “Children will make your life complete.”
        Me “Yeah, completely insufferable and boring.”

        Mild enough?

      2. sam*

        – My life is already complete.
        – I’m self aware enough to recognize that I’m a terribly selfish person and I wouldn’t subject myself onto a child (this one usually shuts them up real good).
        – I already spend enough time neglecting my cat.

        1. Melissa*

          I usually say the second – “Nah, I’m too selfish to have kids” and then make some outrageous joke about how horribly neglected they would be (“I’d probably forget to take them to the sitter one day and leave them sitting at home alone!”). That usually either shocks people enough that they drop it, or they don’t know how to politely refute someone else’s open acknowledgement that they are selfish.

      3. Connie-Lynne*

        I had a daughter when I was 22 and placed her for adoption (we have stayed in touch her whole life, she just turned 23 last weekend).

        When people start going on at me about having children, if I’m particularly annoyed I will simply say, “I placed my only child for adoption; I don’t think we should discuss this further.”
        The implication that they just stepped into a minefield is clear and shuts them up tout suite.

        It hasn’t actually been a painful issue for me since about five years after placing her, due to our awesome arrangement, but nosy parkers have no way of being aware of that.

      4. Natalie*

        Shit, I want kids but I still don’t think children will make my life complete. Holy undermining all the other aspects of my life, Batman!

    2. Mike C.*

      I can’t speak for you on the heels, but I’m with you on the kids.

      It’s interesting to me though, most of the stupid comments come from folks who are say 5-10 years older than I am or more. “You’ll change your mind!”, “Don’t you want to pass on your family name?!” and of course, “You’ll have to sell that pretty car when you start having kids!” Ugh.

      With the folks my age (mid-30s), I’m struggling to find an example of one of them saying something obnoxious. As much as they love being parents, almost to a person they refuse to romanticize it. I really wonder if there is something there, or if it’s my particular circle of friends and coworkers.

      1. afiendishthingy*

        I’ve been told “you’ll change your mind” by a childless woman in her late twenties.

      2. Melissa*

        I’m thinking about it myself and honestly, the people who are most likely to tell me I’ll “change my mind” (other than my mother) are actually childless women in my own age group – so maybe 3-5 years older than me. I’ve come to the conclusion that most of them want kids and they can’t imagine a woman as young as they perceive me (I’m 28) not wanting them.

        The women around me who actually have children are the ones who are least likely to tell me that I’ll change my mind. They’re also the ones who are most realistic about what it means to have a baby…obviously, since they have them, lol. The childless women in my peer group have mostly put off childrearing for graduate school and career reasons, and so I think there’s a tendency to romanticize it a bit.

  4. Observer*

    Unless you were wearing 5″ heels on nightclub shoes, heels don’t matter (unless your height falls well out of the normal range). You can look perfectly professional with or without heels.

    His comments, and expectations of appropriate behavior seem so out of line to me, that I don’t understand why you would be worrying about this anyway. In fact, SO inappropriate that this may actually be the real reason your manager has decided to stop enabling him. I would not be surprised if someone objected the the sexist nature of his comment(s) . If your manager is smart, he knows this could be a real liability in a whole host of ways.

    1. afiendishthingy*

      “heels don’t matter (unless your height falls well out of the normal range). ” Like Observer (didn’t thread correctly, below) I’m not sure what you mean here.

      1. Mpls*

        +1 – height doesn’t have any bearing on needing to wear/or avoiding heels. Being short doesn’t mean you need them and being tall doesn’t mean you should avoid them.

        1. Chartreuse*

          I’m short and would have agreed with you for a lot of years, up until I started wearing them and realized they do make a big difference for me. Now, I would not be so quick to say that short people don’t need to wear heels. Being able to be eye to eye or close to it with more people than I used to be able to be is not insignificant, I have found.

          1. Marcela*

            Need? No, tall or short people don’t _need_ to wear heels. It helps a lot, as you said or in my case, where my husband is almost 40 cm taller than me. But we don’t need to wear heels.

