manager has my coworker managing me, asking for fewer emails from a funder, and more

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

1. Manager is delegating management work to one of my coworkers

Is it common/normal for a manager to delegate managerial duties to a person on their team? My manager used to meet with every member of her team twice a month for 30-minute one-on-one meetings. It appears that it got “too much” for her, so she has picked one member of the team, Lucy, to do half of those meetings for her. I don’t know why this member was chosen (she does not have the most experienced and has not been with the company the longest), but Lucy takes it very seriously. She has been treating me (a recent hire) as nothing short of a subordinate, even though we have the same titles. I know Lucy is going to get promoted in the next few month (not to a manager) and I will have to work closely with her. This will lead to an even greater level of (perceived) authority over me.

How do I manage a coworker who is not my boss, but acts as if she is and expects me to treat her as if she is?

I’d ask your boss to clarify Lucy’s role in relation to you. If your boss is having her to one-on-ones — which is very much a managerial function — she may be grooming Lucy to move into a management role. Hell, she may already see Lucy as being in a management role (having her hold those meetings certainly suggests it). Either way, it’s weird that she hasn’t explained to you all what this means. I’d say this to her: “Can you tell me a bit about how I should see Lucy’s role when she’s conducting one-on-ones with me? Is she acting as your deputy or otherwise in a management capacity, or should I still think of her as a peer?”

If your boss says that Lucy is still a peer, then I’d say, “Is she clear on that as well? She at times seems to be treating me as a subordinate (for example, doing X and saying Y), and it might be useful for everyone to get more clarity from you about roles and how you want this working.”

2. Asking to receive fewer emails from a funder

We get funded by the county government, and as a contract manager I need to keep in the loop about the funding opportunities and relevant messages.

But some of the county staff seem to view their role as the local bulletin board. They’ll send out a slew of forwarded emails along the lines of “ABC is having a job search workshop tomorrow,” “So-and-So is holding an open house next week,” and “Teapots Co. is opening up their program to needy teapot builders.” It’s all completely irrelevant to my role and my contract-driven relationship with the people forwarding these messages.

How can I tactfully make it clear that this is unwanted, not helping me, and I’d like them to find a different way to send out these messages? I mean, can’t they make an email list people can subscribe/unsubscribe from for this kind of update? At the end of the day, I have to have a good working relationship with the county staff, so I can’t block them or be as blunt as I’d like.

I’d say this: “I’m finding it’s hard to spot important emails from the county when I’m also receiving a lot of county emails unrelated to our contract work with you. Is there a way to just receive work-related messages and not the community relations emails?”

But beyond that, this may just be the price of working with them. If that’s the case, you could try just having all their emails go to a special folder that you sort through a couple times a week, so that it’s at least not cluttering up your in-box.

3. My office is moving, and my commute will quadruple

I’ve been working for a nonprofit for about six months. The pay is not great, but my commute is fantastic! It takes me 15 minutes to bike to work and I get to bike around a beautiful lake. I’m happy every morning when I get to work because of this. And this was also the main reason why I took this job. I figured the pay wasn’t great, but I would save a lot on time and money with this commute.

Now we are moving, and I will have to either bike for an hour or take public transportation, also about an hour. This will take at least two hours of my day. I am not thrilled about this and would like a raise to at least cover the cost of my commute, ideally some of my time as well. Is this reasonable? Is there a better way to bring this up with the CEO?

This sucks. That’s a huge quality of life change, and I can see why you’re upset.

That said … offices move, and they don’t generally give people raises to adjust for the difference in commuting expenses. If you’re a very valued employee who they particularly want to retain, you might be able to negotiate some increase (or possibly a flexible schedule that could decrease the commute time), and it’s not outrageous to ask about it, given that an hour commute is a pretty significant change. But you’d want to be prepared to hear no, and then to need to decide if you still want the job under these new conditions. I have some suggested wording in this post, but note that it was for someone who found out about the move on their first day of work, which made it easier to argue “this is a change to the conditions I just accepted a couple of weeks ago.”

4. How can I prepare my company for my death?

I’ve worked for my company for over 10 years in a very understaffed department. Everyone else in this department has been here at least the same amount of time. We manage our workload by working long hours and with a considerable amount of corporate knowledge.

I have an illness that I should have died from over 20 years ago (according to specialists) and now the odds are catching up with me. I’m getting my affairs in order from a personal standpoint and I’m also trying to do the same for work. I’m writing procedures and updating old ones, I have someone else documenting all the procedures that have been done over the years to amalgamate them and remove obsolete ones. I’m also training people in certain aspects of my job so they’re not totally at a loss when I go. I have to do all this under the radar as I do not have the authority to delegate or really to do the training. I run it by my boss by saying “Could person help me with this?” and he usually says yes.

I don’t want to tell anyone what’s going on as I have no intention of going back to the specialists. For the record, I haven’t told friends or family either and don’t intend to unless there’s no alternative. Other than this, what else can I do to make things easier for them from a work perspective ?

I’m so sorry.

It sounds like you’re doing everything you can to make things work smoothly, given the constraint you’ve laid out of not wanting to tell anyone what’s going on. That’s absolutely your call to make, but for what it’s worth, confiding in your boss about what’s going on might help him be more of a partner in those plans. (Of course, it also might complicate things for you, and it’s reasonable to decide that you’re not up for dealing with that right now.) Either way, though, it sounds like you’re going above and beyond; I’d let yourself consider this covered by what you’re setting up so far, and not let it take up too much more space in your mind.

This part isn’t any of my business, but unless they’re harmful to you emotionally, I hope you’ll reconsider telling friends and family. I’d imagine at least some of them would very much want the chance to help you and to be able to say goodbye.

5. Contacting a company that keeps viewing my resume

I’m aware that a company has viewed my resume online three times. It is advisable to proactively reach out to them and find out what they may be looking for?

No. If they want to contact you, they will. Contacting them just to ask what they’re looking for is sort of like people who see a missed call, don’t recognize the number, and call back anyway, and say, “Someone from this number called me.”

{ 301 comments… read them below }

  1. Jerry Vandesic*

    #3: If a 60 minute commute would have been a deal breaker when you first got the job, start looking for a new job. Immediately.

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Six months is not very long to have been at a job, but if you don’t have a history of short stays at jobs, one short stay can be forgiven – especially because you can explain it with such a concrete reason. “The office moved and my commute quadrupled.”

    2. K.*

      I agree. My previous employer lost a lot of people when it moved to its current location – a lot of people’s commutes quadrupled or quintupled. (The move pre-dated me but had my commute been affected in that way, I’d have left.) Long commutes are a quality of working life issue and as you mention, OP, they’re not free. The office should be prepared to lose people; I doubt you’re the only one affected.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        At OldJob, they moved shortly before I started, and I learned that incentives were offered to stay on — a generous bonus paid out one year after the move. A few people left after almost exactly one year, a few actually said they would do that and wound up staying after a year, and a few found new jobs closer to home somewhere in that year. But most just dealt with it, and the turnover was more spread out, there wasn’t a surge (or, at least, only a tiny one) while we dealt with moving the office and all of our operations.

        1. Development professional*

          In a way, turnover can create something of an unstated/unintended incentive to stay in the form of opportunities for advancement. Your commute might stink, and extra work might stink, but if you work through it well, you might end up with a much higher job title and/or responsibility in a shorter period of time than you otherwise would. Depends where you are in your career, but if you’re within the first 10 years, this is something to seriously consider. Assuming all else is good about the job, not just your original commute.

    3. misspiggy*

      And for nonprofit staff, often paid low salaries, commutes are recognised to be deal sealers/deal breakers. When my large nonprofit moved, anyone facing half an hour or more in extra commuting time got their additional travel costs paid for a year (as well as flexible work hours, which we already had).

      1. JMegan*

        That’s an interesting perk – one that wouldn’t cost the organization a whole lot of money, but could have a really positive effect on employee morale. I wonder if OP could propose something like that to her employer? Just the *extra* commuting costs, not all of them, and for a time limited period like a year or six months. That might strike the right balance between the inconvenience to the OP and the potential benefit to the employer of keeping her.

    4. MT*

      we are currently looking at moving sites, one of the factors we are including is the expected turnover due to commute increases. it sucks, but it happens.

    5. long commute*

      #3 pretty much that exact thing happened to me. (20 min bike ride became 1.5 hrs on transit.) It’s terrible and eats up most of your life but I suggest you at least try it. And try to be happy that you started 6 months ago rather than now, at least you got a little time with the fun commute! I managed to negotiate a free transit pass, I argued that it was essentially a pay cut to me, since I was going from basically no expenses (besides the occasional trip to the bike shop) to $130/month for a subway pass. But I had both relocated across the country for my company a year before and I’d specifically asked if we were leaving the area and was told no, and I had just taken a pay cut because we’d lost a huge client so it was a slightly different story. But good luck. And if you’re doing it on transit, buy a good eReader.

    6. PNW*

      Anon for this because I think she may be a reader here.

      We just hired an awesome new person. She was very happy at her previous job, but they moved her office which would have changed her 20 minute commute to over an hour. We may be interviewing her ex-coworker soon for the same reason.

  2. Jerry Vandesic*

    #4: Don’t tell your boss unless you would be comfortable with the news getting out. Regardless of what he says, your boss will likely tell HR, and once HR has it you can’t count on confidentiality (see numerous postings on AAM on this topic).

    All that being said, you might want to focus on yourself and your family rather than your employer. Choose the things you care about and want to invest your limited time.

    1. Jeanne*

      I agree. If you don’t want everyone at work to know, you probably can’t tell anyone. It sounds like you have already gone above and beyond. Don’t let it worry you anymore. They will figure out how to handle things.

      Personally, I would tell my family. But we really don’t know your life. Do whatever brings you peace.

      1. Uyulala*

        It sounds like there is concern that family or friends are going to be trying to drag them to different specialists instead of allowing the OP peace. I understand the desire to hold off telling anyone.

        It’ one of those things where there aren’t rules and OP can do as they choose.

        1. Blurgle*

          Yes, this. There’s a mindset that miracles will happen if you only try hard enough. It’s such a corrosive belief, so harmful and hurtful, and in fact it can drastically shorten lives: once someone is past a certain point the standard ‘treatments’ often do more harm than good.

          Sometimes the only thing you can do is keep silent because nobody will be on your side.

          1. Oh no not again*

            It’s perfectly human to want the ones you love to live. I don’t fault people for hoping for a “miracle” cure. Death is permanent. It’s hard for EVERYONE to deal with. That doesn’t mean that no one is on that person’s side. That said, people do need to respect the wishes of the one who doesn’t have much time left.

            1. Mike C.*

              I fault people who strive for “miracle cures” at the expense of medically sound treatment. Years ago I got to watch my grandfather slowly succumb to cancer while his immediate family performed acupuncture, drank mushroom tea and used assorted “eastern medicinal herbs”. It’s bullshit, all of it. If it weren’t, it would pass multiple double-blind studies.

              Those sorts of actions do serious harm, including reducing quality of life and delaying (or even taking the place of) medically sound treatment in favor of modern snake oil and woo. Same thing happened to Steve Jobs incidentally, now that I think of it. It has no basis in reality and all it does is send money to people who either don’t understand the scientific method or are trying to make a buck at the expense of your loved ones. Either way, when it starts competing with actual medicine, it becomes incredibly harmful.

              It’s not nearly as bad as those who professionally advocate such bullshit, but this idea that doctors/researchers/etc don’t know anything and we should just try this miracle cure is actively harmful and very unethical.

              1. Adonday Veeah*

                It can do even more harm than that — it often keeps people so preoccupied that they fail to have meaningful conversations with each other about what’s happening.

              2. Blurgle*

                Medically sound treatment can indeed do far more harm than good *if given too late in the disease process*. There comes a time when the disease will kill you in six weeks but chemo would kill you in three, “indicated” or not, and with ten times the pain.

