my husband’s employee keeps driving by our house, CEO gave out bible stories to employees’ kids, and more

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

1. My husband’s employee keeps driving by our house

My spouse is a supervisor at his company, which happens to be two blocks away from our home. We moved here before he got the job and didn’t know how close the job was until he was hired (which should be a blessing right!?). Anyway, this job has some pretty bad unprofessional behaviors there, such as gossip that has been going on since day one.

The last few weeks my spouse has been out of the office because he has been flexing hours. One of his staff members (who for some reason knows where we live) keeps driving by the house to see where he is. Then she goes and gossips about it to his whole office about whether his car is there or not. For one, I am not sure how she got our address (that’s a red flag by itself) and secondly, I caught her driving around our house a few days ago and today she mentioned to him today about my car being out front and that I was home. My husband has informed his HR rep about the previous incident of her checking in on him, but nothing happened afterward. After the conversation today, I feel she is invading my personal space and privacy when she should be at work. I am not sure how to handle this. Normally I stay out of any complaints he has about work because it has nothing to do with me, but now, it’s physically coming to my home and involving me. As a spouse, what can I do? I think this crosses some huge boundary lines.

This is an issue for your husband’s workplace. As a spouse, there really isn’t anything you can do. There’s nothing illegal about something driving by your house, after all, and even if there were something you could do, it would inject drama into your husband’s work life in a way that won’t be useful. It’s an issue stemming from work, and it needs to be handled at work.

Fortunately, your husband is this person’s manager, which means he has the authority to say to her, “Jane, I need you to stop driving by my house and speculating with others about whether or not I’m at home. It’s disruptive to the team and frankly it’s a little unsettling to have an employee checking up on me at home. If you have a concern about my hours or availability, I expect you to come to me and discuss it directly. Now, please tell me what’s behind this recent behavior so that we can get whatever the concern is settled.”

2. CEO giving out bible stories to employees’ kids

I work for a privately held company. The CEO gave employees who had recently had babies a book with bible stories for children. What do you think of this?

I think he’s thoughtlessly injecting his religious beliefs in a situation where they don’t belong and potentially making some employees feel uncomfortable. But I also think that if this is the only instance of this kind of thing in your workplace, I’d just let it go and move on.

3. What should I wear to my MBA program?

I’m about to start grad school full-time for my MBA, but I’m not sure what to wear! I’ve been working in fashion (and have dressed accordingly) for the past five years. My usual “professional” wardrobe is very fun and fashionable, and the clothing I wear is, without sounding biased, beautiful. It fits all the requirements of a business casual dress code, which my job has, but I love bright colors, vintage styles, poofy skirts, and fancy dresses. I’ve read online that you should always wear a suit for MBA courses, but is that really true?

My program is a very selective one, but when I went to my interview, I wore my most conservative outfit (a Calvin Klein “career-y” A-Line dress with pearls and low heels) and my interviewer wore jeans and a slouchy sweater!

My orientation is a few weeks away and I want to be able to fit in! One thing weighing on me specifically is what work bag to carry. I have a lovely designer hot pink leather briefcase, which is definitely not the norm. Will I stick out like a sore thumb? Do I have to go buy a boring black briefcase and a blah black suit? I don’t have an undergraduate degree in anything remotely close to business, so I’d really appreciate some guidance.

Sorry for sounding like a 2015 Elle Woods. Here are photos of two outfits I wore last week (not actual pictures of me). Do they pass your MBA dress codes?

Your clothing is beautiful. I want you to dress me.

I too have heard stories of MBA programs where everyone wears suits to class, but I think it might be a myth. Everyone I’ve talked to from MBA programs reports that much, much more casual clothes were the norm in their classes — ranging from business casual to full-on sweats. Regardless, yeah, I do think that your clothes will likely stand out. You might be just fine with that, of course, but I’d probably tone it down for the first week until you have a better feel for the culture of the program, and then decide if you’re up for being The One In The Bright Poofy Skirt.

I do think, though, that you’ll want fairly conservative suits and bags for recruiting events.

4. My coworkers can’t get the spelling of my name right

How do I make peace with the fact that my coworkers of seven years still cannot spell my nickname? My email address is, say,, but I go by Lizzy. My coworkers have seen me sign emails as Lizzy for years, yet they insist on spelling it Lizzie, even if the correct spelling was in the email they’re responding to. I know I need to care less, but how do I get there? I assume you’ve had the same problem with the one-L versus two-L spelling of Alison.

Oh yes, so very frequently.

I think the best thing you can do is just let it go, unless it’s from close family members, who you can reasonably expect to get it right. After all, people who misspell it aren’t doing it to needle you; they’re just doing it because the other spelling has lodged in their brains. Could they get it right with enough reminders? Sure, probably. But I’d so much rather spend that capital on something else that matters to me more. (That’s not to say that I don’t get why you’re annoyed; it’s legitimately annoying.)

While we’re on the topic, though, this is pretty epic.

5. I caught a candidate lying in an interview

My wife and I are both ex-scientists. For several years I’ve worked for Company A, and she recently started working for Company B; both companies actively and enthusiastically hire ex-scientists to do non-sciencey things, so it’s very common for soon-to-be-ex-scientists to apply to both (as indeed my wife and I both did).

I was recently part of a group interview for a candidate. He was asked what other kinds of jobs he was considering, and he said nothing so far — Company A was his first nonacademic application. But I happened to know that he had interviewed at Company B, in my wife’s division, a couple of months earlier. (We don’t discuss specifics about candidates’ applications or interviews, but we do sometimes talk about their scientific backgrounds — ex-professional interest — and had done so with regard to this candidate before I met him. Same guy, no question.)

I didn’t say anything afterward because (1) that’s internal business of Company B that I happened to know about but probably shouldn’t have, and (2) I really didn’t think much of it — it’s a very small, if odd, lie in the grand scheme of things. He was a good candidate and he’s actually been hired here, and I’m fine with that, but…

He told a bald-faced lie in an interview. And I knew it. Should I have done anything about it?

I don’t think so. I’d argue that this is different from the candidate earlier this week who said she’d never held a job before when she actually had; work experience is relevant and a reasonable thing for an interviewer to want to know about. But in this case, the rest of this candidate’s job search isn’t really the interviewer’s business, and when someone asks something that isn’t their business, I don’t think you’re required to provide a full and thorough answer. (It’s also possible that there’s some other explanation, like that he didn’t apply for the job in your wife’s division but was approached about it and didn’t end up seriously entertaining the role, or who knows what.)

I’m curious to know what others think though.

{ 828 comments… read them below }

  1. Daisy*

    We googled a interviewee once and on the first page was a mug shot for a DUI in the last year. Same woman in the mugshot showed up and when we asked if she had a valid drivers license she said yes (she might need to use the company truck and we asked everyone).
    Then launched into telling us she has a perfect drivers record and has never even been pulled over and is very proud to tell everyone one that. Okayyy….If she had just said yes we would have been good. We didn’t hire her for other reasons but seriously just answer what was asked if you are trying to hide something.

    1. NJ anon*

      Tell her you are going to run her mvr and see if she changes her tune. Anyone who has the potential of driving one of the company vehicles has their mvr checked. It doesn’t cost that much and is worth it.

    2. ExceptionToTheRule*

      I would point out that an arrest is not a conviction. While it’s highly probable that your interviewee was full of horse hockey, unless you also accessed the conviction record, you can’t know 100% that it was a conviction.

      1. cv*

        True, but “never been pulled over” is pretty much guaranteed to be a lie given the mug shot/arrest.

      2. Ad Astra*

        These things also can take a while to play out in the courts, especially if she’s fighting the case in any way, so it’s entirely possible that her license has not been suspended. Though the “never been pulled over” speech is way over the top.

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          I believe that’s one of the main symptoms that someone is lying – rambling on unnecessarily and/or providing excess detail.

          1. Nashira*

            I wish I could get my husband to believe this! He’s always adding unnecessary detail to social lies.

            1. RMRIC0*

              Are they entertaining unnecessary details? I try to structure all my social lies to insinuate that I am either a secret agent or from the future.

    3. MegEB*

      Slightly off-topic, but it drives me crazy that mug-shots can be found on Google. Arrests are not the same as convictions, but you run into situations like this where an innocent google search can tarnish someone’s reputation and effectively paint them as guilty, whether or not they truly are.

      1. KarenT*

        Yeah I don’t understand that. Do the police stations post them? Lots of people get arrested who aren’t convicted, so it seems dicey to be posting those photos.

        1. MegEB*

          It’s generally considered public information. I have a whole spiel on why it shouldn’t be, but this is not a social justice blog so I won’t go into it. Unless there’s an ongoing investigation and it’s a closed trial, stuff like that is generally freely available.

          1. OhNo*

            I would be very curious to read that spiel, if you have it posted anywhere else and would be willing to provide a link!

            1. MegEB*

              Unfortunately, I don’t have it posted in its entirety anywhere else, but in a nutshell: I think that whatever happens between a citizen and law enforcement is their business and their business only. I believe arrest records don’t show the whole story, or even close to enough (i.e. whether they were actually convicted, whether the charges were trumped up for any reason, etc), and I think it has a really damaging effect on said citizens who may be trying to move beyond the charge. I think we have a really unfortunate habit in this country of assuming that “arrest = conviction” when that’s often not true, and even if it were true, the fact that the person’s record is public can make it difficult to move on and reintegrate into society (if they ended up serving jail time) after their punishment has been served.

              1. JB (not in Houston)*

                As an attorney who works in an area of law where I see this a lot, I totally agree that people too often think that arrest=conviction. Even worse, they often think that arrest=guilt.

                1. MegEB*

                  Question for you: I’ve heard conflicting views about whether or not people should consider getting their records expunged if they have a relatively minor charge that’s nonetheless getting in the way of them moving on in life, whether that’s finding a new job, getting a new apartment, etc. Some people think it’s a good idea, so you don’t have the charge hanging over your head your whole life, but I’ve heard some people say that it’s just going to look like you have something more serious to hide. What are your thoughts, as a lawyer?

                2. JB (not in Houston)*


                  Honestly, I’ve never been around to see the effects of someone who (to my knowledge) has had a record expunged, so I really can’t say. But I can say if it were me, I would totally do it. If your record is expunged, you can say you have never been arrested/convicted. Like you were referencing, why would someone want to have check a box on a job application and hope they get a chance to explain why it shouldn’t keep them from getting the job?

                  People in the legal world would understand why you were getting a record expunged and not assume it means you have something serious to hide, but I honestly don’t know how others might view it. But how would they know?

              2. LD*

                I agree completely with your arguments and maybe someone else has already pointed out that the publication of those records comes from an effort to protect people. Making those records public occurs is an attempt to prevent people from getting arrested and then disappearing so that no one outside the system knows what happened to the individual or why they were arrested. It’s an attempt at transparency that has perhaps lost its original intent to protect people from getting railroaded by the legal system and convicted before anyone knows what happened. We seem to have more protections in place today.

                1. MegEB*

                  But there’s zero statistical evidence that making these records publicly available has done anything to make our communities safer. And I’m arguing that it IS no one’s business outside the system to know who’s been arrested and for what. Why do they need to know that information, especially considering they don’t know the actual outcome of the case? I understand the intent was to allow people to protect themselves, but what exactly is someone going to do to protect themselves from someone who was arrested for trespassing, or for disorderly conduct, or even a DUI? It’s just fear-mongering, and encourages people to be hyper-judgmental about anyone who has a mugshot, because they don’t know the whole story and assume the worst.

                  We have zero evidence that being able to view someone’s mugshot online makes you safer, but we have plenty of evidence to show that having a criminal record is a deterrent to being a productive member of society, whether that means getting hired, renting an apartment, or any number of examples. And marginalizing these people like this means they’re more likely to live in poverty, which is tied to higher crime rates, so it just becomes this vicious cycle.

              3. mander*

                I agree. I’ve read too many horror stories about people who were mistakenly arrested for crimes they had nothing to do with and were completely exonerated, but the fact that they were arrested and linked with the crime was public knowledge and ruined their reputations. I know of one case where the guy in question killed himself in the end. Our culture seems to have become wildly judgmental when it comes to any kind of criminal behaviour, and I think it should be a bit more difficult to find out about peoples’ criminal records.

      2. Ad Astra*

        When I worked for a newspaper, part of my job was maintaining a gallery of all the local mugshots of everyone who’d been arrested recently. It always made me feel icky because they were presented without any real context and there was no news value, but it was by far our highest-traffic item.

    4. No name*

      We interviewed someone and she did very well. Then we Googled her and found out that she had been arrested and fired for punching a client. We did not hire her.

  2. neverjaunty*

    Your first instinct was correct, OP #5: it’s internal business of Company B that you probably shouldn’t have known. And it was not your business a second time, because asking the candidate what other kinds of jobs he is considering is a ridiculous question.

    1. Elder Dog*

      I wonder if he wasn’t taken back by the question, and just stumbled around some before realizing he didn’t want to say he’d applied to the other company and hadn’t heard back or hadn’t been chosen, so finished up saying he hadn’t applied anywhere. With a little more warning, he might have just said he wasn’t currently considering any other companies.
      But I also think it’s kind of an odd question and can’t think of a good reason to ask it.

      1. Renn*

        +1. I know I can’t always turn the conversation a dime, and I’m already nervous in a job interview anyway, so if I thought people were deconstructing some of the general sentences that came out in response, I mean, I’d probably never make it anywhere.

      2. Just another techie*

        Really? It’s one I get asked every time I’ve interviewed, ever, and one that I ask as an interviewer. It’s a smallish industry, and we all know that, for example, Chocolate Teapots moves slow on making offers, so we can take our time and interview other candidates if someone we think we like is interviewing there, but Vanilla Teapots moves really fast, so if someone is considering them, we need to get an offer out ASAP. I mean, ideally we’d always get decisions out ASAP, but sometimes you have a candidate who would be fine, but you want to bring in one or two more people who look just as good on paper, you know? It has never occurred to me in my entire career, as either a job seeker or an interview panelist, that this isn’t appropriate.

      3. AdAgencyChick*

        This. Plus, the Company B interview was a couple of months ago. I’d be more likely to assume this was a combination of being put on the spot and forgetfulness than a “bald-faced lie.”

        1. Biff*

          IMO, if the position was interviewed months ago, it may have slipped his mind, especially if the job wasn’t appealing or he was doing a ‘pity date’ interview.

          1. LD*

            Exactly. Or it may not have slipped his mind. He’s not currently interviewing there this month, so it doesn’t seem relevant that he spoke to them two whole months ago.

      4. Vicki*

        Also, if OP actually asked this way: “He was asked what other kinds of jobs he was considering,” and he said nothing so far — Company A was his first nonacademic application.

        That could be true. He’s not considering Company B. He interviewed with them (none of your business) and he’s not considering them.

        Company A may well be his first application. Even if he applied at B, he may have applied at A first. The interview told him he doesn’t want to work at B.

        None of this is illegal and it’s NoYB.

    2. Artemesia*

      I am stunned that anyone would consider this a lie in an interview. This is an intrusive and inappropriate question to ask a candidate and bland denial is more polite than ‘none of your beeswax’ which of course it is none of yours.

      1. Bend & Snap*

        Exactly. This is wildly out of line on the OP’s part. The candidate should 100% not be penalized.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          To be fair to the OP, he said he didn’t think much of it and didn’t say anything about it, and just wrote in to get another opinion about. I don’t think we should be calling him wildly out of line.

          1. Bend & Snap*

            The “bald-faced lie” comment is way out line IMO. Judgments like that can be very damaging to the candidate if they’re ever discussed.

            1. LBK*

              I’m fairly certain Alison and the commenters have zero influence over this person’s candidacy, though, so I don’t see why it matters what the OP says in a letter to this site. It feels like a pretty strong overreaction to get indignant at them using a term in a completely unrelated forum.

              1. Bend & Snap*

                You missed my point. If the OP says this anywhere but here, it could damage the candidate, and that’s not appropriate. Thanks for trying to censor my comments though.

                1. fposte*

                  I think that was a disagreement; censorship would be deleting your comment, which didn’t happen. I’d really hate to see disagreement being condemned as inappropriate.

                2. MegEB*

                  …I see your point, but disagreeing with you on a public forum isn’t even remotely close to censorship. Trust me, your right to free speech is in full swing here.

                3. LBK*

                  I don’t understand how censorship is even remotely related to this (if anything you’re the one arguing for the OP’s comment about lying to be censored), but it doesn’t seem like we’re going to be able to have a civil discussion about this so I’m just going to leave it from here.

              2. Artemesia*

                The OP THOUGHT this. If I characterize an applicant as a ‘bald faced liar’ that is a judgment likely to affect the candidacy or at least how I feel about him or her after the hire. ‘Bald faced liar’ is a person without integrity; it is strong stuff.

    3. Engineer Girl*

      I don’t consider this a lie. If the person didn’t have a job offer from Company B then they probably weren’t seriously considering it.
      The question could also be interpreted as what other types of jobs they are considering – as in other types of non-science sciencey jobs.
      In short, the question was ambiguous enough to be interpreted more than one way.

      1. SC in SC*

        I most likely would have interpreted the question as what other positions are you considering at the momentand probably would not have thought about a position that I interviewed for a couple of months earlier and presumably was no longer considering. Both the candidate and the OP get a pass on this one. Bit of a coincidence but nothing major.

        1. Alternative*

          Yes, these were my thoughts also. A job a person was rejected for months ago would not fall into the “what other jobs are you considering?” category.

        2. TrainerGirl*

          Yes, not to mention the only reason the OP even had this information is because his wife shared it. It wasn’t his business and probably not information his wife should’ve passed along. But at least he didn’t let it affect the candidate being hired, because it wasn’t really relevant, since it was months before and not a current application.

      2. INFJ*

        I had the same reaction as you.

        However, in fairness to the OP, the “lie” was that the candidate said this was his “first application,” which was incorrect and… seems like a weird, unusually specific response. He could have just as easily said “I’m currently not seriously considering anything else,” which would have answered the question and been more honest. Of course, it is completely normal to sometimes trip on your words and not be completely articulate when interviewing.

      3. Bunny*

        Agreed. There is lying in response to an interview question that is directly relevant to the job, and then there is choosing not to provide information that you’re not sure about the necessity of. Regardless of whether the candidate in this instance just forgot about the other company, dismissed it as irrelevant due to the time that had passed or chose not to divulge that particular nugget of information, the details of their job-search shouldn’t be relevant to the interview in any case.

    4. BRR*

      What jobs a candidate is applying for is not an employer’s business and the only appropriate question to ask is if they have another offer and you want to move quickly to hire them.

      I know we’re not supposed to nitpick semantics but they asked what he was considering and maybe he wasn’t considering the role at company B. Also maybe that job was filled so he wasn’t considering it anymore.

    5. OP #5*

      I wrote this long comment because I didn’t have time to write a short one…

      1) There’s some legalistic wrangling going on over what was asked and whether his answer fit the letter or the spirit of the question. Honestly, this was several weeks ago, I didn’t raise the subject, and I don’t remember what the exact lead-in question was, though it was probably more along the lines of “what kind of jobs are you considering?” rather than “where are you applying?”. But he answered as if it were the latter, and it was very clear that he was saying we were the first place he applied, and the only place he had considered. And no, he wasn’t recruited/approached — neither company works that way at the entry (i.e., new/recent PhD) level.

      2) Inappropriate to ask what kinds of jobs they’re considering? Nah. We’re hiring people who just spent a decade or more training for a field that they’re flat-out abandoning. Understanding why a candidate wants to do that — as every one of us interviewers has — helps us figure out whether they really know what we’re about and are legitimately interested. A problem for us (more in the past than now, as so much effort is now put into screening for this) is getting people trained up through the first year or so, only to have them bail when either (a) they finally get that this isn’t the kind of research they did in grad school, or (b) that science research job that they actually want opens up.

      There’s also an aspect of rapport-building. Again, we’ve all been where the candidate is, and it’s not necessarily an easy transition to be making. Helping them get that, hey, you’re having lunch with three people who went through the same process of realization and exploration that you are, does, I think (and have heard post-hire) help candidates relax and aim their own questions appropriately. (Interviews are two-way, remember?)

      Anyway, I’m a relative peon and not going to change hiring culture. The general subject of a candidate’s range of work interests, however phrased, will continue to come up. Heck, I thought it was a *good* thing back when I was interviewing. For example, I had an interviewer at Company B plainly ask me, “Why don’t you want to go make more money in quantitative finance?” — which he knew I could have given my background (and boy do *those* people recruit!). Talking about how I had actually considered that, and why I was less interested in it than in Company B (and Company A, and their mutual type of work — it’s really totally fine to mention one at the other) was a great springboard for showing my understanding of what I was getting into.

      So to summarize: “Tell me where you’re applying.” Not a question I’d expect a real answer to. “What kind of jobs are you looking at?” Great opening for discussing their non-academic interests, shows us that they have basic understanding of what we do (and don’t do), helps build rapport, and way more useful for hiring productive employees than “Why did you change substrates for the third round of fabrication in your 2011 PRB article?” And when they answer “just you” it sounds silly, even if not known to be untrue.

      1. AnonAnalyst*

        OP, it seems like I’m in the minority so far, but I don’t have a problem with being asked what other types of jobs I’m considering or applying for. My background and skill set often qualify me for several different types of jobs that have very different career paths (similar to your experience described above), so this is a question I’ve gotten before and it’s seemed like a fair one to try to understand what I was looking to do or what area my focus might be in for that job search.

        I would, however, take issue with being asked where else I was applying, since that’s not something I consider to be something a potential employer could reasonably expect to be provided with in the interview process, so it’s pretty likely that anyone asking me that question would get an incomplete or vague answer. Maybe the candidate misunderstood what you were asking?

        In any event, this seems pretty minor to me if the candidate were otherwise strong, which it sounds like he was since he was ultimately hired. I wouldn’t have said anything about it.

        1. cv*

          I agree with this. “What kinds of jobs are you considering?” could provide some interesting context on how a candidate views their skills, which parts of the job they’re interviewing for are the ones they’re most excited about, and what sort of growth opportunities they might look for once in the position. That’s all information that could be obtained with different questions, but I don’t see a problem with the general question.

          1. MK*

            Wouldn’t it be simpler to ask those things directly? The reality is that many people are forced by practical reasons to consider jobs that they are not excited about or that don’t fit their goals.

        2. Poohbear McGriddles*

          Yeah, sounds like the question was intending to discover if he was really interested in Chocolate Teapot Design or was just looking for anywhere that would accept a PhD in Chocolatology as an entry level qualification.
          What isn’t clear is whether Company A and Company B are in the same field. Maybe one hires ex-scientists to do financial stuff and the other patent research, or something like that. In that case, I can see where the applicant’s response was off-putting. But if A & B are in the same field, then “What other types of jobs are you consideting?” could honestly be answered with “Just this one.”

      2. ...*

        “But I happened to know that he had interviewed at Company B, in my wife’s division, a couple of months earlier.”

        But what you *don’t* know is whether or not he was still considering applying to the job after he had interviewed there. Who’s to say that after he interviewed, he decided the company was a bad culture fit or something and quickly decided he wasn’t interested in working there, and then subsequently *completely forgot* he’d interviewed there?

      3. Ad Astra*

        “What kind of jobs are you looking at?” is a lot better than “Where else are you applying?” but it’s still a little on the intrusive side to me. Wouldn’t something like “What makes you want to leave your current field?” be more appropriate and maybe even more relevant?

        1. OfficePrincess*

          But to a certain extent, it’s helpful to know if the candidate wants to go anywhere but where they’ve been vs being actively interested in the type of position/industry you’re hiring for.

      4. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

        Both my undergraduate and graduate degrees have no direct link to my current career. So I got this question (or a version of it) *a lot* especially post graduate school.

        I always assumed people wanted to make sure I was serious about the position and not just going to change my mind to try something else.

      5. fposte*

        I think “What other jobs are you looking at?” is kind of like “What are your weaknesses?” It’s a question that has a considerable chance of risk to the candidate and little likelihood of advantage to them, so you’re likely to get a a guarded answer at best. And I think that’s fair–you’re not going to guard them, after all, so they’re going to need to do that. I’d try to get at the information you’re looking for another way.

      6. Erin*

        All of this makes sense. I don’t think it was an inappropriate question to ask.

        I would keep any information you get from your wife to yourself, unless it was very serious and would for sure impact things at work. (Example: You knew through the grapevine this guy had stolen from a prior job and he was being hired at your company to handle money.)

        To be clear, I think it’s understandable and inevitable that you and your wife share details like this. And, this is something I wouldn’t be able to get out of my head too if this guy was hired.

        But, again, unless very, very serious, I would keep information like this – info I’d only be privy to because of my spouse – to myself.

      7. Anna*

        I think the problem with that question is the answer is pretty evident. “The kinds of jobs I’m considering are jobs like the one we’re interviewing about right now.” I mean, what exactly do you want to hear? They’re looking at academic jobs and possibly back up singer for Meghan Trainor? If you’re interested in their non-academic pursuits, then the question should be about their non-academic pursuits, not about their job search.

      8. JenGray*

        I think those types of questions are perfectly legit to ask- turnover costs companies money and so if they can find the right fit with those questions than there is no harm in asking. I can provide an example from my own experience- I have a Masters’ degree in Accounting and the two questions that I get asked is 1)why don’t I work for a CPA firm and 2) am I going to get my CPA? Both very legit questions to ask and the answer to #1 is that most firms where I live require a 3 month unpaid internship- which doesn’t work for me and the answer to #2 is no based on the way Montana does licensing. Montana is a two step process where you have to take a test and have a year of experience because getting your CPA. So I would have to get an internship and then hope they hire on full time and then get the testing done which requires a two hour drive one way. I might at some point be able to do all of this but so far the opportunity hasn’t presented itself.

      9. Becky*

        I want to note that you and your wife should probably be a little more careful about the work information you share with each other, and when you *do* share work information with each other, you should treat it as private information.

        My husband and I work in related fields but at different institutions. As a result, I have some minor authority over some of his collaborators, and am privy to decision-making that affects some of his collaborators. I would never share any of that intel with him. Talking about interviewees is less egregious, but you and your wife need to set some boundaries — either you do not share confidential work information, or you treat it as confidential in all circumstances.

    6. MashaKasha*

      I have to agree. Of course if a person is looking for work, he or she is probably applying for multiple jobs! This isn’t some kind of nineteenth-century dating, when you’re only allowed to court one person at a time. I don’t get what the point of the question was in the first place. And of course, I don’t think that politely avoiding this question as best he could was a “lie” on the candidate’s part.

    7. Stranger than fiction*

      Well, it may be silly, but it’s a common question. Usually because they want to know if you are close to receiving any offers before they invest their time and energy moving you along in the process. However, I also believe that his answer is the one commonly advised (maybe not by Alison, but other articles/job sites). The general belief is that you’re supposed to tell them that they are the only company you’re interested in, you are the perfect fit for their job, etc.

    8. AG*

      The difference between the “never had a job” response and this response for me is HOW the OP knew. In the earlier case, it was a comment from a current employee. In this case, it was essentially “pillow talk”. If it wasn’t egregious information (like a conviction), then I think it would be fair to assume that others in the room wouldn’t find out about other opportunities an interviewee is or is not considering. It’s not really relevant to that interview unless he was considering an offer. If there weren’t any other judgment red flags for this candidate, I’d let it go.

  3. Anonymous.T*

    My mom’s name is Dianna. People who’ve known her practically all her life regularly spell it Diana in writing, or even call her Diane when speaking. I don’t think she usually minds at this point. It’s just a thing you get used to with a less-common spelling of a more common name.

