profane decal on a car used for work, coworkers keep making me buzz them back inside, and more

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

1. Employee has mildly profane decal in the car she uses for work

I recently hired a new employee who is great — very engaging with customers, asks lots of good questions, and her personality clicks with the other team members. The position she was hired for requires the use of a personal vehicle to show homes to clients (clients follow in their own vehicle, not get in hers).

Her vehicle, as I noticed today in the parking lot, has a very large window decal on the back window with a profane statement. It reads “BAD ASS GIRLS DRIVE BAD ASS TOYS.” Not really offensive, just not exactly professional, in my opinion.

I personally don’t feel like use of profanity, in any way, around customers is professional, but I also don’t want to lose a good employee over something as trivial as a window sticker. How should I handle this?

I think this depends on your line of work and what kind of vibe your clients expect from you. If you have reason to think your clients expect a pretty conservative approach from you and it’ll put them off, just be straightforward about that. For example: “Jane, a lot of our clients expect us to take a pretty conservative approach to this work, and I think may be put off by even the pretty mild profanity in your window decal. Could you remove it on days when you’re showing homes to clients?”

But other clients might appreciate the show of personality, so this really comes down to your sense of your client base.

2. Getting coworkers to use their key fobs instead of having me buzz them in

I work as an admin/receptionist at a small firm. All colleagues are provided with fobs to get back in to our office. I also have a buzzer to let guests in. All too frequently, my colleagues rely on me to buzz them in to the office, despite having fobs (and there are two additional fobs kept on hooks near the door for folks who want to use them during the day). This annoys me so much! But then I remind myself “it’s my job.” But is there a way to nicely but effectively remind them to use their own fobs (or the extra ones hanging up)? It would save me the effort to buzz them in (sometimes I’m in a different part of the office and I hear them knocking, and I have to rush back to my desk to let them in)? It also just seems a little rude that they do this more times than not.

I’d say this: “If you can, will you take your fob with you when you go out? My work sometimes takes me away from my desk and it can be tough to need to rush back to buzz you in if I’m in the middle of something somewhere else.” Or, “I’m glad to buzz you in if you occasionally forget, but the buzzer is really for guests, but staff is supposed to use their fobs.” (Assuming that’s the case, of course. And if it is, they really may not realize that, so it’s worth pointing out.

3. Keeping a new employee engaged during a slow period

I’m an internal researcher at a university, and when I started my position about 3 years ago things got off to a slow start. It took a while for projects I was involved in to get off the ground, to get to know people, and to get invited to meetings. I’d say it took a good 6-8 months to become integrated, and during that time I wondered often about why everyone else seemed so busy. Fast forward to present day and I am now the person who is rushing around busy all the time…my workload became so heavy that leadership decided to promote me to being a manager and hire a person to work under me. This has been quite a daunting transition for me, as I am not used to thinking about how to occupy someone else’s time (only my own!).

The person I hired is hard-working, super smart, and eager to prove herself. Unfortunately, she is now going through the “slow” period that I went through since her projects are just taking off, and she doesn’t yet have strong relationships with our internal stakeholders (many of whom are currently on vacation). I created a project task list for her that she completed much faster than I expected. In addition, August is always the slowest time of the year because all the students are away from campus. Many people end up taking time off in August as a result.

I am feeling nervous about not being able to sufficiently occupy her time in a productive way during these two weeks or in any future “slow” periods that may occur. My experience is telling me that I shouldn’t assign her additional projects because the workload will become unmanageable in just a month’s time. But I don’t want her to get bored. Should I encourage her to spend this (rare) downtime developing some professional development skills? Are there other approaches you would suggest or advice you would give to me about how to create a steady workflow?

If there are more short-term projects that genuinely need to be done, or if you can give her a list of longer-term projects that aren’t time-sensitive (so that she can work on them when she has downtime and put them aside without worry when things pick back up), do that. Also, to the extent possible, give her a bunch at once, rather than doling them out piecemeal; the latter can be frustrating, especially for fast workers.

But also, explain to her what you said here. Explain the ebb and flow of the work, and what she can expect right now and that it will change in a few weeks, so that she understands the full context. If she doesn’t have that context, she could start feeling bored and worried that the job won’t keep her engaged. But if she understands what you explained here, she’ll almost certainly be fine with it, especially if you give her the go-ahead to work on developing specific skills or do other stuff that interests her.

4. Employee keeps complaining about her problems to customers

I have an employee who tells customers every day about her problems. Whether it be work-related issues or at home fights with her boyfriend, she tells customers every day. Some customers are repeat as we have a catering food truck. I have been getting complaints from people who don’t want to hear her problems. How can I tell her to stop?

Be direct: “Jane, I’d like you to stop telling customers about work or personal problems you’re having. I want to keep things positive and upbeat for our customers. Can you do that?”

5. I’m nervous about my legacy going down the tubes because my soon-to-be-former boss is mishandling my transition

I recently gave notice at my job of six years. I start at a new, exciting job in a few weeks. My boss at my current job has been here less than a year. He’s supposed to be sitting with me and learning all my job duties before my last day. But he has barely spent 15 minutes a day with me on only 3 days. He does not know nearly everything, and I’m feeling nervous about my legacy after six years going down the tube. I care for and really respect my other coworkers, and I also worry that the slack will fall on them when boss can’t do my job. I did circumspectly let my coworkers know about the amount of time that boss was spending with me, just so they weren’t surprised when they were asked to do the work. I don’t want them to think I didn’t try.

But then yesterday I came back from lunch at the appointed time and my boss’ door was closed. I unintentionally overheard him on the phone. The walls are not very thick. And he was definitely taking a phone interview with another company and setting up a time for an in-person interview. What do I do? Should I warn my coworkers before I leave?

Also, HR is not really an option because boss and HR are on very friendly terms and spend a lot of time together. I would not be surprised to know that HR already knows about his plans but has not shared them with anyone.

Write this one off to just not your business. I totally get the sickening feeling that your legacy will go down the tubes because of someone else’s incompetence, but the reality is that there’s nothing you can do about that. You’ve done your part in trying to assist in a smooth transition; the rest is up to your boss, and you can’t force his hand there. Telling your coworkers about the call you overheard will only cause drama, and it’s just not your place to spread that around (plus, the interview may come to nothing, who knows).

All this is going to soon be not your problem. Do your best to leave things in good order, leave behind strong documentation, and go start your new job without staying mired in something that you can’t control and isn’t your responsibility.

{ 421 comments… read them below }

  1. Artemesia*

    When you sell a house, they get to repaint even when they have bad taste. When you leave a company may well change the things you created. I know the feeling. I created a program with another colleague that became the most successful program the company has ever had and in its early days it literally produced the revenue that saved the company. We have both now retired and the new people in charge have pretty much wrecked the program. It is sad but things change and all you can do is let it go. Certainly it is not up to you to gossip about your boss’s conversations heard through thin walls.

    1. TootsNYC*

      It really is one of the bummers of leaving a job, especially one in which you were really invested. The things you achieved may not last.

  2. Engineer Girl*

    #1 – I’m not sure that it is appropriate for use on a work vehicle. There’s plenty of ways to show “personality’ in other, more professional ways. In a way, the sticker is in your face with attitude. That can be off-putting if you are a customer that wants to create a collaborative Vs antagonistic relationship.
    In a way, getting rid of the sticker is like wearing a suit. You give up a little bit of your “personality” to gain trust with a client.

    1. Lulubell*

      I don’t consider myself a prude by any means, but I agree – that sticker sounds very off putting and unprofessional to me. I guess it comes down to the line of business, but it would immediately make me question this woman’s judgment that she would put that on a work vehicle.

      1. Kat*

        It’s her personal vehicle, which had the sticker on it before she was hired. So there is no “bad judgement for putting a sticker on a work car”, it is HER personal car.

        If work wants to control what is on her own car, then they need to provide one for her to use.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          … Except that they don’t actually have to :)

          It’s perfectly acceptable in jobs that require you to use your own car to require that the car be kept in a particular condition or meet certain standards.

          1. BananaPants*

            Years ago my husband was offered a sales job that gave a small car allowance (like $100-150/month) but required that the incumbent in the role had a midsize or full size sedan, no older than 4 years old. A crossover, station wagon, hatchback, minivan, etc. was not acceptable. Additionally employees could not have a child’s car seat or booster installed in the car during business hours. At the time we had an infant and he was driving a very reliable and paid-for 6 year old Camry. The salary was low and the size of the car allowance was not sufficient to compensate for financing a new car, and that combined with the inability to have a car seat installed was a dealbreaker.

            1. Laurel Gray*

              The amount of time it takes to take apart and re-install (properly) a car seat alone wouldn’t be worth it.

                1. Laurel Gray*

                  I am assuming if they do not want the car seat, they do not want the base in either. Proper installation of the base (newborn-infant seat) isn’t as easy as a minute or two.

                2. Ife*

                  It might be quick, but there’s a fair amount of undignified wrestling with the car seat, at least if you’re short and/or have a two-door car. It’s not something I’d be willing to do on a daily basis!

                3. Carl Montana*

                  30 seconds to put in, 2 minutes to remove?

                  That has not been my experience at all. More like 30 minute to put in, 5 minutes to remove.

                4. davey1983*

                  You need to show me how to remove and install a car seat in under 5 minutes!

                  I use the ‘latch’ system, and I have never been able to put in or take out a car seat in under 10 minutes.

          2. Anna*

            I guess I just feel like if you’re asking someone to use their own personal vehicle to represent you, you have to be willing to take on the risk of all that entails. It just seems like you can’t have it both ways. Unless you’re making my car payment or paying me a lot in gas money. If I’m responsible for the payment and maintenance, then I get to do with it what I want.

            1. Pill Helmet*

              I disagree. I think the person doesn’t have to accept the job if that requirement is not acceptable to them (though I realize it was not actually specified to the employee in this particular situation, and it should have been). To me it’s the same thing as having to buy business clothes. The company doesn’t pay for that and yet it’s a requirement.

          3. Sadsack*

            I am trying to post a comment for the first time today, and keep getting a notification that it looks like I’ve already posted this comment and it is a duplicate. Anyone else have this happen?

        2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

          I wouldn’t think anything of the car being in the office parking lot with this sticker (unlike the letter Alison got several years back from a guy who was annoyed that he was in trouble at work for a crude and misogynistic decal on his truck), but it sounds like maybe the employee here is something like a realtor and doing her job involves clients driving directly behind her for periods of time. That means the decal would be right in clients’ faces during the drive, which I think is a bit much.

          I don’t agree with the idea that the company should have to buy the car to have a say in what is on the car when it’s being used for work, just like my employer doesn’t have to buy me work-appropriate clothing to keep me from showing up in cocktail dresses or pajama pants. It would be excessive to tell the employee she had to get a different car, because that would be a major financial issue, but asking her to remove a decal? Heck, if it’s a decal, it may even be the kind she can stick back on every afternoon when she leaves work.

          1. jhhj*

            Just from the other side, I would love to have a decal to follow instead of “was it this white SUV? this one? uh oh.” (As long as it wasn’t an overtly offensive one.)

            1. Monodon monoceros*

              They could find a more professional and relevant decal easily though, like the logo of the company.

                1. Monodon monoceros*

                  Yeah, I wouldn’t want one either. I was just pointing out that if you wanted something easy for a client to follow, there are better options than leaving an unprofessional decal on there.

                2. LQ*

                  I don’t know. I kind of like the idea of a magnetic company logo decal she could slap over the personal one when she was at work. It would let her be super clear on who to follow, and keep the personal thing the rest of the time.

                3. AnotherAlison*

                  The magnetic ones aren’t really good for your paint. (I’m assuming the one she has is on a window, where a magnet wouldn’t work anyway.)

              1. jhhj*

                I don’t really feel the need for the decal to be relevant — I’d be just as happy to see a Hogwarts house decal, or a House Martell sigil, or a Dalek or whatever.

                I grant that House Frey would be pretty unprofessional.

                1. Lizzie*

                  Well, House Bolton’s signature is probably alright if you’re a butcher …

                  (I kid, I kid!)

            2. Stranger than fiction*

              Ha, yeah. Maybe they should at least invest in one of those magnetic signs to slap on the side of her car during the day.

          2. Meg Murry*

            If its a large one, it probably isn’t able to be removed and re-attached – most of those are installed in a specialty shop. It is removable once, but probably not daily as a remove and reapply type.

            I”m not a super prude, but I am not a fan of this kind of thing, so one of my earliest impressions would be “ugh, that’s tacky”. If this is someone taking a person for the first viewing of a house, that’s not what you want in the person’s mind. And doubly so if the properties are being branded as “upscale” or “luxury”.

            1. Snowglobe*

              Maybe she can get a larger removable decal that would go on the outside of the car, over the current one?

            2. The IT Manager*

              +1 This is buried, but that was my first though on reading the response.

              It is very unlikely that this can be removed for work.

              Option 1) Remove it permanently
              Option 2) Cover it at work with something removable. I’m not thinking anything fancy at all – just white paper or something – but that could block visibility and be illegal if it’s a window decal and could just be a big pain in the ass.

              I agree, though, this isn’t really a professional image. If you do ask the employee to remove it, I recommend you offer to pay for the removal or pay her something since she probably paid to have it professionally installed at least just to ease the situation.

              You may consider implementing a written rule so you’ll have something to point to in the future if this comes up and to provide warnings to other/future employees. about the future policy since these kinds of decals can cost a bit of money.

            3. Stranger than fiction*

              I’m thinking it’s not real estate, though. Around here, at least, the clients ride in the car with the realtor. Anyways, I’m not a prude either and I just think this is tacky. In fact, I don’t like any sort of stickers on a car like this. Maybe it’s stuck in my head from when I was first driving, but my dad said never get any type of personalized license plate of sticker that let’s everyone know you’re a girl because it could be dangerous, nefarious people could single you out and wait by your car, etc. Even still, I just don’t like strong proclamations on people’s cars.