                1. Not So NewReader*

                  Agreed, don’t prolong my (eventual) death just to satisfy something inside you that I lived x days longer than I should have. While I have no interest in an assisted passing, I also have no interest in a long, protracted drawn out demise, either. That is a personal decision meant for me. Just as others do as they wish, let me do as I wish.

                  In the same vein, OP should not tell the boss. Unless, you have an exceptional boss, OP, very few people would be able to handle the news that they were the only ones who knew of your illness and it’s severity. Take a long hard look at the person your boss is, is she strong enough to handle this on her own? Or will she have to find “confidants” who spill the beans when you are not ready? This is not about being paranoid that no one can be trusted, it’s about thinking this through all the way and making sure this is handled the way you want.

          2. A is for A*

            +1. I would recommend watching the documentary called Being Mortal if you haven’t already (its free online). Or reading the book, but the documentary is specifically about what you are talking about here.

            As another poster said, there’s really no rules for this situation, and it’s personal preference. I understand not wanting to see specialists, and receiving quality of life-reducing treatments in his last days.

          3. Ad Astra*

            I had assumed that the OP’s loved ones would respect her wishes and realize that they already got their miracle when OP outlived the original prognosis by 20 years. This and some of the other comments are making me wonder if that was an overly optimistic assumption.

            1. Kyrielle*

              But the miracle happened for 20 years, so surely another miracle will appear….


              Also, when you’re dealing with health issues and discomforts, the added burden of others’ sorrow and leaning on you can be hard to take or risk, if they’re likely to be really upset. (At least, that was why my mother didn’t want to tell a lot of her relatives when she was dying, I believe.)

              1. OhNo*

                Exactly. People don’t ever really get used to dealing with death and loss, so if the OP has come to terms with it, it’s likely that they would just end up spending a lot of time and energy counseling their family through the grief process. If it were me, I’d rather not spend my time fighting off well-intentioned “advice” or having my family members weeping all over me, so I totally get the OP’s decision here.

                OP, I’m sorry you’re dealing with this, but I hope everything goes as smoothly as it can. It sounds like you are being really conscientious about getting your workplace set up for after you’re gone, which is really above and beyond in my opinion.

              2. Not So NewReader*

                If we define “miracle” as the illness just vanishing and a person going on with their lives, very seldom does that happen. And yet, so many people look for a miracle, even though we do not have much basis. I sound negative, I know. But making a person puke their guts out/etc day after day so they can find this miracle just doesn’t cut it in my book.

          4. Honeybee*

            It’s also kind of counterintuitive. The very definition of a miracle is something that’s not attributable to natural law; it can’t be scientifically explained. Because of that, you can’t “work” for it! It just happens.

            But yeah, a lot of people think “miracle” means you have to drink a lot of green smoothies and be deliriously upbeat 24/7.

    2. Cambridge Comma*

      Perhaps it is possible to not have to make these arrangements under the radar without disclosing any personal information to anyone, as it’s never a bad idea for someone to have a plan for what their colleagues should do if they are completely unavailable to their colleagues for an extended period of time, or do not return to the office again.
      We talk about this at work saying ‘what would we do if so-and-so won the lottery and never showed up again’ (to keep it positive).
      I completely agree with you that the OP should focus on exactly what they want to do, but if they feel better for having tied everything up at work, perhaps this is part of focusing on themselves.

      1. Bailey Quarters*

        The scenario that I use is “if I (or whoever) hit the lottery and run off to Cancun.”

        1. Kate*

          In my field it’s “but what if the nun get hits by the bus?” No idea why it’s a nun as I am not in the clergy.

          1. Bailey Quarters*

            I hear so many people talk about “if Xperson gets hit by a bus.” I prefer a more positive spin on that. :-)

      2. Meg Murry*

        Or rather than a vague hypothetical lottery winning, where it would be easy for the boss to say “well, that won’t happen!” and ignore it, could you tell them a half truth? For instance, “I may have to have some medical procedures soon and be out of work for a little while, so we should make sure we have a backup trained. I’m still running test with my doctor, so it’s unclear if I will need the time off or not yet, but I’d rather we do some cross-training just in case”. That way, you get them used to the idea that you might not always be there.

        I’m sorry for your situation OP#4, and I’m glad you are making the best of it.

        1. Honeybee*

          I wouldn’t head down that slippery slope. Even best case scenario a manager or some nosy coworkers might start asking questions and prodding for more information about the nature of the illness; even a good manager might make it their business to check-in periodically about the potential for medical procedures and whether OP will need that time off any time soon so they can plan. And like Cambridge Comma mentioned, if there are layoffs that could lead to them being top of mind; if there are other opportunities (like promotions, special trainings, conference travel etc.) they might get passed over.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        I think it is the boss’ job to have a plan for what to do in the case of losing (by whatever means) an employee. If the employees have specific skills then this may require several plans for each of the skills. While I understand OP getting things in order, I feel that the boss should do her job, too. Which means if OP has forgotten something, it is up to the boss to figure it out.

    3. OP4*

      Thanks Alison for replying. I have had this feeling that I’ve forgotten something obvious and huge so seeing that you believe I have everything covered is a relief.

      I can’t tell my boss, unfortunately, as Jerry Vandesic suggested, our current HR department does not take confidentiality seriously. We’ve previously had excellent HR people, so I know that it’s not the norm. If I leave, or they fire me, I will lose my life insurance so I’m trying to keep going as long as I can. It isn’t a huge amount but will make a difference to my family. I’m not married and don’t have children so it’s my siblings and parents and it would be good to think that they’ve received a little bit of financial relief.

      I’ve not told my family and friends as I’d like to be treated normally for as long as possible. About 12 or so years ago I had a specialist tell me that I had only a couple of months left (I showed him !) and I told friends. People started speaking to me in a “funeral” voice and treating me as though I were a child. And everyone had advice about what I should be doing, and getting offended when I didn’t do it. My family unfortunately believes doctors are gods, who’s every utterance should be followed blindly. It’s exhausting ! I’d rather just spend the time I have doing what I like, pottering around the garden, playing on my computer, reading, and seeing friends, rather than doing useless tests and spending time in hospital for no gain. To them this would be incomprehensible.

      Thank you again for answering my question, it is a load off my mind.

      1. KT*

        OP4, I’m really, really sorry.

        You’ve gone above and beyond in setting your employer up for success after you’re gone. There is nothing else you can do for them, and I applaud you for doing as much as you did.

        I wish you the best–I know how difficult it can be when you have decided your path, and family/friends/well meaning internet strangers tell you you should do aggressive experimental treatment/undergo radiation/just eat quinoa and kale and be miraculously healed. I hope you get to do what you want to do, puttering around the garden and all :)

      2. Tagg*

        I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. Know that your choice is brave, and one I wish people would be more accepting of. Having worked in healthcare for a while now, I’ve seen the unfortunate reality of chronic illness and treatments past the point of benefit. I wish you all the best to enjoy life on your own terms.

      3. RVA Cat*

        One way to give you peace of mine about work and also bring more enjoyment to the time you have left — take a vacation! You’ve certainly earned it with your dedication. “Bucket lists” may be getting a little overdone, but if there’s someplace you want to go and you’re worried your health might not allow it much longer, go!

        1. RVA Cat*

          That said, it’s just a suggestion and I admire your courage to just keep on with business as usual. But I think it will be a great relief to you to see how your boss and co-workers handle whatever comes up during a your brief absence and put those worries aside.

      4. Cattitude*

        I’m sorry for your situation. I also believe what you’re doing is brave and admire you for doing things in your own terms.

        Your story touches me because I went through this with my father. When he got his diagnosis, he refused further treatment. At 1st I was trying to persuade him to go see a specialist, but we had a very close relationship and talked about everything, so very quickly I understood his reasons and fully supported him.

        Once the family swept in and tried to force him to see a doctor I understood his reasons and supported him even more.

      5. Lady Bug*

        I just want to say I completely understand your choice to not tell anyone and would do the same. I would hate for the remainder of my life to become all about saving it or about my death. I would want to be treated the same way as I always was, but most people can’t do that. You should get to live out your life on your terms, not everyone else’s.

        1. Artemesia*

          Totally agree here. And hope you can focus less on the job transition issues (it sounds like you are a doing a great job keeping things well documented and transparent there but frankly we are all replaceable and they will move on when the time comes) and more on how you want to live the rest of your life. I agree with the suggestion of a vacation — especially to do something you have dreamed of. I lost a friend last year — and one of the things she told me was that she had no regrets because she and her husband had traveled and lived their lives knowing that no one lives for ever. She expected to live to be 100 — healthy, active, engaged — and then she got a brain tumor and had two years — 18 most of good time and 6 not so much — but she felt that she had left nothing of life on the table.

          I admire your decision to keep your own counsel and hope you can use the time you have whether short or long to fulfill things you wish to fulfill.

      6. mdv*

        OP4, it is so wonderful that you’ve made it so long with this terminal diagnosis, and I hope that you are able to enjoy these last few days/weeks/months as you wish.

        As someone whose father recently died unattended, I do have one comment: If you are living alone, and if you have even one person who you *can* confide in, or at least share enough about your concerns in general to set this up, I highly recommend that you start ‘informally’ checking in with someone on a daily or every other day basis. When my dad died, we did not find him for at least 7 days… and although I was lucky enough that the police were the ones who found my dad, I would not wish the regret of not finding a deceased loved one sooner on anyone else.

        My other advice is that you double check that you have all your paperwork in order and findable — did you know that if you do not have a health care power of attorney, all of your loved ones must sign off on cremation?

        I don’t know how the email info works here on AAM, but if you want to have anonymous moral support, Alison is welcome to share my email address with you!

        1. JMegan*

          Your local public health department might have someone who can fill the role of “checking in” with you, if that’s something you want to pursue and don’t want to involve your family or friends.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            In rural areas north of me, you can sign up at the post office for a safety check. If the mailman sees that you have not removed your mail, he calls the police to check on you. I don’t know if this applies to your area.
            Also, get your intents in writing, OP. Go to a lawyer, it’s not really expensive considering. Put your living will on file with your doctor(s). Where I am, several of us have put loved one’s DNRs on our refrigerators. That way it is in plain sight and everyone is on the same page.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          This is a good idea. It’s not much fun for the police either. And I second having your paperwork accessible–and don’t forget your online stuff. A list of passwords, etc. should be in with your power of attorney, DNR, or whatever.

        3. The Strand*

          Just want to chime in on these suggestions as being very helpful ideas.

          Beyond that, it’s just good to have one person on your side who you can tell the truth to, vent to, and not worry about their demeanor towards you changing. Even if it has to be outside the family.

        4. Harriet Vane Wimsey*

          Many people have a very distorted view of hospice care. It is not for only people on their deathbeds (can be six months or more– I’ve seen people on for a few years if a doctor can continue to certify they are terminal.). You can have as little or as much services as you want brought to you in your home. Even if it’s only a nurse to check your meds and make sure you are not needlessly uncomfortable or in pain. With hospice you are in control. In my years working with hospice, that seems to be the major thing patients want-to remain in control and hospice will help you do that, unlike most of the medical system.

          Bless you and all peace to you!

          1. Honeybee*

            When I was in graduate school – for public health – for one of my classes we had some hospice care nurses come in and do a lecture on palliative and hospice care. They were great presenters in general, but they really opened my eyes up to what hospice care is. One of the first things they explained is that hospice isn’t some place where people go to die – that’s the most common misconception that people have of it, is that a hospice is a place where you get pain meds until you pass away. I’d had that pretty bleak picture of it but they put it in a brand new light; all three of them explained that they really loved hospice care because they got to help people live their best lives for whatever length of time they were in hospice, and they often worked with entire families.

            Hospice care doesn’t even have to be for terminally ill people – apparently some of people get palliative care from hospice medical personnel when they’re seriously but not necessarily terminally ill (although I think that’s usually referred to as “palliative care” and a lot of nurses in the field refer to themselves as “hospice and palliative care” nurses to reflect both sides).

