I used an alias to reapply for a job, I can’t drive on a business trip, and more

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

1. I used an alias to reapply for a job with a company that just rejected me

I applied to a job and went to the third round and then never heard back. Later I learned that the position has been filled. I was not getting any reply from the company after my interview, although I was told “you did great and you ll hear back in a week.” I was trying to reach HR, the team, and everyone, but nobody answered, so I made another profile in their online application system with the same resume, but I changed the name to my alias.

I applied for anther job in same department using my alias. Yesterday I got a call from HR (phone screening) and he scheduled me for interview with the team. What should I do? Should I attend?

I am so confused about what you were attempting to accomplish with applying again with an alias. Obviously if you meet with them, they’re going to realize that it’s you and they’re going to wonder why you’re using an alias. It’s going to look like you were attempting to trick them into interviewing you, and it’s also going to look like a really weirdly-thought-out plan, since they’d of course realize it once you showed up in person.

This is a bad idea.

The only thing I can think of that you could do to try to salvage this would be to immediately fess up to the HR person who scheduled the interview and try to come up with an explanation that might make sense. (I’m racking my brain here and all I can come up with is something like, “I want to mention that I interviewed with this team last month. They know me as Barnaby Warbleworth, my legal name. I use Percival Montblanc socially and I didn’t realize I’d put it on the application.”) But … it’s going to seem weird.

2. How can I tell my manager that I can’t drive on a business trip?

I am in my 30s, but have had severe anxiety about driving all my life. I didn’t get my license until I was 25 and have minimized driving since then. After some therapy, I’ve gotten to the point where I can sort of function in daily life. I can drive to the grocery store and around town, and I take public transit to work since I’m in a large city. I avoid rush hour, highways, and unfamiliar roads. No one at work knows about this.

Here’s where it gets horrible. Our office director recently put me on a project that involves meetings in very small towns in our region. I’m flattered and happy to support the project…but she wants me to do more than just my usual desk job and actually go to those towns for some meetings. The towns are far enough away that I would fly to the nearest city but would still need to drive 1-2 hours from an unfamiliar airport to get to my destination.

What are my options at this point? I am way too embarrassed to admit to her that I can’t drive. I also can’t tell her I’m not interested in the project (plus she didn’t make it sound like I had an option and she’s the big boss). I could try to wing it and just do the driving and hope I survive. But that means I’ll be stressed out (as in unable to eat and sleep and be happy) while I dread this for the next few months. I could hope and pray she offers to drive herself since she is going too, but that just seems risky. I can’t quit my job tomorrow because I actually like it and need the money and jobs in my field are rare (yes, I seriously considered this). I am out of ideas. I know I likely need to tell her the truth and that she would need to do the driving, but I’m really hoping you have a magical solution that doesn’t make me feel like a child.

No magical solution, unfortunately. But you’re far better off explaining that you can’t drive than telling her you’re not interested in the project or quitting your job (especially since this could come up again at the next job).

The tricky part about this is that it would actually be pretty straightforward to say “I can’t drive”; it’s unusual, but some people really never learned. In your case, though, you do have a license and do a little bit of driving — and if she ever realizes either of those things, you risk looking like you lied if you tell her you can’t drive at all. But explaining the whole situation comes with the risk that she won’t take it seriously and just tell you to drive anyway, or will see it as career-limiting in a way that “I never learned to drive” might not be.

No chance that some intense cognitive behavioral therapy over the next few months could solve this, I suppose?

Read an update to this letter here.

3. My manager is AWOL

I currently work in an office with 4-5 people, depending on what day it is, and our “manager” is in another part of the building. The only real interaction we have with this person is “good morning,” “hello,” or “nice sweater.” There is no oversight, no structure, no policy implementation, no supervision, no problem resolution, no feedback, no praise, nothing. On one hand, I like working independently without someone breathing down my neck, but on the other hand, there are so many times when we need someone in charge and there is no one there. I often feel like I want to step up to the plate, but it’s not my job or place to do so.

We have a very disruptive employee who causes a lot of drama and conflict due to her personality, and this has caused so many issues within the office that I can’t list them, not to mention extreme stress on myself and my fellow coworkers, one of whom just walks out of the room frequently because she can’t handle the drama. I have requested management out there for this reason, but the answer is “no, come to me when she does something so I can handle it,” etc. I don’t particularly feel that I should be going in there complaining about a coworker when what we need is proper management to be in charge of this and see first-hand what is going on and to put a stop to it. I told the manager this so she knew my position (same position as the other employees, by the way), thinking she would hopefully be more involved in the office (which did not happen). Plus it’s a small enough office that this person would guess who went in there.

The last time the “manager” asked us how things were going was a year ago. No follow-ups. We never have meetings. They’re obviously not interested in managing or knowing what is going on. All the while, I’m led to believe this is a normal office set-up. Am I being unreasonable by wanting someone in charge to keep things in order, or is this normal to be expected to tattle on your coworkers to get anything fixed? It just doesn’t feel right to me.

No, it’s not normal to have a complete lack of management. It’s not inherently problematic to have your manager in another location; the issue is that your manager is declining to do any of the normal parts of managing, like the ones you listed. She doesn’t need to be on-site to do those things; she just needs to do them, and she’s apparently chosen not to.

That said, she did ask you to come to here when you need her involvement, and you’re choosing not to do that in this situation. I agree your manager sounds horribly negligent, but I’d be curious to know what would happen if you did take her up on that request.

4. Can I move up my start date since my old employer told me to leave sooner than I expected?

I work in an industry where it is common courtesy to give at least a one-month period. I set a start date with my next employer for a month away, and when I gave notice to my current employer, he told me to wrap up everything and leave this Friday.

I wanted to know if it is okay to ask my future employer if they can move the start date up by two weeks. I’m happy to have a two-week funemployment time, but I will probably go insane if I have to do it for four weeks. And they seemed to be eager for me to start. But I am afraid it will look like I’m flaky for asking to change terms that were agreed upon, or that they may find it weird that my employer didn’t want me any longer and pull the offer or something. Did my previous job left me too paranoid?

I’d probably keep the original start date, unless you need the money from starting earlier, just since that’s what’s already been agreed to and what they’re planning around. That said, it’s usually fine to say something like, “My employer tends to like people to leave right away when they give notice, so I’d actually be available to start earlier if you’d like” or “Due to what made sense with our project workflow, I’m actually going to be available in two weeks, if you’d like me to start then instead.”

5. Should I be paid for the time I’m training for my new job?

I’m a recent college graduate. Earlier this summer, I interviewed for a medical scribe position that requires new hires to complete a substantial amount of unpaid training before beginning work. My interviewer explained that new hires would first be required to complete an online class covering things like basic medical terminology, how to write a medical note, and common diagnoses in the specific specialty of the doctor we would be working with. Since this class would be completed at our own pace, on our own schedule, and we would not officially begin work until after we had passed it, it didn’t seem unreasonable for this portion of training to be unpaid.

However, I was then told that new hires would also be required to complete six days of unpaid on-site training, during which we would basically be performing all of our regular job duties under the supervision of a more senior scribe. Am I right to think that this seems a bit shady? As I understand it, employers are required to compensate employees for all hours worked, even if they are still being trained. However, I’ve never worked in the health care industry before, so I don’t feel that I have enough of a reference point to determine whether this practice is normal. So, is this a red flag? Should the company be paying trainees for those first 6 days of work, or is it okay for them not to?

For the record, I live in the state of Wisconsin, although this company operates all over the country.

While it’s normally true that you have to be paid for all hours spent working, the law actually has a special category for pre-employment training programs, which are regulated differently because you’re not yet considered an employee. If all six of these criteria apply, an employer is not required to pay you for pre-employment training:

1. The training, even though it includes actual operation of the employer’s facilities, is similar to training that would be given in a vocational school (this means the training is “fungible,” or interchangeable, and can be used by the employee in another position with another employer).
2. The training is for the benefit of the trainee.
3. The trainees do not displace regular employees but work under close observation.
4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the trainees’ activities and at least on occasion, its operations may actually be impeded.
5. The trainees are not necessarily entitled to a job at the completion of the training period.
6. Both the employer and the trainees have an understanding that the trainees are not entitled to wages for the time spent in training.

You’d need a lawyer to take a closer look to tell you for sure, but it sounds like #5 isn’t true in your situation, and maybe not #2. If so, your employer would indeed need to pay you for this time.

{ 349 comments… read them below }

  1. MJ*

    I think I have to disagree with the advice to #1. If the OP gets hired, they will forever be called by this new social fake alias. Better not to lie. I would either admit what I had done on the off chance they will see humor in it, or back out of the interview process. I think the OP probably burned this bridge.

      1. Creag an Tuire*

        As Allison points out they’ll know it’s him when he shows up to interview, unless he also plans on getting one of those fake moustaches and a monocle.

        “Grettings, good man. I am Guy Incognito. Might I trouble you for a job?”

    1. Cambridge Comma*

      I agree; I think Alison’s tentative suggestion could work if only a different first name had been used, but a different first and last name is too odd, added to the fact that the OP had applied before. I don’t think it’s likely that the OP will get the job so Percival Mountblanc should just withdraw from the process with a polite mail.

      1. AnonAnalyst*

        Yeah, I agree that withdrawing the second application is the best move here – as others have said, maybe the OP will get lucky and they will never make the connection that she applied again under a different name. I honestly cannot think of any other way that this would end positively for the OP. As someone who has done some hiring, this would strike me as so bizarre that I would probably remember that candidate (not favorably) if they were to apply for something else in the future. Hopefully the OP is able to make her second persona disappear quietly into the night without HR and the hiring team realizing it’s her.

      2. Monique*

        I agree – I just can’t see how the OP has any other option than to withdraw. I can’t picture a single scenario that will end with her getting this job.

      3. Meg Murry*

        I agree 100%. There is no amount of explanation that can make this make sense to the hiring manager. Oops, I accidentally applied for this job under an alias instead of under my real name which I previously interviewed under? That would be red flags up the wazoo.

        Even if applying to the second position under an alias was a mistake, OP needs to just withdraw – no explanations, just “sorry, my circumstances have changed and I will not be able to interview, thank you for your consideration.” And then make that second account disappear.

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          How about “I’m so sorry, I’m afraid my twin brother/sister has played a prank. He/she tends to overstep their boundaries occasionally, knew I was disappointed about being rejected, and thought they were helping me, but I know that could never work, because I’m not Percival. Again, I apologize on his/her behalf. You can discard that resume.”

      4. INTP*

        *Maybe* if the OP is a woman, and the first names are similar, someone might think the last name is her legal married name and she goes by her maiden name professionally. That’s not unusual in some fields where name recognition, a web presence, a Linkedin presence, etc are important. But I agree that it’s a long shot for the HR person to believe her. It is not uncommon for people to try to keep getting in the door after they’ve been rejected so I’m sure they are onto various tricks. (The staffing agency I worked for had someone who would call and try to use different names when he got forwarded to voicemail. The receptionist would be like “Percival is on the line for you, but now his name is Bob.” We never answered the calls so I’m not sure what his game was going to be once we did.)

      5. Mel in HR*

        I have to agree with this. As it’s an alias, it will not reflect poorly on OP if the alias backs out. I still don’t get the purpose of doing this though. Why apply to a different job with a different name? What would this prove?

    2. MK*

      What humor? The problem with having done something like this isn’t only that it’s inappropriate, but downright bizzare. It would easier to salvage this, I think, if the OP had done something to gain an advantage; then they could admit their bad judgement and try to make it right. But I cannot see as anything other than a completely pointless prank.

      1. Myrin*

        I might be misunderstanding you but I think the OP did try to gain advantage? Or, well, tried to get a positive outcome? It seems to me like the point was to try to weasel herself into the organisation despite being rejected before, which would be the positive outcome as opposed to the negative outcome of not being hired. Which is still… so weird and bizarre and I really can’t understand how that’s supposed to work at all but I don’t think it was supposed to be prank, either (because what kind of weird prank would that be? “Haha, you wanted me to come to an interview and I didn’t show up, haha”?).

        1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

          I could see the point if OP had changed from a female alias to a male alias – the feminist in me like that experiment – as a way of testing bias. In this case, it just seems like a poorly thought out idea, almost like a sitcom plot. I don’t think intended things to get to this point, but it’s going to be very difficult to explain the rationale here. It really appears as a “you didn’t like me as A, so let’s see how you like B?”

          FYI I know an IT professional who transitioned to female after 20 years in her career. After her transition, she was routinely offered 75-80% less than she pulled in prior, and that was using the same resume with only a name change at the top. Nearly 10 years later, she’s just now getting to the earning potential she should have had immediately post-transition (and would have had without the transition).

          1. De (Germany)*

            “I could see the point if OP had changed from a female alias to a male alias – the feminist in me like that experiment – as a way of testing bias.”

            Well, the OP did get at least one interview the first time they applied, so I don’t think this would work for testing biases – they did invite the OP based on the first application, and based on the second application.

            1. Myrin*

              Yeah, I commented about that somewhat lengthily below. The OP was rejected after a “third round”, which I take to mean “third interview”, so it’s not like she was rejected for all the positions she applied for, then changed nothing but her name and suddenly the invitations came flying in. There was really no need or reason for this kind of social experiment.

              1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

                I missed that it was for a different job (different dept), not the same job in the same dept as the first. That makes more sense.

                When I was thinking that OP changed names for the same job as the initial application, that’s where I got confused. Thanks!

                1. Persehone Mulberry*

                  Oh, I didn’t catch that on my first read, either (Alison’s title threw me off). This still isn’t great, but it’s MUCH less weird than reapplying for the same job with a different name.

                2. MsM*

                  I think it’s weirder. Why wouldn’t you just say “Dear Hiring Manager, I hope you remember me from X, Y, and Z interviews. I remain very interested in working for Company, and hope I am still in the running for Original Application, but would also welcome the chance to be considered for this new position if it might be a more appropriate fit based on A, B, and C qualifications”? If they’ve already decided you’re not going to work out, so be it. It’s definitely not going to work out if you’re now that person who resorted to a fake name to get your foot in the door, regardless of your other qualifications. (And of course, there’s always the question of whether you really do want to work for a company that’s so bad about following up with third-round interviewees.)

                3. Oryx*

                  I dunno, I find that even more odd. If they made it to the third round on the previous job, that means the company liked them. Why wouldn’t they apply to this other job with their name and use that history to their advantage?

          2. Ad Astra*

            Your IT friend’s story is equally troubling and fascinating.

            It does sound to me like the OP was just trying to see what would happen if she applied under an alias, and hadn’t quite thought the whole thing through. The best move would be to withdraw that application, I think.

            1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

              I agree – I don’t think the OP was trying an experiment, but somehow thought there was an advantage to gain here. After more thought and sleep, I confess I don’t really get this at all – someone else mentioned why not capitalize on the initial app, and I have the same question.

              I’m with you. Discreet withdrawal is the best bet to resolve this, regardless of the thought process leading to it.

          3. neverjaunty*

            Likely OP would have mentioned that, and anyway, how would that work here? They interviewed OP already; by the time she gets to the stage of the “experiment” where there would be an actual test, the jig would long be up.

            1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

              Like I said, I was thinking it was the same job. I was envisioning a scenario where the OP would come in for the next interview as a surprise! I went in the direction of those studies that shows how hiring managers and recruiters respond to applications by name, indicating racial bias in some circumstances, and extended that to gendered bias.

              None of that is at play here, so I acknowledge my friend’s example isn’t relevant to the OPs scenario.

          4. Dan*

            I’m not sure I believe those numbers. You’re certainly not talking about someone who is accustomed to $100k now getting offered $20k. Are you talking about somebody accustomed to making $200k now making $40k? $300k now making $60k?

            Those numbers are either absurdly high (like CIO/CTO kinds of pay) or so low that a recent college graduate makes more than that. One simply doesn’t go from from CIO/CTO pay to college graduate pay unless they’re taking a cut in duties as well.

            The work is worth what it is. While there is some wiggle room (I’d believe a 20% swing), if an employer can get competent labor for $60k, they’d be an idiot to pay $300k. And if the work is worth $300k, the guy who does it for $60k is probably going to get fired ASAP for not being qualified to do the job.

            1. Lynn Whitehat*

              She said her friend was being offered 75-80% of what they were before the transition. So $75-$80k instead of $100k.

              1. Dan*

                What she said was her friend was “routinely offered 75-80% less than she pulled in prior”, which is vastly different than “75-80% of what they were”.

            2. Dr. Johnny Fever*

              OK, pick apart the word choice because *that’s* the true problem here, not wage inequality.