              1. davey1983*

                I think it depends on the particular city, realtor, and situation. In one town, we always followed the realtor with our own car. In another town, just 80 or so miles away, we rode in the realtors car. Further, in the second town we used another realtor (this was years later) and we always met the realtor at the location.

          3. Allison*

            Basically this, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to not want that sticker where the clients will see it. And there’s definitely no harm in at least explaining your concerns to her and asking her to take it off; it’s only a problem if she refuses or puts up a fight about it.

            1. Mabel*

              I agree. If I was her manager or the business owner, I would not want her to have the sticker on her car while she’s dealing with clients. I use profanity at home, and profane language generally doesn’t bother me, but I don’t think it’s appropriate for work, especially when one is interacting with clients.

          4. Ad Astra*

            I came here to say pretty much the same thing. If the OP’s company sells dirtbikes or paintball facilities or something where this attitude might be appreciated, maybe it’s ok. But I think it’s more likely that OP’s company sells or rents homes to people of varied tastes, and this kind of thing would be unprofessional and off-putting.

            If the employee is as great as the OP describes, it’s reasonable to expect that she’d see the OP’s point and handle the request in a mature, professional way. I do suspect removing the decal will have to be permanent, though; most large car decals are professionally installed and can’t be put back on easily.

            1. Cruella DaBoss*

              Thinking of what my Realtor friends drive, I have a hard time considering an SUV or a 4-door anything as”badass.” But if it were a Corvette, I’d think “Oh Yeah!”

              1. AnotherAlison*

                4Runners can be pretty badass, for 4 door suvs. I mean, if you have a winch on the front, modified suspension, and some aggressive offroad tires, you’re a badass. Mine is more the winch-free mom version, sadly. ; )

            2. fposte*

              I was thinking big truck myself, because that’s where I see that kind of thing around here. But if you’re in an area where big trucks are common, is keeping up with the Joneses really badass?

              Though now I have this vision that her kids or partner got the sticker for her, and she’s just going along with it.

              1. AnotherAlison*

                I think it’s okay if your vehicle is moderately badass, as long as you are 100% badass. I mean, if you have a factory Ford Raptor, that’s borderline, but if you back it up by competing in rodeo, MMA, adventure racing or something, then it’s okay.

                (I actually don’t like stickers on cars. Badass girls, Coexist, 26.2 or your kid’s honor student sticker. Yuck. They all bug me.)

                1. Dynamic Beige*

                  They bug me, too. I have never put a decal of any sort on any car I have owned. What other people do, that’s their vehicle.

                  Honestly, I found it kind of funny. It could even be ironic if she’s got that on a Chevy Cavalier. But then again, I’m not someone who finds mild swearing offensive. I would be more put off if the back of her car was filled with “Follow me to Church” style bumper stickers and Jesus fish.

                2. BananaPants*

                  I’ve never put a bumper sticker on my car, only decals. I think decals seem less permanent than stickers. I don’t like stick figures or anything related to kids’ school or sports teams. Definitely nothing political or religious – not that I don’t have views in those areas, I just don’t feel a need to communicate them via my car. I have my undergrad alma mater’s decal on my rear window and that’s it.

                  When I bought the car (ordered from the factory, not bought off the lot) I asked the dealership to not put their lettering on it when it came in. I was paying enough for the car, I didn’t intend on giving them free advertising forever. Of course they did anyways! If I knew how to get it off without damaging the paint I would have done so. I have it serviced at a different Chevy dealership and the first time they put their dealership license plate frames on both my front and rear license plates. I took them off and asked them nicely not to do it in the future, and they haven’t since.

                3. moss*

                  There needs to be some sort of licensing exam so you can have verifiable badass credentials. I think 100% is an appropriately stringent level to set. If you score 90-99% then you might be allowed to get a sticker but it would have to be in a smaller font or say something like “Badass Girl*”
                  *not 100% badass but pretty close.

                  We can’t just have people running around slapping up stickers on their trucks willy-nilly. Claiming badassery when you’re less than 100% badass? It will dilute the impact of the sticker and make the rest of us look bad.

                  In conclusion: formal badass certification verified by an independent authority.

                4. Elizabeth West*

                  I only like them on the window. I put a US Figure Skating sticker on my back window, and in the other corner, I have a decal of a tyrannosaur balancing on its nose with the caption “T-Rex hates pushups.” :)

                  There will be either a TARDIS or a Dalek in the near future, if I can ever find time to wash my car. But I wouldn’t put anything that said ass or any other marginal word on my car, especially not if I used it for my actual job rather than just driving it to work and back.

              2. Chinook*

                ” But if you’re in an area where big trucks are common, is keeping up with the Joneses really badass?”

                I understand where you are coming from, but living in such an area, I can tell you it is “not keeping up with the Jones” (ok, maybe a little bit) but a case of “they just don’t make a 4×4 car that handle snow drifts” or “this is what it takes to get to my job site which is off pavement” or “I have a lot of gear to haul and it is sometime messy” or “I like recreational activities that requiring hauling big toys.” Those trucks are expensive to gas up and half the families that have one often have something smaller/more fuel efficient for getting around town and in/out of parking spots.

                1. fposte*

                  I wasn’t meaning it so much as conspicuous consumption as its being the norm. If it’s just what people have to get around, how badass is it? It’s like telling your Alaskan neighbors how badass you are for dealing with snow.

                1. Kathryn T.*

                  After seeing Mad Max: Fury Road, I ran immediately to my computer to check vanity license plate availability for my state. I was delighted to discover that WAR RIG was available in my state. I have NOT yet ordered it to mount on my 2012 Corolla, but I am tempted to almost daily.

            3. The IT Manager*

              I’m betting a pickup truck. A fancy sports car is obvious without needing a decal. Also pickup drivers tend to do this sort of thing.

      2. Chinook*

        “I guess it comes down to the line of business, but it would immediately make me question this woman’s judgment that she would put that on a work vehicle.”

        Can I also add it might also be a sign of where she is from or the culture of a previous industry she was involved in? Seeing that phrase, I can easily imagine the type of truck she is driving (because, around here, it is always on a truck) and no one would bat an eye at seeing that unless you were in a very conservative industry (think accounting or lawyer) and, even then, if you were outside of the city, it probably wouldn’t be a problem. It is part of the rural, redneck, blue collar, work hard/play hard culture that you find around here in Alberta and one way for a woman in a generally male industry to assert herself as not being “girly” (though I have also seen that phrase dressed up to look quite frilly, which adds an extra level to the meaning).

        That is not say the OP may not want to mention it, but she should be aware that the issue may come as a surprise and be willing to clarify what makes it offensive – is it the particular words or the overall message? Would she be willing to have a different phrase with the same meaning? Would she react equally to a female silhouette on a truck flap?

    2. Lee*

      Yeah I can’t imagine most people would be comfortable with plumbers, the cable repair person, etc. showing up in their driveway with a decal like that, so, no.

      1. the gold digger (blog is open again!)*

        There is a woman in my work parking lot who has a sticker with the Intel logo and the words, “Bitch inside” on her rear window. I don’t want anyone to think of me as a pushover, but I don’t think that is the way I would convey the message to the world.

      2. Zillah*

        I’m not sure most people would even see it if it was someone who’d come to repair the cable or the plumbing, though – they’re not super likely to be in a position to look at the back of your car. For me, while I wouldn’t want anything blatantly offensive on the employee’s car, this would be much less of a big deal than a car that clients regularly followed.

    3. Koko*

      I’m surprised so many people consider this off-color or profanity. I don’t even think of badass as a curse word and hear people use it at work all the time! But I guess if she’s dealing with the public, apparently a not-insignificant portion think it’s offensive. I wonder if it never even occurred to her it might offend people…I know it wouldn’t have crossed my mind that the word badass was offensive unless someone told me.

      1. A Bug!*

        Agreed. I think I forget sometimes how significant regional differences can be when it comes to stuff like that. I mean, I wouldn’t display a phrase like that on anything client-facing in the office itself, but I think a bumper sticker like that is super tame. Not the most professional, but as someone else posted, a bumper sticker of some kind is likely to be helpful to the following client.*

        Language aside, the message is non-political, non-inflammatory, and not at the expense of any group. I think that’s more than can be said for the majority of bumper stickers I see.

        *Maybe it’d be a good idea to get some reusable vinyl or magnetic stickers with something relevant to your business, for all of your employees to use while leading clients to sites! (Depending on what you get, it could sidestep the “badass” problem entirely, if it’s something that can go over the sticker.)

      2. afiendishthingy*

        I don’t think of it as being offensive, just not professional, especially considering the size of the decal.

    4. Clever Name*

      Hmmm, now I’m wondering about the bumper sticker on my car for a hole-in-the-wall liquor store in a small tourist town that references hangovers…..

      1. afiendishthingy*

        Well, bumper stickers are much smaller than window decals. If it’s just parked in the parking lot where customers might see, totally fine (unless you work for a substance abuse counseling center or something); if clients are following your car as in the letter, depends on the company culture.

    5. Vicki*

      I’m going to counter all of the people who say “I’m not a prude, but…”

      I often am a “prude” (I detest “truck nuts”, for example), but I think this decal is funny. The customers are looking at houses; they’re not buying this woman’s car.

  3. themmases*

    There is very little you can do to guarantee your legacy (or even that your work will last long enough to count as a legacy at all). There is so much more you can do to secure your personal reputation. I think OP5 will feel much better if they focus on that.

    I remember feeling a lot like OP5 and knowing that a program I worked hard on would be mismanaged after I left. It was one of the most stressful times of an already pretty bad job, trying to exert some control over the future that I just didn’t have.

    If OP5 is the type of conscientious person who would worry about that, they probably have a better reputation than they realize no matter what their boss does. It might help them to find evidence for that now. They could engage with people they really like, whether through needed meetings or making a point to get coffee soon. They could go through their email now and save a compliment file. They could make new evidence by leaving behind great documentation.

    That’s what is important for your future and feeling good when this job is over. No one who counts will think the status of your job reflects in you when you no longer even hold it.

    1. JGray*

      I agree about focusing on your reputation. I left a job after 5 years and had a boss who was really disinterested in sitting down with me to learn my job and then I found out that when he “trained” my replacement it basically amounted to badmouthing the way I did things and talking about the new way to do things even though he really had no idea. I found him to be an incompetent leader which is one of the main reasons I found another job elsewhere. I did my best when I left there to leave things in the best shape I could even though from the sounds of it that didn’t matter to the boss.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        If the boss is getting ready to leave himself, hopefully he wouldn’t do that. However, I’m wondering if the Op should loop in his boss? Just so that person knows she’s handling everything appropriately and her boss is not spending the time he’s supposed to be with her. I mean, she’s leaving in a few weeks, so would it really be all that bad for her to go over his head at this point? Guess it depends what kind of relationship she has both with boss and boss’s boss.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I’m strongly in favor of leaving documentation. If the boss quits and other employees have to cover for a while, procedurals will help them enormously. Plus, whoever they hire will be thanking you because the docs will help them in training.

    3. TootsNYC*

      also–if the coworkers are going to be badly affected if the boss doesn’t carry on the programs she created, then it’s a really good idea to train the coworkers on the systems, etc.

      And documentation, of course. (And take a copy of the documentation with you, btw)

  4. Anony*

    I’m guessing #1 is in the real estate field. Having worked in this industry, I would absolutely expect the employee to remove the decal, as long as the use of their car was clearly stated in the hiring process. Just as you would expect the car to be clean and in good working condition, I feel it is fair to expect it to be professionally kept without controversial or offensive decals or materials on or in the car. As a side note, please make sure you fairly compensate the employee for mileage and gas. Years and several jobs later, I’m still ticked about the uncompensated wear and tear on my car! Lesson learned.

    1. Lady Bug*

      I’m glad I don’t use my car for work. I could remove offensive stickers, not that I have any, but I can’t guarantee there won’t be at least 4 pairs of shoes in there, and beach chairs and towels year round even though I live in the northeast.

        1. LQ*

          (This is horrible but I can’t stop imagining you getting into a low speed crash with like a tree and being like well at least my eyes are well protected! I know swimming is hyperbole but still!)

      1. Monodon monoceros*

        Everyone who enters my car is instantly covered in dog hair…I keep lint rollers with me at all times, but if I had to have clients in my car, I’d have to get a second (non-dog) car.

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          Oh yes, that too! How could I forget, and they’re tiny little hairs that stick to the upholstery and are almost impossible to vacuum out.

      2. Allison*

        I remember a realtor driving me and my friend to view an apartment. No offensive stickers, but dude’s car was definitely not the cleanest I’ve been in! Not that it mattered that much, we ended up renting a place he showed us, but if you’re planning on driving strangers around, you should try to make your car presentable.

      3. Stranger than fiction*

        I’ve got a sea of empty water bottles myself. (yes, eventually they make it to the recycle bin)

        1. Kairi*

          Slightly off topic, but what I do to keep my car clean is throw out trash and water bottles at the gas station when I fill my tank. It helps to prevent creating a mountain of water bottles in my back seat.

      4. Judy*

        Anyone who sits in my passenger seat is going to be fine, but I always warn folks who sit in the back. It is one of the kids’ Saturday chores to pick up the back of the car. By Fridays there is usually a pile of “My Little Pony”, barrettes or other random kid detritus.

      5. ThursdaysGeek*

        Mine is dusty inside: I need to leave the windows down because my air conditioning doesn’t work. With all the fires in the Northwest, it’s probably ashy inside too.

        It also got attacked by teenagers with poster paint over a week ago, so the outside is a bit wild too. (It was an annual sanctioned attack and I provided the poster paint, which washes off with a bit of work.)

        1. bkanon*

          … I really want to know about this sanctioned attack. Local school shenanigans? Go Sports! type spirit?

          Inquiring minds!