            1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

              My sister has done palliative and hospice care, in home and hospital, for 15 years now. I don’t know how she does it. For her, it’s about allowing a patient to have her own plan and her own terms, helping the family deal and prepare, and accepting what is happening. She has seen some patients come and go before their final visit. Others, she has seen at their worst and been there as they slowly recovered from their chemo, transplants, or other major procedures. She prefers the term “palliative nurse” because of some assumptions on hospice care.

              We had hospice assistance for several weeks for my father – he died sooner than we thought he would after being ill a long time – and they were integral to helping. Not only did they attend to my father, but they provided grief resources for mom and sis (offered to me, as well, through hospice in my state) and they helped Mom get all the insurance papers, funeral arrangements, directions for checks and payoffs for me to follow – the amount of care offered is a much wider range than most people know.

        5. Dr. Johnny Fever*

          This is an excellent idea. A coworker of mine found her best friend two days after her friend expired. She had passed on Saturday night, but no one knew till she was a no call/no show on Monday.

          That was two years ago. My coworker is still working through this is therapy – she wasn’t prepared to be “the one” for her single friend.

          OP4, I don’t say this to generate guilt. Even when my father died in hospice at home surrounded by family we still needed grief counseling. If you choose someone trusted to check in with, you may want to mention something out of kindness. Again, it’s all your terms.

          Incidentally, when my father was diagnosed with severe complications where the treatments could kill him, he refused everyone. He wanted to die in his bed not on a table. I completely respect your course of action here.

        6. Artemesia*

          My mother had a deal with a neighbor — if her blinds were not drawn in the morning — check in. This meant when she died, she was found that morning. It was a comfort to us — my brother and I lived thousands of miles away — that this was so.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            When my husband was sick, it was our dog. My neighbor looked randomly to see if our dog was outside. If she did not see the dog all day, she would call to see how we were doing. Not a great system, but it worked most of the time.

        7. OP4*

          Thank you all so much for your kind thoughts and words. There are some good ideas here that I will definitely be looking into. I must admit that figuring out how to ensure I am found quickly has been bothering me and there’s some really good ideas here. Thank you.

          Thank you again.

      7. Lionness*

        You deserve to have your life end in the manner that you choose. I am sorry you are going through this. You seem very brave and strong to face it in this manner.

        While I hope the doctors are wrong on your prognosis, if they are not I hope that your final time with us on Earth is peaceful, filled with joy, love and happiness. Do what makes you smile. It is all we really have in this life.

      8. JMegan*

        Good grief, that does sound exhausting! And in a way, you’re in a good place now where really, truly, the only person you need to think of is yourself. Never mind what other people think, just do what is best for you.

        Best wishes for you, OP, and I hope your journey is peaceful and comfortable.

      9. Happy Lurker*

        So many others have said it so beautifully; your courage is astounding. My thoughts are with you.

      10. Elizabeth West*

        Ugh, I can see why you don’t want to tell them. My family can be controlling, and I wouldn’t want to deal with it either if I were in your shoes. It sounds like you’re doing a good job of covering procedures, etc. at work. Like people said, your workplace will handle it.

        I hope that your remaining time is very peaceful and you have some lovely visits with your friends. *HUG*

      11. My 2 Cents*

        OP4, I’m very sorry for what you are going through, and greatly admire your strength and courage that you are showing for taking it so well, I would be a mess.

        Maybe this will help but maybe not: I am planning to leave my job in 2-6 months but haven’t announced it yet. In the meantime, I am working on tying up all loose ends that have been dangling out there for awhile so that when I do finally leave I won’t leave a bunch of unfinished projects for my predecessor. Maybe you can do the same thing, which is what it does sound like you are doing. Essentially you are leaving your job soon and you should treat it as such and do what a kind, thoughtful person would do and just make sure everything is documented and as much as possible is tied up.

        Other than that, stay strong and peace be with you.

      12. Not So NewReader*

        OP, you are a leader for the rest of us. I hope in years to come, what you are doing is the norm. No more $100k pills, no more bizarre machines, just human compassion and understanding.


  3. RachelR*

    “Contacting them just to ask what they’re looking for is sort of like people who see a missed call, don’t recognize the number, and call back anyway, and them say, ‘Someone from this number called me.'”

    I… have totally done this.

    But I agree with AAM, #5. Don’t reach out, it would be weird.

    1. Connie-Lynne*

      I used to do it all the time because I managed the 24/7 on-call desk for work and a missed call could very well be someone desperately trying to reach someone, anyone, to solve a problem.

      1. A Dispatcher*

        I think it’s different in a work context though. For instance if I didn’t call back hang up calls, someone in a dire emergency might not get help. Usually it’s just a pocket dial, but hey, if you called 911, I don’t want there to be any chance you don’t get the help you need.

        My personal phone however… if it wasn’t important enough to leave a message and I don’t recognize the number I assume it’s a wrong number/telemarketing thing and don’t bother (other than sometimes googling the number out of pure curiosity)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I’ve butt-dialed 911 before. My feature phone had a hotkey for it, and I absentmindedly stuck it in my pocket a couple of times. While totally embarrassing, I was grateful to get that call back, in case I really needed emergency services.

          1. CheeryO*

            I’ve done that too! I think I buttdialed something like 000, and it redirected to 9-1-1. Super embarrassing at the time, but in retrospect, I’m so glad that they called back to make sure I was okay.

        2. Kairi*

          Two things:
          1. I also google numbers out of curiosity! With spam calls, it can be fun to read how angry people get about them.
          2. A company in my area does a donation bucket for the local police station for times when they accidentally call 911 while calling out of the country (9-011 vs 911).

      2. MashaKasha*

        I have totally done this and will probably do this again. In addition to work, having two kids in their very early 20s living on their own, and an elderly parent also living on her own, means that a call from a random number could be a true emergency. It would be nice if everyone who had a true emergency, called, and missed me, left a voice mail, but most people don’t.

        Most recently, I had a missed call come in during early evening hours from the same location as our technically satellite/actually pretty much HQ office. Of course I called back right away. And of course the person on the other end was puzzled. I told them, “if this is not work-related, we can both go ahead and hang up now”, which they happily did.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          This makes sense. I see so many people around me calling people back who did not leave a message and I could not understand why. I had figured if people wanted a call back then they would say so.

    2. De (Germany)*

      I’m completely clueless asked to what’s wrong with that. I might not always do it, but it sounds really normal and appropriate to me. And not equal to calling someone who looked at your online resume at all.

      1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon*

        Yeah, that was my thought. I don’t do it anymore, but it seems prudent to me.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Well, because it might have been a wrong number. Or they already got what they needed. Or it’s a switchboard for a company and they have no idea which of the hundreds/thousands of people there called you. Or they’re a telemarketer.

        If someone wants to talk to you, they’ll leave you a message or call again. (The exception to this is often family/friends — I’m talking about numbers you don’t recognize.)

        1. De (Germany)*

          I suppose then the difference here is that almost noone I know uses voicemail – most have it deactivated anyway, but even for those who don’t, everyone just hangs up instead of leaving a message.

        2. MK*

          That’s fine if it’s someone who wants to talk to you, but if it’s someone you want to talk to, ignoring calls can be problem. You have no way of knowing if the person you asked to call you back will do so from the number you have of them; or that they will keep trying to reach you, if you miss a call or two.

          1. Colette*

            That doesn’t mean you should start calling back every number who calls you, though. If someone is calling from a number you don’t have, it’s likely they aren’t there often or don’t want to get calls on it.

            1. MK*

              I think by now everyone knows that if you don’t want to get calls on a certain number, you don’t call cells with it. And even if they call you from a satelite office they rarely visit, you will still know where the call came from.

              I think Hera is right below that it is a cultural thing. I always call back; then again, this happens to me once a month at most and it’s almost always from somewhere I wanted to hear from, but didn’t have their number saved (as in a store I asked to call me when something I wanted to buy came in). I don’t know how I would handle it if I was daily bombarded with unwanted calls.

              1. KAZ2Y5*

                Wait…if a store calls you to let you know that something you want just arrived they won’t leave a message? Do they just keep calling until you answer? Or am I totally misunderstanding something?

                1. De (Germany)*

                  Yes. Most people I know really do not have voicemail set up. If they can’t send a text or a mail instead, they keep calling for a while. Not forever, of course.

                2. Not So NewReader*

                  Where I work I have to make calls to individuals. About 50% have no voice mail. I try once, then I send them a letter. If they still don’t answer, oh, well.

                  In my work, it is the norm for people to call me, not for me to call them. However, I feel it’s important to try to call them. And then I find I can’t.

          2. nofelix*

            Yeah I’m really struggling to see how the downside of calling back is worse than the upside. Worst case scenario, you waste a minute finding out there was no need to call back. Best case, it’s that new contact or a friend in trouble.

            1. Happy Lurker*

              I had a local business do this to me last month…They didn’t answer the phone, I left a voice mail directing them to call my home (I called from the office) and then FB messages them. Received the info via message. They never returned my call to my home, but I already had the info from FB.
              10 days later they called my office “someone called me from this number”. I felt like it was the rudest thing ever to not return the call to the appropriate number, but then to call my office. My receptionist had to run around and ask who called. I was annoyed and probably will not do business with them.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                If it’s like my work, the message is so garbled, that I cannot make out the phone number if someone speaks it. I try to flip back through the caller ID to find a similar number. I am one of those people who can’t follow instructions. :(

            2. Colette*

              It’s not just a minut of your time, though you’re also potentially interrupting the person who called you, or a minute or more of a complete stranger who happens to be at the number that called you.

              1. Honeybee*

                So…they lose a minute of their time? Frankly, if they’d left a voice mail than they wouldn’t have, but IMO that’s better than the alternative of needing to have returned the call and not.

                1. Colette*

                  I’ve heard credible stories of people calling a number that called them and being demanding and rude when the person who answered didn’t know why. I suspect part of that comes from the anxiety in thinking you will miss something important if you don’t call back – an “I don’t know ” doesn’t mitigate that.

                  But honestly, I find the phone inherently rude. A call demands that you stop what you’re doing to answer.

                  If you live somewhere where it’s the norm to call back without a message, then fine, but otherwise, I do not recommend it.

        3. Hera*

          That’s such a weird idea to me. Must be another US thing. I always call back, it’s normal and expected here.

          1. Myrin*

            I agree. I first thought I was totally out of the loop with what is considered normal since it’s not weird at all to me to do this. But I saw D above react in the same way and since we’re from the same country, yay, I’m not so off after all, it seems. That being said, what an interesting thing to be a cultural difference!

            (I can spontaneously think of two possible reasons: 1. People from the US here bring up telemarketers all the time and such discussions and I don’t know if they simply don’t exist here at all or what but I’ve never in all my life had one call me. 2. Apparently in the US you have to pay even if you’re the one to receive the call? Not the case here, so I can just answer any call and just hang up without any financial repercussions.)

            1. Blurgle*

              I’m in Canada and up until about two or three months ago I was receiving a dozen or more telemarketing and scammer calls a day to my cellphone. This even though it’s illegal to target cellphones this way.

              About Sept. 1 they all mysteriously stopped.

              1. Anonsie*

                Yeah, I’ve lived in both the US and Canada, and I actually found Canada to be significantly worse than the US in terms of telemarketing because US telemarketers mostly left my cellphone alone, whereas Canadian telemarketers would bomb my cell constantly with recordings and contests and Bahaman cruise offers. It was weird.

                I’m actually shocked to learn targeting cellphones is illegal in Canada. It sure didn’t seem to stop them when I was there.

                1. Susie*

                  That’s because it’s not enforced. I’ve had the same cell number for 11 years so I get a fair amount of spammy phone calls. When I’ve reported these businesses to the government the response has been that most of these telemarketers are based outside of Canada and so, despite being illegal, there is no way for the government to get them to stop calling Canadian cell phones.

                  I guess they’d have to report them to local law enforcement and there are much bigger issues to tackle than spam phone calls.

            2. Jen RO*

              Also, voicemail seems to be widely used in the US. Similar to what De said, I have never heard of anyone in Romania leaving a voicemail.

              (That said, I never call back, because I am antisocial like that. If they need me, they can call back or send an SMS.)

