my boss keeps asking for rides to the airport, man buns in the office, and more

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

1. I don’t want to keep driving my boss to the airport

I recently started a new job at a small business. I’m salaried (not hourly). My boss is in another city and he comes (via airplane) to my city to go on site visits with me a couple days each month. There isn’t an official office in my city; I work largely out of my home, with a small workspace/office in a building that really is just intended to one person. The last few times he’s come down, he has asked me to pick him up at the airport and drive us both around to the sites, then return him to the airport in the evening. This is an inconvenience for me – the airport is about 25 minutes in the opposite direction of anything, and with traffic requires me to leave at least an hour earlier than if I was just meeting him at the first site. In the afternoon/evening, I also have to plan for an extra hour, which means my kids stay at their daycare later than usual. I’m also just uncomfortable being with anyone all day long without anything more than a bathroom break; I’m an introvert and value at least a few minutes of downtime during the day when I don’t have to be “on.”

I’m okay with driving to/from place to place together; that makes sense and is fine. But it’s the having to get him from the airport and then drop him off again; it is out of the way and takes at a minimum of an extra hour each time (morning and afternoon). Plus, sometimes his flight has been quite a bit earlier or later than the first or last meeting, so we “have time” to get a cup of coffee or a “quick bite” to eat. Last time, our last meeting finished at 4, but with his flight not until 6:30, my kids were in daycare until 6 p.m. while he and I lingered over coffee at a place near the airport (I dropped him off at 5:30).

If I don’t drive him, I’m not sure what he’d do – take a cab or rent a car, I guess. He is very cost-conscious, so I’m sure he prefers me driving him. I also haven’t requested mileage for this and he hasn’t offered it. I don’t get mileage for any of the driving I do (even to sites – I justified it as a perk of being able to work from home some of the time). If it was once a year, that’d be one thing, but so far it’s been twice a month for a few months now, with more visits scheduled. Can I do anything to tactfully avoid being his chauffeur? I don’t want to damage our relationship, which is generally positive.

I don’t think you can do anything about the driving that falls during normal business hours; it’s not unreasonable that he’s asking you to do that as part of your job. However, you can certainly explain that your daycare drop-off and pick-up means that you can’t pick him up or drop him off outside certain hours; it would be reasonable to say something like, “I need to drop off my kids at daycare at 8:30 a.m. and pick them up at 5 p.m., so it’s going to be tough for me to do the airport drives. Would renting a car or cabbing it work instead?”

Oh, and start expensing your mileage — at least for these chauffeuring trips, and maybe for all of it.

2. Are man buns appropriate for the office?

It seems in recent times to be growing more popular for men to grow their hair out and wear it in a bun (example). Today I saw this for the first time in the professional world, on a government intern. I was a little surprised to see it, but on reflection I don’t think he looked unpolished, and anyway, if women can wear buns professionally, why shouldn’t men be able to?

But I know there are offices that don’t even like beards on men or pixie cuts on women, let alone man buns, so I was curious to know what you and the readers think. I also suspect this may just be a trend that blows over within the next year or two.

I think it’s awesome, but I’m biased because I like long hair on men. But I’m a proponent of anything that evens out standards of professionalism between men and women — whether it’s pants on women (which was shocking at one point) or buns on men.

3. Am I too inexperienced to apply for my manager’s job?

My direct supervisor recently left, and I’m interested in applying for her position. First, I would love to have this job. It’s a small department (my position + a Department head who reports directly to the Head of the organization), so there aren’t other opportunities to move up. I’ve taken on a lot of new responsibilities since I came on. I have a solid understanding of how we do things and a bunch of ideas for how we can grow our department. Since my supervisor left and I’ve been reporting directly to the Head of the organization, she’s been appreciating my work and assigned me responsibility for a major project rather than hiring a consultant. This week she even said, “The two of us seem to be doing well without having a [Department head].” I know she sees a lot of potential in me and she often includes me in high level conversations so that I can grow professionally. A month or so back, I directly told her I think being in a role like my supervisor held is probably a good next step for my career.

That said, I’m really young. I’ve only been working for 4 years, I’ve never been a supervisor, and I don’t have a Masters (one of the requirements for the position).

Is it even worth it to apply? If so, how can I tactfully tell the head of the organization I’m interested in the role but will understand if I’m not ready, and equally important if I am interviewed, will be happy to work with the eventual department head if it’s not me?

In most organizations, four years of work experience wouldn’t be enough for a department head role, but it’s not my opinion that matters; it’s your boss’s. There’s nothing wrong with saying something like, “I’d love to take on the department head role either now or in the future — is that something you’d consider me for?”

I don’t think you need to worry too much about conveying that you’ll be happy to work with whoever’s hired, even if it’s not you; unless you have a track record of being A Problem, most managers will assume that. But you could certainly reinforce that by making a particular point of sounding open and receptive to feedback about your possible candidacy and not terribly bummed out if your manager tells you it’s not quite the right match.

4. Should I speak up about a grocery store employee I’m concerned about?

This summer is very hot for a lot of the country, and twice at a grocery store not far from me I’ve seen a woman who I’d guess is in her late 70s on cart return (responsible for going around the parking lot and collecting all carts back to the front of the store). The second time, I offered to push her carts into the store for her and she seemed very thankful and relieved (leading me to believe she did not request to be on cart duty). Both times when I’ve gone into the store, I’ve seen employees who appear to be much more physically able working doing bagging or other tasks that I’ve noticed are most likely part of the same job as this woman has.

I’ve wanted to bring it up with the store manager that I don’t believe this woman should be out in the near 100 degree heat rounding up carts but I don’t want to get her into any trouble. I’m sure it is part of the requirements of the job that she be able to do this particular task but that doesn’t necessarily mean she should have to do it, does it?

If it helps, this is a grocery store that can be readily found around the nation. I’ve spoken about it to a few friends and they all agreed that it is very unfortunate that she had to be on cart duty, but no one knew whether it would be an appropriate issue to bring up with the store manager. What are your thoughts? Is this just simply none of my business?

On one hand, I think it’s helpful for businesses to hear from customers who object to the way they’re treating employees. On the other hand, you risk this woman losing her job if they get customer complaints about her, uh, doing her job. (And I totally get that it seems like they could easily reassign her to other work, but it’s hard to know from the outside if there might actually be legitimate reasons that’s not the case.) Ultimately, I think that makes me come down on the side of not saying anything … but tipping her well when you see her.

I’m curious to hear what others think, though.

5. When to raise medical accommodations while applying for a job

Where does the Americans with Disabilities Act come into play when applying for a job? As an insulin-dependent diabetic, aka type 1, I use an insulin pump and would require some accommodations such as short time-outs for testing my blood sugar and adjusting my wearable medical device. Do I put this in the cover letter, in the resume, or is there some other way to find out if the prospective employer is “diabetic friendly”?

Wait until you have an offer. There’s no reason to raise it before then. Once you have an offer, you’d simply say, “I want to mention that I’d need ___ because of a medical condition. Does that sound like it will pose any obstacles?” (And for what it’s worth, it’s hard for me to imagine a job where what you need would be prohibitive. I think you’ll find it ends up being a non-issue.)

{ 488 comments… read them below }

  1. KarenT*

    I’m a huge fan of the man bun. I don’t even know why–I guess I just dig the look.
    A few guys in my office have them and it’s fine. We’re business casual, though. I could see it being an issue in a stuffy office.
    And like Alison, I’m all about evening out standards between men and women.

    1. PNW Dan*

      As a man with long hair (long enough to wear in a braid), and a beard, married to a woman who occasionally gets a pixie cut…I wholeheartedly agree with Alison’s stance about evening out professional standards!

    2. Cayce*

      Agreed! There is an attorney who occasionally comes into my work who rocks a man bun and a full beard for court. I love it. Like love love it.

      While I’m over here with my uber short pixie, btw.

    3. Nina*

      Re #4:

      As someone who’s worked for a major grocery chain (at least on the West Coast), we all had to take turns getting carts. And we couldn’t accept tips. So if you want to tip her, contact the store first and ask if you can tip the courtesy clerks. If you can, great, do that but I wouldn’t mess with the whole cart issue.

      P.S. NOBODY likes getting carts in 100+ degree heat. It sucks.

    4. Sunshine Brite*

      I wasn’t at first but then there was Chris Hemsworth, Kit Harrington, & Jared Padalecki to change my mind.

      One of the most striking actor flips to the man bun I think has been Timothy Omundson. He played Lassiter in Psych, straight laced cop and now he does something with Galavant (don’t get that channel, never seen it) and he has this thick beard with a twirly mustache and flowy hair that he sometimes wears in a man bun.

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        I think Galavant is probably available online by now. Totally worth seeing – some of the Downton Abbey cast are in it as well.

          1. Charlotte Collins*

            I heard that a second season is planned. Once I saw the musical episode of “Psych,” I figured it was only a matter of time before Tim Omundson ended up in a musical comedy…

      2. Katie Pi*

        Thank you for alerting me to Lassie’s hair. That was a great Google moment on this dull Wednesday.

      3. Becky B*

        +1 for Timothy Omundson in Galavant. That man became more attractive with every episode. His hair alone just about slayed me (yet I magically survived to see it again and again).

      4. Jessica (tc)*

        If you have Amazon Prime, you can watch Galavant via the video there. I accidentally discovered it when I was looking for random things to watch a bit ago, and I absolutely loved it. It’s one of the most hilarious things I’ve seen in a long time, and I can’t wait for the second season.

    5. Trix*

      I think man buns are awesome and I’d love to rock a pixie cut if I didn’t have wavy hair and chipmonk cheeks!

    6. LBK*

      I must be an outlier because I think they look stupid, but I’ve never been a fan of long hair on men (aesthetically, not for any kind of gender role-related reason).

      1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        I dislike long hair on men from a purely aesthetic point of view (also, beards) but I fully recognize that this is a personal bugaboo and not a good reason to ban them in the office!

        I think if there was a dress code rule against messy or unkempt hair, which women were held to but men were not, that would be unfair–but as a rule there’s no reason to disallow man buns but allow long hair for women.

        1. LBK*

          Oh, agreed – I don’t think they’re unprofessional or should be banned from the office as long as they’re not sloppy. Banned from society as a whole, perhaps, but while they’re still socially acceptable I don’t see why you can’t wear one in the office :)

        2. Elsajeni*

          Yeah, I’m not crazy about the “man bun,” but that’s mostly because I’ve hardly ever seen one that looks polished and “finished” — a lot of the men who wear them seem to be happy with a messy or super-casual look and will leave the ends sticking out every which way, or just do the ponytail-pulled-halfway-through half-bun thing, which isn’t particularly professional. But as long as men with buns are matching the level of hair neatness that’s expected of women with buns in their workplace, I think they’re fine. (And the OP says the intern she saw looked polished, so I assume he was meeting that standard.)

        3. Persephone Mulberry*

          I’m good to about shoulder length. Hemsworth? Mmm. Kit Harrington? Yes please. Orlando Bloom in Pirates of the Caribbean? Swoon. Any longer than that and it just looks scraggly, more often than not. All the normal (non-celebrity) guys of my acquaintance with long hair…ehhhhh.

          As for the man bun – my gut (aesthetic) reaction is No, but I think that’s because I associate them with hipster glasses, ugly beards (I don’t do beards, either) and bicycles.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I think one of the reasons men’s long hair looks scraggly after a certain length is that marketers don’t push products on them, and they don’t usually take care of it the same way women do. That’s not to say it’s true of all men–I’ve seen some whose hair is obviously well-kept, and if I asked them what they used and they said, “Nothing,” I’d suspect they were lying. But then I’ve seen plenty of women with super-long hair who look as though they glued a horse’s tail to their heads.

            1. A Non*

              The funny part is that actual horse tails require maintenance to stay long and shiny too – daily conditioning and brushing, according to the tail expert I know. (By ‘expert’ I mean ‘multiple horses with perfect tails to the ground’.)

            2. Coach Devie*

              I think lately, as full beautiful beards have become “trendy” more men, of all ethnic backgrounds, have been learning and keeping up with beard maintenance. It’s a glorious thing. I’ve definitely seen some people step up the care on their beards in recent time where they didn’t really tend to them as well before.

              I may also have a slight (read: huge) obsession with full beards. Not always a fan of really lengthy full beards, but not opposed either. A friend of mine is beginning to look for work in his field and recently mentioned he will have to cut his way down and keep it fairly short, he thinks, during this stage of his career. I hope he is hired soon, so he can return it to it’s full glory. hahaha

            3. Alan Miller*

              Some of the reason men with long hair look scraggly is just that most of them never learned to deal with it when they were younger – I didn’t learn to braid mine until I was closing in on 30, and didn’t start braiding it (almost) every day until probably my mid-30s.

              Spritzing with a bit of spray to keep flyaways down also makes a big difference, but I suspect a lot of men with long hair are just pulling it back.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        I’m not a fan of man buns either, but that’s my own personal preference. I’m OK with long hair that’s well-groomed, but not a fan of facial hair. Goatee, yes. Beard or just a mustache, no.

        But I’m OK with man buns in the office as long as it looks neat and not messy.

          1. Windchime*

            My son had crazy mutton chops while he was in college. It wasn’t a look I cared for but hey, it’s his face and it wasn’t hurting anything.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            Hahaha, I have an online friend who rocks them. He likes to post selfies on Facebook of his awesome facial hair. It goes from full-on lumberjack in the winter (he lives in a northern state and bikes everywhere) to the mutton chops.

          3. Anonsie*

            You can do like the janitor in that one episode of Scrubs where he puts on fake mutton chops to trick everyone else into growing them out for real and then makes fun of them for following a stupid looking trend.

      3. Applesauced*

        You’re not alone! I’m not a fan of the man bun either and hope this fad passes soon!
        But as long as it’s clean/polished and you’re not fussing with it, I see nothing wrong with it in the office.

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          I agree – but I’ve only seen messy man buns in my area (don’t get me started on topknots – for men or women!). I do think neat ponytails and neat braids look nice on men (a la Willie Nelson) and are fairly common in some part of the US.

          On the other hand, I had a friend in high school who was Sikh, and her brother wore his hair in a neat bun with a head covering (not a turban – not sure what it would be called), and I’ve always thought that looked very nice.

    7. Lady Bug*

      I’m not a fan of the man bun, but I do love long hair on men (I grew up on hair metal). As long as it looks neat though, I don’t really see any reason why a man bun is not office appropriate.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        Around here it’s not that uncommon to see long hair on men, braided or loose. But, we’re also close to the Yakama Nation, and several reservations. It’s not metal, it’s traditional. :)

    8. Lily in NYC*

      Me too! I also wish it would be acceptable for men to wear skirts (like kilts) because I like that look as well.

          1. LBK*

            I’m wildly curious about the chain of logic that leads you to deciding that a nightie is the best attire for running. I mean, I guess they’re breathable, non-restrictive and can be made out of light materials, but…

            1. Coach Devie*

              the silky feeling rubbing against skin whilst running? I hear nipple chafe is a thing with runners… perhaps this prevents it? LOL.

      1. K*

        Wasn’t there an incident a couple years ago where bus drivers in some city weren’t allowed to wear shorts anymore so they all – including the men – started wearing skirts?

      2. Windchime*

        Come to Seattle. Seriously. Kilts galore. I saw one just yesterday while dining at the Mongolian grill.

          1. BeenThere*

            I am now entirely distracted and having to refrain myself from Google images.

            – Sincerely Pixie Hair Cut

      3. Cath in Canada*

        Me too! When my husband asked me to marry him, I said “Yes! Will you wear a kilt?!” (He did. It. was. awesome. Too bad they’re so expensive that he just rented, rather than buying one to keep).

        1. Chalupa Batman*

          We seriously considered a kilt for my partner’s wedding attire, but ended up going with boring ol’ pants because it would never fly with the groomsmen and he wanted a more uniform look. Of course now, ten years later, he has a cadre of close buddies who would be fine with it. *sigh*

    9. AndersonDarling*

      I was thinking a man bun was some kind of pastry, like an adult party kind of donut.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        When I read the title, I thought we were going to be talking about buns of the gluteal persuasion. I was like, “In what way are men displaying their “man buns” in the office? I haven’t seen any such trend . . . “

        1. MegEB*

          I have visions in my head of hordes of men in otherwise professional attire wearing assless chaps around the office. I work in a huge hospital, so that’s a LOT of buns to look at.

          1. Jeanne*

            In a hospital, there’s lots of uncovered behinds. Unfortunately, it’s mostly old sick people.