              To be crystal clear – my friend and I are in jobs where $100K is common, if not low. She was at that figure and above before her transition – $100K to 120K based on assignment and expertise. After, she was offered $75-90K for the same assignments, with the same experience. It took her several years to get back to $100-120K for her role – and figure in the greater experience, so she’s still under market value.

              But yes, clearly the troubling aspect is that I was ambiguous in my language which affected the carefully calculated formulas here. Thanks for focusing on the bottom line, Dan, and the root cause itself.

          5. Phobia Field*

            Ha, sitcom indeed. This would fit right in on Seinfeld. George Costanza / Art Vandelay kind of situation. Rule of thumb, if you’re considering doing something that George Costanza did, you need to reconsider.

    3. BananaPants*

      Yeah, it’s still going to come across as weird. I would probably decline the in-person interview and let it go gracefully. This is not a situation that’s likely to end up going in OP1’s favor; if he claims he uses his real name socially, then why would he ever put it on a resume (a professional document)? It’s not plausible and backing out of the alias interview gracefully at this stage prevents professional embarrassment down the line.

      OP1, it sort of strikes me as a little…obsessive to go to the extent of re-applying with a different alias. This company is not the only one hiring, and they’re not the one right place for you to work. They obviously didn’t hire you the first time; you just didn’t “get” that message.

      Today many companies don’t bother rejecting unsuccessful interviewed candidates and a lot won’t respond if you attempt contact. In my husband’s recent job search, it was the norm to hear all the usual polite/positive things and “You’ll be hearing from us in the next week!” – only for the employer to go to total radio silence. He’d send one follow up email at 1.5X that interval and then let it go. It’s rude but it’s just how it is. I’d recommend reading Alison’s post on, “What the interviewer says vs. what you hear”.

      1. MJ*

        I think the OP may have, in a momentary lapse, thought that if she used her real name the computer would automatically reject her as a duplicate, so she was just trying to get past the computer system. It was not a well thought out as a plan.

        As an employer, if an applicant was reporting to me how frustrating our application software is and that it takes making a fake name just to get through, I might be amused enough at their misguided effort to interview them IF their resume was stellar.

        1. Abby*

          She probably would have been better off misspelling her legal name by a letter or two. Doesn’t do her any favors when it comes to the “attention to detail” part, but it’s much easier to explain away a typo than a deliberate change in both first and last name.

        2. Stranger than fiction*

          See, I thought that’s why the Op did it, because the system actually rejected him. Upon re-reading, it sounds like he just never heard back, in which case he really really shot himself in the foot.

      2. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

        Reading AAM’ advice to apply and then “forget about it” has made my current job search much more zen.

      3. Florida*

        If they have already interviewed you, then they are not going to hire you with a new name. For whatever reason, they decided they didn’t want to hire you so a new name isn’t going to change that. I know that sucks because I’ve applied for some job where I thought I was absolutely the perfect fit and it would’ve been a great job for me, but they didn’t hire me. Sometimes it doesn’t even come down to qualifications. Maybe they just didn’t click with you for some reason. It sucks, and I think most people on this board can empathize with not getting a job you thought you were perfect for (I know I can).

        I would definitely move on and forget this one. In the future, stick to using your real name.

    4. JQ*

      I wish we had more information from OP1. This risks getting too hung up on word choice, but they did say “my alias” rather than “an alias,” which makes me wonder if they DO in fact mean a different name that they sometimes go by in different contexts. And, considering that it’s a DIFFERENT job they’re applying to now, maybe they’re only asking about how to handle the awkwardness of being called in to an interview and having to explain that they have several names, rather than how to salvage a situation in which they’ve behaved unethically. I don’t know, am I reaching?

      1. JQ*

        (I work with ESL speakers all day and I can easily see someone using “alias” without intending its connotation of sneakiness — I don’t want to read too much into this, but maybe it’s not quite a bizarre a situation as it seems?)

      2. MK*

        Hmm. I think this might be salvageable (might!) if the OP has a second career in a field that having an alias is not unheard-of, like art or litarature. An explanation along the lines “I am also a published poet under the name ALIAS and I inadvertantly used it on my application. By the way, I have applied with your company in the past” make sense at least.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        That’s what bothered me about it. Does “alias” mean a completely different name or a variant of the OP’s real one, like a nickname or middle name?

        Either way, I don’t see how they could have missed it’s the same resume.

        1. Joline*

          I could see it at the phone screen level. It could be something as simple as having two people in HR that screen resumes and a different person being in charge of this posting. It would be crazy to me if it were brought to the same hiring managers and somethign didn’t tweak – unless they regularly review huge numbers of resumes (which would seem inefficient).

      4. INTP*

        Hmm. I feel like OP probably would have specified if this were the case, but it’s possible. Most recruiters are probably familiar with people with very non-European names using a shortened name or anglicized name professionally, which is normal and not considered sneaky or deceitful. But I think this would be more believable to the HR/recruiter contact at the org if OP had used an alias first. If you’ve gone through an application and three interviews as Rajesh Koothrappali then say “Oh by the way, I go by Sheldon Cooper professionally, and I accidentally put my real name on the last application,” that’s going to sound fishy. You might be able to convince them that you USED to go by the alias, decided that it was easier to use your real name, but accidentally used a resume with the old name on it. Ultimately, though, I think the employer contact will recognize what OP was up to because I’m sure they’ve had other rejected candidates try to figure out how to get back in and it’s just a matter of how much they hold it against OP.

    5. Koko*

      Honestly I think that OP just shouldn’t respond to the request for interview under the new name. Maybe he’ll get lucky and they won’t ever realize it’s him again, and they might still get back in touch with him under his real name.

      1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

        I can’t imagine a situation as a hiring manager where I would be totally cool with a candidate popping back into the process like this.

        Even with AAM’s suggestion, my first question would be, “if you use your alias socially, we didn’t you ask us to call you that last time?”

        1. Koko*

          Yeah, I’m saying that “Percival” (the alias) should just ignore the interview request. It’s still possible that he was being impatient and “Barnaby” (his real name that he already interviewed under) might get an job offer or another interview, and if he’s lucky, they may never realize that Percival and Barnaby were the same person.

          1. fposte*

            I don’t think Barnaby applied for this job at all, though; I think it’s only Percival. I think what the OP is hoping for is a way to get Barnaby into Percival’s slot.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian*

              This is what I think is happening, as well. I wonder if it’s still possible for Barnaby to still use the phrasing suggested upthread:

              “Dear Hiring Manager, I hope you remember me from X, Y, and Z interviews. I remain very interested in working for Company, and hope I am still in the running for Original Application, but would also welcome the chance to be considered for this new position if it might be a more appropriate fit based on A, B, and C qualifications?”

              Then Barnaby could perhaps graciously indicate continued interest, and Percival could just disappear.

              1. Mel in HR*

                I feel like if they did that, it would increase the risk of the Employer noticing the similarity in resumes though. Better to cut the losses on this 2nd position IMO

          2. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

            Sorry! I was fixing a typo and took at the first sentence that was, “I completely agree!”

            I shouldn’t comment from my phone :)

    6. AHP*

      The only excuse I think they can give is that they didn’t realize they had re-applied to the job they already applied to and that they didn’t realize they used their alias. Though it’s a weird situation altogether…

  2. Jerry Vandesic*

    #4, if you are let go before the end of your notice period, you should apply for unemployment for those two weeks if you don’t start early at your new job. It might not be much, but a bit of unemployment could help with replacing the missing paycheck.

    1. Rock*

      I could be remembering incorrectly, but for my state at least, it didn’t kick in for a week or two. It might end up being more effort than it’s worth, but if things are dire, you’re right, doesn’t hurt to go for it!

      1. Jerry Vandesic*

        In my state there’s a week of waiting period, so if you filed immediately upon getting home you would still only get one week of unemployment. But it’s better than nothing. And, if you are feeling at all vindictive, your filing for unemployment dings your former employer and could slightly raise their unemployment insurance rates.

    2. INTP*

      I agree, if only for the principle of it. If someone gives the industry standard notice and the employer prefers that they leave immediately, the employer should pay them through the notice period. If you have a reason for not wanting them to still be in the office, like fear of client poaching with some sales positions, then that’s fair, but they should still be paid. If the employer refuses, it should at least have to deal with the whole unemployment hassle (and future employees quitting with no notice just in case).

    3. Stranger than fiction*

      In my state they hold the first week and it takes a good 3-4 weeks to get your first check. I’d just drop a line to the HR or hiring person and be like “if you need me to start on the 1st instead of the 15th I’m available. If not look forward to seeing you on the 15th”

  3. neverjaunty*

    OP #5, you may want to talk to an employment lawyer (this is usually free in the US; you can call your county bar association for a referral), but this definitely sounds like they are hoping to get a free week of work out of you.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’d actually try the state labor department first; they will often handle this on your behalf for free (although some states’ labor departments triage requests and don’t respond to everything).

      1. Ad Astra*

        If this training program is on the up-and-up, do you think it’d be likely that the state labor department would be familiar with it and be able to give a quick “Yeah, you’re good”? I worry that the OP doesn’t have time to check this out further before she starts doing all this free labor.

    2. OP #5*

      To clarify things a little bit and give some context: I actually ended up withdrawing after the online class but before the onsite training, due to a lot of other, even bigger issues with this company. The company seems built on taking advantage of students’ and new grads’ inexperience and willingness to put up with treatment more experienced workers wouldn’t. I’m glad I got out when I did. I wrote in with this question more in retrospect, because I wasn’t sure whether this unpaid training thing was a red flag I should have seen from the very beginning, or a normal practice that just happened to coincide with other shadiness.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Might not hurt to drop a note to the Department of Labor anyway. Shady companies are rarely shady the one time…

      2. Stranger than fiction*

        I’m not surprised because, no offense, there are plenty of trained professional medical transcriptionists out there any reputable company can hire, so like why are they doing it backwards ya know? That was red flag for me.

    3. Jade*

      I live and work in Wisconsin and had a very similar problem crop up at a previous job, where my employer alluded to the idea that we might not be getting paid for training. I contacted the WI Dept of Workforce Development, and they told me that if any sort of discussions occur during training in regards to job specific elements (in my case we had discussed plans for future interactions with clients during an orientation meeting) that it is considered work and must be paid. You’d really have to go over exactly what was done in training with a fine tooth comb and see what fits where. My employer did actually pay us for that training period without anyone asking, so it all worked out for me.

      On a side note, I would never work for an employer that didn’t provide free training. That just seems like a sign of a tightwad employer when they won’t invest their own resources to train people.

  4. Thinking out loud*

    #2: I would say something like “I drive occasionally, but I really prefer not to. Could we plan to drive together to those meetings? I would be much more comfortable, and I’m happy to be a navigator!”

    1. hermit crab*

      I agree — this doesn’t seem like too big a deal to me, because someone else is going with you. I know it sucks, but do NOT sabotage your career because you are embarrassed! I was in a serious accident about five years ago and am only now just beginning to feel confident again when driving in unfamiliar places (and am wayyyyyy uncomfortable driving with passengers who I feel like might be judging my driving skills, i.e. everyone except my husband). I occasionally go on travel with my manager, and she happily does the driving nearly all of the time.

      1. Sadsack*

        As a car-sharer, I would really appreciate being told that the person who may be driving is terribly anxious and prefers not to drive. I would be totally fine driving the whole time, in that case, and would feel much safer than if the anxious person attempts to drive and does not do well!

        1. hermit crab*

          That’s a good point — it makes matter-of-factly bringing it out into the open a win-win. Especially since you are probably going to get places faster the more confident driver is the one driving!

    2. Cambridge Comma*

      Or maybe “I am a very anxious driver and find it impossible drive in places I don’t know well.” A lot of people have driving anxiety.
      I got my licence at 34 so I understand the OP’s issue, it’s a problem for me too, and as I arranged my life to not need to drive, I don’t get any practice. But I do plan to build up gradually, and go out with an instructor a few times e.g. on the motorway, as I don’t want the issue hanging over my head for ever. Perhaps the OP might want to try to improve the situation? Unfortunately society won’t stop assuming that adults can drive for a while yet, so it will keep coming up.

      1. Myrin*

        I actually got my licence at 17 but I have driven about five times in the seven years since then, the last time having been in 2009. So, yeah, while I technically can drive I can absolutely understand anxiety around it, even without a specifically traumatic occurrence related to cars.

      2. Di Banana*

        I think this is probably the best wording — it makes it clear that driving is a problem without having to go into detail. Offering to be a navigator as others have suggested is a good idea as well. Don’t frame it as a preference. See if you can get her to drive — I can’t imagine why she would say no. If she says no you can decide where to go from there.

        I really sympathize with the OP — I have a massive phobia of driving, and nobody really understands. I’ve been in a similar situation, and some bosses haven’t really been understanding once they’ve found out I have a license. They don’t see underneath — that I’ve chosen where to live based on being able to bus and walk everywhere. That I only apply to jobs that don’t require driving. That accepting a social offer out of town means checking to see if my endlessly patient husband can drop me off.

        It’s horrible and I hate it. For some reason the only acceptable phobias are the ones that don’t impact daily life — spiders, plane rides, snakes….

        I’m very jealous of op for managing to drive around town on her own — I’m 31 and still haven’t managed it.

        For what it’s worth op, my husband is taking me out for a day at a racecourse, where in an empty road without other people I can drive like a maniac. Drive and know what fast turns and stopping suddenly feels like. I don’t know if it will work, but worth a try?


        1. Rowan*

          This might be assvice, but I managed to get over enormous amounts of driving anxiety by driving at weird hours of the night. I would have panic attacks at even the idea of driving on a particular road when it was busy, but it was fine at 5am on a Sunday or at midnight on a Tuesday. I’ve also heard that driving days like the one you’re doing can be really useful, so I hope you enjoy it!

        2. fposte*

          I don’t think people have a lot of understanding of phobias whatever they are; it’s just that they’re less likely to encounter another person’s phobia of a rarer thing.

          1. Ad Astra*

            I second that. I had quite a bit of anxiety about driving when I was younger, and was a barely competent highway driver when I graduated from college and moved out of state (which, yeah, required about 10 hours of highway driving).

            But the way I got over it was by just doing it, and that’s not going to work for the OP at this point. The difference between a real phobia and your run-of-the-mill, nonclinical anxiety. Phobias are tough to understand from the outside because they’re irrational. But being uncomfortable driving in unfamiliar places is pretty easy to understand, so the OP may not need to disclose the severity of her phobia.

          2. cbackson*

            I developed an intense phobia of heights and exposed open spaces during a stressful time in my life, and it honestly felt like I was becoming someone I didn’t even know. It’s an incredibly bizarre experience, and much different than people think. I absolutely knew my fears to be irrational and it made no difference to my physical reaction.

            That said, 3 months of CBT and it was gone, never to return (knock on wood!).

        3. Laura*

          Also lending my voice to the “late license (age 24)/ coping with driving anxiety” team. I am only slowly learning how to trust my phone to navigate — and still, I look for routes not on the freeway. So far this has just Been An Issue socially, but I dread the day I get asked to drive somewhere for work. Again, if it’s off the freeway, I feel somewhat okay just using my phone, but considering I almost had a panic attack the last time I tried merging onto the freeway (the worst part, in my opinion), yeah, I’d be a bit of a mess.

          I also always prefer to practice getting somewhere ahead of time, which oftentimes means bugging people about “when/were is event going to take place so I can rehearse??”

          However, because of the flying involved, I guess it’s not too feasible for you to practice. Therefore I echo everyone else: I’m sending you psychic waves of support and advising you to just be honest. I know firsthand how tough it is to open up about this, but it’s better than the never-ending dread of “sucking it up”. You never know how open your boss will be about the situation.

      3. Loose Seal*

        I like this wording, especially if the OP can add something about being an expert navigator (or GPS programmer).

        It seems as though you guys will be in a lot of rental cars. OP could take on the task of pre-learning the cars’ features by downloading a manual early. One of my biggest irritants about rental cars is trying to find the windshield wiper control or figuring out the de-fogger in an unfamiliar car. If OP looks at this stuff ahead of time, they could potentially be a lifesaver while the boss is driving.

      4. QualityControlFreak*

        I’ve got you all beat. I was 50 when I got my license. I drive 80 miles a day (that’s my round-trip commute). I had (still have) a lot of anxiety around driving, particularly in heavy traffic or unfamiliar areas. I was 53 when a bad stretch of black ice had everyone going off the road, and I ended up in the ICU. Didn’t help one bit!

        What helps me is telling myself “I have to do this. This is not optional. And I can do this.” I also research the crap out of any unfamiliar destination. I look at maps, satellite images, etc. Every inch of the way, every exit, every turn. It makes me feel more confident to be able to visualize the route in my head before I even get in the car.