              1. MK*

                I don’t think it’s antisocial or rude to ignore unknown calls; it is usual where I am from, but not expected in any way. If you are willing to take the risk of missing calls you wanted to get, that’s your choice.

                1. Afiendishingy*

                  …and I also don’t call back if someone calls and doesn’t leave a message. I do check vmail on my work phone, but I don’t know the password for my personal cell.

              2. Grant*

                What’s up with Europe (or at least Germany and Romania) not using voicemail? It’s one of the greatest inventions of the last few decades.

                1. Jen RO*

                  No idea! But I can share my theory: back in the dark ages of mobile telephones, we all had prepaid cards, and getting through to voicemail meant that we had to pay (and the cost of a minute was pretty damn high back then, especially for broke students). So if I wanted to ask my friend whether she was on her way to our meeting spot, and she didn’t hear the phone, and I got voicemail, and I had to pay a not-insignificant amount of money… cue angry Jen, and then cue friend turning off her voicemail. It just snowballed into no one ever using it. I also think voicemail kinda defeats the purpose of calling – I want to talk to you *now*, and if you’re not available I will just send a text rather than talking to a robot.

                2. Jen RO*

                  Oh, and let me introduce you to the concept of a “beep”. (That doesn’t mean a censored word – we use the English word – sometimes “Romanized” as “bip”). It’s fallen out of use with the increase in cheap plans with unlimited minutes, but it’s still used sometimes. The way it works is this: I only have 10 cents of credit on my phone and I can’t afford a phone call. My friend knows this and also has enough money to call. When I want to talk to him, I just ring twice and hang up. The friends knows that: a. he should not pick up until the third ring; b. he should call if I hang up. It sounds complicated, but it worked well! Sometimes you even got the “advanced” version – 1 beep means “yes”, 2 beeps (calling twice and hanging up) means “no”, and so on.

            3. MK*

              I used to get a lot of telemarketers, but it is easy to recognise their phone numbers, as they are very distinct from regular ones. But the last time I renewed my phone connection contract I was asked if I wanted them to block telemarketers altogether; I couldn’t say yes fast enough.

              1. RHo*

                I can’t believe some of the telemarketers that are still getting away with calling, unsolicited, REPEATEDLY, even if you’re on the Do Not Call list and have never done business with them. What’s weirder is that, even if they did want your business, they almost never leave a number that gets you through to a live person (I know, because I’ve called whatever numbers they leave to get them to stop calling. But what if I were in fact wanting their service?).

                I really feel like there ought to be a special escalated penalty for these types of marketers.

                1. Not So NewReader*

                  I got to wondering if there is not enough manpower to enforce DNC. I do see that filing a complaint on a particular number causes absolutely nothing to happen.

            4. Natalie*

              Wait, you guys don’t get robocalls for cruises and credit card scams and extended auto warranties? I am deeply jealous and I want to know how this is possible. Those are literally 95% of my calls that aren’t someone already in my phone book.

              1. De (Germany)*

                Nope. Maybe someone wanting to sell insurance once a year or so? And occasional calls from places wherer I am already a customer offering me deals. But even that’s a call a month or less.

              2. Cucumberzucchini*

                I created a Contact called “Do Not Answer Telemarketer” and everytime I get a telemarketer call I just add them to that contact. I think it’s up to 50 numbers.

                1. Windchime*

                  This is what I do, too. Only I call it Spam. I got a spoofed call from “Washington DC” the other day. I didn’t answer and just added it to the Spam. Mr Obama, I apologize if it was you calling.

                2. dawbs*

                  Mine is ZZZBAD telemarketer
                  So it’s at the BOTTOM of the contact list. And the ring is set to ‘silent’

                3. Natalie*

                  Well, iPhone has number blocking so I just use that, but most of the robocalls spoof their numbers since robocalling is already illegal.

              3. Elizabeth West*

                I got those on my landline, but I don’t get them on my cell. It’s one reason I cut the thing off. Being on the Do Not Call list did no good. And it doesn’t apply to politicians, charity calls, and surveys. Or wrong numbers, which I got frequently.

              4. Jen RO*

                Nope, the most I ever get is my bank offering me a credit card (twice a year tops). The American phone system sounds scarier and scarier! (And I thought nothing could top having to pay when you get a call…)

              5. Honeybee*

                I never get those. I have no idea how it’s possible, but I’ve had my phone number for going on 7 years now.

            5. Elizabeth West*

              Yes, you do have to pay if you receive the call. So a lot of people here just let it go to voice mail or ignore it. I don’t want to pay to pick up a telemarketing call–we do get them on cell phones from time to time.

        4. Erin*

          Yep. I have to answer phones sometimes for one of my jobs and this is especially annoying. “Uh yeah someone called me from there?”

          Okay. Well, we have about 25 people in our office and another 25 in another office whose calls are routed to us sooo….

          1. nofelix*

            The caller doesn’t know that though. The number could be to an individual, or you could be using a customer management system that would show a log of the missed call, who made it and why. Often I’ll call a company back and whoever picks up doesn’t know why I was called, but once I give my name they can find out.

            1. Rita*

              But it takes a LOT of time to check with dozens of employees to find out who might have called someone. Especially if it ended up being a wrong number. It almost always ends up being a fool’s errand.

              1. Hera*

                If I call a number and get a switchboard/reception, I’ll ask if they know who called, because sometimes they do and can reroute my call. If they don’t, no harm done. But I cannot tell until I call back if the call came from such a number, or a private line. And 9/10 times I get the person who called me and so it makes sense for me to do it.

                1. Rita*

                  Except there were dozens of times at my old job where people didn’t know what my company was and I didn’t know who they were and why someone might have called them, and they were demanding that I find out who called them. I’d say for me, this happened 9/10 times.

          2. SittingDuck*

            Yes! I used to work at a HUGE company (300+ people) and all phone calls were routed through the front desk. At least 30 times a day I would get a call from someone saying ‘Someone just called me from this number….’.

            In most cases they didn’t wait an extra 30 seconds before calling back – so the voicemail from whomever had called hadn’t made it through to their phone yet. So I would first ask if they had a voicemail – and most times it will have just come through.

            Other than that I had to ask them a series of questions to try to figure out who called them – which was only about 50% successful. It was one of the parts of that job that I hated the most – just wait for the voicemail and you will know who called you!

          3. A Bug!*

            I don’t mind when it happens to me; if it’s not a wrong number, I can usually narrow it down to a handful of our people with a couple of questions if the person’s not already a client of ours. But chances are, if it’s just on the caller ID and there wasn’t a message left, it was a wrong number.

            It’s when the person calls back, says “You called me, why did you call me?” and then refuses to give any information including their phone number (sadly, no caller ID on our ancient phone system), that I just scratch my head and wonder why they picked up the phone in the first place.

          4. Elizabeth West*

            We have several hundred. I usually ask if they have been working with us, but sometimes they don’t have a clue. At Exjob, I could ask in the open office if anyone called Mr. Coyote at Acme Industries, and someone would say, “That was me,” so I could transfer it. Can’t do that here.

          5. Skylark*

            This. My line shows as the caller ID for about 200 business & residential lines in my building. There is no way I can find out who called. It’s especially annoying when you ask if there was a message left, and the person says “yes, but I haven’t listened to it.” Such a waste of time. If it was important, the caller would have left a message. And if they did, please actually listen to it!

            1. pieces of flair*

              Even better is when the person says “yes, but I haven’t listened to it,” followed by expectant silence as if they’re still expecting me to know who to transfer them to. So awkward to actually have to say to them “um, maybe you should hang up and listen to it?”

          6. Liz in a Library*

            Yep. When I worked for a major university switchboard, one of the worst things was answering these calls. No, I have no idea which of our thousands of faculty, staff, and students called you. And those who called were somehow never the reasonable sort who would understand that I couldn’t magically look it up…

        5. Ad Astra*

          A lot of my peers don’t use voice mail any more, so I would probably call back (or text) if it was a familiar area code. I could definitely see someone assuming I have their number and hanging up without leaving a VM. And not knowing would drive me nuts.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Yeah, if it’s in my area code and I recognize the 3-digits after the area code as a local number, I’ll call back. Usually it’s a business that I’ve tried to contact, or that has a legitimate reason for contacting me, but haven’t bothered adding to my address book. If it’s a number that I don’t recognize at all, then I don’t answer or bother with it at all, but I’ll take a chance with numbers that I can slightly pinpoint.

        6. happymeal*

          As a recruiter, I agree with AAM. I have mis-dialed or had candidates give me the wrong phone number, etc. and it’s always awkward when people call back demanding to know who called them.

          1. some1*

            I think this is part of it, at least from my receptionist days. When I told people I had no idea who called them or why, they would get really annoyed.

            1. Rita*

              This, 100% this. I feel like it was rare that people said something like “Oh okay” and hang up when I told them what the business was and I would have to check with 25+ people to see who might have called.

        7. Log Lady*

          Ooooh my gosh. When our old hiring manager would start looking for new employees, he would like rapid fire call people, and if they didn’t answer, he would just hang up and not leave a message. So we would get a million of those ‘I got a call from this number???’ calls. This guy was the type of person to reason with himself that if they didn’t instantly answer a call from an unknown number – for any unknown reason – they just didn’t want the job. Also, the listing they would apply for was just for a machinist, and it would never say our company, so when they called back, they were super confused by the name.

        8. AnotherAnon*

          oh riiight, voicemail. some people still have that.

          I usually call back just in case it’s one of my doctors. these days, doctors and spammers are the only people who call instead of texting :)

      3. SCR*

        I always do this. If the person doesn’t know or it was a wrong number then whatever. Even it’s a switchboard I at least find out what company called me and then I call back the person I assume needed to speak to me or write it off as a telemarketer. I live in the Middle East though and no one has voicemail on their cell phones so it’s just easier to return calls when you miss them.

          1. MK*

            Eh, in my book when it was you that made a mistake that might have bothered someone, you don’t get to be annoyed with them for wanting to find out what it was all about.

            1. Qwerty*

              Yup, this. It’s a bit much to get stroppy because someone called you back when it was your error to begin with. It’s not like they can tell!

            2. The IT Manager*

              This is a cultural difference. When you realized you called a wrong number, like when the voice mail started, and you didn’t leave a message you clearly signaled that you did not want to speak with them/get a call back. If you wanted a call back, you would have left a message asking to be called back.

              1. Hera*

                Yeah, I definitely wouldn’t understand that! When people give me a ring and I don’t answer, they won’t leave a message but they definitely expect me to call them back. It would be seen as pretty rude of me to ignore the missed call info and not call them back.

          2. SCR*

            What about in a country where almost no one I know even has voicemail? Like it isn’t a thing I can set up on my phone. So…?

          3. Elizabeth West*

            I leave a message if I called a wrong number and only realized it once I got voice mail, etc. I just say something like, “I’m sorry, I was trying to reach the Doctor at the TARDIS; I didn’t realize this was Skaro.* Please disregard.”

            *and then barricade the door against the Daleks

          4. MashaKasha*

            Now that I think of it, I can’t remember last time I called a wrong number. Between using the address book on my phone, and being able to double-check the number that I typed before I press that call button, it’s pretty difficult to call a wrong number these days, imo.

            1. Al Lo*

              Wrong numbers tend to be hitting the wrong contact in my phone. Calling my mom instead of my mother-in-law, for instance.

      4. Cambridge Comma*

        Might be a cultural norm thing — I live in a German-speaking country and people tend to call back after a missed call, although you are under less obligation to if they didn’t leave a message.

        1. Myrin*

          Yeah, I don’t generally do it myself since I think it’s a nuisance (and only like three people call here, anyway, so I’m in that situation maybe twice a year) but it’s not weird or uncommon to me at all.

        2. Artemesia*

          I used to do it until I got switchboards for giant organizations who had no idea who might have called or why and it is also likely to be spam. I sometime use the reverse lookup feature on line and can sometimes identify who called — it is usually some non-profit calling for money. Since all my family and close friends are ‘in my phone’, if they call and I miss it, I will know who called.