          2. Hermoine Granger*

            When I read the title, I the question would be about buns of a posterior nature. I was confused when hair was mentioned and still couldn’t quite picture what a “man bun” might look like.

            In my personal life I don’t like long hair on men and while a goatee or mustache is cool I’m not a big fan of beards, especially the Wolfman types. I really don’t care about how people wear their hair at work as long as they’re not shedding all over the place.

        2. Jeanne*

          Me too. Is it bad that I was disappointed to find out it was hair and not good looking behinds?

          I’m fine with the hair buns on men. I just wanted a different letter.

        3. Adonday Veeah*

          Yeah, me too. I was totally disappointed to find out you were talking about… HAIR.

        4. A Non*

          I was expecting issues with plumber’s crack! I’ll take pinned-up hair over that any day.

        5. BeenThere*

          Yes! I was imaging an article about men’s clothing choices and that the pants were too tight and revealing.

    10. Koko*

      The term “man bun” drives me crazy. It’s just a bun! It’s the exact. same. hairstyle. With no modifications. It somehow seems like it’s making an unnecessarily big deal out of it being ~~~weeeiiiird to put “man” in front of it. Like “lady pilot.” No! She’s just a pilot!


      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Eh, I think it’s like saying “lady beard” — it’s uncommon enough that, if you didn’t have the gender with it, most people would assume that it was only one gender.

        Unless you live in Williamsburg.

          1. JB (not in Houston)*

            Yes, exactly! “He wears his hair in a bun.” I do not have trouble understanding that we’re talking about a man there.

        1. CreationEdge*

          It shouldn’t really matter what gender people assume a person is, whether cis or otherwise.

          Using terms like “man bun” or “man bag” as mentioned further down just continue to reinforce the incorrect idea that gender is somehow important to the way individuals should be evaluated.

      2. Myrin*

        Totally agreed. Granted, I’m not in an English-speaking country and our name for “bun” is a weird word in general that isn’t really used so the hairstyle is mostly described, meaning I don’t ever come across this in real life (additionally, buns on men here are, well, not exactly common but also not uncommon, if that makes sense?) but I still find it weird and unnecessary. It’s like “Disclaimer: this hairstyle is worn by a man. But it’s a man bun, not a lady bun, silly, can’t have a man have a hairstyle that is historically more associated with women and not change its name and make it very clear that this is NOT a lady bun!”.

      3. Chalupa Batman*

        In everyday conversation I agree, but I was ok with it in this context because it was only men, not women, whose hairstyles were being discussed, making “man” an adjective, not a noun. It was a relevant qualifier rather than just a trendy term. (I love grammar so much.)

    11. JenGray*

      I don’t personally like long hair on my husband but I have seen some men who the long hair looks good on. My husband has thick, curly hair and he doesn’t do much with it so it tends to stand up in odd ways. But I also agree with Alison that men should be able to wear a bun in a professional setting. I also think that with anything as long as the person follows the dress code of the organization than it is fine.

    12. Mallory Janis Ian*

      One of the architects at my old office had a full beard and a man bun, and I thought it was pretty hot (not that I’m supposed to be thinking my coworkers are “hot” — but it was!!)

    13. Abby*

      I typically dislike unbound long hair on men, but for some reason, the man bun really speaks to me. Maybe it’s because I’m obsessed with jawlines.

      Though, I’ll admit that when I saw the words “man buns” in the letter title, my first thought was definitely not about hair…

    14. MashaKasha*

      Every SO I’ve ever had, has either lost his hair or is losing it fast. So I’m all for long hair on men. Enjoy it while you’ve got it!

      That said, my teenage son had to cut his hair short when he was looking for work. Apparently, employers look at long hair on a teenage guy (and we’re only talking shoulder length) and immediately think “stoner” and turn him down for the job. Which admittedly sucks re: evening out standards between men and women!

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        Ok so while we’re at it let’s even out the stereotype of a stoner. A lot of working professionals partake all the way up to lawyers and CEO’s. Are you sure thats the message they were getting from his hair of was it his age or something else?

        1. MashaKasha*

          Hey, personally I’ve got nothing against it. (Not going into further detail as it’s not legal in my state.) But I’m not the one hiring teenage kids for summer/after-school jobs. Then again, it might be an urban legend. Apparently his friends advised him to cut his hair short for the job search. I admit I have not heard anything on the subject from employers themselves.

        1. MashaKasha*

          He’s the only non-programmer in the family… says it’s not his cup of tea.

          It probably depends on the area though. Where we live, the IT job market consists pretty much of hospitals, insurance companies, and banks. Programmers here can sometimes get away with not wearing suits to interviews, but I’d imagine hair halfway to butt will still be frowned upon.

    15. ginger ale for all*

      Another plus vote for the bun. I also like long well kept up pony tails. It’s all about whether you can maintain it and keep it looking crisp and not as if you just rolled out of bed and couldn’t find your comb.

      1. Pickwick the Dodo*

        omg, I love the Mother of the Bride, and just emailed it to my mother who basically has the same hair. I wish there were more!

    16. TotheM*

      When I saw “man buns” in the title, I was thinking of a different type of buns.

      I’m with Alison, as long as a person’s hair is kept clean and looks tidy, then it’s perfectly professional (male or female).

    17. Anonsie*

      I like it a lot, too. A few recent hires around here are men with the bun + beard combo and I think they look rather dashing despite the fact that I normally find long hair and beards (together, separately, doesn’t matter) to be kind of eehhhh looking.

    1. Artemesia*

      LOL. Me too.

      I an old lady with long hair can’t even construct a passable bun so I am really impressed that these guys can pull it off.

      1. The IT Manager*

        I think I’m more jealous than anything that these guys can pull off a decent bun. Let’s be honest, though, certain types of hair can do buns better than others. Not only am I inept with hair styling, my fine. straight hair was never professional bun looking material. Some guys can pull it off, others won’t be able to whether from ability or hair type.

        If a guy is going to have long hair, I think a bun is probably more professional than some other styling options.

        1. brightstar*

          My fine, straight hair basically requires me to have short hair, almost pixie length.

            1. BeenThere*

              Add me to the list! No product can make my thin straight hair have consistent volume. After always wearing it in a ponytail or bun I decided that I may as well save the world water and chop it all off.

          1. Artemesia*

            Even worse fine slightly, just slightly wavy hair. I have finally figured out how to use a french clip so I can do a sort of up thing and a pony tale with a scrunchy which works for the windy humid city I live in now.

            1. Charlotte Collins*

              I hear you! Add that my hair is also unusually thick (albeit fine), and you have a great recipe for tangles. Did I mention the cowlicks that make my hair really hard to style when it’s short?

              I finally found a hairdresser who understands my hair, and I don’t know what I’ll do if I ever have to move away…

        1. manybellsdown*

          I’ve got curls. I can pretty much just twist my hair around and it’ll stick to itself and stay put. Plus, the curls make even the sloppiest of buns look deliberately tousled. Curls are a pain in the rear but they make for magnificent buns!

    2. UKAnon*

      That was exactly my reaction! At first I was thinking “no, no, no” but actually, hair in a bun? A-okay. Guess that just shows what my gendered notions are!

    3. gabrielle*

      Me too! My first guess was somebody was making inappropriate use of the copy machine.

    4. Saurs*

      The nickname for it makes me want to heave — “buns” ranks right up there with “moist,” for me, which is a pity because I love pastry — but the idea that’s it’s unprofessional for men to dress and manicure long hair (or — shock horror — to wear beards, even!) seems so nitpicky, even in a conservative environment.

        1. Ellie H.*

          It’s not sudden or a meme. For some reason a lot of people really dislike this word, it’s just a weird quirk of the English language I guess. I have no idea why, but people being averse to the word “moist” seems to be an innate thing, I have been aware of distaste for the word as long as I can remember.

            1. GOG11*

              Moist has never bothered me, but for some reason I hate the word panties. To me, they’ll always be undies.

              1. Aim Away From Face*

                I despise all “cutesy” words — panties, mani, pedi, etc.

                Drives me INSANE.

                1. Artemesia*

                  Oh me too. Have taught the grandchild to call them underpants or underwear. Panties and all babyish words really grate. I find it amusing that the English have incorporated so much baby talk into their discourse e.g. brekky, prezzies, mozzies etc etc. Always makes me want to chuck them under the chin when they talk.

              2. Kelly L.*

                To tie undies in with the buns discussion, my little sister used to call them “bunwear” when she was a kid. I always liked that. :D

              3. Anna*

                I call my husband’s underwear underpanties sometimes. Because it makes no sense to me that men have underwear and women have panties. But mostly I say undies.

            2. Hlyssande*

              I think I hate the word salve because of how it’s pronounced. In Central IL I only ever heard it pronounced as ‘sav’ and it offends me that there’s no l in there.

          1. Koko*

            There was a study recently that found basically it makes people uncomfortable because it makes them think of vaginas. In the experiment, although people who hated it claimed it was just the sound of the word, they didn’t have an averse reaction to similar words, but they did have a similar reaction to words like damp, wet, and sticky. When the word moist was paired with a sexual word they hated it more, and when it was paired with a food word they hated it less. Basically it’s just a manifestation of our culture’s discomfort with vaginas.


            1. Avocado*

              I’ve long suspected that’s what it’s all about. Good to have confirmation, even if it is a bit depressing.

            2. TN*

              Ahh, that confirms my suspicions. The word “moist” was ruined for me when I was a tween and inadvertently overheard a really gross (probably intentionally gross) line about it in “Strangers With Candy.”

            3. JB (not in Houston)*

              I am not doubting that study generally, but I’ve hated the sound of moist since I was a kid, and I promise I was not thinking of anyone’s vagina in that way at that time.

          2. BananaPants*

            I have no idea why I dislike “moist”. Or “ointment”. So yeah, my kid’s ENT visit where the doctor kept saying to “keep her nose moist using this ointment” was super fun.

            1. Kelly L.*

              “Ointment” to me always reminds me of pigs going “oink” and also, via long association, with the awful scents and greasy textures of some medicinal ointments. Ew, ointment.

        2. Windchime*

          It’s not sudden for me. I had a male friend in the early ’80s who made the word “moist” sound really raunchy, so now it’s a word that kind of bugs me. But not enough to mention it if someone uses it.

          1. Camster*

            Besides “moist” I also dislike the words “suss” and “parse” for some reason. Not fond of the word “man-bun”, but I do like the look!!

        3. MoistVonLipwig*

          “Moist” doesn’t bother me as much as “sweaty” does. But the one word that really bugs me the most? Brunch. Ick.

          1. Today's Satan*

            My favorite local pub serves “blunch” on Sundays. :-) I like it because it covers breakfast, lunch, and blotto all in one word.

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        Yeah, I don’t like the term man buns either. They’re . . . just buns, that happen to be worn by men. So we should call them buns. Maybe it’s because I’m flashing back to hearing elderly male lawyers refer to a woman coworker or opposing counsel as a “lady lawyer” that anything that’s gendered in that way drives me crazy.

        I refer to them as “top knots” because that’s what I see people use to refer to the traditional way that men in Korean wore their hair until they were forced to stop. When I see a man wearing one, I actually think they look old-fashioned (like certain braid styles on women) so they don’t bother me at all. Sometimes I am annoyed by the overall look of the guy if he’s just so hipsteresque, but it isn’t the hair style that bothers me.

      2. OriginalEmma*

        Adults using child-like words make me cringe, especially the word ‘tummy.’ I watch a British bariatric-surgery reality show where the surgeon always says tummy and tummy-button, and I just want to die.

        1. Artemesia*

          My husband refers to the can, the john, the crapper, the head etc as the ‘potty’. I didn’t even use that word when I was potty training the kids. Hate it. But I don’t make it a habit of correcting my husband unless it is something that actually concerns me. I figure there are probably things I do that are more annoying than that.

        2. Ad Astra*

          I’m guilty of using “tummy” a lot, which I think stemmed from the realization that “stomach” wasn’t totally accurate and “abdomen” sounded awkward. “Tummy button” is a weird one, though.

          1. OriginalEmma*

            I use “stomach,” even though it’s not totally accurate…and in the case of a bariatric surgeon, I suppose, potentially confusing! But yes abdomen can be too technical as well (except in my world of weightlifting, I suppose). I’m more accepting of belly but even that makes me twitch.

            It is a British TV show, though, so maybe they use tummy where Americans might use belly.

              1. OriginalEmma*

                Agreed! Unless we’re talking about one of the Three Ninjas, in which case, carry on.

    5. A Cita*

      So glad it wasn’t just me! I was thinking, where do you work where that’s even a question? And, are they hiring? ;)

      But yes, I LOVE the man bun. Drop dead gorgeous. And endearing.

      1. libertybelle*

        The dashing Kit Harrington wears his hair in a man bun when he’s out and about in Belfast, and if its good enough for Jon Snow then I welcome the man bun..

    6. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      OMG yes. I have half a cup of morning coffee, and am thinking whatever this post is about I will be voting YES.


      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        I mean “no”, of course I mean cover up completely and totally.

        Wait, no, I mean “what? I never noticed.”

        that’s the one that I mean. Dammit. More coffee.

    7. NJ anon*

      Lol. I was thinking “no man buns? How would they sit at their desks?” Sometimes, I’m 10.

    8. Jill of All Trades*

      I also was definitely not thinking of a hairstyle.

      For the record I’m a big fan of both types of man buns.

    9. Liane*

      Oh thank you! I thought I was the only one wrong about where the buns were! But in our defense, I will point out that it was a reasonable mistake, as this column has dealt with very crazy workplace issues from office plants as chamberpots to supervisors damaging direct reports’ homes to malignant spells in co-worker disputes.

      As for the actual style, it hasn’t made it to my area but if Chris Hemsworth wears it, I’m okay. Come to think of it, it doesn’t lok that differnent from the traditional male samurai style. At least the variant where the front of the hair isn’t shaved.
      Chris, other actors, samurai. There go the arguments it is not “manly.”

    10. Rebecca*

      Me too! I too am impressed that they can pull that off. I have long hair, almost to my waist, and the best I can do is French braid it.

    11. Althea*

      I was already picturing man buns in a too-tight-too-thin pants, and hoping that OP was, at least, the benefit of distractingly nice-looking ones.

  2. Knitting Cat Lady*

    At first reading I though ‘man buns’ was a typo and we’d get a story about an employee sleeping in the office!

    I’m all for people wearing their hair as they want it.

    I’ve seen some employees with long hair where I work.

    No buns though.

    Over here men with long hair usually have low pony tails. It has been this way for ages.

    I also had a male year mate in school who liked to wear skirts in summer.

    This is also something that should be more common!

    1. A Cita*

      I really don’t like the low pony tale. I’m all in favor of buns or even high ponytails on men.

      And yes, more men in kilts and man skirts, please. They look so great, I really wish it would catch on.

      1. Judy*

        The only guys I’ve seen with long hair recently around here have low ponytails, and usually are bald around the top, so the ponytails are just the fringe. And the hair is usually graying.

        1. Hlyssande*

          Before my dad retired, he let his hair grow as long as it could so he could have a small low ponytail at his retirement party. He’s been utterly bald on top for as long as I can remember. He got it cut normally right afterward.

      2. folklorist*

        A bat near me has an annual “Sundress Fest,” where everyone, including the men, wear Sundresses. It’s HOT. it should be more socially acceptable for men to wear dresses casually.

    2. Kate*

      Ooh I’m actually the OP on the buns question and I dig the buns look but cannot stand low ponytails on men. I suspect, though, that this is largely due to a really crappy boyfriend I had in high school who had one.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        I don’t like the low ponytail on men because the one guy I know who has one has really scruffy, straggly, greasy hair. It would probably look much better on someone else though!

      2. JB (not in Houston)*

        Yeah, I don’t like them but I do think it has more to with the association with the men I’ve known who had them than the actual hairstyle.

  3. katamia*

    You really can’t judge someone’s capabilities by the way they look. I mean, I suspect OP4 is probably right (even if some of her coworkers have unseen medical issues that would make being out in the heat/sun impossible, it’s hard to believe that someone in her late 70s is the *only* person physically capable of doing that part of the job), but I feel weird about the thought of bringing it up to her boss because you barely know her and you don’t know her situation.

    OP4, are you sure she wasn’t just being polite? When I was working in retail-type jobs (though I never had to deal with carts or heat) and a customer did something for me that was part of my job, I always made sure to thank them and be very nice and polite and bubbly because they were *customers* and I didn’t want *complaints* about me (which got me in trouble in other ways, but that’s another story). I wasn’t there so I can’t speak to the specifics of her thanks and her body language, obviously, but that’s something else that you could consider.