        I definitely feel for all of us on this! I have some training coming up at the end of October and I will have to drive a company vehicle on extremely congested highways in a huge urban/industrial area and I am absolutely dreading it. But I want the training and … I have to do this.

        OP #2, since your boss is going, I would definitely use one of the scripts suggested to see if you can opt out of driving. If anyone else were going to this training that’s what I’d be doing!

        1. RA*

          My Grandma got her license at the age of 75.

          And OP2, “I’m a relatively new driver and I don’t feel comfortable driving on highways” would totally be a reasonable thing to say.

      5. Jennifer*

        Cambridge: no idea if you’re in the US or not, but when I was a 30something new license holder, after having it for a year I was eligible to rent Zipcars that I used to practice on. Possible option for you?

      6. AnneS*

        This is totally on the right track. We do a lot of driving in my workplace, and I would so much rather know if I’m carpooling somewhere with an anxious driver so I can be the driver the whole time. It’s become pretty common knowledge among our leadership team who the nervous and non-nervous drivers are, with no judgment for the nervous.

        1. Ife*

          Yes, it can be almost as unpleasant to be a passenger of a nervous driver as it is to be the nervous driver! I also get anxious while driving, although it sounds like mine isn’t as bad as OP’s or other commenters’. I never volunteer to drive, and happily I haven’t been asked to drive more than a few times.

          I think if the OP has a good relationship with their boss, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to say, “I don’t drive very much/I’m a very nervous driver, so I really don’t feel comfortable driving in such an unfamiliar area. Would you be able to drive instead?”

          1. OP 2*

            These are all great wording suggestions! Thank you. I know I need to talk to her, I just wasn’t able to find the words to even figure out how to start that conversation. This particular manager is actually very nice and respectful. I highly doubt she would probe if I just said I wasn’t comfortable, and I know she drives regularly for her job and won’t mind doing it. It is just a question of telling her.

    3. UKAnon*

      This is good! If your boss still doesn’t seem happy, could you also explain its unfamiliar roads you’re uncomfortable with, and that if she can drive to start with you’ll be able to pick some up towards the end of the trip? Obviously only say this if you think you’d be OK with it, but it may help to “meet her halfway” as it were.

    4. MK*

      I think “I prefer not to” is not strong enough; it sounds as if the OP would just like going along for the ride better. If she wants her boss to take her seriously, she needs to make it clear that driving is a problem for her, not just a preference.

      1. Bagworm*

        Agreed. I’ve had too many bosses (especially “big bosses”) who wanted to be on their phon/tablet/computer while traveling so they always expected the underling to drive and I’m not sure a preference would have persuaded them.

        #2 – Could you say “I have a medical condition that currently limits my ability to drive.” It’s truthful, doesn’t preclude you from all driving (in case she learned you were driving some around town; although I think that’s really unlikely unless you live in the same neighborhood), leaves it open to you driving in the future (if/when your anxiety’s more under control; so it’s not limiting your potential future professional opportunities), and there are lots of medical conditions out there that impact one’s ability to drive. If she’s at all reasonable, she’s not going to pry and should be happy to accommodate you.

        1. JMegan*

          I like this wording, with the vague (but not untrue) medical condition.

          And like Sadsack says above, I expect most people would prefer *not* to be passengers with someone who experiences anxiety around driving! So OP, I think it’s definitely in your best interest to speak up.

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Agreed about the big bosses expecting to be chauffeured around. When my former boss would fly to cities within about a 4 – 8 hour drive away, he would have someone from the office drive the office truck to that city. They would arrive the evening before, drive him around during his stay, and head back to our city after dropping the boss off for his return flight. I doubt that OP’s boss is as invested in being chauffeured around as my boss was, though. So I think the “medical condition” phrasing is likely to work.

          Funny aside: My boss once had an employee drive to Memphis to be his chauffeur while there. This guy was the spouse of one of his wife’s friends, and they had hired him to help out the friend by providing her husband with a job. The guy, before driving to Memphis, stole a bottle of bourbon from my boss’s desk and arrived in Memphis drunker than a skunk. My boss ended up having to drive him back from Memphis while he lay passed out in the back seat. And then he fired him.

        3. Kyrielle*

          I like this wording too…and if your boss pushes back on it, you can presumably have your doctor/therapist document that you do indeed have a medical condition that limits your ability to drive, and that you should not be required to drive on these trips.

        4. Cath in Canada*

          I was going to suggest something similar – “a medical condition that doesn’t affect my ability to do my day-to-day job or to drive for very short distances in town, but that does preclude long drives”.

        5. Chameleon*

          This was going to be my suggestion, to. “I have a medical condition that makes it unwise for me to drive long distances” is generic, true, and will make a reasonable person take it seriously (in a way that anxiety sadly often is not.)

          1. OP 2*

            Not going to lie, I did google “medical conditions that preclude driving” to see if I could realistically use that line. I do think people are more understanding of “medical condition” than “anxiety.”

            1. catsAreCool*

              If it helps though, I think most of us don’t want to be driven by an anxious driver. I’d rather drive than be on the edge of my seat worrying about the driver.

            2. Melissa*

              Anxiety is a medical condition, though, if it’s severe enough. Since you’re in therapy to deal with this I’d say it qualifies as a medical condition.

        6. ReanaZ*

          Yeah, this is what I was going to suggest–“I’m having a medical issue that limits my ability to drive at the moment.” Vague, factual, avoiding touchy subjects or shame, and directly asking for an accommodation. You shouldn’t have to disclose what it is (“I’d prefer to keep that private and I’m sure you could find a friendly medical professional who would write you a note (because of but not mentioning the severe anxiety) in the unlikely case they asked for documentation.

      2. Cato*

        I agree. It’s unacceptable for the OP to spend the weeks before the business trip as a malnourished, anxious, insomniac. In my opinion she should NOT pressure herself to somehow get over her fear in such a short timeframe and should not make it seem like driving is even an option with her boss.

        1. Dot Warner*

          Agreed. While it’s certainly a good idea for the OP to go to counseling, there’s no guarantee that she’ll be “fixed” by the time this trip rolls around. Go with the medical condition wording, OP; I’m sure your boss will understand. (And you never know – your boss might be someone who gets carsick and needs to drive so that they don’t throw up!)

      3. boro*

        Totally agree with the nebulous “health issue.” Mental health is heath. As someone with a series anxiety issue myself, “health issue” covers all sorts of things. As in “I only work four days a week based on health issues.” I’ve said that a lot, and no one says, “Really? What kind of health issues?”

        “I have a health issue that doesn’t affect my work at all, but precludes me from driving any sizable distance.” Totally true. Not obviously mental health. Will almost certainly preclude anyone from ever being tempted to make you drive while in the car (I’d probably personally most easily assume some kind of super occasional epilepsy or something).

    5. Florida*

      I like this wording too.

      I have a seizure disorder so at different times in my life I couldn’t drive. If I didn’t feel like getting into it, I would say that I couldn’t drive for medical reasons.

    6. the gold digger*

      I told my boss, when we drove from smaller city to smaller city via Chicago that I would drive anywhere during the trip but Chicago – I am not used to congested highway driving and it’s way too stressful for me.

      I also said that I would not drive the van at all when a group of us went. I have never driven a van and am not going to start under the eye of my boss and co-workers.

      It wasn’t a problem at all.

    7. Cat*

      Yeah, I hate driving and with co-workers I always say “I hate driving. Do you mind doing it?” And they never do. Or never say they do at any rate.

      1. Phobia Field*

        Yeah, a few months ago I took a 5 hour one way trip with a coworker and she drove the whole way. She is a relaxed, confident driver (and drives quite well, I must say). I’m a horrid driver.

    8. Big Tom*

      This is exactly what I was thinking. I really don’t see this as that big of a deal. I’ve never met a reasonable person who would give it a second thought if someone said “Do you mind driving? I get pretty tense driving in unfamiliar places.”

      There’s really no more explanation necessary than that.

    9. Ad Astra*

      To me, the OP’s brief mention that the boss would also be on these trips is what stood out to me. It would be very easy and not weird at all to say, “I get pretty nervous driving in unfamiliar places. Would you mind driving?” You could also offer to split the cost of gas and a rental if your company makes you pay expenses upfront and then reimburses you.

      I myself get a bit nervous driving in unfamiliar places (though not with this kind of severity), I’m easily distracted with other people in my car, and I have always driven old, dirty, embarrassing cars. So I ask my coworkers to drive their newer, safer, cleaner cars and they’ve never had an issue with it. Many people even prefer to drive.

      And OP, I also encourage you to ask your therapist about this. She may have some helpful insight that AAM commenters can’t offer.

    10. JC*

      Yes, I like this wording too. OP, I am sympathetic to you and in similar shoes. I learned to drive as a teen, but from college on lived in cities where I did not need to drive much. I haven’t owned a car in 3 years and am very anxious about driving, and the last few years I had a car I drove so infrequently that I was anxious then too. And to top it all off, I work as a researcher who studies traffic safety—so I know that some of my colleagues find it especially weird that I don’t really drive.

      I do try to suck it up and drive sometimes for work purposes when I absolutely have to (similar situation to yours—traveling alone to a location that is far from the airport). I’ve noticed that although I am nervous about these trips before they happen, I do get comfortable behind the wheel pretty quickly. That’s something to keep in mind; if you find that you can’t get out of driving, once you are actually doing it it probably won’t be as scary as you had feared. But I have successfully used similar wording to what’s suggested above when other colleagues and I have been traveling to the same place. They don’t want me driving them as much as I don’t want to drive.

    11. The Expendable Redshirt*

      The OP shouldn’t feel bad! Not everyone likes to drive, and not every adult can drive. I have a 42 year old roommate who does not have his drivers licence. We live in a large city with decent transit, so he’s never needed to get a drivers licence.

      And like Thinking’s wording.

    12. Stranger than fiction*

      I was thinking along similar lines but maybe saying “I don’t drive freeways” specifically.

  5. Sherm*

    #2. I’ve been there with the driving anxiety. It wasn’t caused by any traumatic experience; I had family members who were anxious about driving, and I “learned” from them. For me at least, exposure to driving, forcing myself to get on the freeway, or to volunteer to be the one driving a group of friends, was tremendously helpful. I’ve been dealing with this for 20 years, and I’ve still got issues. But more and more counts as familiar driving. I’ve driven notoriously hellish freeways, a friend’s car over bumpy dirt roads in the middle of nowhere, and through the pouring rain. Driving from an airport to a town a couple hours away sounds like it could be fun — once I got out of airport traffic :)

    1. Cato*

      My friend is a massively anxious driver because her mother was a massively anxious driver. Parental phobias and anxieties really rub off on children.

      I think there are two major lessons from all of these driving comments:
      1) OP #2, you are not alone! Lots of people have driving anxiety.
      2) Parents, you have to teach your kids how to drive as soon as they are legally allowed, and if you feel unable to instill confidence in them, find or hire someone who can. A driving phobia will be limiting in so many areas of your child’s life. Don’t hold them back and scare them because you yourself are anxious for their safety. Teenagers will be safer if they are responsible, practiced drivers and can serve as the designated driver when necessary.

      1. Jennifer*

        I second #2 because my parents were terrible instructors (no phobias there, they knew how to drive instantly and never had a lick of trouble and did not comprehend why I would) and uh, that’s why I didn’t get a license for 16 years until I found someone who’d also had a phobia and gotten over it.

        OP, I’d highly recommend looking into…well, some kind of phobia coping, therapy, driving lessons from a supportive friend, something, in the event that your boss is unsympathetic.

      2. BeenThere*

        Oh this is me. My mother didn’t learn to drive until her lates thirties and her anxiety was so bad she couldn’t teach me. My father worked early so by the time I was home from school he had already had an evening drink and you had to be 100% sober to be in the seat next to a learner. I earned my licence in Australia at 26 after paying an instructor for almost all the hours I had to log (120 hours in a log book) . Which also means I didn’t get my full licence until 29 due to the three years on provisional levels.

        Now I drive in Houston, that gave me anxiety for the first year and now I their with the rest of the them on the indy 500 circuit.. at least that’s what driving here feels like.

        1. OP 2*

          Yeah, I didn’t grow up in the US, but if I have kids, they’re going to learn to drive when they turn 16, before they are too old to know any better!

    2. Renee*

      Chiming in that I also had it and didn’t drive regularly until I was in my late 30s. I’m fairly comfortable now from practice (I had a job that I needed and it involved driving all over the county). I think driving anxiety is very common and if you have a nice boss she will understand.

  6. A Non*

    #2: I’d say something like “I’m okay as a passenger, but I can’t drive long distances. Runs to the grocery store are the max for me. Can you drive to these meetings? I’m more than happy to navigate.” It’s okay to not give any reason if you don’t want to. You could say it’s a medical thing. (Which is not a lie.) Or tell them about only part of your symptoms, such as nausea or headaches, if that’s accurate for you. Or let them assume that you’re a bad driver or inexperienced and don’t want to endanger anyone – you’re far from the only person who doesn’t do freeways! They don’t have a right to know why you can’t do the thing. They just need to know that it’ll have to be planned around, same as any other limitation.

    I hope the project goes well and that it’s a good experience for you!

    1. Blurgle*

      Claiming a medical reason isn’t a lie, but the employer might not see it in the same way. Could you get a doctor’s letter? In my experience employers will listen to a doctor when they won’t listen to their employee.

      (Disclaimer: I have a physical medical condition that precludes driving, but I’m not in the US and don’t know how the ADA works.)

      1. Elder Dog*

        I have a medical condition that means I can’t drive sometimes. A doctor’s statement saying you can’t drive, or can’t drive in unfamiliar areas, or can’t drive further than 4 miles, or whatever makes sense to you and your doctor would be perfectly in order, and won’t cause trouble for you. It’s nobody else’s business why you can’t drive. All your boss needs is for you to say you weren’t sure how to tell her about this and you want this assignment, but there’s a problem, and ask if you can all work out a reasonable accommodation. But the sooner the better.

        1. Llywelyn*

          This. I can’t drive (no license, disability that would make getting a license difficult—not impossible, but difficult) and basically when I’ve worked jobs that require travel like that I’ve found other accommodations are sometimes doable. Not always, but sometimes, and a doctor’s statement may help them seek those out.

        2. JHS*

          If you ask for a reasonable accommodation under the ADA, you make it your employer’s business to know why you need the accommodation. So if the OP chooses this route, she will likely need to provide documentation about why the accommodation is needed and will therefore be sharing more information with her boss about the condition.

      2. Colette*

        I’d find it weird to be given a doctor’s not as part of the initial conversation. (It would seem like you didn’t trust me to react reasonably and felt like you needed backup). Why not have the conversation first and then figure out if a doctor’s not is necessary?

        (Also, does the OP know the manager drives! If she doesn’t, this will be a different conversation.)

        1. Elder Dog*

          If you are going to go with a doctor’s statement (I wish people would stop calling it a “note”. It’s not an excuse for being out sick. Treating disabilities the same as being sick is belittling to those of us who have disabilities.) it’s better to lead with it. Otherwise you risk your manager turning down the accommodation and having to force the issue.
          It’s better to hand over the statement up front than risk being told no and having to look like you’re going over their heads with your statement, or making them tell you you have to have a doctor’s statement, so it looks like they don’t believe you.
          If you’re asking for something that will inconvenience someone else, even a little, lead with an explanation accompanied by handing them your doctor’s statement. You don’t want to get into a situation where it feels like you’ve one-upped your manager.

    2. Fried Eggs*

      I also think saying you can’t drive long distances due to a medical reasons is the way to go. If your employer requires a note (many won’t) and you don’t want to present one from your therapist, your therapist can write an explanation for you to bring to your GP, who can issue the note.

  7. Creag an Tuire*

    OP #2, you sound like me before taking my current job, which I loved over OldJob in every way except that it was a move from the city to the suburbs.

    What I realized is that I had terrible anxiety driving alone in unfamiliar territory because I feel like I can focus on “driving safely” or “not getting lost” but NOT both — and you can’t just stop in the middle of the road if you missed your turn or think you got lost and need to re-gain your bearings.

    I felt better when having a passenger/navigator, so I bought a dashboard phone mount so I could use the phone’s navigation. It was a *massive* improvement for me, to the point where I now prefer driving unless I need to go into downtown Chicago.

    If any of that rings true to you OP, try getting a GPS so you can focus only on driving and see if that helps your anxiety. Good luck, you’re not alone.

    (I still want my self-driving car, damn it.)