          1. MK*

            Getting a switchboard isn’t always a bust though. I used to get the national headquarters of my bank; I would leave my name, the operator would flag that I had made contact and the department who wanted to get in touch with me would see it and call again.

        3. Boop*

          I figure any professional or individual genuinely trying to reach me will leave a message, as I do when I call people and reach a voicemail box. If you don’t leave a message, you didn’t really want to talk to me.

          How crazy does it make you when you leave a voicemail for someone and they call back without checking it?! Why did I spend time speaking to your voicemail, leaving careful instructions/information that you needed, if you aren’t going to listen and instead WASTE MY TIME BY MAKING ME REPEAT ALL OF IT?!?!?!?!

          1. Ad Astra*

            The only person who leaves me voicemail is my mother, and she repeats the whole thing whether I listen to the message or not.

            1. Stranger than fiction*

              Ha, I’ve taken to not listening to my mom’s voicemails for that reason. I just call her back and delete the dang vm.

              1. Windchime*

                My mom’s voicemails all say exactly the same thing. “Hi Windchime, this is mom. I just haven’t talked to you for a few days, just checking in. Call me back.”

            2. Elizabeth West*

              I don’t leave VM when I call my mum. I just call and if she doesn’t pick up, I hang up. She has a business line, and it rings four times before the answerphone picks up if she’s not home, and only once if she’s on that line. She’ll see the number and knows to call me back whenever. I only leave a voice mail if it’s dire and I absolutely need her to call me back, or if she has to find me someplace besides my cell phone.

            3. Mallory Janis Ian*

              I love my Google Voice number for this reason; if anyone leaves a voicemail, I have it set to send me the transcript of the message via text. The transcription is usually pretty good; only once in a while do I get one that I truly can’t figure out WTH they’re talking about.

            4. MashaKasha*

              Anytime I leave my mom a voicemail, she just calls back five minutes later with “sorry I missed your call. What were you calling about?” I actually stopped leaving her voicemails, cuz what’s the point.

        4. Anonsie*

          Honestly, I live in the US, and this is the first I’ve heard about the idea that calling back a unknown missed number is uniformly considered weird or out of line. I’m wondering if this is less a US thing, and more a “Certain groups or regions in the US” thing.

          1. Anonsie*

            Also, I’ve worked in a hostel, where guests would frequently make calls from our phone, and I’d have to constantly field callbacks on the front desk from people who missed the call and wanted to know who called them. It did get annoying having to explain I had no way of knowing who called, but come on. Most of them had no way of knowing they weren’t getting an individual’s phone line when they called back. Many of them were young, and in my general experience, a LOT of young people don’t leave or listen to voicemail if they can help it. (And these were mostly Americans returning calls, so even a lot of Americans are not on board with this “cultural norm” of never calling back missed numbers.)

          2. I'm a Little Teapot*

            Yeah, same here – I always call back numbers I get missed calls from, and I live in the US and have never heard that it’s weird. (I did once have a random wrong-number caller hear my voice when I called back and tell me “You sound sexy – wanna have dinner?” I said something snide about desperation/lack of standards and hung up. THAT was weird.)

          3. Honeybee*

            Yes, I’m from the U.S. too and never heard that this was weird. In fact, a couple of times this has yielded me an important call for which the original caller just never left me a voicemail (and I’m unsure why!) Also, a person’s voicemail might be full without that person realizing it.

      5. Allison*

        The vast majority of calls I get from unknown numbers (as in, numbers not already on my phone) are from telemarketers, scammers, my alma mater asking for donations, and my pharmacy auto-dialing me to remind me to refill something. It’s very, very rare that a call I get from a number I don’t know is an important or welcome call, and when it is, they usually leave a voicemail, text, call back, or send an e-mail. In the states, the expectation is that if the call’s important and you want them to contact you, you either leave or send a message of some kind.

        1. Chalupa Batman*

          I was really surprised at how common it is to expect a call back from a missed call, and thought it was interesting that there’s a cultural component. I work in student affairs, and I just don’t have time to play “did you call me” when it’s so likely that a student will either call back or e-mail me if I don’t answer the phone. I do it at home, too, though if I don’t recognize the number. I just assume if they didn’t leave a voicemail, they’ll try me again later. I guess I feel like it’s rude to call someone without knowing what or who you want, even if they technically called first. If someone accidentally calls me and is polite, I don’t mind the inconvenience beyond my own hangups with the phone (no pun intended), but that’s rarely the case. When people call and my voice isn’t what they expect, it leaves me thinking “YOU called ME!” I have occasionally called someone back who they left a voicemail for someone else if it seemed important, though, so they know it didn’t reach that person.

      6. The IT Manager*

        This used to be a common thing when people had phones that recorded the number of the person who called but didn’t have an answering machine. It’s annoying though.
        – I listened to my co-worker answer questions from someone who did this. He hadn’t called her and was forced to put up with 20 questions while she tried to solve a mystery that wasn’t really a mystery. (“Oh, you’re at Air Education and Training Command (a military staff) well my roommate is a teacher so maybe ….”)
        – Many businesses all have a central number appear so a person cannot figure out which individual called them.

        We’ve passed the point technologically that this needs to be done. Everyone has the ability to have voice mail on their phone – mobile or landline. If someone needs get a message to you they can leave a message or hang up and reach you some other way like text. If it’s not important enough to leave a message, it’s not important enough for me to call back and chase people down.

        * This is all in a American/north-American context.

    3. Merry and Bright*

      When I am job hunting I at least google an unknown number in case it’s a recruiter calling from an office number. If I’m not then I rarely answer a call from an unknown number on my mobile. I still google it though because it will often come on some forum on spam and scam numbers and I can just add it to my blocked numbers list. But I haven’t called someone as a follow-up after they have viewed my CV or profile. If it interests them they will follow up anyway.

      1. OhNo*

        That’s what I do, too! If I don’t know the number and there’s no message, I google it first to figure out where it might have come from. Nine times out of ten, it’s from a business I’ve never heard of, so either a wrong number or a telemarketer, and I don’t bother calling back.

        So far, all the job-related calls I’ve missed have left voicemails. Which is great, because then I don’t have to worry that I might have missed a call to interview!

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Are there any good reverse look-up sites? The only info I get from Googling the number is whether it’s a landline or cell phone, the carrier, and the town. I remember way back before about 2009 when reverse look-ups would produce a name and street address for the person, but I guess all that stuff is hidden behind a paywall now, and it kind of sucks.

          1. OhNo*

            Not that I know of offhand. Usually, when I google a number, somewhere on the first page of results is some kind of telelmarketer or phone number reporting site, where other users have posted the company that owns the number, and some basic info about them (what they sell, how irritating they are, their response to being told to stop calling, etc.).

        2. Fafaflunkie*

          Alas, up here in Canuckistan, the telemarketing a-holes have a new trick to try and fool people to answer their phone. Let’s say your number is 222-555-6666. The spamming telemarketers will spoof the caller ID so when you receive the call, “222-555-6748” appears on your screen, as if to fool you it believing the number calling you is from someone you know since it’s in the same area code and prefix. I’m sure fooled (insert sarcasm here.)

    4. Chocolate lover*

      In my offices, no one calls back an unknown number that doesn’t leave a message. We have too much to do, and if it wasn’t important enough to you to leave a message, it’s not important enough to me to call you back.

      But I also don’t automatically call back friends or family who call my cell phone either (message or not), and neither do they. We call back when and if we feel like it, and if it’s important, we leave a voicemail or send a text with brief explanation so they know why it’s important.

      1. Hush42*

        Yep. No one in my office calls back if you don’t leave a voicemail. If you really wanted to talk to me then you’d leave me a voicemail. If you don’t leave a voicemail then I’m not going to call you back. I actually prefer that people leave me detailed voicemail so that I know who they are and what their calling about.

        1. Afiendishingy*

          Yeah- I hate getting a voicemail that just says “call me as soon as possible.” I used to supervise a rather high maintenance employee who would do that and it drove me nuts. Can I at least have a hint so I’m not going into this conversation blind?

      2. OhNo*

        Same here for family and friends. If they don’t leave a message, I assume it’s not urgent and I can either text them or just wait until they call back.

        Except my brother. He’s the kind of person that will call four times right in a row, and if you don’t answer he’ll leave a voicemail saying, “Call me back immediately” – then it turns out all he wants to know is where I put his mail because he’s stopping by to pick it up sometime next week.

    5. LBK*

      Unless you’re in a job that involves talking to a lot of people who wouldn’t be in your contacts, I think it’s uncommon. Especially on a personal cell since 99% of those calls are spam.

    6. INFJ*

      I think some callers expect you to call back even when they don’t leave a message. I’ve had a doctor’s office, a bank, and a student loan office call and not leave a message. (The only reason I knew who it was is I googled the missed call number.) The Dr office called back a second time and left an angry message wondering why I didn’t call back. And the bank and student loans were calling about missed payment. (The only reason I knew that was I checked my account after googling the missed call number.) So… yeah, if I hadn’t done all that detective work, I would have no idea who called me and why, so…. They were expecting me to return a missed call with no message?

    7. Stranger than fiction*

      Yes, it would be weird, but I get how it makes you curious. It may be they’re hiring for a few positions and the different hiring managers are viewing your resume because it matched something specific they were searching for, but then didn’t contact you because of some other thing they were looking for that you didn’t have. Or, they might just move really slow and will eventually contact you for an interview.

      1. Rita*

        I agree. I remember how much of a big deal it was when my mom got an answering machine in the early 90s. Email makes it easier to contact people and have them get back to you now, but I don’t like the idea of getting away from voice mail. I don’t need to answer when Walgreens calls to let me know my prescription is ready, voice mail can handle that.

        My rule of thumb is if it’s important they will do one of the following: leave a message, call back, or send an email (if they have it). Otherwise, I’m going to assume it was a wrong number or a telemarketer and ignore it.

  4. Connie-Lynne*

    #3, I’m not sure what the rules are elsewhere, but in California if your employer moves a certain distance away from your home, you’re eligible for unemployment if you quit.

    I can’t find the citation right now but it was on the order of about 30 miles. It’s considered quitting “for cause,” essentially.

    1. moving soonish*

      I just looked into this because my (CA) employer is moving in the near future and I don’t want to (*whines*), but it looks very non-specific.

      “The first consideration when the claimant or the employer has moved to a new community is whether it would have been possible or practical for the claimant to commute from or to the new locality. If commuting would have been practical, the claimant would not have good cause for quitting no matter how compelling the reason for moving. Whether commuting would have been practical is not based on whether the claimant thought commuting was practical, but is based on an objective test considering the facts of each case, such as distance, time and cost.”

      Also pretty sure this part would get me:

      “Where family obligations allow and when financially possible, move his or her residence closer to the employer so that transportation is no longer a problem.”

        1. BRR*

          While the LW has my sympathy, I think it’s pretty nice for CA to even consider having it exist at all.

      1. MK*

        It’s vague and probably meant to be judged on a case-by-case basis but it reads to me as if it’s meant to apply to cases where the commute is objectively impractical, not just undesirable.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        That sounds rather like quitting when your employer has moved to a different city or town, and your commute turns into something that would be considered ridiculous by almost anyone – a three hour one way drive to another city, for example.

        In the OP’s case, the new commute is not particularly unremarkable – an hour commute by bus is not at all unusual in many places, and certainly wouldn’t be considered undue hardship. The problem is that the OP took a lower salary than she otherwise would have, specifically because of the easy commute. I would be surprised if that would be counted.

        I’d be curious to know, though, if the employee not owning a car would be considered, if, say, the commute was 45 minutes by car, but three hours by public transit. My guess would be not.

        1. Kelly L.*

          I would say that, unless this is within a large city, if it was a 15-minute bike commute and is now an hour bus commute, it probably is a different town. Or if it’s in a large city, a much more distant neighborhood.

          1. The IT Manager*

            This could be true, but some cities have terrible bus transportation that make even “short” mileage commutes long in hours. Like the only place to transfer from one line to another is a central hub so if you’re not on the same line you have to go to the hub even if it’s out of your way otherwise. And then the routes are infrequent like every half hour or so.