      2. Cari*

        Well some men can be kinda arsey about tall women as it is. Taller-than-average women in heels that tower over the kind of men in the workplace that think it’s totes appropriate to tell women what to wear when it’s not warranted, might end up having problems with that particular type of bloke.
        It’s not the woman’s fault if that happens though, and people that have a problem with it can get stuffed imo :D

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Agreed. They think if we’re taller that we’re threatening them somehow. Dude, I was born this way–I can’t help how tall I am. I can’t wear heels anyway because I have a bad back. So I don’t have the shoe issue, but I’m still taller than most people.

      3. Observer*

        For most people heels don’t matter. If you are very tall, it’s probably a good idea to avoid high heels. And if you are very short, high(is) heels can be useful. I’m not going to say you NEED to wear heels if you are short, but it is a situation where they can make a difference.

  5. HR Gorilla*

    I’m not following you, here: “….heels don’t matter (unless your height falls well out of the normal range).” Do you mean that very short people *should* wear heels? Or, that tall people shouldn’t? I am in the midst of full-on afternoon sleepies, so apologies if I missed something obvious!

    1. Observer*

      I mean that very tall people might be better off avoiding high heels, and very short people might benefit from high(ish) heels. In those cases, it’s something to consider. For anyone else, it’s an utter non-issue.

        1. Observer*

          And I never suggested otherwise. I DID say – and it’s true – that if you are very tall, wearing high heels can look different than for people in the normal height range. And, therefore, it’s something that someone who is very tall should consider when making a decision. Note, I said CONSIDER and MAKE A DECISION as two separate items. In other words, think about it. Decide what you want to do. It’s not a foregone conclusion what the decision will be, nor is there a “correct” decision. However, any decision that is taken after considering relevant factors tends to be a better decision. That’s true even if you didn’t wind up changing your mind.

  6. AW*

    Sounds like this guy’s judgement is poor all the way around.

    I think they are building a case for firing him. Firing government employees is very difficult, so I think this could be a very messy process if they continue with this route.

    They ought to have been documenting it every time you and your co-worker were asked to do his work.

    1. LizNYC*

      Yeah, really, sleep disorder or not, this guy sounds like he hit his high point years ago.

  7. Deborah*

    I’m short (5’2″) yet I refuse to wear heels. They’re just not comfortable! Plus I live in a city where I’m walking all the time, so heels just aren’t practical. The point of all this is to say that there’s nothing unprofessional about wearing flats (assuming we’re talking about work-appropriate shoes and not sneakers or flip-flops) and don’t let anyone make you feel guilty or inferior for choosing to be comfortable and practical!

    1. sam*

      I did have one boss once who was under 5′ tall (and quite petite), and she religiously wore heels specifically, as she said herself, because if she didn’t, people mistook her for a child.

      That being said, every woman I know here in NYC has the designated office/cubical drawer o’shoes. Some of my fancy heeled shoes have never seen a city sidewalk (other than the tiny bit between the front of our building and the Starbucks next door). I wear comfy shoes to work, and then change into my 3″ heels to wear strictly around our carpeted office. Not only is this much less abusive to my feet, my nice shoes last about 10 times as long.

      1. sam*

        further to add – I only know that thing about the former boss, because I was starting a job with her after having interviewed with her off-site, so I didn’t know the dress code (it was a suburban campus), so I asked about general dress code. The feedback I got was that it was pretty business casual, and that I should *not* feel compelled to follow her lead because she had a tendency to wear clothes that were dressier than the rest of the office specifically so that she could project authority in a manner that counterbalanced the fact that she was so darn tiny (again, her explanation!).

        1. jamlady*

          Under 5 feet attorney in NYC who is often mistaken for a child… I wouldn’t be surprised if you were speaking about my sister haha

      2. CAsey*

        I bring my heels in my bag. I think I am moving over to a drawer – so much more efficient. THANKS!

        1. Mabel*

          I used to have a 2-3 foot wide shoe rack under my desk. If I ever needed nice shoes on the weekend, I was in trouble! (Usually I remembered to bring some home.)