    Also, I know some grocery store chains (not sure how many and not sure if the one this woman works at is one of them) don’t allow their employees to accept tips, so OP should be careful about trying to tip her and understanding if she doesn’t accept the tip.

    If you do decide to talk to store management, why not frame it more generally as concern about employees out in the heat rather than specifically about her? I’m sure other people who do that job also get hot and uncomfortable, even if they may be in better health to begin with (and we don’t even know that she’s in particularly bad health or that some of her coworkers aren’t in worse health, either).

    1. UKAnon*

      I completely understand the OP’s concern, but also this – it’s the woman’s responsibility to decide whether or not she’s capable of doing her job. If OP’s really worried, maybe a “Wow, how do you manage in this heat? I could never do it!” next time would set her mind at rest? And if the employee does say she struggles then maybe OP could consider an approach to corporate where no names are mentioned – just a general “my local store does this and I think it reflects badly on the company image when employees are clearly struggling with a task other employees could do”. That minimises the risk to the employee specifically but OP can know she’s raised it with someone.

      1. Three Thousand*

        Yeah, a store manager might be more likely to write you off as a busybody customer who needs to mind their own business, but a letter to corporate has a decent chance of spooking someone into taking action.

        1. MT*

          The problem with a letter corporate, if corporate decides to act, then the store must act. I would imagine it would be to the determent of the employee. As soon who bagged groceries and cleared the lot of carts for 3 years in high school. It is a hard job, but i’ve seen people of all ages and abilities do it. I knew some people who enjoyed the cart gathering more than the in store functions. It is nice to walk around outside, even sometimes in the weather that seems unbearable.

          1. the gold digger*

            I dated a guy who had worked at a grocery store in high school. He loved gathering the carts – he got to be outside and nobody was bossing him around. He was a doctor by the time I dated him, but he spoke wistfully of his grocery store/produce section days.

            1. Rebecca*

              Haha, I’ve known many grocery (or big box retail) employees who love cart duty. Especially smokers, it gives them an extra smoke break!

      2. anonanonanon*

        I’d be careful of comments like, ” “Wow, how do you manage in this heat? I could never do it!”. They can sometimes come off as condescending and most retail employees have to smile and pretend like the awful parts of their jobs are not a big deal because there’s a mantra of “always be nice to the customer and act like you love everything about your job”.

        Plus, in my experience, sometimes retail corporations have secret shoppers or execs “undercover” to root out dissatisfaction. One of the grocery stores my brother worked at in high school ended up firing a bunch of people because they gave negative answers to questions like this when asked by people they thought were “customers”. I know it’s not the case for everyone and some customers are generally concerned, but a lot of retail employees have to be careful about saying anything negative when they’re in the uniform or on store property.

    2. Former cart collector*

      Most national chains don’t allow their employees to accept tips….that’s also what I came here to say. When I worked at a store as a teenager, we had “secret shoppers” who came in and graded our store. One of the things they always did was try to tip us for helping them take their groceries to their car. If you accepted the tip, it would be reported in the write-up to management and you’d be fired.

      Don’t be surprised or take it personally if she won’t accept a tip.

      1. Former bagger*

        Yeah, I was going to say that too -unless she works at some sort of weird co-op or something, she’s almost certainly not allowed to take tips and could get fired for it. I used to work at Safeway and on the rare occasion someone tried to tip us and wouldn’t take no for an answer we were supposed to just donate the money to whatever charity we were fundraising for that month.

      2. Big Tom*

        Agreed. I’ve worked at a couple of grocery stores and other similar retail chains, and tipping has never been allowed for anything. If she takes it that could get her in more trouble than anything else.

        1. Beancounter in Texas*

          Contrast this to my experience overseas in the Middle East about 13 years ago. There were lots of men, super eager to haul your loaf of bread and gallon of milk to your car for a tip. At first, I refused and carried my groceries myself, but as a female, I got a good amount of frowns from others, because in the local culture, women aren’t supposed to carry anything. It’s more of a chivalry thing (respect for women) than a restriction upon women.

          One day I shocked the grocery hauler by carrying a case of the tiny cokes (4 oz cans) on my shoulder and a bag of bread in my other hand. That brought on looks on my way to my car. After that, I started tipping for the groceries to be carried to my car. I could afford 5 dirham (and would tip higher for heavier loads) and he probably depended upon tips for a living (as I would not be surprised if there was no base pay). I only wish I hadn’t been so hard headed to buck the norm for so long.

          1. Formica Dinette*

            Good point about different customs and economies. Kind of like how in some places many people have housekeepers. Sure, you could manage just fine on your own, but people with more money have a responsibility to employ those who have less.

            1. Dynamic Beige*

              I met someone once at a dinner party who had lived in South Africa during Apartheid. She had been shocked at how everyone had a maid, and resisted as long as she could. IIRC, people would knock on her door (not the front one) asking if she was looking for a maid. Finally, one of them realised she wasn’t a local and levelled with her that the only way to get people to stop bothering her would be to hire a maid, and she wanted the job because it would give her special privileges like being able to go to better grocery stores as she was shopping for her mistress and not herself. The woman had finally relented, but she still didn’t like having help like that. This was a long time ago, so she was not a working parent and had not felt like she really needed the help. But everyone else had a black maid/housekeeper and the other women were starting to give her side eye for not having one.

    3. Allison*

      Wow, that’s awesome that you were nice to someone who did your job for you. I’ll admit, I have an impulse to clean up messes when I see them, even if it’s not my mess, so I was once caught moving some carts to the front of the store and the guy swore at me, another time I was getting produce at the same store and a bunch of wrapped vegetables fell to the floor, I wanted to leave them there for an employee to pick up but some guy gave me a funny look so I decided I needed to so something, but then the employee got mad at me for touching them. No good deed goes unpunished, I guess.

      1. JPV*

        A lot of times a customer would awkwardly smear a mess around with a napkin, then come to tell me they “cleaned” it. I’d always politely thank them, but inwardly I’d be fuming because I knew they’d invariably made the mess worse.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Ugh, swearing was definitely not the way to handle that. The most I do is move them to the cart corral if it’s nearby, or put them up on the sidewalk if they’re in a parking space.

    4. Artemesia*

      I would be afraid that saying anything would lead to ammunition for getting this woman fired. If she is 70 and hauling carts out of the parking lot then she probably needs that job. While I would hope they would dispatch young people do that particular job, I would never want to interfere in someone’s livelihood and it is not that big a deal to get the carts, even in the heat.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        To be sure, there are older people who are way more fit than I am and run triathlons but it does not seem to be the case here. I also think it depends on how they do the cart collection. At “my” Costco, they seem to do it manually, where a young person (I’ve never seen one who looks older than 30 doing it) grabs a bunch with a rope and drags them up to the store. But at a grocery store, they have this motorised thing that does the heavy work and someone just arranges them into a line then starts up the machine and steers. I would also be interested to know if the cart duty was her job or it was just her week/day/afternoon in the rotation.

        But on the other hand, the elderly generally speaking are not as fit as the young. If she was obviously in distress, it would not be good if she passed out from heat stroke in the parking lot. It should not be a great big shock nowadays that some people cannot afford to retire (which is a horrible reality). If she was young and 8 months pregnant, it could be argued that she needed the job but collecting and pulling a line of carts in the heat would not be a good idea in her condition. There’s usually someone who fills the cart back up again at Costco and one time I bought something that was heavy but not too heavy to remain in the cart. Only when the woman started to pick it up then stopped and left it did I notice she was pregnant and should not be lifting something like that. So, I would argue that you could go back into the store, speak with the manager that you have seen an elderly lady doing strenuous work in the heat (perhaps the next time you go there). She said nothing to me, but anyone could tell she was distressed. What would happen if she collapsed due to heat stroke? While you do not want her to lose her job, surely there is something she could be doing that was not that? That you noticed there were all kinds of young people inside doing much lighter tasks doesn’t seem right… would you want your mother to be doing that? etc. I’m sure there’s a way to get the point across that the optics on having an elderly person performing a task like that under those conditions are not good. Walmart has greeters that are elderly and aside from having to stand and be continually saying “Hi”, there isn’t anything about that that is extremely strenuous.

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        This drives me crazy! I make excuses for a parent who had a number of very young kids in tow, but don’t grocery stores still offer help out with groceries, or at least help if you ask? I always do self checkout, so I don’t know if that’s still a thing. I would think that would be preferable to just leaving the cart out in the parking lot wastelands.

  4. Laura*

    re: #1:

    I absolutely agree with Alison that you should be submitting for mileage. But I’d also like to note that, sometimes, jobs *are* inconvenient. You should absolutely bring up things that take place outside of normal work hours or that are far outside the job description to which you agreed, but having to drive your boss a couple times per month during normal work hours doesn’t sound unreasonable. Don’t get me wrong, I too would be thinking about the ways I could otherwise spend that time — but ultimately, if that’s what your boss wants to pay you to do, that’s his call.

    1. MT*

      Agreed. Nothing that the boss is asking the employee to do is unreasonable. Except the mileage reimbursement. Sometimes jobs require an early start and a late end.

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        I agree EXCEPT for the OP having to wait around with him instead of just dropping him off at the airport. I don’t see why she should have to hang around just so he doesn’t have to be by himself.

    2. Elysian*

      I agree about the time, but I feel like he’s passing off the cost of the travel onto his employee since she isn’t getting reimbursed. I have to wonder if she starting putting in for mileage, would he still have her driving him? She should definitely be putting in for the mileage. I would also even push back a bit on the time spent after dropping him off at the airport getting “coffee” or whatever – she shouldn’t have to hang around after 5:30 or whatever just to keep him company. I think she should just say “If you’re all set here, I have to go get my kids from daycare.” or something along those lines. I agree with you that the time spent driving during work hours might just be unavoidable.

      1. the_scientist*

        I don’t think there’s anything wrong with driving during work hours, but right now, by not submitting mileage, the OP is absorbing a business expense. I’m thinking along the same lines as you- I bet the boss is thinking “I’ll get OP to pick me up and then I won’t have to rent a car or expense a cab!”. While it makes sense to take one car driving to different locations during the workday, I would bet that if OP starts submitting her mileage, the boss will start taking a cab to and from the airport or rent a car himself.

        1. MK*

          Though possible, there is no indication that this is some devious conspiracy on the boss’s part. He probably thought that this arrangement is the most sensible one, which, frankly, it is. If the OP and the boss have to visit these sites together, it makes little sense to take seperate rides everywhere. Also, it’s possible that, since the OP is a remote employee, the boss thinks of this as a good way to touch base on a regular basis. Also, I doubt that the boss will start going through the hassle of renting a car or taking cabs everywhere, once the OP asks for reimbursement (which she absolutely should do); even if it’s less expensive, it would probably be less convenient.

          1. the_scientist*

            I don’t think the boss is being devious or malicious, I just think that he’s not really thinking it through, and that the OP is enabling him to not think it through by not getting reimbursed. It absolutely makes sense to use one car to drive to sites during the workday, but why is it always the OP’s car? Why can’t the boss rent a car at the airport and pick the OP up? Why can’t the boss take a cab to a more central location and have the OP pick him up there, rather than at the airport. I would bet that he’ll get sticker shock when he sees her mileage claims and will be keep to come up with a less expensive solution, if possible- corporate rates at rental car companies are a thing.

          2. the gold digger*

            If I were the boss, that is exactly what I would think – that this is a good way to spend time with my employee. He might not have even noticed that employee is not submitting mileage – he might be assuming she is because it is a normal business expense.

            As far as hanging out at the airport, a rational person is not going to be offended at someone saying, “I need to drop you here – kids have to be picked up by 5:30 or I pay a late fee! See you next time!”

            1. Alma*

              I was thinking along the lines of “Is there anything you need before I drop you off at the airport? Coffee or a magazine? My children must be picked up by 5:30pm.”

              What do you normally do for lunch? I would continue to do the same – and say, “I bring lunch and park under this tree to enjoy a few quiet moments, and catch up on trade publications. Will you need to stop for a sandwich, or would you prefer we make other plans?” And expect him to pick up the tab.

              If you are not submitting mileage for reimbursement, keep a written log for your “unreimbursed business expenses” and mileage (including depreciation) for your vehicle (I’m referring to US taxes).

              1. JB (not in Houston)*

                Oh, that’s even better, just say it like it’s a normal thing and not something that needs to be discussed.

            2. JB (not in Houston)*

              Yeah, that’s a good idea. I can’t tell from the letter if he really expects her to do that or he wouldn’t care if she just dropped him off, though it sounded more like the former to me. But there’s no reason she can’t say something like what you said here and see how it goes.

        2. Beezus*

          Yup, this is what I was coming here to say. Expense the mileage, nip any socializing outside business hours, arrange for dropoffs/pickups inside business hours where possible, and grin and bear the driving during the work day.

          “OK, your flight gets in at 7:30. I can’t drop my kids off before 7, so it will be about 8 am by the time I’m able to meet you at the airport. We should let Client know we’ll arrive for the meeting at 9. Your flight out leaves at 6:30, but I need to pick my kids up at 5:30 at the latest, so I’ll drop you at the airport at 4:30, which means we need to wrap up with the client by 3:30.”

          If you’re unable to get your work done because you’re doing the driving during working hours instead of after, or if that doesn’t leave adequate time for client meetings, then you might need to re-evaluate, but it’s a reasonable request.

      2. Ad Astra*

        Exactly. He’s not really saving money by asking the employee to drive him around, he’s essentially taking the cost of his travel out of her paycheck.

        And it wouldn’t be unreasonable for the OP to drop the boss off at the airport early and let him entertain himself for a couple of hours. Airports have bars and restaurants, and a lot of them have some decent shopping or even museums — and he likely could get some work done on his laptop. Just say, “I’m going to have to drop you off at 5 so I can pick up my kids from daycare.”

      3. BRR*

        I agree she should be putting mileage, even if it’s the difference from her home to the sites vs. her home to the airport to the sites.

        Also the boss needs to learn to sit at the airport. It’s ridiculous to ask an employee to work overtime to sit at a coffee shop. I get that you need to put in extra hours sometimes but waiting for the boss doesn’t fall into this category. He can sit at the airport.

      4. Artemesia*

        I don’t find having to do this at all unreasonable but there is no reason she can’t say — I need to pick up Snuffy at day care by 5:30 so will drop you at the terminal. And it is reasonable to request mileage and I would just be submitting that. The rules where I have worked have always been that normal commuting is not covered for reimbursement but if you have a job that requires driving to clients etc, that is.

        She has a job that has accommodated her location needs. I would not louse it up by fussing about driving the boss to the airport a couple of times a month but would adjust the expectations to accommodate her local schedule.

    3. Tasha*

      I would feel entirely comfortable explaining that I don’t have time in my schedule for coffee or a bite to eat at the end of the day [which, in an unrelated peeve, is the only proper usage of the phrase “at the end of the day”], although you probably do have to drive him to the airport at 4:00 or whenever your customer visits end. He can nosh while he waits for his plane.

    4. JenGray*

      Even if you can’t submit for mileage to the company- you might be able to write it off on your taxes. This is very dependent on an individuals situation so might not be possible but regardless of how mileage is handled the OP should still be tracking it. This is a business expense and so at a minimum track it and then inform her manager about the amount of mileage. Perhaps the company doesn’t realize the amount of travel that is actually being done with this job.

    5. The IT Manager*

      As the LW, I’d be very leery of just submitting for mileage. This at the very least requires a conversation. She’s not getting reimbursed now for any driving. I don’t know if that was a conversation at hiring or not, but that’s how she’s employed now. Perhaps her salary is commensurately higher because she isn’t reimbursed. She personally justified it to herself as being worth it because she’s can work from home when not with the customers. This is a small business with a cost conscious owner, he’s not going to be happy with this change in costs and increase in administrative work to support tracking what sounds like a good bit of regular mileage.

      OTOH I do definitely think a conversation could be had about working longer than normal hours when the boss visits. I don’t think she can necessarily get out of it, but it is worth mentioning that this impacts her schedule. For example, I think it would have been fine not to linger over coffee simply to help the boss kill time before his flight leaves. That could be simply, “I have an appointment at 5:30 so because of traffic I will have to drop you off and leave the airport by 4:30.” Maybe the boss would be willing to take a taxi to or from the office, first customer site, or other convenient meeting location.

        1. Jeanne*

          Yes. It does require a conversation first. But I think it’s a simple conversation. “Boss, gas is terribly expensive. I know a lot of companies reimburse for mileage. May I submit my records for mileage reimbursement?”