  5. Panda Bandit*

    #1 – I like the decal but I realize others won’t. This is one of those situations where it’s better to be safe than sorry, imo.

    #5- You honestly tried to leave them in good shape and you still have your good reputation. That’s really the best anyone can do. Also that interview your boss is going on might not pan out- he’s been at your current company less than a year and may come across as a job hopper, or he could be rejected for any number of reasons.

    1. MK*

      Not even counting the possibility that the OP misheard what was said or misinterpreted it; the conversation could have been about something completely unrelated.

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          Well, true. But that coupled with his lack of interest in sitting with the OP and learning, says he’s planning on leaving sooner rather than later.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            It means he’s shooting himself in the foot. How many people here have been searching for jobs for months/years? Yes, he’s checked out and I hope for his sake he finds a new job before the one he’s got twigs on to the fact that he’s dropping balls like this.

  6. Blurgle*

    #1 There may be worse decals to have (cough), but I would be leery of that one in her situation. Some people are going to wonder if “badass” might translate to “willing to bend the law for my clients” or even “high-pressure sales tactics ahoy!”.

      1. Sadsack*

        I agree. Really, that particular sticker would just make me think the driver may be a bit juvenile.

        1. AnonAcademic*

          Same here. Defining your “badassery” by the car you drive is kind of silly though not objectionable to me if it’s your personal life. But in this case it suggests a lack of professional maturity/judgement.


    #1: At first I thought “yes, that’s inappropriate” but … this is her personal vehicle? I’d like to know what kind of vehicle it is and approx where it is happening. And also maybe a bit about the employee’s personality. Here in central Texas, a woman who drove a large pickup or a hopped up sports car might very well have a “bad ass toy” sticker on her vehicle, and no-one would think twice. It’s often indicative of a kind of tomboy/cowgirl attitude. I can see this not working in some places. But in Texas, Louisiana, Montana, etc, this would be a non-issue.

    1. Samantha*

      But that’s your opinion – I don’t think you can generalize that entire states would be okay with that. I live in Texas too and I can think of plenty of people who would find that decal inappropriate in a professional setting.

      1. TL -*

        In Austin, though, I can’t imagine they majority of people having any issue with it – not the only part of central Texas, but certainly, I think it would be fine there.
        Whereas in Houston or some of the smaller towns, probably not.

        1. RG*

          It would be kinda OK n in Houston, depending on your clientele and the car. A Ford F150 would be OK, but a Lexus would not.

        2. Us, Too*

          Central Texan here – definitely not something you can generalize as OK in Austin. It REALLY depends on your clientele.

      2. Joy Mc*

        I’m in Alabama, and often see offensive stickers on vehicles. However, there are plenty of people who would find the word ass to be offensive. And for the employee — this might be something funny or amusing for her friends or family, but would you really want to lose a sale over it if a conservative grandma was your customer? Bottom line — is the decal so amusing and great that it’s worth losing sales over?

        I’ve worked for a large real estate company, and this would have been a huge no-no. Some of our Realtors may have been beer-swilling, Nascar-loving rednecks on the weekends, but at work, they put their best professional foot forward — vehicle, attire, language and all.

        1. TootsNYC*

          And, say that 90% of your customers don’t care about the word “badass” (or even find it funny). Do you want to alienate the other 10%? Because the 90% aren’t going to avoid your business for the lack of a sticker with the word “badass.”

      3. The Strand*

        I have several decals, more along the lines of what Elizabeth West described upthread. Fun stuff. But I don’t ferry clients or have them drive behind me.

        Many Texas sports cars and pickups boast far more offensive decals, bumper stickers and the like. For instance, the one of “Calvin” from Calvin and Hobbes urinating. Or worst of all, “Truck Nutz” (blech). And everyone and their brother wants to chime in about being on team UT or TAMU.

        Personally I roll my eyes at the “badass” kind of decal, but depending on the clientele I would or would not think it’s a big deal.

    2. Anonicorn*

      Yeah, those types of decals are fairly common in the southeast. I doubt many people would think twice about it (though some certainly would), and it’s possible these are the sorts of clients she’s servicing.

      1. Artemesia*

        But a car used for work is different. The southeast is full of religious car stickers too but I think they would be inappropriate on a car that is each day followed by clients in their own car.

        1. Anonicorn*

          Around here, I think religious car stickers would be even more accepted by most people. I’m not arguing that either one is professional but merely stating that it’s common and might not raise as many eyebrows as people might think.

      2. Stranger than fiction*

        Well, the Op wouldn’t have written in about it if she didn’t already have some reservations about what some of the clients would think. Sure, it’s her personal vehicle but it’s now being used in a professional capacity. Perhaps the Op should go over this with employees upon hire? Lay down some guidelines, policies or whatever, so it’s not an awkward convo after the fact. But it sounds like she’s a good employee and will handle it ok

      1. AnotherAlison*

        Ha! That reminds me of my sister’s high school boyfriend. He had a white 1991 Grand Am (in ~2004) that was a complete POS. He had purple(!) truck nutz and plastic chrome spinner hubcaps. (All ironic, of course.)

    3. Ad Astra*

      I lived in central Texas and saw plenty of stickers like that, mostly on lifted trucks. They didn’t offend me, but they did make me think this was not a person I would want to spend time with. The people sitting in traffic with those decals don’t care what I think of them, but a realtor or someone who’s working directly with clients really should care. It’s not a deal breaker for me, but it would start things off on the wrong foot.

    4. Us, Too*

      I don’t really think you can generalize this regionally. I live in Central Texas and this would strike me as very unprofessional in most business contexts. I’d simply roll my eyes at it on someone’s personal vehicle, but it would be a huge turn off for my business partner (realtor or whatever) to have this on a vehicle they used for work.

      That said, I’m betting that there ARE some very specific businesses that this would be not only NOT a big deal, but an asset. For example, if you are selling hunting land, or recreational vehicles, or whatever – I can see that being a demographic that this sentiment would appeal to compared to the general population.

    5. pony tailed wonder*

      I am in Texas and have lived in Austin before. I can see some people raising their eyebrows over it. Texas tens to vote conservatively overall and I can see it becoming a minor issue for some people.

      But also realize that the boss knows the area, the industry, and the clientele and that boss has been worried about the effect. That right there is enough for me to think removing the decal would be a good idea.

    6. ThursdaysGeek*

      There’s someone in my area that has a similar window sticker, but it’s a bit cringe-worthy, because of the bad grammar. It says “Sorry boy’s trucks are for girls”. I know she means “Sorry boys, trucks are for girls” but I always think about the girls only getting the sorry boy’s trucks.

      1. Ife*

        I am not the grammar police (quite the opposite!), but I really had trouble understanding that sticker until you put the right punctuation in :)

  8. Saurs*

    (I am not of the property-owning set / IANotPOS) I’m also guessing OP1 and her employee are in real estate. I’ve not any first-hand knowledge of realtors, except incidentally, but isn’t a large part of their schtick “branding” themselves (sorry for verbing that) in ~kooky ways and wearing big, shit-eating grins on their little placards? They have to distinguish themselves from one another, somehow. If this employee is going to be her best Biker Lady / Bad Ass Realtor one day, she’s going to need to get that bike.

    As for people offended by the language, is it calling herself a “girl” or the word “ass” that settles not-at-all-well?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s “ass.”

      I assume anyone reading here regularly isn’t terribly offended by it since it often pops up in posts, but some people do consider it unseemly, especially to shout it out to the world like that. I can totally picture some of my elderly relatives feeling uncomfortable with a real estate agent who had that on her car.

      1. Myrin*

        I’m someone who doesn’t get getting offended by cuss words and thelike at all, and yet I’d totally raise my eyebrows at such a sticker. It just… it seems weirdly unprofessional, although I admittedly can’t put my finger on what exactly it is that makes me think that. (Maybe the fact that I don’t want to know if someone I deal with in a professional capacity refers to herself as a “bad ass girl”? IDK.) I would feel that way about any such sticker, though, “profanity” or not. To take the silliest example that just kinda popped into my head – I’d totally find a decal saying “YO DUDE!” unprofessional and out-of-place on a vehicle someone uses for work and there’s nothing obviously offensive or “bad” about that.

        1. UKAnon*

          “(Maybe the fact that I don’t want to know if someone I deal with in a professional capacity refers to herself as a “bad ass girl”? IDK.)”

          I’ve been trying to put my finger on it, and I think that’s it. It’s not how I would usually think of people I had a professional relationship with – it’s not the language, it’s just incredibly informal. If that’s how she wants her professional image to be then that’s fine, but if it’s impacting the company I think OP should speak up.

        2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          I would be happy to know that someone I deal with professionally refers to herself as a “bad ass girl”, however, I’m from Philly. :p Bad ass is good.

          Seriously though, messages in general aren’t good in reception areas, on lapel buttons or tee shirts or cars (in this case), when they are customer facing. A very generic “Have a nice day!”, maybe, and that’s about it.

          1. KT*

            I’m from Philadelphia (South Philly represent), and I’d still raise eyebrows at any over the age of 17 who who would refer to herself as a bad ass girl, particularly a professional.

            Unless the “girl” in question is Ronda Rousey. In which case, carry on, you badass you.

            1. PontoonPirate*

              Or the two newest Army Rangers. Badass.
              Realtor? Unless you’re selling property overrun by zombies, less badass. I think my consternation with this sticker is that it conveys a part of this woman’s personality that isn’t/doesn’t need to be present in her professional personality. I dunno.

              1. MashaKasha*

                So true – I don’t know if I’d want a badass realtor to sell my home. Our RE market is fragile enough as it is, without badassery thrown into the mix! Point being, my consternation with the sticker is the same as yours.

              2. Syler*

                ***snort*** “selling property overrun by zombies” I nearly choked on my water at the visual I got on that one.

                I’m thinking of a pickup truck with barbed wire over the windows and a “Century 21/Zombie Land” metal sign on the side. Now that’s bad-ass.

            2. Sadsack*

              Yes, I think that’s it for me, too. Even if there is no swearing or crude language involved, stickers on vehicles in general just seem like a juvenile way of identifying yourself somehow. I hope that does not offend anyone here! I’m not sure if juvenile is even the right word, it just seems like trying too hard maybe.

          2. Lanya*

            Also from Philly. I don’t mind if people are “bad ass”…but I think those stickers are really tacky.

        3. Engineer Girl*

          Badass signifies someone who skirts around the edges of the law. Not someone you want for a business transaction involving big bucks.

          1. LBK*

            Is it? In a business context, I think of it as someone who’s just awesome at their job, but maybe I’m in the minority there.

          2. Kelly L.*

            I don’t think of it as relating to the law at all.

            That’s not saying it’s appropriate to the venue, but I wouldn’t even think about the law if I saw it. I’d think maybe they were tomboyish (like someone mentions elsewhere on the thread) or rode motorcycles or something. Especially in the context of linking it to a powerful vehicle. It’s kind of nebulous, but I see it as relating to attitude and hobbies and maybe fashion, not the law.

            1. Chinook*

              Kelly L – I agree that “badass” around here has nothing to do with the law and instead defines those who “work hard/play hard” and usually like to get dirty while doing it. They would be the exact opposite of “pearl clutchers” and “suit and tie set” and imply how they spend their spare time.

          3. Kyrielle*

            I’ve heard it used that way, but I’ve also heard it to mean someone who is awesome at what they do, or who is a tomboy and doesn’t back down “ladylike” when pushed.

            1. fposte*

              That last is mostly how I’ve used it when it’s about people. It’s somebody who’s very good at what she does, and you don’t mess with her. Definitely a positive thing to me.

              1. Kyrielle*

                Yeah, it takes a specific tone and context to make it relate to the law at all – default is enthusiastically positive IMX.

                Which still doesn’t make it appropriate for a client-facing position in a professional setting without a previously established relationship, necessarily (depends on the area and industry).

          4. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            Geeze, no, it doesn’t.

            It means: bad ass.

            Like, “Woah, that was a really bad ass presentation you gave the other the day. You knocked their socks off!”

            I’m nearly 100% positive I have used it in a business context prior to today but if not, I’ll make up for that 5x this week.

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

              One down. Just out of a meeting.

              “Those covers Jane did last week, they were all great but that (description) was totally badass, wasn’t it? That’s the one that we’re doing the biggest print run of.”

              Enthusiastic agreement all around.

          5. AnotherAlison*

            Eh, around here all this sticker would mean is that this is a redneck/cowgirl type of woman. You normally see it on a woman’s jacked up truck or jeep. I wouldn’t see it as someone who skirts the law, more like someone who likes to go mudding on the weekends.

            But, all that said, it’s still not very professional. I have a realtor friend who specializes in rural properties and is a “horse person” with a big truck, but she wouldn’t have a sticker like this. She also can’t make a living selling rural properties alone, so even if this employee is arguing that her clientele “gets” the sticker, I doubt 100% of her clientele does.

          6. Zillah*

            Agreeing with others – that may well be an implication of the term, but it’s not one I’m at all familiar with or have ever even encountered in my life or in pop culture.

          7. Koko*

            I don’t think of the law at all – I think of a badass as someone who doesn’t mind rolling up their sleeves and sweating – someone who works hard and gets fire results.

        4. The IT Manager*

          It’s a mild profanity, but it’s a word I might use among friends but not strangers. It’s casual and a profanity. I might even use it among my team members if we’re all cool with that but not with clients.

          And that’s the problem here. She displaying for the world and particularly clients who follow her something that should not be said by a professional to a client.

        5. Elizabeth West*

          I think maybe because it’s too casual? That’s kind of what bothers me about it. For the workplace, it would be the equivalent of wearing trainers with a dress. Quirky and cute in your personal life maybe, but not polished enough for work.

        6. Anna*

          I’m always going to come down on the side of it being a personal vehicle and as long as it’s clean and well-maintained, it’s the least of your worries.

        7. afiendishthingy*

          It just strikes me as immature, I think. It seems like a sticker a high school student would get, and I want to conduct business with adults.