          1. sam*

            hee. one of my newer colleagues who moved over last fall from a law firm shipped over 5 boxes of stuff from her office. 3 boxes were actually shoes. She’s got an office with a closet that has shelves, which I covet to no end. Our offices aren’t that different size-wise, but we’re in a really old building where everything is a weird shape and so my layout didn’t allow for a the closet option from our modular furniture. So the bottom drawer of my filing cabinet has been dedicated to shoes instead.

        2. INTP*

          I just find that I can’t balance properly in them so it would be embarrassing to try to wear them to work. I think it’s partly my foot shape, I have a very narrow heel that is always slipping out of shoes (even with heel pads) and it’s the worst with heels.

      3. Violet Rose*

        Ooh, yeah, good point about shoes lasting: One of the major reasons I no longer buy shoes without really durable heels is that the streets in this city are all a) terribly paved, or b) made up of multiple centuries’ worth of paving slabs and cobblestone all jumbled together. I’m convinced that they actively eat shoe heels.. But, I also work in IT, so heels would probably stand out in a really weird and not entirely positive way…

    2. INTP*

      Same height and same feelings about heels. I don’t wear them on a day to day basis for my foot health, comfort, and overall health (realistically I will not park on the far end of the lot if my feet hurt). I’ve tried better quality heels but nothing makes it not uncomfortable by the end of the day.

      And as a result of me not wearing them on a regular basis, my balance and speed are not good in them so they are not an option for interviews, even for a short period of time and even if I changed right before walking in. I find that interviews often involve a tour of the office led by someone walking briskly and I simply cannot keep up. I doubt it looks more professional to hobble around slowly in heels than to stride confidently in flats. (And I am not interested in altering my bone structure by wearing heels enough for them to feel more natural.) I’d be interested to hear in what ways this man has sacrificed his foot health for his appearance since apparently that’s part of being professional in his eyes.

    3. Jessica (tc)*

      I’m just an inch shorter, and I feel the same way. I’ve never actually “felt short” in my life, even when around super tall people. (I also tend to be fairly outgoing and outspoken, so maybe personality has something to do with that. I get the “you’re intimidating” speech pretty regularly, so that’s the only thing I can think of.) I work in a school, and the only time I’ve ever had issues was once when I was student teaching when another teacher thought I was a 7-8 grader, trying to sneak out of class. I politely informed him that I was a student teacher, and I was going to make copies for my upcoming class. I learned that he was kind of clueless anyway, so I always just assumed it was due to his not paying attention. No one else before or after that has ever confused me with a student, and I’ve always worked with kids and currently work in a high school.

      As a side note, I love boots, but I have the hardest time finding cute boots that don’t have an inch heel or higher. I have no problems finding professional shoes that are also flats, however, and I just bought the cutest flats the other day. I can’t wait for it to warm up here a bit more, so I can wear them regularly.

      1. Natalie*

        I find Frye makes a lot of flat boots. You may have tried them already, of course. YMMV.

    4. Tau*

      An inch shorter than you, and I agree! Plus, I have an issue that gives me severe pain in my feet if I stand or walk for too long which can be mitigated or worsened depending on the shoes, arch support, etc. I suspect I’d barely be able to walk in heels and don’t much feel like risking it.

  8. Squirrel!*

    Heels chat: If there’s an expectation of wearing “tall” shoes for whatever reason, you can always do wedges, kitten heels, boot heels (meaning those thicker heels you usually see on dress boots, I don’t know if there is a specific name for them), etc. I absolutely cannot wear those stick-thin heels; super uncomfortable, can’t balance on them properly, makes me walk awkwardly, they’re just terrible all around. If I want something with a little height, I go for one of the aforementioned styles because they’re so much easier on me.