        2. Liz*

          If she’s not being reimbursed for mileage by her employer, she can claim it on her taxes instead. That would be a good way to handle the backlog so far, if she just wants to raise it as an issue going forward.

        3. zora*

          I don’t agree, I think if she is picking up the boss, AND driving between different sites, she *should* be getting mileage reimbursed, it’s not just a “nice to have” kind of thing.

          It’s fine if she should bring it up first, but I don’t think it’s an ask for permission kind of thing. I think it’s a “I realize the driving around is a business expense. How should I submit my mileage for reimbursement?”

      1. Alma*

        It depends on why she is not getting reimbursed for mileage at this time. If she is a contractor, she offsets her 1099 income with business expenses – which would include mileage, tolls, parking (at the airport), etc. The 1099 is not her “net” income – it is her “gross” income, which she then offsets in her tax return.

        Get a notebook. Total expenses by category every week so it doesn’t get ahead of you. If anything unusual happens, make a note of it.

        If there is no other way to do the job except by visiting clients, then the only reason I would think OP is not being reimbursed for IRS mileage allowance would be that she is a contractor. (And if you are not being reimbursed the FULL IRS mileage reimbursement, claim the balance on your return. I worked for a nonprofit where every employee spent all day on the road visiting clients, and we all were reimbursed several cents less than the IRS allowable reimbursement. Don’t neglect to claim that, too.)

    6. Anna*

      Keep in mind the OP said she doesn’t mind driving during the regular hours, it’s picking him up and dropping him off before and after hours that she’d like to change.

      And she should absolutely be asking for mileage.

  5. Limepink22*

    I think op4 should make the concern about employees being out in the heat. If you make it specifically about her being elderly, you might bias that store against hiring future elderly people in that role. “Remember we got guest complaints about Mildred carting? I don’t want anymore level 1 cashiers who can’t do ALL job duties-its too hard to schedule”.

    Maybe she likes being in the heat if the store is typically AC freezing inside. Maybe the people you see inside have medical issues you can’t tell. Maybe they tried her bagging but her arms get tired lifting up bags to put into carts. Maybe its easier to push something on wheels.

    1. Anx*

      It’s amazing how difficult it can be to predict the difficulty of doing a job, physically.

      I slept on my neck awkwardly and could barely get out of bed- it took 2 hours. But I could walk to work with a backpack on just fine. The hardest thing I did at work was something in the seated position. Carrying boxes around was much easier.

      Interesting point about the AC. I jump at the chance to go run errands and get outside even in 100 degree weather because it’s a reprieve from the stiff joints I get indoors in the summer.

      1. GreatLakesGal*

        I find the whole question condescending. What reason does the OP have for thinking this employee is incapable of managing her work life ? Other than possible ageism, I mean.

        1. JMegan*

          Yeah, I don’t love the question either. Other than the fact that she appeared thankful when OP offered to help with the carts, we don’t have any indication that the woman is unhappy or uncomfortable or having difficulty doing the job.

          Yes, it probably does suck to be pushing carts around a parking lot in 100-degree heat. But I’m not comfortable assuming that this person is incapable of making her own decisions about her work, or that she can’t try to solve her own problems if and when she identifies them.

          1. JB (not in Houston)*

            I agree that the OP shouldn’t say anything. But I also would worry about seeing an elderly person doing that since they are more susceptible to heat, and they don’t adjust as well as younger people to sudden changes in temperature. That’s just a fact. So while I wouldn’t say anything, I would be worried–maybe because I’ve known more than a few elderly people who had to take whatever job they could get and wouldn’t speak up even if their health was in danger. But I agree that speaking up could cause more problems, so the OP shouldn’t say anything.

    2. Blamange*

      It’s been hot here lately, and I enjoy going out because the climate of the shop is quite cold.

    3. JenGray*

      I agree that if the OP goes to the store manager than it needs to be about employees in general not just an elderly employee. The OP is also assuming that the employee she saw is in her 70s. She may or may not be- some people look older and some people look younger. So in order to avoid bias or insulting the employee best to stay as neutral as possible.

      1. Jeanne*

        Neutral is good. The direction could be concern about the heat and if they’re making sure the employees get enough water to drink after being outside and a short sit down if they feel over-heated.

  6. Bend & Snap*

    #5 this doesn’t seem like it would even fall under accommodation in an office. I had gestational diabetes and checking my sugars didn’t interfere with my job at all, and it’s so quick that it wasn’t a big deal. I just discreetly did it at my desk.

    I did not have a pimp though.

    1. De (Germany)*

      Yeah, I have worked (and went to school with) people with diabetes and other than maybe a slighter longer break (2 minutes or so) and the need to keep stuff like medication and snacks around it never seemed like an issue.

    2. Nursey nurse*

      Yeah, I was wondering if this was a retail or restaurant setting where the OP might need to leave the floor to check her sugars or adjust her pump. If she has private office space it’s hard to see how it would even come up.

      1. BRR*

        I was thinking it might be a non-office job. I have diabetes, a pump, and a cubicle and it’s not been a problem. I wear my pump on my belt because my pockets are full and no issue.

    3. Temporarly Anon*

      I self-inject in the office. Not for diabetes, but for another health condition. While the injections are inter-muscular, they are super quick and I can usually do it in less than 10 seconds, from loading the needle to finish. No one is the wiser.

    4. Viktoria*

      I have type 1, and while I probably wouldn’t need accommodations at any professional/office job, I might if I worked shift work or retail, etc. Basically any job that only allows employees breaks at pre-determined times. We need to be able to check blood sugar, dose insulin, and eat/drink whenever we need to, not necessarily on a timetable.

      1. Bend & Snap*

        I know gestational diabetes is different, and it’s temporary, but the food was the killer for me trying to manage everything. So time consuming and inconvenient. Half the time I was trying to bolt down a snack and participate in a conference call simultaneously.

    5. Coffee Ninja*

      “I did not have a pimp though.”

      For the love of Wakeen, please let someone write in to Alison about this!

      1. Dana*

        I just read the question where Alison stated “You are not in a lineup at a brothel” so this is timely!

        But, really, is a pimp a manager? Not having a “present” manager has been a topic before…!

    6. Mimmy*

      Good point. If this is an office job, OP should try to get a sense of what the day-to-day work is like (just like any other candidate) before determining whether he/she needs to bring it up.

    7. Stranger than fiction*

      Exactly, diabetes is so common, I’d just wait til the onboarding process and say where’s a good spot for me to check my insulin. I mean how could anyone deny you that

  7. "So you're saying the Russians have these, uh, Shoggoths, but we don't have any."*

    #4: I totally get where you’re coming from with this, but if you want to try to help, I think you should start by talking to the woman herself. Which could be a bit ticklish. For instance, you say you think she’s in “her late 70s”? You might want to not mention that to her, because she might not appreciate it if she’s, say, 60yo. And I know that you don’t mean badly by it, but you’re pretty much characterizing her as this poor old feeble woman being forced into hard labor in the hot sun – she may not appreciate that, either. Or maybe she will – it’s hard to tell.

    But my point is, you should talk to her before you talk to her management. No matter how well-intentioned you are, you run the risk of getting this woman into trouble.

    Here’s a thought: do you know of any other, better job you could tell her about? Maybe you’ve even got an “in” with someone at Wal-Mart and she could greet people in the air-conditioning?

  8. BrandyTeapot*

    There can also a religious aspect to some man buns: the Sikh idea of kesh, where one just lets their hair grow out naturally, as a way of respecting the way they were created perfectly. Sikh people often tie their hair up in a simple bun on the top of the head called a joora/rishi knot, and tuck a comb underneath that they use to comb it twice a day, called a kangha.

    I think a lot of not-Sikh men have been borrowing the style lately, though they’re usually called man buns or topknots.

    1. the gold digger*

      I am not a fan of long hair on men (I imprinted on clean-shaven, short-haired men on air force bases), but one of the sexiest scenes I have ever seen in the movies is in “The English Patient” where the Sikh guy – I think he was a sapper – takes off his turban and washes his hair.

      The rest of the movie stank, but that scene was worth it.

      1. Adonday Veeah*

        OK, but really, that actor… well… yeah. Remember him on “Lost?”

        …lost in reverie…

    2. Beancounter in Texas*

      Thank you for sharing that bit of knowledge.

      I was also thinking about samurai who wore their hair in knots. They don’t seem less professional to me.

  9. Stephanie*

    #1: If you’re not getting reimbursed, definitely track it for tax deductions! But daycare should be a valid excuse. I’ve heard those late fees are outrageous.

    #2: I work at a pretty conservative company and man buns wouldn’t be ok if you were in a managerial or customer-facing role. But I think we’re on the extreme end. I personally like them!

    #3: Depends on your company. At my last job, people with a couple of years’ experience at the company would get promoted to team lead or manager.

    1. Kate*

      Yeah, I’m the original asker for #2, and those are the kinds of environments I was wondering about. Places that deal with conservative moneyed folks I can imagine not wanting someone with this trendy (if, IMO, attractive) hairstyle in a customer service or public-facing role if for no other reason than that it would be jarring and potentially off-putting to customers (I’m thinking my grandparents here).

      1. Ad Astra*

        Personally, I think any generation that can survive World War II, the unrest of ’60s, and the excess of the ’80s should go ahead and handle the advent of “man buns” and tattoos and whatever nontraditional things they might encounter in the world. It’s weird that we treat old people like they’re so fragile they couldn’t possibly function in a business that allows its employees to dress like individuals.

        But I work in an industry that is all about making gramps feel comfortable, so I know I’m kind of in the minority here.

        1. Stephanie*

          ITA. We’re the type of place where my boss earnestly said “It’s great we get to wear business casual now.” We deal with everyone, so I guess they just err on the side of caution. That being said, as things like tattoos and man buns become more and more commonplace, I don’t know how long they can really keep up the super conservative attire.

    2. OP #3*

      Thanks for the feedback, Stephanie. At my workplace, a few years experience can get you promoted to team lead/ manager, but my department doesn’t have those layers. Just me and the department head. I’ve been thinking about it and decided not to bring it up. All the other department heads have at least a decade more experience than me, and I just don’t think it’ll fly.

      On the other hand, I got to see some of the resumes their considering, and I’m really excited to work with one of these people! There’s so much I can learn from my new boss.

  10. Panda Bandit*

    I thought man buns in the office was going to refer to a place plastered with pinup calendars! I like the hairstyle and long-haired men in general. If your hair is clean and neat why should it matter how you tie it back?

  11. "So you're saying the Russians have these, uh, Shoggoths, but we don't have any."*

    #1: I think the OP really needs to have a Come To Jesus meeting with her boss over the transport stuff. She definitely needs to get reimbursed for mileage. She may wish to take a stab at how much money it costs her in gasoline as she drives him around all day (but try to go with the standard mileage reimbursement:

    as it’s not just gas: it’s wear&tear and other maintenance on the car, plus maybe a little something for insurance and registration etc). It wouldn’t hurt to check on what’s considered a fair reimbursement category.

    As for daycare – the logical thing is to work out the costs. There are often several ways to travel to and from the airport: cab, limo, shuttle bus, etc. Find out what options there are, and what they cost. Then compare against the costs of keeping the kids at daycare for that extra hour or two. In short: Boss-man needs to decide what is most cost-effective, and he needs to man-up and pay for it (ie, either the extended day-care or the cab).

    My guess is that he won’t be willing to pay for a cab or limo all day long – OP will still have to chauffeur him around. But maybe the mileage reimbursement will help make that more bearable. Also, perhaps try to look at the bright side: OP gets to work at home, and only sees her boss a couple of times a month, and she can have him more-or-less to herself during that time. Which may not sound like a good thing, but I know people who suffer badly from never getting any face-time at all with their boss.

    1. Beancounter in Texas*

      Ironically, I thought OP#1’s gender was male, in spite of the daycare reference. :-)

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      Most daycares – both “commercial” (like a KinderCare) and home-based, charge by the day or week, not the hour. I read it as the OP isn’t necessarily incurring any extra costs, but just that she feels bad her kids are in daycare from 7 to 6 on those days instead of 8 to 5, or whatever her ordinary schedule is.

      1. Liz*

        Overtime is usually charged by the minute, if you’re late. Standard around here is $1 per minute after hours, which could make that airport run *very* expensive.

        1. Persephone Mulberry*

          I don’t disagree with you. I was only speaking to Shoggoth’s suggestion about calculating how much an extra hour or two would cost – the answer being nothing, considering that most places don’t charge by the hour (assuming this is still within the daycare’s regular hours, as the OP didn’t indicate there was an issue with actual late pickup).

        2. Elysian*

          Yeah, I know of a place that charges $50 a minute if you’re late for pickup. They REALLY don’t want you to be late.

          1. yasmara*

            Every daycare/camp my kids have ever been at has a very strict late-fee structure added on TOP of whatever you pay weekly/monthly. You might skate by on your first offense, but you’re paying for it after that.

            1. doreen*

              But it’s not clear that the OP is talking about an actual late pick-up. The day camps I used had “pick-up” from 4pm to 6pm – scheduled activities ended at 4 and the latest you could pick up was 6. The afterschool program had a 6 pm pick up. If I picked up from either place after six, there was a late fee. As long as I was there before 6 no late fee- even if I normally picked them up at 4:30 or 5 . That seems to be what the OP is talking about- s/he picked the kids up later than usual but still by closing time.

  12. Dan*


    In this day and age of equality and what not, I think the op has to keep quiet, otherwise they’d be encouraging the exact age discrimination that we’ve been trying to correct for ages.

    I’m just curious… Assuming an ADA issue were at play, would taking Mildred off of cart duty be a reasonable accommodation?

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      It sounds pretty reasonable to me, assuming there are a number of staff her level in the store and there’s a few jobs she could most likely do such as cashier, shelf stacking, bagging, being on the customer service desk or deli counter, I can’t see any great hardship in assigning her one of the other tasks.

      1. Alice*

        I agree with you mostly. It is just that I know at most grocery stores those positions all have different pay grades. The person at the deli counter probably gets paid more than the person pushing carts. My close friend worked at a large chain grocery store all through college and it took him a while to work his way up to the deli counter. Perhaps this lady is newer and what she gets paid for right now is to push carts.

        1. Apollo Warbucks*

          That’s a good point, I’d not thought of the difference in pay for different roles.

        2. The IT Manager*

          Yes. Anyone behind the counter – deli, meat, seafood is probably going to specialize in that area. The cashiers probably have a bit extra training and responsibility too (since their cash trays must come out right). People who collect the carts are probably the same as the baggers and possibly the people who stock shelves.

          1. Persephone Mulberry*

            Even shelf stocking can have pay grades or different levels of responsibility – when I worked grocery in high school, it was a Big Deal when they started letting me stock produce, because there’s a fair amount of independent judgment into whether that apple is too bruised (not to start an ugly fruit/consumerism/wastefulness debate!) to put out .

      2. Observer*

        The thing is that there are a lot of assumptions here. Nothing to do with her age, but how do you know that she can be put on any one of these jobs? Just for argument’s sake – shelf stacking could be a lot harder for some people than pulling carts, even in hot weather. Maybe she’s not good at dealing with tough to please customers, so she can’t go on customer service or cashier. maybe she has a problem with numbers, so can’t go on cashier. Etc. I could think of at least one non- immediately obvious reason why someone might not be able to do any one of these tasks.

        The bottom line is that no on, including the OP, knows whether this is really the best or worst position for this woman. And, therefore, I have to agree with Allison. The OP shouldn’t say anything, because it could cause the woman more trouble than help.

    2. Zillah*

      I assume it would depend on the situation – it’s difficult to tell from the outside whether Mildred or her coworkers have limitations that aren’t readily apparent. I want to say it would be reasonable, but I have no experience with supermarkets etc.

    3. Nursey nurse*

      It would almost certainly be a reasonable accommodation provided that other staff were capable of performing cart duty and it wasn’t her primary job function.

    4. AcademiaNut*

      Although, as far as I know, simply being old does not count as a disability. If she had a diagnosed medical condition that limited working in the heat, or pushing heavy objects, might qualify, but it wouldn’t be based on age.

      1. Nursey nurse*

        Age isn’t an automatic disability, but age-related conditions qualify to the same extent any other disabling condition would. I think the question was assuming there was an underlying problem beyond age for which accommodation was necessary.

    5. Billy*

      I’m with you on this.

      Last year, my former store manager wanted our pt grocery clerk of 19 years to be moved up front for bagging groceries. He was in his late 70s working 3x week which seemed unacceptable for management. Fortunately, the transfer didn’t work out and he was retained for our dept.