      2. Not Today Satan*

        I’m neither elderly nor a prude but I’d still look askance at someone with that detail. Unless she’s a teenager, it’s just cheesy and immature.

        1. Lee*

          Yeah I think there’s something about the fact that it’s a woman that’s making people on this board awfully lenient in favor of not being sexist. Because reverse this and have any man with something like that on his vehicle and immediately it should be clear how unprofessional it is.

          1. LBK*

            I’m not really sure where you’re getting this from – the majority of the comments are agreeing that it’s unprofessional.

          2. Kyrielle*

            I think it’s unprofessional, but reversing the gender doesn’t actually make me think it is more unprofessional. (Actually, I like the gender-reversed version a little better, but that’s because the rhyme makes me grin.)

          3. UKAnon*

            I don’t think so – unlike the previous decal question which was hugely sexist and clearly offensive, I would say exactly the same about a man as I said above. It’s only unprofessional because this person is using the car for work, but unless it’s affecting their company, it’s their car, so they’re allowed to have that as their professional image if they like.

            1. Kelly L.*

              Yep, there is nothing in this one that bashes the other gender, just talks up oneself in kind of a mildly vulgar way.

          4. Shannon*

            I’d actually be more judgmental of a man with a similar sticker than a woman. My knee-jerk reaction is that a man with that sticker is immature, a girl with that sticker is just trying too hard.

            1. TootsNYC*

              Ditto, oddly enough.

              I don’t really want to interact with someone who will declare herself/himself to be a badass. It’s an attitude thing.

              And “a badass person” to me means “someone who will focus so fiercely on excellence that they will buck the norm, peer pressure, etc. So, a good thing–but also really intense.

      3. Koko*

        Ah, but it’s not “ass” – it’s “badass.” That seems like nitpicking, but it’s in line with FCC rulings. They don’t bleep “ass” on TV. They do censor “asshole” – but they bleep “hole.” Thus I’ve always had the impression that “ass” was only an offensive word when used to refer to the body part, but not in expressions like “dumbass” (see: Red Forman on That 70s Show’s favorite insult) or “badass.”

      4. Stranger than fiction*

        I could be wrong, but I believe ass is short for asshole, and so the prefix ‘bad’ was added to create this term. Things just get watered down from their original meanings over the years.

        1. Anna*

          Ass originally refers to an animal. I’m not sure how it traveled the lengths of language to also refer to one’s rear end, but I don’t think it’s a shortening from asshole.

          1. Myrin*

            Well, in British English (as far as I know – please don’t hesitate to correct me, British people!), the word to refer to one’s rear end is “arse” (which comes from a general Germanic root; I’m just mentioning this because one of the very first texts in the German language that still exists today has a wonderful example of the use of “ars” and it never fails to amuse me). I’m too lazy to research how exactly it became “ass” right now, but I bet it’s just that people collectively started to pronounce the original word differently and then changed the spelling accordingly.

      5. Bend & Snap*

        It’s not the language so much as it’s just a stupid thing to put on your car. My opinion only, obviously.

    2. periwinkle*

      If I made an appointment with a realtor and that person showed up waving around a kooky persona, I’d run. And I live in the Seattle area where kooky is an art form.

      My realtor had the big grin on his website photo, sure. But he was otherwise quite appropriately dressed and mannered. He branded himself by being good at his job!

      The decal wouldn’t have offended me but it would have made me question the realtor judgment of professional norms. (on the other hand, as someone else noted, at least it would make the vehicle easier to follow en route to the house showings…)

  9. jesicka309*

    OP#1 – Since when is ‘badass’ a profanity? I feel like I’m in some weird parallel pearl clutching world where ‘ass’ is a swear word. What is going on?

    1. Wehaf*

      I’m in my early 30s, I grew up on the East Coast. My boyfriend is in his mid 30s, and grew up in the Midwest. Both of us consider “ass” a swear word, albeit a mild one. (Exceptions granted when speaking literally about the animal, not the body part.) I think it’s pretty common, and not at all reminiscent of pearl-clutching. Is “ass” or “badass” something that would sound appropriate coming from an elementary school child or is it much more likely to get them in trouble at school? I think that’s a reasonable heuristic for determining whether something is a swear word.

      1. Kate*

        I’m going to agree with Felicia that maybe it’s a culture thing? I believe Jesicka is Australian, like me, and my understanding from Americans I’ve met is that we generally use WAY more and stronger profanity than you guys do. No, I don’t think a primary school child would get in trouble for saying ass at the average school here.

        1. LENEL*

          See I am an Australian woman in my late 20s and I would be taken aback if I were a client. I don’t think language like “ass” (though in my personal life I swear a lot I never swear in a professional context) is appropriate. I don’t consider that I live in a particularly conservative part of the country.

          Without a lot more context (and I’m struggling to think of any) I would expect professionalism and my personal view of professionalism, particularly in client facing areas, means not using any words that might make your client feel uncomfortable.

          For what it’s worth, I would have expected to get in trouble for using “ass” in school, but then I was always very adherent to The Rules.

      2. anonanonanon*

        I think this is just a personal thing, not even a regional issue. I’m 29 and grew up on the East Coast and most people I know, myself included, would never bat an eye at “ass”. It was one of the only “bad words” we could get away with saying in elementary and middle school without a reprimand. I always considered it as a swear word similar to “hell”. You’d probably get some disapproving looks from certain people for using it, but it’s not something awful.

        1. Kyrielle*

          I consider it about on par with hell, but a kid here would probably get in trouble for either one. (At school, not in my house.)

          1. Ad Astra*

            I would consider “damn” and “hell” to be on the same level, and “ass” to be slightly worse but still not as severe as the f-word, which you can’t even say on cable TV. But my real problem with the decal isn’t the curse words, it’s the tacky, immature tone.

            1. Stranger than fiction*

              I guess you’ve never watched HBO or Showtime, the F word is very popular on both. :)

              1. Ad Astra*

                What’s the term for HBO and Showtime? It’s not regular cable, it’s… premium? I’m not sure how to distinguish. But what I mean is that you can’t say the f-word on MTV or TNT or even FX. How does the FCC make that distinction?

      3. TootsNYC*

        Is “ass” or “badass” something that would sound appropriate coming from an elementary school child or is it much more likely to get them in trouble at school? I think that’s a reasonable heuristic for determining whether something is a swear word.

        I agree–I think that’s a reasonable way to way, “is this offensive?”

        Interestingly, my children would have sworn to you that “shut up” was a swear. And “stupid.” If I ever said “stupid,” I had both kids on my case!

      4. I.S.S.*

        I grew up in a small Northern Canadian town to a Catholic family.
        “Ass” is a mild swear word and inappropriate to use.

        Unless I am reading the New King James Bible* and referring to an animal. Still, never felt comfortable saying out loud “Jesus traveled Jerusalem riding an ass.” Donkey…I can use the word donkey….

        *exact version unknown

      5. jesicka309*

        See, I can definitely hear my mother yelling “Get your ass in here now and clean up this mess!”
        I can also hear numerous top 40 songs using ass in the lyrics. Not to mention the amount of movies with ‘badass’ heroines, kickass heroes, etc. If anything, the use of badass is even less ‘sweary’ than ‘ass’ on it’s own. Since when was being a badass a crime?

      6. afiendishthingy*

        I work with kids so my barometer is “Would I say this around a student/client?” And I wouldn’t, and you couldn’t put it in a G-rated movie. But I can see that being US-specific.

    2. Felicia*

      Yeah, I don’t get it. But I’m not American, so I’m chalking this one up to culture clash. I don’t know anyone who’d even blink at that sticker.

    3. James M*

      It’s a culture thing. You and I might read “deviant donkey”, but others will have their own understanding of the term.

    4. Fish Microwaver*

      When I was a kid, we used to sing “the ox and ass kept time” in The Little Drummer Boy at Christmas. Then suddenly one Christmas it became the “ox and lamb” keeping time for TLDB.

    5. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      It’s contextual in the US.

      You say to your friends at the bar, “Girl, you are bad ass for telling that guy to shove off.” You don’t say to your grandmother, “Thanks, Gammy, that was a bad ass present you got me.”

          1. Stranger than fiction*

            Oh but the ones a bit west of Philly you better believe would soap your mouth for it.

        1. the gold digger (blog is open again!)*

          I think my Granma Sylvia, the beer-drinking, card-playing, cigarette-smoking, National Enquirer-reading grandmother, on whom my bad-ass friend Ilene put red, red lipstick on as she lay in her coffin (the undertaker had put her in soft pink, which I had never seen her wearing in my entire life), would be happy to hear me call her gift “bad ass.”

          My other grandmother, who went to church every morning at 6 a.m., canned crabapples, mended her pantyhose rather than throw them away, beat the heck out of everyone at Sheepshead, and fed all the neighborhood strays might not have liked it so much. But you never know.

          1. ThursdaysGeek*

            I love your other grandmother too. Feeding all the neighborhood strays (I envisioned those as being kids as well as cats) and not showing if she disliked the word has some class too. I bet her crabapples were good.

      1. cardiganed librarian*

        Well, in the US the word bloody just refers to the presence of blood on something. So who are the prudes now?

    6. Macedon*

      I wouldn’t say it’s the profanity element that’s as striking, as much as the informality of the slang. A lot of clients appreciate the ‘sterility’ of a purely professional environment.

    7. This is not me*

      Part of my job includes setting standards for how ‘bad’ a word is for ~k12 users. We filter for ass, but we don’t discipline users for it. We’re looking for more of an ‘I’m going to come to your house at 123 Sesame St in NYC and kick your ass’ type thing. Hell and crap fall into the same category of watching for more serious threats with other four letter words resulting in varying degrees of sanctions.

      That being said, I would think it appropriate to ask someone to remove a badass decal if it was going to be seen by customers. I don’t think it projects a sense of professionalism.

  10. Not Today Satan*

    #5 When I left my last job, I gave two weeks notice. There were a lot of responsibilities I had there that no one else worked on. My boss didn’t sit down with me so I could train her on these tasks until 45 minutes were left in my last day.

    But I promise you, I never lost any sleep worrying about how she was handling those tasks, lol. It’s really not your problem anymore, and no reasonable person would hold you responsible for how your boss handles your tasks after you leave.

  11. UKJo*

    One thing about #1 that’s worth bearing in mind – they may have had that decal for quite some time and be blind to it because they no longer even notice it. You may find they are perfectly happy to remove it, or are even a bit embarrassed that they forgot it was there. If that turned out to be the case, then it would be no battle at all to get it removed.

    1. MK*

      I actually think that’s not a bad idea. Not leaving people waiting for 10 minutes, but maybe not drop everything the minute you hear the buzzer. People might learn to use the fobs if they have to wait a couple of minutes each time they go out.

      1. Meg Murry*

        Except I suspect OP doesn’t actually know who’s ringing the buzzer until she rushes back to her desk to push the button. If she was 100% certain that it is only a co-worker, I agree on not rushing back, but it’s possible that it is a customer or client, or that a customer has come up to the door as the same time as a co-worker, and that would not reflect well on the OP to leave the clients waiting to be buzzed in.

        OP, how often does it actually happen, and are you often in the same area you have to rush back from? If it’s only once a day – yes, annoying, but part of your job. If it’s multiple times a day, or if it’s the same person over and over again (handful of people on a smoke break?) or if it’s every day from 12:30 to 1:30 as people return from lunch, I’d go ahead and say something if it’s the same people. Especially if it actually does effect the amount of time it takes you to complete a task. Alternately, if you are almost always in the same area (perhaps by the photocopier and/or mailboxes?) could another device be installed to unlock the door from there? We have the ability to unlock our front door from the company phone system, and we were just discussing where else it would be nice to have a phone for this purpose – next to the photocopier was the main one.

        Also, I wouldn’t think it rude to say to people on the way out the door – “Hey, don’t forget your key fobs! Grab the spare off the hook right there!” Or if it’s a back door that only employees use, putting a note on it that says “Don’t forget your key fob!” – possibly with an arrow to the spares. I recently did this, as one of my co-workers often forgets his before he goes out our back door, and there is no way to buzz him in, we have to walk across the room and open the door manually.

        1. #2 OP*

          OP here! Thank you for your responses. The thing is, I sit essentially in plain view of the (glass) door, so I can always see if it’s a colleague or a guest, so when I’m sitting at my desk, it’s more of an annoying interruption. When I’m away from my desk, my other colleagues are more than eager to tell me “OP, you have to let so-and-so back in!” Most of the time, it’s repeat offenders who almost always forget to use a fob- I’m going to try reminding them to bring the ones near the door next time they go out.

          1. Ad Astra*

            In addition to Allison’s suggested wording, I might say something like “Oh, did you forget your fob?” when you let someone in. It places the expectation on them and signals that not having your fob is supposed to be an unusual, unintentional occurrence, not a default state.

          2. Could be anyone*

            Okay, so the employees aren’t using their fobs and you have coworkers who can see who’s at the door and they won’t get up to let them in but yell for you instead. While letting people in may be your job this is ridiculous. But I wouldn’t forget my fob and would tell those who do what they can do with theirs.

            1. Chinook*

              OP #2 – is the reason you have to buzz people in because you are a secured building? If so, can you make a joke about whether or not the employee still works there since they don’t have a fob? We sometimes do that here because ours is a secure floor and we will open the door for coworkers (who we already see as being there that day) but constantly are reminded not to let people draft in behind us without proof they are suppose to be there.

              Also, what are these employees suppose to do when you have a temp covering for you who may not know them? Do they get to berate your replacement who doesn’t recognize them or are they willing to go through the rigmarole of proving they should be there?

              As a side note, the latter should be the case. The best example I ever heard of, told to me by the security guard who did it, was when she denied entry to the Chief of the Canadian Defense Staff (Canada’s only general who’s photo was actually posted behind the security guards) later thanked her for doing her job when she refused to let him in to military headquarters without his passcard (until someone recognized him and swiped him).