              1. MplsCommute*

                Ain’t that the truth. Oh, you want to go from one suburb to the one immediately next to it? Better go all the way downtown first!

                1. Sunshine Brite*

                  And be sure to catch that one bus. Because it’s the only one to that suburb until tomorrow.

          2. Shell*

            I live in the suburbs with decent transit, and I still took about an hour+ to get anywhere. 15 minutes walk to the bus stop, bus to the train station, take the train, switch to the next bus, walk from final bus stop to my destination. A car commute of 15 minutes easily took an hour and 15 minutes when commuting–and with a 15 minute drive, the destination wasn’t even out of my suburb, never mind another city/suburb.

            *I know suburb has two meanings: more distant neighbourhood within a city, and not-as-tightly-packed city surrounding a more urban, metropolitan city; in this case I’m referring to the second. My city is a suburb city to the central city. And I still consider the city+surrounding suburbs to have pretty decent transit.

      3. Stranger than fiction*

        So it sounds like they leave it vague so they can make a decision on a case by case basis. Still, though, with the traffic in CA, I think they “time” part would be in your favor at the very least. And financially? Moving is freaking expensive too. If you have family nearby that help out with the kids, that should fall into the practicality part. But it sounds like you’d have to roll the dice and see what happens.

    2. LQ*

      I’d be really careful about assuming this, it varies greatly from state to state and it’s a pretty high bar to meet in most places I know of, generally requiring a bunch of other factors to come in on your side.

    3. Development professional*

      I’m also pretty sure that federal tax code allows you to deduct your moving expenses if you move because your job moved more than a certain number of miles. It’s a high number though, like 50 miles.

  5. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon*

    #1 – I think it’s time for a candid conversation with your boss. You can also ask her to start taking one-on-one meetings with you if you’re uncomfortable with Lucy doing it.

    #3 – Unfortunately, this is one of those situations where your work conditions are changing and you need to decide whether to deal with that or look to move on. I don’t know if it helps, but an hour seems like a reasonable commute to most jobs, so it might be worth looking at whether you could find anything much closer in your field if you otherwise enjoy your role.

    #4 – This must be a really tough time, and you seem like a stellar employee to be worrying about your job at such a time. You’ve done a reasonable amount to hand your position on; please also make sure you are taking time to do the things you want to do – you’ve been more than fair to your colleagues.

    1. MK*

      #1, yes, talk to the boss, but asking her to do the meetings herself would be awkward. Even if the coworker has been asigned these tasks for the shake of convenience and is not in any way senior to the OP, you can’t ask your boss to organize how she handles/delegates her work based on you being uncomfortable (unless there is a concrete reason you can quote for this being inappropriate).

      1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon*

        Well, it sounds like OP might be uncomfortable talking to Lucy about work things, in which case the one-on-one meetings wouldn’t be serving their purpose, so I think it would be wise to discuss this with your boss.

        1. MK*

          Sure, but most managers would expect a concrete reason why you are uncomfortable talking to your coworker about work things and likely tell you that Lucy is now authorised to handle the meetings, so get over it.

          1. Happy Lurker*

            That exact situation happened to me 20+ years ago… Boss assigned coworker as my new manager. I sat down with her and asked her what were my priorities, since my tasks were added up exponentially and her response was “all of it”. I had a new job in 30 days.

      2. Stranger than fiction*

        Well, the Op said her manager split the one-on-ones with Lucy, so actually that would be a good excuse for her to start the conversation with her manager – saying she wants to switch with someone else and have her one on one with manager again, then that would segui into Alison’s script when the boss asks why.

        1. Lindsay J*

          But she doesn’t really have a good reason why.

          Her complaint seems to be that Lucy is acting like she is in charge of her, but it seems like Lucy actually is in charge of her so I doubt the boss would be sympathetic.

          And it seems like OP is new at the job, and it seems likely to me that the meetings were split somewhere along those lines – where the manager is in charge of the meetings for the more senior employees (who Lucy might not be capable of setting appropriate goals for/able to help as much) while Lucy handles the newer coworkers that she does have the knowledge and ability to help. And so asking to switch would just increase the manager’s workload (because boss couldn’t just give one of the people she is doing meeting with to Lucy).

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Maybe I am a bit naive, but I tend to think roll with this. If Lucy is going to be a supervisor in a short bit what is the point of pursuing this? I’d be concerned that OP and others would not be able to work with Lucy if I was the boss. While I understand that the boss could have communicated his wishes, he didn’t. This happens so much. In the OP’s shoes, I’d let the whole thing go myself in this case, because it looks like I’d be working for Lucy soon anyway.

  6. Chocolate Teapot*

    1. It sounds as if Lucy is being a chance to practise her manager skills before the promotion is official. Nevertheless, I would want to clarify her future role.

    1. Jen RO*

      Yep, that’s what it sounded to me as well…. I don’t think there is anything that OP can do, but the manager should be clearer as to her intentions.

    2. AMT*

      I’m also not clear what Lucy’s actually doing that’s overstepping her peer role. What OP interprets as “treating me … as nothing short of a subordinate” could just be fulfilling the normal duties of a peer who has been asked to take on an unofficial team lead-type role. Is she actually giving OP orders?

      1. Lindsay J*


        It seems to me that maybe OP is new to the workforce and therefore over-concerned with titles (and senority, since she felt the need to point out that Lucy hadn’t been there the longest).

        In most jobs that I have had, it was understood that – especially when you were newer to the job, which OP says that she is – your more senior coworkers did have some form of authority over you.

        As long as what they were saying or doing wasn’t inappropriate, you were expected to listen when they gave you corrections or advice ex. “When you’re filing, labels go on the front right corner of the folder,” or, “We really need to be prioritizing the Hamilton project right now because the deadline is Thursday.” If you responded, “I don’t have to listen to you because you’re not my manager,” you would have been seen as being tone-deaf, difficult, and perhaps insubordinate.

    3. Stranger than fiction*

      That’s exactly what it looks like. But odd that the boss doesn’t give any transparency with her team about the changes. I guess there’s still a lot of bosses out there that are like that though.

  7. snuck*

    #2 Maybe set up some mail filters? If there’s specific people you know you need to hear from, vs general use admin mail senders set up some folders and rules so you review often the ones most likely to be needed, and the others can go into a folder to look at occasionally.

    1. Fleur*

      Yeah, I work as a contractor for a State agency and they put everyone from multiple offices on a single mailing list so I get spammed relentlessly with useless crap. So now I use outlook to filter mailing list messages and only get notifications for emails sent to me individually or from people I directly work with.

    2. LQ*

      Agreed, hopefully they already put some kind of heading on these emails that indicate they are not For You but For a Group. If not I’d actually suggest something like that to them, [Community Outreach Announcement] Subject – then it would be super easy to have everything with COA go into a specific folder, and still get what you need from those individuals.

      1. OP #2*

        That would be great. My biggest struggle is that I haven’t found a way to just filter these emails out. There’s nothing consistent about them — no titles, from all different staff — and the important emails are also sent out in bulk to the entire list so I can’t look for things addressed to me.

        1. LQ*

          I definitely think you can contact them, you can even say that it is good to get the emails (I had something like this, plenty of them were handy like if I had someone come in looking for a job, or when I started looking, etc) but that it would be better for searchability and more user friendly if they could tag them all the same.

        2. snuck*

          You can set some filters up based on who sent you the email then.

          If it’s people you never have to talk to for business purposes filter them out… if it’s people you regularly have to that makes it tougher.

          If it’s people who often email you for both group stuff and contract stuff I’d consider still filtering them out and then just reading the email folder you filter to once a day or so. You can always turn a filter off on a specific email and return it to your box for conversation style following if you need to.

          You might find there’s a key work, signature or phrase… you can filter on email contents too. Or filter everything with an attachment etc. Take a critical look at them and see what differences you can find, and if you tell us what email system/software you are using we can help you set this up.

          It’s a pain for sure, but this setup can give you control back without offending anyone, and doesn’t mark the emails read etc so you aren’t going to be automatically sending read receipts etc. I’d still recommend wandering through the ‘not spam but nearly’ folder reasonably often so you can find stuff that might be missed, but we can work to a reasonable degree of accuracy if you give us some parameters. You can filter on the sent to field too, so if it’s sent to a bunch of people on a list you can probably filter out based on that.

    3. Bwmn*

      This is what I was going to say. In my experience with donors, a lot of times those types of emails are perceived as ways for other organizations to work together, network, connect partners, etc. No matter how well it does or doesn’t work, it may fit into a larger part of how they see it.

      I would be more inclined to talk to the donor about this as opposed to having it be more of a formal request by email, just to have a better read on how they consider this. For better or worse, I’ve had many donors that see themselves as being Super Duper Awesome Amazing in terms of bringing together their partners.

      But in the meantime, but in an email filter so at least you can scan through all of them every so often so it’s easier to tease through what is/isn’t important.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      You can ask them to take you off the list, too–they might have more than one list and it’s no trick to remove a person (at least in Outlook). I have a couple of lists like that. When people change departments or their responsibilities shift, I either add or remove them when notified.

    5. Stranger than fiction*

      Perhaps it’s because it’s County/government, but I would think they’re still obligated to add an Unsubscribe to the bottom of these types of emails?

      1. CMT*

        Just don’t be the one who replies all to the whole group “Unsubscribe me, please”.

        We have a lot of broadcasts that go out to our entire division, and there really is no good way to target them more specifically. A lot of it is information that potentially everyone needs to know. There was a two week period were a lot of important program information changed, so a lot of broadcasts went out. An administrative assistant did the reply all thing and it really came across as out of touch and a honestly a little bit rude.

  8. Ruth (UK)*

    #3 This situation is SO similar to mine at the moment that I briefly considered if I had written this letter myself and then forgotten about it…

    Few difference for me:
    * I’ve been at my job about 2 years which isn’t horribly long but I would prefer not to leave if I don’t have to. It’s also in a nice location (semi rural town). And I like my job etc…

    * I already take public transport but it’s a short and easy commute due to the fact I live near the bus, the office is near the bus stop that side, and the times of the busses are good.

    * We don’t yet know where we’re moving but it’s likely my commute will get longer and less convenient and I may have to go to the main bus station (a decent walk or cycle from my house) to get the correct bus, or take 2 busses (one to the station then another one) to get there.

    My current commute is about 40 minutes from door to door. The main places they’re likely to move would give me at least an hour+. One place I worked out to be an hour and 20mins each way. :(

  9. Aussie Teacher*

    It’s worth noting that the OP says, “We are moving” but it’s not clear if she means her work is moving, or her and her partner are moving house (my original reading was the latter but everyone seems to be answering as if it were the former). I assume Alison’s answer if it were the latter would change to “That sucks but your employer is not obliged to up your compensation because your personal circumstances have changed.”

    1. Ruth (UK)*

      Hmm good point. I got my clarification from the title of the letter but i have never been sure if Alison writes those, the LW does, or some other variation (like the LW does but Alison edits it). If Alison wrote the title of the letter then it’s possible that she too made the assumption the office was moving and it’s possible that could be wrong…

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I generally write them (if I used people’s email subject lines, 99% of the titles of questions would be “question for you”). But given the tone and content of the letter, I feel sure that she’s talking about office moving, not her.

    2. A Dispatcher*

      I guess I just can’t imagine having the gall to ask for a raise to compensate for a commute change that is entirely of your own doing. I mean stranger things have happened (we’ve seen many letters about them), but I highly doubt that is the case here.

      1. BRR*

        Yeah I’m with you on this one. I really can’t imagine that somebody would ask for a raise because they were personally moving.

        1. xarcady*

          I agree that I think the OP’s company is moving.

          But I have to mention that I once had an employee pretty much demand a raise. Because she’d moved her kids to a different daycare and the new daycare cost $100 more per week. So she wanted a $400 per month raise. And she seriously thought this was a reasonable thing to ask. She phrased it something like, “My day care costs have gone up, so I need more money.”