    (She continued the cycle of name confusion into the next generation by naming my brother Jarod.)

    1. Not helpful*

      My daughter’s nick name ends in a y but ie is very common. She had the same art teacher for 8 years and she always got it wrong. And I worried about how people would pronounce her given name.

      1. Miss Betty*

        My mom’s nickname can end in ie or in y. Her mother originally spelled it with ie, but mom’s kindergarten teacher said that was wrong and refused to let mom spell it that way. It wasn’t an issued worth fighting over for an entire school year and they never did go back to the ie spelling, so it’s been with a y for the past 68 years. (It’d be nice to think a teacher wouldn’t do that anymore, but I doubt that’s true.)

        1. cuppa*

          I have a name that has two different spellings and pronunciations. I had a teacher in middle school who insisted on pronouncing it the other way from what I do. I think he just had a quirky personality and meant no mal intent, and it didn’t really bother me, but looking back I kind of wonder what the hell made him think that he could do that..

        2. ThursdaysGeek*

          My brother’s first grade teacher repeatedly tried to tell my brother Jonathan that his name was spelled Jonothan. My mother wasn’t pleased that his first teacher both couldn’t spell and was obstinate about it.

    2. Sins & Needles*

      It’s rare for people to spell my name correctly, or pronounce it correctly, either, so if I’m ordering coffee or something, I just pick a random name for that moment. Usually the names of comic book characters. It never fails to amuse me.

      1. Kat A.*

        Same here. At Panera & Starbucks I just give a different name — usually something from a scifi show I watch since no one can pronounce or spell my real name.

        1. Marzipan*

          I hate having people shout my name out in public (and have some personal safety concerns about the practice) so tend to give my unusual middle name in those circumstances, just to wind them up.

        2. Liane*

          I should do this! Now do I use Hermione or Leia?

          But I might end up waiting all day for them to call for Liane to get her order.

        3. blackcat*

          One of my friends takes a suggestions on facebook every 2-3 months for what her new “Starbucks” name should be. She’s Pakistani and most Americans fail at pronouncing (and spelling) her name. So she goes by generic WASP-y names at Starbucks. I wish she didn’t have to, but she has found a way to have some fun with it.

          1. AG*

            I like to make reservations under “Batman”. It’s also really fun to hear the hostess or barista yell it out.

        4. Nea*

          You can either spell “Nea” right or pronounce it right; it’s short for something longer and not common to the culture where I live.

          Once I was asked by a barista for my first name, gave my last (which is my usual procedure), and was asked for my first name again. I said “It’s ethnic” – and yup… my drink was delivered to “Ethnic.”

          1. Elisabeth*

            I once told someone my name was “Elisabeth with an s” and had them write it “Elizabeths”. Sometimes when your brain is primed to hear something in a certain way, the logic filters get bypassed.

            1. Liz T.*

              That is *hilarious.*

              We do have a lot of variants, don’t we? Freshman year of college I was friends with two other Elizabeths, none of whom went by that name—we were Liz, Lily, and Beth.

              1. eplawyer*

                Everyone assumes Elizabeth wants to go by one of the nicknames. I use the whole thing. I introduce myself that way. Inevitably people say “Hi Liz, nice to meet you.” Umm, no my name is not Liz. I told you my name.

                Sometimes people will ask if I go by Liz or Beth and I say “Well, actually I prefer the whole thing.” Those people get it right.

                1. LizNYC*

                  That’s totally understandable — it’s your name! I have a friend who goes by the full Elizabeth.

                  But would you go on a 19-email tirade if someone mistakenly called you “Liz”? That’s the crazy!

                2. MissLibby*

                  I love the name Elizabeth but did not want my daughter to deal with the nickname issue for the rest of her life. She got an easy to pronounce one syllable first name and Elizabeth for a middle name.

                3. eplawyer*

                  Miss Libby, hate to break it to you. I had an easy to pronounce 4 letter first name. I hated it. I legally switched my first and middle names.

                  No I would not go on a 19 email long tirade about calling me Liz. I will correct someone once, very firmly. That usually does the trick. I say flat out “My name is Elizabeth not Liz.”

                  It’s the assuming that grates. You don’t know me, don’t assume you know my preferred nickname.

                4. Biff*

                  I don’t like the false choice there — there are a lot more nicknames for Elizabeth than just Beth and Liz.

                  Libby, Betty, Bette, Liza, Eli, Bess (my favorite, personally.)

                  Same thing for Robert. Hob, Nob, Bob, Rob, Bert, Bertie.

              2. Liz*

                In high school there was an abundance of Elizabeth’s, and we all somehow managed to go by different names. Liz, Lizz, Lizzie, Elizabeth, and Betty were all accounted for (one class had all 5 of us which was an adventure)

                1. Kairi*

                  When I was in the third grade, my poor teacher has a classroom with a Shannon, Shane, Shawn, Shawna and Shana. That to was also an adventure!

              3. Pinkie Pie Chart*

                I have 4 Elizabeths in one of my college classes (out of 10 students). They were Elizabeth, Liz, Biz and Bess.

                1. OhNo*

                  Haha, I had the same thing in one of my classes, only it was variations of Jennifer. There was a Jennifer, Jen, Jenny, and a Jay (or maybe just J – I never did figure that one out), and they all looked pretty similar, too. At least they all had different nicknames, I can’t imagine how confused I would have been if they all used the same one!

            2. Karowen*

              There’s a picture floating around on the interwebs of someone who said their name was “Mark with a C”and got the cup back with “Cark.”

            3. Mills*

              YES. A friend of mine recently posted a picture on Facebook of her Sarah-with-an-h Starbucks cup: “Shara”

          2. Dynamic Beige*

            Someone I know who has a pretty normal name has made their Starbucks coffee names a repeating thing they post on Facebook. It’s pretty amazing how many times they’ve spelled the name wrong.

            1. Tasha*

              I have a friend with an Indian name who does the same thing! She has quite a collection of interesting spellings.

            2. Biff*

              My sister has a fairly easy name, which people like to make difficult for some reason. I have seen it spelled right all of ONCE at a coffee place.

          3. Collarbone High*

            My last name is 12 letters, and more than once I’ve told someone filling out a form “I’ll spell it for you, it’s long” and had to stop them from typing L-O-N-G.

        5. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I thought about using Wonder Woman at such places, after seeing a Facebook meme: “I’m not saying that Wonder Woman and I are the same person; I’m just saying that no one has ever seen Wonder Woman and me in the same room.” Or I could use my AAM handle . . .

        6. manybellsdown*

          Mr. Bells is just named “Ben” and he still has people get his name wrong in places like that. He’s got a collection of receipts with names like Barn, Baen, Bean, Ban…

      2. Lia*

        I dislike my given name, and never use it when ordering at restaurants. Eventually, I will get around to legally changing it.

        1. Poohbear McGriddles*

          There is a burger place near me that assigns everyone a celebrity name for picking up their order. I guess it helps prevent five Johns or Marys from rushing to the counter all at once. Instead you listen for “Celine Dion” or “Lenny Kravitz” to be called.

          1. alter_ego*

            The IHOP by me gives you a card with a celebrity name when there’s a wait in the morning, and that’s the name they call out when your table is ready. I always liked that.

          2. Mallory Janis Ian*

            I like that! I did once pick up someone else’s Starbuck’s coffee because there were two “Mallory’s” in a row, and I just ran up to the counter and grabbed a drink when they called out my name.

          3. Anna*

            Once at Starbucks the guy asked me who I wanted to be today and when I told him Jennifer Lopez, he gave me a really confused look. My thought was, you asked who I wanted to be, not what my name was.

            1. Windchime*

              My name at my local Starbucks was Beyonce for awhile. Just because I liked it. Most of the the old employees are gone now, so it’s back to my plain old name.

              My name is one that usually ends in “ie”, but for whatever reason, Mom thought it looked better ending in “i”. Think Stephanie vs Stephani. People are always tacking an extra “e” on the end, or spelling it with a shorter, ugly spelling that I hate but that sounds phonetically the same to people in this area of the country.

              1. Alissa*

                I go by Lissy a lot, which was a nickname given to me by my parents. I spell it with a -y, my mom spells it Lissie, and my dad alternates between Lissi and Lissey. That’s probably why he just calls me “hey, you” now…

                I’ve been told I spell my name ‘wrong’ since I was little (never got a keychain with my name on it! :( ). It’s always great when I get phone calls from people who have only seen my name written… I get Alicia, A-lee-see-a, Alice-a, Ae-lissa… I just shrug and go with it. Lord knows I mispronounce people’s names often enough.

                (The first time I read Game of Thrones, I read Catelyn as Cat-a-lyn. Yep.)

                1. Desdemona*

                  If it makes you feel better, they pronounced it as Cat-a-lyn in the audiobooks, too. Wonder if HBO did a focus group on the readers’ preferred pronunciation before filming?

      3. Allison*

        I’ve toyed with the idea of ordering a drink and saying my name is Bueller, and then making them call it out a few times before going to claim it.

        . . . but I don’t drink coffee :(

        if anyone wants to “steal” that joke, feel free.

          1. Winter is Coming*

            My husband knows the movie by heart…I’m surprised he hasn’t tried this yet! I’m debating whether to even put the idea in his head. :)

          1. Allison*

            . . . I don’t drink those either. I drink water and energy drinks, and the occasional cocktail or glass of wine. People love telling me that there must be something at coffee shops I like, but y’all need to believe me when I say that’s just not the case.

        1. bentley*

          Many years ago, a group of us at a science fiction convention went to the restaurant across the street and gave the waiter a TV name while we waited for our table. When they called out, “Blake! Party of seven!” the whole restaurant applauded.

      4. Anonmanom*

        See, I find it amusing to collect the many different variations people can come up with the spell my name. My coworker on the other hand just gives a fake name and moves on. He has an accent combined with a name uncommon in the US, and the two together seems to high a hurdle for most people. I think whatever works for you is the answer.

        1. Artemesia*

          My last name is to me obvious in how it is pronounced as it contains an everyday word in it, but most people manage to pronounce it wrong anyway. I always leave my husband’s name whenever we make a reservation for dinner since no one ever mispronounces his.

          1. Charlotte Collins*

            I have a four-letter last name, which ends in a double letter, so it’s really only three letters. And it rhymes with a common word. People still pronounce it incorrectly. If there is a way to fail at something, someone will find it.

            1. Pinkie Pie Chart*

              My maiden name is a synonym for small. I’ve had people mispronounce that. And misspell it. Come on, guys! It’s a common word you use every day!

            2. Charlotte Collins*

              Oh, also my last name is part of a band name that has been in existence before my birth. So… people of a certain age have no excuse. (But I do use the band as an example of how to say it if I think the person will get the reference.)

      5. VictoriaHR*

        Just tell the barista that your name is Primrose Everdeen, and then when they call out the name, stand up and yell “I volunteer as tribute!”

          1. Rayner*

            Don’t. Just don’t. The hunger games fandom sort the last three years doing this, and it just is boring and trite the 33rd time you’ve seen it happen.

      6. cuppa*

        I have and use the key tag of my husbands Panera card. His name is a traditionally masculine name, but you can add an “a” and feminize it.

        I constantly get food for “[Husband]….a?”

      7. Stranger than fiction*

        That is such a great idea. Usually, I give the name of who I’m with, which of course only works if I’m not alone. I always get asked “is that with a C or a K?” And to this day, after 40-ish years on this earth, I’ve never ever seen or met anyone that spells it with a C. Maybe it was a thing for a short period of time before I was even born, or in a different region.

        1. peanut butter kisses*

          I spell my name in an unusual way and I have seen it on the internet a few times when I have googled my name. I finally met someone who spelled my name the way I spell my name and I was so happy. Then she told me that I was pronouncing it wrong :facepalm.

      8. Robin*

        Mine is pretty common, but since I married and have a “y” in my last name, everyone now spells my first name “Robyn.” They must dig the y.

    3. CanadianDot*

      My name contains an e where there is often an a (there are a couple of “usual” ways of spelling my name, and mine isn’t one of them), and I’ve had coworkers with whom I’ve worked on a daily basis misspell my name for years.

      Does it bug me? Yes. But is it worth my time to go over it again and again? Nope.

      1. F.*

        For my name, the feminine contains an “e”, and the masculine has an “i”. I am often mistaken for the wrong gender in e-mails. As long as it is spelled correctly on my paycheck, I don’t care! (Just don’t call me late for dinner!)

        1. Al Lo*

          If your name is Frances, I don’t doubt that you see it misspelled a lot. I learned the “H[i]e[/i]r name is Franc[i]e[/i]s; h[i]i[/i]s name is Franc[i]i[/i]s” trick, but not before I was confused as a child whether “Bread and Jam For Frances” was for a girl or a boy.

          1. Al Lo*

            Whoops. This doesn’t take bbcode.

            If your name is Frances, I don’t doubt that you see it misspelled a lot. I learned the “Her name is Frances; his name is Francis” trick, but not before I was confused as a child whether “Bread and Jam For Frances” was for a girl or a boy.

            1. cuppa*

              My husband’s grandmother is “Frances” and he gets it wrong. He tried to address her wedding invite as “Francis”.

        2. Never late for dinner..*

          My last name can be a first name but my first name is feminine, think Nicole James. Whenever I send emails, some people respond to “James or Mr. James”
          My email signature clearly states “Nicole James”

          I sign directly above it “Nicole” nowhere else is my name indicated (it’s a generic email account), people even call asking for Mr. James. I showed up to a conference to a name tag that said “James Nicole”

          I’ve decided to just be highly amused and let it go…

          1. MegEB*

            That happened all the time to a former coworker of mine! She has an unusual (but beautiful) first name, and her last name is a very common boy’s name. She used to get emails all the time calling her by her last name.

          2. HR Recruiter*

            I have the same issue having a last name that can be a first name. The best is every month when I go to pick up my dog’s medications at the pharmacy. His name is Dexter James (stealing your last name). Even though I give them the correct name and tell them he’s a dog they say “we don’t have a prescription for James Dexter.” I explain again his first name is Dexter. Then everyone in line looks at me with a look of why did you name your son after a fictional serial killer. How many times can I explain he is a dog!

              1. Charlotte Collins*

                I will always, always think “Dexter’s Laboratory” first. (But I prefer fun cartoons to serial-killer themed dramas.)

              2. HR Recruiter*

                He was four when we adopted him and thought it best not to change his name. We have been doing a lot of training with him to reduce his occasional rage against other animals. My family members of course blame his behavior on his name.

                1. Charlotte Collins*

                  I support your decision. It seems odd to me when people rename adult animals that they adopt – like a whole new home, etc., isn’t confusing enough to the animal, now they have to answer to a new name, too! (Except fish. Fish don’t care what you call them when you tap on the glass.)

            1. Biff*

              This reminds me of something funny that happened some months ago. But context first — I was very relieved, as a child, to find out that my dog had a last name. And it was the same as mine! This calmed many silly anxieties.

              So some months back, someone made some snarky comment about my dog that went something like “She not a human, she doesn’t have a last name.” And I said, “No, she does.” “Don’t be silly, of course she doesn’t.” I sighed, probably very laboriously and explained, “She’s adopted, therefore, her last name is Biffsdottir same as anything else I adopt into my family. And according to my vet her last name is Biffsdottir, so you can disbelieve all you want, but she’s got a last name, and it’s BIFFSDOTTIR.”

              1. Alma*

                Five stars!! You have won the internet today IMHO (well, at least my heart). I love it when people see me out of context and say, “You’re Jasper’s Mommy!”

          3. Chameleon*

            I also have a last name that is a semi- common first name, and it has ended up being a great Spam filter.

            My first name is Laura, and I don’t really mind all the times people call me Lauren. But I cannot stand the people who insist–insist!– that it should be spelled Lora. I know how to spell my own name, thanks.

            1. Not Lori!*

              Same here. My name is NOT Lori, no matter how many of you want to spell it that way. It’s Lauri, and please don’t put an “e” on the end. Nor is it Gloria, like the guy at Starbucks put on my cup the other day.

          4. manybellsdown*

            There was a kid in my high school class that had a first name as a last name. Like “Owen Ryan” The teachers could never remember if his first name was “Owen” or “Ryan”.

          5. QualityControlFreak*

            My husband and I both have first names (in my case a nickname) that are more commonly used for the opposite gender. He gets stuff addressed to Ms. Name all the time. Our farrier called us by each others’ names for years. I shortened my long first/middle names to initials. People still think I’m male when communicating in writing. Does no good to get your knickers in a twist, you might as well be amused. ;)

        3. mander*

          I’ve been told that the spelling “Jamie” is masculine, while “Jaime” is feminine. My sister’s name is spelled the first way.

      2. Sheepla*

        I have an unusual spelling of my first name and I correct people all the time. The thing is, when I see my name spelled incorrectly, it doesn’t look like it is my name misspelled to me…it looks like someone else’s name entirely.

        I’m always nice about it and say “oh, it happens all the time” but yes, I want my name spelled correctly.

        1. LD*

          Ditto. I have the same experience…that’s not my spelling, so it’s not my name, therefore not me!

    4. Cris*

      My full name is Cristin. I fully expect people to spell it incorrectly or just flat out think it’s Christine. I’ve also gotten to the point where I will answer to absolutely any variant of a name that starts with a “Cris” sound, from Kirsten to Crystal.

      It’s just not worth correcting people all the time.

      1. Kristinyc*

        I get Kristen, Kirsten, Christine, christen, Kristan… It’s Kristin. Lots of people spell it wrong at work, and when that happens, I just sign my emails “thanks, Kristin”

        That usually does the trick. I would let it slide, but I present at a lot of webinars, and the person who created them always spells it Kristen on the GoToWebinar meeting. I don’t think the attendees realize I’m not the one setting those up, so then they think the wrong way is correct, then they email me with questions and spell it wrong….. I just feel like it’s lazy and disrespectful to continuously spell it wrong. You have to type it to send me an email – the right spelling is RIGHT THERE! Sigh.

        1. Never late for dinner..*

          Signing my emails doesn’t work for me…see above…My name is “nicole” I’m not “james”

          dah well…

        2. la Contessa*

          I have almost the exact same problem (I’m an e instead of an i). I get emails and letters addressed to every spelling you can think of. I once got a package addressed to “Kr3tine.” Yes, there was a 3 in it.

          I let it go and just laugh about it, unless someone asks me the spelling directly. I don’t get how someone can respond to an email in which it is spelled correctly in my signature and get it wrong, though–don’t other people check that before responding, or is that just me?

        3. Ad Astra*

          Maybe I’m uptight, but I also think it’s lazy and disrespectful to misspell someone’s name when you have it spelled correctly right in front of you. I don’t care if the barista at Starbucks gets it wrong, but I care a lot about it being wrong in a webinar or something like that.

        4. LizNYC*

          I know a Kristin with two eyes. When telling someone how to spell it once, she said “Kristin with two eyes, just like you have.” I’ve never misspelled her name!

      2. Anonyby*

        I have what is probably the most unusual of the feminine Chris/Cris/Kris/Krys names, with an uncommon spelling on top of it. I’ve gotten to the point where I’ll answer to Chris-anything because no one can remember! Kristen seems to be the most common thing for me to get.

        I get annoyed when family misspells it, though. My friends all remember, why can’t they?!

        (Though misspelling it when responding to an email is annoying too. Why can’t people repeat what’s right in front of their faces?!)

        1. Pinkie Pie Chart*

          I have married cousins named Loren and Chris. I was very confused the first time I met them because the genders didn’t match what I though the names should be.

    5. Knitting Cat Lady*

      My last name has a silent h in it. Spelling my name out is second nature by now.

      I’ve also been addressed with very creative misspellings of my name.

      I don’t care.

      When I was younger and still living with my parents there was only one other person in the phone book with the same last name as us.

      She’s a gynaecologist. Her emergency contact number was listed right above ours. Getting panicked people to realize that they have called the wrong number was next to impossible sometimes.

      1. UKAnon*

        Yep, I have an incredibly unusual name (first and surname – in this country at least – first is common in a different language) and at this stage when asked I just spell it without even bothering to say it first. I also have run the gamut of different varieties of pretty well any name beginning with that letter, which has caused problems right up to with a solicitor’s checks on occasion.

        1. cuppa*

          I have a very complicated (for the US) last name and I spell it now without pronouncing it first, too. No point in saying it first — they’ll never get it.

      2. Blue_eyes*

        My last name has a weird (in English) vowel combo followed by an unusual consonant cluster. I’m also a teacher. One Valentine’s day I counted 18 different spellings of my name on cards that children had given me. One time I received some personalized stationary from a coworker as a gift – my last name was misspelled. Coworker and I had the same first name, so at least that was right ;).

      3. Anna the Accounting Student*

        My last name has a pronounciation that doesn’t “match” its spelling (in English or its language of origin). I usually just spell my last name when I have to give it to someone.

        1. Hellanon*

          I do that. Anytime somebody says, “And what’s your last name?” I just answer, “I’ll spell it for you.”

          1. cardiganed librarian*

            Yup, I have a Polish last name and by the time I get to the third letter, they know exactly why I’m doing that.

            1. Ad Astra*

              Learning to spell someone else’s Polish last name always feels kind of like an accomplishment for me. They’re not terribly common in my area, so they can be kind of intimidating. It’s sad how many people don’t bother to learn the spelling at all.

              1. Dana*

                I went to elementary school with a girl with a very Polish last name. Her parents taught her to spell out the letters to the tune of the Mickey Mouse Club song since it had the same amount of letters. So all of her friends learned to sing that and to this day I can spell it.

                1. Charlotte Collins*

                  We had a lot of Polish (and other Eastern European) last names where I grew up. The most impressive, though, was a girl in my high school who had a six-syllable Thai surname. Everyone actually cheered when the principal pronounced it correctly at graduation.

          2. Allison*

            I want to do this, but it just sounds so rude! I usually say it first then, as nicely as I can (which, admittedly, could be nicer) start spelling it without being asked.

            1. Elysian*

              The parking office at my University got super mad at me when I tried to spell my last name – and it was a regular thing. I had to call in once a month to pay for parking over the phone, and every time I would tell her “My last name is __, that’s A, B, C, D,…” and before I could get very far into the spelling she’d say “I DONT NEED YOU TO SPELL IT” very rudely. 3 minutes later she was back on the phone, asking me to spell it because she couldn’t find it in her computer. TOLD YOU SO, LADY! Don’t you think I would know? And this happened Every. Month.

        2. VictoriaHR*

          My last name is the name of a country. So I’m just used to saying “LastName, like the country.” I still get people who are like “uhh .. wut?” I also commonly get people asking “So do you speak (language from that country)?” Why … would I?

          1. Charlotte Collins*

            Also, I remember learning about naming is that generally, if your last name is a place name, that probably means that way back when they had an ancestor who moved away from that place. So, your connection to the country is that – someone left it a long time ago.

          2. Elder Dog*

            Yeah, my first name is the name of a city, but spelt differently.
            I have a different first name on my Social Security card, which is what my mother wanted to call me. That’s also usually spelled differently, and the other spelling is often mispronounced. I gave up years ago and mostly used my initials, of which I have three. When one is dropped, it’s a common nickname for another name entirely, which is a real pita at doctor’s offices where people just insist on calling me by a name that has nothing to do with mine because someone thinks people are only allowed two initials. Of course using my last name like normal people who don’t know someone never crosses their minds.

            Now that I’ve retired, we’re back to my mother’s preferred name, which nobody has ever called me. I’m changing it legally because I have no idea who the person with that name is. I considered an entirely different name like Beth, that is hard to mis-spell, mis-understand, and just foul out with, but went with the initials because that’s whats on my deed.

          3. Marcela*

            I have a friend called Carolina. She usually says “Carolina, like the states”, although her name should be pronounced the Spanish way, with the i sounding like an /e/. Even so, she gets her name written as Carlina, Carikina, Karkina, etc. I’ve told her she should use Carol instead, but she doesn’t want to.

      4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        My last name is one syllable and pronounced phonetically (and a very well known brand name – like “Coke”). And I still have to spell it. People are weird.

          1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

            Yeah, you’d have to work pretty hard to spell mine differently… but they try!

            My first name, on the other hand… nobody spells it wrong, but I’m constantly being called Veronica, Vanessa, etc. It’s like all the V names are interchangeable.

            1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

              Oh I know that feeling. I’m a Hannah and at this point I just automatically answer to Heather because I get called it so much (also Heidi, Holly, Hailey…)

              1. Jessica (tc)*

                Same here. I’m Jessica, and people consistently call me Jennifer or other J names (although Jennifer is the most common one).

            2. TFS*

              YES! I have a V name too, and can’t believe how often people just seem to pick one at random. Just yesterday I saw an email trail on my coworker’s computer while we were discussing a project we’re working on, and the sender said in it “Tell Victoria we really appreciate her help!” I asked, “So, I assume I’m Victoria?” Yep, I was Victoria. THAT’S NOT MY NAME, PEOPLE! I don’t really care that much, but it’s confusing.

        1. Windchime*

          I used to know a guy named Cy. Pronounced just like you’d think, like “sigh”. When we would go out for fast food when they would take his name, he would say his name was Fernando. Because that was easier for people than “Cy”.

          1. Amy UK*

            If I heard that name out loud, Cy wouldn’t be my first guess either. I guess it might be more common where you live, but I’ve never, ever met a ‘Cy’ but dozens of men called Simon who shorten it to ‘Si’.

            When you have an unusual name that’s a homonym for a common nickname, I think you do just have to accept people won’t get it right the first time. No excuse for people who know you getting it wrong, but I can understand fast food places being confused.

    6. Lily*

      My name, as you can see above, is (as far as I know) the more common spelling variant, but I get Lilly all the time. At work, for example, all my pay stub envelopes say Lilly. I let it go, but it does needle me–and as a result I double- and triple-check to make sure I’m spelling other people’s names correctly!

      (It will never stop baffling me when people do it on Facebook, though, especially the mother of my childhood best friend who has known me for 20+ years. I mean, it’s ON the page.)

      1. Myrin*

        OMG, things like your Facebook example drive me especially nuts (I get super annoyed by any kind of wrong name-spelling, but this especially). I have a friend who writes relatively popular original fiction on the internet (like fanfiction but original) and you would not believe how often commenters get the characters’ names wrong! After just having read a whole chapter or even story with the names featuring prominently! Where you just have to scroll up a little to actually see the name! HOW?!

        1. Lily*

          Right?? And my email is lily.[lastname] and sometimes people manage to get that right, and still spell my name wrong in the body! Granted, their address book probably helped, but…still!

          1. Lunar*

            I have this problem! My name is spelled the simplest way possible, but many variants of my name have more letters. My work email address is firstname.lastname, my full name shows up in the From: portion of the email and in my signature at the bottom. I don’t understand how people who I work with regularly still get it wrong, but they do.

      2. Julia*

        My BEST FRIEND missspelled my name on Facebook. We usually speak and write in Japanese, and since Japanese doesn’t have an L, and since I am German, I’m not Julia pronounced like Giulia but Julia pronounced like Yulia, she sometimes writes Yuria even though it says JULIA right there on the page. Sometimes she notices afterwards, sometimes she doesn’t.

        1. Julia not Julie*

          Hah! I’m a Julia in the US, and I get Julie all. the. time. Nice to hear there are other variations on our name that I’m sure I’ll run into…

          1. MashaKasha*

            I’m a “Julia” and people often call me “Julie”, in writing, right above my email address and signature that both say “Julia”.

            But that’s not nearly as baffling as the few times when people called on the phone and asked to speak with “Julian”…

            1. Julia*

              My people! You know my woes!