      However, he quit months later.It was revealed later in the year that the former store manager quietly pressured him into resigning( guessing due to age and wanting someone with a stronger availability). The store manager was awful anyway.

    6. BRR*

      Depending on Mildred’s job it could be considered essential for the position. I’m not sure just having more employees would satisfy it being a reasonable accommodation.

      1. Ad Astra*

        Many of my friends who worked at grocery stores said the managers wouldn’t allow the female employees to push carts at night because they saw it as a safety concern, and they presumably didn’t have a problem finding something else for their female staff to do during night shifts. So that makes me think pushing carts isn’t absolutely essential to the position — at least not so essential that everyone has to do it during every shift — but I’m sure it depends on the store.

    7. Ladidah*

      The whole self-agency argument here is troubling, for a number of reasons. First, a good number of existing regulations would not exist and have been countered historically (and at present) by just these arguments: people are choosing to work with dangerous chemicals! Families have the right to ~choose~ child labor! Don’t be so condescending as to want to outlaw jobs under minimum wage, people are making choices! I mean, sure, the OP can talk to Mildred (while she’s at work and may or may not be free to speak truthfully) but the idea that social pushback on workplace exploitation is somehow condescending or insulting to the exploited person is a means of inducing liberal silence and justifying the worst abuses of capitalism in the name of the empowerment or self-agency of people to be abused. “Consent” is not an acceptable social model for everything; bad and dangerous workplaces create worse and more dangerous workplaces for all workers.

      This may or may not be the case here; but it is not condescending or insulting to oppose the bad working conditions of other people.

      1. Colette*

        But then you’re arguing that no one should collect the carts, which is different than deciding that one particular employee shouldn’t do it because of her age.

        It’s condescending to think that you can better evaluate the job than the person doing it.

        1. JMegan*

          I think the difference is, are you questioning the working conditions of everyone who is pushing carts, or just this one person? If it’s just the one person, based on a couple of quick observations – I’m not sure I’d go so far as “condescending,” but it’s certainly reasonable to assume that the person is making a conscious decision to do the job, and that she is generally capable of solving her own problems if need be.

          If we’re talking about the working conditions of all the cart-pushers, and we’ve done a more detailed assessment than just “the last time I was at the grocery store,” then I agree there’s value in speaking up as Ladidah suggests. As always, context is everything.

          1. Colette*

            I agree. If the concern were for all of the cart pushers, it would be worth considering speaking up (whole understanding that that means they may lose their jobs, if that’s all they do). But speaking up on behalf of one person who’s capabilities you don’t know is … maybe not condescending, but certainly arrogant and based on the assumption that she can’t make her own decisions.

  13. Apollo Warbucks*

    #1 I don’t think asking you form ride is to far out side what is reasonable, however you should try to claim milage for the driving you do for work and also tell your boss you have a fixed schedule for day care pick ups. I don’t think its reasonable for you to be expected to give up your evening when you have other commitments, drop your boss at the airport when you finish and let him set there until the flight leaves. You never known the lack of flexibilty might encourage your boss to rent a car or take a cab or the cost saving might mean he’s happy to wait at the airport.

  14. éscargot agile*

    “I’m a proponent of anything that evens out standards of professionalism between men and women — whether it’s pants on women (which was shocking at one point) or buns on men.”

    I wish that was the case with sleeveless shirts. As a male high tech employee, in the hot summer it bugs me that shirts without sleeves are socially acceptable for my female colleagues only.

    1. Anonymous Sydney*

      I think that’s to do with personal grooming of underarm hair. If men were pressured into removing underarm hair the way women are, I think it would be more acceptable for men to wear sleeveless collared shirts in the office.

      I’m definitely very aware of this at the moment as I’m on a one-woman crusade to not shave my armpits for six months. While I’m happy to go sleeveless on weekends, I wouldn’t do so at work. Hairy pits would definitely be frowned upon due to social norms.

      1. UKAnon*

        If it helps, I started something similar a few months ago and it is *so liberating*. The stress that has left my life since then has been magical. I still dress as I would have anyway (I’m not shaving at all – legs included – so I’ve had to just brave Social Norms) and nobody has said anything at all about it. Good luck in your endeavour!

        (For work I guess it’s a know your office, but if men start wearing buns to work maybe you could go sleeveless if you wanted? ;-) )

        1. HeyNonnyNonny*

          I’m there too! I gave up a few months ago and it’s one of my better decisions. I also wouldn’t go sleeveless at work anyway, so I’ve had to change zero of my outfits.

        2. zora*

          I don’t shave anything at all, and i haven’t since college. To be fair, I have lived mostly in pretty lefty places, so that definitely helps. But I have barely had anyone even bring it up or notice any of it in all of these years. Maybe two or three times.

          It is SO MUCH LESS STRESS, I can’t even tell you. I just wasn’t willing to spend that much time dealing with body hair anymore. And it is so weirdly arbitrary the hair that is acceptable for men and for women, and the hair that is not acceptable for each. The more you think about it, the more it’s obvious that we should blow up all those rules and just let everyone decide what they want to do about their hair no matter what part of their body it’s on. ;o)

          1. zora*

            oh, but i rarely wear sleeveless things, even casually. But it’s more because I like to keep my shoulders covered than about my armpit hair showing. If I wanted to wear sleeveless more, I would probably just do it and let people judge.

        3. Anonymous Sydney*

          Thanks! Legs and underarms currently sprouting happily, and no comments so far though that could be the fact that it’s winter here, and I’m generally covered up! We’ll see how brave I get about continuing this when summer rolls around.

      2. GigglyPuff*

        I just find this hilarious that this has become a *thing*. I rarely ever shave my armpits, occasionally will run over it with a razor just because, but not to the point of clean-cut. And I’m totally not a shorts person, so shaving my legs is like *maybe* a quarterly occasion. And honestly, I’ve found the less I shave, with specific types of clothes, i.e. tight to the underarm and jeans, it rubs it off long term and really thins it out in places, even if you are prone to dark obvious hair, like me.

        1. Beancounter in Texas*

          I don’t bother to shave my legs from about Christmas to the Ides of March. I’m only going to wear pants and heavy socks and maybe multiple layers of those items. Plus, the hair helps insulate me.

          In 2003, I saw a belly dancer from California perform and I was waaaay in the back of the room from the stage. Her armpits were awfully dark, but I figured it was just shadows from the stage lights. Nope! I met her after her performance and there was no mistaking the hairs sticking out of the crease of her arm. Apparently a lot of crunchy people do it (although I do not know their motive).

          Contrast that to a Pakistani man I knew who shaved his armpits per his religion (Islam). I never found out the written basis or purpose of that practice, but who was I to contradict him?

      1. Stephanie*

        You mean at work, right? Because you can take my sleeveless tops and dresses from my cold (ok, hot), dead hands, especially in the summer.

        But I agree about them at work. Also, whose office AC is warm enough for a sleeveless top anyway?

        1. Chocolate lover*

          Mine is. Or rather, it is for me. I overheat so easy, is miserable. Other people are wearing sleeves, and I’m in dressy tanks. It’s either that, or sweat very noticeably. Since I sit at a computer much of the time and I’m not doing any kind of lifting, it’s not like people are seeing much of my arm pits, or very often.

          When I have an important meeting, I throw a jacket or sweater on.

          1. Karowen*

            Seconded. My office goes from hot enough to warrant a fan in the mornings (I have a fan blowing on me as we speak, and am in a sleeveless shirt) to cold enough to warrant a blanket and a sweater after lunch. I’ve never found armpits particularly objectionable, though.

        2. Sparrow*

          I’m wearing a sleeveless top today with a cardigan b/c the AC is always cranked up in my office. However, if I go out at lunch to my boiling hot car the cardigan comes off immediately.

          Whenever I wear sleeveless, I make sure I can wear a bra with the straps fully covered and the rest of the top is conservative – not low cut in the front or back. Also, I’m usually at my desk all day so I don’t think anyone can see my armpits unless I lift up my arms to stretch or something.

          My office dress code is extremely casual so sleeveless is not an issue. But I definitely wouldn’t wear tank tops or anything too casual, like a t-shirt material.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I wear a short-sleeved shirt and a cardigan. It comes off after I do stair climbs because I’m hot but once I cool down, back on again. If I’m wearing 3/4 sleeves, I’m usually okay. But it’s weird–my end of the room is colder than the other end.

        3. la Contessa*

          Mine is, too. Actually, we didn’t even have any AC for two days last week due to some kind of electrical issue, which was loads of fun . . .

          I wear a suit to work every day, with a sleeveless shell under my blazer. If I’m sitting in my own office, I will absolutely take off my blazer, because it gets so warm that I start to sweat, and the more I sweat in a blazer, the more often I have to pay to dry clean it. I do usually put the blazer on when I leave my office (the actual office room, not just the building), especially if I’m going to talk to someone else, because I agree with the other posters that it’s not strictly professional. But . . . it also gets hot here, so it’s just too uncomfortable to sit around and bake in my blazer all day.

          But man buns? Hmm, I’ve honestly never seen one in my work life. I think they would be fine? I mean, they’re attractive, but when I’m going to court, attractiveness isn’t really on my radar. As long as they’re not sloppy, I don’t think they would be a problem.

        4. Windchime*

          Mine. The corner of my office is so hot that I wear sleeveless/short-sleeved shirts and run a fan all day long. My hair us up most of the time, too, otherwise I’m a hot and sweaty mess. Other people in the office are bundled in sweaters and blankets, but my corner is very warm.

      2. ReanaZ*

        I assume none of you live in perpetually hot places? 32-40C most of the summer and no air con in my office at one of our sites. I’d probably quit if someone told me I couldn’t wear sleeveless dresses.

        Actually, now that I think about it, I actually have a near-impossible time finding dresses that aren’t sleeveless. I probably only own 3 dresses (out of maybe 20, although not all are work-appropriate) that even have short sleeves. I’ve tried to buy more because winters here are mild and often short-sleeved dresses would be perfect (where as sleeveless is too little and with a cardigan is too much). But very hard to find.

        1. Stephanie*

          I do! Just every office I’ve worked in has overdone it on the AC, so tank tops were ill-advised. I usually just whip the cardigan off as soon as I leave.

    2. Nursey nurse*

      I think that depends on the employer, really. I’ve worked in a number of places where women also wouldn’t have been permitted to wear sleeveless tops without a cardigan or jacket, which kind of defeats the purpose.

    3. BRR*

      There are a couple of women in my office who wear sleeveless shirts and I would personally like them to stop. Not in a body shaming way or anything, it’s just a lot of skin revealed.

        1. Ladidah*

          Well, it’s not about the shapes or sizes of their bodies or their attractiveness to the commenter, just a general view that sleeveless tops exposing the armpits are showing a lot of skin for work, so that it appears unprofessional, for people of any gender.

          1. Gandalf the Nude*

            There’s another version of body shaming unrelated to weight/size to which I think confused is referring, wherein folks are shamed for showing their body at all. It’s used to criticize primarily women for revealing too much skin and encouraging them to hide it beneath more conservative clothing.

            1. BRR*

              I left out that they’re tank tops, not just sleeveless, and although they’re nicer tank tops I feel they are inappropriate for our office which is pretty formal.

            2. misspiggy*

              This is true, and also wrong. But as a bisexual lady I find a lot of skin showing on either sex very distracting, and it makes me uncomfortable when I should be focusing on work. As Western women are encouraged by fashion norms to show more skin than men, it all gets quite confusing. I think it’s considerate at work to cover up the sexier areas like cleavage, upper arms and upper legs. Heat doesn’t have an awful lot to do with it, or the entire population of Sub Saharan Africa would be in tank tops and shorts the whole time. It’s much more about choosing breathable fabrics that are not cut too tight.

              1. another IT manager*

                “I find a lot of skin showing on either sex very distracting”

                That is the same argument used against teenage girls in middle school. It’s a terrible argument there, and it’s terrible here. If you’re distracted, it’s your responsibility to keep your eyes on your own paper, not your coworkers’ responsibility to cover up, jeez.

                –signed, another bisexual lady with attractive coworkers

                1. Ad Astra*

                  I stand with the tank top-wearing teens of America when it comes to absurd school dress codes, but what’s appropriate for school and what’s appropriate for work are rarely the same thing. A lot of exposed skin in the office is distracting, just like sweatpants would be.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I think you can find it distracting to see a lot of skin that would normally be covered without body-shaming. I mean, I think most of us would find it distracting if our colleague was wearing short shorts and no top, and it’s not because of body-shaming; it’s because that’s out of sync with how much of them we normally see in a professional context.

    4. K*

      At LastJob, women were not allowed to wear sleeveless shirts.

      When I was a teenager working as a camp counselor, we could only wear sleeveless shirts if they had thick enough straps to cover a sports bra – no spaghetti straps. This is a job working outside in 100 degree weather.

    5. Ad Astra*

      In my experience, people seem to be fine with women wearing sleeveless tops if they have toned, skinny arms, but deem them unprofessional when someone with big, flabby arms wants to go sleeveless. My boss’s boss also has said that “some of us need to recognize that we can’t get away with bare legs and put on some hose.”

      So the trade off for having to wear sleeves and pants to work is that nobody tries to police your wardrobe based on body type. Fat guys and skinny guys wear pretty much the same thing to work.

      1. Pantyhose*

        I once heard someone say “If I can’t tell whether you are wearing hose or not from a distance then I don’t care if you wear hose. If it is obvious you aren’t wearing hose, you should wear hose.” I’m torn because this says only certain bare legs are acceptable (ie: the pretty ones) but at the same time it is presenting a polished professional look that cuts and bruises and bug bites and bulging veins may not portray. I see the speakers point but can’t decide if it is a fair professional norm or unfair body shaming. If someone doesn’t want to deal w/ it, they can wear pants like the men.

        1. Ad Astra*

          The speaker went on to point out one of my petite, good-looking coworkers by name and say “Obviously, Lucinda can wear whatever she wants, but if you don’t look like Lucinda you should think about wearing pantyhose.” It’s not clear if just older women need to wear hose or if the fat women and pale women should be wearing them too.

          In practice, though, I haven’t seen any women at my office wearing hose since the temperature hit 100 degrees back in June.

          1. Anna*

            I never wear hose. People working in senators’ offices in Washington, DC don’t wear hose. That speaker should shut it.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            Nobody here wears it. I see a lot of women wearing dresses with dress shoes and no hose or skirts and sandals this time of year. I can’t stand wearing a dress without hose (chafing) and heels kill my back and give me blisters, so I don’t wear dresses much.

      1. Alma*

        I am assembling interview blouses – all 3 are sleeveless. No big deal, I thought, because I have the flappy upper arms, and they sure aren’t going to see the light of day. Then I thought about the cost of drycleaning my suit – my ONE suit. I’ve been researching dress shields for the past few hours. I want ones that I can fasten and remove from my suit jacket to wash. I guess I’ll be cruising the fabric store tomorrow.

    6. Hlyssande*

      I agree with your point about the double standards – they really aren’t fair at all.

      Now if only the fashion industry would stop pushing sleeveless EVERYTHING for women, I’d appreciate it. “Winter” dresses should not be sleeveless, yet I see that everywhere in winter collections. ARGH.

      1. Ad Astra*

        Yeah, what it is with sleeveless everything? I bet sleeveless is cheaper and easier to manufacture, the same way most wedding dresses (especially in the lower price ranges) are strapless.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I know, right? Or those stupid cap sleeves that nobody but pre-teen girls look good in. I WANT A REAL SHORT SLEEVE.

        And all the shirts I bought last year had cleavage down to here. I had to buy those little dickies at Walmart (the ones you see on TV that clip to your bra) to conform to the dress code. :P

    7. Jeanne*

      Partly, there are no decent sleeveless shirts for men. It would never be ok to wear a sleeveless undershirt (awfully known as a wife-beater). You would need a nice shirt.

    8. Anonsie*

      In my experience, sleeveless tops or dresses are considered unprofessional for women at work.

      1. Anna*

        I work at a job where part of our actual job descriptions is to model professional dress to young adults and sleeveless would not be considered unprofessional if it were conservative enough. Like not a low neckline, or the cut and print are conservative.

  15. Apollo Warbucks*

    #2 I think it’s a case of knowing our industry and culture, where Im working nownwoukd be no problem but last job (think professional services / corporate accounting), no way would they be ok for he client facing staff.

  16. Apollo Warbucks*

    #3 why not speak up, you get some of what you ask for and nothing of what you don’t.