          And this was two months after her annual review where she’d gotten a 5% raise.

          So, yeah, I could see someone having the gall to ask for a raise because they had moved to a new home that was further away from work.

      2. Allison*

        Yeah, basically this. Might be helpful for OP to confirm, but I assumed the company was the one moving.

      3. LQ*

        Yeah, I have a coworker who will ask for a raise for anything and not even she asked when she moved 30 minutes further away from the office. (She did start complaining about it, but didn’t ask for a raise.)

        1. Beancounter in Texas*

          At Old Job, I had a coworker who accepted a job location transfer that made her commute from 30 minutes to two hours. (Not unheard of in this metroplex.) She griped, complained and flirted with The Boss until she got a nice raise specifically to cover her commute. The Boss lost some of my respect after that incident.

    3. Duh...*

      How can it be “not clear” when the title specifically says “My office is moving, and my commute will quadruple”???

      1. Qwerty*

        Because that is the title of the letter here, but not necessarily the content of the letter the OP wrote. The title may have been worded by Alison, making an assumption about the intended meaning of “we are moving”. It’s possible, though I think unlikely, that that assumption was erroneous.

    4. lfi*

      8 months into a new job my non profit moved from a very commuter friendly office location to halfway across a large city. the new commute left many people in a lurch – extended commutes and a trek through somewhat unsafe areas.

      after a year there my husband and i moved, and effectively my commute became 1.5 hours door to door. when another company reached out and wanted to talk to me i did. and now here i am at new job with my commute often 40 minutes door to door with an abundance of public transportation and commuting options around me. plus.. being back downtown is nice.

      what i’m trying to say is… work life balance with a commute is huge. i’d rather take an almost even salary to have less of a commute/be in an area around professionals again. but that’s what works best for me.

    5. OP#3*

      Hi! I posted question number 3. Yes, my office is relocating. I will continue residing in the same house. This move is only temporary, as we will move again in a few months to a less accessible location by public transportation or bike.

  10. BRR*

    #1 You mention seniority and experience but what about skill level? There’s more to consider for promotions and responsibilities than how long you’ve been at an employer.

    #3 Ugh that sucks. I don’t think you’d get a raise if you ask but maybe some other work around like flex time or work from home part of the time. It’s not like they’ll cut the salaries of everybody who has a better commute now. Also it’s not like you accepted the job knowing the commute then hated it which I’ve know people to do.

    1. A is for A*

      +1 to #1. I’m in the process of giving one of my employees a raise and promotion because she’s amazing at her job. She’s been here two years. Another employee in my department has been here for 13 years and is mediocre at his job, and old-fashioned in his approaches with clients (it’s health care, so you need to be on top of new treatments and approaches). He sees the promotion of the newer employee as a personal slight to him. We’ve met about it multiple times while I’ve explained what he could be doing differently (something I have been trying to get him to understand all along), but his response is always, “I have been here the longest. I should have your job. Otheremployee is just making us all look bad on purpose.” He’s my problem employee.

      1. BRR*

        Wow, you have an employee who says they should have your job? How has he lasted 13 years?

        Also wow to making everybody look bad. Does he not want her to do her job?

        1. A is for A*

          Other than saying these things, he doesn’t really do anything that warrants firing. He does his job, keeps under the radar, and that’s about it. He isn’t fantastic at his job, but he does it, and doesn’t make mistakes or mess up typically. As much as I would love for him to move on, I’m not going to fire him for saying that he should have my job when he very obviously is not qualified.

          1. some1*

            Yeah, I don’t necessarily have a problem with people who do the bare minimum to get their work done (as long as it doesn’t = more work for me), but they shouldn’t be surprised to get passed over for raises and promotions.

          2. BuildMeUp*

            Wow, that’s pretty brazen, though. Have you checked with the employee you promoted to make sure he isn’t causing problems for her in ways that you aren’t aware of?

      2. Beancounter in Texas*

        I work in that kind of environment now. It’s super old fashioned. You are supposed to be competent in your job prior to being hired. No training is done here, except orientation to this specific business. You must be at your desk promptly at 8am, but on the same token, at 5:00:00PM it is a ghost town. Raises, bonuses and job assignments are portioned by length of employment, not by merit or skillset (except for Family).

    2. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon*

      “It’s not like they’ll cut the salaries of everybody who has a better commute now. ”

      I’d never thought of the other side before, but this is such a good point.

  11. TotesMaGoats*

    #4-I’m so sorry. I’m not even sure what to say except that I hope whatever time you have remaining is spent doing the things you love with the people you love. As far as work is concerned, it sounds like you are doing your best to prepare them for your absence as subtly as possible. Much like people preparing for maternity leave or a surgery that requires a long recovery period. Doing this stuff is a good thing to do.

    1. Bailey Quarters*

      I’m sorry, #4, about your situation. What a great gift you are giving your co-workers.

  12. Allison*

    #1, I saw something similar happen in my first job, where I’d been there 6 months and our team lead had left, and someone with only 3 months of experience in the role was starting to get the old lead’s duties. I wasn’t happy about that and wondered why she was being groomed for that promotion instead of me, and in hindsight, that wasn’t the right attitude to have. Fact is, when it comes to promotions, seniority doesn’t always grant priority. Leadership roles should ideally go to those who show leadership potential, not necessarily who’s been there the longest. In fact, if you’re really good at what you’re doing, it’s fine to expect a raise and an eventual promotion to a more senior title, but you should keep doing it, not manage others doing it.

  13. Rat Racer*

    #1: At my former job, my manager delegated all her 1:1s to two of her direct reports (she actually kept mine, but I wish she hadn’t because she was a nightmare – who still gives me nightmares.) She was a senior VP overseeing a team of directors, and I think that the sting of it was not only becoming subordinate to a former peer, but that the VP was sending the message “I can’t be bothered to talk to you anymore. Too busy.” Like your manager, this VP never made a formal announcement, just had her secretary delete all her 1:1s from her calendar and delegate them to her two chosen Directors.

    This is a great lesson in how NOT to manage people. Managers may make decisions that will be unpopular with their staff, but they at least owe their direct reports the respect and courtesy of some transparency. She was fired eventually, by the way.

  14. Revolver Rani*

    #1, at my workplace, we have an official role, “team lead”, which does exactly what you describe – not a manager, but more the manager’s deputy for a manager with too many reports to keep close track of day-to-day. The team lead handles 1-1s and work allocation (with backup from the manager if needed), and provides extensive input for the manager to use in the annual review.

    And the team lead isn’t necessarily the most experienced or most senior person; rather, the role is given to a person who the manager thinks might make a good manager someday and who has shown interest in being a manager (a responsibility that not everyone wants). It’s a manager-in-training kind of position.

    If that is what is going on in your situation – well your manager should have told the team clearly that is what’s going on, and set both your and the team lead’s expectations correctly. But it’s not an unusual thing in the grand scheme of things.

    1. Meg Murry*

      Yes, or the manager may have Lucy working with new(er) hires as more of a mentor type of role, with the intention that the 1-on-1 times are meant to be more about training, or a time when OP can ask questions about things that need clarification from someone who has been at the company longer, but isn’t necessarily the boss. If OP is relatively new, there may be something going on (like a once a year big project) that is tying up all of the manager’s time, but rather than cancel, the manager has asked OP to handle the 1-on-1s. I agree that it’s a bit odd, but really not tooooo unusual.

      OP seems to be frustrated by the idea that Lucy, who is her peer (at least in title) is treating her as a subordinate. But that actually isn’t all that uncommon with new hires – a more experienced person in the role is assigned to work with that person, and direct their work. Even with not-so-new hires – I work for a company right now where all of us at the same “level” are each heading up a project, and when I have downtime on my own project, my boss might say to me “Meg, go help Bob on his project” and even though Bob has less experience than I do, as project leader, he is expected to say to me “Meg, I need you to do A, B and C” and give me more details as to whether he wants me to just use my judgment about how to do A, B and C, or he might have very specific instructions. And then in a few weeks, Susie might be helping me with my project, and I would be giving her instructions “Do X on Monday, Y on Wednesday and I need Z no later than Friday”.

      Don’t get too caught up in hierarchy OP – but I do think it’s worth talking to your boss about whether the switch to Lucy doing your 1-on-1s is for the long term or if its only temporary.

      1. Honeybee*

        Yes! I am working with two different people in that role right now – but I’m new to my role. I joined here 2 months ago. These people have been in this industry for 15+ years and at this particular employer for a while, too, and have a wealth of experience for me to learn from. So yes, they are my coworkers, but right now they are directing my work a little more than they will in the future. And I am really happy with the setup because I get to learn from two additional really experienced people without feeling like I’m flailing around unattended (much).

  15. Ad Astra*

    I have a feeling OP #1 and and her manager are not on the same page about where Lucy stands in the hierarchy. It wouldn’t surprise me if OP talked to her manager and discovered that she actually is subordinate to Lucy. It’s also possible that the manager expects Lucy to manage her peers, but that seems less likely.

    1. Bend & Snap*

      To Revolver Rani’s point above, it could be a team lead type position, but it 100% needs to be communicated. Who’s going to feel comfortable asking their peer about career development, etc?

      1. Ad Astra*

        Yeah, there’s probably some serious miscommunication involved because you’re right, I would feel weird asking my peer about career development or conflict resolution or something like that. And if that peer wasn’t managing my day-to-day tasks, I’m not sure what else we’d even talk about.

    2. Stranger than fiction*

      Or, you could look at it in the opposite direction – maybe the boss knows Lucy likes to be bossy, so she chose her to pick up the managerial slack, yet Lucy hasn’t gotten a raise or promotion for taking on the additional responsibility. Lucy may have been promised a promotion, but the boss is just using her in this capacity. Not as likely a scenario as the boss truly is grooming her, but ya’ never know.

  16. Not Today Satan*

    Not to get too off topic, but I get that “Somebody from this number called me” ALL the time when I answer the main line at work. When I explain that it was someone else at my organization they respond, “So what do I do??” Um, wait to see if you get a voicemail and if not, move on??

    1. Beezus*

      As someone who used to make those calls – I’m sorry! I was on call frequently and was required to take all calls and return missed calls ASAP, regardless of whether a message was left, and I got calls from weird numbers sometimes.

  17. Mimmy*

    #2 – Do you work for my county? lol. I’m a volunteer member of my county’s teapot advisory council, which automatically puts me on the email list. Several times a week, I’d get a slew of emails about community events for needy people and fundraisers. (The woman who normally does it has been out on medical leave, so it’s been lighter than usual, thank goodness! But she returns next week I think.)

    A separate email folder is a great idea – that’s what I do.

  18. caryatis*

    LW#3, do the two-hour bike ride!! Yes, it’s a long time, but if you are able to do it, you will be so happy and fit with that amount of exercise baked into your schedule. And I speak from experience. I also second the suggestion to see if you can do a 4-day work week.

    Also, I’m surprised no one has mentioned that if the commute matters so much to you, you could move.

    1. Hlyssande*

      That’s a minimum total of four hours out of the OP’s day, though. I could see two hour bike rides on the weekend for fun, but as a commute? I would never. That doesn’t take safety or weather into account either.

      1. Kelly L.*

        I think it’s only a total of two, but it’s still a PITA. Fit maybe, but not everyone would be “happy” about it as caryatis suggests! And yeah, weather and safety are huge considerations; not every area is set up for safe bicycling, or mild in climate. That bike commute looks a lot worse when there are 2 feet of snow.

    2. Amylee*

      “you will be so happy and fit with that amount of exercise baked into your schedule”

      That is HUGELY subjective. You may have been happy with it. Many others would not be, even if they are able to do it.

    3. BadPlanning*

      An hour bike ride versus a 15 minute bike ride implies more changes to me than just a longer sit on the bike. On a 15 min ride, I could see riding in your office clothes, not needing a water bottle, being able to get to the office sweat free on all but the hottest day (depending on location). An hour long bike ride might require a change to biking specific clothes, a new bike seat, a water bottle and a higher chance of arriving all sweaty. Then having to arrive earlier to work to change/wash/etc.