          3. Stranger than fiction*

            Also maybe clarify with management what the expectaion is. It seems several of your coworkers it’s become bad habit that they may not be aware of? But be prepared they might be like “so what that’s your job”

          4. Meg Murry*

            Do the spares have a belt clip, carbiner clip, lanyard or similar? If you make it more convenient for them to be grabbed and carried, they might be more likely to be used. Or their main key fobs. Our front desk (who was in charge of buzzing people in) used to keep a stash of the retractable belt clips and lanyards and offer them up regularly – as in “hey, do you need a belt clip to keep your key fob on you during the day?” and gave them out when giving out the key fobs. It helped, because then people kept them on their belts, not on their giant pile of keys that stayed at their desk all day.

            I also think it’s not rude to call out to the repeat offenders “hey, don’t forget to grab the spare key fob!” as they are walking out the door, as long as they aren’t deep in conversation with a client or something.

            But try not to take it out on the occasional forgetters. We had a front desk person who was soooo grumpy about this – and I understand it got old with some of the regulars who always forgot their fobs. But for those of us who forgot once a year or less, give us a break. Although I understand that if everyone forgot once a year in a 500 person company, that is still 2x a day on average – so it’s time to just chalk that up as part of the job.

        2. pony tailed wonder*

          I wonder if you can keep a log of all the employees who forget their key fob once you have reminded them politely to use the fobs. If it is just one or two, your approach might be to focus on the one or two and comment about how they keep forgetting the fob, etc. If it is most, the another reminder, more sternly worded this time.

          Also, upthread there was a comment about having a buzzer in more than one place to let people in without a visual confirmation. I think if they wanted to let people in willy nilly without seeing them, then you may as well just leave the door open in the first place. There might be security concerns at play here.

          1. Meg Murry*

            FYI, I made the comment about a buzzer in more than one place – our system doesn’t have a visual connection at all, it’s all voice. So the person pushes a button and the phone rings. Then we answer the phone and say “Hello” and the person says “It’s Bob” or “Hi, I’m here from XYZ ABC to see Bob” and we can push the button from there to open the door. Or in my case, since I’m steps from the door, I grab the phone and say “be right with you” then I walk to the door because I can never get it to unlock.

            1. pony tailed wonder*

              Ah – that makes sense. I didn’t realize that there was a system like that. Thanks for explaining :)

    2. TootsNYC*

      Yes to the idea of not rushing back!

      And also say, “Interrupting my train of thought to buzz you in is disruptive, even if I am at my desk. Please take your key fob with you.”

      And if there’s a specific offender, go to them in a special trip and say, “Please don’t do this anymore. It’s disruptive to my train of thought, and if I have to stop what I’m going to come buzz you in, I’m going to be really annoyed.”

      And then say something every single time. “You need to use your key fob.”

      1. periwinkle*

        “Train of thought” sounds too personal and consequence free, at least to someone inconsiderate enough to keep doing this. “Interrupting my assigned work is disruptive, even if I am at my desk. Please take your key fob with you.”

        I feel for the OP. Many years ago I was stuck at a desk by the back entrance of a small office building. Not only was I isolated from the rest of the staff, I was highly visible because of the big windows in what could have been a reception area but was not (in the current configuration). People would go out the back to the parking lot and then expect me to get up and let them back in because they couldn’t be bothered to take their key fobs. I couldn’t buzz them in – I wasn’t a receptionist and there was no buzzer anyway – so I had to stop work, walk over to the door, and open it.

        Thankfully I escaped that – my boss got fed up with me being interrupted constantly and found a desk elsewhere. Those idiots most likely got locked out a few times and were left banging fruitlessly on the door for a while. The thought of that makes me smile, just a wee evil bit of a smile…

    1. Lee*

      I can’t believe people bending over backward on this board to pretend that this is kick-ass and something that would fly for a minute in virtually any job. I think there’s very strong tendency here toward Grrrl Power but this is just ridiculous. It’s unprofessional.

      1. Kelly L.*

        What posts are you reading that say anything like that? Most seem to be more like “it depends.”

      2. MJH*

        What are you talking about? No one is trying to pretend Grrrl Power. Most people are saying it’s unprofessional, some people are saying they’re not bothered. No one is saying “Yeah, badass women! Keep mildly profane/unprofessional stickers on your car!”

      3. Kyrielle*

        Yeah, I haven’t seen anyone so far (scrolling down, so haven’t read below this point) saying this would fly anywhere. The most I’ve seen is a sort of “wouldn’t bother me” vibe, or one sub-thread that maybe it’d work in Australia.

      4. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        Your comments on this thread are way off base.

        Mostly what’s going on is a regional/linguistic conversation. You have to invent posts whole cloth to come up with a Grrrl Power conversation going on here.

      5. Cordelia Naismith*

        Um, what? How does saying the decal would make the person look like an idiot the same as saying it’s kick-ass and totally okay at work? Those two things are not the same at all.

      6. Lady Bug*

        I agree it’s unprofessional by most standards and it wouldn’t bother me because I view being professional differently. To me as long as you treat everyone with respect and fairness, you are professional. I don’t care if you have bad-ass stickers on your car, green and purple striped hair, giant earlobe guages, use the f-word every other word, and have a Hello Kitty phone case. We are people, with personalities that shouldn’t have to be stifled because of someone else’s view of professional. Of course, this is coming from a lawyer pissed off that getting a tattoo sleeve would negatively affect my career because I’d be unprofessional. So, yes, she should remove the sticker to be on the safe side, but she doesn’t have to be happy about it.

        1. Koko*

          I have to agree that although I accept it as one of those “ways the world works,” it’s one of my least favorite things about the modern business world that we strive to make employees as faceless and personality-less as possible. It’s like customers are somehow offended by the idea that the person helping them is a real, 3-dimensional person with a life outside of work and not a servicebot programmed to serve the all-important customer. I like being able to do business with real people, it’s why I prefer to shop at small and local businesses. The dehumanization of service workers just strikes me as one of several factors that has increased the alienation and social isolation in our culture, which I think has reached crisis levels. We don’t see, or want to see, each other as fellow humans. Just cogs in the machine.

        2. Chinook*

          “Of course, this is coming from a lawyer pissed off that getting a tattoo sleeve would negatively affect my career because I’d be unprofessional. ”

          Lady Bug, I feel for you but you are not alone. DH is still ticked at the irony of not being allowed, while in the army, to stand guard at publicly televised laying in state for a WWII hero because his tattoo might show between his dress jacket and dress gloves. It was like the protocol people would be worried about the public being shocked at the fact that soldiers have tattoos!

          1. Lady Bug*

            Gah! That is so obnoxious. You can die for your country, but not pictures on your arm it might offend one of those people you are willing to die for. Forehead slap.

  12. Oryx*

    #1 is not a big deal to me, I’d have no problem working with someone in a professional setting who had that on their car. I’d actually chuckle.

    But, that being said, I acknowledge that I might be in the minority on that and it could be offputting for others and it might be better if it’s removed.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Like many people have said, it really depends on the industry too. Customers of some really conservative fields might pearl clutch over it, while a more laid-back set of clients would not. Same with the fashion/body mod choices that pop up in discussions of this type.

      For myself, personally, I’d err on the side of caution and not have it, but it’s not really to my taste anyway.

      1. Anna*

        For me, it’s not even about the professionalism of the sticker (it’s a stupid sticker and I do roll my eyes whenever I see one or similar to it). It’s really about what sort of say should your employer have on your personal vehicle? Remember when Ford employees used to HAVE to drive Fords? That isn’t really the case anymore and nobody would say it was unprofessional for a Ford employee to drive a Toyota. It’s kind of the same thing to me.

        1. Engineer Girl*

          Um, I’m going to disagree with you because I don’t think you understand how the auto company cars worked.
          The first level was for executives and design engineers. You leased the car at great discount for approximately 6 month stints. The company supplied the mechanic and you could use the company gas. Your obligation was twofold: 1) Keep the car nice so others would want to purchase similar products. 2) Log any issues you had with the car so design problems could be identified.
          The next level of car was the used company car. If you were lower down on the totem pole you could special order a car. It would then used as a company vehicle (see above). After it reached 30,000 to 40,000 miles the car would be returned and completely refurbished by the company mechanics. It was then sold to you at a significant discount as a used vehicle. Except that it had been refurbished, which meant that you got a “new” used vehicle.
          The third level was employee discount. It was usually 17% off the vehicle with 25% off any add on packages and accessories. This meant that the employee was getting a car cheaper than even a dealer could get it.
          With these kind of deep discounts, people would question why were weren’t driving a company car. Did you believe in your company’s product or not? No one was ever forced to drive company cars.

            1. Engineer Girl*

              But people don’t HAVE to do it. As opposed to IBM employees who had to wear white shirts up until the 90’s. Or EDS women who had to wear skirts (required) until the 90’s.

        2. fposte*

          To me say about your personal vehicle’s brand is very different from say over what words or pictures you might choose to put on that personal vehicle. Where do you stand on the previous post of this ilk with the guy who was getting told not to use his front window sticker of “Fat Chicks Can’t Jump” on company property?

        3. Sigrid*

          A friend works for GM and drives a Ford. She has to park in the third, most distant parking lot. It’s not against the rules to drive a non-company car, but it is penalized.

          1. Engineer Girl*

            Yup. The company wants visitors to see their own products I the parking lot. The big question – if you don’t believe in the company’s products then why are you working there?

    2. Xay*

      Agreed. The sticker would be viewed as unprofessional and inappropriate by my current and previous employers. But would I care about my co-worker or realtor having that sticker on their car? Not really.

  13. AdAgencyChick*

    OP5, I could have written your post (except the part about my boss interviewing, although she sure did have the door closed A LOT during my last two weeks). Especially the part about the boss not taking the time to learn what was needed for the transition.

    The thing is, you’ve said your coworkers have noticed that your boss doesn’t seem interested in the effort needed for a smooth transition. So did mine. And yours will remember that when it comes time for a reference for you.

    Not your circus, not your monkeys.

    1. Anony-turtle in a half shell!*

      I needed to hear this, as I’m going through something similar. I sat down with my boss before re-writing my job description for the job posting to make sure I had a good idea of what kind of person she wanted in my position when I left (two months’ notice, by the way). High on her list of “must-haves” was one that I highly agreed with: strong tech skills. I put very specifically needed skills in the description, and only one person addressed anything remotely relating to those skills in their resume or cover letter. The few that they actually interviewed did not include this one semi-qualified person, and they sadly hired the least qualified person who had literally no tech skills. They also hired the person whose availability afforded me less than half a week to train him/her, so I couldn’t get into the specifics I had planned to after realizing that he/she had no tech skills. (Sadly, it was one of those “who you know and not what you know” types of things.)

      I’m now getting requests to spend time with this person (after I’ve moved on to another position and am full time elsewhere) to train them on my work process, particularly the tech aspects. This, sadly, will require teaching the new person entire programs that many others already have a lot of experience in. That’s a class, not simple training. I spent my very short time training the new person on the highly specialized databases we use instead of the basics of word processing and spreadsheets. My boss spent absolutely no time learning any of these skills, which is the norm for that company. (Managers rarely learn any aspect of the jobs of those under them, assuming it will be taken care of appropriately. There is no cross-training either, so people have come in to finish big projects the same day a parent died or during a painful miscarriage. I wish I were kidding…)

      I left on good terms, but now I’m afraid of losing that reference and connection with my former managers, because I’m not able to give them the time they want to train a person who shouldn’t have been hired. Some parts of the job weren’t as efficient or as reliant on technology before I took over the position, and I can’t get anyone in my old office to realize it may need to revert to using less tech-oriented, less efficient processes to get things done if they aren’t willing to invest in training for the new hire. Working in an office requires some basic computer skills for pretty much anyone, and being overly confused and apprehensive about the simple act of clicking on your user icon and entering your password doesn’t bode well for the rest of the job’s tech requirements.

      Thanks for the reminder that I’m now a part of a whole new circus with our own monkeys to worry about. :-)

      1. Kairi*

        This is a great mentality to have!

        When I left my toxic old job, I gave a lot of notice and stayed on part-time while I conducted my job search. I helped hire and train my replacement, but she didn’t end up working out. A new girl was hired, and I also spent time training her, and she decided to leave the company shortly after, but by that time, I was working full-time at my current job. I got a heads up when she was about to quit, and the next day my former boss called me. I refused to answer because I had already moved on, and it wasn’t my responsibility to keep training the new people.

        I do not know and do not care if my old boss ever found a replacement, simply because once I left, it was not my problem to worry about.

  14. Sponge*

    I’m a frequent lurker who adores this blog and all of the thoughtful comments, but hasn’t previously commented. Employee #1 sounds like a lovely person with such great potential that the vision of that decal staying up and limiting her client base bothers me too much not to speak up! :)

    I’m a professional in my mid-20s and am quite definitely not a pearl clutcher. I also bought my first home last month. I would have been immediately turned off to my real estate agent if she drove to our first showing with that decal. While I would chuckle if a friend quoted that saying in conversation (and I work at an office where it is considered perfectly appropriate to curse in moderation, and do so myself) I would consider it incredibly tacky and reflecting in poor judgement to display such a crude, cheesy statement on one’s car. Most of my friends (typically mid to late twenties, and typically non-pearl-clutching) would have a similar reaction. My parents (early fifties) would definitely have that reaction. I think there is a very limited audience of people who will find the decal funny, and a more problematically-sized group of people who may not be bothered by cursing in general but will consider curse words on a car silly and distasteful.

    I would love for OP #4 to find a gentle way to discuss removing the decal with the employee. He/She could could certainly blame the removal requirement on conservative, older clients. Many non-conservative, younger clients will be appreciative, too.

    1. KMS1025*

      Totally agree with you. This conversation should be as basic as a dress code. Employer is not telling her to buy a new car, just make hers a bit more respectable. Since her client contact involves her vehicle, its the same as the professional attire she chooses to wear.