              I get Julian semi-regularly when I fly. My middle name starts with an N, so I guess it blurs together for people. My airline tickets are always issued to JULIANLASTNAME, and parsing out that it’s Julia N Lastname always takes the TSA guy a second.

              1. Julia*

                Ack, I, the Julian-Julia, am not the Japanese-speaking Julia. I should have picked a clever nickname!

        2. literateliz*

          Oh, my favorite name misspelling from when I worked in Japan: Elithebeth.

          It made perfect sense, once I thought about it, but when I saw it I was like “Buh?” Dang katakana!

      3. Elysian*

        People are always trying to give me Ys for my Is, even though my name is spelled exactly the way one would expect. Stop trying to be creative, people! It just is what it is. Though there are some people that use the Ys, but I don’t think people were naming kids that way when I was a kid, its more of a recent thing – I kind of dislike the Y people for making my life harder.

    7. MK*

      I must say I find the whole thing odd. My last name has an uncommon spelling and I often have to correct people writing it down. Never, and I mean absolutely never, have I ever had to correct someone twice; and in many cases not even once, because people ask before spelling it. I agree that it may not be a big deal, and I probably wouldn’t make it an issue, if people kept doing it wrong, but spelling someone’s name correctly is not that difficult and it’s basic courtesy.

      1. Lunar*

        I think that there is a difference between an uncommon or difficult to spell name and a common name with multiple spellings. I have a relatively common first name with multiple variants and people spell it wrong all the time because they think they know how and it becomes kind of automatic (like the Lizzie vs. Lizzy example in the letter). My last name is very uncommon and not a phonetic English spelling and since people know they don’t know how to spell it they make an effort to look it up or double check. I definitely do this myself too, I might quickly send an email to a Hilary with one l instead of two, because that is automatic to me, but if it was a name I hadn’t heard before I would be more deliberate.

      2. JMegan*

        My theory is that it’s because people *know* the name is unusual, therefore they assume they’re going to misspell it, therefore they ask you to spell it, and listen carefully for the response. Whereas if the name is more common, they default to whatever they think it is, without actually considering (or listening to) other options.

        My mother’s maiden name is relatively common in German, but not very common where she grew up. So she was used to spelling it for people, but also used to having them get it right after she spelled it. So when she married my father, with his unusual but English-origin and phonetically spelled last name, she was looking forward to not having to spell her last name any more. Nope. What happened was that people thought they knew how to spell it, and would guess; or they would ask her to spell it and then not listen because they already thought they knew what she was going to say. Nobody *ever* gets our last name right on the first try!

      3. AJS*

        My last name is somewhat common, having belonged to a poet, a late-night talk show host and a famed murderess from the 1920s. Two of the letters get transposed all the time, done by everyone, from every conceivable source. I have letters from 60 years ago addressed to my father, with the same misspelling. I also have a presentation cup to my GREAT-GRANDFATHER (for winning an athletic contest) from 1891—with the same spelling error.

    8. Blue Anne*

      My name isn’t actually Anne, it’s a rather more uncommon one, like* Galadriel, and I go by Gala.

      I’m used to people spelling it Galla or Kala assuming they’ve misheard and it’s actually something a bit more normal like Cara. Or if they need my full name, it always comes back Galadreel, or Galadrielle, or they just guess instead of asking me and it turns out they think my full name must be Galarond. OR, they even think “Oh it’s a crazy Elven name it must have lots more thank I think it does!” and write it down Galaedrieael. All of which is a problem if they’re filling out government forms or setting up a work email for me. And when I was an ugly androgynous teenager, I would occasionally get called Gary, which made me SO MAD.

      I swear to god if I have kids they’re getting named Robert and Susan. Or Alex. My husband is technically an Alex, all of our kids can be Alexes. I’ll just give them numbers.

      So yeah. I get it. Good lord is it grating. But…. for me it’s one of those things that professionally, you can only correct once or twice. (And I don’t correct clients at all.) After that it just makes people feel awkward and inconsiderate, and even then they’re probably going to mess it up again.

      Which isn’t fun, I know. :(

      *For example, not my real name, although we had to convince my brother-in-law not to name my niece this! They went for a lovely Celtic-but-not-elven name instead in the end.

      1. Julia*

        I’m guessing if it worked for the Romans, it will work for you.
        Alexander Maximus, Alexander Something, Alexander Another Thing etc. etc.

        1. Blue Anne*

          I’ll use the Stardust naming strategy. Alexander Primus, Alexander Secundus, Alexander Tertius….

          1. Liane*

            That’s what the Romans often did. The ones with too little imagination to come up with a first name just went with Primus, Secundus, Tertius… (replacing the US with A for girls).

        2. cuppa*

          The Byzantines were quite fond of that as well. That’s a final I’m glad I’ll never have to take again…

        1. Blue Anne*

          That’s the wouldn’t even have to come up for different ones for sons and daughters. Alex, the lot of them.

    9. Ailsa*

      I’m pretty resigned to just being called Alisa or Elsa my whole life now. Before Frozen came out I was keeping a list of all the ways my name was spelled wrong on Starbucks cups and I got up to 17… but now the baristas almost always just go “oh!! Like in Frozen! Let it go, let it goooooo!” and I find it so adorable I don’t have the heart to correct them.

      1. Blue Anne*

        It’s really nice of you that you have no problem letting it go when they do that.

        ….okay, sorry, I’ll see myself out.

      2. Persehone Mulberry*

        Yeesh. I spent the first twenty years of my life either repeating or spelling my name. And then Shrek came out. I spent the next ten years replying “yes, just like the movie. Yes, it is a great movie.” But at least nobody was singing at me.

        1. Kai*

          Lol, yeah. My first name is the name of a certain sea witch in the Little Mermaid. I’ve honestly had people ask if I was named after her.

        2. HB*

          Ha, I’m pregnant and LOVE the name Fiona but people keep “warning” me about the princess in Shrek connection.

    10. Xarcady*

      Giving your kids common, simple names is not the answer either.

      In real life, my name is Mary Anne. That’s first name, Mary, middle name, Anne.

      But for some reason, people see Mary (space) Anne and then call me Maryanne.

      I don’t get it. You see Elizabeth (space) Caroline, you don’t start calling the person “Elizabeth Caroline” every time you need to use her name. But Mary (space) Anne? That gets combined all the time. When I was a kid, all my teachers called me “Maryanne.” In fourth grade I had a friend who was very puzzled by the fact that at school my name was “Maryanne,” but at home, my family called me “Mary.”

      And misspelled. If someone does write my name as two separate words, they drop the “e” from Anne. Or worse, I get “Mariann.” The “y” gets changed to an “i” and the “e” gets dropped.

      People really just do not pay attention to what is right in front of their eyes.

      My solution has been to use my middle initial instead of my middle name. But a few times I’ve been made to reveal my middle name, and the messing up of my name begins again. Which causes problems, because I don’t respond to “Maryanne,” because, you know, that’s not my name!

      1. Blue Anne*

        My best friend in high school was a Mary Ann. My mom thought for years she was Maryan. It think it was made worse because her family was Indian and mom kept having to remind herself that they hadn’t given their kids Indian names.

        It drove *me* nuts on her behalf, I can’t imagine how must irritating it must have been for her.

        1. Blue_eyes*

          Pretty much this exact thing happened to my best friend! For the sake of anonymity let’s say her name is Rory*. Rory was adopted from Korea but her parents are European-American and they gave her a European name that was common in their family. My grandfather could never figure out that it was Rory and would call her Ro-REE like he thought it was some Korean name.

          * I wish I could put her real name because it works a little better than Rory, but it’s not a very common name and combined with the detail of being adopted from Korea would be pretty identifying.

          1. Career Counselorette*

            Oh my God, my mom does this. She goes out of her way to over-enunciate every syllable even if it means pronouncing it totally wrong. She made a friend named Carrie, and for months she would say “CARE-ie,” even though the woman had never said her own name this way. She also, even though she speaks no languages other than English, goes out of her way to pronounce things like cities and foods the way she’s heard native speakers pronounce it. She’ll just be talking like a regular white lady and all of sudden she’ll break out this exaggerated almost comical pronunciation of whatever ethnic word she’s saying, and she doesn’t understand how this could be perceived as mildly to really offensive. It’s hard to explain, but it’s super-embarrassing.

            1. cuppa*

              My mother loves to do this too, and even will correct you if you try to say it the Anglicized way.
              Long story short, I won’t eat or order bruschetta around her anymore.

            2. Blue Anne*

              When people do this to me, if we have the right kind of relationship, I usually say to them “Sorry, but you’ve got the em-FAAH-sis on the wrong syl-AL-ble.”

              Giggles and correct pronunciation usually follow. :)

              1. Int*

                My Shakespeare teacher would say that when we mispronounced the old timey words. It got the point across.

            3. Kelly L.*

              My ex would do this at Mexican restaurants. He didn’t actually know any Spanish that wasn’t food-related, but he would exaggerate his pronunciation so.hard. One time it backfired because the waiter assumed he was a native speaker and responded with a whole rapid-fire sentence in Spanish, and he was totally lost.

              1. Blue Anne*

                Oh god, my super white English boyfriend who loved Mexican food. Jesus Christ it was so embarrassing.


                I mean come on who doesn’t know how to say Burrito or Jalapeno?

                1. Blue Anne*

                  I was the jalapeños that did it for me. Laughing at him was he only thing that kept me alive while k was dying of embarrassment.

                  I told him to just call them chillies and he agreed it was probably for the best.

              2. Career Counselorette*

                My mother’s big thing that we’ve teased her about for years is that she had an Uruguayan Pilates teacher who was totally fluent in English but, duh, had a heavy accent, and so my mom would try to say “Uruguay” the same way her teacher did- which to her was “OoroWHY” said as almost one syllable in this almost shouty voice. We’d be like, “Mom, you sound ridiculous and native speakers are making fun of you right now,” and she’d insist, “But that’s how Luciana says it!”

                My ex-boyfriend heard her do this and was like, “Wow, how does she pronounce Hiroshima?”

              3. Ad Astra*

                Oh god, my MIL does this. She lived the first, like, 30 years of her life in Texas but sounds like Peggy Hill when she tries to pronounce any Spanish word.

            4. Vancouver Reader*

              My mother’s Chinese, and moved here in her 30’s, so understandably speaks with an accent. She mentioned once really liking a singer called “Mary O’Lanza (that’s how I heard it). When I went to find the singer’s music for her, only then did I realize it was Mario Lanza.

          2. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

            My grandma has exactly the opposite problem. Her name is Diane, but my great-grandmother, who taught French before getting married, intended it to be pronounced the French way– DEE-Ahn. Like Dionne Warwick. So that’s how she pronounces her name. But of course, all of us English speakers look at that name and pronounce it Die-anne. It doesn’t bother her anymore (she’s 85), but I’m sure it drove her nuts when she was a kid.

            Combine it with our prepositional phrase of a last name that no one thinks can possibly be pronounced the way it looks (it is), and it’s really easy to tell if the person on the other end of the phone is trying to sell her something.

      2. doreen*

        It’s people like my mother who cause this! Her name is Anne (space) Marie and it’s not a first and middle name – that’s her first name, as if it were spelled Annemarie or Anne-Marie. Only people who don’t know her call her Anne or spell it Ann. It only seems to be an issue with names that contain either “Mary” or “Ann(e) or both – I’ve known people who use “Mary Beth” “Mary Ann” , “Ann Margot” ,”Mary Pat” , “Mary Lou” etc, as single names , even though they spell it with a space. And it’s not a “too many Mary’s in the family” thing- those people tend to use the double name only with relatives.

        1. Cath in Canada*

          My Gran was Mary, and everyone called her Mary Ellen as if it was one word. I was in my late teens when I found out that her middle name was not and never had been Ellen – in fact she didn’t even have a middle name! Someone called her Mary Ellen once when she was a child, and it suited her, so it stayed. Even my Dad didn’t know that!

      3. Blue_eyes*

        This is more understandable to me since Marianne is a name. I can see why people would be confused and think it was all one name (although they should obviously cut it out when you point out that you go by Mary). One of my friends has the opposite problem – people are always thinking she has a double name (Emma Jean) when it’s really Emogene.

      4. Fact & Fiction*

        To be fair, most of the Mary Annes (1 name) I have known actually DO spell it with the space in between and have a separate middle name. That must be frustrating to correct, and people should probably ask if not sure, but one of my favorite coworkers at an old job was very much a Mary Ann 1 name not 2.

        1. Xarcady*

          And that makes sense. I’ve met Mary Anns who use the two names as one, although I’ve known more who run the names together.

          But when someone is reading off a form that has a space for “first name” and a space for “middle name,” it does seem odd that they would assume that it is a mistake that “Anne” is in the middle name spot and just run the two together. It gets worse when they try to argue that my name really is Maryann because that’s what I wrote on the form. No, that’s not what I wrote. I’m over 50; I learned how to write my name several decades ago.

          My name is Mary. Call me Maryann, and I simply will not recognize that you are calling me, just as I wouldn’t if you called me Rebecca or Sally or Jane or Tom or Sam. Not a deliberate ignoring. It’s just that my brain hears “Maryann” and assumes that there is someone else in the room with that name, because that’s not my name.

          And it pretty much happens every single time I fill out a form with my whole middle name. Which is why I use my middle initial whenever possible.

      5. Artemesia*

        In the south if you use your middle name i.e. have it written down on anything, then you will be called that as it is the norm to have double barrelled names like that. I knew a Mary Mike Green for example who was always called Mary Mike.

        It is also common to have a last name as a middle name and use it. So Mary Friend Smith is called Mary Friend. Or William Walker Johnson is called William Walker (although it is a bit more common with girls’ names.) We hyphenated our kids. It was unheard of back then for women to have their own names, so that was already weird and I took a lot of crap for it. But hyphenated kids names were even more unusual. So my daughter Lynda Myname-Hisname would have her name transformed into something more to the local norm and be called ‘Lynda Myname’ as if that were her first and middle name. Happened all the time — she was Lynda Myname pause pause pause Hisname.

      6. Ad Astra*

        I have the opposite problem. Before I was married, I had a common girl’s first name and last name that also could be a common girls first name, like Allison Tracy. Well, my husband’s last name happens to sound like another common girls first name, like Lindsey. So my name is Allison Tracy Lindsey and more than a few people have assumed that I go by Allison Tracy, like it’s a double name.

        1. Lore*

          I have known a particular colleague for almost 15 years and I only realized “Leigh” was her maiden name and not her middle name when I saw her mother’s obituary. Somewhat mortified by that.

      7. literateliz*

        Lol, my best friend’s name is Maryann (no space) and gets people calling her Mary. Idiots gonna idiot.

      8. anon for the mo*

        My Mum’s name is a hyphenated Mary and she has had EVERY variation under the sun, hyphenated or not, except her actual name. Drives her batty, because seriously, how hard is it to actually get someone’s name right?

        (I’ve been really picky about getting them right since being in a class with Tracy, Traci, Tracey, Tracee, and Tracie back in elementary school :) )

    11. Liane*

      Ah, yes. My maiden name is that of the Alice in Wonderland cat. I recall being very annoyed once as a teen when I watched a school official writing it down wrong, *while I was spelling it out at her request*! Even at that age, I realized that not listening to what I was telling them was disrespectful.
      It was not the same thing as spelling the name another common way or even not knowing how to spell the cat’s name because you never read the book, so never saw it in print. Both of those are understandable.

      Now I have a surname that also gets misspelled because over the phone it sounds like “Wood___” even to people including me (!) who know what the name is.

      And yes we also, brought name confusion into another generation, by giving our son a name that is spelled differently from several much more popular variants, 2 of which have a D while son’s name doesn’t. So he gets both wrong spellings and wrong pronunciations. But being laid back, he answers to whatever he’s called and – as far as I know – never corrects anyone about either.

      1. Sprocket*

        Oh I’d forgotten how often my last name is butchered! It’s an uncommon name and so few get it right verbally or written that I’m more shocked when it’s right than wrong. Lol.

        To this day my current manager still misprounces it when telling others to call me. And a teacher at school who’d both misspelled it in his grade/attendance book and mispronounced it every day until the entire rest of my class, unprompted, shouted out “its X!!!”, took to just calling me “hey you” for the rest of the year :)

        1. Blue_eyes*

          I went to a small middle and high school for 7 years. In my senior year the dean of students was still pronouncing my last name wrong (at assemblies! in front of everyone!). She was the one who read names at graduation so I made damn sure she knew how to say my name before that because I would have corrected her on stage if she said it wrong then.

          1. anon for the mo*

            there was apparently a huge fight in the staffroom before my grad about my last name – 2 ended up saying it right, 2 wrong (sigh)

          2. Dorth Vader*

            My last name got read wrong at both my high school and college graduations. Even though I emphasized it on the form that my last name was ___cOOk, not ___cOCk. It was spelled wrong on my gov’t issued ID and I didn’t even notice until I tried to close my bank account and they wouldn’t do it because my name was spelled correctly on the account and therefore didn’t match. I had to use my passport for domestic travel after that because I was so paranoid. My married name is much easier and it was a relief to change!

        2. Ezri*

          My maiden name was one of those Irish deals with ‘ei’ pronounced ‘eye’. Sort of like Reilly. But no one could figure out the pronunciation when reading it, so I’d end up listening to ‘Relly’, ‘Reely’, ‘Rally’, every vowel sound they could possibly think of. I spelled it automatically for people who asked for it.

          When I got married I took my husband’s super-common easy western last name, and now I don’t have to deal with that any more. :)

      2. Chocolate Teapot*

        I have just been reading a book about Empress Maria Theresa of Austria and almost all of her daughters were names Maria Something. Apparently they would usually be called by their second name or a nickname of some sort, so Maria Elisabeth was Liesl and Maria Caroline was Charlotte.

        1. NJ anon*

          I went to Catholic school. There was a family with a bunch of kids. The boys were all named Joseph Something and the girls, Mary Something. The each went by their middle names.

          1. Hlyssande*

            This happens a lot in the Philippines. I do a lot of training over WebEx for company employees over there and I always have a hard time knowing if I should call them Maria/Mary or Theresa (email signatures are usually Ma. Theresa, as an example). It’s really awkward.

            1. DMented Kitty*

              Coming from someone who’s Philippine-born and raised…

              If the name is ‘Ma. Theresa’, it’s most likely pronounced ‘Maria’ (because it pairs with ‘Theresa’ is Spanish), but more often then not they would likely go by ‘Theresa’ (or any variation/nickname of it). If they go by Mary, it’s usually paired with a more Americanized second name (e.g. Mary Ann, Mary Lou, etc.), and they would either go by ‘Mary’ or some sort of a mashed nickname like ‘May-Ann’, ‘Ma-Ann’, or ‘Ma-Lou’…

          2. Judy*

            One of our neighbors had 3 girls, Mary Ann, Mary Katherine and Mary Jane. And they were known by those names.

          3. Dynamic Beige*

            I had a coworker who told me that in Quebec where he was from, it was a traditional Catholic thing to name all boys Joseph first then middle name(s) and same thing with Mary for girls — because you’re paying respect to those religious figures. The kids all get called by whatever their middle name is for clarity.

          4. ancolie*

            Aw yeah!

            My grandmother was one of … 12? 13? kids. The three daughters were Mary Rose, Mary Margaret and Mary Theresa and the boys were all named after popes.

            And while I love my Polish last name, despite the trouble it causes* I want her last name! It’s”St. (name)”. It just sounds so awesome. And man, I just now REALLY noticed how Catholicy McCatholicstein their names were. Haha. The given names are obvious, but man, that last name puts it over the top!

            * dangit, people! It’s one of the few Polish surnames that’s phonetic in ENGLISH as well as Polish! But they hear/read the ending and like, panic, so they switch syllables around, ADD syllables, etc.

      3. Artemesia*

        We gave our daughter a very common first name and I very specifically chose the most common spelling of the name. I figured she’d have enough trouble with her hyphenated last name. Oddly even though we raised her in the disapproving south she was always good with the hyphen. One time when someone gave her gas about it, I heard her say “it makes perfect sense to me — my Dad is Hisname and my Mom is Hername so why wouldn’t I be Hername-Hisname, I’m their daughter.’

        1. Artemesia*

          When she married she and her husband created a new hyphenated name with her maternal name (my name) and his paternal name (his former last name) so that they and their children are all Myname-Hisfathersname.

    12. KT*

      My first name and last name together sound like one name (If you say it really fast!), like AnnaMaria.

      People have seriously thought I lacked a last name, and was like Madonna or Sinbad and only had one.

      No matter how many times I correct people and say “No really, my name is Anna, my LAST NAME is Maria”, people continue to address me as AnnaMaria, even in written mail where a last name is fairly necessary.

      1. Blue_eyes*

        Some names just sound good that way. One of my friends goes by a 1 syllable nickname and his last name is also 1 syllable so pretty much everyone calls him First Last.

      2. Cucumberzucchini*

        I’ve had a similar experience except my maiden name was clearly a last name but for some reason people just love to save FirstNameLastName all smooshed together really fast.

        I don’t have that happen anymore with my married name.

    13. Sprocket*

      As Shakespeare said, a rose is a rose by another name.

      I have a normal spelling of a fairly common-for-my-age-group female name. More often than you’d expect, I get emails addressed to the masculine spelling of this name. After the first few mental “wait, what?”s, I realized it was an innocent mistake, and it really amuses me.

      I used to hate a nickname version of my name but after working with international teams who had trouble saying my full name, and who I thus allowed to use the shortened version, it’s grown on me.

      1. AnonAnalyst*

        This is like my name too (maybe we have the same name!) I get emails addressed to the masculine version of my name despite the fact that my first name is in my email address. I also get emails addressed to many other less common variants of my name, which always surprises me because by far the most common spelling of the female version of my name is mine. But, wow, people get really creative!

      2. Ezri*

        I’m in a bowling league. We had a male player with a gender neutral name who was replaced by another male player with the male spelling of a gender neutral name. The bowling league still insists on using the female spelling and putting him with the women’s scores, and he still hasn’t been able to get it straightened out.

    14. Al Lo*

      I have an unusual name, which I love. I actually have an Instagram series of all the different ways Starbucks employees spell my name. At this point it’s more amusing than anything. But the thing is, my name is relatively easy to pronounce once you see it.

      My bigger pet peeve is parents naming their children names that have traditional spellings that they choose to spell in an unusual way. One of the bigger ones right now seems to be Jackson. I can’t tell you how many of my peers have kids named Jackson, and there seem to be a half dozen different spellings. That one I consider less “legitimate” of an unusual spelling because they’re not derived from different cultural or heritage backgrounds, like the different spellings of a name like Catherine.

      1. NJ Anon*

        My son’s name is Brian. I’m always asked “with an I or Y?” Sigh, just the traditional way.

        1. JustKatie*

          I feel like I see both of those spellings with pretty equal frequency here in the midwest. Both spellings appear to be old from a cursory Google search. At least it’s not Briian or Breyan or something!

          1. Lore*

            I used to know a guy whose name was Brian, spelled the ordinary way but pronounced Bree-on. That was confusing.

    15. Not Shannon*

      My name is Sharon, my boss’ name is Shannon. We each get called the wron name more often than not.

      1. Alicia*

        My name is Alicia. I am used to having it misspelled and mispronounced. “No, it’s pronounced “A-lee-sha”, not “A-lee-cee-a”. This is compounded by the fact that my boss’ native language doesn’t allow the “-sha” sound, so he always introduces me as the second version. Also, one of my employees is named Alison. We’re doomed to answer to each others names.

        1. Gallerina*

          If your working with any Brits, it’s always almost pronounced A-Lissi-a in the UK! Until I met one in the US it never even occurred to me to pronounce it a-lee-sha, although I do remember to now.

        2. Artemesia*

          I have always pronounced Marcia Marsha but when we moved to another area of the country all the Marcias I met pronounced is Mar See Ah. I have no idea how it should be pronounced now — same with Alicia — I’d naturally pronounce it ‘sha’ but lots of people named that use the ‘See ah’ ending.

      2. Shannon*

        I frequently get Sharon, Janet and Samantha (WTF on the last two). It was fun when I worked retail with Janet. Neither of us could figure out who was being paged on the intercom.

        1. Kairi*

          I’m also a Shannon, and I get Sharon ALL THE TIME. It used to bother me, but I’ve learned to just get over it if I’m never going to see the person again.

      3. Partly Cloudy*

        My former boss once got a piece of mail at work from one of our vendors addressed to Herfirstname Mylastname. We were both listed as contacts with this vendor, but I have no idea how they ended up mixing and matching our names, which are not even remotely similar to each other.

    16. Purr purr purr*

      My name is Catherine and I’m constantly getting Kathrin written down everywhere. It shouldn’t be as hard as they make it!

      1. Al Lo*

        I think I say this every time a name conversation comes up, but I work with a Catherine, Katherine, Kathryn, Kathrin, Katheryne, Cathy, and Kathy. It drives me nuts when people misspell their names, because in writing, as long as everyone gets it right, I know exactly who’s being referred to.

        1. Not Shannon*

          I rarely meet other Sharons… except in one job where FOUR of the nine employees were named Sharon. And two Sharons had similar last names– think Robertson and Robinson. FUN STUFF!

        2. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

          We had an issue with this because we had a Katherine and a Catherine. My coworker would often send emails that said, “Please reach out to/follow up with Katherine for XYZ,” not matter which of the two women she was actually referring to.

          Sometimes it was easy to tell who she was talking about based on the task, but they would often both be involved in projects (Marketing and Operations), so often you would find your self writing back for clarification.

          1. Judy*

            I have a friend who is a Christine with a sister in law Kristina. So to the nieces and nephews they are “Aunt C Chris” and “Aunt K Kris”.

          2. NJ Anon*

            We had two Kathies in our office. We reverted to kindergarten. One was Kathy C and the other was Kathy D.

            1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

              We tried asking this coworker if she would say Katherine A and Katherine B, using their last initial but she would always just write Katherine.

          3. Naomi*

            At my previous job, people who were required to attend a meeting were identified on the calendar by their initials. Then one day I showed up at a meeting by mistake because my manager meant to invite the other NH. I think it only took so long for anyone to notice the shared initials because usually I went to all the same meetings as him anyway.

            My current job has two Daves. At one point we had three Daves, a John, and a Jon on the same project. We’ve gotten in the habit of identifying who we’re talking about by last initial.

      2. the_scientist*

        My name is a Gaelic variant of Catherine, and it’s spelled the “traditional” way, however the non-traditional spelling is also a popular girl’s name in North America. It’s not a hard name to pronounce, but the more traditional version is apparently difficult to spell because I am forever having to tell people “with a C, not a K” and “with I instead of Y”.

        My personal name-related pet peeve, though, is extraneous “y”s. It seems like my generation wants to give their kids “creatively spelled” names and the easiest way to do that is to replace any “I”s with “Y”s. STOP IT.

        1. Cucumberzucchini*

          Or Panera people who spell Katie – Katty. I am not saying Catty to them so I’m not sure where this new weirdo spelling is coming from.

          1. Fact & Fiction*

            One of my sister’s mid-20s friends is named Katty but pronounced Katie. It drives the editor in me insane. Ha!

          2. JustKatie*

            Hah, I’m a Katie (obviously) which is far and away the most common way to spell the name, and the other week someone commented that they had never seen it spelled the way I do. I mean I’ve *seen* Cady and Kaydee and Katy, but what has this world come to if somebody’s never seen it spelled Katie!

        2. dancer*

          This is so weird: I have a friend who’s name is the gaelic version of Catherine, and she lives in the same city as you. I didn’t think it was a common spelling/variant here, so it’s a funny coincidence!