    4. Sunflower*

      It sounds to me like the only reason OP really took the job was BECAUSE of the commute. And if commute was such a big deal that she would be willing to move for it, I’d imagine she would have tried to find a better job when she started looking in the first place.

    5. Arielle*

      I would like to have seen anyone try to commute for two hours on a bike during the past winter here in Boston. That’s not a viable solution unless you live where it never snows, rains, or gets hotter than 80 degrees.

      1. caryatis*

        I’ve done it for three hours! Not in Boston, but similar climates with snow, rain and heat. As others have pointed out, it’s not for everyone, but if you are relatively fit and enjoy the challenge, it can be such a thrill to show up at work already energized.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Might depend on the job in a lot of ways, too. I mean, I used to walk 45 minutes to work at my old retail job. It was the exact opposite of a thrill to show up to work with my feet already hurting–and I like walking in general! It was just demoralizing to show up with a pain related to the pain the job itself was going to give me anyway. Different job and different form of exercise, of course, but I’m sure some find bicycling more pain than thrill too.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      OP could move, but for a job that doesn’t pay very much (as she disclosed), it’s probably not worth it. And I don’t know about you, but four hours a day is too much exercise for me. I don’t have that many spoons.

      1. caryatis*

        The LW said one hour each way, so two hours of exercise per work day.

        Anyway, the point about moving is that we sometimes talk about a commute as if it was something the job forces on us, when in fact at least half of the commute equation is where you choose to live.

        1. AnonymousaurusRex*

          I’d *love* to shorten my up-to-two-hour-each-way-30-mile commute by moving close enough to bike (without also on a regular basis. (oh how i miss OldJob’s 6 mile bike ride! So pleasant!) But unfortunately, my rent would double in the area near my office, and my partner would then have a reverse commute back to where we live… And we are renters! Forget about it if you have to sell your home and buy something closer.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Two hours a day wouldn’t work for me either.

          Well, I’d love to live closer to my job (in the better part of town), but I can’t afford it. Moving is expensive. I’d have to sell my house (which is crap, and I have no desire to be a landlord), on which I’ll probably lose money anyway. I have no deposit and I don’t want to rent an apartment and go back to noise, smells, etc. Plus, I have the cat to consider–she’s not an inside animal. It’s such a huge undertaking that it’s easier to make the annoying drive every morning and wait for a better opportunity to relocate.

          It’s not as simple as it seems. If I didn’t own the house and didn’t have a cat (or had one that liked being inside) and had the money, I’d do it.

        3. Lindsay J*

          But often you can’t afford to live that close to the job – if your job is downtown in the city, it might cost 3x more for 3x less space than what you’re paying to live in the suburb.

          Or maybe there isn’t really housing close to your job.

          Or maybe you just signed a lease before your job moved and you would have to pay thousands of dollars that you don’t have to break the lease.

          Or maybe you own your home and you don’t want to deal with the hassle of selling to move for a job that you’re not likely to stay at for decades.

          Or maybe you just plain like where you live or like your landlord or whatever and just don’t want to move, period.

    7. Sunshine Brite*

      It’s not even safe where I live to be outside that long in the winter. She may have those considerations that would not make her happy.

    8. I'm a Little Teapot*

      Right, because everyone is able-bodied, lives in a place where it’s safe to bike year-round, and has so little they need or want to do outside of work that an extra two hours out of every day is no problem.

      1. Rock*

        Look, this is a bit of an intense response, don’t you think?
        The OP bikes already, by choice, and mentioned the longer bike commute as a viable, if less than ideal, option. Discussing that for the OP is not unreasonable… Yes it wouldn’t work for everyone, but from the information we have, it might work for the OP. And caryatis was just weighing in that it worked for them. Whether the OP wants it is a question we can’t answer for them, but it’s not crazy to discuss it as a possibility.

        1. Candi*

          I think part of what people are reacting to is caryatis’ tone. Whether she means it that way or not, her tone to me comes across as, “This thing is totally fantastic and you should 100% do it!”

          That kind of tone is a turn-off for many people; one person’s “totally fantastic” is another’s “not with a 10-foot pole”.

          It’s up to the letter writer to make that call.

          Although I think part of the appeal for LW is the lake and scenery. :)

    9. Ultraviolet*

      I appreciate seeing these ideas. I don’t think we should hold back on suggestions just because they aren’t guaranteed to work for everyone.

      I’ve never had a commute as long as the one the OP is facing, but I have been surprised by how long a commute I turned out to enjoy.

    10. bridget*

      +1 – at least take it into consideration, and think about whether this will work for you, OP! I just moved for a new job and was *really* trying to find an apartment that was close enough to have a sub 20 minute bike ride. Unfortunately, the only place I could find was a 45 minute bike ride (due in part to having to take a less direct route to enjoy better scenery and bike lanes). I thought I’d hate it, but I LOVE it. And it’s about the same amount of minutes as driving, but I enjoy it so much more. And I dropped my gym pass because I’m getting a real workout (15 minutes each way is great, but it was short enough I needed to supplement with other stuff).

      Certainly this won’t work for everybody [noting the comments above] but it’s something to think about.

  19. The IT Manager*

    I was in the Air Force. #1’s concern seems odd to me. I just think everyone has the potential to be a “manager” even if their title doesn’t include manager in the title. It seems that the official manager has asked Lucy to step up and take on a more managerial role. She is getting promoted in a few months; even if “manager” is not in her title the LW and Lucy will no longer be peers.

    It is definitely worth talking to the manager to clarify exactly what Lucy’s role will be, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong or even odd about designating Lucy to manage some of the team. Without “manager” in her title she may not be able to officially have a say in annual performance reports (if that happens in LW’s company) or she may. That really depends on how the company’s HR processes are set up.

    1. Bend & Snap*

      What’s odd is *poof* no more direct access to the boss with no explanation. It’s strange and disrespectful.

      1. The IT Manager*

        Hmmm … I assumed that even without the one-on-one meetings the LW would still see her manager frequently around the office / in meetings, but that’s an assumption on my part. I will, however, agree the no explanation part is strange.

        1. Ad Astra*

          In my office, the only significant face time I can guarantee with my manager is the monthly 1-on-1, so I’d be peeved if he outsourced those to someone else. Not sure if that’s part of the OP’s objection or not.

  20. Sunflower*

    #5- I wouldn’t even put this on the level of having a missed call and calling back. A missed called means they initiated contact. They are just looking at your resume. There’s a whole slew of reasons this could be happening. It’s possible they have an opening, or they are creating a position with similar duties to yours but wait until you see a posting to ‘reach’ out aka apply. It’s also possible the person is searching key words- and these could be really general key words like ‘multitask’- and your resume is popping up but it’s not a fit for what they’re looking for.

    In another oh so wonderful work analogy to dating, I don’t think there’s such a thing as ‘playing games’ when it comes to job searching. It’s not like employers keep viewing your profile and hope you get the hint they want you to reach out to them. If your contact info is there, they’ll reach out.

  21. BadPlanning*

    On OP#1, it sounds like the boss is grooming Lucy for a management position. Either elsewhere or to replace the boss — either for a long term commitment (maternity leave?) or always the go-to when boss is gone.

    Or the boss has found a brilliant way to make their job cushy and has a willing participant to offload to.

  22. Ms. Anne Thrope*

    #2: Write a rule for your email that goes something like this:
    “emails from [funder] send to [spam folder] except if [keywords] in subject line or [other keywords] in body of message”

    This way, all their ‘job fair for kittens!!’ emails will go away but the ones saying ‘to renew your funding do x by y date’ don’t. Check the folder where you’re sending them regularly, and tweak the rule as needed.

    I know how to do this in outlook but haven’t ever bothered in gmail. It should work similarly.

  23. Laura*

    #4 – You are doing all you can and you can nor should do anymore. It’s no one’s business at work what you’re facing.

    However, as someone who father did not tell them directly that they were dying, I am to speak my mind about not telling family: if you are on good terms with your family, I believe it’s the right thing to do to tell them. They may want to have more frequent special occasions with you to help them deal with your death. I cannot tell you the anger and profound sadness that I had in three years after my father’s death – I had to face my mother’s illness three years after his death and I dealt with that better than his because at least I knew what I was up against. But my father did not tell us anything and we had to process his eventual death from a radiologist’s slip that “this looks like terminal myeloma” from an MRI reading.

    It’s your personal decision. But it might be loving to leave them letters explaining your decision so they can some semblance of peace when you depart this life.

    1. OP4*

      Hi Laura,
      I’m sorry you had to deal with that. I’ve been thinking about writing letters so I’ll definitely think about it.
      Thank you

      1. Laura C.*

        Thank you. I wish you all the wisdom and peace that you can ever need in this trying time. There is no practice for these kinds of things, so you are doing the best you can in spite of the difficulties. I really hope you have the support system there to help you along.

        My very best wishes.

  24. Brett*

    #2 Just wanted to address the section about “I mean, can’t they make an email list people can subscribe/unsubscribe from for this kind of update?”
    In some states, listserver lists create opening meetings issues that cities and counties do not want to get into (e.g. you have to monitor the list to make sure you do not end up with too many people from the same committee on the list, potentially violating open meetings laws when you send out emails). Your state might not have a specific exemption for email lists or listservers, so your county does not use one.

    I live in a state where all emails from a government official to a listserver maintained by a public body are considered a public meeting. This means that before an email is sent out on the list by a member of the public body, there must be a 24-hr public notice of meeting and an agenda posted with directions on how to access the “meeting”, and after the email is posted, the “minutes” of the meeting must be publicly released.
    The end result of this is that cities and counties in our state never use list servers.

    1. Ad Astra*

      That’s interesting, but isn’t this particular agency essentially using a less sophisticated version of a listserv when it sends community relations emails to every single contact? It would make more sense to set something up like Constant Contact, where people can easily opt in or out of specific newsletters.

      1. Brett*

        They are, but most likely the contact list is groomed to conform to opening meetings laws by excluding public officials and certain other people from the list. They probably all use the same list because that list has been vetted by the records custodian to not be an open meeting.

        Meanwhile, listservs are presumed by the attorney general to always fall under opening meetings laws regardless of who actually receives the email (only matters who sends it). There are ways to configure Constant Contact to use it (our county uses it), but Constant Contact for government is relatively expensive.

  25. WriterLady*

    Ugh, Q1 reminds me of my situation when I first started the job I’m at 3 years ago. I can tell you if Lucy is taking her job wayyyyy too seriously than it won’t get THAT much better. I know that started with me when about a month or two after I started a had to start checking in with a coworker who had been training me on job duties but suddenly I had to let her know – two months into the job – specifically what I had worked on. And she wasn’t exactly nice about me questioning why she’s doing this. Even after I checked in with my boss about why she was handling these types of issues my boss just told me live and let live and that sometimes in our department people tell us what to do that isn’t our boss.

    Was Lucy involved in your training at all? That may be why she’s been asked to do this. Is there anyone else below your boss but above Lucy’s head you’ve connected with that you can get input on about these one on one meetings with Lucy? That approach helped me a little bit, although my coworker didn’t really get off my back until I was maybe 10 months to a year into the job and other new people came in to distract her.

  26. Honeybee*

    #1 – My manager has done this as well; there are some tasks she would normally do that are delegated to a senior coworker of mine. I have one-on-ones with this coworker; we do professional development activities together; he’s partially accountable for some aspects of my adjustment and work and reporting to her about my needs and goals. But she explicitly explained to me that it’s because she’s basically grooming him for a management role. She also explicitly explained to me what the relationship was not – we’re still coworkers; he’s not responsible for my work or performance; he doesn’t report the contents of our full conversations for her.

    Honestly, I’ve actually really liked the arrangement because it gives me another formal mentor at a job I’m new to (I now have two, plus my manager herself) and thus another natural go-to person when I have questions and concerns. This particularly coworker is also really stepping up to the task and has been really helpful for me as I adjust to the job and learn how to do my work here.

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