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I have this same anxiety–I HATE going anywhere I don’t know well when it’s about to get dark especially. I got sort of lost last weekend going to a friend’s and was so upset that by the time I got there, I was crying. Of course my phone wouldn’t load anything there–it felt like the Twilight Zone. Stupid tiny towns with split streets and weird crooked signs and weird roads and NO LIGHTING. And no one around, not like a big city. No one and nothing. 0_0

    2. Cato*

      A good GPS can be a big help. My worst car accident was due to getting lost, being completely flustered, and trying to course-correct on the highway. Now that I have a GPS, I just sit back and relax and let the GPS tell me what to do. If I accidentally miss my exit, I know that the GPS will tell me how to get back on track without any mental anguish on my part.

      1. Jennifer*

        GPS is generally a godsend. (Though not a few weekends ago when it kept directing me to the wrong places in a mountain location.)

  8. Myrin*

    I am so, so, so confused by #1.

    The only reason I could imagine someone doing this would be as like with these social experiments we see sometimes. Let’s say OP has a very ethnic-sounding name and fears (even unconscious) racial bias is the reason she doesn’t get job interviews, so she tries once more with the same resume but with a more “local”-sounding name. But that theory doesn’t hold up since she had actually already gotten an interview! In fact, I’d say she probably got pretty far in the process if “third round” is anything to go by (I’m guessing, obviously; maybe three interviews is just the starting point?)!

    So I’m entirely unclear why she didn’t just apply under her real name for this second job. It’s not like it’s the very same position all over again where she might guess what made the employer decide against her still holds – it’s “another job in the same department”, so I’d guess it’s reasonably different from the first job but still in the same field so it wouldn’t feel like one of these “applies for everything here with us” cases, either, and I don’t see anything opposing just trying again.

    I don’t know, the letter feels to me a bit like OP waited for something allowing her a “Gotcha!” moment (like “Oh, now that I list a male instead of female name, I’m suddenly good for an interview?”), only… well, there’s no Gotcha to be had here, really? The company was interested before, interested enough to have her advance into the third round. It’s reasonable to assume that her resume still seems of interest to someone in the very same department she had already been interviewed at before. But, well, that has been proven the first time around so I don’t really… yeah. Confusion all around.

    1. Charityb*

      It’s possible that it was a Hail Mary kind of thing, where the OP didn’t seriously expect to call back but wanted to see how far he would get into the process. Either that or the OP is in a field where people can have professional aliases normally (such as a news anchor, writer, etc.) There’s no good reason for that though and I still keep coming back to the OP just deciding to give it a shot without really expecting to get anywhere.

      I’m not sure the sexism thing is possible here just because if they had bias against the OP for that they would have bounced him (or her I guess) before the 3rd round before, or possibly even before the first round of interviewing depending on how gendered the name is.

      1. Myrin*

        I think I made it pretty clear that your second paragraph was my entire point (I first made an example using racism, then one using sexism) – the OP didn’t need to see if the employer were interested in her now that she changed x thing about her name because they had been interested in her before already.

        1. Zillah*

          This feels a little hostile, especially since it’s not really clear that Charityb was even disagreeing with you. I’m a little confused – is there a reason for that?

    2. Kasey Knowels*

      I can understand applying to head-hunters (and to a certain extent) employers with a pseudo name.

      Perhaps if the employer does a Google search, they will see your age or some other kind of demographic that could exclude them from consideration.

      I have done free searches on those intelligence sites to discover that some people who looked squeaky clean had “criminal records” associated with them. The thing is – the criminal records can come from either ~you~ or ~other family members~.

      I don’t use my real name when submitting my resume online or even speaking with head hunters. I tell them my real name after I establish some kind of rapport but – now – I am thinking of just going with the pseudonym all the way – and – should they make the offer, tell them the real truth. One reason is because I have found that head hunters spam your resume all over town (and supposedly a 50 mile radius). If they are going to do that, then it should be with the fake name and not the real one.

  9. Lily*

    #2: “I can’t drive long distances” +short explanation should be able to solve it.

    #1: Cancel the interview (as alias). Worst case, alias will lose their reputation.

  10. Belligerent Hobo, PMP*


    This is a tricky situation, because “must be able to drive” in one of its various euphemisms has become one of the standard questions HR uses in all applications to filter out the riff-raff, and a lot of businesses don’t consider non-drivers whatsoever in their business decisions.

    Some older folks especially see non-drivers as childish, unreliable, and a host of other negative things, despite the many perfectly reasonable reasons one might decide not to be a driver, and it can influence the way that they see you; that can be risky in some careers. (Fortunately this is less common with younger folks, but then they also generally are still young enough that they haven’t any authority in these things.)

    If you can afford it, might hiring a driver be a possibility?

    1. Myrin*

      Really? I’ve actually had the exact opposite experience regarding the bias by age. Granted, I’ve never come across this in a job-related way but I’ve certainly gotten more weird looks and remarks and questions when I say I don’t drive (I know how to drive, I just don’t have a car and also prefer not to) from young people than older folks. (I’m pretty sure that’s simply because it wasn’t common at all to drive as recently as the 60s/70s here. My grandfather didn’t get a licence until he was well over 30 and my grandmother never learned to drive at all, for example. Even my mum notes that there were way fewer people learning to drive when she did in the late 70s. But that could obviously be a cultural/regional difference.)

      1. Just Visiting*

        For me the funny looks you get when you say you don’t/can’t drive are 100% based on location. When I lived in the DC area I was a freak to everyone, and now I live in one of the best US cities for public transportation and biking and nobody bats an eye about it. I don’t even have to get into the medical aspects, it’s just “oh, you don’t drive, neither do like a third of the people your age in this city.” Weirdly enough, even though my home city isn’t at all PT-friendly, it was not as hostile to the idea of non-driving as the DC area.

          1. TL -*

            I don’t know about just visiting, but Boston and several of the surrounding suburbs are great for non drivers and most young people don’t have a car.

          2. I'm a Little Teapot*

            I live in Boston, and while I have a license I don’t have a car. I know a fair number of people who don’t have a license, or didn’t have one until well into adulthood. It’s pretty normal here, and our public transit is fairly extensive, if slow.

            My parents grew up in New York, and my mother didn’t learn to drive until she left New York for grad school. Again, quite normal.

            This does not extend to smaller towns and cities in the Northeast, though, in my experience.

            1. Afiendishingy*

              Agreed. My sister has lived in Boston for 10 years without a car. Occasionally if she wants to take a day trip she will get a zip car, but in day to day life she doesn’t really need one. I live about an hour away from her and can’t imagine trying to rely on the public transit options here.

            2. Allison*

              Fellow Bostonian here, I didn’t get my license until halfway through college, and the only reason I own a car is because I work out in Waltham and it would be a real pain to take public transit out there and back every day. If I got a new job that I could commute to via public transit and my car broke down, I’d probably junk it and get a scooter, maybe a Zipcar membership as well for when I did need a car.

          3. Chocolate lover*

            I also live near Boston. I didn’t get my license till I was 27. And many years later, have still never owned a car.

            My mother doesn’t know how to drive, and neither does my sister nor one of my brothers. The other brother didn’t get his license until he was also 27, and only when he moved to another state where it was more important.

          4. AnonAnalyst*

            Another Boston resident and non-driver here. Before I moved here, I lived in San Francisco (in the city, which makes a difference) and also never really needed to drive. My experience in those two places is that in a lot of ways it’s actually more difficult to have a car than not to because of parking issues and traffic, since public transportation is generally reliable and will get you almost anywhere you want to go. I had a car when I first moved to San Francisco, but I found I was rarely driving it and decided it wasn’t worth the expense for parking, insurance, maintenance, etc. to keep it, so I sold it about a year after I moved.

            If you’re not excited about either of those options, I would look at other larger cities, which are more likely to have robust public transit systems (although that of course doesn’t extend to all large cities, so you still need to do your homework and see how feasible it is that you’ll be able to get around without driving!)

              1. MsM*

                Eeeeeh…as another person who prefers not to drive, I’ve personally found Philly a lot more challenging than D.C. There is public transportation, but unless you’re only going from wherever you’re going to Center City and back again, getting from Point A to Point B seems to require at least three different transfers.

              2. ACA*

                I’m a life-long Philly girl, no license at 28, and have never had a problem getting where I needed by public transportation. Is SEPTA great? No, but it’s functional.

              3. OhNo*

                Eh, Philly public transit is so-so at best. The trains were the only mostly-functional part of the system while I was there, and most of those only run into/out of the city. (Plus the vast majority of stations aren’t wheelchair accessible, which was fun for me. [/sarcasm])

                Make sure you keep yourself updated on any rail closures or issues, because those trains seem to go down pretty frequently, and it’s really irritating to just wait at the station forever with no idea if one is coming any time soon.

          5. Asparagus*

            Moved to NYC six years ago and have driven about four times. We donated the car two years. Best idea ever.

          6. Meredith*

            My sister lives in Chicago (in the city, not the ‘burbs), and she had a car for a while but got rid of it. She is able to walk or take transit to work, though, so you’d have to arrange your living situation where you could do that.

            I live in a much smaller city (Madison, WI), and I don’t drive day to day – I bike or bus to work. However, the bus connections are much more tenuous the farther away from downtown/the university you get. You CAN do it without a car here, but you kind of have to plan out your life a little bit more.

          7. Chicken*

            San Francisco is another city where many, many residents don’t drive (or do drive, but don’t own a car). It’s much easier to take public transit within the city than to find parking, and many (most?) people who do own cars only use them when leaving the city, or maybe when going to the grocery store.

          8. Audrey*

            I’m an anxious driver (24 and still don’t have my license– I just keep getting my permit every year and hope no one ever asks me to drive) and I have found SF, Berkeley, Oakland all to be extremely easy to get around in without a car! It doesn’t even occur to me when in those cities that I “need” to have a car to get around. They’re really easy to get around via bike and public transit. I know a lot of folks who don’t have cars or don’t have licenses– it’s common, and no one bats an eye when you tell them you don’t or can’t drive, or don’t have a car. And on the subject of biking: those cities are incredibly, incredibly easy to be a cyclist in!

          9. Just Visiting*

            Portland, Oregon. It was chosen to be our home because it’s the only non-driver-friendly large city we can afford (though that affordability is vanishing, SIGH).

          10. Melissa*

            I lived in New York for grad school and it’s really common there to not know how to drive. My mother is a NYer and she didn’t get her license until her mid-20s, and one of my close friends just recently got licensed to drive shortly before his 30th birthday. I didn’t even know he couldn’t drive until he mentioned something about studying for the test – it’s a total non-issue because everyone takes public transit there.

            I currently live in the Seattle area. While the suburbs are not easily traversable without a car, I know a couple of people who live in Seattle proper and say that they can get by in the city without a car.

        1. Charityb*

          I agree. I live and work in the DC area and honestly I can’t imagine how someone who couldn’t drive at all would be able to survive outside of the areas that are closest to DC itself. The further south you get the worse the public transportation gets. Even if you wanted to walk/bike, the place where I live now doesn’t even have sidewalks that extend outside of neighborhoods, so if you wanted to walk to the grocery store even you would have to basically walk along the side of extremely busy roads, which I find as nervewracking as driving in a city.

          The state of this place is pretty deplorable actually. You shouldn’t have to drive to something that is a twenty minute walk away just because it’s physically inaccessible without running across an interstate ramp. I hope I don’t give non-drivers funny looks, but if I do it’s more me being impressed by their resourcefulness than seeing them as immature.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            ” I live and work in the DC area and honestly I can’t imagine how someone who couldn’t drive at all would be able to survive outside of the areas that are closest to DC itself. ”

            I know the answer!!!

            You ask your friends with cars for rides. I had a friend who just didn’t want to get a car. She could drive, she just didn’t want to get a car. So she asked everyone else for rides all the time. Grrr. Occasionally she would get a ZipCar though. I suppose you take taxis and Uber around, but it’s definitely hard.

            1. MK*

              There was a time in my lat teens/early twenties that I and my father drove and my mother and sister didn’t. He and I used to joke that we had cars and they had chauffeurs.

              1. the gold digger*

                I have friends whose son refused to learn to drive when he was in high school. He is now in college and still does not drive.

                His mother drives him anywhere.

                She is a lot nicer than I would be.

                1. MK*

                  All the time? I mean, joking aside, my mother and sister only asked for rides when walking or public transportation wasn’t an option, and my sister did get a car as soon as she could afford to. I wouldn’t indulge someone who simply preferred being driven everywhere either!

                2. QualityControlFreak*

                  My son was 16 when he was in a serious accident with me. I was driving. He wasn’t hurt but I was, pretty badly. He’s now a senior in HS and really not keen on driving. I’m trying to make it clear this is not optional. He’s a smart kid and he knows he has to do it. And also I will continue to nag him about it because his mom is *not* willing to keep on driving him everywhere.

            2. Charityb*

              For me, that wouldn’t be a long-term solution. Having to get a ride *everywhere* means that I have to do a *lot* more careful planning ahead of time (to reduce the number of car rides I need), or else be at the mercy of the schedule of other people all the time. I feel stressed out just imagining that, and I say this as someone who loathes driving with a bitter darkness that is really quite unhealthy. It might work better if you had a roommate or a relative who had a car though.

              1. INTP*

                I feel like the only people who would see this as an acceptable long-term solution are the chronic moochers discussed in the post this week about the food beggar/Snackina. I can’t even remember the last time I asked non-family for a ride, except for some family friends that we have an airport ride agreement with (we drive them, they drive us). When my car was broken down in the winter, I walked to the grocery stores I could reach within walking distance in the cold and took the bus wherever I needed (and planned my time so that I could go anywhere sketchy during the day). If I couldn’t swing that I would have rented a car. But some people are pretty shameless, like everyone who begged me for rides to the mall and liquor store in college.

                1. OhNo*

                  See, I was thinking that getting rides from others all the time is way more prevalent in certain communities (or maybe income levels?) than others. Like, my family and others like us were very much the “get your license at 16, immediately buy your own car (no matter how financially unsustainable or impractical it might be), and never ask for rides again” type.

                  But I also have two friends, both from very different communities, whose families absolutely arrange their lives based on who needs rides/cars and when. Public transit is definitely an option, but the perception in both their families is that it is not only absolutely okay to ask for rides, but as long as you are a family member or close friend, it’s also totally reasonable to ask (or, in the case of family, expect) those who drive to go out of their way to help you out if there is any way they can. Like, “Hey, can you wake up at 5am to drive me to work every Saturday this month?” is something they will actually agree to (as long as they think you are open to doing the same in return).

                2. Cath in Canada*

                  My husband and his friends are like this – they call each other asking for rides all the time. One of his buddies picked us up with 10 minutes warning after we got stranded after a concert somewhere with no transit or taxis a couple of weeks ago; he picks people up from work if their wife has the car. This is the same group that also trades labour – e.g. my husband (carpenter) will happily build some steps for the mother of a friend who’s a plumber and fixed our toilet for free when it was leaking.

              2. Cato*

                I have a friend like this (who doesn’t have her license) but she is willing to use cabs and Ubers when a friend can’t give her a ride. Ultimately, occasional cabs and Ubers are cheaper than owning a car.

            3. INTP*

              Those people drive me crazy. I have mainly lived in places where you really need a car, like California (pretty much everywhere outside of San Francisco proper). I do not own a car so I can drive you to Whole Foods at lunch because you can’t get there and back fast enough on your bike. Unless we’re very close friends, don’t ask me for anything less necessary than a drive to the ER or out of town for a wildfire evacuation.

          2. Cat*

            I just don’t spend much time in the outer suburbs. I do have a zipcar membership but it doesn’t come up much.

        2. Lee*

          Well, my experience in DC was completely opposite. In fact, I deliberately chose to live in a major city precisely so that I did not have to have a car. What you are describing sounds more like something that MAYBE someone without a car would experience in the suburbs. But getting around DC itself in a car is often frankly more difficult than just walking or taking a bus, metro, or taxi. This goes for people at the highest levels of their organizations or in politics. I don’t really know what to say.

          1. Cat*

            Yeah, I know a lot of people without a car. It just depends on what parts of the metro area you interact with.

          2. Charityb*

            How is that different from what I said? Not having a car is easy if you live in DC or “the areas that are closest to DC itself.” If you live farther afield though, it’s pretty hellish. You’re still considered part of the D.C. metropolitan area but your public transportation opportunities drop off pretty quickly. The Metro line doesn’t extend very far — the furthest south only goes as far as Springfield and the furthest north in Greenbelt, but there are entire cities that are miles and miles away from those place.s

            1. Cat*

              Yeah, I think the answer here is that those of us without cars don’t try to survive in the outer suburbs. But I haven’t really felt that to be a constraint. It might be if I had friends who lived there, of course.

            2. Cato*

              I can’t imagine why anyone would live more than 1 mile from a Metro stop or Metrobus line if they didn’t have a car. Clearly the suburbs would be hellish to live in without a car…that’s true everywhere.