    2. JMegan*

      Exactly. And the comments here seem to indicate that there are a few people who wouldn’t mind, but most people would find it a little unprofessional or informal. And the thing is, you don’t know which way your clients are going to come down on this issue. Is the client driving behind you right now the kind of person who cares, or the kind of person who doesn’t?

      For something like this, when in doubt it’s safer to cater to the people who do care, even if they’re in the minority.

  15. TL17*

    #1 – I wish we had more details. The sticker itself I think I would find off-putting in a business context unless it was, in fact, on a badass vehicle. If it’s on a 1998 Saturn with mismatched doors, I’m running away from that company. If it’s on some kind of big truck with shiny rims or whatever, then maybe it fits. And where is this? If you’re in a stuffy community this might not fly.

    I also sort of wonder if this lady bought a used car that came with an unfortunate sticker. They’re kind of a pain to remove, and maybe she’s just kind of stuck with it (pun absolutely intended).

    1. fposte*

      See, I find it rather eyerollingly self-congratulatory if it’s on anything commonly commercially available on the road. Put it on your self-built ultralight, maybe, but I can’t see it as badass to finance a vehicle with a cup holder in a white-floored showroom. You can’t just buy badass.

        1. Shell*

          Except that Batman is too cool to have a decal stating that he’s badass. Like people have said above, if you have to declare yourself a badass, you’re not actually a badass. Batman is perfectly badass without having to declare such to the world.

          I don’t find the decal offensive or even much of a profanity, but like fposte, I do find it eyerollingly self-congratulatory and not professional.


        Yeah. My dental hygienist is a lovely woman from Baton Rouge, she and her husband customize and race high-end Mustangs. I forget what it says but she has a similar sticker on her car. It’d look awfully silly on (say) a Prius.

      2. BananaPants*

        A manager here has a Lotus. That is a badass car and needs no decal or sticker proclaiming it as such.

        1. Anna*

          Like driving a Tesla. Your cool quotient just went up a LOT and it’s redundant to label it as such. It’s like some vanity plates. I knew a very nice guy who drove a 90-something Camaro and his license plate said as much. As in the car he drove had vanity plates that said what year and model of car he drove. I blame it on him being 17 when he bought it.

          1. Sigrid*

            Someone around here drives a Tesla Model S and their license plate says “Model S”. *That* is perfectly acceptable.

            ….I am biased towards Teslas, though. Even if they do occasionally catch fire.

    2. NJ Anon*

      I don’t know. I just can’t get all worked up about it. I don’t work with real estate agents often if at all but I just can’t see this altering my view of anyone or any business especially if it is their own car. I mean, who cares? I just want to see the houses.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        I’d rather it was a clean, reasonably new vehicle with a badass sticker on it than an old, dirty, rundown POS with no stickers on it. I also think I’d look more askance at “the one with the most toys when they die wins” which I’ve seen on a few cars and just thought ick.

        I would also say that like someone commented above, following the badass sticker would be easier in traffic than having to memorise the licence plate (unless that too, was BADAZZ)

        1. NJ Anon*

          Now that would be a badass license plate! My favorite license plate ever was “FOPEC” on a Prius!

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            The “funny” thing is that in Ontario if you want a personal plate, they screen the names and will reject ones that have “bad” words in them, so that plate wouldn’t pass. We used to have 3 letters/3 numbers and they recalled all the ones that had WTF in them when that became popular.

    3. Cautionary tail*

      As a first car, I bought an old junker car that had tons of bumper stickers, each one hiding a rust spot or hole. I added a few bumper stickers out of necessity. ;)

      If I tried to remove any of them I’d potentially peel paint off the car so there they stayed. We don’t have enough information to understand if the car is like this or if the lady is a superhero like Storm and thus badass is simply an accurate statement.

  16. Paulina*

    My main issue with the decal is that it should be “badass” (one word, not two) both times. In terms of “profanity” it doesn’t bother me at all.

    If it was on an employee/co-worker’s car in general I wouldn’t care. But I see the OP’s point in that the car is used for work and specifically with customers.

    (The note above about “at least it’s easy to follow in traffic” is a good one, though!)

    1. MsChanandlerBong*

      Great minds think alike! A hyphenated form would also be okay, but as written it reads as if she’s an “@ss girl” who happens to be bad.

      1. Paulina*

        My dictionary of choice has it as one word (no hyphen) but in the face of strong argument I would also (grudgingly) accept a hyphenated version. But certainly not two words! :)

        (Love your username, by the way.)

        1. MsChanandlerBong*

          Thanks. OED lists the hyphenated form as an accepted variant. I’d probably treat it as a compound adjective here (bad-ass girls), but I’d write it as one word if using it as a noun (e.g. She’s a real badass).

          1. fposte*

            I think that’s a changing thing, too; my older writers are much more inclined to separate words that I’d combine, so I’ll often put a hyphen where they have a space and close up the space if they have a hyphen. I’m all about the smushing things–maybe we’re getting more Germanic?

    2. TootsNYC*

      My main issue with the decal is that it should be “badass” (one word, not two) both times.

      Ha, ha! Word geeks, unite!

  17. some1*

    #4 Definitely say something to your employee! If some customers have complained, it very well may be that other customers have chosen to just stop patronizing your truck because they don’t want to deal with her awkwardness.

    1. The IT Manager*

      Just this! I’d be one of those customers who would be uncomfortable with this and not come back instead of complaining to the manager. You have probably already lost the same or more customer than the number that complained to you. This is a business need.

      How do you tell her to stop? Just tell her directly. And if she doesn’t stop complaining, you need to fire her because she’s impacting the business. So tell her that part too. “I will have to let you go if you do not stop complaining to the customers.”

    2. Stranger than fiction*

      Yes because, to me anyway, that’s like customer service 101 to not dump your private crap on customers. Maybe an exception if it’s an extremely long relationship where you’ve been their rep for years and have built such a rapport.

    3. TootsNYC*

      Totally agree.

      For every customer who works up the nerve (and carves out the time!) to stop and say something to you about it, there are about 12 who have just stopped coming by.

      And I would say, “stop talking about your personal life, even if it isn’t a complaint.”

      Say something pronto. And figure out how to monitor her so you know if she’s complying.

      1. the gold digger*

        I started requesting by name the hygienist I wanted at my dentist and taking inconvenient times just not to have other hygienist. Other hygienist was nice, but she talked the whole time about herself, even though I was trying to listen my my mp3 player.

        I never complained about Other Hygienist, but last time I went in, I noticed she was gone. Current H told me she had been let go because she was too chatty.

        If I am trapped and have to listen to you to get the service or product I am paying for, I do not want to listen to your troubles. I want you to listen to mine or I don’t want to talk at all.

        1. MegEB*

          I have the exact same problem with my current dental hygienist. Every time I go in, it’s nonstop chatter about her aching back, her no-good ex, her pregnant unwed niece, or any number of issues. She’s certainly nice, but you know, going to the dentist is an uncomfortable enough experience – I don’t want to play therapist as well.

  18. MsChanandlerBong*

    I think the real crime in #1 is the lack of hyphens. I wouldn’t want anyone thinking one of my employees is an @ss girl. =)

  19. Macedon*

    #5. I’m going to delve into painfully stretched metaphor: the bird’s out of the nest, and it’s up to it to crash or keep floating. You’ve done your part for your workplace and your ongoing projects, but you kind of conceded the risk of this sort of outcome when you resigned. That said, my sympathies – it’s unpleasant to watch your hard work potentially headed down the drain, but do know that your stewardship of the role will be remembered very separately from incidents to follow (and sometimes in a better light precisely because of a lackluster successor.)

    1. Cautionary tail*

      Yup. I spent 3 years building relationships, creating processes and implementing positive change at toxic job. Others told me that the day after I left everything I did was dismantled and returned to the old toxic way of blaming others and not getting the work done.

      I had to move on. Sigh.

  20. km*

    #2 – this used to be me when i sat at the front desk. so annoying, i know. have your manager, HR, an executive, the security guy, basically someone with authority send an office-wide email that employees need to badge in for security reasons (otherwise you wouldn’t have fobs, right?). ask them to craft the email with a serious tone. then as everyone heads out the door, shout a reminder. be forewarned though, not everyone will change.

    1. Stranger than fiction*

      You know that is a great point, jealous I didn’t think of it. But yea generally that’s how they’d know who was coming and going when, since your badge is linked to you. Maybe that’s what they’re circumventing? Like they don’t want their bosses to know how many breaks they’re taking?

  21. Rae*

    1) My problem with the sticker is also in the use of girl rather than badass in particular. I do not hire girls to landscape lawns, sell houses, do plumbing, consult on financial matters or any other professional services I can think of.

    I would hire a girl to babysit, mow a law (or weedwack), or rake the lawn but not to do real professional level work.

    Coupling girl with badass just makes it seem all the more immature, like a 15yo who’s wearing her mom’s dress and pretending to be an adult. My husband subscribes to the theory that profanity is a sign of a weak mind. There are so many other ways to speak out and up about things.

    1. Ankh Morpork*

      This is what bothers me too. The entire thing comes off as extremely immature – and I wouldn’t want that kind of person involved in one the major financial decisions of my life (if she is a realtor). I’ve had a bad experience with a realtor before – and a lazy or irresponsible one CAN screw up the purchase of the house you want. I wouldn’t want to take the chance.

  22. LBK*

    #5 – I have to say I’m a little confused about the concern here – your manager shouldn’t be able to do your entire job before you leave. That’s unreasonable especially if you only gave 2 weeks notice. At most he should have an understanding of your major responsibilities that no one else knows how to do in case there’s a question from whoever is covering you during the transition, but I would never expect that my manager would be the one taking over my job before a new person is hired. If he’s looking for other jobs, it makes even less sense for him to try to fully train up and cover you if he’s going to be out the door a week after you are.

    A s long as everything is well documented and anything ongoing is wrapped up nicely, I don’t think you have to be worried about your legacy or reputation. Focus your energy there and grabbing your coworkers as needed to show them necessary tasks since they really are the ones who should be handling your work in most cases.

      1. LBK*

        So? Does anyone ever want extra work? That’s just part of being on a team and handling being short-staffed.

    1. OP #5*

      OP #5 here: We do not have coverage at this job, no one covers my duties when I am sick or on vacation. The boss is the only one who can do it because everyone else works in other areas and has their own jobs to do. He is the one that was assigned as needing to learn my job and train the next person.

      1. LBK*

        That’s how coverage usually works, though – no one has a bunch of extra staff that just sits and waits to cover people. It’s always added on to their other responsibilities.

        If his boss is expecting him to learn it and cover you then I suppose that’s up to their discretion, but that seems odd to me.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Well he’s not doing it, so if it were me, I would leave as much documentation as I could, because obviously your coworkers are going to end up doing it whether they like it or not. And then wash your hands of it, because after you leave, it is no longer your problem.

  23. Mike C.*


    The big concern for me, is the vehicle truly a “BAD ASS TOY” for a “BAD ASS GIRL”? I would expect someone with such a decal to know something about both subjects to ensure that the vehicle in question qualifies.

    So the question for me is this: what kind of vehicle are we talking about here? If it’s truly badass,then I think her clients will appreciate the warning.

    / ;)

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Another question:

      What if the sticker was used ironically, say, on Hyundai?

      This changes the context completely and, I agree with you now, the type of vehicle must be disclosed before the council can rule.

            1. AnotherAlison*

              Along those lines, when my teenager was a toddler, he had a little tykes motorcycle with a custom license plate that said, “BBBBAD”. My husband made it for him with an old school plaque maker.

            2. Stranger than fiction*

              Thanks for the great idea. Now I want to put one on all the neighborhood brats razor scooters because they dart out in the street on the dang things and also leave them lying in the sidewalk or in the gutter

        1. CollegeAdmin*

          Oh, so many possibilities. Minivan? One of those sketchy-looking Chevy vans? The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile?

            1. MsChanandlerBong*

              I wish I knew you in real life. I almost always agree with your take on Alison’s posts, AND you’re funny!

        2. Hillary*

          Kia Soul. Definitely.

          I finally understood why there are so many on the road all of a sudden after I saw a commercial. $99/month? Seriously?

          On the highway today I saw a black one with six or eight pseudomilitary/gun decals on it. One said sniper, I think another one was crossed AK-7s. Ugh.

  24. Observer*

    To #1 – To be honest, the profanity is the least of the issues I see with the decal. For one thing, @Rae is right. You don’t hire girls and boys to sell houses, etc. You hire ADULTS – MEN and WOMEN – to do those jobs. The term “badass”also has multiple connotations, which are not all positive, and even without the odd usage, it comes off as a bit pretentious as well. Overall it gives a crude, and highly immature impression. How would you react to a decal that went something like “Hey bro! Lookit me!” No profanity, but I think people would not be positively impressed.

  25. NickelandDime*

    Op#1 and OP#4 seem like the same type of issue to me – providing feedback on professionalism in seemingly gray areas. I like Allison’s direct approach. I’ve seen these types of problems crop up before and I think the managers approached it vaguely – and didn’t get the point across. If you’re using your car for work, you might want to take a little extra care in the “flair” department. If you’re interfacing with clients, they don’t want to hear your personal drama every time they come through the door. They have deadlines and work to do, and frankly, their own personal drama to deal with.

  26. k*

    My whole day has been made. I love the phrase “profane statement” is applied to this. I was really expecting something much more! This is great. I must work it into conversation. :-)

    1. Anon for this*

      We had a car parked in the lot reserved for directors/board members a few weeks ago with a huge “Dirty Whoore” (sic) decal in the back window. Staff was taking bets on which board member’s car it was, but it belonged to a construction worker working on a building project.