    4 years is a good length of time to have been in your current role and have a solid understanding of the role and would position you well to train a new junior person.

    Even if they don’t feel comfortable in promoting you to the role it might be possible for you to do some of it and your current boss do things like people management, performance / salary reviews and disciplinary / HR stuff with you overseeing the day to day work. But don’t sell your self short tell them tour interested in the role and see what happens.

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      Yeah, I don’t entirely agree with Alison’s assessment that 4 years in the workforce is too little experience for a “department head” position, when the department consists of two people.

      What it sounds like to me, though, is that the OP’s boss is hoping to cut that department from two people to one, if the OP is successfully handling the majority of her previous supervisor’s work in addition to her own. The OP might get a title bump and a raise out of it, but I would be surprised if they hire someone new for OP’s existing role.

      1. The IT Manager*

        Agree. Unless there is some unique skills need by the manager (perhaps strategic planning if the the position reports to head of organization / maybe why it needs a masters) that the LW#3 didn’t mention in her letter, it sounds like she’s qualified to be the boss of her department and mentor the new employee hired to replace her … if that’s the plan. It does sound like that her old boss may not replaced and she could become the Department Head of a department of 1, tough. Might be a title bump and pay increase, but not as much if it were a larger department.

        1. OP #3*

          Thanks for the feedback everyone! It’s really encouraging to see the other side of things. I actually wrote in because a friend essentially said what Apollo Warbucks wrote: “you get some of what you ask for and none of what you don’t.”

          I don’t think we’d actually leave the department with one person, the head boss is really focused on making sure we have enough staff capacity to get our work done and move it to the next level. Also, we bring in the revenue so a decrease in our department wouldn’t help the bottom line.

          I mentioned above that I’ve decided not to bring it up. Everyone else at that level has much more experience, as do the candidates who are being scheduled for interviews. But I’ll keep all your comments in mind.

  17. Suzy Q*

    Type 1 here! I was diagnosed with diabetes in November and have had a pump since April. I was also wondering the same question with a new job I accepted in March. I waited until I was hired to mention anything. Other than an FYI to my supervisor (due to possible low blood sugars) I’ve had no issues. Some coworkers have asked about my pump, I explain and that’s the end of it. The biggest issue I’ve faced is making sure to rest if you’re on you arent feeling well and take 10 minutes to feel better. Good luck!

      1. GigglyPuff*

        Yes. While I’m type 2 (and due to some personal issues that made taking care of my health a back-burner, I’m on insulin), yesterday didn’t really get a chance to eat when I got to work (like I usually do). Got one of those didn’t eat headaches that refuses to go away even after you eat, and started to turn into a full blown migraine by mid-afternoon, had to leave work early. Felt like such a slacker, I don’t think I’ve gone one month without taking at least a few hours of sick time since I started this job at the beginning of the year.

    1. Beancounter in Texas*

      When I had gestational diabetes, my nutritionist was a Type 1, so she knew exactly with what I was dealing. On the rare occasion that she’d have to snack during our meeting, she’d apologize and keep the munching as quiet as possible. She wore a pump on the back of her right arm, and when I’d see it, I always thought, “Cool! She’s a cyborg!”

    2. Sleepyheadzzz*

      T1 for 20 years and pumper for 15. I’ve worked a variety of jobs and the most I’ve ever needed to do is let supervisors know I might need to take time to treat lows. To op I wouldn’t be too concerned.

  18. Apollo Warbucks*

    #4 Nope don’t riase this with the store it nice you’re concerned but it’s not your place to intervene in her work life. You could talk to her and maybe say you notice her outside a lot and ask if she’s happy working on carts and gets plenty of breaks then encourage her to speak to her boss of she’s not, my problem with that is I can not think of the right wording to use that isn’t going to come across as patronising or offensive as if you think she can’t do her job.

    If the weather is really hot perhaps you could offer the lady some water when your done shopping?

    And on a side not do suppermarket staff really need tipping?

    1. Nina*

      Yes (though while most places it’s against company policy) because we have to put up with stupid customers asking you tried to commit suicide because they saw a large bandage covering your wrist. Yes this happened to me as a courtesy clerk!

      1. fposte*

        If having stupid questions asked is what made an employee tippable, we’d have to tip just about every worker.

    2. moss*

      my first job was in a small, boutique supermarket. The customers would drive around to the front and we’d go out and load their groceries. We’d tussle over who got to do it because we always got tipped. I’d take my tip and go straight to the bakery, hahah.

    3. Sunflower*

      The only way I could see you reasonably talking to the manager would be to say ‘hey I noticed it’s really hot out and I’m wondering about the people who work outside. Do they get breaks or do they do the work in shifts?’ To me, that’s more of a ‘I want to make sure the store I shop at treats employees fairly’ as opposed to singling out one specific person.

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying something to the employee like ‘man it’s hot outside, i hope you’re not doing this too long/getting breaks!’ or even ‘wow this job seems tough, how do you do it?’. That could open up the employee to tell you if this is a serious concern or just something that sucks about her job. I would encourage her to talk to her manager but leave it at that.

  19. Anx*



    It’s quite possible that cart duty is the only job that employee is capable of doing that is in demand at that store location.

    As odd as it may sound, bagging, cashiering, and stocking may be more difficult physically than pushing carts. I take it you’re not concerned about the cart pushing so much as the working outdoors in the heat. I know the elderly generally are more susceptible to heat stroke, but I’d be concerned about any employee working during hot summer days and would hope the store is making efforts to protect all employees during an unusually hot season. If you do bring it up the store, maybe you could try to frame it that way? Then again, I’d worry about a store reducing hours for people working outside as a possible solution.

    1. Coffee Ninja*

      When I worked for a grocery chain, people only got put on cart duty for a set amount of time during extreme weather (summer or winter). So they may only be on cart duty for say 2 hours of an 8 hour shift, and they were allowed an extra 5 minute break every 30 mins. or so to come inside and get water & cool down (or warm up). There might be accommodations for the employee that OP isn’t aware of.

    2. the gold digger*

      Bagging is hard – it is hard to do it right, which is why I do not want to let anyone else bag my groceries. A teenager who has never bought his own food does not think not to put a can of tomatoes on top of my peaches. I hate it when the store has a bagger available – let me do it myself, please.

      1. Dana*

        I didn’t know stores still had baggers! My local grocery store has been bagger-less for ages. They ditched the long motor track your groceries slide down and replaced it with a bag carousel at the cashier’s fingertips and they bag everything. There are also more and more self-checkout lanes. That’s the only thing I use.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          Doesn’t that just mean that the checker is also the bagger? There are stores where you bag everything yourself, and the checker does not do the bagging.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Aldi and Food-4-Less and Save-A-Lot (all discount grocers) do not have baggers. You bag your own. Aldi charges for bags so I bring my own; Save-A-Lot has bags (I think you bring yours to F4L too). I can remember (cue old-person reminiscing music) when baggers were trained to bag and would pack the bags so they made sense–frozen stuff together, light stuff on top, etc. Now they just shove it in there and squish stuff. I prefer to do my own.

          A locally-based grocer’s baggers ask if people need help out. I wonder if the occupational hazards have changed from back pain to wrist pain from carrying the plastic bags instead of the paper ones? When I was a young-un, childrens, we didn’t have no fancy plastic bags! All we got was paper! And we liked it!

        3. AJS*

          My grocery store not only has baggers, but the cashier unloads your cart for you and there extra baggers who follow you out to your car, pushing the cart. They then load your bags in the car for you.

          No amount of DIY will ever replace great customer service.

  20. YogiJosephina*

    I know we’re typically not supposed to speculate on here that we “know” someone/something that’s mentioned here, but #4 is so uncannily, specifically spot-on to the grocery store chain I work for in the way she’s described this that I am almost certain she is referring to my employer (which is a big chain, so it could be anywhere). Even if I’m dead wrong, as someone who works in that environment I’ll offer my .02.

    Typically “lot helmsing” is something we all enjoy to do especially on a nice sunny day, but yes, it has been extremely hot lately, even in my region which is not typically a super warm region. The culture of our store/company is that if something truly makes us physically uncomfortable on the job, we can absolutely speak up about it and 99% of the time it will be honored. If Mildred says, “hey, I have no problem with cart duty as long as it’s not above 80 degrees outside, is that okay?” we’d accommodate that in a heartbeat. I can also tell you, at least at my store, that if a customer came up to us and said she saw that woman struggling, she wouldn’t get in the least bit of trouble – management is pretty good, and they’d approach her and ask her if they could do anything to help her (but that’s the specific culture of my company; it’s pretty lovey-dovey squishy feel-good). They know that many 70-something year old folks are not going to have the same physical abilities as the younger employees, and they’d respect that. It would not jeopardize her job.

    Again, this is very specific to MY grocery store chain, and there’s definitely a chance that it’s not mine, but for some reason I have the feeling it is. I can’t really speak as to how others do it. But something to consider.

  21. Blamange*

    #4 is a weird one because it’s her job she has to do it. We all do things we don’t like in our jobs all the time. Like me, trying to get the high cupboards open lol, or carrying heavy trays.

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      But the OP seems to think this task is a particular hardship for the employee, not just a matter of personal preference.

      1. Blamange*

        It could be but she could just be on those shifts at particular times whenever op appears. I’m always mopping when this one customer comes in and last time she came in she spoke to the management about it for some odd reason. Who then mentioned it to me, ‘Customer said she always sees you mopping in the shop at such time, and that she doesn’t think you should be doing it because you look worn out (it’s a manual task it’s going to be a little tiring on the muscles) and said if I see this particular customer to not mop if she is in the shop. It was just uncomfortable conversation to say the least.

  22. tcheasdfjkl*

    Wait, is it customary to tip grocery store employees? I’ve never seen this and I feel like it would be extremely awkward and unexpected.

    1. Former bagger*

      Nope – it’s explicitly disallowed at most major chains. I worked as a cashier and bagger for several years at Safeway and we were not allowed to accept tips and could be fired for doing so.

    2. _ism_*

      In the US it’s very uncommon for retail employees to accept tips. Most places forbid it, and of the places where it’s OK it’s usually a shared tip jar (for example, a coffee bar inside a very large chain store, where the coffee staff split tips, but the cashiers/baggers/cart herds could not have tips).

    3. The IT Manager*

      I think some people think it is polite/proper to tip a bagger* who helps you bring the bags to your car. Publix baggers always offered to help you to your car, but they were explicit, with signs I think, that employees could not accept tips.

      *BTW at the American military Commissaries on bases all the baggers work for tips only. I hate that. They probably make decent money from tips, but it seems exploitive. And I don’t really feel like paying for something that’s covered in all other grocery stores. Even if you’re in the 10 items or less line and they don’t help you to your car, your tip is the only way they get paid for bagging your groceries.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yeah, I was thinking about the people who carry your groceries to your car. When I had a broken foot and crutches, they’d do that for me and I’d tip them. I didn’t think about the fact that tipping might not be appropriate for this woman since she’s not doing that.

        1. yasmara*

          When I did this job in high school, we were absolutely not allowed to take tips. In fact, in our training we were warned that the store management would sometimes ask someone (usually an employee of a different store) to try to tip the bagger/bag carrier and see what we did. You would be fired if you took the tip! So this is very much a “know your store’s policy” kind of thing.

      2. tcheasdfjkl*

        Oh interesting! I’d forgotten that even existed since (a) in my area it’s much more common for people to use shopping carts to bring groceries to their cars and (b) I don’t even have a car. Good to know that that’s a thing in some places, though.

      3. Ad Astra*

        Hmm, I don’t know if I would think to tip a bagger who helped me carry things to my car. I guess it hasn’t really come up for me, since I just use the cart.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          They will offer to push the cart, and then move the bags from the cart into your car, too. In many cases, they don’t actually carry the bags either.

  23. Grumpy bear*

    Where I live cart collecting (or trolley pushing, as I would call it) is a separate job to any other store positions, so you wouldn’t have the option to swap to another duty if the weather made things difficult. But that would also mean that you wouldn’t apply for that job if you would have trouble doing nothing but pushing carts/trolleys all shift so this problem wouldn’t really come up.

    1. Excel Slayer*

      I was going to make that exact point. Back when I use to do supermarket work (that makes me sound old. It was only four years ago), the people who collected trolleys had that specific job and didn’t do anything else unless things were abnormally slow. You might want to be careful about saying anything that implies she can’t do her job to a manager.

    2. Liane*

      At Lastjob, yes, it was a specific job. However, if there wasn’t someone in that position scheduled and carts needed collecting, ANYone might be doing it – cashier, sales, janitor, front end supervisor, managers. Yes, managers. And it was quite common there was no one scheduled: people transferred/found a new job ASAP, corporate wanted a skeleton staff as much as possible, someone called in, etc.
      Generally, they tried to get a sub who wanted to do that for a change of pace.

  24. Sherm*

    #4 I used to push carts a bit in my 20s, and my first reaction was “Holy moly, someone in their *late 70s* is doing that job?” That work can be a lot more physically demanding than it seems (especially if you are pushing a line of carts). I’m not sure what the right answer is, but I really hope this person is unnaturally strong.

    1. Elysian*

      I’ve seen some people who push a long line of carts, but at my local store I’ve never seen anyone take more than 4-5 carts at a time. I think I was imagining the latter.

  25. Grocery Store Worrier*

    I fully admit that I may be a bit over sensitive as I worked at a retirement home for a period of time and am very aware of how quickly heat exhaustion/heat stroke can take a toll on someone’s body. I would hope that had I seen a different employee out in this heat collecting carts who appeared to be struggling I would have the same concern for them (it just happens that both times I’ve been to the grocery store she was collecting carts). It might also be that she only does it once a week instead of once a day like other employees and I just happen to be there coincidentally.

    At this point I’m thinking if I see her out again I’ll try and make some further small talk (“Whew! It sure is hot! I hope you don’t have to be out here long). After that, if I have any additional concerns I’ll write corporate or a regional headquarters/supervisor without specifics about the store/employee/

    1. Nursey nurse*

      I think it’s great that you’re concerned. A lot of people wouldn’t even notice, much less worry about the worker.

  26. Saurs*

    #4, please, please, please don’t interfere with this woman’s job. Your intentions are wholly good, here, but they will not further stretch whatever budget she’s already on, will not help her to subsidize or replace income from other jobs or from a pension or social security, won’t provide extra food for her, or house her, or keep her better stocked in her required meds, or allow her small treats, or whatever valid thing she’s doing with her minimum wage part-time paycheck (which you can be sure is absolutely essential for her, whatever the circumstances, however long she’s been there). It’s one thing to observe inequality and injustice, but it’s another to substitute individual, token, feel-good gestures of charity (that are accompanied by a high risk for the recipient) for political and collective action. Systemic problems will never be solved that way. There will be others, besides her, equally in need of assistance and a voice.

    katamia’s advice is good: be an informed and responsible customer, and make suggestions that don’t single out this employee in particular. Is this a UFCW location? If signs aren’t posted indicating one way or the other, ask a manager about their tipping policy. Push back a bit, if you feel comfortable doing so, if they discourage or forbid tipping.

  27. Mochafrap512*

    #4 I work in accounting at a well-known Midwestern grocery store chain, but have been with this company since I was 15 and have worked my way up. We have a few elderly and middle-aged employees whom are “courtesy clerks,” bur most in that position are teens. They aren’t assigned to do anything they aren’t physically fit to do. The elderly ones NEVER step outside. They are simply asked to sack, do “go backs” or other light tasks that still make all the difference in the world. As a former courtesy clerk, I know this is hard work, especially after getting several rounds, every hour, and sometimes more or less often. In the snow is the hardest. Please report this to the store director or even corporate. The director is probably aware, though and doesn’t care. Our corporate office will change ANYTHING if the company looks bad in the public eye. I know how hard this is on her, please report it to The director and if that doesn’t change anything, then move onto corporate. If it’s a good company, they won’t fire her. If they do, that’d look pretty bad for the company’s image. Please keep me/us updated.

    1. Mochafrap512*

      People keep implying that she can just switch jobs. Nope. Courtesy clerk is the lowest job on the totem pole. If you aren’t capable of cashiering, can’t keep up with the fast pace of a department, etc, then courtesy clerk is your only option. She may only be putting up with this newsier she’s been with the company so long and has a pension or something, but she’s just not financially able to quit yet.

    2. Retail Lifer*

      I’d definitely report it to the manager or further up the chain, but don’t report the employee specifically. Don’t mention that you think she can’t do the job, though. Just maybe mention that you’re concerned about someone her age in the heat, but reiterate that she’s doing her job just fine.