              1. Charityb*

                I can’t imagine it either, but I know people who do it, including some relatives who basically treat every visit as being time for a car trip to the farmer’s market/mall/etc.. It just seems so awful that there are regions that are designed this way. Uber is making it more practical but even then it’s still a car-centric system, albeit someone else’s car…

        3. OriginalEmma*

          I knew lots of folks born and raised in NYC and the outer boroughs who never learned how to drive because, despite Robert Moses’ best auto-centric intentions, NYC became a mass transit paradise. You just don’t need to drive.

          1. Zillah*

            +1. I’m 27 and have lived in New York my entire life; I’ve only just started learning how to drive in earnest this year. (My road test is actually in about two hours, and I’m a bundle of nerves!)

        4. Elizabeth West*

          I’ve found that in big cities with good public transport, many people don’t drive and never learn. Why should they? Besides, unless you have a house with an actual driveway or you live in an apartment complex with a lot, it costs a bundle to park.

      2. Belligerent Hobo, PMP*

        Definitely regional — I’m located in the U.S., and it seems like among a certain segment of the older population, a non-driver is seen as either someone like the protagonist of the film “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”, or as someone unreliable who must have had their car impounded/license revoked for irresponsibility (financial or legal).

      3. pnw*

        I came of driving age in 1970 and immediately got a license as did all my friends. In Oregon it would seem odd not to get a driver’s license as soon as you are eligible although I notice the younger generation doesn’t worry about it quite as much. Probably because there are better public transportation options in the Portland metropolitan area now.

        1. Just Visiting*

          Heh, we live in Portland precisely because it’s good for non-drivers. The rest of Oregon isn’t very non-driver-friendly though (what I’ve seen of it).

    2. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      I live in one of Top 5 and I was petrified to drive when I moved here. It took baby steps to get me 5 miles, but I’ve been able to work past the driving anxiety over time. GPS, Google Maps, and AAA TripTiks were my close, close friends during that time.

      I know a number of people who don’t drive or aren’t comfortable driving here. It may seem tough, but I would recommend a factual, unembellished approach. “I appreciate the opportunity, but I’m concerned about the transportation. I tend to get anxious in unfamiliar areas and drive only locally – I used public transport to come to the office.”

      I have anxiety and OCD, and the hardest part of having a conversation about it is the before-time. Anxiety doesn’t make you defective or like a child, but is a real thing to work with from day to day. I was afraid to say anything when anxiety conflicted with work, but after CBT and exposure, I eventually became more comfortable telling people, “I’m not able to do X, can we entertain Y or discuss other alternatives?”

      I hope you can find the courage to talk to your boss about this. Perhaps ask if cabs are an option instead of rental cars. Perhaps there are shuttles that move from the airport to the city you need to visit. Explore some other options for transport with your boss before you get to the point of turning down to job to hide yourself.

    3. Bagworm*

      I do think some people will see it as limiting your professional opportunities (based on personal experience). That’s why I mentioned saying it’s a temporary medical condition that limits her ability to drive (doesn’t indicate the duration of the limitation and OP said she is working on it and sounds like she’s making good progress – which kudos for, by the way, not something that’s easy to do. Plus I Think that’s really relatable. Even the most confident drivers have probably taken sometime that impaired their ability to drive, or had a broken leg, or whatever other temporary condition.

    4. Not Today Satan*

      Yeah, I was shocked and scandalized when I saw how many job postings (for jobs that presumably wouldn’t require driving) require a license and a working car. It really seems like they’re trying to discriminate against poor urban people, who are a lot less likely to have either. Blech.

      1. DuckDuckMøøse*

        I think many jobs require that, not because driving is part of the duties, but because they want to make sure the people have reliable transportation to get to work in the first place. They’ve probably had too many experiences with people flaking on them unexpectedly and repeatedly, blaming transportation issues. Certainly not fair for people who cannot afford / do not want a car, but having employees just not show up isn’t fair to the employers, either.

        1. Charityb*

          I think it’s best to say that the person has to have a reliable means of getting to work. It doesn’t have to be a car; if the public transportation system is good, use that. If it’s close enough to walk, use that. As long as they can get to work on time every day, it should be fine. They shouldn’t ask specifically about a car though.

      2. Jennifer*

        Yeah, but it makes it inconvenient for them when say, they want to send you out to pick up the boss’s lunch and you can’t drive to it.

    5. Erin*

      With regards to the “must be able to drive” questions in HR forms – technically, the OP can drive. She wouldn’t be lying if she used one of the suggested phrases here like, “I drive occasionally but prefer not to” or “I get tense driving in unfamiliar locations, would you mind driving?”

    6. Meg Murry*

      Yes, I think all the solutions mentioned will work if the original job description didn’t say something like “must possess a valid drivers license”. And if it mentioned anything about travel to outlying areas in the description, that is definitely a problem, because OP withheld that she actually wouldn’t be able to do all of the job.

      I think one other point that hasn’t been brought up is that OP would not only be asked to drive in unfamiliar places, but to do so in an unfamiliar vehicle, since they have to first fly somewhere, and then, I’m assuming – rent a car. I think the script with her boss should add that too. Something along the lines of “I didn’t get a license until 10 years ago (or however long), and I am a very anxious driver. I manage getting around town here, to and from the grocery store, etc, but I take public transit whenever possible. I really don’t think I would be a safe driver in an unfamiliar area in an unfamiliar car, and that wouldn’t be safe to you, as the passenger with me. So if I am to do this assignment, I need you to do all the driving when we are out of town.” If one of my coworkers told me they weren’t a good driver, I’m pretty sure I would rather do the driving than be a passenger along in the car with them.

      If travel is something the job has evolved into, then OP needs to go talk to her boss ASAP – do not wait until it gets closer to the trips. OP, all you can do is be honest. Basically, the two options are:
      -you go on these trips with your boss, with the understanding that she does all the driving. This might not actually be impossible – for most car rental companies you have to pay extra to allow a second driver to drive, so the boss might prefer for the car to be rented in boss’s name and only boss drives it.
      -your boss decides that if you can’t drive, you can’t do this project (after all, what if the boss gets sick or has a meeting somewhere else and needs OP to go to a few trips solo)? That would be carrier limiting for OP, but so would getting to her destination and having a panic attack and not being able to do the job. I don’t know that the boss would fire OP over it, but it would probably halt any career trajectory she might otherwise have.

      OP, did the original job description involve travel? Otherwise, could you use some of the strategies discussed in the post earlier this week (or last) about the woman who didn’t want to travel due to her dogs, and how to discuss the fact that the job description has changed from what you originally signed up for.

      Last, you mentioned that you worked your way up to being able to do the driving you do now with help from a therapist. Could you go back to that (or another) therapist, and talk about strategies for managing this driving anxiety (besides avoiding driving altogether), and how/if you can work your way up to being ok with driving. Or at least how you can avoid stressing out about the driving for the next 3 months, and at least just get it down to anxiety when actually driving, not anxiety about the possibility of driving.

      1. OP 2*

        To clarify, a driver’s license was not required or in the job description when I started this job, and there is zero need to drive for my core job. This project is a bit unusual in that I’m not doing my usual desk job for it. 80 percent of my job is one activity, and it is not travel based at all.

        But yes to the therapy. My first therapist helped SO MUCH. I am still implementing many of the strategies she taught me. Funnily enough, this summer has been really good for my confidence. We went on a road trip to a rural area, where I drove on the highway at 60+ and survived. I’ve also been driving more around town. I am getting better at it, but I am not at the point where I would be comfortable driving for work and with a senior manager sitting next to me! Normally a passenger is a source of comfort, but not in this case.

    7. LabTech*

      I’ve typically seen it worded “Must possess US [or employer’s country of origin] driver’s license,” which OP does meet the criteria for. In any case, it’s definitely worth re-reading your job description.

    8. Jennifer*

      The reason I’m in the industry I’m in is pretty much because I could not drive and this was the one big employer in town and most jobs here don’t have to travel.

  11. Carrie in Scotland*

    At first I thought OP 1 might’ve applied to see if she could get an answer of some sort from HR/manager of the last interview since they didn’t get back to her.

    Now I am thinking that whoever is screening (assuming it’s one person or two) should maybe have noticed the exact same resume but with a different name was used for 2 jobs very close together.

    1. Ruffingit*

      I’m thinking that they didn’t notice exact same resume because it may have been more than one person reviewing resumes. Also, it may be that they liked OP1’s resume and skills, but she just didn’t fit for the job for some other reason – personality, etc.

      1. Kasey Knowels*

        So if they found that something else (outside the skillset) was the issue, then he/she should be informed – so they can improve. There is nothing like constantly getting rejected and then not being told what the ~real~ reason was for it. You can’t fix what you don’t know about.

  12. Sowlost*

    OP #1 What the heck were you thinking? They decided to not move forward with you. Accept it gracefully and move you. You seem to be acting like pouty guy who keeps chasing inspite of a ‘thanks but thanks’ from a girl

  13. Dr. Johnny Fever*

    OP#3 – In current corporate culture, it’s not uncommon to have a leader or manager who is not on-site. It’s a little odd that your boss is in the building and can’t manage to visit your area more than once a year (how BIG is this building?) but not having someone by your side can happen.

    In these cases, you do have to grow some conflict resolution skills to negotiate with your coworkers in lieu of having your boss around to handle things for you. It’s not your job to manage your team or your coworker, yet you do way a need to reframe the issue for your manager to understand.

    I’d advise that you reflect on your difficult coworker and focus on the facts and results of her disruptions – don’t make the complaints about the whining, per se, but the effects of it – reduced productivity, missed quality, wasted work, etc. The personality style is problematic to your interactions, and probably reflects on the team’s overall quality, too. Stick to that.

    As for your absent manager, you cannot force change. If your manager continues to be hands off, ask her to define her expectations for all of you to accomplish your work when everyone is not on the same page, and what steps the team is empowered to make to resolve the issue without manager intervention when needed. All of you need firm guidelines on what your manager expects for work, goals, and team dynamics – these should be as objective as possible, not vague like “we’ll all get along!” or “team will manage issues”. Spell out steps, goals, consequences if needed. Look up information on working with globalized or virtual teams – your team may need to adapt some of these techniques even though your manager is technically on-site (in this huge TARDIS of an office building – seriously, no visits for a year? Wow.).

    1. Op here*

      lol Tardis! I was just watching Dr. Who last night.
      For clarification, the company is not large, under 30 employees. The manager is actually one of the owners who works part time. Because this employee had caused so many issues for all of us, we did all go in there and tell her about a year ago. It was stressful. We were all interviewed separately. She wrote up the problem employee (I think), then followed up a few weeks later with us (things were better because this girl knew she was on thin ice), but hasn’t asked since then. I had told her back then that without anyone correcting her behavior she would go back to her usual tactics, and she has. We ALL told her that we didn’t feel comfortable complaining so were hoping for more check-ins from her which didn’t happen. This company has a history of hands off managing. They had a problem in another department where a good employee was basically verbally abused and their response was “You all need to get along.” As far as asking her to define guidelines, expectations, etc.. I can’t possibly see that happening. She doesn’t even know what we all do out there. It’s manager in name only. What’s funny is I like working independently but I can totally see why proper management can be essential in many cases. I have tried managing her behavior myself by ever so slightly correcting her when she instigates conflict but since I’m not a manager she gets very defensive and attacks me personally, like a viper! She’s emotionally unstable not to mention paranoid, bossy, eavesdrops on all of our conversations, and constantly disrupts us throughout the workday. She’s always looking for blame to point the finger at someone (“as long as it’s not me!” she says!). I see all the problems she creates in her out of work interactions with people so this isn’t just at work. There is something going on with her because I’ve never seen anyone like this, and although I have sympathy for her, if she refuses to acknowledge that she is the problem (it’s always someone else), I don’t see how she will ever improve her social skills, which are sorely lacking (she drives people in other departments nuts too when she interacts with them.) In any case, I am job searching because I can’t focus on my job without all the chaos in the office. I had told the owners about 6 months ago that I was very unhappy there but they literally didn’t ask why, or try to fix it, or seem interested in the least. Apart from the drama, I’m tired of working hard with no recognition, when we all get the same raise every year (very small cost of living which I do appreciate but doesn’t exactly motivate you to work hard). Basically I disagree with the way the company is run and I can’t get past this.

        1. Op here*

          I know you’re right. I’m just trying to set realistic expectations for my next job I guess. I stayed at my last job way too long (10 + years). Things at this job are so out of hand that I need to accept that it’s not going to change, & I think I finally have done that. Bad management (or no management in this case) can really ruin not only productivity but employee morale as well, not to mention your mental health. The other girl I work with has high blood pressure, neck pain and pops anti-anxiety meds probably because of all the stress we deal with related to this coworker. I’m so stressed out I think I have hair loss from it, not to mention stomach problems, which of course increase when I have stressful interactions with this girl (I’m the only one in the office who dares to speak up to her). It’s awful. I’m ready to leave. I’m not being unrealistic by wanting a manager.

          1. Graciosa*

            No, you’re not being unrealistic by wanting a manager.

            I do think it is a little unrealistic to expect the manager to remain in your presence waiting for the problem employee to act up (or hoping that she won’t as long as you can keep the manager in the room). I know that I couldn’t function like that – I’m a boss, but not a babysitter. I strongly suspect that when the boss told you to let her know if there were any problems and heard nothing, she assumed it was fixed.

            This isn’t intended as a defense of any of the manager’s other behavior, but I mentioned it because if (hopefully when) you get a new position, this experience may skew your views of good management.

            It is perfectly normal for a manager to tell an employee, “I did [action] to get your issue addressed, but let me know if you have any more problems.” None of my employees have any difficulty coming back and telling me if the problem recurs.

            I realize that you’re in a difficult situation and don’t feel that way now, but you need to know that speaking up (not just once, but again when requested) is a normal expectation in the work environment. My reaction to finding out that this hadn’t happened (“Why didn’t you tell me?”) would be to wonder what was wrong with the employee who stayed silent.

            Good management involves a lot of trust. I need to trust my employees to tell me about problems promptly and truthfully (sometimes even when they caused them!) so I can help fix them. They need to trust me to react professionally and communicate honestly about what I can and can’t do. This is only a small aspect of the trust required in the relationship, but it does require the employee to take actions you’ve stated you won’t take. Even good managers are not omnipotent, and solving problems sometimes requires cooperation from the employees.

            This isn’t meant to criticize (I do understand your choice in this situation), but simply to make sure you understand the expectations of other (good) managers and can prepare to adapt in a new role when you’re out of your current environment.

            Good luck.

            1. Op3*

              Thank you for this. I will take this to heart going forward. I’ve never been in this kind of position before. I don’t expect managers to babysit but I do expect some minimal involvement in the office. At this point the empty chair next to me does as much managing as this person. It’s truly bizarre.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            You’re not unrealistic, but I think you need to start looking immediately. If this job is affecting your health, you need to get out and so does your coworker. It’s not going to change.

            1. Op3*

              Thank you both. I’m not the type to stay silent & have never had issues before confronting management with issues to resolve them. In fact I think a good relationship with your manager is crucial. If anything, I have been a little too vocal in the past. Manager knew this was a sensitive situation, knew we all felt uncomfortable with the tattle positions, was asked to be more involved or follow up and has done nothing. There are other issues due to lack of management but this is the most obvious. Thanks again. Time to move on.

          3. Stranger than fiction*

            Wow that’s horrible. In the interim, can you and the other coworkers that have issue with her have a meeting and come up with a strategy where you’re all shutting down her behavior the best you can? Sort of make a united front? Perhaps even work towards confronting her together? I mean what’s she gonna do tell on you guys? Unmanagement told y’all to handle it yourselves so don’t think they’ll care when you do.

            1. Op here*

              Well that would be an option for a reasonable person. This person is not reasonable unfortunately. I can’t even imagine what would happen if we did that. I honestly don’t know if she’d start shaking and crying or lash out at each one of us individually (I think the latter.) Even if she did take it well, the only time she seems to hold it together and act in a way that we can handle is when she thinks she’s going to get in trouble. The first couple of weeks (heck, even a month or two after) after she was reprimanded were heavenly. No drama, quiet, no arguments, no butting into other people’s business, etc… However, the drama and distractions slowly kept increasing as time went on, which I told the manager would happen. So if we did this, and it went well, she’d go right back to square one since she’s just not a person who should be working independently without supervision or that threat of being reprimanded over her head. I thought even a cardboard cutout of the manager out there would help lol. I know she has a reputation of destroying people’s lives (if you work at a company in customer service (utility, phone, etc…) you don’t want her calling in to complain. She”ll ask for your supervisor, your id number and then try to get you fired.) She is trouble on two legs everywhere she goes. I’d love to meet her past co-workers. Sorry to diagnose but she has a serious personality disorder. Thanks for the idea though.