  27. CollegeAdmin*

    OP5, I can sympathize re: the legacy. I created a workshop series on campus that took weeks of my time and huge amounts of effort to pull off. After running them successfully for one summer, I got told that someone else in a related position was going to take them to free up my time for other projects. I watched her steer that beautifully crafted ship straight into an iceberg, all the while not being allowed to help, and with few people knowing that it was no longer me at the helm. You can only do so much, but this one’s out of your hands. So take a deep breath, let it out, and let it go. Enjoy your new job!

  28. schnapps*

    #3 – We have the same situation. August is deadly slow at work (which is why most of us take some sort of vacation). We have a new hire coming in and she started last week. I was assigned to do part of her training (we’re sort of generalized specialists, if that makes any sense) so I created a document that takes her through the basic information we need to know (legislative stuff, departmental stuff), getting the documents she needs to keep on hand for quick reference, and doing the stuff we usually do. She’ll create mockups of the documents we regularly create and do practice work on our specialized systems.

  29. Nameless Poster*

    4- we have a secretary who does that to clients. We are in a professional services industry (think law, banking, conservative field).

    Grossly wrong in any job.

  30. Becky B*

    #2: Our front-desk admin has a jar set out specifically for coworkers who have her buzz them in instead of using their keycards–25 cents, I believe? Could be more by now.

    So if you forget your card or are otherwise just too lazy to reach for it (barring hands full with stuff, I’d imagine), you’d better cough up the cash. That jar isn’t full but it sure isn’t empty, either.

    1. Brownie Queen*

      Oh I second this suggestion. I used to sit next to an engineer who everyone thought had all the answers. Of course he was always away from his desk so they would ask me, where’s Sam? I finally put out a jar with a note saying it cost 10 cents for me to answer. I did get some dimes and ultimately I got a lot less questions.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        Lol. Good idea. This used to happen to me when I sat with two other departments. They would have department meetings, and everyone but me would be gone. People would get a little agitated when I couldn’t, say, unlock the marketing schwag cabinet to get them something, even though I was not in the marketing department.

      2. Beti*

        This, THIS is why I read AAM. So many useful tips! People always ask me where our manager is when I have no more reason to know than anyone else in the department. Rich! I’m gonna be rich I tell ya!

        1. OfficePrincess*

          It’d probably only take a few weeks to raise the money to put a tracking device on my boss. Then I’d actually be able to find him!

  31. MsM*

    #5 – Even if your boss was totally engaged, I guarantee there’s stuff you still wouldn’t be able to cover, or get him to understand why it matters that it be done in this particular way. And even if that were possible, the new person might still come in and decide that nope, they’re doing it this way instead. Or their skillset might be different in a way that dumps a particular task off them and on to another colleague anyway. Like everyone else says, shift your emphasis over to documenting everything, maybe see if the coworkers you think are going to get stuck with the tricky stuff need some training time with you “just in case,” and start letting it go.

    1. Bostonian*

      Yeah, I was going to mention documenting everything. If a lot of your concern is for your coworkers, either what they’ll have to deal with after you leave or what they’ll think of you, leave written instructions and explanations for the parts of your job that they are most likely to end up with. I’ve done this when leaving a few jobs and been told by the person coming in that it was really helpful. And if you write it up, people will at least understand that you had good reasons for doing things the way you did, no matter what happens with your boss.

  32. baseballfan*

    #1 – I wouldn’t be offended by seeing that sticker and actually I think it is kind of cool (I’d likely not put it on my car, but I’m not really into putting slogans on a car in any event, although I do have a 26.2 sticker). But I would consider it unprofessional. I wouldn’t put that phrase in my email signature either, for example.

    #2 – I don’t think this has yet been mentioned but in addition to the thoughtlessness factor of people expecting you to always buzz them in, this is a physical security issue. As in, many (most?) companies have a policy that you have to use your badge to enter the premises, not piggyback on someone else or otherwise circumvent the process. You might be able to lean on that as an additional reason not to routinely buzz in employees who should have their own access.

    1. Stranger than fiction*

      I have to admit, for the longest time I had no idea what those 26.2 stickers were. I thought they were maybe bible verses and the ‘book’ it came from must be in fine print under the numbers. :/

  33. TCO*

    #3–Is there any university training your employee could do? Attend a new employee orientation, research benefits and health plans, go on a walk to learn the campus layout? If so, encourage her to do those on work time.

    1. Ihmmy*

      agreed. Also see if there’s things she can read up on / research about university policies or projects that are likely to affect your area. There may also be some resources for them to do go through tutorials on Excel, Word etc (even if they’re a decent user, there’s usually higher level stuff available like vlookup and pivot tables and things like that)

      1. Meg Murry*

        Agreed. Can she go on a campus tour? Introduce herself to the reference librarians and learn where the appropriate journals for your field are housed (or online, as I guess most of them are now)? Does your campus offer or a similar online learning portal where she could watch tutorials to learn various software?

        Also, you could give her a project and just explain: this is a low priority project for you to work on when it is otherwise slow. When we start to get slammed in a few months, go ahead and put this at the bottom of your priority list, and maybe you can pick it back up again in mid December when it is slow again, or next August. I think most people would be understanding of a project that can be back burnered if you make it clear to them, so it doesn’t look like you are slamming them with work.

        Is there back information she can read, like any research reports you have put out in the last few years? Another good “newbie” project I have seen is for her to keep a running document of questions she has, then once a week or every few days the 2 of you can sit down and go over her questions and answer them. She can also write down questions that were answered, and use that document as a “newbie FAQ” for future hires. A dictionary of commonly used acronyms is also a useful document to make, if you work in an acronym heavy field or office.

        When I hear researcher, I think “lab” so apologies if this is off base, but you could also have her make the rounds to do an annual safety check. For instance – do all the eyewash stations work properly (and flush out the rust!). Do all the spill kits contain all their parts, or have they been scavenged and need refilled. Do you have bottles of eyewash and are they expired? What about first aid kits, same thing. Do you need an office supply or common lab supplies inventory before the work gets going for good?

  34. Int*

    Bit surprised that “badass” is considered a swear word. Overly informal for a professional setting, sure. But profane? But I guess enough people consider it one that the sticker isn’t a good idea.

  35. madge*

    If I saw that sticker, I wouldn’t be offended as much as I would automatically think “redneck”. Not necessarily in a bad way (though it is unprofessional) but I would assume this person is not going to bother with BS, will speak bluntly, and that could be a good thing.

  36. Bend & Snap*

    #5 At my last job, it took me 3 years to build a team and 2 days to dismantle it. It made me sad–but that’s part of moving on.

    A job/project you left can’t be a legacy. It’s not permanent and you’re not in control of it. Thinking about it differently may help.

    1. LQ*

      This is a good point, finding a way to think about it differently is going to help a lot.

      (As will documenting it.)

      I’m still sometimes a little heartbroken about the collapse of several things that I created at my previous job, but nothing is really a legacy, everything degrades in time. And when it is your job and you’re doing it for a company, no matter the size, it isn’t yours.

  37. BethRA*

    # 5 – I’m also going to gently suggest you stop “dropping hints” or “circumspectly letting” your colleagues know about your boss not spending what you think is enough time learning your job. It’s not professional, and it’s not helpful. It’s a different type of legacy that what you wrote about, and I know it’s not your intention, but do you really want people’s last impression of you be behavior that could be interpreted as undermining someone else?

    If you worry documentation won’t be enough, you could approach your boss, acknowledge that he’s probably got his hands full running the department, and suggest cross-training a second person as back-up.

  38. BananaPants*

    #1 – I’m assuming this is a real estate office if the employee is driving clients around to show them homes. It’s not the mild profanity on the decal that would rub me the wrong way, it’s the immaturity of having a decal like that on a car used for work purposes. For most of us, a home purchase is the biggest financial commitment we will ever make – if I’m dropping hundreds of thousands of dollars on a house, I don’t want to be dealing with a “girl” who feels like sharing with the world that she thinks that both she and her vehicle are “badass”; I want to deal with a mature and responsible professional. The decal isn’t presenting the kind of image of the employee that will help her succeed with clients, it makes her seem vapid and childish.

    FWIW, I’m in the US, in New England, and the only vehicles on which I’ve seen decals like have been like a lifted F250 with truck nutz, or an ancient Corvette with mismatched body panels and the bumper papered in “edgy” stickers.

    1. Ife*

      Yeah, I think that’s what bothers me about the sticker too. If I saw that sticker in traffic I’d roll my eyes and carry on with my day, but if I was following a real estate agent to houses and saw that sticker, I’d wonder about their judgement. Self-declaring yourself a badass doesn’t exactly scream “trust me to advise you on a major financial decision.”

    2. pony tailed wonder*

      I see those stickers and ones similar to them on Jeeps. First thing I think is that the driver has never read the car issue of Consumer Reports.

      1. Clever Name*

        Yeah, but caring about automobile reliability statistics isn’t exactly badass, is it? ;)

  39. Daisy Steiner*

    #3 – Please, please just make it clear to your employee that it’s OK she doesn’t have a lot to do at the moment. Make your expectations clear on what is an acceptable way to kill time. In previous jobs I’ve spent hours surreptitiously doing crosswords under my desk, my heart racing every time someone walked by, worried I was going to be caught. But there was literally no work for me to do (we had an ebb and flow workload).

    If you can take the guilt and uncertainty out of the equation, and just say ‘Yes, you’re going to be a bit bored for a few months. We don’t mind if you read news websites, read XYZ textbooks, review ABC training documents or even bring a sudoku book.’ – or whatever – it will make things much easier for her. It was the not knowing that was worst for me, not the actual boredom itself.

  40. Allison*

    #2, I don’t blame you for being annoyed. Are these people just habitually “forgetting” their FOBs, or are they taking them but expecting someone else to buzz them in for some weird reason? Either way, this shouldn’t be happening often, it’s totally reasonable for you to raise this concern with management, and I wonder if it’s not a bad idea to keep a log of who does it and when, just in case management is interested in who specifically is doing it.

    And I don’t want to hear any “but people forget!” nonsense. Yes, it’s reasonable to say that some people forget sometimes, but if you’re in an office where an entry card is required, its your responsibility to remember to bring it, every day, and take it everywhere you go. It’s really irritating when people shrug and go “I’m just one of those people who can’t remember!” No, even if you do have ADD, you need to figure out a way to remember your card.

    Reminds me of this one jerk who lived in one of the buildings I often worked in as a security proctor. She lost her student card and, for weeks, would come in with a drivers license and I’d need to sign her in manually. This is what we did when someone didn’t have their student ID, but most people are at least a little sheepish or apologetic about it. She also stayed out super late, and would come back when the exterior doors were locked and you needed to scan your card to get in, so she’d stand outside and bang on the door demanding I let her in right away, and throw a hissy if I didn’t immediately leap up to help her. We didn’t have a button to unlock the door from the inside so I needed to get up and open it for her, and I wasn’t really allowed to get up from the desk so I’d call the security office to let them know what was going on and that I needed to go open the door for her, so I wouldn’t get in trouble, but even when I apologized to her for the delay she’d get really pissy about having to wait. Eventually I had to report her, not just because she was breaking the rules but because she was being really, really rude about it.

    1. Ad Astra*

      I have ADD and I never had too much trouble remembering my key fob to get in and out of the building when I worked nights. I had to have someone buzz me in maybe three times in two years.

      At a different job, when I had a card (big enough to keep in your pocket or wallet, rather than on your keychain), I did have some trouble with leaving it in the wrong pair of pants. But I was still able to remember to ask someone else to borrow theirs. ADD or not, it sounds like the employees at this OP’s office aren’t even trying to remember their fobs.

      1. Allison*

        I’ve been living with ADHD for a loooong time, and I know the effect it can have on your life, but intead of throwing my hands in the air and saying “whoop, I guess I’ll just be a forgetful airhead forever, might as well pretend it’s an adorable personality trait, teehee!” I often overcompensate by being super neurotic about making sure I have my keys, phone, wallet; aiming to be early so I’m rarely late, making sure I turn off lights, checking the oven before going to bed to make sure it’s off, stuff like that.

      1. Allison*

        No idea. See, I was mostly working in that building because I was dating one of the residents, and he sometimes came down to the lobby to keep me company, or just for a kiss goodnight. In hindsight, that wasn’t very professional of me . . . Anyway, shortly after I reported her, I did get a response from someone saying they would deal with her because students are required to have student ID cards*, but then me and that guy broke up and I stopped working in that building.

        *to be fair, I get that those things get lost and stolen, and sometimes they just broke after a lot of wear, but if something happened to your card you were expected to get it replaced ASAP. it was only $15 but a lot of people refused to get replacements, either because it was “too expensive” or they were just lazy.

    2. E*

      My small office used badges to enter, due to security requirements, and has a policy about employees who forget their badges must sign in with Security. They’re written up if they forget their badge more than twice in x number of months. Some folks would rather run back home if they live close to grab their badge and be late instead of written up. It’s a rarity, and employees who habitually forget their badges are usually a sign of other issues.

  41. Jerzy*

    OP#3 – I have found myself in the work doldrums many times. I’m a fast worker, so it usually doesn’t take me 40 hours to do a week’s worth of work. I recently had to take three days off unexpectedly for an injury, and came back to a full-week of work. I was able to get a week and a half of work done in a week, without working overtime or making mistakes. I prefer to keep busy.

    I say this because if your employee is in the same boat, it would be a kindness to her to a) let her know that you understand things are slow to start, but things will pick up, and b) in the meantime, give her some tasks to do as Alison suggested, even if it’s along the lines of, “Do some research on A, B and C, because it’s knowledge that will be useful down the line.”

    Personally, since I often have free time at work, try to fill in that time with even nominally work-related activities, like reading AaM ;), and reading news and research articles related to my field.