    17. Dr. Ruthless*

      My mom’s name is “Carolyn.” Most people get this–the folks at Starbucks get it wrong, but whatever. But my grandmother–her MIL–called her “Caroline” (and spelled it that way, too) literally until the day she (my grandmother) died. After a decade or so, my mom gave up on trying to correct her. My favorite part was that my grandmother would talk about how my other set of grandparents must have been raging Democrats to name their daughter after Caroline Kennedy. This is ridiculous because:
      1) My mom was born before Caroline Kennedy
      2) My mom’s name ISN’T CAROLINE!

      1. Renn*

        My mom’s middle name is Caryl, pronounced Carol. I have asked my grandparents why they chose that spelling — family name? Popular at the time? Someone they knew? Short for something else? A mistake?

        What I can’t wrap my mind around is that they say there was no reason at all behind that choice in spelling.

          1. TL -*

            My brother spells his name like that.

            (And then he went to college in the deep south, where it’s a) much more common – and spelled many different ways and b) apparently a really common African American name and not so common Caucasian one. He called my mom because apparently everyone was asking him why he had a black name and my mom was like, “I just liked the name, kid. Deal.”

      2. NinaK*

        Even better. My mother’s name was Carolyn. Her own father called her Caroline. Why didn’t the just name her that?

        1. Marcela*

          Oh. Yesterday I received a letter from my father. He wrote my full name in the letter. He misspelled my first name -not Marcela-. How?! He decided to put me that horrible name and can’t remember now how to spell it?

      3. manybellsdown*

        Hah I didn’t see your comment before I posted mine! My mom is also Carolyn and has the same problem all the time. And no one ever got her maiden name right either, because it was one letter different from a much more common surname.

    18. april ludgate*

      My name is commonly spelled with two ls, but I spell it with one l (my republican parents didn’t want people to think they named me after a certain famous democrat), so I get misspellings all the time. What really gets me though, is that my full first name is spelled out in my work email, yet I still will have people email me and spell my name wrong. It’s annoying, but not really a huge deal since it’s an easy mistake to make.

    19. Bekx*

      My step-grandma writes my name as ReBecca. Pronounces it that way too. She’s known me my whole life :X

    20. Applesauced*

      As an Amelia who constantly gets called Amanda, Emily and now Emilio (he started a few months ago, I get so many wrong calls) I feel your pain. No advice, just commiseration.

    21. Names*

      Super fun with a common name that has plenty of standard spellings to choose from, but people decide to make up their own. Even when I signed emails, it still happened. Think Jennefur or Jennee. I have no idea where this came from, but it was always people higher up on the food chain. I’d even correct the spelling in my replies. I found it off-putting, but decided there were bigger hills to stand on.

      …Though it was still better than the time I was announced to the Department Dean as “One of the Adjuncts”, when I’d been working there for years and both parties knew me by name. Good times.

    22. Anonmanom*

      I once dated a guy for 6 months before I saw his phone one day and saw he had spelled my name wrong on the contact. In his defense, I was not on facebook, neither was he, we had met at a bar, and honestly I’m not sure he had ever seen my name in writing. Still caused a fight at the time though :)

    23. Brandy*

      My name is Brandy but for the most part I will answer to any “andy” names, especially for someone that doesn’t know me well and any spelling is ok, I keep getting ie’s and i’s and mine is with a Y. And my moms name is Marsha and in school, on forms I kept getting her name as Marshall, Im like “Brandy doesn’t have two dads, its Marsha, drop the ll’s”. Also my cats name is Angle and people keep spelling her name as Angel.

      1. Lee*

        Oh for a pet I definitely would assume the name was Angel (unless I had heard you say out loud Angle).

    24. Naomi*

      Oh, so many ways to get names wrong…

      When I was a child my name got misspelled as Niomi a lot. Now I always pronounce it with a long A, which seems to help. My last name is fairly phonetic, but once at a high school awards ceremony the presenter mispronounced it because he assumed from the spelling (and the demographics of the school) that I was Asian. We had had a practice run of the ceremony specifically to ensure that everyone’s name was pronounced correctly.

      The Mary Anne issue reminds me of my brother’s problem–he has two first names, but sometimes bureaucracy can’t process this and he’ll get mail that uses only the first one. People who know him call him by his initials.

      My boyfriend’s last name contains several silent letters and the vowel sound is unclear from the spelling. He’ll accept several pronunciations because it’s easier than teaching everyone how to pronounce it correctly. (And he’s identified by last name a lot, because we know several people who share his common first name.)

    25. Mary (in PA)*

      Names are the WORST.

      I get it with my last name, which is pretty close to Von Tussle. I had a coworker once who constantly referred to me as “Mary von Tussle” which is WRONG. I’ve also been called “Mary Vontussle” as one word, which is also wrong.

      Going in to the whole explanation of why it’s wrong (because the original comes from a French last name from the 17th century and not from the Dutch, as one would assume) makes me look like a snob and somewhat of a pedant, but…it’s my name. It’s important to me and it’s bothersome when people get it wrong. Not bothersome enough to, you know, yell at them, but still bothersome.

    26. Meredith*

      My name, Meredith, is not completely common but isn’t usual either. I have seen every spelling under the sun, and sometimes people address me with completely different M names – Michelle, Mary Beth, Marilyn, Mercedes… I also get some fun misspellings at the coffee shop – my name just this morning was Marida. I think nothing of it at this point; it’s hard to hear in those places, and honestly I don’t care as long as I get my food. :)

      I do correct people who call me the incorrect name, but I have let the spelling thing slide unless it’s something important, like a publication. It has made me much more conscious of how others spell their names, though, and I often double check unusual names before I send an email.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        honestly I don’t care as long as I get my food.

        I know some people who get sooooo upset and even angry if someone at Starbucks spells their name wrong. I’m like, “well, did you get the right drink?”

        It’s an efficiency process, not a spelling bee! (Although some of the misspellings I’ve seen on friends’ FB feeds are pretty funny).

    27. Alexa*

      From everyone from work colleagues to Starbucks, I’m constantly getting either “Alexis” or “Alexia”. (“Alexis” is especially common after I introduce myself because my last name starts with S.) I agree with Alison – it’s just not worth the social/political capital to bother people too much about it. No one’s ever doing it out of malice, although I do have a lot of admiration for those who are willing to possibly lose face by asking me to remind them which one it is.

      But sometimes it just gets ridiculous: when I was in college, my email address was Alexa@[institution name], and I was still getting emails that addressed me by the wrong name, even though they had to first type in my name correctly in order to email me!

      1. Alexa*

        Actually, that’s not true, someone once did do it out of what was probably malice, or at least disrespect. In eighth grade, there was a school administrator who hated me for reasons yet to be revealed, and she called me “Electra”. (???)

    28. Parcae*

      All these stories of name carnage are starting to make me think I’m the only person alive who has never had her first or last name misspelled or mispronounced… outside of complete communication failure, that is. “Did you say your name was Rebecca?” “…no, it’s Emily.” “Oh! Sorry. That’s E-M-I-L-Y, right?” “Yep!”

      I love the stories, but I sooooo cannot relate. My apologies to everyone whose name I’ve ever mangled, including our fearless leader Al(l)ison. I’m trying. Mostly.

    29. Lisa*

      I know a gal named Gail, who married a man whose last name is… Gale. That’s love!
      “What’s your first name, ma’am?”
      “And your first name?”
      “No, your LAST name…”
      SO much fun ROFL

      1. Ad Astra*

        This would be one instance where I would just go ahead and keep my maiden name, but that’s me.

    30. Renee*

      I don’t use an accent on my name, because I’m lazy and not French. However, my entirely life people have written my name with an accent… on the last “e.” I’ve never figured out why people feel the need to add the accent if they don’t even know where it goes. I don’t take offense, but it’s frustratingly mystifying.

      1. JustKatie*

        My cousin just named her daughter René. As a French speaker, I realllllly wanted to say something, but held my tongue. Leaving the accent off seems a logical move in a country where most people don’t know how to use them (and generally don’t know how to type them easily).

        1. Renee*

          Yes, I’ve met at least one male Renee here too. I don’t even know how to type the accent so I’m always kind of amused when people take the trouble to do it, whether it is in the correct place or not. It’s a lot of work to spell my name in a way that I do not. But, again, it’s amusement rather than offense.

    31. manybellsdown*

      Hah sounds like my mother – a Carolyn who always hated being called “Caroline”. And yet, she named my brother Geoffrey instead of the more common American spelling of Jeffrey.

    32. Alison Read*

      To the OP, you are really going to have to find peace with this. I spent my first thirty years repeatedly spelling my name and correcting those that took liberty making up a nickname. I just about became Congressman McDermott’s Liz in response to Alice. Ally/Ali was awful having grown up surrounded by lawyers and judges I found Ally McBeal offensive… As I push 50 (old for my name’s typical cohort) I cringe at how ridiculous it all was. I have accepted nicknames and actually find it nice that I have a different name from specific people. When I hear Al or Ali, or even Hasson; it just reminds me of those people in my life. I will only correct the spelling if necessary; i.e. Medical/financial/legal record or if they’re having difficulty looking me up.

    33. Amy*

      I have a somewhat unusual name that most people know as a nickname for a different, longer name. Think “Betsy” for “Elizabeth” — not a direct shortening but one of those weird nicknames that comes about somehow. However, my full name is “Betsy”*, and I have never once referred to myself as “Elizabeth” — but people will just assume, and call me Elizabeth! Sometimes when I correct them they will then start calling me by a different nickname like “Beth.” I also have to have the “yep, it just says “Betsy” on my birth certificate” conversation all the time. And, despite the fact that my name is only 4 letters, it somehow sounds indistinct enough to people that I have to routinely spell it out. Even then, people have trouble with the similar-sounding letters to the point where I have to spell it out using the phonetic alphabet. Argh!

      And of course I have to spell my last name, too… and I always know when a telemarketer is calling because they all pronounce it in the same wrong way…

      *Not my real name (nor is it Amy), but it’s unusual enough that I don’t want to use it here.

    34. JenGray*

      I sort of have the opposite problem than this LW. My name is Jenny not Jennifer but everyone thinks that my name is a nickname. I always have people ask me. I don’t mind too much as long as its correct on legal things. But I can understand the LW frustration in that her coworkers see the name in the email and still get it wrong. I think it could be a subconscious thing where they probably don’t even realize they are doing it.

      I read the example that Alison linked to and I have to say that woman needs to get over herself. She talks about how people are always throwing around so called connections but she is freaking out over a small misunderstanding. It is possible that people call her Liz. My daughters name is Elizabeth and she likes to be called Liz or Lizzy. I actually give her a hard time that her nickname is not her name when she puts it on school papers.

  4. Not helpful*

    #5 I took it as he only had this one application/interview at this time. Therefore he was not considering any other jobs. And maybe he just didn’t want to tell you anything for reasons of his own. Like afraid you wouldn’t consider him if he said he also looking for sciency jobs.

    Alison – Last line of #5 needs to be italicized.

  5. Shell*

    My name is also commonly misspelled; there are two spellings, but one is more common than the other (mine’s the non-standard one). The difference is one E, e.g. Stacy vs Stacey (not my real name).

    I can count on one hand the number of people who spell it right consistently who aren’t family members. A coworker at a previous job liked to address IMs and emails to me as StacEy as a joke that she remembers the second E, because most people spelled her last name wrong and she understood how irritating it is. And I’m like, “I’ve been called everything from Sherry to Sheila; Stacy at least has most of the letters right!”

    If I check my work email right now, 90% of the emails have the wrong spelling of my name. Just let it go. There are better battles to fight.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      After I gave her crap for spelling my name with two L’s on a thank-you card, my 11-year-old niece has insisted on spelling my name with as many L’s as possible (like Allllllison). She finds this awesome.

      1. Hatsune Miku*

        I end up with either zero or three n’s because people think I’m a double-n’d Jen.

      2. Shell*

        I can just imagine her painstakingly planning out the spacing on the card so she can fit in as many Ls as possible while still leaving room for the rest of the letters…

      3. Merry and Bright*

        My sister gets this. Her first name is Alison with one L yet many people use two. It doesn’t bother her too much but it does puzzle her because, in the UK, one L is more common than two Ls.

        I will show her this when I see her at the weekend; she will sympathise!

        1. Apollo Warbucks*

          I’m in the UK and have never seen the spelling Allison other than in the comments here, I was shocked to find out it was the most common spelling.

          1. Brightwanderer*

            Ohhhh is that what it is, a UK/US difference? I’ve been confused for ages about that. Every time I see someone address Alison as ‘Allison’ it reads to me like someone saw the author of the blog was Jane Smith and then kept addresing her as Jaine Smythe for some reason, because ‘Allison’ is a really unusual spelling to me. Today I learned!

            1. Alicia*

              I dunno. I’m Canadian and my default for that name is “Alison”. Two l’s looks absurd to me. Not that there is anything wrong with it to the “double L Allison” out there – it just isn’t my first go to.

              1. JB (not in Houston)*

                Well, but Brightwanderer asked if it was a US thing (which it is), not a N. American thing. Interesting to know it’s usually one-L in Canada, though.

                1. JB (not in Houston)*

                  In case it wasn’t clear, my response was aimed at the “I dunno” part, which I assumed was disagreeing with Brightwanderer, so if I misunderstood, just ignore my comment.

                2. Alicia*

                  Wasn’t disagreeing really – just stating that I don’t think it’s a North American thing. Though, truthfully us Canadians are very confused because we borrow so many things from both the UK and the US :)

                3. JB (not in Houston)*

                  @Alicia . . . but she didn’t say it was a North American thing? Just a US thing? Which it is. We totally do that in the US, regardless of how y’all do it in Canada. I’m so confused!

              2. Dynamic Beige*

                @Alicia — I once met a man whose name was Al, but then I found out that his name was Alison and he just went by Al. He called his son the same thing and that guy went by his middle name. Not that it matters, but the family was originally from down east. I had no idea that Alison could be a male name, so sometimes I think Allison must be the feminine version of that like the Frances/Francis thing — which it isn’t and just messes me up.

                1. JMegan*

                  Oh, I never thought of Alison as a male name either, but it totally makes sense! Think Peterson, Davidson, etc – I wonder if Alison was originally a last name, meaning Son of Ali (probably short for Alexander).

                2. LabMonkey*

                  Coming in suuuuper late to say Allison, two Ls, is historically a surname of the -son variety (usually Allen) and Alison, one L, is a feminine name that’s ultimately an anglicization of Alicen, a French diminutive of Alice. Allison began being used as a spelling due largely to conflating the two. Neither was ever really used as a masculine name with any frequency.

          2. Blue Anne*

            I’ve lived in the UK for nearly a decade now and “Allison” has started looking really strange to me. It seems like it should be pronounced Ahh-lison.

          3. Merry and Bright*

            It was early morning when I posted earlier. What I meant to say was that many people spell my sister’s name with two Ls. Apologies for being ambiguous. One L is definitely usual in the UK.

        2. Alison-with-one-L*

          Some day, I’m sure that’s what’ll get written down.

          The surname is the greater trial, because that leads to letters that don’t arrive and credit card payments that don’t go through. There’s the French spelling and the English spelling and the American pronunciation — because it was the name of a main character from a popular TV show — and not to mention random spattering of random consonants and vowels …

      4. Allison*

        People spell my name with one L a lot, like the way yours is spelled. I don’t like it when it’s spelled wrong, but at this point I’ve learned to only specify the spelling when it’s actually important, and when people are just writing my name down for, I dunno, a reservation or something, it’s not a big deal and I try to let it go.

      5. Elsajeni*

        I knew an Allison in high school who eventually got tired of having the “one L or two?” conversation and started spelling it LSN. I’m not sure it actually helped, but at least it entertained her.

    2. KSM*

      Man, even my family members don’t get my extra-E right,. but that’s because I usually go with the short form which avoids the ey/y thing entirely.

      No one gets it right.

      There’s a choice on my last name: the German (it’s originally a German name) pronunciation, or the English pronunciation. The German pronunciation is overwhelmingly more popular, here in Canada.

      Unfortunately, although I am significantly German, the name comes from the English side of my family.

      My boyfriend, who has spent years learning German, his most recent ex was German, who knew I was half-German, had no chance. He also has a thing where if he mispronounces a word, game over–that’s how the word will be pronounced by him forever unless he undertakes serious effort to change it. So he spent 6 to 12 months saying my name the German way in his head until I heard it and corrected him.

      So he gets my last name right, when spoken aloud, >50% of the time, due to strenuous effort to fix it. I appreciate it but I know how ‘sticky’ these things are in people’s heads and do not fault him for the times he slips.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        I dated a guy from Italy who waited 6 months to tell me I was pronouncing his first name wrong! I was putting an accent on the wrong syllable. And like your boyfriend, I kept doing it; I finally trained myself to say it correctly but it wasn’t easy. I was so embarrassed. It’s nice that you were understanding of your boyfriend’s struggles!

        1. anonintheuk*

          I keep having to remember how my client pronounces his name.
          Client is American of mostly German descent. I have a degree in German so speak it almost fluently and have met Germans with his surname, so keep wanting to pronounce it the German way. Which isn’t the way he pronounces it.

          1. Summer*

            I have a similar problem. I (a blond, very pale white woman) work at a non-profit catering to people of Arab descent. Although I don’t speak Arabic, I always do my best to pronounce Arabic names correctly (even if I have to practice!). However, I occasionally work with a person or family who has intentionally Americanized their Arabic name. In these cases, I of course pronounce it the way the person has requested. This is not a problem, except when other people hear me saying an Americanized Arabic name and assume I’m just butchering the Arabic pronunciation because I can’t be bothered to learn to say it right!

          2. Ad Astra*

            I took several semesters of Italian in college, and while I never got close to achieving fluency, I did learn that tons of the Italian Americans in my life were “mispronouncing” their names. I always want to say “Do you know that your name, is it’s spelled, has a whole extra syllable that you’re not pronouncing?” But it’s not my name.

              1. Ad Astra*

                Exactly. Some did so deliberately and others had theirs butchered so frequently that they stopped correcting people.

        2. KSM*

          Yeah, I know it’s hard for him and couldn’t fault him–he had never heard it aloud and made a logical guess!

        3. cuppa*

          I have a very Polish last name, pronounced in a very American (though still not intuitive) way. Another family in my town has the same last name, pronounced in a different American way. I get why people are confused. :)

        4. Artemesia*

          When I do something like that I apparently process the correction as ‘do it the other way’ and when the correction starts to feel normal then I shift to the wrong pronunciation because my queue to ‘feeling like the normal way’ is ‘do it the other way. Had that problem with my friend named Ann for years with ‘Anne.’

    3. Ad Astra*

      I’m usually really good about remembering how someone’s name is spelled, but for some reason I have a really hard time with Allison vs Alison, Lilly vs Lily, and Hillary vs Hilary. It’s like my brain can’t distinguish between one L or two.

  6. KarenT*


    If it’s not cost prohibitive consider getting a couple of plain suits. They’re great to have on hand for interviews anyway, which you will presumably be doing when you finish your program. You can wear those until you figure out the climate/dress code.

    Also, I’m obsessed with the skirt you posted!

    1. Lily in NYC*

      Yeah #3, I like your style! I think you’ll be fine in your program and that you won’t see people in suits. I bet you will get lots of compliments on your clothes; they are stylish without being revealing (which would be a different story).

      1. cardiganed librarian*

        I also think that if the poster is planning to continue working in fashion, it might not be a bad thing to be known as the one with the awesome pouffy skirts.

      2. Vin Packer*

        Agree. Also, different people can pull off different things; I know a very professional lady who looks -amazing- every day of her life but if I tried to wear the exact same outfits she does I would look like an insane person. Owning your personal style, whatever it may be, can often go a long way in these situations.

    2. Maria*

      #3: Current MBA student in the Midwest here.

      For anything career related, wear a conservative skirt/pants suit or classic sheet with matching blazer.
      Events where you’ll need a suit include
      – career fairs : these start as early as September in your 1st year for summer internship recruiting
      – interviews for internship/jobs (if it’s not in the fashion industry)
      – some networking events (e.g. alumni visits, company tours, city trips to potential employers). In my school, the dress code would be specified for those events, especially if it’s an event in the middle or at the end of the school day.

      For classes, I’ve seen everything from dress pants and shirts (no ties) to sweat pants and summer dresses and shorts. Your colorful wardrobe will probably stand out, so I second the advice above of toning it down a bit during the first week or two until you get a feel for your school. You could also search for pictures of previous years’ classes to get an idea.

      During the semester, I tend to go with a business casual wardrobe with some color injected: patterned wrap dresses and cardigan, coral blouse with nice blue jeans, the red or green or patterned pencil or A-line skirt with a simple top, or a colorful shirt with cropped pants… Many female classmates including myself use jewellery (can be funky) or scarves to spice up an otherwise simple outfit.

      And depending on where you live, think about comfort while sitting in class and team meetings all day. In February in the Midwest, style comes after warmth :D

      1. Shanghai*

        Second all this poster’s comments! If you’re planning to go back to fashion, those companies probably expect a more polished and spiced-up wardrobe. However, other companies will expect more conservative outfits.

        No one (I know) wears suits to class. Just wear something comfortable that you can sit in for a long time. I’d tone it down the first week or two, then gauge whether you want to dress up more or not. Some people are fine being the stand-out in the pink dress; others aren’t. You’ll get a feel after a week or two.

        Second the idea that you WILL want a very conservative navy or black suit with plain shells (or button downs) to wear during “toned down” events like on-campus information sessions. You can always spiff things up with jewelry or accessories.

        -Signed, another Elle Woods MBA first-year who’s going into more conservative industries

    3. the gold digger*

      I wore jeans, shorts, and t-shirts (not at the same time) when I was in business school (top 20 school). Anyone wearing a suit to class was clearly interviewing. Everyone there had worked for several years before returning to school and we were all really happy to be able to ditch the suits and high heels.

      The only person whose clothes I remember are L’s. She had been a ballerina. She wore crazy beautiful outfits – I remember her polka-dotted tights – and looked great. She stood out but nobody cared. She and her husband now run a rum distillery in Hawaii, so her clothing clearly did not hurt her professionally.

      As far as the pink briefcase, I wouldn’t worry about that, either. It’s beautiful. I wouldn’t dress head to toe in pink for an interview, but a pink bag? If I were interviewing you, I would admire it and ask where you got it because I would want one.

    4. Legally Brunette*

      OP #3 – As a lawyer who has gone through numerous interviews, I want to suggest some alternatives to a black bag. Consider gray (my favorite, as I find it to be a very versatile color) or even a dark burgundy or lighter stone/cognac colored bag. They will all pop off a dark dress or suit nicely. One of my favorites is the Gates Satchel from Gigi New York (I don’t work for them!), although it is not available in many colors. It looks like a modern twist on a briefcase, and should work not only for interviews, but also as a great day to day bag once you start working. You also do not need to have a briefcase style bag, and can opt for a tote bag instead. I recommend investing in one that is large enough to hold a laptop and work papers, and that has a zipper. The key, in my opinion, is to get something in a classic shape that will last for a long time. (Also, I haven’t read through all the comments today, so apologies if this is repetitive).

      1. Legally Brunette*

        One more thing, for your future interviews – as others have noted, the most important thing is to be confident! When I was interviewing for my summer associate job (like an internship for a law student), I heard stories of some large New York firms who would freak out if a candidate showed up in a suit that wasn’t black. Which suggested that wasn’t a place that I’d want to work at anyway. As long as you look polished and professional, an interviewer will not be focusing on your fashion choices. So if you want to carry your beautiful pink bag, go for it.

        1. Turanga Leela*

          I felt the same way about pants. I heard that some employers wouldn’t hire women who wore pants, so I wore pantsuits to all my interviews. I didn’t want to work anywhere where I had to wear a skirt every day.

          Ironically, I now wear almost exclusively dresses.

      2. Turanga Leela*

        I do almost exclusively colored bags. Depending on your field, it’s not at all weird to have a bag that’s bright green or cobalt blue, and color looks nice with a black, gray, or navy suit. I might not bring the hot pink briefcase to interviews with conservative employers, because they really might think of Elle Woods, but it’s a great piece and you should be able to use it once you’re working.

        OP #3, I second the recommendation to get a conservative suit or two for interviews and presentations, but please don’t leave your wonderful fashion sense at the door! Even in a corporate environment, you don’t have to wear a black suit with a white shirt every day—there’s room for color and accessories too.

    5. Shan*

      I agree, she’s got great style that I aspire to! I’m a shopaholic who got involved in a brand ambassador program a few years ago, and I love developing my funky style, but I work in a really conservative industry so I save it for the weekends.

      I think suits are great though, and they don’t have to be boring or blah! Actually, a great skirt suit makes me feel really confident, and I can make it fashion forward with accessories or a modern top. Get some suits and go conservative for the first week and get a feel for the culture, and then you can use your existing wardrobe to spice up a plain blazer or skirt as needed.

      I’d keep the bag though! Even in my conservative industry, I see women with unique or colorful bags. I think the structure of the bag makes it more professional.

  7. Dan*


    The guy interviewed *two months* ago with your wife’s company. Maybe he got rejected already, or is not interested. In which case, he’s 100% truthful by saying he’s no longer considering that, if in fact, he’s no longer considering that. And you have no evidence to the contrary.

    The older I get, the more I start taking the “not your business” side of things.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think the OP’s issue was that the candidate said this was his first nonacademic application — so it wasn’t just omission, but something that wasn’t true. (I still agree with you that it’s not his business, because it was a topic that the employer wasn’t entitled to a thorough answer about.)

      1. Meg Murry*

        My first thought was that he said it was his first nonacademic application so I guess if OP’s company was really slow to interview it is possible the interviewee actually did apply to OP’s company before the wife’s company, the wife was just the first to interview him. Or maybe the applicant used some other wording that is technically not a lie but could be misinterpreted (like he said this is the first nonacademic application he considered, or OP’s company was the first one he considered applying to)

        But either way, I don’t blame the applicant for not disclosing “oh yeah, I’ve been interviewing all over town but I’ve been rejected by the rest of them so now I want you to hire me!” I don’t think this is a red flag at all – maybe a single red thread in an otherwise plain flag, but not a red flag. It might make me take some of the other statements the applicant made as exaggerations (e.g. “I’m just so facinated by statistical analysis” probably is more like “the job ad says statistical analysis is a big part of this job, and I don’t absolutely hate doing it and am willing to do it for pay, so I can pretend to be way more enthusiastic about it than necessary”) but I think that’s pretty common for a lot of job applicants – to tell the interviewers what they want to hear, without disclosing unnecessary info that’s none of the interviewers business and shouldn’t effect the interviewees ability to get or do well at the job.

      2. Diddly*

        Also OP shouldn’t really be privy to this knowledge anyway… so I don’t feel he can judge an applicant on it. And it is a really awkward question – I mean I could be considering loads of places – they might not be considering me – like you said he could have been rejected, or equally decided that company wasn’t the right fit. And also he could think that OP might judge him for considering other roles – or not being ‘firm’ in his interest to this company, because that’s sometimes why people ask. It does put you in an awkward position as a job seeker. If OP wanted to know why he wanted this particular role, instead of following on into academia (which seems to be what OP implies further up) that’s the question that should have been asked.

    2. steve g*

      I concur….i don’t know how to answer questions like this in my job search…I mean…I interviewed at a job that has 400 applicants two weeks ago. Even if I was there yesterday, I barely consider myself in the running just because of the # of apps. For other jobs…it can be embarrassing to bring up, it’s embarrassing to be rejected, heck, it’s embarrassing even why they just decide not to fill the job – what did you do that made hiring you not worthwhile? other jobs…the pay is crap and that kills the conversation. I do NOT want to get into all of that in an interview!!!