      1. Beebs*

        I was once in a situation sort of like this. Except the manager was there and just refused to manage. When I got attacked Viper style while traveling to a client site with her causing me to be a completely distracted and dangerous driver, I drove back to the office and packed my bags. Luckily I had been aggressively job searching and an offer was in the pipe. But yeah, I think the coworker had some sort of cognitive issue, because she just wasn’t getting it, despite attempts at resolving the various conflicts and what-not. I still have bad job PTSD from this, but it does get better!

        1. Op here*

          Well I can understand the PTSD. Honestly you can’t make this stuff up. Unless someone has interacted with a person like this, there is no understanding it. It’s absolute insanity interacting with them. I can see the way she thinks is even twisted. It’s so bizarre. I’ll bet that coworker caused a lot of problems after you left too. Glad you’re doing better! Thanks for sharing.

  14. Bluecar*

    #2–Agree 100% that this is a *medical* condition. You really DON’T have to go into detail about it (even if your boss is truly concerned at that point and asks if everything is ok). Your boss may/may not require a doctor’s note but if that is what is needed I believe the MD does not have to say anything at all except that a) you are under his/her care and b) you are medically unable to drive, which can be accomplished in one short sentence on professional letterhead followed by 16 different credentials. Good luck.

    1. JHS*

      This is inaccurate. If the OP is requesting a reasonable accommodation under the ADA, the employer can request information documenting why the accommodation is needed and whether the accommodation is reasonable. Plus in this case it isn’t actually true that OP is medically unable to drive. If OP presented such a medical note to her employer, it would be a lie and the employer could terminate her. All the employer would need to do would be to see her driving around town locally and would see the problem. OP needs to be specific and if she has a true medical reason for not driving on these trips, the medical documentation needs to account for that.

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        I would think that anxiety is a counted as a genuine bona-fide medical condition, and last time I needed a sick note all it said was “post op recovery ” managers don’t need the full medical details to make an informed decision about a request for accommodation.

        1. fposte*

          In the U.S., a doctor’s note could be required for not going in to work at all without triggering the ADA. But once you start claiming that your medical condition means you can’t do tasks your job us asking you to do, there’s not much middle ground between a conversation with your manager and the ADA. There’s no legal swath where the law gives a doctor’s note authority for not driving without getting into the ADA.

          I think a doctor’s note is a bad place to start anyway. It immediately sets up the situation as defensive rather than a conversation between reasonable adults about getting this done.

          1. Apollo Warbucks*

            How much detail do you need to disclose about a medical condition to ask for accommodation? I’ve not seen a lot sick notes, but they are all fairly bland and don’t contain a lot of detail. Would a note saying “Apollo can not drive long distances” be OK or would it need to say “Apollo suffers from anxiety and is not able to drive long distances”

            But in this case I agree that the OP should talk to their boss first as there could be an easy solution to the problem without needing to ask for accommodation.

            1. JHS*

              Well you are supposed to start with an informal dialogue about what type of accommodations you need and why to see if you can work things out. So you have to give enough information (and documentation where requested) for the employer to be able to determine that you (1) have a qualifying disability under the ADA, that (2) you can do your job with or without reasonable accommodations, that (3) the accommodation you want is reasonable in that it actually allows you to do your job as required and (4) that the accommodation does not cause the employer an undue burden.

            2. fposte*

              It’s not cut and dried (to put it mildly). If the disability and the need for accommodation are “obvious,” the employer can’t ask for medical validation. When they’re not “obvious,” the employer can. Validation is generally the specific disability and the limitations it involves, so if an employer is asking for validation, “Apollo cannot drive long distances” isn’t going to cut it.

              But the employer always free to accept a proposed accommodation (“Sure, you don’t have to drive,” or “Sure, you can sit down during the retail workday”) without ever getting into the legalities or doctor’s note. Similarly, the employer can determine that what’s being asked for isn’t a reasonable accommodation (this is a rural caseworker position and there’s no reasonable accommodation if you can’t drive) without needing to confirm the validity of the disability–the validity and the ability to accommodate can be two very different things.

              It’s also not cut and dried what’s actually covered under the ADA–the only thing that’s guaranteed in advance to be covered is HIV. The ADAAA broadened the definition substantially but still didn’t “pre-approve” named conditions. So a company can contend that this anxiety can’t be that great if you’re driving NASCAR on the weekend and then fire you for not driving for them, doctor’s note or no. That doesn’t guarantee that the employee couldn’t prevail in a complaint–there are never any guarantees there–but most of the time these situations don’t get to an official complaint; it’s mostly just employees and employers hashing them out in the moment.

              1. Alma*

                OP #2, I agree with fposte about going the “medical condition” route.

                I specialize in living in small towns, some more than 2 hrs from the airport. (Counties with maybe 100,000 people in them.) In every town there has been an “airport shuttle” company, or one in a nearby town that will stop in your area. In a town that is used to public transportation, I would expect there are many people who don’t want to drive to the airport at any hour who would use this service.

                My thing is that I don’t want to leave my car in the airport parking lot. I also prefer the convenience of curbside delivery, which includes not having to haul my suitcase or presentation displays or whatever I am carrying with me to the terminal. The shuttle (sometimes it is more like a car service) even takes everything out of the trunk.

                A start might be contacting the service desk at the airport (not necessarily a particular airline, but where people stop if they need directions, or need to know what food establishments are after the security check). They would be able to give you names of companies in your area, I’m thinking. Check online for ratings, comments, etc.

                If you are going to do this frequently, you might get the same driver and will be treated well by him/her if you treat them well.

                This should be expensable – if not, (in the US) save your receipts for non-reimbursed business travel expense for your taxes.

  15. AT*

    Y’know, I’m inclined to think that OP#1 might not actually be that far-out or unthinkable. The letter doesn’t say that they reapplied hoping for another shot at a job. I’d bet my bottom dollar that after not hearing back but seeing a job ad still listed, they sent in the alias application just to sort of…give them a poke and see what they’d say…most likely wondering whether the position really /had/ been filled, or whether they were just rejecting OP#1 with that excuse…expecting a reply of “no thanks, we’ve hired someone already” or “no thanks, you’re not the right fit.” A bit daft and obviously not terribly well-thought-out, but hardly an intentional deception or a cunning plot for another shot at the job. I’m sure we’ve all wanted to just…poke something…in that way plenty of times – like whispering “dinnertime” to see if your Labrador is awake, even though it’s not actually dinnertime and you’re not planning on feeding him. (Hint: he is now, and he demands to be fed.)

    Now it’s taken an unexpected twist, and they’re having an “ah. That was daft. Ohhhhh buggerbuggerbuggerbuggerbuggerwhatdoIdo?!” moment.

    1. Claire (Scotland)*

      OP 1 says they applied for another job in the same department, not that they reapplied for the job they were rejected for under a new name.

      1. UKAnon*

        Actually, it sounds like they re-applied for the same job *and then* applied for a second job and (because they forgot?) it went through under the alias as well.

        1. fposte*

          I think it depends on what it means to make a profile in the application system. If it’s possible to do that without applying for a specific job, the second job is the only one the OP actively applied for under the fake name.

    2. Myrin*

      Adding to what Claire said, the OP also says that she found out the position has been filled and only later applied with the alias!resume.

    3. Charityb*

      That’s exactly what I think. I don’t think that they expected to actually get a call back; I think it was just a “Hail Mary”/what the hell type of application and they are genuinely thrown by the fact that they got a call back.

  16. Ann Furthermore*

    #2: I do sympathize, as I really hate driving in unfamiliar places. But I travel a fair amount for work, and sometimes there’s no way around it. The only time I’d ever put my foot down is when I go to the UK (where I am now) because I could not handle driving on the other side of the road — especially not anywhere in or around London. From what I understand even people who live in London hate to drive there.

    Sure, you could say any of the things to your boss that have already been suggested, and there’s a good chance that will work. But driving is a life skill. By that I don’t mean that everyone has to have a car and has to drive every day. As I’ve been in the UK for the week I’ve been able to use the tube and the trains, and I love not having to deal with traffic and parking, and wish that there were better public transportation options where I live. But just about everyone needs to know how to drive, even if 99% of the time they use another means of getting around.

    When I came to the UK for the first time (or first time since I was a kid) I had really stressed myself out about navigating the London Underground, how I would figure out which train to take, and so on. But I went to the station, found where to buy tickets and and Oyster card, asked a few questions, and got the lay of the land. And yeah, I’ve gone the wrong direction on the tube a few times, and I check the platform number for the train about 6 times before I finally board, but I muddled through. And now, should I ever go to another new city, figuring out that public transportation system will be easier.

    My advice to any of my friends in this situation would be of the tough love variety — you need to figure out a way to not let anxiety about driving dictate your life. By that I mean that you should start just driving more, bit by bit. Start with going to a grocery store across town, taking a longer route home, setting up a lunch date with a friend where you need to drive to meet up, and so on. Try driving to work one day a week (if parking for the day won’t put you in the poor house), maybe on a Friday when there tends to be less traffic since more people use PTO. Just spending more time in the car will make it more familiar to you and less intimidating. Driving in a new, unfamiliar place can be a challenge even for the most seasoned driver. But program instructions into your phone before you go anywhere, and you’ll be able to focus and you’ll know what’s coming up (left turn, right turn, freeway exit, etc).

    1. Katie the Fed*

      “you need to figure out a way to not let anxiety about driving dictate your life.”

      I wonder if you realize how dismissive and inappropriate that advice is for someone with an anxiety disorder? You’re minimizing the severity of the disorder and your advice is unhelpful. If it was as easy as just getting over it, she wouldn’t be in this position. She’s already worked hard to get to a point where she can drive a little bit.

      This is akin to telling depressed people to just look on the bright side and cheer up already. These are complex disorders. Would you tell a cancer patient to stop being so sick?

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        I’m not telling her to just suck it up and deal with it, I’m suggesting that she continue what she’s done so far by desensitizing herself to it bit by bit. One thing I do know is that when you’re anxious about something, it’s really easy to worry, and worry, and worry about it until it seems so overwhelming that there’s not even any point in trying to address it. I’ve done that plenty of times myself — not with driving, but with other things. And I’ve found that taking itty, bitty, tiny steps (like driving to a grocery store another mile away) are a huge accomplishment, and give you the confidence to try another, and another, and another. That’s all I’m suggesting.

        1. cardiganed librarian*

          I used to be very, very scared of driving. Then I got a job in a building located 10km from any housing and public transportation, in a city where snow makes winter cycling pretty difficult. I’m a librarian so you don’t just turn jobs down. So I bought a car and the first time I drove, I could hardly see to drive through the tears. I really, really was scared. It’s now four months later and I went to a town 1.5 hours away last weekend, just for fun.

          I am not saying that if I did it, everyone can. But I do think there should be a way to both recognize that anxiety is a real medical condition without holding that sufferers cannot take steps to help themselves.

          1. Bagworm*

            I think it’s scarier to learn to drive as an adult. Most teenagers have some sense of invincibility and probably have less experience with car accidents so they’re not as afraid. (Of course that can have it’s own problems so I think it’s good for places to have graduated licenses for young adults.)

          2. Ann Furthermore*

            Good for you! What a great sense of accomplishment you must feel! And you expressed the sentiment much better than I did about anxiety. And you were smart to start the driving when the weather was nicer!

            As Katie said, no, I wouldn’t tell a cancer patient to just feel better. But I would, say, tell someone recuperating from an injury that they need to do the exercises prescribed by their physical therapist.

            1. Tara*

              But you’re not a psychologist, so why do you think that your advice is akin to that of a physical therapist?

              My therapist flat out told me that I shouldn’t push myself to take elevators more often, because it’s likely to elevate my severe discomfort to the level of phobia if I do it more frequently. Pushing your armchair psychology onto people is not helpful.

          3. bicyclist ped*

            Similar situation–used to be very, very scared of driving. I still find it stressful, but can do it without fear, no problem. Honestly, feeling scared in unfamiliar areas is incredible useful–I’m an inexperienced driver and need to take it seriously and stay focused on the task. Extreme anxiety, though, is of course quite dangerous. I also have had the experience of being so scared I was crying, and you really can’t have tears distracting you when you’re inexperienced.

            I agree: OP needs to say she can not do this now. But I want to give some hope that she may be able to in the future. It’s scary, but she isn’t alone.

      2. some1*

        I also think there’s a lack of awareness for people who have always drove and had access to a car what it means to set yourself up as an adult to get around by public transport. It means choosing certain housing, jobs, doctors, dentists. It means carefully planning every errand and get-together that almost always takes longer than a car trip would. Why would anyone subject themselves to that inconvenience if it was just a matter of willpower?

        1. fposte*

          While I think Ann phrases it dismissively, I think she has a point about it not treating it as immutable. That doesn’t mean willpower is enough to get over it, but, as Alison suggests, CBT, nervous driver courses, etc., are all ways that this could be modified.

          That doesn’t mean the OP *has* to do those. And it may not overall make any difference to her job–there are plenty of them where driving isn’t integral, and it sounds like it hasn’t come up before for hers so it could well be the case.

          But for people who are in jobs where a phobia makes a key aspect difficult, I think it’s worth making a point that they can often be helped and changed enough to make the job possible, especially if you get some professional assistance and *don’t* just rely on willpower. As I’ve mentioned, I had a terrible flying phobia, and I couldn’t have had my career without flying. So I’m not just telling people to suck it up because I don’t know what it’s like.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          I think the level of inconvenience depends on where you are. In a large and dense city such as London (or NYC), driving can be more difficult than just taking the bus/tube/train. Streets are crammed and traffic is slow or downright terrifying. Parking can cost more than rent, or there is no space. Many residents don’t drive because they don’t have to. A city where most people drive, like St. Louis (or here), often lacks transport in certain areas or at certain times and you’re pretty much stuck either driving or putting up with it.

      3. INFJ*

        I don’t think that was the intent, as some constructive advice was given on how to help mitigate the anxiety.

      4. MashaKasha*

        I agree with you. My mom has this. She learned to drive, passed the test, got the license, and then realized that she couldn’t get behind the wheel without getting physically sick. We’d like mom to drive, but not at the expense of her health. Plus what if she passes out while driving? She told us it was that bad.

        Ideally, we should work on being a less car-centric society. I came from a country where my family and I couldn’t afford a car, didn’t have a car, and never ever needed one because the public transportation was so awesome across the board. Here, if you don’t live in NYC, you’re out of luck.

        1. Phobia Field*

          Yes, I agree with this. I went the other way. Lived in a car-centric place and learned how to drive, even offering to drive other people everywhere because I liked it so much. Then I moved to a place with excellent public transportation and walkability, didn’t drive for close to a decade. When I got back behind the wheel, I got my bearings back pretty quickly. I’m comfortable driving and all. But I hate it now that I know what the car-free life is like in other places.

      5. Chloe*

        Well said, Katie.

        Also, I want to add that I disagree with “But driving is a life skill.” I’m doing just fine without it! Sure, it gets hard sometimes, but learning to find solutions and ways around a situation that gives me intense anxiety is truly a life skill (in my opinion).

        1. MashaKasha*

          It really depends on where you live. I pretty much forced my older son to learn to drive and get a license even though he didn’t really care to do so, because, where we live, it *is* a life skill. Came in handy when he got a summer internship 45 miles from our home, and again when he moved across country for his new job, to a place where driving also is a life skill. He drove from our city to his new one with the car packed to the brim with his stuff. It would’ve been $2000+ to ship all of that to his new location. So it really depends on the situation. It appears though, that OP2 is doing just fine without it, so it’s not a life skill to her.

          1. Chloe*

            Totally get that- I should have clarified that my disagreement with the statement was the blanket assumption that it’s a life skill for *everyone.*

      6. Renee*

        I do have an anxiety disorder (generalized) and I was similarly afraid of driving. However, I was getting a divorce and I had to work and I live in a city where one is expected to drive. It was not easy and I had a lot of help, some pharma and some CBT. I don’t think it’s wrong to say that someone needs to figure out a way to not let anxiety dictate their life. The way to do that may be more involved than for most, but the other side of that for some of us is never going outside. Now that I’m mostly through to the other side on the driving thing (I still get anxious sometimes) the sense of freedom from being able to drive wherever I want, instead of relying on rides or public transportation, is very rewarding.

    2. Non-driver*

      Not everyone needs to know how to drive. As you say no-one drives to work in London! No-one in my immediate family has ever held a driving license and we get around just fine.