    1. The IT Manager*

      I agree #3, and you sound like a good boss. I’d stress a couple of things 1) It will pick up once she builds the relationships. It is impossible to rush that, but she might have an extra focus on that aspect. 2) This time of the year is always slow. It’s too early for her to take a vacation, but it she’s looking to plan for next year’s vacation this is a good time to take off and not fall too far behind. Or a time to have some quiet time at the office. She probably can’t recognize that now versus her “normal” workload.

      Sometimes – a lot of times – not having enough to do is more demoralizing than being overworked. So it’s good the nip those feelings in the bud. Or to prepare her that it will get busier before she gets to thinking how easy this job is.

  42. Artemesia*

    This is fiddly picky, but has been bothering me since I saw the headline and expected a very different issue. The sticker is not profane. Profanity relates to religion and showing disrespect for religion. ‘Goddamn’ is profane; ‘shit’ and ‘ass’ are not — they are vulgar. This sticker is tacky and vulgar not profane and not obscene either.

    1. Us, Too*

      The generally accepted definition of profanity now includes general obscenity and vulgarity. Check out any of the online dictionaries – times they are a’changing. :)

      1. Artemesia*

        And brutalize now is misused to mean being brutal to someone rather than making someone brutal, but it impoverishes the language to make words less particular.

        1. LQ*

          It can also be good because language changes and grows and develops and that’s ok. Language won’t ever stay the same. It will always change. Fighting it is like punching the ocean.

        2. Amy*

          Of course “it impoverishes the language” is just your opinion as a prescriptivist. You must acknowledge that many (perhaps most) don’t view language and its evolution in this way.

    2. ThursdaysGeek*

      Ah Artemesia, we are of a similar generation. In some cases language changes because people can’t be bothered to think what the words mean, and thus their meaning changes. I don’t usually bother with this fight any more, because people mostly just look at me with an empty and uncomprehending look. I don’t usually mind when words change, but sometimes the change is a loss.

      1. fposte*

        I enthusiastically back changes that I think add value (“doable” is a brilliant word that fills a tragic gap) and get a stick up my badass about changes that I think are just slippage (weary/wary, disinterested/uninterested). But ultimately what I like about language is music even more than literality, so I’m usually going to favor a creative development over an older rule. (Hence my fondness for “I could care less.”)

        1. Ad Astra*

          I have always been fond of “I could care less,” which became quite the controversial stance when I started working as a copy editor in college. I always interpreted the phrase as a challenge. “Do you want me to care less? Cause I could totally care less. Watch me.”

    3. Elder Dog*

      +10 Profane is a word with a specific meaning, just as obscene is, and getting all “oh it’s just the language changing” when someone points that meaning out ignores the fact that objections to profanity and obscenity in the workplace are a special class of objection, which may be protected by law.

      Badass is not profane, and is absolutely not “swearing” which is also based in religious practice. The sticker is, as Artemesia said, vulgar, and I might even agree with mildly offensive, but it is not profane.

  43. MashaKasha*

    I’ve had some experience related to #2. When I first started at OldJob, the cube they put me into was “conveniently” located directly behind the front desk/admin/receptionist, who had a button under her desk to buzz the visitors in. Everyone else was expected to use their fob. Except a lot of times, they didn’t. Whenever the receptionist wasn’t at her desk, these employees somehow expected me to interrupt whatever I was doing, walk over to the front desk, and let them in or buzz them in. We were a fast-paced environment that had gone through extremely rapid growth in the past twelve months, so there was a lot of work to be done. They’d stand there, knock on the window, and make puppy dog eyes at me until I’d give up and let them in. The company had gone from very small to a few hundred employees in about a year – add to it that I was new – I had no idea who most of those people were. I’d come to that company from a large Fortune 500, where letting somebody into the building without having them use their keycard was a serious offense. (Especially that one time when a team showed up to audit our building security, and an employee let an auditor in. I bet OldFortune500 is still feeling the aftershocks from that one.) I was terrified that one day, I’d buzz the wrong person in, and would be fired on the spot. Then we got bought by LargeCompany, who put the usual security rules in place, and also moved the front desk to the top-floor executive area, and that resolved the issue for good.

    My point is, at most places, randomly buzzing people in would be, among other things, a security issue.

    This doesn’t however appear to the the case at OP #2’s firm, since they do leave two fobs hanging out in front. I’m genuinely puzzled why it is easier for OP#2’s coworkers to bang on the window and wait for her to rush back to her desk than to grab a damn fob off the damn hook and use it as god intended! Though I admit that I am also genuinely puzzled why OP #2’s workplace has their office locked and secured, and then just up and hang two fobs out front, so anyone can grab one and walk in. If they want their office securely locked, they need to remove the extra fobs. If they don’t their office locked, they should, you know, unlock it. Right now they seem to be weirdly trying to do both.
    (this was posted up above as a comment on someone else’s thread by accident – moving into own thread)

    1. Ankh Morpork*

      I read it as the two key fobs are hanging on the locked side of the door. You could grab one as you were leaving so you could get back in if you didn’t have your own with you. We had a key like this at my old office to use if you were going out to grab the mail or for the smokers.

  44. Jillyan*

    With regards to #4, I agree with Alison that you should be direct. However, if she’s going through a rough time, it might be a good idea to ask her if everything is okay. I only say this because I’ve worked with people who were by no means ‘complainers’ until they went through something difficult in their personal lives. Without going into too much detail with them, and showing them that I cared about them as a person, we were able to get them the help they needed. The one time I was direct with an employee that complained, she stopped complaining and started seething and then left abruptly. We were better off without her, but the transition could have been a lot smoother.

    1. Ad Astra*

      It’s definitely inappropriate to complain about your job/life to customers, but showing concern is the first thing the OP should do. That can be part of the same conversation that Allison suggests, because that behavior needs to stop regardless. But if this person is going through a hard time or doesn’t have an appropriate outlet to talk about these things, asking “Is everything ok?” and then maybe referring her to the EAP could earn the OP a lot of good will.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        Not to undermine what you’re saying, but I see people suggest EAP a lot here, but to my knowledge only big companies have those, certainly only one place I’ve worked had one.

        1. Ad Astra*

          That’s a good point. If there’s no EAP available, it might be helpful to say something like “Do you have someone you can talk to about this stuff on your own time?” And if the answer is no, you might suggest looking into some kind of counselor or some other advice hotline or something. That’s definitely a lot more work for the OP, but the goal is to express concern and direct the employee to a more appropriate outlet for these discussions.

        2. dawbs*

          I think they’re a lot more common than people often realize.
          The details are burried deep deep in the new-hire-paperwork–I’ve had them at 3/3 of my last jobs–and none of these were incredibly large and only 1 had super-awesome benefits.

          (and I used the EAP once and it was awesome. I mean, the reason I needed it sucked a lot, but it was helpful)

  45. TootsNYC*

    How vulgar is the term “badass”? I work at a mainstream publication that has an edge to it sometimes, and our EiC sticks this term in lots of places. She’s been on a “badass” kick lately.

    (I think of it as a vulgarity more than a profanity–since there’s nothing holy to be profaned.)

    So, how vulgar is it? I think the objectionable-ness of words changes, and I’m going to read the comments to see how vulgar people think it is.

    1. Ad Astra*

      My opinion: Not terribly vulgar. It would be totally unacceptable for a child to say it at school, but the average person isn’t going to be offended by the term. You could get away with saying it in many offices, but not all of them.

      For me, and some of the other commenters here, the real issue is how unprofessional and immature the sentiment is. If it said “Bad girls drive bad toys,” I would still roll my eyes about this person, which isn’t what you want when you’re trying to sell them something.

  46. ModernHypatia*

    #3 : Are there any things she can do now that will make the crunch times easier? Prepping things she’ll need then, getting familiar with past versions of yearly things that get done, reorganizing server files so she knows where everything is?

    I’m used to working jobs where there’s ebb and flow, and I started my current one in May (with an ebb expected over the summer, when fewer people are on campus). I’ve actually had several larger projects land in my lap, but I’ve also spent the time doing prep work for other things I know we’ll need so that when things pick up again, I can dive into them easily. It’s helped a lot that my predecessor and boss have both been very clear about when we tend to be busy and when we don’t.

  47. LoremIpsum*

    #1 The issue of decals and flags on employees’ personal vehicles when parked at work, at a school etc. has landed in court, and sided with the individual as free speech expression.

    It might be worth engaging them in conversation about it at some point just so they know they are potentially being judged or discouraging clients by being immature, but you can’t tell someone what they can and can’t put on their car. If you aren’t providing the transport that is the compromise the company is in.

    Frankly I would be more concerned about their performance than anything else.

    1. Kyrielle*

      When parked at work, yes. What about when used *for* work? At that point, the car will be taken for a “company car” or “business car” representing the company to the clients – doesn’t that change the equation a bit?

      1. Elizabeth West*

        That’s a good question.

        Even if it’s your personal car, it’s still worthwhile to consider impressions. You’re free to express yourself, but I’m free to form an impression of you based on your expression and whether what I see/hear appeals to my sensibilities or not. For example, if you have a Coexist sticker and the one that says “Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup,” or any kind of nerd thing whatsoever, I’m going to be nodding and smiling and thinking I might like you and you might get me.

        If you have a jacked-up truck with a Confederate flag and truck nutz (I have actually seen vehicles here with all those–plus a gun rack), I’m going to be thinking something completely opposite. I would assume we’re in different demographics and our communication styles would not mesh well. I could be wrong, but first impressions are hard to dispel.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I wonder if you’re outside the U.S.? Freedom of speech in the U.S. refers to what restrictions the government can and can’t put in place, but not to private employers. Private employers can absolutely have rules about decals on your car.

      1. fposte*

        Right, the only school example I’m finding is a charter–i.e., private–school example where a teacher was fired for a bumper sticker, and the court found for the school and not the teacher.

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          Well, to be clear, charter schools are not private. They are public schools, funded by public dollars.

        2. BethRA*

          Even public schools have wide latitude to restrict speech (google “bong hits for jesus”), and government itself can as well in many cases as long as the restriction in question doesn’t discriminate based on content: you can’t wear political slogans in court or into a polling place, for example.

  48. Jady*

    > leave behind strong documentation


    Please do this. Please spend all your available time writing down the things you would be teaching your boss. The people who end up doing this workload will appreciate it so much (speaking from experience!) and it will leave behind a very good image of you.

    Do everything you can think of that would help a new person learning the job. Make documents of links and programs and files etc, step by step instructions with screenshots, videos, flow diagrams, anything and everything you can think of. Put it all together, upload it to multiple places and email it out to everyone involved!

    1. OP #5*

      I’ve been doing a lot of documentation, as much as I am able while still doing the job actually. It’s much more than what was here when I started and had to teach myself. I guess my concern is that the person I’m showing all of this to seems to want to rely only on the documentation and not asking me questions. Sigh.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        If your documentation is good enough, they won’t need to ask questions. And not needing to ask questions is a good goal.

        1. MashaKasha*


          At last two OldJobs, I didn’t get a chance to sit down and train anyone. But I did leave documentation behind as I moved on to the next job. In both cases, my replacements tracked me down to thank me for the docs. They said it helped them tremendously, which indeed was my goal (that, and not getting calls/IMs from OldJob folks frantically asking how to do something that I used to be the only one doing.)

      2. BethRA*

        Do you think your boss would be open to you cross-training one of your colleagues as a back-up? Not a bad thing to do anyway, and would make it easier for your replacement as well.

  49. The Strand*

    OP #5 –

    The best way to leave a legacy is to make a quick cheat sheet or manual for the people you are regretting leaving behind. Give them notes about how to handle an emergency situation or anything else you suspect will not be carefully handled by your current boss, without naming names.

    Be supportive to your old work friends, and offer to schedule a time to show them any thing they need – while you are still on the payroll. Use screencasting software (Jing for example) to record anything complicated and make sure they can access the final recording.

    Then write up what you did at your job in your resume/CV, and in your LinkedIn profile or portfolio, if you have one. Take a day to collect any links or any other proof you might need of your work for future needs.

    Then go into that new bright day and enjoy your new position. You’ve earned it.

  50. Nerdling*

    OP #2: We had that issue here. What solved most of it was to institute the following policy: Whoever had to be buzzed in most often in a month bought the rest of the office coffee. After a couple of months of ponying up for Starbucks, the worst offenders learned their lessons.

  51. Ella*

    I may be a curmudgeon, but I am totally with #4’s customers. I hate when a customer service person complains about their personal life to me. I am just trying to buy my milk, I have my own problems, I really don’t need to hear about yours!!

  52. Kadee*

    OP1 stated she wasn’t exactly comfortable with the decal so I think that’s what fundamentally matters (even if I find it to be no big deal myself). I’d treat it similarly to someone who dresses in a way that doesn’t match the culture. OP1 should sit down with the new hire stating she wants to “check in” to see how things were going. OP1 should use that time to bring up all the positive points mentioned as well as her concern about the decal and how it’s not exactly the way the manager wants the company to be represented. The new hire may be cool with removing it or maybe the two of them can work together to find another solution. (For all I know, the new hire has access to another vehicle or has an idea about how to cover it during work hours.) I equate all this with dress code for the reason that you can acknowledge the person’s desire for self-expression and the freedom to make various life choices while having particular expectations of how they will conduct themselves during work hours.

  53. OP1*

    Hi All!

    OP1 here with the employee who drives the large truck (yes, it’s a large pickup truck for those who guessed the vehicle!). Thank you for all of your feedback.

    I believe Allison is absolutely right regarding the clientele. We are a property management company that shows homes for rent (very similar to a realtor). We are located right outside of a major military base in a very rural part of the country. Most of our clients are military service members and this sort of language and attitude is right up their alley! Lots of our customers joke around with us and use profanity regularly. So while I still personally feel it’s inappropriate in most professional settings and chose to refrain from profanity myself in the workplace, I’m going to let this one slide for now. If our client base and attitudes change, I will address it then.

    Thanks again!

    1. LBK*

      Thanks for the update! That definitely sounds like one of the areas where people wouldn’t mind it and might even like the employee more because of it.

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