    Somewhat related to heels chat: I watch women walk in those stick heels all the time and notice that they are constantly shifting around on their ankles, watch their feet turn outwards, and it all looks so horridly painful. I can’t imagine being required to wear those kinds of shoes for any period of time. Or the super-high heels where women’s toes are hanging out over the edge of the shoe at the bottom (if it’s a peeptoe or sandal), or you can tell they’re scrunched up because of the small toe area of the shoe. I never think, “Cute shoes”, I always think, “How are you not dying in pain from that?” This is just me ranting, but holy hell does that always look painful.

    1. AnonEMoose*

      My husband refers to shoes like that as “the cruel shoe.” He totally “gets” my preference for basic, comfortable footwear. I do have a couple of pairs of heels, and they’re not terribly uncomfortable, but I don’t wear them often.

      The most expensive pair of shoes I own is the boots I bought to wear with my costume for when we’re volunteering at our local Renaissance Festival. Because the ground out there is not at all forgiving; it’s rocky, uneven, and just plain bad. So comfortable, sturdy footwear is a must.

      1. Violet Rose*

        Ooh, I’ve seen some awesome, comfy, durable leather shoes and boots at our local Ren Faire! I have friends who work there every year, and they swear by Native Earth (if you can save up the money and will be wearing them often enough to justify the investment). Do you remember where you got yours?

        1. AnonEMoose*

          I got mine at Son of Sandlar; I’ve had them for at least four years so far, and they are awesome. The times when I actually bother to clean off the dust, they still look practically new. I just add a new pair of insoles every year, and I’m good to go.

    2. I'm a Little Teapot*

      I can’t wear most heels because they cut up my feet to the point of bleeding. The teetering around is annoying, but the blisters and cuts are the dealbreaker and far worse than anything muscle/skeletal-related.

      1. Rana*

        Yes. I have strong ankles and good balance, so the height and tininess of heels doesn’t bother me. But having my toes jammed into a small space and the usually thin straps or sharp edges rubbing on my foot is horrid.

    3. Just Call Me Imelda*

      First of all, I want to be clear – I think requiring/expecting someone to wear really ANY kind of heel is ridiculous. Many people have foot problems, are hard to fit, don’t find them comfortable, or just plain don’t like ’em. I get it, and I think there are plenty of attractive, work-appropriate options that don’t involve stilettos.

      That said, I love shoes, and I particularly love heels; most of my shoes are 3″+ high. I wear them most days to work. I wear them because I like how they look and I like how my feet look in them.

      Here’s the thing – when you (and I don’t mean, you specifically, Squirrel :)) comment that you don’t know how I can walk in those shoes/you could never wear them, I don’t know what to do with that. Um, ok. I *can* walk in them (clearly – I’m walking past you/standing in front of you) and I’m not asking you to wear them yourself, so…

      Clearly, this is not high on the list of Things To Get Upset About, or even really on the list at all. (Usually, I just laugh and say, “Yes, they’re quite tall – I like that about them.”) But it is a reminder that like many things, if your not being nice (or funny – I like funny), maybe don’t say anything. If you want to say they’re cute, say they’re cute. If you want to judge them/me, that’s fine, too. Just, you know, do it in your head, like I do about tube tops. :)

      1. sam*

        amen. Also, heels take practice. If you don’t wear them regularly, they are going to be difficult to walk in. As I mentioned upthread, I had to gradually work my way back into wearing heels regularly after I had to give my feet a two-year break after a series of podiatric…incidents (none of which involved heels, by the way – the first was breaking my big toe while wearing weekend comfy shoes by doing nothing more than tripping over my own feet on the sidewalk was a real winner. The other involved dropping a vintage bakelite camera on my foot while barefoot at home. yes, I am a grade-a klutz.)

        Further, I wear plenty of heels, but I’ll try on a gazillion pairs before I find ones that are actually comfortable, don’t pinch, etc. It’s not the heels that make them uncomfortable, it’s crappy uncomfortable shoes that are uncomfortable. And when I find a comfy pair, I buy them in bulk – different colors, sometimes more than one pair in black, because I will wear them into the ground. My summer “office drawer” rotation involves three pairs of peep-toe slingbacks from DSW that are the exact same shoe only in different colors. I have a fourth pair at home that are strictly for social occasions, because while they are the exact same style as the other three, they are sparkle-covered.