    3. Stephanie*

      I agree. It’s a lie, but I don’t know if there would have been any benefit to exposing him. Plus, I don’t know how this guy could have answered that honestly without awkwardness. People interview at competitors all the time.

      1. hbc*

        I think that’s the main thing–don’t ding people for understandable white lies in an interview. I know when I see a long gap on a resume and not a great match on background, the real answer to “Why do you want to work here?” is “I’ll take anything at this point.” I’d be worried about someone who answered honestly, because they might just let any old thought fall out of their mouths without regard for the impact.

      2. BRR*

        Maybe one of his questions at the end should have been how many other candidates are you interviewing?

        1. OP #5*

          He would’ve been more than welcome to ask, and might’ve been told even if he didn’t ask. We do full-day interviews for only a small number of candidates for a smaller number of positions. Why wouldn’t we be honest about that?

          1. some1*

            I think BRR was pointing out that where he was inetrviewing was just as much not your business if he preferred to keep that info to himself as you guys choosing not to reveal who else you were interviewing for the role.

          2. INFJ*

            In my interview for my current position, I was asked in the second interview with the HR rep if I had applied anywhere else. I answered and took that as my chance to ask how many candidates were in the running for my position. I got a very detailed response about how they had been trying to fill the position for months but didn’t find a good fit and I was the only candidate now.

            Hello, negotiation power!

          3. Viva L*

            I think a lot of candidates have been told to tell the folk they are interviewing with that this is their top choice/only choice/one hit. I think that’s especially true for young workers (shows eagerness/enthusiasm) and older workers (shows loyalty/steadfastness -when folk are looking for something more than just skills, such as fit/longevity, etc.) I wonder if that was the reason for answering the way he did. Also, I can only imagine the follow up questions that might come from a discussion such as that one – it’s clear he didn’t think you were asking him general conversation-style questions, but rather a specific questioning of his candidacy at other places (whether you were or not, he interpreted it that way at that time) hence, I can see him choosing to answer in a way that shuts down further conversation, especially if he isn’t necessarily a fast thinker and didnt want to get into the details of his job search.
            Regardless, because this is such a grey area, I absolutely wouldn’t hold it against him, even if it was a direct lie. I personally tell companies all the time that if they were to offer me a job, I’d accept.

  8. Luna*

    For my MBA program, people wore jeans and casual clothes to class, though still fairly put together (not in PJs or gym shorts). Often there were events that require business casual or business formal, usually recruiting events, where the expectation would be on the conservative side.

    1. MsM*

      Mine, too. Although we had a lot of nontraditional MBAs who weren’t interested in finance or other fields with strict dress codes, so the business formal wasn’t all boring black. Elle Woods would have been just fine in her pink suit.

    2. Another HRPro*

      My MBA program was a mix as well. Most wore smart casual clothes – nothing too sloppy. A few wore more formal business attire but most of those folks were also working while getting their MBAs. I wouldn’t worry too much about what you wear. Be comfortable and be yourself. Everyone’s focus is on learning and doing their best. These days even in the most conservative companies, attire is more casual than it used to be. Good luck in business school!

    3. Turanga Leela*

      The unofficial dress code at my law school seemed to be jeans + collared shirt + expensive jacket (Patagonia, Arc’teryx, etc.).

  9. Sins & Needles*

    Re: Letter #1

    That’s really creepy. Seems like stalking. Why not get the police involved?

    1. fposte*

      Because it’s a public street, where this woman is allowed to drive, and there’s been no threat to the OP.

      1. Elder Dog*

        A street she’s driving while she’s supposed to be at work. And the OP feels threatened. It’s sufficently outside the norm the OP is not wrong to be concerned, and absolutely shouldn’t dismiss her instincts.

          1. NickelandDime*

            We don’t know if she’s stalking or not, but she’s definitely out of order. I think someone talking to her at work and being VERY direct and VERY firm about this will make it stop immediately. I also don’t think it would hurt to point out to her what this could look like from the outside – creepy, stalkerish behavior.

            People with boundary issues very often know they are crossing the line – they’re just depending on people being too nice and polite to call them out on it. I’ve dealt with a lot of them – you have to call them out on it or they WON’T STOP.

          2. JHS*

            I think it could be both or it could at least escalate in that direction. If the woman is driving past her house and commenting that she’s specifically doing it to see what the couple is doing and commenting on the wife’s activities in an “I’m watching” way, that could be at least harassment, potentially stalking. Of course it depends on what the local laws say, but might be worth at least checking in with the cops so they are aware it’s going on?

      2. Sins & Needles*

        The employee mentioned the OP’s car was there and the OP was home. Reads like the employee is keeping tabs on the OP, too. Also how did the employee get the address, to drive by and stare and keep track of people? I’d feel threatened.

        1. Arjay*

          Since they live so close to the office, it’s possible that their house is on her actual route to work. And if she knows what car he drives, it’s reasonable she could recognize it. The driving by during the day and the gossiping may be out of line, but I don’t find it alarming.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            It’s also possible that one day, as she was leaving to go home, the Manager pulled out in front of her and she happened to just be there when he went into his driveway 2 blocks later.

            However OP if you’re feeling threatened, you might want to keep track of when you see the car. It is just probably that your house is on the fastest/shortest route for this employee to get to work. Or, they may have some issues. Unfortunately, the police won’t do much of anything (from what I understand) until there is a real credible threat or incident. But, if that ever does happen (and I doubt it will), having a checkmark or a notation of the time on your calendar or wherever that you saw the car drive past would be a way of documenting it. As there have been a few letters on here about employees who get their knickers in a knot over perceived (or very real) favouritism, it is possible that the reason this employee is keeping tabs is that she wishes she could work from home but is not allowed for some reason. Your husband is new in his job, so it could be some sort of thing where someone this employee knows and would have preferred was up for the job but your husband got it instead. Whatever this issue is, as others have said, your husband needs to address it directly with his employee.

            1. Stranger than fiction*

              Yes, that is what I was thinking. I’ve often been in situations where I’m driving home next to or behind a coworker and see where they turn and therefore get a general idea where they live. My concern is, though, that the Op mentions the office is gossipy in general. I’m wondering if the stalker-y person was put up to it by other coworkers and/or she’s taking it upon herself to gather fodder for her gossip mill and then passing it on to several coworkers. Either way, her behavior is odd and out of line and if she’s the direct report of the husband, I’d write her up.

          2. Ad Astra*

            I came to say the same thing. The OP’s husband should still bring it up because gossiping about his comings and goings isn’t cool, but that doesn’t mean she’s doing something sinister or stalkerish.

          3. Splishy*

            I was thinking the same thing. Where I work there is only one road to get to the building past a certain point (and only a couple other roads up to that point) and there’s a housing development across the road. It would be really odd for the residents of that housing development to complain about our company’s employees driving past their houses.

          4. Original poster #1*

            Hi, so the house is really close and she could have found out about where we live very innocently. In fact, I would be surprised if others find out too because of the distance between work and home. My concern isn’t about my safety, its about boundaries. Why on earth would someone think its appropriate to keep tabs on their boss and then bring up casually about the bosses spouse (i.e. me) and my whereabouts. I remember reading a long time ago on this blog about how if you have issues with coworkers behaviors and it doesn’t effect your work, then let it go because its not really your business to begin with. I think this is the perfect example. The coworker decided to keep tabs on my spouse to the point of checking in on him at home.. Why should she be invested in this? It shouldn’t matter if he was not in the office for FMLA reasons or because he flexed time; still non of her business. When I posted this, I was hoping that would be something I could take back to my spouse for him to talk to HR about. Perhaps a way to make her be more accountable for her actions and performance. Any suggestions?

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              This hasn’t reached the point of needing to involve HR yet. As her manager, the first step is for your husband to have the conversation with her that I suggested in the post. He will look pretty bad if he goes straight to HR without trying to address it with her directly first (unless it’s just to ask HR for advice on how he can address it with her directly).

        2. BRR*

          Maybe it’s because I’m in prospect research but it’s not hard to find somebody’s address, especially if they own their home (I can also possibly get the first 5 digits of your SSN, that’s why they only ask you to confirm the last four, because that’s the private part).

          Also as Arjay says, it’s possible because they live so close to work. A ton of people in my office knows where one coworker lives because they live really close to work.

          1. ExceptionToTheRule*

            Exactly. If you own a home, your address is a public record and is probably easily accessible via your county’s assessor’s website.

          2. Not helpful*

            Actually the last 4 are the public part. It’s what shows up on all sorts of paperwork.

            1. BRR*

              The last 4 are the private part. That’s why they ask you for those. There’s a bloomberg article that explains part of it.

              Also I use LexisNexis a lot at work and somehow it picks up the first five and it only gathers data from publicly available sources. It was a shock when I put in my name to see my first five floating around.

                1. Anonasaurus Rex*

                  Not anymore. They stopped that in the early 70s, but a lot of states still had their pile from when they were allotted so many of us born into the 80s have “regional” SSNs but that’s not true anymore.

        3. Sunshine Brite*

          For a lot of people googling their name and the word address will bring up all kinds of those white pages type sites that have lots of information available and usually give the address as a teaser portion to get people to pay for more.

          1. Ife*

            One of those sites still has me living at an apartment I rented for less than a year five years ago!

        4. Case of the Mondays*

          Maybe to suggest the employee wasn’t really working at home or that his reason for needing flex time wasn’t true? That doesn’t make it okay, just a less concerning reason. Like if employee said he was taking an hour to let the plumber in but in reality his wife was already home and could have done it.

      3. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Totally agree with fposte here. The OP writes that the employee “keeps driving by the house to see where he is. Then she goes and gossips about it to his whole office about whether his car is there or not.” That’s about monitoring her boss, not about threatening his spouse.

        I think we’d do a disservice to the OP to urge her to feel threatened by this when it appears that the employee is just trying to nitpick the boss.

        If the OP claims this is “stalking” and calls the police, she’s going to create major drama for her husband at work, drama that could affect his standing and credibility there. That would be warranted if there was evidence of an actual threat here, but nothing in the letter indicates it’s at that point. If that changes, my advice would of course change.

        1. Blue Anne*

          Well, the OP mentioned that the employee has starting checking whether *her* car is there, too. My husband and I live quite close to his work. If one of his employees was walking by to see whether the light was on in my study, and then saying to my husband “Hey, I noticed Blue Anne is working from home today!”…. I would feel kind of threatened, I have to say.

          I absolutely agree that comments about getting the police involved etc. are way over the top, but I understand get why she feels like her privacy is being invaded.

          1. F.*

            I agree that this does not yet rise to the level of police involvement, but knowing that the boss is male and the employee is female AND that she is noting both the boss’ and the wife’s presence at the home makes me wonder if there is more to the employee’s interest than just tattling on the boss. If she finds his car there and the wife’s car gone, is she going to “just happen to be in the neighborhood and stop by”? I have been stalked. It starts out small and slowly escalates. This may come to nothing at all, but the boss and their HR department need to nip this in the bud

            1. Purr purr purr*

              I was going to say the same thing about stalking and this is exactly how mine started. I know so many others are saying not to go to the police but I think the *wife* should, even if it’s just to get it on record. She can request that they not pursue it and can also get their advice since they will have seen the situation more than OP and his wife. The police were actually really helpful with my stalker and knew when it had reached a point of unsafe escalation and fortunately I had everything on ‘informal’ record (the same records my friends had all told me not to make) that they needed when the time came.

              I have no idea why this colleague is so upset about the OP taking flex time, unless she doesn’t realise it’s flextime and is upset at his ‘lack of work ethic’ (as she would possible see it) but driving by when she’s meant to be at work is weird and suggests she’s leaving the office just to check up on him. If I was OP I would be having a private meeting with this weirdo for sure.

              1. Sunshine Brite*

                I don’t think she should go to the police unless she feels threatened in some way, but I think she should keep a record of this happening, just takes a minute to jot down and is helpful if the situation escalates in some way.

              2. Shannon*

                I wish there was a like button. I would like the heck out of this.

                Stalking doesn’t start out with a formal declaration of intent. Stalkers start by slowly pushing your boundaries, kind of like how you can boil a frog alive by slowly turning the heat up. By the time the pot is boiling, it’s too late. They think, “If they’ll accept A, then they’ll accept B.”

                The police have a non emergency line and a desk at the local precinct to help sort out these things.

                The OP’s husband needs to go on the record with a meeting with the Stalker, himself and his boss/ HR. The stalker needs to be told in clear terms that what they are doing is making him uncomfortable and that it needs to stop. He needs to document *every* time this happens and inform HR.

                I’m very disappointed in Alison’s answer. Being told not to cause drama and that there is nothing you can do is what allows this behavior to take a toe hold and escalate. It is borderline victim shaming, because, yes, the OP is a stalking victim.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  But there’s lots that can be done here and absolutely should be done here — it just needs to be done by the person in the best position to stop the behavior, and that’s the OP’s husband, not the OP. It’s very likely that the husband will get the behavior to stop immediately once he addresses it with his employee, but he hasn’t done that yet. That’s what needs to happen.

                  The OP doesn’t say she feels afraid or that she’s being stalked. She’s annoyed, and rightly so.

                  Is it possible that this could be the start of a stalking? Sure, it’s possible. But right now, it looks like something else entirely (an employee being disruptive and nitpicking her boss) and the first step is to address it from the boss.

              3. Navy Vet*

                There is a quote in one of the “Girl With a Dragon Tattoo” Books that incidents like these always make me think of: “It’s hard to believe that the fear of offending can be stronger than the fear of pain, but you know what? It is. ”

                Follow your instincts, if this behavoir make you feel uncomfortable then you should most certainly deal with it directly. Do not be afraid to offend someone who is crossing boundaries….If it was a simple matter of their house being on her route to work, why would she feel the need to tell the husband that his wife’s car is in the driveway? That is what strikes me as unsettling….Not just the driving by part, but the making note of who’s car is there at what time as both gossip and conversation fodder.

                If you don’t set the boundaries early, then it can easily turn into, “well, my comments on your car being in the driveway were ok for the past x amount of time”. And for people with boundary issues this is how they justify their behavior to themselves.

                I agree with purr purr purr, you need to record this. In case it goes out of hand. If this is a person who reports to your husband directly a meeting needs to be held WITH HR, not alone. Because he will want a 3rd party in the room for this discussion to protect himself later on if it escalates.

                1. Green*

                  But I don’t understand why the husband won’t just have the conversation with the employee…? If she ignores the conversation then escalating steps may be appropriate, but you generally need to say “Hey, don’t do that.” before you call the police.

        2. MsM*

          I don’t think the OP should necessarily feel threatened, but the behavior is wildly out of line. Sure, address it with the employee first, but I wonder if the husband would get more traction if he told HR it was starting to rise to the level where he did feel the need to have some kind of official intervention?

          1. Colette*

            I’m confused about whether the husband has directly addressed it with his employee at all. This shouldn’t start with HR involvement.

            1. Blue Anne*

              That’s a very good point. I had assumed he’d said to the employee that it wasn’t okay, but reading over the letter again, I’m not so sure.

            2. Sadsack*

              Yes, I wondered about this, too. How did it escalate to HR bring involved? How had the husband handled it so far?

            3. Sins & Needles*

              If I had an employee doing drive-bys of my house and commenting on whether or not I, or my spouse, was home, I wouldn’t start by talking to that person, I’d start with HR. I feel that the employee has already demonstrated a disregard for boundaries to the point of it not being safe for me to be alone with them. Or, if I was going to talk to that person, I’d get a third person in, as a witness and safety feature.

              I’ve been stalked. It started out slow, and the stalker had justifications for all of the behavior.

              1. Colette*

                If you were that person’s manager, it would be your job to have that conversation.

                And in this case, we don’t even know that the employee is going out of her way to drive by her house. It may not even be out if her way.

              2. Original poster #1*

                Hi, he went to HR directly with this. I thought it was the best to do so. This person is notorious for starting small fights in the office and gossip, so he thought it would be better to get HR involved immediately because of the working (ie boss vs. worker) dynamic. I think the upsetting thing to me is that HR didn’t do anything about it. There was no mediation which I thought would have been the first thing to come to mind.

        3. Elder Dog*

          I’m sorry Alison, but I think you’re misinterpreting this situation as something to do with work. I am concerned about the number of people here who seem to be trivializing this.

          Very Odd Duck has already been spoken to by the OP’s husband who is her manager and the issue has been taken up with HR and Very Odd Duck is still doing it.
          This Very Odd Duck has since checked up on where the OP is at least twice that the OP knows about.

          It’s time to ask the police to speak to the Very Odd Duck. Didn’t say restraining order. Didn’t say arrest. Said speak to her.
          Having the police tell her she’s been seen driving slowly up and down that street more than once and asking her why may wake her up to the idea even if it curries favor with other people in her gossipy office, it’s a very odd way to behave. Or it may simply generate a police report, which, when the OP finds the Very Odd Duck peeking through her curtains or going through her underwear drawer, will at least give the police a running start.

        4. not telling*

          This isn’t the first time I’ve been disturbed by the implied mysognism in your responses, AAM. “Let the husband handle it”??? “Don’t cause drama for your husband at work”??Really?

          What the woman does at work is her manager’s problem. What she does on a city street with a person who is not employed by the company is a criminal matter. And note: the crime of stalking does not actually require that the target feel threatened. It requires only INTENT.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Her husband should handle it because it’s his employee and he’s the one who has authority over her. That’s not misogyny. I’d say the exact same thing if the genders were reversed (and in fact have in similar situations).

    2. Elder Dog*

      +1 with the stalking. Very very creepy. If it continues, I think OP should stop worrying about her husband’s job and worry about her own safety and that of her children. I think if it happens again, it’s time for the police to have a chat with her.

      1. Myrin*

        I really feel like this is unnecessarily alarmist. Nothing in the letter makes it sound like the OP is actually frightened or feels threatened – she just seems really annoyed (and quite rightly so!). I really don’t think convincing the OP she should be scared is helping anyone.

        1. Purr purr purr*

          I don’t know, I’ve been stalked and it started in exactly this way with ‘harmless’ little drivebys that were more annoying than scary. Have you ever repeatedly driven by someone’s house, particularly when you should be in the office? I’m guessing not because it’s not a normal thing for people to do. You have to question the mentality of someone who a) thinks that’s an OK thing to do, and b) does it at a time when they have other responsibilities, which suggests the importance of driving by is incorrectly high. It’s the mentality of this being an OK thing to do that made me wary of that person and ultimately filing a bunch of ‘informal’ police reports, i.e. just a record of an event and not followed up on, that ended up being needed when it escalated. That can’t hurt, right? In the meantime, OP can try to handle this employee at work with Alison’s advice, which I hope works. Colleague sounds like a nutjob.

          1. Myrin*

            Oh, I agree with all of this and apologise if it seemed like I tried to trivialise the matter.

            I was more reacting to some comments written in a tone that reads to me like wanting to convince the OP to feel scared and threatened when that doesn’t (yet) seem to be the case. I can absolutely understand being cautious and alert and taking the steps you describe. It just made me uncofmortable to read comments written in such a way that they could cause the OP to feel fear when that wasn’t how she felt before.

            Lastly, I’m really really sorry you had to deal with such a situation before. I hope you’re safe and okay now.

          2. Case of the Mondays*

            The other problem is you do more harm than good if you try to get a restraining order or involve the police when there is nothing yet they can do. It the woman really is a stalker, it emboldens her and makes her think she now has permission for her bad behavior. In my state, the courts could not yet do anything. Stalking as we normally define it actually isn’t illegal here. Some of the harassment and stalking laws were found to be unconstitutional if there is not a present credible threat to the victim’s safety. Just going by someone’s house a lot to see if they are home, absent a threat is legal. Following someone PI style is legal (in my state). Again, if there has been no threat and the person doesn’t try to prevent the victim from free movement. (Can’t block a driveway for example). The most that you could do here (my state) is tell the cops and if they had time, they might go out and ask her what she is doing and why and report back to you if there is a legitimate purpose. We did that once when we thought a car was casing our house and thought it might lead to a burglary. Cops went and spoke to the person and they were supposedly doing mileage reports before turning into their own driveway. Weird but not illegal.

          3. A Cita*

            Yeah, I’ve been (in-person) stalked twice (and cyber stalked once–but I won’t go into that). The first time looked a lot more dramatic and obvious; the way people here are assuming stalking looks before it should be reported. The second time, it started off very subtly, in sort of an eerily similar way as OP (boyfriend’s colleague stalking him, then escalating to stalking me). In the second case, everyone said I was being ridiculous, they were colleagues, she was married, and I was over reacting. But my gut told me differently. Turned out I was right. But it wasn’t scary like the first time (because that guy was a truly creepy–I told my coworkers if I didn’t show up for work one day, the cops could probably find me in some dude’s basement tied up and dressed in a muumuu and pearls with a grown man calling me “Mummy” or something equally weird). Just super annoying and I got that behavior nipped by making sure my boyfriend escalated it to the boss, and then HR when boss did nothing about it. I personally did not get involved.

          4. Ad Astra*

            I don’t want to minimize your experience or anybody else’s, but driving by someone’s house isn’t illegal. And considering how close it is to the office, it may not even be intentional. Yes, stalking often starts with little things and slowly escalates. This situation hasn’t yet escalated to stalking or harassment. Calling the police before even speaking to the employee about the situation is alarmist and could really damage the husband’s relationship with his employee.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                My read of the comment is an objection to the idea of calling the police before even talking to the employee, but I don’t see Ad Astra suggesting not talking to the employee (to the contrary — the comment seems to say talking to the employee is the right first step).

                1. A Cita*

                  Ah got it! I read it too quickly. Yes, agreed. The point of my story was that while I experienced similar and it can escalate to stalking (like it did in my case), the right steps are first to address at the appropriate work-related level.

            1. JB (not in Houston)*

              I agree the police don’t need to be involved yet.

              I do think, though, whenever you are dealing with someone who doesn’t abide by normal, accepted boundaries, you should be aware of it and monitor the situation. We don’t actually know that’s what’s happening here–as Ad Astra points out, the employee might just drive past their home on the way to work. But if the employee is going out of her way to drive past their house, that’s alarming. Not “call the police immediately!” alarming, but “this made my creep-o-meter alarm go off” alarming. That wouldn’t make it something to call the police over. But it would be something to monitor, because somebody who ignores boundaries in one area will do it in other areas.

              But at this point we don’t have enough information to know anything creepy is going on. All we know is that she’s gossiping about something that she doesn’t need to be involved in, and the OP’s husband definitely needs to talk to her about that.

          5. JHS*

            I agree 100% and it is VERY scary. I have also been stalked by someone I work with and it starts out small and then progresses. Then there’s this serious urge to just ignore it because isn’t that better for everyone and maybe you’re making a big deal out of nothing? Then it escalates.

        2. Stranger than fiction*

          Yeah, I’m on the fence. It does seem really creepy on one hand, and then on the other hand, I’ve known people that are just extremely nosey busy-body types with no boundaries.

      2. Sadsack*

        Exactly what should the police say? It is a public street. She is driving down the street. That’s it. I doubt the police have time to track this woman down to chat about her doing something completely within her rights and not at all threatening or dangerous.

        1. catsAreCool*

          I was in a situation where I was beginning to feel nervous about a man who seemed to be overly friendly. I talked to the police, and they were nice about it and helpful and gave me good advice. The first part of advice was to tell him to leave me alone. They weren’t in a position where they could do much but give advice, but it helped.

        2. catsAreCool*

          I was in a situation where I was beginning to feel nervous about a man who seemed to be overly friendly. I talked to the police, and they were nice about it and helpful and gave me good advice. The first part of advice was to tell him to leave me alone. They weren’t in a position where they could do much but give advice, but it helped.

    3. Kat*

      I would start screwing with her. If she has a regular time or pattern to her drivebys, you could be outside in clothes covered in a red substance while dragging a lumpy rug out of the house. Maybe be taking out a trash bag with a small rip and a fake hand sticking out…with red substance on it in some way.

      I have all sorts of horrible ideas should anyone need them. Anyone else want to expand up them?

      1. NutellaNutterson*

        A gift of Rear Window definitely needs to be in the next team building prize basket!

      2. NJ anon*

        Put a “for sale” sign on your yard and don’t say anything at work. See if that gets talked about. Or one of those “new baby announcements” people sometimes put up outside!

      3. HeyNonnyNonny*

        Set up noteworthy scenes– car ‘broken in’ to or crime scene tape. Then, when she reports at work, manager can give her a blank stare and say he doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Repeat until she’s no longer a trustworthy source of gossip.

        1. A Bug!*

          It’s a funny joke on paper and it made me laugh, but just in case, I feel like I should note for the benefit of anyone who might consider actually doing it, that this would encourage her to start taking pictures so she has proof of what she’s seeing.

          1. UKAnon*

            That would be a good letter to AAM. “My husband’s employee keeps taking pictures of our house.” Definitely best to keep these brilliant suggestions in the imagination!

      4. A Cita*

        Fun fact: If you nuke a fortune cookie for a couple of seconds, it gets soft and you can open it. You could make sure she got one with the fortune swapped: “I see you.” or “I’m watching you.” Or something creepy.

    4. UKAnon*

      This was where I jumped to too but I don’t think it’s at that level yet. At the most I would say keep a rough document so if it does ever escalate you have some proof, but I very much doubt it will come to that.

    5. AnotherFed*

      I don’t think that’s actually stalking. Driving by the OP’s house on a public street and gossiping about which cars are in the driveway is annoying, but honestly not more than a lot of neighbors do. To be stalking, there has to be a pattern of repeated following/harassing of a person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety.

      The OP can maybe do some things about the situation that don’t require intervening in her spouse’s job, including parking cars in a garage or spot not easily seen from the street. If she does feel threatened or just wants to be proactively cautious, investing in home security like motion-activated lights, basic alarm system, barky dog, or a cheap security camera (be careful with the field of view – different states/countries have different laws on what’s a privacy violation if you catch part of a neighbor’s property) can be generally helpful in making your home a harder target.

      1. BRR*

        I don’t think it’s stalking either but it is a management situation where her husband should address it as Allllllllison recommends.

      2. Purr purr purr*

        It depends on whether that street is out of the colleague’s way or not. I can understand it if it’s on a major highway going into work or if the colleague lives nearby and has to use that street. It’s different though if they’re deliberately turning onto a small side street just to get a look, for example.

    6. KT*

      I agree–it may not be at the stalking level yet, but it’s creepy and a serious red flag about this woman and her mindset. No rational adult would think this is okay. I would keep a serious eye on this person (and tell me spouse to triple check locks, keys, etc and to be generally on guard), if there are any other red flags, I would consider going to the police.

      I’d also get one hell of a security system.

      1. BlueSunday*

        I agree with KT and the other posters above that this behavior is creepy and weird, but does not yet escalate to point where the OP and/or her husband should involve the police. However, I would recommend that you guys check out The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence by Gavin DeBecker, which is all about how to deal with potentially dangerous situations. He talks a lot about the importance of trusting your gut instincts, and I think there is a whole chapter on stalking. DeBecker has his own company, where is frequently brought in to consult with celebrities who have stalkers, to figure out whether they are actually in danger.

  10. gnarlington*

    Hm. I somewhat disagree with the people to say let go of the spelling of the name, OP #4. I have an incredibly common name, but people invert two of the letters in my name very frequently (or they’ll even pronounce it incorrectly, which just baffles me because it’s so common; like if someone pronounced Gavin like Javin for no reason).