    3. Sparky*

      She probably needs the store discount as well as the wages, I worry about making her job less secure.

      If any of us who are able to return the carts to the cart return area, or to right in front of the store needed a reason to do so, this could be it. Someone is always going to have to round up the carts, in all weather, day or night.

  28. Nina*

    Re #4:

    As someone who’s worked for a major grocery chain (at least on the West Coast), we all had to take turns getting carts. And we couldn’t accept tips. So if you want to tip her, contact the store first and ask if you can tip the courtesy clerks. If you can, great, do that but I wouldn’t mess with the whole cart issue.

    P.S. NOBODY likes getting carts in 100+ degree heat. It sucks.

    1. PhyllisB*

      I concur with the don’t offer tips to the employees. It can get them in major trouble. The only time I ever tipped an employee, it was a young man who found my purse in the grocery cart, turned it in and called me to let me know where it was. I was so grateful that I made a point to commend him to the store manager, and ask permission to give him a tip. Permission was granted for this one time.

  29. hbc*

    #3: Since it’s a small department and maybe a small company, you might get some traction with suggesting a change to the structure of the department if you get the sense that they don’t think you’re qualified for the role exactly as defined. It doesn’t sound like there’s a real need for a capital S Supervisor if the department previously had two people (supervisor plus supervisee) and is going along fine with just one person.

    You can pursue that position as is, of course, but have a back up plan that you get a bump in title, role, and responsibilities, and how that would look down the road. Maybe you get the training and degree to revive the supervisor position over the next couple of years, maybe you officially become some higher level (Team Lead?) for the indefinite future–some of it depends on how management is thinking about the department now that they see it can at least run temporarily without a supervisor in place.

    1. Stranger than fiction*

      Agreed, and i too wonder what was agreed to in her job description, if there was one. This is one of those things that goes a long with working for such a small company, plus yeah it it only twice a month. You two are presumably growing the company together so this won’t be forever

    2. OP #3*

      Thanks hbc, we’re pretty flexible with restructuring as staff turnover, so that might be an option.

  30. NinaK*

    I am with all of the people who thought “man buns” would be something else entirely! However, I am 44 and remember the days when “thongs” were for your feet and “hummers” were definitely NOT cars. =)

    @#3 – I think you should speak up about your manager’s job. A few years ago I worked at an organization in which my manager left on maternity leave and decided not to return. Although I had been there only 3 weeks, I approached my boss’s boss with my resume and plan as to how I would learn my job and her job and transition into the role. It didn’t work out because her role needed to be filled immediately by someone who could hit the ground running (we were weeks away from launching fundraising campaign) but he was very clear that he liked my strategy and my gumption to approach him about it.

    1. NoCalHR*

      +1 re thongs and hummers, as well as man buns!! And having fun watching language evolve!!!

  31. Not an IT Guy*

    #5 – I’ve always been curious as to why requests for accommodations should be made at the time of offer. I mean realistically once the request is made, the offer could always be withdrawn. To me it just sounds like you’re deceiving the employer just up until the time they’re willing to take you on, then you give them the “but…” So if you have everything to lose at any time, why does timing matter?

    1. fposte*

      Because 1) you’re not required to tell them in advance at all; 2) the farther you are in the process, the more psychologically and emotionally invested in you they are; 3) if you mention it earlier, it can seem like a bigger deal than it is.

      Offer stage is the sweet spot, where they know they really like you and want things to move forward smoothly but you haven’t waited until they’ve officially committed to you. Of course the offer could be withdrawn, just as you could be fired if you asked them once you started. But it’s harder to withdraw an offer than to just not advance somebody to a phone screen.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        All this, and also if they’re going to try to illegally discriminate, it’s going to be really obvious if they make you an offer, you ask for reasonable accommodations, and they withdraw the offer. It makes it harder for them to illegally discriminate against you (consciously or unconsciously).

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      I can’t agree that it is deceiving the employer to wait to tell them. It is legally dubious to make hiring derisions based on certain things, disability / illness being one of them so it isn’t necessary to disclose it as it bares not relevance to the hiring process.

      The request for accommodation is only minor in nature and its presumptuous to get in to negotiating the fine detail of an offer before one’s been made so in my view waiting until the negotiation phase and treating it in a similar manner to salary, PTO and other benefits makes perfect sense.

    3. Swarley*

      From a hiring manager standpoint, I wouldn’t want to know about someone’s disability before I extended an offer. If/when I reject someone, I wouldn’t want them to get the idea that their disability was a contributing factor.

      From an applicant standpoint, it’s one of those things that just doesn’t make sense to bring up until you have an offer. It’s not something an employer should be taking into account during the hiring process anyway. When the offer is made both parties have clearly established a mutual interest, and now is the time to work out specifics. If it turns out you need a few extra minutes to test your blood sugar or what not, no big deal. If it turns out you can’t perform several of the essential job functions, well then that’s a different conversation.

      I don’t feel like I did this comment justice, but hopefully what I wrote makes sense.

      1. Mimmy*

        No I think what you wrote makes sense. I can’t drive due to a vision impairment (I don’t use any travel aids, such as a cane or guide dog, so aside from my glasses, it’s not that obvious). I had interview end in 2 minutes when I revealed this (it came up that the job required a lot of fieldwork–I don’t remember if I asked or if she said so upfront). So then whenever I got invited to an interview, I started to ask whether the job required any driving because I didn’t want that happening again.

        I can see where it can be a sticky issue prior to the offer stage though.

        1. Jeanne*

          I agree it depends on what the disability is. In your case, you needed to know if driving was part of the job. It’s not a reasonable accomodation to change a driving job to a non-driving job. But many of us just need time for doctor appts or a chair with back support or this insulin pump. Things that would be reasonable in lots of jobs. I think in those cases it’s better to wait til the offer stage.

    4. Colette*

      Because if you have an offer withdrawn after you ask for accommodations, it’s most likely because of the request, which is likely illegal (depending on what the job and accommodation are). Most employers won’t withdraw the offer.

    5. LBK*

      I don’t see how it’s deceiving them unless you lied about it earlier in the process. I’m also fairly certain they actually can’t withdraw the offer as long as the accommodation requested is reasonable under the standards of the ADA.

      1. Tau*

        I’m not even sure I’d qualify it as deceiving even if they *had* lied about it, tbh, depending on the circumstances. There are some questions that I don’t believe deserve an honest answer because they’re so inappropriate to ask, and “do you have any disabilities? if yes, please specify” at the application stage is definitely among them. But maybe I’m just bitter about the amount of times I’ve run into that sort of thing in my recent job hunt.

    6. Applesauced*

      If you walk into the interview and say “I need to leave by 3 pm every Tuesday” – they might mark you as a problem before giving you a chance.
      If you mention it at the offer stage, they’ve already vetted you, like you and want to hire you so are more likely to help you out. (It also depends on WHAT you’re asking – if it’s ADA related they can’t yank the offer. But if you can’t work Tuesdays, that could be a dealbreaker)

    7. nona*

      Because I’d like to be hired based on my ability to do a job, not on someone’s assumptions about my chronic illness or ability to manage it. I’ve never needed to take a sick day and I’m healthier than plenty of people without my diagnosis. Someone who Googled it would get a pretty different impression.

      I also wonder if asking for accommodations in advance (before I could possibly know I’ll need anything) looks like I’ll be a pain or complain a lot.

    8. Anonsie*

      Because that’s the established norm for how you handle any specific things you need to discuss around a job.

  32. Guera*

    #1 Your boss is being inconsiderate and is taking advantage of you. There is no reason you can’t say “Hey, I have to pick my kids up by 5pm today so if we could make sure I am on my way by 4 or 4:30 that would be great.” Your boss is clueless but it’s up to you to speak up. Keep track of ALL your mileage and report it on your tax return if you are not comfortable asking your boss for reimbursement. Prior to the next trip you can also say “I am not able to drive you back to the airport in the evenings but could I arrange a rental car or shuttle service for you?”. Being an exempt employee does not mean you can’t have a direct conversation with your boss about the circumstances surrounding his or her visits.

    1. moss*

      I agree. Especially for the picking up the kids. This is the time to make them the priority. Your boss probably has no idea you are fretting over this. Speak up.

      1. zora*

        I agree, and I think even your wording is a little bit too nice/passive. I would say

        “Hey, I have to pick my kids up by 5pm today so I need to be dropping you at the airport by 4 or 4:30 at the latest.”

        I think this is one of those times you just state it as a fact, rather than asking permission. Partly because the boss seems a little clueless (or at the worst actively taking advantage) and I could see him coming back with an answer to the “if” question like “no, it’s not okay.” which would be even more awkward.

    2. Ama*

      Yes. My first job out of college, I managed the office of a small medical practice. Part of my job was taking the day’s patient co-pays to the bank. I lived a quarter mile from the office — the bank was three miles away, so I was driving an extra 5.5 miles and taking anywhere from 20 to 40 extra minutes depending on traffic and the line at the bank. I was six months in before I realized I should be charging for that time (I was paid hourly) — my bosses didn’t even flinch, they hadn’t been looking closely enough at my hours to realize I wasn’t already charging it.

      I now realize I also should have asked for mileage, but I was young and blogs barely existed, much less AAM.

  33. TotesMaGoats*

    #1 Speak up about the timing issues. I do think, from a cost perspective that, it does make sense for you to do the airport runs. He’d have to rent a car to get to and from where you are but then ride with you. Yeah, I can see why he wouldn’t want to do that. BUT you should be getting some reimbursement for this (or flex time or something) and he should understand your day care commitments. Those are no joke. I start getting charged in 15 minute increments if my kid is there past 6pm.
    #2 Man buns. Once I changed that mental image…as long as it’s polished looking then I’ve got no issues. I walked into HR yesterday to see someone about a posting I need to get up and was greeted in a Hollister company intentionally ratty looking polo and shorts. Seriously. The guy looked good in it…if he was going to the beach or the mall. This is a pretty casual place in general and especially in the summer but I had to quickly wipe the shock off my face.

  34. SystemsLady*

    Type 1 diabetes is no sweat, trust me :). Unless your workplace is anti-food-at-desks or strict about breaks (definitely get a feel for this, but only to frame your request for accommodation), your employer simply being aware is the main concern.

    Even in a non-office job (retail, restaurant, or construction, for example), taking an extra, usually very small break is rarely something an employer will balk at.

    Remember the ADA is on your side here – you rarely need to worry about whether or not an employer is “diabetic friendly”. I’d always worry more about picking a job you’re comfortable doing :).

    The only work inhibiting issues I can think of are if you would frequently have to work in intrinsically safe areas and wear a pump (no insulin pump is certified, but it looks like most would be if they actually took the effort to get it tested…sigh) or, if for sanitary reasons, the workspace cannot allow food or blood in your work area or anywhere close by. Even then, the accommodations are nothing you and your employer can’t figure out.

    So I think it will be easier than you are anticipating. Don’t bother mentioning it until the offer stage. You aren’t lying to the employer, simply saving a conversation until you know it needs to be had. (If they notice the pump though, feel free to explain!)

  35. GigglyPuff*

    #1–definitely speak up about needing to pick up your kids from daycare, doubtful your manager is going to make you “hang” around with them until a reasonable time to drop them off at the airport. And yes, definitely start keeping track of your mileage if you aren’t already, and ask if you can expense it

    #2–I was an intern at a federal agency and my boss sometimes wore his hair in a bun. I think a lot of it depends on the rest of the outfit.

    #3–what I would wonder is the requirement for the Master’s degree. Are you in a field that typically requires them for most positions, but especially management ones? If so, that might be more of a determent than anything. But I would just sit down and have a conversation with your current manager about it, asking if you could even be considered. And if it is something you really want and the only thing holding you back (especially if it’s required in your field), then consider if they have tuition reimbursement.

    1. OP #3*

      Good question, GigglyPuff. I think it’s meant to show some level of expertise and, honestly, I don’t think we’d require it if you could show a career’s worth of achievements.

  36. Denise*

    Messy buns are too casual for the office, imo, unless it’s an explicitly casual office. And not “business casual” but casual casual. This goes for women as well.

    The woman driving her boss should do just as Alison says and start submitting her mileage as well as letting her boss know that she has time constraints related to picking her children up from daycare.

  37. Ad Astra*

    #2: I’m not a fan of the man bun myself, but I think a tidy one is fine for most offices. It wouldn’t fly in my office, where men are required to have their hair cut above the collar.

    #3: Four years of good experience would be enough to be a supervisor in some of the departments I’ve worked in, so it really comes down to the company and the position itself. It sounds like the OP has a good relationship with the head of the organization, so I’d suggest she talk to the organization head and see what she thinks.

    #4: Is it common to tip people on cart duty at grocery stores? I’ve never heard of that. I would be in favor of saying something, probably through email or over the phone, and noting that the employee was doing a fine job and didn’t bring up the complaint, but that you’re concerned for her health. When I was in high school, most of the teen boys actually preferred cart duty because they could listen to their iPods and zone out instead of quibbling with people over coupons.

    1. Long Time Reader First Time Poster*

      So, for #1… my reaction is pretty much that the OP needs to suck it up. If I were your manager I’d be pretty put off if you told me that the current situation was a big problem for you.

      When you are working, you generally have to spend time with other people. Believe me, I get it — I don’t really want to spend an entire day with someone not of my own choosing, either… but that’s how it works. You already have it pretty good, it sounds like you spend most of your time working remotely and alone. By all means, speak up about incurring costs for mileage, but spending two days a month spent with your manager is likely something you’re just going to have to deal with.

      Even if it means your kids get picked up an hour later at day care (it doesn’t sound from the OP like you are up against the day care *closing*, just that they are there an hour later than *usual*)… it’s twice a month. Your kids will be fine. If this were an issue every day, or even every week — I’d speak up.

      The part where you are having a bite to eat? That’s almost certainly your manager making an effort to spend a little time with you in a social manner, to get to know you better (since you work remotely most of the time) and to be a better manager. Saying you don’t want to do that anymore probably won’t fly very well.

      1. Long Time Reader First Time Poster*

        DAMMIT. Why can’t I ever respond to the right thread here? LOL.

        1. Long Time Reader First Time Poster*

          Every day care provider I’ve ever had has been able to accommodate my kids staying later on certain days, as long as I let them know in advance. Sometimes you have to work late when you have a job, *especially* if you are salaried. Twice a month shouldn’t be a huge deal for the OP.

    2. OP #3*

      Thanks Ad Astra. I’m seeing a lot of comments suggesting I go ahead and just discuss it with the organization head, which is starting to seem more doable as I keep reading. Truthfully, I’m kind of scared that I’ll shut down, make a poor case, and embarrass myself.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Make a note on a piece of paper of the points you want to bring up. It will help remind you of what you want to talk about. I have to do this when I go to the doctor. Seriously, they make me wait so long that I end up forgetting why the hell I’m even there.

  38. Karyn*

    Not going to lie, I thought the “man buns” question would be something TOTALLY different. It IS WTF Wednesday after all.

  39. voluptuousfire*

    Huge fan of long hair and long haired dudes with top knots and buns. Know the knot,I say!

    IMO, long hair (and my extension buns) on men look professional when it’s clean, well kept and not scraggy. One time I saw a very handsome guy in a very well cut suit, clean shaven and rocking a man bun in the Financial District. He looked super professional and unfortunately I never saw him again. :(

    1. Elizabeth West*

      A long time ago, when I volunteered with Red Cross during a disaster in another state, we had a coordinator at the shelter who was a six-foot-something Native American dude with the most beautiful long hair ever. He wore it in a long ponytail to keep it out of the way. He was damn gorgeous, too, and one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Though he was oh-so-married, me and another volunteer thought he was the hottest thing we’d ever seen. Every time he came over to talk to us, we’d be like, “Oh yes, yeah, whatever, hahaha okay boss, see you.” When he left, we would SWOON.

      That hair. Man.

      My brother-in-law also had really long hair when he and my sister first got together. He’s cut it shorter since, but he has wonderful thick dark hair also.

  40. shellbell*

    I had a pixie cut for years. I had no idea that anyone considered it unprofessional. How did I not know? Is this really a thing? I’m flabbergasted.

    1. This*

      I’m curious about this now. I rock a Miley cut*, but even when I worked in corporate America (and had long hair), my coworkers had pixies.

    2. Ad Astra*

      I think there are some people who find anything slightly “boyish” on a woman (pixie cuts, tailored pants, Oxford shoes) unprofessional, but they would be the minority these days. In the past, women were expected to have long hair and wear dresses with heels, which I think is what Allison was referring to.