        1. Just Call Me Imelda*

          OoOO!! Sparkles! I LOVE evening shoes! Of course, I don’t have a particular USE for evening shoes – the symphony once a month does not really justify 10 different pairs of sequined/silk/peau-de-soir heels… And many of those that I own are WAY TOO MUCH for work. *sigh*

          Yeah, practice is part of walking well in heels. And I seem to have been blessed with naturally good balance. I’m also a bit clumsy, but that has nothing to do with my shoes – I trip just as often in tennies as spike heels. I did some impressive damage to my knee tripping over a sidewalk while in walking shoes; it still lets me know how humid it is. :)

          1. sam*

            My ankle still tells me the weather thanks to a tumble down a flight of stairs where my foot got caught in the banister. That time I was wearing ballet flats. Weirdly, the residual tendinitis that I developed from that incident is actually alleviated when I wear heels, because I don’t flex my feet as much.

            Anyway, in actuality, if I could get away with wearing doc martens to my job, I probably would. But social conventions…blah blah blah… I’ve grown to like heels. I find that I can get away with a lot more, wardrobe-wise if I’m wearing them – Our office is pretty conservative, dress-wise, even though we’re technically business-casual, and I work in one of the less casual departments, to the point where a lot of people simply wear suits every day. When I was stuck in flats for awhile, I found myself compelled to wear suits or very suit-like clothing to counterbalance the flats, which was fine. But since I’ve switched back to heels, I’ve felt freer to wear a lot more separates, cute skirts, dresses, etc. that (at least for me as someone in the plus-sized realm) would just look dowdy and weird with flat shoes.

          2. Connie-Lynne*

            If you love sparkles you would LOVE the platforms my husband got me for my birthday a few years ago. They are lucite platforms, and inside they have water and silver glitter stars. They swirl like a snow globe when I walk.

          3. No Longer Passing By*

            Add me to the list of clumsy women who love heels. My heels aren’t in a drawer in the office though; they’re in the trunk of my car. More accessible for those days when I’m out of office.

          4. Elizabeth West*

            I slipped on sweet gum tree balls while wearing trainers and landed with my full weight on my left knee. But I have also tripped on nothing while walking across a room barefoot, so I totally get you.

        2. Melissa*

          True, true. I avoid heels most of the time, but I do like wearing heels in the 2-3.5″ range and I can walk in them. In the beginning, yes, they were wobbly and unsteady – I have bad ankles, too! But I’m at the point that I can walk and even sort of run in them.

          But I’m the same way – these days, I will try on a million pairs and spend good money on comfortable heels, because really it’s just bad cheap heels that are bad. I have a few pairs of heels but they are comfortable to wear and basic enough to go with everything, just in different colors.

      2. Connie-Lynne*

        Yeah, this.

        I have a problem with my left ankle, it has a tendency to turn under when I’m walking, and, inevitably I fall down when this happens.

        It happens sober or drunk, in flats or in my 5″ platforms. Yet, folks always comment on the platforms when I fall down in them. *sigh* It’s not the platform heels, y’all, it’s my janked-up ankle.

      3. Marcela*

        Yeah, sometimes I get pissed with the comment “I don’t know how you can walk in THAT”, referring to my 3″ max shoes. Truth is, I can’t wear flat flat shoes. And it’s not because I’ve been wearing heels for so long that my feet are atrophied. During school I used to suffer from pain when I walked more than 1/2 hour. I wore orthopedic shoes all the time and had frequent checks, so it wasn’t a problem of bad shoes. I complained to many doctors but there was always one excuse or the other to dismiss the pain. It was only when I decided that I wanted to wear heels after high school, and changed doctor, that I go a reason for the pain: the fat deposit under my feet is quite thin. I actually have been comparing my feet to my friend’s feet and mine look less “plump”. So I should never wear flip flops or completely flat shoes. All my shoes have heels or small platforms, ranging from maybe .5″ to 3″. And I’ve never suffered from the same pain again.