    Now I don’t think you should take an aggressive approach to this or correct someone in every email. Though depending on your rapport with your coworkers, you could get away with signing your emails “—Lizzy-With-a-Y” or “—Lizzy I.E., no IE.” My coworkers would probably find that humorous and it would resolve the problem. But a lighthearted joke here or there when the opportunity presents itself could work. Whenever people talk about souvenir lisence plates, as an example, I bring up the weird spelling mistake and pronunciation of my name, etc.

    But it seems I might come out to be in the minority here. (Then again we likely wouldn’t tell an On-A to let it go if people were pronouncing her name An-A. I don’t know.)

    1. Kayla*

      (Not my usual display name.) My real name is “Kayla”. Pretty common name. When read aloud, I get “Kyla” about 70% of the time. Spoken, I get “Kyla”, “Kaylee”, “Kira”, and “Mikayla” at about equal rates. WTF, world?

      1. Ailsa*

        Speaking as someone whose name is not even really Elsa, I hear jokes along these lines about twice a week now. So far I’ve retained a sense of humour and don’t really mind them … but my they are getting old fast.

        1. Nashira*

          I share a name with a very famous pop singer whose career was well-established before I was born. The jokes stay funny for maybe a couple years? And then it’s like “oh, aren’t you witty.”

          1. Applesauced*

            This made me think of Office Space
            Michael Bolton: Yeah, well, at least your name isn’t Michael Bolton.
            Samir: You know, there’s nothing wrong with that name.
            Michael Bolton: There *was* nothing wrong with it… until I was about twelve years old and that no-talent ass clown became famous and started winning Grammys.
            Samir: Hmm… well, why don’t you just go by Mike instead of Michael?
            Michael Bolton: No way! Why should I change? He’s the one who sucks.

          2. The Other CrazyCatLady*

            I understand this reaction so very much.
            My name has a couple of letters in common with two well known things from Star Wars, so THAT was super fun to grow up with. We’ll see if there’s a resurgence of those comments when the next movie comes out. I should start practicing either non-reactions (“…I don’t understand the reference” with a slightly baffled expression) or over-reactions (“I’ve never HEARD that before! That’s HYSTERICAL!” followed by unhinged laughter).

          3. Chameleon*

            We named our daughter after the protagonist of a film, but the name is also connected to a 50s TV franchise. We figured it was too old for most people to remember.

            Nope. She’s only 9 months, and I’m already sick of the jokes. (Still like the name, though.)

        2. changing my name for this comment*

          My name is Danielle. People like to shorten it to Dani even though I hate that nickname. Ever since Game of Thrones became popular, people like to call me Dany and make comments/jokes about Daenerys and dragons, which is not only super tiring but irritating because I really dislike the character. I’ve just perfected the smile and nod when I hear it before changing the subject.

      2. hermit crab*

        Ha! I’m an “An-na” though I’ll answer to “On-na” too. Once an acquaintance asked me if she could introduce me as “On-na” to her Frozen-obsessed kid. It was adorable.

    2. teclatwig*

      I would never tell anybody they are wrong for wanting people to work at getting their name right, and I totally get it. I will support you fully. For whatever reason, my personal experience with names in the workplace led me to a different conclusion.

      My first real job involved lots of phoning and scheduling tasks. My name is a very short, diminutive form of a longer name (which my mother did *not* give me), and the common spelling has double consonants while mine had the single-consonant variable. Plus, being a diminutive form, there are many rhyming names which are not mine. (So, imagine something like “Keri,” “Teri,” “Jeri.”) Man, let me tell you, I am not sure one person in 10 got my name right. What really blew my mind, though, is how many people called me by the long form of the name. Maybe they thought they were being respectful?

      I was used to the common error of giving me a double consonant, and I had always been miffed by it. But the sheer absurdity of the number of people who called me the wrong thing and the multiple wrong things they called me somehow led me to a new sense of zen, a feeling that so long as I knew they were addressing me, who cared what they actually said? Obviously I want people close to me to get my name right, but even they get a pass on remembering how to spell my name.

      One thing to keep in mind (or maybe just to imagine) is that people are often juggling multiple variants of your name in their lives, and they might occasionally screw it up. I am friends with a Kristen, a Kristin, and a Kirsten. I know the difference, but sometimes I slip up. And sometimes I remember that I always get it wrong, then second-guess myself *away* from the correct version. Add in all the pressures of work and deadlines and etc., and I guess I just understand that people may get it wrong.

    3. Zelda*

      Names are fundamental to our identify. I think that getting someone’s name right – in writing or in speaking – is an absolutely basic courtesy, and that double-checking should be a reflex. Getting it wrong once? Not ideal, but OK. Persisting in getting it wrong even after it’s been pointed out to you? That shows a distinct lack of respect.

      I agree entirely that the “recipient” shouldn’t take an aggressive approach to correcting people, and that humour may the best approach for those who do want to tackle the issue, but making the effort to get other people’s names right *is* important.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I think there are two questions here:

        1. Should you care about getting the spelling of other people’s names right? Yes.

        2. Should you be bothered when people don’t spell your name correctly? Up to you, but you’ll probably be happier if you decide not to care too much, especially if you have an often-misspelled name.

        1. BRR*

          You had an explanation in the comments for why you don’t care how people spell your name a while back, would it be possible to post again (I can’t find it)? I have a common name but it’s spelled a different way and I can’t even remember your reason now but the explanation made me stop caring how people spell my name.

            1. BRR*

              I believe it was something along the lines of treat it like a typo and it’s not worth it to let it occupy your thoughts. Or maybe I have your reasoning wrong but it convinced me to let it go.

              1. peanut butter kisses*

                Sometimes they really are just typo’s. I have a co-worker who has gotten e-mail for Booby (Bobby).

        2. Lore*

          Agreed. Though I retain the right to be annoyed when my colleagues, who are professional copy editors, misspell my first name. Especially in responding to an email that I have signed. (My last name has at least three fairly common spellings and mine is much less common so that really doesn’t bother me.)

          1. fposte*

            I’ve had editor colleagues who just can’t do names–they have no name memory. That’s for proofreaders :-).

        3. Liza*

          …you’ll probably be happier if you decide not to care too much…

          Very much this. As you could guess, I’m regularly called Lisa instead of Liza. It used to really upset me. Eventually (after years of it!) I was ready to let go of that because I finally realized that being angry about it wasn’t having any effect except to make me unhappy. I trained myself out of it by picking a treat (Lindt milk chocolate truffles) and any time someone called me Lisa I owed myself one of the treats. It turned it into a game, and I was amazed how fast it worked! I’ll gently correct people who call me by the wrong name, but I don’t feel upset about it anymore.

        4. Suzers*

          My main problem with this is that if everybody who gets their name spelled wrong is instructed to just grit their teeth and decide not to care, there’s very little incentive for people who *don’t* naturally care about it to get it right. Like, if you naturally don’t really care if people spell your name wrong, fine, let it go, but for me, it *really* bothers me, because a name that is spelled differently *isn’t my name,* to me, and if I just go on letting people call me a name that isn’t my name, *I’m* the one who has to deal with the bad feelings about it when *they’re* the one making the mistake. I wish this were a situation in which we could make it acceptable to “return the awkward to sender,” as Captain Awkward says.

          Secondary problem with this is that it happens WAY more often to women. I dislike that it’s *yet another thing* that women have to suck it up and deal for the sake of workplace conflict, when men are allowed to just go on being disrespectful and obnoxious without significant social or professional consequences. Less overtly sexist than flirting or food policing in the workplace, but still an issue by virtue of disparate impact. (I know women certainly do misspell things/not give a shit too, but I personally have encountered a lot more women who are a lot more careful because they’re so much more likely to have been in the same situation.)

          I would really love to see a culture in which it’s the norm for people to correct each other about this until they get it right, to actually, instantly, in the moment of the interaction (rather than as a theoretical principle) put the onus on each other to say/spell names as the person wishes them to be spelled/said. And then, subsequently, for people who get corrected to just apologize and be gracious and try harder next time instead of getting defensive and snarly or overly apologetic. (This would also contribute a lot to the comfort and safety of trans people.)

      2. OP#4 - "Lizzy"*

        You bring up an interesting point–the only people who routinely misspell my name are those for whom I interned and then became a full employee. When I work with other offices (not as an intern), they always manage to spell my name correctly. It’s just with those for whom I’ve interned that this is an issue.

        And that’s the thing. I’m trying to just let it go. I know I won’t work for them forever, but it sure can be annoying.

        1. Meg Murry*

          I wonder if the intern office has or had another employee or intern named Lizzie at one time, and that is why they get confused – they are used to Lizzie and have to make a conscious effort to spell it differently.

          Either way, I feel for you. My first name is easy and almost never gets misspelled, but my maiden name – no one could spell it or pronounce it, as it had some letters in it that weren’t pronounced. A lot of people could remember that there was a hidden un-pronounced “A” in it, but couldn’t remember where it went, so I saw all kinds of humorous misspellings. For my sister’s wedding shower with her soon-to-be-in-law family, “How do you spell Sister’s last name [without looking at your phone!]?” was one of the questions on the trivia game they did for fun – and there were some great variations!

          1. OP#4 - "Lizzy"*

            Nope! I was the only one they ever had.

            And that’s hysterical that the spelling was a trivia question.

      3. Renee*

        It may be because I don’t really like my name all that much (and I’m actually in the process of moving to my middle name), but I’m not offended when it’s misspelled. Bewildered sometimes, but not offended. It was a popular name when I was born, but was spelled with some variation (-ay, -ae, masculine spelling for a girl, etc.). My middle name is a name that can be spelled with one or two “l’s” but I’ve never been concerned about how others spell it because both are “correct” spellings of the name (judgment/judgement… does it really matter?). I do take care to spell others’ names correctly because I know that other people do care. My husband has a name that is gender neutral but usually spelled slightly differently for a girl. It bugs him when it’s misspelled, even though there are famous actors with the same name that spell it the “girl” way.

    4. Anonathon*

      I actually agree. It’s totally not the end of the world, but it can be tiresome when people that you see every day can’t seem to learn your name. It just feel a little lazy.

      Basically, I sympathize with OP. I have a common first name and two fairly common surnames (hyphenated) … but I have the atypical spelling of all of them. I’ve been at my job for years and my names continue to be misspelled a zillion different ways despite the fact that you need to spell them correctly to email me. Again, not a disaster, but maybe take two seconds and compare your spelling to my email address?

      1. maggiethecat*

        OH they hyphenated name! I have both maiden and married names and get so many eyerolls/sighs when I spell the first name and then say “hyphen” People are so rude! My maiden name is dutch and has three parts (like Van der Woodsen) and I guess the capital/lower case letters and spaces just have people exhausted before I even get to the hyphen?

        1. Ife*

          Ah, the Dutch last name with spaces. It never ceases to amaze me how often people think my first name is “Van.” At work, I guess I kind of understand because we’re listed as Last Name, First Name. But in general life situations? It makes no sense, considering that there are a lot of Dutch and Germans in my area, so “Van/Von Whatever” is pretty common.

          And don’t get me started on the spaces… I took AP exams in high school twice, once I included the space and the next year I apparently forgot to (or they shortened the form so it didn’t fit with the space, or something!). I had the hardest time getting both sets of tests to send to colleges, all because of spacing!

    5. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

      For people I have a good relationship I will often send them back an email with an egregious misspelling of their name. For instance, my best friend’s name is Mark, so when he misspells my name I’ll send him back a Merq.

      1. Partly Cloudy*

        A former boyfriend of mine once spelled his own name wrong in an email to me (think “Mat” vs. “Matt”). For awhile after that, I addressed emails to him with the typo version and referred to it as his rapper name.

      2. Judy*

        I did have a longstanding joke with a co-worker (Mike) who called me Julie once. For 5-6 years, he would call me Julie, and I would call him Mark when passing in the hallways.

  11. Kat A.*

    I don’t see any legit reason why job candidates should have to tell if they have applied anywhere else or where they have applied. NOYB

  12. Dan*

    I have a Scandinavian last name that is very commonly spelled with an “o”, but mine is spelled with an “e”. It’s not a terribly uncommon spelling, just dwarfed compared to the “o.”

    People who know me for years still spell my last name wrong. And I just… never let it bother me for some reason. I just consider it a quirk of human nature and move on with my life.

    Every email I ever send, be it personal or work, has my properly spelled last name in the “from” column, so I never bother correcting people.

    And if I get a “Dear XXX YYYYY,” spelled correctly in the body of an email, 9/10 it’s a spammer.

    1. NutellaNutterson*

      I am so used to my name being misspelled that it legitimately looks off to me if it’s correct!

      1. Retail Lifer*

        I have an unusual first name and a last name that has several common variations. I just gave up on expecting anyone to ever say it or spell it correctly, and I’m totally thrown off when they do.

    2. hbc*

      Ah, the old -sen/-son divide. I think -son as an ending is Swedish, and -sen is Danish or Norwegian.

    3. Rye-Ann*

      Yep, I have the same scenario. Though my first name is weird, so I have more frequent issues with people misspelling and/or pronouncing that wrong.

    4. Rita*

      With my maiden name, I used to be able to tell spam and telemarketers very easily. It’s a very common Irish last name, one of the O’ ones. So when people spelled it Oname instead of O’Name, or put the emphasis on the O instead of where it should be that was a clear sign.

      Now my last name is Scandinavian and most people can’t pronounce it. I’m still not used to having to spell my last name for people – it’s not a complex spelling but it’s not a common last name. Plus some people think it’s Italian, which makes me laugh because I’m half Italian and with my very Irish last name it was hard convincing people that.

    5. Artemesia*

      One advantage of having a mispronounced last name is that it does help weed out the spammers. My kids when they answered the phone at home would always tell people who asked for Ms. Wronglypronounced that ‘she isn’t here, can I take a message.’ because they figured if it was someone I wanted to talk to they would know who I was.

  13. Kat*

    I am a Katherine. I grew up a Katie. I am now a Kat, and people still screw it up. I am not a Cathy, Catherine, Katy, or Cat.
    I correct people. Not meanly. I will ask others how they spell their names if its the first time I am encountering them in a business or personal context. I take special care to spell names correctly.
    When I was in high school, a teacher continually spelled my name and others’s names wrong. I started calling her a different name (think Spence instead of Spencer) and other students picked up on it.

    …..she started spelling our names correctly after a week of that.

    1. Purr purr purr*

      Yay, another Katherine that gets screwed! In my case, I’m a Catherine but it gets written repeatedly as Kathrin. Also, if anyone tries to call me Cath or Cathy, I go a bit nuts. I HATE those names.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        You mean you hate them on you, right? ;)

        I hate being called Cathy. I have several friends called Cathy, and I like it on them; it suits them! It does not suit me, and yet that phantom y keeps on attaching itself to me.

    2. Not helpful*

      College boyfriend did that with the Dean of his department who would always say his last name wrong. It wasn’t that hard and the department was small.

    3. Malissa*

      I had so many teachers in middle school that just didn’t give a crap about pronouncing or spelling my last name right. I finally just stopped answering unless they got it right. And I was the youngest of 4 that went through that school.

  14. Vancouver Reader*

    I had a coworker once who transposed 2 letters in our supervisor’s name. She replied all to his email, correcting him. He wrote back, “My apologies, I always forget which middle finger to use first.”

    1. Sarahnova*

      Maybe I’m the only one, but I think that’s hilarious! I hope the supervisor took it in good humour.

      (I’m assuming it was an unintentional slip.)

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        I laughed out loud. I’m now going to say that (in my brain) when somebody nit picks something.

    2. Anon Accountant*

      That’s such a funny response. I hope she took it with humor and as the innocent remark (I assume it was innocent and honestly what he did do with transposing the “i” and “e” in her name).

      1. Vancouver Reader*

        She didn’t share the same sense of humour as we did, and TBH, she didn’t care for us much either, so she just wrote back and said something like, well don’t do it again.

        His mixup of the letters was completely innocent, but I think his response was less do.

  15. Ruth (uk)*

    My surname name is regularly misspelled. Same as with the Ls I Alison, it’s a name that can be spelled with either double or single letters but single seems to be more common.

    I actually once had an old manager argue that it was me that was wrong… When i was hired, a different manager had spelled my name wrong when creating my till login. Months later, I went to sign for my till and as I did so, I added another letter to my name on the sheet. My manager checked it against the till and told me I had spelled my name wrong. I insisted I was correct and he said ‘are you sure?’ Doubtfully.

    I had to explain that it was wrong on the till cause it was entered wrong when i was hired. He was still dubious as he considered the till to be more ‘official’ than me and therefore more likely to be right…

    1. Myrin*

      … Yeah sure, let’s just assume people don’t know how their own names are spelt. Jesus Christ, what an annoying person!

      1. Knitting Cat Lady*

        In that situation I would have pulled out my official ID card. The way my name is spelled on there comes directly from my birth certificate.

        1. Ruth (uk)*

          Unfortunately I couldn’t do that. This was McDonalds and they didn’t allow us to have any personal items on us at work or even to have pockets on our uniform so I had nothing on me to back me up. He concluded that the till was correct in the end and I was wrong…..

          1. Myrin*

            OMG, you shouldn’t have said that, now I’m going to be ragey about that guy all day! A person shouldn’t need to have anything to “back [them] up” when it’s about their own name or date of birth or whatever! ACK!!!

            1. Ruth (uk)*

              Haha don’t be too ragey. The guy was more of an idiot rather than a dick… Be amused instead x

              1. Myrin*

                I’ve already started channeling my rage into amusement with that additional info. It works surprisingly well.

      2. peanut butter kisses*

        I once donated to a charity and filled out a form with my information and the ‘lady’ who took it told me that I had misspelled my own name. She ‘corrected’ it for me. I haven’t given money to that charity since.

    2. Gandalf the Nude*

      When my sister was in second grade and they were practicing writing their whole names, the teacher kept docking points because my sister was misspelling her middle name . Except it wasn’t. And when my mom informed her that was how Sister’s name was spelled and proffered the birth certificate and and school registration to prove it, the teacher told my mom that she needed to go get those amended ASAP.

      1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

        Similar story, but in this case it was my sister’s first name. Apparently, the teacher decided that my mom MUST have meant the feminized version and made my sister swap vowels whenever she wrote her name. Mom had to show up with the birth certificate and newspaper announcement to smack that down.

    3. Retail Lifer*

      I went to school with a kid whose name was spelled “Micheal.” In 7th grade, the teacher wrote his name on something and spelled it the traditional way, “Michael.” The kid corrected him, the teacher asked him if he was sure, the kid insisted he was, and the teacher replied indignantly, “WE’LL HAVE TO CHECK ON THAT.” The guy was in 7th grade. I’m sure he know how to spell his own name by then.

      1. Ad Astra*

        Wow. I don’t think I would ever question someone over the age of 6 about how their name is spelled. How are there multiple stories about people being this rude?

    4. Aunt Vixen*

      I had a job at a university where there was some sort of login to a campus computer system where part of the initial password was your date of birth. But it couldn’t find me no matter what order I put in my date of birth, so I called the helpdesk and gave them my name and other identifying details and they asked my DOB and I told them and they said Oh, we’ve got [same day, different month] and we can’t really change that. I was like – well, if that’s going to be a verification question in the future, you probably need to find a way to change it, because I’m not likely to remember a wrong data point and also I’m not bananas about being asked to agree that a false form is accurate.

      They fixed it.

  16. CMT*

    I have a coworker who I think was deliberately misspelling my name (many other people I worked with have examples of her passive-aggressiveness.) After repeated misspellings (which really confused me — my name is all over every email I send her) I gently and politely corrected her. She misspelled my name in the very next email she sent me.

    It seems many people in the comments don’t care if others misspell their names. It really does bother me though, at least when it’s repeated over and over. I hardly ever say anything about it, but I can’t say I don’t care.

    1. Shannon*

      Take comfort in the fact that it says more about her than it does about you. The kindest interpretation is that your coworker lacks attention to detail. The other end is that she is passive aggressive and doesn’t know how to use her big girl words.

    2. catsAreCool*

      I figure that I can either spend a lot of time and energy getting people to spell my name right, or I can roll my eyes and not worry about it unless it’s on an official document.

  17. Roman Holiday*

    I strongly suspect a coworker deliberately misspells my boss’ name. Sometimes she gets it right, but sometimes her emails will spell the first name wrong, or use the last name instead, sometimes even that misspelled. Our emails are all AND we have our full names in signature, so there’s really no excuse. I’d love to call her out on it, but so far my boss just lets it slide.

  18. Gem*

    You would be surprised how many people spell Gem wrong.

    I’ve had one hilarious instance of Germ, and many Gams. My full name is Gemma but I much prefer Gem, so that’s what’s on my CV/Linked in/everywhere. I often spell it out when talking to a new client as it sounds like Jen, or something else.

    But in an email? Three little letters, come on. But I am aware that as a client facing position I have to take more care with emails than the clients who reply, so I generally let it go.

  19. Gem*

    oh, and OP1, your husband needs to tell his employee to put that same effort and diligence about his whereabouts into their work. Imagine the feats they could achieve with that effort redirected to something useful!

  20. Knitting Cat Lady*

    If it were me, I’d treat the book of bible stories like any other mythology.

    If I were a boss and regularly gave gifts to new parents it would be a gift card to buy needed supplies with.

    1. neverjaunty*

      I don’t think you can really treat it like ‘any other mythology’; this is proselytizing, not sharing comparative mythology. It’d be different if the boss were giving out My First Iliad.

      1. Knitting Cat Lady*

        Of course it is proselytizing.

        Only, once the book is mine, I can do whatever I want with it.

        Which is treating it like a book of fairy tales. That’s all it is to me, these days.

        Other people might want to bin it or use it for toilet paper.

        I used to be very religious. But religious education in Bavaria is very extensive and detailed. Which lead to my believe vanishing in a puff of logic.

        As a side note, there are many books I’ve been given as a gift I didn’t even crack open before donating them to a second charity book store. Other people might like them.

        1. Myrin*

          Why hello there, fellow Bavarian! I actually minored in Theology (in Munich) and loved exegesis, I found it super interesting and fascinating. I’ve never been overly religious to begin with, but I can totally understand what you mean with the “puff of logic”.

          1. Knitting Cat Lady*

            I’m not actually Bavarian. I’ve only lived here all my life. As I wasn’t born there I don’t count as a Bavarian. My great grand children might, though!

            Did you study at LMU? I went to TUM.

            1. De (Germany)*

              “My great grand children might, though!”

              Only if they renounce any relation to their great grandparent, I’d say ;-)

        2. Alice*

          I get what your saying and agree that people can and should do whatever they want with it. I also agree that it wasn’t the best practice for the ceo to give this particular gift. I did take some insult though to suggesting people might use it as toilet paper.

    2. MJH*

      Yep, even if you believe nothing in the bible happened or is true and that it’s all made up, Western culture is FULL of references and stories and allusions to bible stories. It’s a fundamental part of the Western canon and you’ll encounter it everywhere. It really helps to have a knowledge of these stories, in the same way it might help to know Greek myths. Read them as entertaining stories, or throw it away, but you don’t have to use it as a religious text.

      1. MK*

        But you then have to make sure your kids realise that what to them is storytelling counts as dogma for many others.

          1. A Cita*

            Heck, my parents tried earnestly to make me believe it was real and that I should respect it and the people who believe in it. I still read it as a fairy tale. A boring fairy tale. And told my childhood friends who told me fairies weren’t real that if they get to believe in god then I also get to believe in magical creature. I retort I still use.

            1. Kelly L.*

              I wasn’t really raised with religion but managed to absorb a lot of the major stories from assorted books, but it all got jumbled up in my head. I could never quite understand why people took stories about the Christian god seriously, but not ones about, like, Zeus, or Sleeping Beauty. It was all pretty much the same to me, also probably helped along by some of those Book House anthologies–we had a few of those lying around and they interspersed myths and fairy tales and tall tales and actual historical fact and the kitchen sink.

              And then I grew up to be pagan, so maybe I was on to something. ;)

              1. A Cita*

                Yep. While super religious, my parents were also academics and make the mistake of encouraging critical thinking and keeping books around the house like the Mabinogion, the Bhagavad Gita, Tales of Yoruba Gods and Heros, etc etc. And they lament that I’m an atheist.

        1. anon for the mo*

          In which case you should probably tell your kids that every mythological story they read counts as dogma for many others.

          1. Artemesia*

            There is a lot of ‘some people believe this and some people believe that’ whenever these matters come up in our family.

      2. Case of the Mondays*

        I grew up Catholic but I’m not personally religious. I didn’t pay attention in Sunday school or college theology. I feel like I miss so many references in conversation, movies, literature, etc. that are based on biblical stories. I’m always making a mental note to google things later. I agree with your sentiment that even for the non-religious there is some benefit to knowing the bible stories and children’s bible stories are probably a lot easier to read. I might now read them myself as pure literary references. I like your idea and MK’s point of educating children. You could explain that some people are religious and believe these stories as true. Others don’t and just enjoy the reading.

      3. anonanonanon*

        I disagree. I’ve never read the bible and I refuse to ever read it, but it hasn’t hindered me in any way. My undergraduate and graduate work was in literature and anthropology and while a lot of that focuses on religion, I never had to read any modern religious texts to better understand a reference or allusion. It was always fairly easy to write a lit analysis without bringing in references to the religious references or allusions. The religion may have provided a better background, but I didn’t need to have knowledge of the bible to understand the plot and themes of East of Eden.

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          No, but having that knowledge does make it easier for you if you decide to be a medievalist…

          I think the boss is not really thinking things through. I would be willing to bet he gives a similar book to all his friends/family when they have a baby, but they’re probably all of the same or similar religion. It might not even occur to him that a book is a nice baby gift but a religious book is not a good baby gift in the office.

          1. Myrin*

            Okay, as a medievalist, I have to ask: Have I seriously found another one of my kind on AAM? *excitement*

            1. Charlotte Collins*

              Unfortunately, I’m now in Corporateland, but Chaucer was my focus in grad school.

        2. anon for the mo*

          I’ve found it useful in the same way I’ve found a good basis in Greek & Roman mythology useful (and world mythology/folk tales/fairy tales in general).

          Then again I hate Milton with a fiery passion but took a course on Paradise Lost because it’s such a good basis for the Romantics, so I might be a bit odd that way :)

        3. Oranges*

          There is a book is like to recommend for you called God is Disappointed in You. It’s the bible but condensed and full of snark. It gave me hours of enjoyment and knowledge about the bible stories without my feet wanting to kick things. I now get more out of other books but I didn’t have to wade through the vast amounts of boring and mysoginy.

          Also there is the phrase tip-slip. (Male wardrobe malfunction).

      4. themmases*

        I grew up without a religion and am an atheist as an adult. I think you’d be surprised how much you can pick up through osmosis, art, and because plenty of references will explicitly remind you which bible story is being alluded to (e.g. when there are multiple bible characters with the same name or stories with similar elements). Today I solve this problem easily with Google, or just asking someone who has or had a religion.

        If it were necessary to personally read every classic of the Western canon to get references, we would all be constantly embarrassing ourselves at parties. :)

      5. Artemesia*

        I agree and I have a graphic novel version of the old testament that I read as a child and my own children read and I will share with my grandchild in a year or two. She is being raised a freethinker but of course knowing the Bible in this culture is part of being a well educated person. (I would argue that knowing the Koran, a bit of Hinduism and Budhism is also part of what every American child should know) But it is still blazingly inappropriate for an employer to give a book of Bible stories to an employee unless he knows that the family shares his Christian beliefs.