    3. Jennifer*

      Even though some folks think this is dismissive, as someone who had a driving phobia and go over it…I don’t think she’s wrong. At the very least, slowly building up driving practice in a home area would probably really help the OP. I say that as someone who did the same thing.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        Yeah, that’s all I’m saying. And when I say I’d tell a friend that she needed to figure out a way for this thing not to control her life, or to be unsympathetic, but because whatever was causing the anxiety was to the point of it affecting her ability to do her job, and potentially her career. So at that point it might be time to seek out additional options.

      2. Renee*

        And as someone with a diagnosed anxiety disorder that worked through it to become comfortable driving, I agree. It’s awful to be controlled by your anxiety and very empowering when you’re able to work through it and accomplish something you never thought you would.

  17. KarenT*


    There may be some ways to minimize driving on your end, OP. If your boss or coworkers are on the trip as well, if you feel comfortable you could disclose your situation and ask them to drive. Most reasonable people would be fine with this.
    Also, some hotels may have airport shuttles or metro systems that could get you around. Perhaps you could take an airport shuttle to your hotel and taxis to your meetings? Availability/practicality will of course vary by location but may be worth investigating.

  18. Koko*

    #2, I apologize if you’ve already tried/considered this, but in case you haven’t – have you told a doctor about this?

    Under Obamacare insurance a well-visit/healthy-person physical is free with no copay, so if you don’t have a doctor, find one and go in for a healthy-person physical. While there, explain to your doctor that you’ve always had this anxiety about driving. They may be able to prescribe you a low-dose xanax that will calm your nerves and may help you be able to reclaim this part of your life. (And I’m pre-emptively heading off the people who may say you shouldn’t drive under the influence of xanax – the standard medical professional advice is that you shouldn’t drive on xanax until you know how it affects you. Some people do get unusually sleepy on it, but for the vast majority of people, a 0.5mg dose is enough to calm anxiety without sedating. You’d just want to take it a few times before driving on it.)

    1. Insurance Kid*

      FYI – Bringing up this anxiety during your annual exam may prompt your physician to bill a code that is not considered “preventive” and you will end up paying your general office visit liability.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Yeah, good call — I’ve had that experience! The visit was still covered, but I had to pay for a test that was run in response to something specific.

      2. Koko*

        Interesting – I had my GP prescribe me antidepressants last year during an annual check-up and there was no cost billed. There were no additional tests run, he just wrote a prescription.

    2. Renee*

      I can drive on it. At the time I started driving though, I was on beta blockers for something else (Graves) and they did wonders for my anxiety. Later my therapist told me that she prescribes beta blockers all the time for situational anxiety.

  19. Hannah*

    #2 I feel for you! I didn’t drive at all or have my license until I was 24. The first time I was asked to travel for work, all I could do was blurt out that I didn’t drive and I wouldn’t be able to rent a car and drive myself to wherever I needed to go. I thought it would be a huge problem but thankfully it was totally dismissed because they hired a car service to take me from airport to hotel and back! It was such a relief. If you were traveling alone I would just look into transportation options and clear the cost with your boss. Since your boss will be there, there is seriously no shame in saying you don’t want to be the one to drive.

    It is not weird at all to not drive if you live in a large city and can take public transportation. It’s not like you’re a shut in. I’m sure some other commenters just can’t picture that lifestyle if they’re from places where you have to drive to get anywhere.

    The only thing that helped me was to pay a driving instructor to give me lessons. With people I knew, I would cry and quit 5 minutes in, but with a stranger, to whom I was paying good money, I managed to keep it together for 1 hour stretches until eventually my confidence grew. Getting my own car helped too, because I chose something with good visibility, and I can relax more in my own car than a borrowed car.

    1. Jennifer*

      Wow, that was so nice of them to hire a car service and not give you crap about it! I’m really impressed.

    2. Ellen*

      I second the driving lesson advice. My parents are both good drivers and good teachers, but I just felt so. anxious. learning to drive with them. I ended up doing in-car drivers’ ed through my high school, with a teacher who’d been teaching the course for years. He had lots of good tips and specific guidelines to follow, and it wasn’t nearly as emotionally loaded for me as learning with my folks. Honestly, I was surprised at the difference it made (I sort of thought, “well, driving is tense for me and that’s it”), but the before and after difference was like night and day. Professional driving guidance (as well as professional mental health guidance) might be really helpful for you, #2.

      1. Tara*

        Although both are bank-breakingly expensive. (Professional mental health guidance being less so, if you have decent insurance.)

        1. OP 2*

          And I have used both! You are right, both the professional instruction and the therapist were very very helpful and worth the $$$.

  20. Erin*

    #1 – This is so bizarre, I almost feel like I can’t comment without knowing what you were hoping to accomplish with this. And I say that with no degree of judgement – literal question, what was the outcome you were expecting? I think the answer of if you should go to the interview or not depends on that.

    If the outcome you were hoping to get from this was to just get your foot back in the door no matter what, and maybe try to wow them while you’re there, then now you have a shot at that. It was only your name you changed, right, the rest of the resume was the same? Then it is plausible – although weird – that you go by two different names and you can use that angle.

    If you were just trying to see if they were ignoring you or not, or still hiring or not, by pretending to be someone else, then you have your answer, and you don’t really need to go on this interview.

    1. Kai*


      I once made a completely new profile on an employment site because my first application had been rejected by the system as soon as I sent it through, and I wanted that job so badly I was willing to redo everything just for a shot. But, like, I used my real name! So I definitely get the impulse to go “well, maybe THIS will work,” but I suspect the OP just didn’t think through the part where they might actually get an interview and have to go talk to these people in person.

  21. grasshopper*

    #4 Consider the week or two between jobs like an unpaid vacation! No one will consider it a gap in your CV if you take a few weeks between jobs. Of course, this assumes that you can afford to miss a paycheque or two.

  22. MashaKasha*

    #4, IMO a lot of the places would be happy to have a new hire start earlier rather than later. In my experience, a new hire would either replace someone that left, or they’d be added to the team because the workload has increased. In both cases, the employer needs new people on board asap. But since they know they can’t demand them to start asap, they ask when the person can start. I’d go with Allison’s wording and definitely ask them this question.

    1. The IT Manager*

      I agree in that you can offer to start earlier without any issue like them reconsidering your employment because you were “fired” after giving notice. (That’s not really being fired) But I don’t recommend it.

      If the reason only reason you don’t want to take the 4 weeks off is because you would go insane without work, well, I find that odder than not being comfortable driving. I’m not saying you have to party or sleep those four weeks away, but isn’t there things you could do during this time for you. I’d love a month off to read, play tourist in my town, exercise daily, cook and stock up the freezer, clean and organize the house. There are so many things I don’t get to on the weekends. It’s a great chance to catch up on personal stuff and de-stressing from work so you go into the new job fresh and energized.

      1. MashaKasha*

        Am I the only one here who cannot just up and miss a paycheck or two? That’d be my main reason. I really wouldn’t be able to do anything during that time other than sleep, go on long walks, and do yardwork, because I’d be watching every penny.

        Another reason would be just me doing the new place a favor. Here they are, obviously in need of a new hire to start the sooner the better, and here I am, doing yardwork.

        1. Anon the Great and Powerful*

          You’re not the only one. If I missed two paycheques, I would be living on the street, not having a super-fun unpaid vacation.

          1. steve g*

            Tiz may be true but also some time this summer there was a discussion similar to this where many people commented that they dont like vacations because they don’t have money to “do anything” during them or they don’t want to be home or they live someplace boring, etc…but…we’re all (hopefully) going to retire some day, and with the economy, it may be earlier than expected – so if the reason is just “I don’t want the time off”…its prob time to find ways to fill your time now rather than wait til retirement or a layoff comes, and then everyday seems like a big empty whole.

            Not playing d’advocate, referring back to that sentiment in the comments in late auguust

            1. MashaKasha*

              My reason probably would’ve been just doing a nice thing for my new employer that won’t cost me anything other than a frugal staycation. I’d feel pretty bad if I hadn’t said anything and then on my first day of work they’d be, “Oh thank GOD you’re here! We’ve been slammed!” and I just spent a month twiddling my thumbs at home.

              I like vacations. Give me a long vacation *with pay* and I’ll find what to do with it. However, my finances are pretty stretched right now. Probably won’t be the case after kid#2 is done with college and possibly grad school. But right now, it is what it is.

            2. Unknowing Workaholic*

              I agree with your overall theme, but I’m blessed with more free time than I need (young, no kids, working wife, small apartment). Our life is pretty fulfilling: weekend for chores, entertainment and hobbies, enough time in the mornings and evenings for cooking and talking and walking the dog. I am able to fill free time, but it’s by playing games or binge watching TV, things that don’t make me feel better – and my job makes me feel that way.

              1. Phobia Field*

                Interesting… I’m in a similar position (young, no kids, no relationship/marriage, small apartment) and I don’t have enough free time lol. I’m only in the office 9, maybe 10 hours a day but there is not nearly enough time for me to do everything else I’m interested in!

      2. Cat*

        If the reason only reason you don’t want to take the 4 weeks off is because you would go insane without work, well, I find that odder than not being comfortable driving.

        That’s kind of mean, no?

      3. Unknowing Workaholic*

        OP for #4 here. I contacted my company they were happy to move up my start date by two weeks. And I still get two weeks of funemployment which is more than enough for to me.

        About the reason I want to move up the start date… I like being paid, but I have enough savings to survive one month. If I was able to plan a trip or something, perhaps I could enjoy the surprise vacation but… I did the 4 weeks staycation once (accumulated vacation time that I had to take). In spite of my best intentions about going to the gym everyday, improving my bass skills and finishing all the books in my to-read list, all I did was watch TV, play videogames and annoy my wife about how I missed feeling useful as she was getting ready to work – something that she didn’t find very amusing. I guess I may be a workaholic.

  23. Lee*

    OP #2…fear of driving is an actual phobia..i think called vehophobia (there was a movie called “penny dreadful” circa 2006ish about this very fear).
    I would think you could simply explain you have a phobia of driving vehicles (and there are so many statistics about car wrecks, deaths/injury from your cars/another car, etc) that driving an unfamiliar car in an unfamiliar city would make your fear go into overdrive (no pun intended!).
    Also, I believe some phobias can be listed as disability, so there might be a argument for that as well.

    But really, I would just use uber/taxis/public transport in an unfamiliar city and have the company pay for it IF there making far away locations a necessity.

  24. SystemsLady*

    #1 – Plenty are commenting on what a strange decision this was on the OP’s part, and it definitely is (cancel that interview and put your efforts somewhere else), but I want to add that it really sucks when employers do this to people!

    Not the “they liked me then didn’t hire me” thing, of course (OP, you just will have to get used to that – they are able to like multiple candidates), but that it sounds like they didn’t even bother sending a form rejection email after three rounds of interviews!

    1. Koko*

      It’s possible he hasn’t been rejected, yet, though. A lot of companies won’t send a rejection email until they have filled the position and someone has accepted their offer. If they’re still interviewing candidates, the position is still open, and he may still be a contender but they haven’t made a decision yet.

      1. Myrin*

        Well, given that the OP herself says “Later I learned that the position has been filled.”, I think we can be pretty sure that, well, the position has been filled.

        1. Koko*

          Ah, you’re right, I completely misread the letter! I thought he has applied to the same job under a new name, not a new job.

    2. Kasey Knowels*

      That’s what it sounded like to me. Weird that they could not take time to send rejection letter but then still consider the resume (with a new name).

  25. Juice Maker*

    #1. What is it with some people out there? Once you apply for a job or interview, it’s out of sight and out mind until you hear otherwise. If you get a rejection, it really is a rejection. They don’t want you. Move on. I certainly wouldn’t want anyone working for me who had this kind of psyche. This is one of those cases where persistence doesn’t payoff. It’s just creepy.

    1. fposte*

      Agreed on principle, but this isn’t for the same job; that’s what makes it perplexing, because it’s fine to apply for a different job at the place that didn’t hire you the first time. I’m wondering if OP said something regrettable in one of those followup calls and was trying to dissociate the new application from those communications.

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, this whole thing is just strange all around. As you say, nothing speaks against applying at one and the same place for a second time (especially as the OP didn’t send 20 resumes to all open positions but simply a second one even in the same department, so it’s not like she would be marked as one of these serial appliers people sometimes talk about here, who just send resumes willy-nilly to every open position).

        I was thinking about the “regrettable” thing as well but honestly, she reacted to not hearing back from the company (which is super rude, absolutely, but not unusual, as we can see by the fact that the topic comes up here at least twice a week) by “trying to reach HR, the team, and everyone” and then promptly creating a second online profile which she later used to apply for a second job in that company, all of which makes me think that she might just – to put it mildly – be too persistent, too focused on this particular company, and too invested in a job with them.

        1. Allison*

          Exactly. You can apply again for a similar position if you want, but trying to contact ALL the people about working there and creating a whole second persona to trick them into considering you is a bit much. If someone did that with us, even if they were legitimately a good fit for a job with us, we’d be seriously turned off by the fact that they used a fake identity to get in the door, and wonder what other strange, questionable stuff they might do while working for us. We simply wouldn’t find them trustworthy.

  26. Coffee Ninja*

    OP #2, Alison’s advice is spot on. Although I have to wonder – you mention the boss is traveling as well, she might automatically do the driving? I’ve never been on a business trip where the senior person didn’t rent the car and do the driving. Hopefully it will become a non-issue.

    No matter what you tell your boss, the cognitive behavioral therapy is an excellent idea. I’m a therapist, and recently finished working with a client who had severe driving anxiety. I don’t think they will be making a cross-country trip anytime soon, but they are functioning much better in daily life. CBT can be very effective. I know (on a personal level) how debilitating anxiety can be. Best of luck to you!

  27. Chriama*

    OP#1: Just go silent. Don’t respond to anymore emails or phone calls. Hopefully they’ll write your fake persona off as a flaky candidate. I would recommend you then apply for the new job under your real name, but given that it hasn’t been very long since you applied with the fake name you risk someone connecting the 2 identities and drawing some unfavourable conclusions (e.g. one – or both – of you faked your resume). I think you should put this company on the back burner for the next few months and lie low until the fake persona has been wiped from everyone’s mind.

  28. Mimmy*

    #5 – Is medical “scribe” like a transcriptionist? I didn’t know those still existed! I considered getting into this years ago.

    I’ll be curious to hear what others have to say about the training. I don’t think paid training is that common anymore, unfortunately. Good idea to check with Labor department.

    1. Elsajeni*

      Unfortunately, “medical transcriptionist” has joined “mystery shopper” in the category of common scam jobs, where a company will claim to have great jobs available, require you to pay for a training course/buy their specialized software/etc. before you can start working, then disappear with your money. There are legitimate transcriptionist jobs and training programs out there, but there are also a lot of bogus ones, and it sounds from the OP’s comment above like this may have turned out to be one of those.

      1. OP #5*

        Yeah, I was never required to pay for anything out of my own pocket, but they did waste a whole lot of my time. I wouldn’t call it a scam per se, but the company tries really hard to sell pre-med college students on how valuable the experience will be on a med school application, as if that makes up for the low wage and general disrespect for employees. The experience might be worth it as a part-time gig if you’re still in college, but definitely not otherwise.

  29. LAI*

    #2 – I don’t think this is as big of a deal as you think it is. I think you should just tell your boss your situation and ask if she can do the driving. I have a couple of good friends who don’t drive and I’ve never thought that it was anxiety or a serious issue – they just prefer not driving, the same way that some people prefer not taking public transportation. I’d just go to your boss and say something like: “I was thinking about these upcoming trips and I was wondering if you would be willing to do the driving? I don’t drive a lot and I don’t think I would be comfortable driving someone else for such a long trip.” If I heard that from a coworker, I would think that’s perfectly reasonable. If your boss seems shocked or questions it, just stay calm and matter-of-fact, and don’t get embarrassed. You can say something like “yeah, I’ve never found the need to drive a lot”, or “yeah, I usually prefer taking public transportation when I can”.

    1. Lily Rowan*

      Yes, that’s basically what I’ve done, and in both recent cases, the senior person has decided that taking cabs/Uber was easier and faster for everyone. Even if there are follow up questions, your attitude can make it no big deal. (Easier said than done when anxiety is the issue, I realize!)

  30. rPM*

    OP#2, another poster with deep anxieties about driving here (wow, there are a lot of us!)… I completely sympathize with your anxiety and embarrassment. But having an anxiety issue doesn’t make you childish, and doesn’t need to be embarrassing at all. As a longer term strategy, I’d suggest working with a trusted friend or therapist on overcoming your anxiety about disclosing the problem. Learning to tell people in a flat, straightforward way that I get anxious in cars and can’t drive (or ride as a passenger!) long distances has made it much easier to deal with this type of situation, instead of trying to dance around the issue while my face gets redder and redder and the anxiety starts to flare up just from discussing it.