      4. Amanda*

        Yeah. Seconded (or thirded?). To suggest that women HAVE to wear heels is 1) not accurate and 2) not cool. Especially coming from a dude, IMO.

        That being said, it makes me feel pretty uncomfortable and self conscious when other people–especially other women–throw shade at “those women” teetering on their stilettos. I’m not short, but I love wearing heels. I feel great. I feel like my A game is further enhanced by the confidence I feel when I wear them. I love how my legs look in heels. I have skirts that fall mid-calf with which I kind of need to wear heels. There are as many reasons for me wearing heels that there are for other women not wearing heels! And all of them are ok, because they’re my reasons!

        I don’t doubt that shorter women have to deal with a lot more crap about how they “should” wear heels, and that must really, really suck. I guess this is just a friendly PSA that I can successfully walk in and wear heels, and it feels a little crappy when there’s a pile on about how unreasonable they are (even though I know no one here is disliking heels *at* me :)).

        1. No Longer Passing By*

          I think that, because some women find heels so painful, they can’t understand why anyone would voluntarily wear them. So the comments aren’t intended to be hurtful; they just reflect a certain life experience.

          I myself have spent time examining my foot and see that I have high arches (Barbie feet, I call them) such that high heels don’t hurt at all. Narrow tie boxes, however, drive me crazy in either flats or heels and I avoid them. So in my mind, when I see narrow toes shoes on other women, I cringe just imagining the pain. But it’s probably likely that the wearer has narrower feet and isn’t bothered by narrow toe boxes. *shrugs*

    4. simonthegrey*

      I suffered with excruciating back pain for over a decade and while it is mostly maintained now, wearing heels is one of the things that sets it off. I have a fairly mild scoliosis and something about high heels causes me to walk in a way that can cause numbness in my legs and sciatica that lasts for days. I’ll wear low heels (less than an inch) to some events, but only wedges or thick heels. Stilettos are completely beyond what I can do. Luckily my husband likes that I am shorter than him and prefers me not to wear heels (I think it makes him feel like a “protector” when really, he’s a teddy bear and I can 100% take care of myself).

  9. Panda Bandit*

    Feel free to ignore his advice because between the kids comment and the heels comment, it’s useless.

    1. Jeanne*

      A boor is a boor no matter the subject. This guy is not even worthy of replies. The only thing to say to any of that is I have to go back to work now.

  10. ILiveToServe*

    As a colleague please begin documenting your interactions…due dates missed…inappropriate and non work relevant commentary.

    My answer to the why don’t you have kids question

    The lord hasn’t blessed me.


    1. simonthegrey*

      Why don’t you have kids?

      The other parents are too watchful at the playground.

    2. jamlady*

      I’m a military spouse. The question I get is “how many kids do you have?” – then I say zero, then they ask how long I’ve been married, they do their head math and realize I got married young, and they decide to tell me “wow you were really young” (too young for marriage, but how dare I not have 5 kids already).

      People need to just stop with the unsolicited relationship/children commentary. I’m usually super awkward because I’m trying hard not to snap at them, so I have to learn to pull some of these sneaky lines out like you suggested.

  11. Colorado*

    Thank you for the update, they are always fun to read. As someone who has struggled with infertility, numerous miscarriages and even an infant death, the children comments used to send me into a tailspin. I was already depressed, pathetic and felt betrayed by my body, then some yahoo insists on confronting me on why I don’t have children, wow, you can only imagine. Fortunately, my story has a happy ending as I was blessed with a baby girl, but oh man, I would never, ever ask someone about why/why not, kids, marriage, etc. Now I just have to deal with the insensitive, “your only child will grow up to be selfish and spoiled”. If I get too fed up with those comments, I will tell the perpetrator “Yes, in fact my daughter does have a sibling. He just watches over her instead of playing by her side”. :’-) Shuts them down, boom!

    1. Rana*

      Nice comeback! I’m sorry people have been so awful to you in the wake of all that, though.

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