    3. A Cita*

      Just an OT story about strange gifts for children from work colleagues. A colleague recently had a baby; everyone in our office gave her toys. Except one. They gave her a silver picture frame. Now I get why the frame may be a thoughtful gift (though I truly think it was a re-gift), but in the context of all the toys, it looked out of place. I could just imagine the little tyke annoying her mother, being under foot, and her mum shouting: “Go play with your frame!”

      1. bearing*

        I would so much rather get a picture frame than a toy as a baby gift. To that colleague I say, good for thinking out of the box. Even if it was a re-gift.

        1. A Cita*

          Sure, but the idea was the gifts were for the child, not for the parent. That’s why it was funny.

          1. Artemesia*

            Baby gifts are for the parent — although many will be clothes or toys used by the infant. A picture frame, perhaps for a picture for the baby’s room is a perfectly appropriate gift. What parent doesn’t want to display pictures of the baby or have a family picture in the baby’s room.

    4. Artemesia*

      I think a book is a charming gift, but it is pretty offensive to make it a religious book unless you absolutely know that it would be welcome (e.g. know the person shares your religion)

      1. Ad Astra*

        My husband was raised Catholic but much of his mother’s family is Baptist or some kind of Evangelical, and some of them are pretty far from mainstream. When he was little, he received a book about dinosaurs from one of his more distant aunts.

        His mother discreetly threw the book out (or donated it or something) when she noticed the illustrations depicted dinosaurs and humans coexisting. And no, it wasn’t a fun fictional story about a young boy and his pet dinosaur; it was an “educational” book that apparently presented the earth as being just a few thousand years old.

        1. Artemesia*

          When we were at the four corners and being guided through a cliff dwelling my husband asked a question about the fossils in the rocks some thousands of feet above sea level. AFterwards he was approached by an earnest little boy of about 9 years who told him that the ‘real reason is the flood, you know.’

    5. MissDisplaced*

      I am NOT AT ALL religious, but I remember having similar books when I was a kid and even enjoyed them. I think it’s just one of those things about gifts where you have have to say it’s the thought that counts.

      1. Desdemona*

        I half agree with you. Whether or not you’re religious, most cultures have expressed themselves through their religious beliefs, and taken in that light, it’s a useful, or at least usable gift. However, that’s making lemonade, and works only if you’re able to overlook how overbearing the thought behind this type of gift has to have been.

  21. Chocolate Teapot*

    4. I suppose you could introduce yourself as “Lizzywithay”, but then that wouldn’t be your name either!

    1. Nea*

      I once referred to a neighbor (not to her face) as “CharlieshortforCharlene” for about 10 years because that’s how she always introduced herself.

    2. Chalupa Batman*

      I’m one of those. I have the more unusual of the two most common spellings for my region of a common name, and I have the extra letter-think Sarah/Sara (not my real name). Introducing myself as “SarahwithanH” in settings where my name may come up in written form prevents misspellings and usually helps differentiate which one I am if there are multiples present.

  22. Katie the Fed*

    #5 – you didn’t ask what other jobs he had ever applied for. You asked what he was considering. I’d let it go – this isn’t lying about credentials. This is an innocuous lie at worst and a misunderstanding at best.

    #1 – Personally, I’d be tempted to run outside to ask her about it when she drove by. That’s so freaking weird.

    1. Myrin*

      I can totally see #5 being a misunderstanding. The interview at Company B was “a couple of months earlier” and the candidate was asked “what other kinds of jobs he was considering”, so maybe he simply wasn’t considering a job at B anymore at that point?

      And I agree wrt #1.

  23. Pickles*

    Pretty sure driving by there times can be considered stalking in California (and maybe elsewhere), work issue or no, but I’m going off an old criminal justice elective. I remember only because it was such a small number.

    1. MK*

      I find it hard to believe that there are no other conditions besides driving by three times; if so, I have stalked thousands of people.

    2. Case of the Mondays*

      It always amazes me how vastly different various state’s laws are. I posted above how following someone in and of itself is not illegal in my state. There has to be a present credible threat to safety accompanying it.

    3. Doreen*

      I looked up the California stalking law ( sec 646.9) and as I expected it doesnt say anything about “three times” . It refers to “repeatedly” and “makes a credible threat with intent to place the victim in fear” and a couple of other situations, so simply druving by three times wouldn’t qualify. Driving by three times while yelling threats might. Stalking snd harassment laws are always going to reference either intent or some other behavior- otherwise I’m stalking everyone who lives around the corner from me, as I can’t drive off my block without passing their houses

  24. Becky*

    #4 Out of interest, how do you bring it up if close members of your family have been consistently spelling your name wrong for years?

    1. Lo-lee-ta*

      My Dad had been misspelling my name my entire life. I assume he had some choice in the name. He misspells my last name,too.

    2. Myrin*

      Any way you can just not react to the misspelt letter/card/place car/etc.? I guess that’s easier when someone verbally calls you a completely different name (and in that case, I’ve often seen the non-reaction being done unintentionally, as the people honestly didn’t realise they were the one spoken to) and depends on the situation, but that’s the only thing that comes to mind.

      1. CMT*

        It’s definitely possible not to have a reaction when people do this, but it doesn’t mean you don’t feel annoyed. I guess it just really bothers me when people who should know better repeatedly misspell my name.

    3. Henrietta Gondorf*

      I wrote a will for a guy who had to call his wife in the middle of our appointment to get the correct spelling of his kids’ names. The one I can recall was Jaxcyn (pronounced Jackson). All the other names were similar.

    4. blackcat*

      I haven’t had this problem with immediate family members, but I have with cousins I’m close to. Some in my family just can’t spell, and I don’t worry about it. Half of the family is super detail oriented and incredible spellers, and the other half has none of that ability, so I think there’s just a gene some of them messed up on.

      My strategy with the younger ones has been to gently correct a few times and then let it go. I have an aunt with the same name who makes a big stink out of it, and I’ve never had the desire to follow in her footsteps. In her defense, there are TWO living people with my name (originally my great-great grandmother’s name), so you’d think the rest of the family would spell it correctly.

      My MUCH bigger problem is getting the entire family to recognize that my last name is still in fact the last name I’ve had all of my life. I’ve given up the fight with my inlaws (we get Christmas cards addressed to Mr. & Ms Husband’sName), but I always correct my family. My family is called the “MyLastName” family by everyone in it. All of my cousins have their dads’ last names, and so my brother and I are the only ones with MyLastName, which comes from my grandfather. And given that there are multiples of my first name in the family, I’ve often been addressed as Blackcat MyLastName socially in the family. And now I’m Blackcat Husband’sName, which is not, or has ever been, my name. grrr

    5. LQ*

      I have this. An aunt who was there when I was born. Another aunt who I spent a ton of time with growing up. My strategies for other people who get my name wrong (I assume someone they love spells it the other way) don’t work here since I’m the only close person with my (fairly common name) and no they didn’t have childhood friends etc.

      One I asked if she was mad that my mom and dad spelled my name that way. That helped a lot. She was shocked and implying that she was jabbing her sister every time she spelled my name fixed it up quick.
      The other I happened to catch in the middle of a rant about people spelling her daughter’s highly unusual name wrong, I pointed out that she always got mine wrong. She kept doing it, I kept pointing it out. She’s at least stopped complaining to me about other people spelling her daughter’s name wrong. Not a full victory but it helped.

    6. Beth/Lizzy/Elizabeth/Eliza*

      My name and my cousin’s name are derivatives of my other cousin’s name, which sounds similar to those cousins’ mom’s name. Mistakes are going to happen whenever we’re all together no matter how hard someone tries to get them all right. I correct it quickly and politely and then change the subject before anyone can get embarrassed.

    7. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I have family members outside my immediate family who spell my name wrong, either consistently or occasionally. I just roll my eyes and let it go; I don’t care enough to say anything, although I wonder how they can not know how to spell it.

      But with an immediate family member (which has never happened, except in the case of my niece, as described above)? I would give them endless crap for it.

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          Nieces that you are close to count. Two of my aunts have unusually spelled nicknames (based on their given names). I would never spell their names incorrectly.

    8. Mockingjay*

      My parents and sisters still can’t spell my married name; it’s Basque.

      They can’t spell my youngest daughter’s name either; it’s a beautiful Irish name and was chosen by her sister. (Between my husband and I, the poor kiddos are Heinz 57 in terms of ancestry.)

      We gave up correcting them. It’s the love that counts, not the grade on a spelling test.

  25. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*


    I couldn’t see the first outfit link but I so very much love the second. Please stand out with personal style! Don’t let unimaginative people bring you down.

    Inappropriate clothes people post about (club wear, sheer stuff, etc.) are the things to avoid. Dressing up with color and flair, standing out in that way, go for it! I believe people will remember you for the things that you want to be remembered for, standing out in that way, v corporate drone wear. I think it’s empowering.

    * has to be done by someone with great fashion sense
    * I’ve gotten lazy in the last years and am trying to flair up a bit myself. I used to be flair-y, although I’m sure not to your level of style.

    1. Vancouver Reader*

      Yes! I’ve always admired people who could dress in fashions that weren’t the same as everyone else and be totally confident. You could start a new trend at your program of dressing professionally, and still be true to your style.

  26. Not Today Satan*

    To #3: Am I correct in guessing you’d like to continue working in fashion/creative fields after graduation? If so, I’d keep dressing the way you dress. No use suppressing your style (and buying all new clothes to boot) just to fit in with people in totally different fields.

  27. KT*

    #1, Also, at least in some states, repeatedly driving by someone’s house or following someone is stalking, without threat of violence. If after speaking with the employee about this behavior it doesn’t end, I would seriously consider talking to the police or an attorney about a restraining order or at the very least a warning so that she realizes this is serious (if she doesn’t already).

    I’m sorry to harp on this, but I’m a bit dismayed at how some of the comments have dismissed this so casually. This is not normal behavior.

    I had a coworker who legitimately started stalking me (including taking pictures through my home windows, showing up at the barn I rode at, etc) to the point of me being terrified, and it started very innocently with her just “driving by to see if I was home”. I had thought it was odd, but like many, thought it was weird but harmless. It escalated quickly and I wish I had acted sooner….it would have saved me a lot of terror and sleepless nights.

    1. fposte*

      Just to clarify–I at no point said it was normal behavior. I did suggest that driving on a public street two blocks from your workplace is unlikely to be something police would curtail.

    2. Case of the Mondays*

      But also consider if you are in a state with stricter laws waiting until you will actually get such an order granted. My experience is things get much worse for victims who seek a restraining order and are denied. The stalker is emboldened and feels like he/she now has permission to do what they were doing and more.

    3. Formica Dinette*

      Alison, I feel like your answer to #1 was incomplete. I agree that the OP’s husband should address this with his employee at work. However, OP should also consult with someone who knows more about stalking (local police, the National Center for Victims of Crime, etc.) to find out how serious the employee’s actions really are and what to do if her husband talking with the employee doesn’t put a stop to it. I’m sure you know this already, but part of the reason stalkers so often get away with it is their actions are legal and/or appear insignificant to others.

      I feel weird about bringing up a criticism to you because I typically agree with you 100%.

    1. AnonAnalyst*

      People wore sweats in mine sometimes, but suits were not the norm. Jeans were pretty standard for regular classes; if someone wore a suit, it was usually because she/he had an interview that day or a presentation in another class.

      OP, I think you will stand out, but I don’t think that’s bad. Having said that, I would recommend buying one or two more conservative dresses or suits, because if your program is anything like mine, there were days (particularly around the end of the semester, when everyone is giving presentations for all their classes or when there’s a lot of recruiting and interviewing activity at the school) where I had to suit up in my appropriately business-y attire. It might be nice to have a couple of outfits you can cycle through during those periods instead of having to pull out the one conservative item you own (assuming the outfit you wore to your interview is the only one you feel hits that mark!)

      1. K.*

        Agreed. Actually, there was an email that went around from another business school (not the one I attended, but local to it) that cautioned students that they were dressing too casually at recruiting events. At recruiting events, you need to wear a suit or a business-appropriate dress and there’s really no wiggle room there. But in classes, no.

    2. Hillary*

      Part time programs are different, but sweats weren’t uncommon for my Saturday classes. Getting to the middle of the city for an 8am class was enough of an effort. ;-)

      Most of us came from work most days, so we were all wearing our employers’ dress codes, mostly Midwest boring business casual.

      1. Artemesia*

        I taught in a graduate program for working professionals which ran weekends; no one ever wore sweats. Casual clothes — jeans, khakis etc but never sweats or other slunge wear.

  28. Xarcady*

    #3. What type of campus you are studying at will also play a role in what you wear. If you are running between buildings in cold winter weather, with snow on the ground all winter and mud all over the place all spring, you will need to wear boots or sturdy shoes, and clothes to match. My grad school days were spent on a large New England campus, and I rarely wore skirts or dresses or nice shoes during the winter, because of the 10 minute race between buildings to get to class on time–it was *cold* and windy and the sidewalks were always wet, snowy, slushy or covered in mud. .

    If it’s an urban campus or you are going to school in California and most of your classes are all in one building, you have more latitude in what to wear and still be safe, warm, dry and comfortable.

  29. Saurs*

    Letter 2 reminds me of a former professor who led a mixed grad-undergrad seminar covering the complete works of a particular Roman author whose output was mostly non-fictional propaganda mixed with self-aggrandizing war memoirs about what a hard man he was. Enrollment was limited to students who had a very firm, demonstrable grasp of Latin because the weekly reading assignments were pretty massive. Near to the end of the term, the professor was nice enough to present everyone with a vintage / “gently used” book as a gesture of thanks. The graduate students were given the same Loeb edition of a related author and the undergraduates were given a 20-page picture book of world nursery rhymes and folktales. This didn’t set well with some people (fainting couches were all but required at one point), although I found it hilarious.

  30. TotesMaGoats*

    #2-Having been the person that visited MBA classes on a regular basis to meet with current students and such I will say that I can’t even count on one hand the number of people I’ve seen in suits. I don’t even need two hands. I need no hands. Literally. I’ve never seen anyone roll up to class at 6pm in a suit. Most were coming from work and in some range of business casual to business but never a suit. Some were in jeans or sweats, depending on their day. This is NOT something you should be worried about. Wear what makes you confident and comfortable.

  31. _ism_*

    I have one of those common first names that my parents decided to spell funny. I feel everyone’s pain here so I won’t add to that fire.

    I do notice/wonder that I’m out of line e-mailing people I don’t know at remote locations. One lady I communicate with daily is named Gabrielle. My boss calls her Gabby and I picked up the habit. But nobody’s asked Gabrielle what she prefers, and at this point I feel weird about it. Plus, sometimes I’ll use the spelling Gaby, and sometimes I’ll use Gabby, and then if I’m feeling self-conscious, later I’ll say Gabrielle. I suppose one of these days I could just ask her privately in an e-mail or next time we’re on the phone.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      “But nobody’s asked Gabrielle what she prefers”

      Thiiiiiiiis. My name has several common nicknames. I do use one in particular, and most people default to that. However, in professional settings and especially to clients, I like to start out with my full name. It’s not a huge deal, I just think using my nickname indicates a level of familiarity that I’m not always comfortable with. I also think that nicknames or shortened names should be dictated by the “owner” or whatever. As in, this: “Hi, nice to meet you, I’m Jennifer,” means, “Call me Jennifer until I sign an email or something with ‘Jen’ or ‘Jenny’– don’t start using the diminutive until I’m ready.”

      Most of my colleagues ignore this and introduce me by the short version of my name. It irks me, but it irks me privately and I never bring it up. Not a HUGE deal, just… a deal.

      1. Artemesia*

        This. I don’t get nick naming people. Many many people — and it is more common today than it was when I was young — use their full name. I have seen 5 year olds who draw themselves up and haughtily announce ‘my name is Michael’ when someone calls them Mike. My daughter uses a common nick name of her name professionally and that is what she has on her cards and how she introduces herself, but if she used the full name, how inappropriate it would be for other people to just rename her with one of the many nicknames for her name.

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          I hate it when people decide on random nicknames for other people. (Unless they have that kind of relationship.) I would never presume to shorten someone’s name without their OK. (People do it to my name, which is already a nickname, and it’s always a certain kind of person. But never someone I’m close enough to for it to be OK.)

          This also cracks me up because I have many family members who do not go by their given first name, so you’d never be able to guess what their “real” nickname was without additional input.

          1. Artemesia*

            Giving people nicknames is actually a form of bullying sometimes — or an assertion of dominance at the very least. It is fine when it is close equals or families that lovingly create names of affection for each other. But those hierarchically above who name those below are exercising territory marking behavior.

    2. Judy*

      How does she sign her emails? Even when my email address per company policy was judith_xxx, my email signature was Judy xxx. My current company allows you to pick how the email is set up, so I’m judy_xxx.

      And I’ve also seen Gabi from some Spanish speaking cultures.

    3. gnarlington*

      Oh, man, this happens to me too. People just automatically start using my name’s common nickname to address me. It doesn’t really irk me, but it can be a little disorienting because… well, I simply don’t go by the nickname. In this situation, I’d just ask Gabrielle outright; there’s nothing to feel awkward about. “Hey, Gabrielle, this is out of nowhere, but do you in fact go by Gaby or do you prefer Gabrielle?” You’ll most likely find that she, like me, doesn’t really go by the nickname, but doesn’t mind it, and appreciates you asked. I know I would. (And if she really hates it… then you’ll know that too, which is also good.)

    4. Rita*

      We always ask new hires in their welcome email (what to expect and bring on the first day, when to arrive, etc.) what they prefer to be called and how they want their email name to appear. Rita’s not my real name, but mine is one that there are many nickname options for. I was happy to see that asked.

      1. Xarcady*

        Back when I was hiring, I did the same thing. Best to start everyone at the company off calling the new person what the new person wants to be called.

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          I used to teach classes with a lot of students from East Asia. They often chose “American” names to go by. We always asked students to let us know what they wanted to be called, since there was no way to know that from class lists.

  32. Sherri*

    To #4:

    You let it go by realizing that people who have a name with a more common spelling just aren’t attuned to spelling variations. When your own name is always spelled correctly by others, I don’t think you notice the variations. I say this as someone in the same boat as you and Alison. People spell my name with one ‘r’ or a ‘y’, but never two r’s and an ‘i’ like it’s supposed to.

    You also let it go by realizing that you probably spell other people’s names more often than you think. I think I pay attention and am more careful about name spellings than most people, but I know I have messed up on a few occasions.

    Then, once you accept that this is the way it is, it becomes a pleasant surprise when your name is spelled correctly!

    1. OP#4 - "Lizzy"*

      The thing is, my name *is* spelled the most common way! My name isn’t Lizzy. It is, however, the most common spelling of the most common nickname of my given name, or at least, I think it is! But I’m really biased, obviously.

      And I think you’re right–I’m always pleasantly surprised when someone spells my name right.

      1. Sherri*

        I’m biased as well, because I was thinking the opposite. I think I’d be more likely to spell it with an ‘ie’. I’d have thought that more common, but I can’t say the spelling of my own name doesn’t have an influence. Not only does my own name end with ‘i’, but my sister’s name is Kathi. Talk about someone who never gets her named spelled correctly except by people paying very close attention…..

        I’d bet that if you wait patiently for an opportunity to correct the record in public (like someone writing your name on a flip chart in a group setting… “Oh, could you spell that with a ‘y’ please?”) that might grab people’s attention.

        Good luck!!

  33. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*


    What field do you want to go into after you complete your MBA? If it’s one of the traditional MBA fields (finance, marketing, consulting, etc.), you should buy at least two conservative interview suits. They don’t need to be stuffy – they can have modern cuts, skirts or pants – but they should be relatively plain (gray, navy, etc.). You’ll need to wear them not only for interviews but for the many, many networking events you’ll attend (at least weekly during your first semester, or until you get an offer).

    But for class? Your clothes are fine. People will wear everything from shorts and t-shirts to styled business casual. Because folks are always going to networking events and informational interviews there are always people in suits too. But you shouldn’t wear a suit when you don’t need to – that’s odd.

    1. Swarley*

      From what we know from the letter, the CEO does not appear to be treating anyone unfavorably because of their religion. Maybe if the letter stated that the CEO was only giving out these bible stories to Muslims, and then fired the ones who didn’t take them home…

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I was thinking maybe he had one as a kid and thought it would be a good baby present, if that’s the only think like this he ever does.
        I like to give books as baby presents, but I am careful not to get anything too controversial.

    2. Technical Editor*

      I used to work for a smallish company whose CEO was very religious and not shy about it. About once a month he would have me write, edit, or produce marketing material for his church. Yes, I said his CHURCH.

      Oh, and he would pray at every employee function.

        1. Anon Accountant*

          This isn’t work related but we used to joke as long as there are tests there will be prayer in public schools. :)

          My coworker says as long as there are coworkers and bosses there will be prayer on the job.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        Oh, I would be so, so, so tempted to insert some, um, non-canonical references into those materials. I probably wouldn’t actually do it, but I’d be tempted.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I got a job once where I would have to do stuff for the bosses’ church. I knew the church and liked it (even though it wasn’t my church), so I didn’t really mind that part of it. Plus it was just busywork, and didn’t require me to convert or anything. I did end up leaving that job after a couple of days, but not because of that–because the boss’s wife screamed at me for a minor mistake. On my third day. Nope.

  34. Workfromhome*


    “He was asked what other kinds of jobs he was considering, and he said nothing so far”

    That’s not a bald faced lie. It may be a small bending of the truth a different interpretation of the question or the truth.

    He interviewed at wife’s Company B a couple months ago. It sounds like it didn’t go past an initial interview stage.

    So Maybe he never really “considered” the wasn’t for him so he never saw any future in moving forward.
    Maybe he interpreted the question of what OFFERS he was considering and if he had no offers yet the answer would be none.

    I thinks the OP needs to look more at their own standards of what lying is versus how truthful this person that now works with them is. Its also a TERRIBLE question to ask. Not only is it none of your business and doesn’t reflect on the person’s suitability for the job but it in some cases could encourage lying.

    What if they did have 3 interviews with your competitor and were waiting on an offer would they risk someone messing that up?

    Thinking about something or considering it doesn’t indicate action to follow through and you shouldn’t be judged on it. If your romantic partner asks you “What other people have you considered sleeping with since we’ve been together” are you going to lie or tell the truth ;-)?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Just to be clear, I think what the OP was focused on is that the applicant went out of his way to volunteer that this was his first non-academic application. He didn’t frame it in terms of what he was considered — he explicitly said “this is my first non-academic application.” And that was a lie.

      I agree that it’s still irrelevant, but that’s the piece the OP was wondering about (which I think a lot of people have missed).

  35. MBAs*

    #3 – I work at a business school – the regular daytime MBA students tend to dress like put-together graduate students (no holes in jeans for ex.). The executive MBA students tend to dress better. MBA students taking night classes (or part-time MBA students) usually are coming from work so they are dressed for work.

    Business faculty whose background is academia tend to dress more relaxed than those who worked in the corporate world before coming to the biz school, but in general business school faculty tend to dress better than other faculty.

    At networking, career and other events, everyone is in their most conservative business clothing. The whole clothing thing is fascinating in academia.

  36. Diddly*

    #1 This does feel like stalking to me, and not just something for the workplace to deal with. It should not be happening full stop. It’s not a lets politely talk to Jane about this situation and come up with a solution. It’s unacceptable. You should make a note of any times you notice her driving by your house – or being nosy and provide it to your husband, who should raise it with management. (Also you could potentially use it as material for the police for stalking – if this escalates.) She’s is being entirely inappropriate, I would like to think this is the sort of thing you get a warning for at her role and well personally I see this as a fire-able offense unless she’s had some sort of mental break which makes her think this sort of behavior is OK. When is it OK to track your manger’s movements, to drive past their house, to note who’s car is in the driveway and to gossip about it – and to leave during work hours to do these activities, and also to make a spouse essentially feel monitored/unsafe? This is stalking, and it can escalate, and it needs to be nipped in the bud, not be talked around. I think your husband + management has to be more direct. She can’t do this, if she is unhappy with the hours he is working, or not knowing where he is, she brings it straight to your husband/HR or management, she doesn’t act as her own PI agency – either during or after work hours. It is also worrying that she knows where you live – unless your husband discussed it seeing as you live so close.

    1. Colette*

      A lot of this depends on context that we don’t have. She’s driving down a street two blocks from work. Whether this is out of line depends on whether it’s a logical route to her gym/the nearest shopping plaza/the highway or whether it’s an isolated cul-de-sac. Similarly, if she’s reporting on the boss’s whereabouts, that’s weird and out of line, but if she mentioned seeing his car in response to someone wondering whether the boss made it back to town before the big storm hit, that’s more natural.

      And “during work time” may mean she’s deserting her job, or it may mean she’s going home sick/on her lunch break/working flex time.

      This is the husband’s issue to deal with, and he doesn’t seem to be directly doing so. It sounds like the employee has some boundary issues, but the first step to fixing that is to point out that she’s out of line.

      1. cuppa*

        This is a good point. I have a co-worker who lives in my neighborhood on a street that is my logical route to the nearest main thoroughfare. Generally when I drive by, I do notice whether her car is in the driveway. Granted, I don’t go to work and talk about it for no reason, but I can see times when it might make sense to be brought up (not saying this is the same situation as the OP, but that you can drive by people’s houses and note whether they’re home and not be a stalker :))

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          I think it’s talking about it that’s weird. Also the fact that this employee does not seem to realize that a person and their car are not always at the same place. My car isn’t always home when I am and vice versa. When there’s more than one driver in a household that happens.

          We used to have a neighbor who was also a family friend, and she did car patrol, which I found annoying once I started to drive. Yes, sometimes we drove each others’ cars for various reasons. Also, sometimes a “strange car” would be in the driveway. (Teenagers occasionally have friends who drive.) No, there is nothing that need concern you. This is why I believe some SAHMs should at least start to volunteer to get out of the house once in a while once their kids are in school. Go to the mall and stop spying on your neighbors. (I’m not saying all SAHMs are like this, but when they are…)

        2. Original poster #1*

          I agree with you. I actually work very close to my home as well and all my peers know where I live because they can see my car out front. Nobody has ever said anything to me about it or made it weird that I live so close. The only topic that has come from it is them telling me how lucky I am to be walking distance from work. That seems totally normal to me. What isn’t normal is tracking whereabouts of others. My concern is her purpose for knowing what he is doing and keeping track of it. That’s alarming and unprofessional to say the least. I am not concerned about my safety. I am more angry that this is happening and there is no corrections or anything being addressed about this obvious “red flag” behavior.

  37. D*

    Has anyone ever had people at work address them by a nickname, which isn’t a nickname you’ve ever offered up as an option?

    This has happened to me about 4 times in the last month which I find so strange. I have a somewhat unusual name, not strange but just relatively uncommon. (It’s also got a very unusual spelling which doesn’t help.) I go by a nickname outside of work, but in work I have never once used anything other than my full name. Lately, people have just been taking it upon themselves to shorten my name?!

    I.e. my name is something like “Florence”, but spelled “Florennce”. And all of a sudden, I’m getting addressed (in person and via email) as “Flo”. Is my name too long? Too complicated? What is going on?

    I feel like it’s normal to say to people, “oh call me Flo”, but kind of obnoxious to say, “actually it’s Florennce” when people clearly KNOW it’s your name but are choosing to shorten it for some reason.

    Or am I over thinking this?

    1. Shannon*

      “I prefer Florence,” said with a friendly smile.

      I feel like there’s a lot of pressure on people, women in particular, to just shut up and color when something bothers them. There is nothing wrong with a gentle, friendly correction.