    Short term, because your manager is coming on the trip with you and you can’t just quietly hire a driver on your own dime or something, I don’t see any way around one of the following:
    – Tell her some version of the truth that you can’t drive long distances
    – Tell her you can’t go on this trip for some reason
    – Tell her you can’t work on this project for some reason
    – Quit your job

    But none of the last three options is going to resolve this situation long term. Avoiding this trip, project, or job doesn’t guarantee that you won’t run into the same problem on the next trip, project, or job. And they’re also pretty drastic measures to avoid one difficult conversation.

    So I think your best bet is to talk to your manager, even though it feels really hard. While I think this conversation would be best to have in person, if you can’t bring yourself to do that then try emailing her instead. If do talk to her in person and you think your embarrassment will be obvious (red face, shaky voice / hands, crying, etc) you could try acknowledging that up front, but otherwise stick to the most basic version of the facts: “Hey boss, I’m really excited about Project X! This is actually a little embarrassing for me, but before we go, I wanted to ask about the driving situation. I can’t drive long distances; would you be able to do the driving?”

    You could try heading off additional questions by including a vague reason for not being able to drive, like “… due to personal reasons” or “because of a medical condition” but people who want to pry will still pry, so my last piece of advice is to practice saying things like “I’d prefer to not get into the details.” or “I’m actually not really comfortable talking about it.” At this stage you could also add, “I’m happy to bring a note from my doctor if you need it, though.”

    Best of luck!

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Yeah, I think “I’m just not comfortable driving long distances/in unfamiliar places” will really be fine, unless the manager is a total dick. Which they might be! But most people aren’t.

  31. Macedon*

    #1. Cut ties, do not reply, do not engage. Hope you don’t get caught. There is no way for you to secure this role right now. You filtered yourself out of it by pursuing it in this manner.

    Sorry if this is brutal – I’m just getting the sense that you are very intent on a job with this particular company and that you might be tempted to try to make this work just because you’ve been wanting it so badly. You won’t be able to salvage this. Give it time and reapply with them under your genuine name with a completely re-written resume (so there’s no way they somehow recall having encountered the exact same wording before; be warned that they might still remember the sequence of jobs someone’s held, particularly if they’re especially interesting or prestigious).

    #2. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about concerning your inability to drive. It’s a phobia. Please don’t add guilt to an already crippling anxiety. I’d honestly just tell your boss, “Hey, I wanted to thank you for this opportunity, which is exactly what I would like to pursue, moving forward. Unfortunately, I’ve been struggling with driving anxiety for the past few years – I’ve been getting it slowly under control through medical care, but I’m afraid I’m still not at a level where I could comfortably drive X distance under Y conditions. I realise this might raise some difficulties for my involvement with this project. Is there any way for me to exclude or at least minimize driving trips?” Or something significantly better articulated along those lines.

  32. JJ*

    OP #2: I have lingering issues with driving PTSD due to an incident that happened years ago, so I completely understand your anxiety. My issues are still significant enough to impact my business trip-related driving decisions somewhat, but I can offer the following suggestions.

    1) Have you thought about framing your request to not drive as a safety issue? As a woman, I legitimately just would not feel safe driving long distances by myself through areas that are completely unfamiliar to me. If it was an area I’ve been to before, having potential car trouble wouldn’t be a big deal because I’d have some sense of where to go and what my options/resources are…but in unfamiliar areas, that can be terrifying. You might try to see if you could carpool with anyone else taking the same trip (I don’t know if you could suggest that this not be a solo trip and ask to bring someone without that coming across as “pushy” or “entitled”). At the very least, being with someone else the first time you go somewhere may make it easier for you to go solo if you have to go back.

    2) Have you been able to gain some kind of insight on *why* driving is so terrifying to you? Is it the anxiety of having to juggle multiple things (hand-eye-foot coordination, safety, etc.)? Is it anxiety about getting into a car accident? If you have that insight, you might think about whether there are things you can do to address your anxiety ahead of time. For my specific anxiety, *visually* reviewing my route via the street views on Google Maps helps me a *lot*, as does doing research ahead of time on what freeways/areas I should avoid in terms of busyness, how frustrating it is to drive through that area, etc. Maybe one or both of these things could work for you as well?

    3) If, after reviewing options #1 and #2, you still are in the position of having to drive but are not confident on your abilities to do so, have you considered renting a chauffeur? My former organization was located one hour outside a big city–and each time we brought in candidates for interviews, we rented a limousine and a driver to pick them up at the airport and then drive them the full hour to/from our site. (They loved that!)

    4) A combination of Amtrak and taxis is your friend. Look for these options where possible.

    Good luck! I’m interested to see how things turn out! You can do it!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Hmmm, I think most people as less likely to be sympathetic to “I don’t want to drive because I’m worried about safety issues driving by myself” than the truth (driving anxiety). That’s more likely to invite a “all your colleagues do it; it’s part of the job.” (Also, in this case, the boss is going with her.)

        1. DMented Kitty*

          I really wish people would get rid of the stigma surrounding anxiety (or depression, etc.), it would be really nice to actually be able to freely talk about it so more and more people become aware of it and understand this is a real issue. :/ It’s still a long way to go.

  33. BTW*

    OP #2 – I can also relate. I think it would be best to just be honest. A lot of people might suggest saying that you just don’t like to drive or don’t drive that much but some manager’s might not care. Anxiety is a real issue that a lot of people struggle with and I feel if they knew, they would be sympathetic and understanding. My boss used to give me hockey tickets all the time. Sometimes I would go and other times I would give them to my husband to take his son. There were times where my boss would text me trying to figure out if I was at the game. I don’t think I ever told him directly but eventually I fessed up to my store manager (who was close to my boss both personally and professionally), explained my anxiety and how sometimes I just can’t be in large social situations like that where it isn’t easy to get out. She was surprised at my omission, having never suspected that I suffered from anxiety but she completely understood. I too am fairly similar when it comes to driving. I can go to all the towns within a 50km radius from me but ask me to go into the city and it’s not good. I grew up in the country so being stuck in traffic and downtown where you can’t easily “escape” is hard for me. If I drive an area enough (because sometimes I just can’t avoid going to the city) then I get used to it and feel more comfortable, so maybe that’s an option for you when you’re ready. :)

    1. QualityControlFreak*

      Wow, thanks for this. I’m claustrophobic; feeling trapped sets me off and an escape route (preferably several) is necessary. This explains why I’m fine on the highway when I have plenty of space and visibility, but crazy traffic or even just sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic with no way to exit is torture for me. I was raised in and still live in a rural area. I need my space.

  34. toni*

    About the driving–I’m only able to drive in town, and not on highways, as I have a highway-driving phobia. I’ve had this condition so long that I explain it calmly and with no drama in just the way I described it above, “I’ve got no problem driving on surface streets or in town, but I have a highway-driving phobia, so I won’t be able to drive to ______. How shall we handle that?” After some startled reactions, various employers have found ways to adapt. I’ve been careful not to be overly apologetic or use words like “anxious,” which can generalize more easily into my whole character. I realize that “phobia” could also be generalized, but I’ve used a calm, explanatory voice tone, and my overall presence is competent and on top of things, thus, people don’t overreact.

  35. MeUnplugged*

    #2, at my old job only the most senior person going on the trip was put on the rental agreement and was the only one that could drive. Can you ask your boss if your travel policy is similar? If so, your company wouldn’t let you drive anyway.

  36. Teri*

    In response to OP #2, I can completely relate but for slightly different problem.. I am prone to motion sickness (vertigo). I drive one hour each way to commute to my job. Anything over that and I am taking a huge risk. I cannot take a plane or bus for any length of time. I cannot ride in a car longer than an hour. My vertigo is not treatable with patches or pills. Once I get an episode, it can last anywhere from an hour to a month. I am not ashamed or embarrassed by this anymore. It is a way of life. Talk to your manager. You don’t have to go into details or lie, just explain how you have this problem and that while you’ve been working on it all your life, you don’t see it being resolved any time soon (if ever).

  37. Evil*

    For #1… Was your resume and cover letter the same? Because if they were then maybe they know, or have guessed, or who knows.

  38. Been there*

    #2 – Can you simply speak honestly to your boss? You’d be very surprised how many people have dealt with anxiety/fears/panic/phobias, either in their own lives or watched loved ones struggle. You can tell your supervisor, you’ve gotten this far in facing down the phobia, have these small successes, but won’t be able to make the drives being asked of you. Get into CBT therapy, for your own sake as well as being able to honestly say that you have an active plan to work on it. In the meantime, here are solution that can you get around it (she drives both of you, you travel with a coworker, you hire a car, etc.). I’ve faced this twice (panic attacks, claustrophobia that prevents me from flying), and both supervisors I’ve worked with were totally understanding once I told them the truth

    This isn’t childish, shameful, or something you need to hide. Anxiety/panic/phobias are incredibly common. Own it, own your steps to recovery and a better life, put your head high and be proud of the accomplishments you’ve piled up so far.

    1. Biff*

      In addition to not being shameful — being up front and honest may save a life — it you have an anxiety attack while driving, you could hurt yourself or someone else.

      1. Just Visiting*

        Exactly, it’s a safety concern for others. There are studies showing that unmedicated people with ADHD are as bad at driving as drunk drivers, and even on a stimulant I’m far from a safe driver. I’ve probably been behind the wheel over a hundred hours in total and the skills just never progressed, I could maybe have gotten good enough to eventually pass the test but I have good reason to not trust myself. People like to tell bad drivers that “oh, you’re just imagining things, you can’t really be that bad” but sometimes we ARE and no amount of positive thinking can overcome it. I could never forgive myself if my drunk-style driving killed someone.

  39. Chloe*

    OP #2, I totally understand what you’re going through!! I have the same exact problem, but I can’t even drive short distances. I have a license that I got when I was 20 (I’m 24 now), but it’s only purpose is as my ID. I don’t drive ever. It gives me debilitating anxiety, and it’s so hard to explain to people why this is something I can’t just get over. I’m thankful I live in a city neighborhood where I never have to use a car, but it’s definitely hard when, for example, friends from a nearby city want to meet up, and I have to explain why I need a ride…

    Basically, I know what it’s like to feel ashamed about it, but you shouldn’t have to. I’m sorry I don’t have more advice to offer; just know you’re not alone!

    1. Biff*

      Frankly, I’m very happy when someone is self-aware enough to realize that they shouldn’t do something as it represents a danger to themselves and others. I wish everyone would be honest when it comes to these kinds of limitations.

      1. Chloe*

        Yes, definitely. I don’t feel safe or calm behind the wheel, and thus I feel that I just shouldn’t be there. Over time, I’ve been able to feel less embarrassed, and more like I’m just doing the responsible thing by not putting myself in a situation (particularly one that involves others) that I don’t feel I can handle.

      2. catsAreCool*

        “’m very happy when someone is self-aware enough to realize that they shouldn’t do something as it represents a danger to themselves and others.” This!

  40. Biff*

    I have a friend that cannot drive for similar reasons. If they were asking me for advice on this same topic, this is what I would advise them to say to their manager:

    “I know this will be a challenge for our upcoming project, however, for medical reasons it is not feasible for me to drive a vehicle for more than about half an hour. I understand if you need some documentation and can get it for you. How can we work around this?”

  41. Cecilia*

    For the driver with anxiety: I don’t think this needs to be a big deal. Since she is going too, it would be totally reasonable to say “I’m really excited about our upcoming work in Boise, but I don’t drive. Would you mind taking the wheel during our trip?” Then see what she says. She may just say sure (you’re not exactly making it sound appealing to be your passenger!). If she presses about whether you’re licensed, just say matter of factly that you didn’t learn until your 20s and to this day drive very rarely. That’s not at all uncommon for people who grew up in cities, and as long as you act comfortable with it, it shouldn’t come across as infantilizing.

    I also hate driving and for the last 10 years have lived in cities where I haven’t needed to. It’s never been an issue professionally, even during the time I had a consulting-type job and was traveling a week out of every month, sometimes to rural areas. I was just open about not being a great driver and either took cabs or asked a colleague to drive.

  42. C Average*


    I’m a formerly anxious driver who had to deal with driving on the job on occasion.

    Here are a few things that helped me:

    –Taking the time to deconstruct my fear. For one, I grew up in the sticks and now live in a city, and driving is a completely different sort of task here. Secondly, I have some spatial-awareness deficiencies, including crappy depth perception, that I have to work around. Third, I don’t have the natural knack for driving and navigating simultaneously (they are after all two different tasks) that a lot of people do.

    –Being honest with colleagues about my anxieties and deficiencies, and volunteering to DJ/navigate/provide snacks if someone else drove. If I HAD to drive, I made damned sure all passengers know a) I drive like an old lady, b) I really need to focus on the road and won’t be able to chitchat in hectic driving conditions, c) I want any passengers to either do all of the navigation (so I don’t have to think about it) or none (so I can learn the route ahead and focus on making the right moves at the right time), and d) I don’t want feedback on my driving unless I’m doing something dangerous.

    –Mitigation strategies during any driving, whether personal or work-related. Rescue Remedy, good music, leaving early to compensate for possible navigational errors, taking interior routes rather than freeways, and (most of all) getting a car with a navigation system.

    –Weird but true: driving with my stepkids. It’s forced me to find a driving A game I didn’t know I had, because when they’re in the car I must be confident, competent, and safe. I faked it for quite a while; then one day I realized I was no longer faking it, and my hands were relaxed on the wheel, and I was conversing easily while driving! I think driving with them was also helpful because I could process some areas of anxiety aloud in a matter-of-fact way: “I need to focus now because this is a tight merge.” “On this section of road, it’s really important to be in exactly the right lane at exactly the right time, or we’ll wind up in Seattle.”

    I hope you’ll be able to deal with this. Having come through to the other side, I find it SO empowering to get behind the wheel without fear! Whether it’s for your job or for yourself, I hope someday you can, too.

  43. Nervous Business Traveler*

    OP#2 Please talk to your boss about the driving. Don’t lie. Don’t make up something. Just be straightforward and honest about your particular situation. Admit that although you are older and do have your license, you consider still yourself a very much a NOVICE-Beginner driver, who has little experience driving anything but short neighborhood jaunts, and because of this it causes you a great deal of nervous anxiety, and especially more so in unfamiliar places/long distances/freeways/rental cars, etc. Say that you would feel more comfortable, at least on this first trip, with someone else driving the rental car and ask for understanding. I think you’ll be ok. Most people understand what being a “novice driver” means.

    Now, if this travel is to become a permanent part of your job, you need to also explain how to address this going forward by getting more practice/driver training, etc. When it comes to learning to drive, the only thing I can really say is practice, practice, practice! If you truly are a novice, a driver training course can help tremendously. There’s a reason this is required for teenagers in many states.

    I’ve been driving since 16, but still found it very intimidating to arrive at a strange airport, obtain a rental car, and drive to some hotel or location! Anxiety kicks in big time! What I’ve found helps is this: 1. Know before you go (map routes, addresses, car types, etc. 2. Thank the Gods for GPS! Always get one with your rental car (or buy one and take it with you)–it’s SO worth the extra $10 (I don’t rely on my phone, it tends to cut out). 3. Arrival time helps: Avoid late night and rush hour if possible. Give yourself plenty of extra time to get to your destination so you will not feel rushed or stressed. 4. Stay calm-Don’t Rush: Before you drive off, sit in the car and familiarize yourself with the controls, functions, etc. Drive around the rental lot a few times if you must.

    I admit, I was a nervous mess my first few business trips as I find airports busy, confusing places! But when you start doing this a few times a year, it does become easier! You CAN do it! I’ve even graduated to driving in a foreign country (and that’s a whole other kettle of fish).

  44. Kasey Knowels*

    For #1 the person wrote “I was trying to reach HR, the team, and everyone, but nobody answered, so I made another profile in their online application system with the same resume, but I changed the name to my alias.”

    Why is it that he/she burned a bridge? They would not respond to him/her when he/she tried to get information on the rejection – but – the minute they change the name and apply, the team was not smart enough to see that it was someone they already rejected.

    To me, it looks like something outside of his skills caused him to be rejected (which would be open for legal interpretation). Sounds weird to me.

    1. ReanaZ*

      They’d made it to the third round of the interview. So yeah, it probably was something outside of the skills listed on the resume, but that doesn’t remotely begin to be a legal problem. Personality, fit, conduct during the interview…. I can imagine someone with bad enough understanding of professional norms and boundaries to think submitting a second resume under a different name was remotely acceptable to have been thoroughly inappropriate in other ways throughout the earlier interview process.

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