    3. Anna*

      Wait. Who said it was unprofessional? Crap! My really nice professional dress isn’t enough? Now I need to grow my hair out?

  41. Mimmy*

    #5 – Agreed with all the other comments here.

    Unless a person needs accommodations for the interview itself (e.g. accessible parking space, sign language interpreter), it is best to disclose at the time of the offer if an accommodation is needed to perform essential job functions. Absolutely do NOT mention this in your cover letter! As I mentioned in an earlier reply, I would try to get a feel for the day-to-day aspects (what the workday is like, your office space). I don’t know what your job is, but unless it’s retail or food services, in all likelihood, it won’t be a major deal, as others have said. My only suggestion might be an “FYI” to your immediate supervisor in the off-chance something should happen. Be confident about it.

    I do think the ADA might come into play should something happen or someone sees you using your supplies, and you subsequently feel you are being discriminated in some way.

    Good luck, OP!!

  42. JMegan*

    #1, this is definitely a “talk to your boss” situation. Chances are, he’s doing what he thinks is most convenient, without thinking through the ramifications for you. And since you (apparently) haven’t spoken up about it, he assumes that you’re on board with it all.

    Also, have you considered that “we have time for a coffee” might be an invitation, rather than a direction? Have you tried simply saying “no thank you, I have to get my children from day care”? He may not be expecting you to say yes, but is just offering to be polite.

    If he’s at all reasonable, he’ll understand that you have other commitments that prevent you from lingering in a coffee shop after work. And if he’s not reasonable…well, then it’s time to establish that as well, and see what you can do about making other plans. But I would start by assuming he’s reasonable, and have the conversation.

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      As well as being inconsiderate I did have the thought it might be some sort of relationship building exercise and making the most of some face time with a remote worker.

      1. Sammie*

        I would agree with the “relationship building” element. I see my boss once a quarter–but I fly in to see him. We pretty much start at breakfast and end the day after a business dinner. Do I love it? No. Do I do it? Yes. Do I complain? No.

  43. TN*

    I worked for a large National grocery chain (my store happened to be in the Midwest) and getting carts was part of the “courtesy clerk/cashier” title. There were some people who always did it, some people who sometimes did it and some people who did it once when help was needed. 100+ degree weather sucks but so does 10 degree weather with snow and ice all around. I will say that at any of the stores I worked in, the people who collected carts were generally able-bodied and in decent enough health. We had one woman who was a hard worker and did a lot but she was elderly and there was no way they would ever have her get carts. I’m a little taken aback that the store OP goes to would have someone in her 70’s doing that – not even with the weather, but carts get damn heavy to push after you stack several together!

    Either way, telling management will not result in much most likely. My experience with upper grocery management (I used to be one!) is they care less than everyone else. They would most likely write off OP’s concerns (while giving her lip service). Someone above posted as well to escalate the situation to corporate which I also don’t think would solve anything. Honestly, I think this one needs to be left alone. I’m inclined to think if the woman really had an issue being out in the weather or was start to feel affected, she would raise the issue herself. Grocery management is mostly awful but they’re not heartless – I think they would get her out of the heat.

  44. Kristine*

    #2 – I work with a very diverse staff, and have in my 32 years of employment. “Man buns” is nothing new to me; people wearing turbans, jihab, “man braids,” bald head on women (due to cancer), etc. are nothing new. I doubt that diversity is a “trend” that is going to “blow over” any time soon.

  45. puddin*

    #5 – as a T1D for 31 years and pump user for 15 years I have a special interest in this question.

    I have to challenge the assertion that you need to call out your T1D activities. I am definitely not saying that you should hide anything. But just do what you need to do as far as the testing and pumping are concerned. IF someone calls you on it, as in “you are losing productivity” THEN you can address it. By treating it as the most normal thing in the world, others will more than likely follow your lead.

    I do advocate telling your manager and HR person of your diagnosis though. In the case of hypoglycemia you want to have people aware of your illness in order to render treatment (help you eat/drink, maybe a glucagon shot) or get help. After you get acclimated, you may find a work buddy that you can count on as well. In addition, you may find there are plenty of T1 and T2 folks around who share your habits. (Comes in handy when you need a supply you left at home! I was able to get an infusion set from my T1D buddy at work and I gifted him a box of old ones I no longer use.)

    My conversations go something like this, “I just wanted to let you know I have Type 1 Diabetes. I have had it for quite sometime and take care of myself very well. However, if my blood sugar every goes low I may need assistance eating to drinking or you may even have to call 911. It happens very very rarely, but it is important you know so the appropriate measures are taken.”

    I do not think that adding the large laundry list of diabetes tasks that we must do (to the above discussion) is of benefit at all. Just my opinion…I am more than open about it to anyone who asks and I have great conversations with my co-workers. At the same time, I do not need to request special accommodations for things that really are not all that time consuming or do not require special equipment/help (provided by the company). I will and have opened that door if need be this just is not one of those areas for me.

    Finally, AAM is right on with the advice to avoid mentioning it at all in the resume, cover letter, or interview.

    Good luck OP!
    Type 1 to Type None!

    1. edj3*

      Piling on regarding the bit about letting your manager and/or HR know about this.

      You want a trusted person who sits near you to know what to do in case you get brittle and bottom out. That’s what my son does (type 1, diagnosed at age 12 and now he’s 34); he has excellent control but stuff happens so you want someone who can act quickly if it’s ever needed.

      1. einahpets*

        My husband is Type 1, and I totally agree with this suggestion, OP #5. He is also in his 30s, on a pump, and well controlled, but there have been times when he has gone low in the past at work. Once, one of his coworkers did call me (I was the ICE number on his phone) to ask how to give him his Symlin injection because he thought that was going to help raise my husband’s sugar (ugh ugh ugh).

        He has since made sure a number of people know what they can do (and what they should not do), and that if there is ever a situation they are uncomfortable with it is OK to call 911. Having a source of fast acting carbs in an easily accessible desk and just explaining the symptoms of a low (since so many people just think diabetes means anything sugar is bad) was really enough.

        I am actually on basal and meal-time insulin right now myself (Type 2 and pregnant), so I had to go through the same process of letting folks know.

        1. yeah, that*

          Oh, geez. This is the thing I worry about with my son (9 years old, T1). The people at his school are so sweet and well-meaning, but I’ve had the secretary trying to count his carbs and figure out how much insulin to give him by doing some weird calculation I think she made up… I don’t know where the nurse was that day. Anyway, she fortunately thought to call me before actually administering any insulin, because she was waaaaaaay off, and he would have gone hypo as soon as it hit. Now they’ve got a couple of staff besides the health assistant (there isn’t a full-time nurse anymore) trained, and I’ve left strict instructions that NOBODY but them can give him insulin. (Yes, it’s in his health plan, but I don’t necessarily trust anyone to wade through pages of text to find it.)

          Anyway, for the OP, during the offer stage you might want to check with HR to see what the insurance plan is like. When my husband took his current job, preexisting conditions were still a thing, and in the course of figuring that out with HR, they brought up some considerations about specialists (i.e. pediatric endocrinologists) that we would not have thought of. But even fairly normal things can end up being a big deal, and we didn’t fully take that into consideration. I know this is a big topic on the T1D forums, so I won’t rehash it here, but diabetes is EXPENSIVE, and some insurance plans are better than others.

          1. yeah, that*

            … Oh, and BTW, I was out the door and in the car to get to the school before I hung up the phone with the secretary that day. :-)

          2. einahpets*

            Yeah, we had a long talk afterwards about it. He hadn’t wanted to tell his coworkers at the time because he was still fairly newish (<6 months) and worried that it would freak them out. He had been at his previous job for 8 years, so most folks there had known what to do.

            But framing the conversation simply as 'if I look low (giving his usual symptoms), just offer me one of these drinks/tablets. if i am not responding, you have my permission to call 911' was really all that was needed, and his coworkers were happy to know how they could help if something seems wrong.

            A little off-topic, but one thing that has been really life-changing for us recently is NightScout's open source software with his Dexcom CGM/phone. Now I can get alerts on my phone if he is dropping out of range (at work, out of town, home alone with our toddler, etc), and we have a mutually agreed upon policy of when I'll call and check up on him. 99% of the time his sugar is in good control, but it has been so helpful a handful of times that I am not sure I'd ever want to go back.

            I guess it was originally designed by parents who wanted to be able to be alerted in real-time of lows with their kids. Apparently Dexcom themselves will be coming out with a version of the software themselves for iPhones and maybe Android sometime in the next year or two…

    2. Recent Grad*

      #5-You might want to ask if they have a sharps container available as well. I had a college roommate who has T1D and it was never a problem except that there was no sharps disposal for her, so she had to save them to take them home. Once that container spilled and it wasn’t a good situation.

    3. Anna*

      I raise my fist in solidarity. Type I for 39 years, pump user for 8. Everything you said is spot on.

  46. Alistair*

    This is off topic, but can I just say how much I love all you commenters here? The man bun discussion has been hilarious; what a great way to start a long day. A bun wouldn’t work for me: I could never fit it under my hard hat when I’m in tbe field.

    Oh, and for the record, I had thoughts about the bicyclist that Phoebe dated on Friends that constantly and unknowingly revealed his lack of underwear to everyone.

    And even further off topic, hearing that so many of you heartily approve of men in kilts is a big boost to my ego. My wife loves it, I didn’t know many others do too.

    Thanks everyone for perking up my day!

  47. Dr. Doll*

    I’m on a college campus and there’s an unfortunate fashion fad for women to wear shorts that are so short that you can see their, um, buns. So when I saw #1, I immediately thought, “Oh God, don’t let the boys start!” …oops.

    Love man hair buns. Also kilts.

    1. Ad Astra*

      I’m not sure that’s a fad… The high-waisted look has come back from the dead, but I’m pretty sure short shorts were always a thing on college campuses. At least since the 80s.

      1. Dr. Doll*

        I remember the midriff-baring tops and longer, tight shorts, like Jennifer Gray in Dirty Dancing. /clutches pearls, sniffs, “Bad enough.”

        These are damned short. It’s hard for me to take a woman’s brain seriously when her actual ass is on view.

          1. Dr. Doll*

            Nope. What you’re showing off is what you feel like is your best feature, so, I take that seriously. I feel the same about the men who sashay around with their muscles on display.

            Now, of course the students are young. Bad judgement is often overcome by experience. So I cut them plenty of mental slack until I have reason not to, as in the case of one of my student workers who, when told that shorty-short ass-baring shorts were not acceptable for the office, whined, “It’s too hot to wear pants.” Wrong. Answer. She quit soon after that.

  48. Liz T.*

    My fiancé’s hair has gotten super long and now he’s experimenting with low twin buns—like pigtails, but buns. It is adorable.

  49. Yellow*

    Tipping a cart return person?! Is this standard practice or just for this specific situation? I have NEVER heard of this before!

    1. Anna*

      Yeah, it’s a first for me too. I remember when tipping the person who carried your groceries to your car was pretty standard, though!

    2. Alma*

      When I was 4 or 5 years…. Let’s just say it was the very early 1960’s… there were big signs posted at Publix that said something to the effect of “Customer Service is our Pleasure… No Tipping, Please!”

      I do remember Mom tipping at other grocery stores – a quarter I think. (But $20 bought a cart load of groceries.) So tipping at grocery stores was on its way out at that time.

      The elevator operator at the Downtown Department Store? I believe he was tipped. And purchases were automatically sent to one’s home, since everyone was taking the bus downtown (in our hats and gloves). Very few families had more than one car. Soon after that, Mom’s favorite store posted signs that said “The Package You Carry Arrives at Home Today.”

      And the ladies’ room attendant was tipped as well.

  50. Looby*

    I’m a 25 year Type 1 and the only time I’ve had issues in the workplace was when I got shifted to a department where start times and lunchtimes changed every day and you didn’t know when your lunch would be until the day of. After a week of low blood sugars, I went to my boss and laid it out. I needed a constant lunchtime or I would need to take an extra break in the morning to make sure I could make it through to lunch.

    Turns out there were a few others who hated the changing lunchtimes but didn’t have a legitimate reason to ask for it to change. My asking for accommodation actually benefited the department because for then on, everyone was assigned a lunchtime which, except for emergencies, was the same time every day.

  51. Bee Eye LL*

    Every place where I’ve worked that had a strict “image policy” was usually an unhappy workplace where fashion cops would nitpick employees over trivial crap that really had nothing to do with their jobs. I had one lady that used to give me grief over the length of my sideburns and they weren’t even halfway the length of my ear. Some people just have nothing better to do and it’s a sign of poor management.

  52. Anna*

    #5 I’m also Type I with an insulin pump and I’ve never had to ask for an accommodation because it’s just such a non-issue. The only thing I’ve ever told my boss about it the possibility of low blood glucose and what that looks like. So if I need to put in another infusion set, I do that. I test my blood when I need to. Really, unless you really want to tell them, you don’t have to because you don’t really need changes to your worksite to do your job.

  53. Kerrie*

    I worked in a bog grocery store for 3 years (Stop & Shop/Giant) and we were union. Telling someone about you concerns would have never gotten someone fired. I would say though that tell a store manager about this might not do anything, especially if they were the one to ask. Rather go on the web site and write something to the company. That was how things got changed in our store.

  54. Shannon*

    As someone with hair so thick that if I let it grow beyond my mid back, the weight of it gives me headaches, I will cut anyone who has a problem with my pixie cut. As long as my hair is neat and clean, no one has the right to tell me what to do with it.

  55. Alison Hendrix*

    I don’t mind long hair on men, nor am I against man-buns, as long as they are neat, and actually works with their face.

    Now if there is a real-life Sephiroth… mmm…

  56. AdjunctGal*

    My husband has very thick curly hair that he keeps long (he always says that he has a “Linus head” which is why he won’t cut it short). Anyway, he usually wears it in a braid or a bun.
    He was recently hired for a new job as a high school art teacher. His mother, upon hearing that he needed to go to HR to fill out paperwork, meaning that it was really real (he was underemployed for many years), thought he needed to cut his hair because “HR wouldn’t like it.” She did corporate HR for many years. But we were like, he’s the art teacher. Why should that make a difference? He’s been hired and in schools in the summer time, everyone wears shorts and t-shirts. Not only that, but his co-worker has brightly colored hair.
    Needless to say, he hasn’t cut his hair and HR didn’t implode.

  57. Coach Devie*

    #2 – I love long hair on men. I also appreciate not having biases towards whats appropriate for men vs. women when it comes to these things. I’m also glad that we are coming around culturally to accepting that people can wear longer hair or shorter hair regardless of gender expression/identity, have tattoos that can be seen, wear pants if they’re a woman, etc and this not take away from them being able to do their jobs or be respected. I am always sad when I hear that companies try to police these things… long hair, full beards, women and men wearing their natural hair (think dreadlocks or afros for “ethnic” hair) etc. It’s ridiculous when it’s done and I celebrate it (if only in my own head sometimes) whenever I am doing business somewhere and someone who some may look down their nose upon because of their “appearance” is conducting business with me.

    The man in the sample picture is also quite attractive, not that that matters, but yay. haha.

  58. CBC*

    I think it’s ludicrous that a 70ish person, man or woman, should be out collecting carts in 100+* heat. Obviously, someone needs to be told. Yes, there are a 1,001 undignified ways to die. But what if that were your grandparent…or your parent..? I think dropping dead in a hot shitty parking lot pushing baskets might make it 1,002. Damn.

  59. LA*

    To #3 – Don’t forget the middle ground here, too. Even if they prefer to hire a more experienced department head with a Master’s, your performance during the interim is great grounds for you to suggest ways to officially broaden your own role and scope (to include some of the higher level conversations or the new type of project you’re now working on). That way, if a new department head is hired, you can start with them with elevated expectations of what your role is and what you’re working on & you can continue to grow!

  60. Eric*


    When i was in high school was bagged grociers as a part time job. Cart duty was dolled out evenly to everyone. On very cold (i live in Maine) or very hot days we would take 10 mintue turns to get carts instead of the usually 30 minute block (if possible depending on staffing). So to say that other more capable people are just bagging is unfair to them, as they may have already been outside before and need a break from the heat. I would not assume they are making her do it more than any others, and at least where i worked they didn’t make you push carts in if there were an issue. We had a few older workers that never pushed carts, which was made up by those like me that would rather do it than bag groceries.
    in the end i would not say anything, this employee can speak for herself. She may like getting carts, just not when it is how, but no one not even young people like pushing carts when it is that hot.

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