      1. Kimberly (not Kim)*

        This works perfectly if it’s the first time, and in person.
        What about in email, where it usually happens to me? I don’t know of a good way to address it.

        1. fposte*

          I’ve given up. The nickname I don’t think of myself as actually going by is going to be on my tombstone.

        2. oldfashionedlovesong*

          With email I’ve found it’s pretty much impossible to actually correct people, but you can try to make your preference clear by consistently signing off as Florencce, especially if you use your name twice, once as a signoff and once in your signature, so like:

          Thank you,


          Florennce Nightingale, RN
          Olympus Hospital

          Hopefully over time people will realize you never refer to yourself as Flo and will follow your lead. But this might be asking a lot of these people…

        3. Shannon*

          That can be used regardless of whether or not it’s the first time. Though, if it’s gone on for a while, you could also say something like, “I’m so sorry I didn’t mention this sooner, but, I go by Florence.”

          As for email, I’d go with the below mentioned method of referring to yourself as Kimberly, and otherwise treat abbreviations of your name as text speak or a typo.

    2. Kimberly (not Kim)*

      This happens to me!! I have no idea why people take it upon themselves to call me by a nickname when I have never once said that.

      I will consistently introduce myself, sign emails, etc. as Kimberly. Yet the majority of people respond back “Hi Kim,…” or call me on the phone looking for Kim. I’ve had people I’ve never met before even call me Kimmy upon first meeting.

      What did I do to deserve this?!

      I agree on your issue of it being “obnoxious” to say “my name is [full name]”, which is why I usually just go with it, but continue to identify myself as Kimberly and hope they get the message.

      1. OfficePrincess*

        To a certain extent I’ve given up or it’s starting to grow on me. I always introduce myself as [full name], but will answer to either. I don’t mind close friends and family using the nickname, but if we’re not close, why are you trying to act like we’re best buds?

    3. cv*

      Yup. Though the most recent case is an older, much more senior colleague who works with two youngish women with shoulder-length brown hair who have similar names (think Christine and Kristen). He usually calls me by the other’s nickname, which is also a nickname for my name. I let it go because when other colleagues occasionally correct him it becomes clear that he’s just terrible with names and feels bad about it, and that it’s not a sign of disrespect for us or our work.

      I got called by nicknames *all the time* as a little girl, when I go by my full name. It was often a sign that the adult in question was pretty dismissive of little girls in general – it was especially common among male gym teachers. Also doctors and dentists for some reason.

    4. the gold digger*

      I have been trying to be better at this. My company’s email is, with the first name being the legal name. All Bobs are Roberts. All Chrises are Christopher. All Debs are Deborah.

      I used to ask “Do you go by Deb or Deborah?”because there are so many people who go by their nicknames but now I just assume it’s Deborah and wait to be corrected.

      If you sign your emails “DC” for “Deb Carter,” I won’t know you are Deb, so you are Deborah to me until otherwise stated.

    5. some1*

      Ugh, yes. Always men (I’m a woman). Say my first name is Stephanie (made up example). Everyone calls me Stephanie except family calls me Steph or Stephie, I introduce myself as Stephanie, but a few men I have worked with and one ex-boyfriend insisted on calling me “Stephs”. What.

      1. Partly Cloudy*

        I had a boss years ago who did this: used the diminutive of my name with an S at the end. I *hated* it but I was really young, it was only my second office job, and I never spoke up about it.

        At my last job, I had a co-worker with whom I became friends who out of the blue started calling me by my full first name that I never use. I asked her to please not call me [fullfirstname] and she was very understanding. She caught herself doing it once or twice after that and always apologized.

    6. Anonmanom*

      “Oh, actually I go by Florence”, smile, move on. Normal people will be embarrassed they gave you a nickname and cut it out. The others will ignore you and continue on, but at least you have tried. If I work with your regularly, you should use my correct name. Period.

    7. Lizzie*

      I just mentioned this below, but there’s someone connected to my agency that is forever calling me Betty instead of Lizzie. My business cards say Elizabeth, everyone calls me Lizzie literally all of the time once we’ve been introduced … except her.

      I changed my e-mail signature to say Lizzie Lastname, but it didn’t help. If you ever figure this out, tell me, haha.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Someone I knew in college whom I disliked insisted on calling me Beth. I don’t go by Beth, never have; when I ditched my first name and started using my middle name, it was ALWAYS Elizabeth, Lizzie, or Liz. I asked him repeatedly to not do it, but he said he called me that because HE liked it. Well, sorry buddy, but no. So I just avoided him as much as possible.

        To this day, if anyone asks, “Can I call you Beth?” I immediately respond with “No!” It just has icky connotations.

    8. OP#4 - "Lizzy"*

      I have a colleague “Stacey” who one higher-up (male) insisted on calling “Stace.” It was always him not caring enough to not be disrespectful. She corrected him every single time. Sometimes she’d finish the name for him (she’d say “ee” after he said “Stace”) or she’d say “My name is StacEE, Bill.” He never freaking got it. She rejoiced when he retired.

      I’d correct people every time if I were you. I think calling someone the wrong name is a much bigger deal than misspelling.

    9. LQ*

      You can correct as other people have mentioned. And I would. A coworker started calling another coworker by a very common nickname of his name, I was sure he’d always gone by the full version, but after much hemming and hawing I finally asked him. (He very much prefers the full name and has privately asked her to not nickname, but she thinks it’s cute and keeps doing it.) So it can cause confusion for others too. A quick and easy, “I prefer Florennce, now about those reports…” will work well.

    10. Elizabeth*

      My office is small so not here, but for life in general yes. My full name is Elizabeth, and I’d say 1 out of 10 people will call me Liz instead. It feels rude for me to say “Actually it’s Elizabeth” or say no when someone asks “Can I call you Liz?” I know it’s really not, but it feels almost selfish in a way.

      For me there is a personal, anecdotal reason why I don’t like being called Liz. I guess at some point in elementary or junior high, friends and classmates started calling me Liz. Because I was ridiculously shy and reserved, I just went with it. So I was known as Liz throughout high school. Looking back, I don’t like who I was in high school. When I went to college, I stuck with Elizabeth for my name. I hate to be cliche, but I totally came out of my shell during college and became who I am now, not the person I was. So “Liz” reminds me of who I used to be, someone I didn’t like. Of course I don’t expect anyone to know all this when they call me Liz instead of Elizabeth, but that’s why it matters to me that I don’t go by that name.

      The other day I vendor I’ve been working with for the past two months (almost always over the phone) sent me an email and called me Liz. Even though on every time on the phone I say Elizabeth.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        So “Liz” reminds me of who I used to be, someone I didn’t like.

        This is why I don’t use my first name anymore (although my doctor’s office calls me by it, and anywhere I have to use my full name, dammit). We had name tags for our dorm rooms my freshman year of music school, and I marched mine right down to the RA and asked her if we could change it from First Name to Middle Name.

    1. Hlyssande*

      …Gross. Please tell me they’re not mandatory and that they’re over lunch breaks or something.

      1. #2 OP*

        They are not mandatory. They are held at the end of the day, and I think many employees don’t realize they are happening.

          1. #2 OP*

            My comment was in reply to Alison’s “But I also think that if this is the only instance of this kind of thing in your workplace, I’d just let it go and move on.”

            1. Big Tom*

              But again, so what? If “many employees don’t realize they are happening” then it seems obvious that this isn’t something being pushed on employees and no one is feeling uncomfortable about it. It’s understandable if people find it weird, but it’s weird in a way that intrudes on no one.

    2. Lizzie*

      On the one hand, this is the CEO, so the place belongs to him and I guess he can do as he likes. But this would rub me the wrong way, honestly. If you want to go to Starbucks down the street after work with some people, go right ahead. Otherwise, unless your company does something faith-based, this seems weird.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        Not being religious myself, I do wonder why they aren’t having their bible study at a church? Is this a thing that people do like a book club that rotates with different members hosting every month? Because on the one hand, trying to find a space to rent is not easy and not cheap. I can see how he’s got the facilities, he may not want these people in his home, it’s after hours, it’s convenient for him because he’s already there. If it’s not mandatory for employees to participate and most don’t even know it’s happening, his place, his rules I guess.

        But on the other hand… I would be concerned that a group of unknown people are being let into the office after hours. How many are there? How supervised are they? Where are the allowed to go? Are there key cards or punch locks that would keep them in the mainly public areas of the building? I hope there’s video cameras just in case something ever goes missing. I mean, shades of that other post about Bad Interns where the intern was using the office as a party place after hours.

        As for the book… it’s a gift. Once you’ve received it you can do anything you like with it — donate it, let the child use it as a colouring book, burn it, give it to someone else who might appreciate it. There are many people in the world who give gifts with themselves in mind more than the recipient and what their interests or tastes are. For all you know, he does this with everyone and the people at his church really dig it. Personally, I give a giant box of baby wipes from Costco but that’s me.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          I had a job once where we had a bible study among co-workers at lunch, and my spouse now does the same thing. It’s at work, because it’s with co-workers. And yeah, you could say it is something like a book club. :) However, it was NOT run by management, it was completely optional, and at least in our case, I’m not sure very many other people even knew about it.

      2. Artemesia*

        I would not work for someone like this and would be looking for another job. It is not possible for the boss to run Bible studies in the office, voluntary or not, and not give the impression that your career progress there will be contingent on your religion.

      3. LaSharron*

        To be fair, if it’s the religion I think it is, he would ask the student where they want to study. If after work at the job is the only place that’s convenient (say for opposition at home) then he would accommodate the person.

    3. nona*

      Oh. Um.

      Is it a religious organization or affiliated with something like that? (For example, a lot of local nonprofits are ostensibly interfaith or secular or unaffiliated, but then you find out who funds them.)

        1. Erin*

          Ohhhhkay. Wish I’d seen this before I commented.

          Basically I agree with Alison in that if this is one thing it’s not a big deal, but yep, it sure is indicative of a bigger problem going on.

        1. Rana*

          I’d still worry about favoritism, though, just as I would about any “special” activity with the CEO that only a few employees attended.

          This guy doesn’t sound ill-intentioned, just clueless, but it’s a flavor of clueless that could lead to him unintentionally favoring employees who share his religious beliefs, if only because they seem familiar and likeable to him in ways that others may not.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I completely agree; in addition to that, using the facilities for the meetings could be problematic. I assume CEO doesn’t mean company owner in this case, however.

  38. Ad Astra*

    So I have one of those first names like Allison/Alison where there are two almost-equally common spellings, and people often choose the wrong spelling, which is annoying. I also have a last name that sounds sort of like a first name (like Tracy) and people call me by my last name all the time, which drives me insane.

  39. Rebecca*

    #4 – sometimes I think autocorrect contributes a lot to misspelled names :) I get a lot of variations on my name, even though it is clearly spelled out in my email signature line. I figure as long as the person is addressing the issue I wrote to them about in the first place, and they’re not swearing at me, we’re good. Many of the people I correspond with are in other countries, and speak other languages than English, so as long as the whole gist of the conversation is OK, I’m good.

    1. Rye-Ann*

      I’m not the OP so I don’t know exactly, but I’ve heard that a lot of us who go to school for science somehow end up in finance instead. There’s probably other places we end up too. In any case, it can be a rough field to find a job in, particularly if you’re not living in an area that has a lot of those types of jobs (which, frankly, is the majority of the US).

      1. De (Germany)*

        Some of us who studied science even want to get out :-) That’s why I sideeye all of these “percentage of people who majored in X not working in field X after graduation” – they often seem to imply that this is somehow a bad thing. I am a Biologist now working as a software developer and it is neither a failure on my part nor on the part of science. I enjoyed Biology and I enjoy software development.

  40. Hlyssande*

    I have the same last name as a certain macho man and former child actor that isn’t incredibly common, but common enough in the US that you’d think it wouldn’t be an issue. I still have to spell it out frequently. It’s ridiculous.

    My first name has two main spellings and several other variations, and I always have to say “[Name] with an A”. Some people still spell it wrong either way.

    1. Judy*

      My last name is somewhat uncommon, but during the immigration of my husband’s family, it was anglicized to a compound word that is two words that are in the dictionary, and most people in the US probably use weekly if not daily.

      We have to spell it out. And correct people while they’re spelling it. And after they look at it, they say “oh, just like it sounds.”

    2. Dutch last name*

      For English speakers, my last name is extremely easy to pronounce and extremely hard to spell. People have asked me to spell it, written it down letter for letter as I spelled it, and gotten it wrong.

      This is after my family changed the pronunciation to something easier in English. Sometimes I wonder if the pronunciation that doesn’t sound “foreign” makes people think they can guess the spelling, and that’s where it goes wrong.

    3. Cath in Canada*

      A friend of mine named his son Linden, after local hockey legend Trevor Linden. I once got to meet said hockey legend, and asked if he would sign something for my friend’s son, Linden.

      “How do you spell that?”, he asked.

      “Um, well, he’s named after you, so…”


  41. Recent MBA Grad*

    I just graduated this past June from a part-time MBA program for full-time workers. People either wore what they wore to work or changed to more casual clothes (jeans and t-shirts, but never sweats). The only time people definitely dressed up in suits or professional wear was if they were scheduled to give a presentation.

    I would recommend wearing the most professional outfit that still feels like your style for the first day and then you can shift if there seems to be a more conservative trend or if there’s room for more self-expression.

    Good luck in your program!

  42. Jubilance*

    #4 – OP I feel your pain. I have a unique first name and it grinds my gears when people spell my name wrong. It really grinds my gears when people find me in the company address book (where my name is spelled correctly), or see my name in an email and STILL can’t spell it correctly. I find it lazy and disrespectful so I always correct them. No big production, just a quick “BTW my name is spelled N-A-M-E :-) ” and that seems to work well.

    1. Retail Lifer*

      One of my BEST FRIENDS still can’t spell my last name correctly. I’ve known her for over 10 years.

      1. cuppa*

        I don’t think he would, but it honestly wouldn’t shock me if my husband spelled my maiden name wrong. :)

      2. Elizabeth West*

        My former friend still called me by my first name–she said it was too hard for her to remember to call me Liz. Come on.
        We’re not friends anymore, not even on Facebook; too much close-mindedness. Since she wouldn’t even call me by the name I want to be called by, I feel no great sense of loss. Just a tiny one.

  43. Lizzie*

    OP4: if it makes you feel any better, I’ve been in my position and working with a certain NGO connected to us for multiple years with no change in representatives, and their representative is still calling me “Betty” instead of “Lizzie” or even “Liz.” I’ve never indicated that they should. At least they’re getting most of the way there! ;)

  44. Cruella DaBoss*

    #2 I would have been thrilled my CEO thought enough of me to give me a baby gift, whatever it might have been. It is a just book of children’s stories, that most likely teach morals and values. If the receiving parent did not want one, they should quietly donate it to a local library or children’s organization.

  45. Erin*

    #2 – I used to be handed religious material once in awhile at a retail job I worked at. Usually they were nice people, not pushy, “Hi, I don’t know if you’re interested, but here’s some info on my church group, we’re meeting next Wednesday.” I smiled and said thank you and tossed it after they walked away.

    I think what the CEO did was a nice gesture and should be treated like any other gift we don’t really want. Parents can chose to smile and say thank you and then turn around and donate the book, if they’d like.

    What would cross the line I think is A) if he continued to push after the fact (like asking about if the kids had read it yet) or B) if this is one incident in a series of others (what Alison indicated – if this is it, just let it go).

    Personal side notes: I (nor my parents) are religious, but I somehow ended up with a children’s bible as a kid and I *loved it.* I don’t know why. But it really was kid-friendly and resonated with me for some reason.

    I’m also a tad biased because I’m a fan of books, all books, and I think kids should have the option of reading about religious material, if that’s what they choose. My parents are the most nonreligious people you’ll ever meet, and they didn’t care I had a kids bible, and encouraged me to read (almost) anything I could get my hands on.

    But again, if other parents choose to get rid of it, that’s fine too. I don’t think it needs to be a big deal unless it’s indicative of a larger problem going on.

      1. Us, Too*

        The other thing is after hours and voluntary and OP admits that most people probably don’t even know it’s happening. I’m about as secular as someone can get and this wouldn’t bother me a bit.

  46. Former top ten MBA Student*

    Hi! I am a woman who graduated from Darden (UVA) a few years ago. People tended to wear the same things you’d wear to class in college. Some days I was dressier than others. I would refrain from yoga pants, etc. But Jeans/Tshirts are totally fine.
    Some women dressed up more than others, and it was noticed but it wasn’t necessarily something that stuck out like a sore thumb. What would make you stick out like a sore thumb would be wearing a suit every day. Presentation days, yes. Interview days, yes. Class days? Please don’t.
    As far as a briefcase etc. we all used backpacks. I worked in Fashion Marketing prior to my MBA, and have a very colorful, fun work wardrobe. However, for class, it’s much more casual. Being too dressy would be kind of Elle-woodsy.

  47. RMRIC0*

    Regarding 5: It’s also possible that the candidate just got some bad advice regarding interviews. I know I’ve had some people try and coach me to pretend that Job X is the only job I could ever imagine myself having and that I would just be pleased as punch to be working at Company Y (and to say the same for Job A at Company Z and so on).

  48. John R*

    When people ask me inappropriate things, they’ll often preface it by saying something that they did, as if they’re breaking the ice by “going first”. I usually just respond, “hmmm” or “how interesting” and say nothing beyond that. Re the job search, I would probably have said something like “I’m considering a bunch of options at this stage of my job search” and left it at that. It seems TOTALLY reasonable that an interviewer would expect an interviewee to be interviewing at more than one company.

  49. Monodon monoceros*

    Did anyone else check out the link that Alison had in #4? I had not seen that before. Even if you are on the side of not ignoring a misspelled name, good gravy, that Elizabeth was nutso. The poor guy apologised in every email afterwards. I’m pretty impressed with his ability to not just say “For the love of god, I said I’m sorry! Now get over it and just freaking tell me if the congressman is available to meet!”

    1. Cordelia Naismith*

      Yeah, I did, too. That was something else. One correction is fine, but nineteen emails?!? Especially when the other person apologized and corrected herself right away? Wow.

      1. fposte*

        But it’s so legendary now that everybody remembers her as Liz Becton, which is a fitting punishment.

        1. Sue Wilson*

          Eh, I think a fitting punishment should be work-related for a work-related problem, not having part of your identity co-opted by other people.

  50. MBA*

    I also go to a top ranked school. During orientation we wore suites every day (but it was specified that we do so). During the rest of the school year we wear whatever we want and it’s fine. Women were told to wear conservative black suites and carry conservative purses for career fairs, site visits, etc..

  51. Minister of Snark*

    Re: #1

    My DH is a night shift supervisor for his employer. Years ago, he had a direct report, “Herb” who lived about five miles from us. Somehow, he figured this out and started driving past our house on his way to work, whether DH was on duty that night or not.

    If DH was off duty, the next time Herb saw DH, he would make some random observation, “Hey, I saw you mowing your lawn.” or “I drove by your place the other day, you and the wife sure seem to enjoy those rockers out on your porch.” Without further comment. On one hand, it could be seen as the attempts of a very socially awkward person to start a conversation. On the other hand, it could be seen as the attempts of person with sinister tendencies to let us know that he was watching us and aware of our movements and habits.

    If DH was on duty when Herb drove by our house, he would tell DH, ‘I drove by your place on the way in. Your wife’s car was there and everything looked shut down for the night.’ or ‘I drove by your place and your wife’s car wasn’t there. Any idea where she is?” Like it was his job to keep tabs on me when DH was out of the house. It got creepier when my sister was visiting and he told my DH, “Hey, I drove by your house and your wife’s car was there AND there was some car I didn’t recognize. You might want to check into that.”

    I was really unnerved by the comment about my sister’s car. I didn’t like the implication that he was watching me for bad behavior. I didn’t like the implication that he knew all of the cars of people who regularly visited our house. And what made it weirder was that our house was not on a direct route from his house to work, he was actually having to go a couple of miles out of his way to drive past our house.

    And while it wasn’t directly threatening, it was unnerving. It made me feel watched and that my privacy and marriage was being intruded upon. It made me wonder how far Herb would go to get more information and whether he would manufacture situations involving my “wrongdoing” to give him something to discuss with DH.

    I suggested that we spend less time on the porch and I could move my car into the garage, instead of his truck (which was newer and being “babied.”) But DH didn’t want to change our habits because of this guy. Instead, the next time Herb said something, DH said, “Herb, I don’t want you driving past my house any more. It’s making both of us uncomfortable. It’s none of your business whether my wife is home or whether she has visitors. That’s between me and my wife. If you continue to invade my privacy in this way, we will go to HR and discuss consequences.”

    Herb blustered and said he didn’t mean any harm and DH was overreacting when Herb was only trying to be helpful and friendly. DH repeated the phrase. “Don’t invade my privacy again.” until Herb shut up. Herb seemed to realize that whatever personal power, friendship or control he had over/with DH had evaporated, and after some griping to coworkers, he stopped his drive bys. It probably had something to do with the fact that the coworkers told him, “Dude, that’s creepy. If you were checking up on my wife like that, I’d be pissed, too.”

    With LW1’s employee, the main problem is that she’s using this information as some sort of leverage against the LW’s husband, to poison the office against him. He needs to address this asap. Allison’s wording is excellent .

    1. Career Counselorette*

      It is my serious wish that people like Herb get eaten by sea monsters at night like in Creepshow.

    2. Myrin*

      My god, what a weird and creepy guy! Good on you and your husband for being so direct and enforcing that boundary, and I’m glad Herb actually stopped with his unsettling behaviour!

    3. NickelandDime*

      I love the way your husband handled Herb. Herb was a creepy boundary pusher. He was not “socially awkward.” Socially-awkward people would be too uncomfortable to ever bring something like that up – repeatedly. They would recognize the “What the heck?” look on someone’s face the first time they mentioned a car being in the drive way and immediately think – “Bad topic, let me switch to the weather.”

    4. catsAreCool*

      Good for your husband! I think that some people like Herb will push boundaries until someone pushes back.

  52. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #1 – worse … I had “internal detectives” from my company (I suspected) drive by my house – and even call my wife during the day with intimidating phone calls.

    I reported the harassment to my manager — who said “do nothing, I will check it out” — turned out, yes, someone WAS tracking me — long story, but it would stop. “Good, because I really don’t care what you do to me. In fact, I laugh at you. But my family, it’s different. STAY AWAY FROM MY FAMILY.” There was one more call, my wife hung up and called me.

    At this point – I actually threatened to have a restraining order put in place. Funny – a court order against your employer! Awkward. But I also said “and I will make sure it hits the papers! And I don’t care if I get fired!” Never had any harassment again.

    Background info – I had a neighbor who worked at the same company – although I didn’t know him well. They were calling my wife to see if I had a relationship/friendship with him. My neighbor had left the company, which I didn’t know of until telling him of the snoopers. There were also embarrassing lawsuits by former employees at the time – one in which the company had to pay millions of dollars in damages, so it might have been around that. Fine, don’t involve me, though and DO NOT INVOLVE MY FAMILY.

    1. Anna*

      This, absolutely. There comes a point where it’s not a work issue anymore and that point is when they target your family for any reason.

    2. Case of the Mondays*

      It kind of sounds like they were doing a routine background check on your neighbor. Anyone w/ a security clearance has had their whole family and all of their former roommates and neighbors interviewed. It’s a job requirement. Also, if opposing lawyers wanted to interview you as a witness for any of those lawsuits, they would normally contact you outside of work. I don’t think you would have succeeded in getting a restraining order for these things but maybe I’m misunderstanding the situation.

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        Routine background checks don’t generally include intimidating phone calls. They are done for my company for some workers due to some of our contracts, and the people doing the checking are very upfront about what they are investigating and why.

        1. Shannon*

          This. I’ve held several security clearances and the feedback from my references/ neighbors was always, “So and So from X department asked us about you regarding your security clearance.”

          Don’t deal with people who can’t produce a badge and explain what they’re after.

        2. Stephanie*

          Yes, this. I did a security clearance interview for one of my best college friends. The first thing the investigator did (after introducing himself) was show his badge and give his company name (I think he was a contractor) and contact info.

  53. Chalupa Batman*

    My first thoughts on #1 was admittedly ridiculously conspiracy theory-ish and full of information that wasn’t actually there, so I had to dial it back before commenting. In my mind, it played out very Lifetime movie- OP’s husband and coworker had a thing, either in real life or in coworker’s mind, and now she won’t leave him alone and is watching his whereabouts, then gossiping about it to send him a not-so-subtle signal that she’s watching him and has power over him because she can tell the whole truth at any moment. When OP finally calls her on it, the now full blown stalker coworker will try to silence her-forever!

    With all of the dramatics and wild assumptions weeded out, the part about gossiping as power still held up. She has information about where he is when, and in her mind sharing that information with other people is a shaming attempt, showing him that his flex time is being watched and implies that it’s Not Okay because he’s presumably not putting in the same amount of work as they are. Gossiping gets her message to him without putting her in the position of saying that she’s been keeping tabs on him to his face.

    Now I’m going to go warm up my lunch and start work on my screenplay for Scenario #1.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I got really upset when I told someone what Rose’s Hostage was about and they immediately said, “I saw a TV movie once that was just like that!” Arrrghhh!

  54. EJ*

    #3 –
    I ‘m part of the admissions team for the MBA programs at a University in my city.

    We ask students to dress casual/business-casual (dockers, polos, blouse, nice jeans) to class…. unless you have a presentation/career fair where you are required to be business-conservative (suits).

    Definitely no sweats, gym clothes, beach attire (bathing suits, short-shorts, crop/tube-tops), or looking like you just rolled out of bed.

    Most students are coming straight from work to their class, so they are already dressed professionally for their job.

  55. Lauren*

    Regarding #4: My name is Lauren, a SUPER common name. My name is part of my personal email address and is included in the email signature of both my personal and work email accounts. Why would someone think it is okay to address me as “Laura”? I get that it’s similar, but it’s not my name and I see it as the same thing as me saying “Hey Jeff” so someone named Bob. I think people’s names are important and that they deserve to be called by the correct name they have given, not whatever people think is convenient. Am I being too crazy about this?

    Furthermore, how can I get my boss to stop shortening people’s names when they do NOT go by those shortened versions (For example, he calls a man named Nathan “Nate, even though Nathan does NOT go by that nickname and has never introduced himself as such. Other examples are a man named David who goes by David, but my boss calls him “Dave”. Why do people think this is okay, and how do I get them to stop.

    1. Ad Astra*

      I have known a Nathan, a Nate, a Nat, and a Nathaniel. All of them were extremely specific about what they’d like to be called. Something about that name.

    2. catsAreCool*

      It might not work, but you might mention to your boss that some people really don’t like their names shortened. Maybe you already have though.

  56. MashaKasha*

    To #1, aside from the obvious ethical wrongness of this, why on earth do people insist on checking if a car is in the driveway to make sure the owner is home?? The car could be in the garage, or the owner could let another family member borrow it. Happened to someone I used to know. She let her older kid borrow her car while she stayed at home with younger kid. Imagine her surprise when police showed up on her doorstep to check on “a minor child home alone unsupervised”. A neighbor saw that there was no car in the driveway and called the cops.

    Makes no damn sense.

    1. Charlotte Collins*

      Why would you assume that the adult had left the house but the child hadn’t? My understanding is that they’re pretty portable.

      1. MashaKasha*

        The neighbor saw the child get off the school bus and go inside the house. She didn’t see the adult enter or leave the house. So of course she jumped to the most interesting assumption of all available ones and called the police. Why this neighbor chose to spend that much of her time watching the other family’s comings and goings in the first place, is beyond me.

        1. Charlotte Collins