staff member got weirdly territorial with me, job makes us do business travel on personal time, and more

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

1. My staff member got weirdly territorial with me

I am the program coordinator for a new adult day care (Alzheimers patients – providing activities, supervision and meals). I started in March and ran the whole show by myself for two months while interviewing and hiring my current staff. We are now almost six months in with staff.

We post our daily activities every day on the wall (time, location, activity, staff). As the program grows, we will be having multiple programs going on simultaneously that will require all staff, but for the time being my staff conducts the majority, allowing me to do all the behind-the-scenes stuff.

The issue: The agency was having an open house for potential donors in our space, so as proactive marketing I decided to fill the schedule as a sample of what is to come. Because there are three slots per time frame and three staff including me, I put everyone’s name up on the program schedule. Later on, one of my staff came and said she needed to talk, and in short told me she was insulted that I put my name on the board because I don’t run the programs! So I calmly told her first that no, of course I don’t run programs, that’s her job, and I then explained my situation with the donors coming for an open house and that they don’t even know who we are. I even reinforced that I recognize her efforts and putting my name on the sample schedule was in no way meant to discredit other staff. She said, “Well, no, your name is always up there and I needed to let you know how I felt.” I basically said “thanks for sharing your feelings” and excused myself to get to my work. Am I crazy or is this a red flag and out of bounds?

Yeah, it’s a red flag about possible issues with issues with territoriality and/or common sense. It is worth asking yourself whether she might have reason to be feeling territorial or like she’s not getting credit for her work, but if there’s nothing like that going on, it’s a weird and alarming reaction. And actually, I might use that question as an entry point into talking with her about it — sit down with her and ask if she’s feeling like she’s not getting appropriate credit for her work, and then explain that you were taken aback by her reaction the other day, reiterate your reasoning, and ask if it makes sense to her. If it doesn’t, it’s probably worth exploring what’s going on and seeing if you can get aligned on some general principles for this stuff going forward.

2. My job makes us do business travel on personal time

My company requires a lot of travel, pretty much every week, to an interstate destination by flight. Some are only 2 hours flight time (luckily) but some are red-eyes, from New York to San Diego, and are a killer.

My company says that the policy is to only allow travel to be done during personal time. This means I usually have to fly home week after week on a Friday night. In the case of the 2-hour flight, I usually end up in my own bed at 1a.m.; in the case of the San Diego flight, I usually end up in my own bed at 9 or 10 a.m. on a Saturday morning. I find this absurd and I don’t get paid for this use of half of my weekend nights each week.

To make matters worse, in order to get back to San Diego the following week, I am forced to take a Sunday night red-eye back to San Diego, having to leave home at 4 p.m.-ish to get to the airport in time for my flight. Which gives me one night a week in my own bed. It just seems crazy.

Is this legal to force you to travel in your own time? I just can’t believe it!

Assuming that you’re exempt, they don’t have to pay you for travel time. They don’t even need to give you comp time or extra perks to make up for it. (If you’re non-exempt, they’d need to pay you for any travel time that occurred during your regular working hours but not outside of them, so they’d probably be off the hook for those evening and overnight flights.)

But that doesn’t mean that your company’s policy isn’t a bad one (requiring that travel time occur only on personal time is pretty crappy; it’s not like you’re doing that travel for non-business reasons), and it doesn’t mean that you can’t push back. You have a strong case for saying, “Look, I’m using half of my weekends every week on travel. I get that my job involves a lot of travel and that’s fine, but our current policy is leaving me with practically no time away from work obligations. If this were only occasional, it wouldn’t be a big deal, but it’s regularly eating up a significant portion of my weekend. I’d like to talk about comp time or another way to recoup some of that time.”

Be prepared to hear that this is the job and they’re not willing to change the policy — but if that’s the answer, it wouldn’t be crazy to think about whether you’d rather work somewhere that’s more supportive of their regularly-traveling staff.

3. Should I give my manager input into the dates I choose for surgery?

I’ve been dealing with a health issue that’s caused me to be severely anemic and has impacted my quality of life. At one point I was even hospitalized briefly for a blood transfusion, testing, and observation. I’ve spent the past two years researching alternatives to surgery without success. I’m currently on a medication that has kept the anemia at bay but has basically put my body into menopause. I’ve accepted that surgery is unavoidable and have even located a doctor in Virginia (not local as I’m in Michigan) who can perform a minimally invasive procedure with a shorter recovery period (2-3 weeks vs 6 weeks minimum for traditional surgery).

My question is whether I should include my manager as I schedule this surgery. I want to be fair to her and give as much notice as possible but I’m obviously concerned that if I include her at this stage, she’ll suggest the surgery take place much later than I intend. To further complicate things, I’ve not been in this position for very long. I’ve been with the company for nearly two years but have been working in this position since June 1. My manager previously indicated that I would have a review at the end of the year so that everyone on her team would be on the same review schedule. So next year I’ll be a full year into my review by year end, but this year it will just be six months. Is it unwise to have the surgery this year? Is it naive to think it won’t impact my review or should I not concern myself with that as my health is a priority?

Schedule the surgery for when you need to schedule it. If you have a bit of flexibility, it would kind to let your manager have some input on timing if that’s really workable on your end, but it needn’t be open-ended; you could say, “I need to do it by December; is there a three-week period before then that would be preferable to you?” But again, you don’t need to do that; it’s optional and only if you really do have some wiggle room on timing.

Since you’ve been at your company longer than a year (even though only in this particular job since June), you should be eligible for FMLA (assuming that your company has 50+ employees). If you take the time off for the surgery through FMLA, your manager legally cannot factor that time away into your evaluation. Even if your company is too small for FMLA, though, a good manager won’t let something like this influence the type of evaluation you get, so I’d only worry about that if you have other reason to think your manager is someone who would do that.

4. How can I get my manager to approve a new system I’ve come up with?

I work at a convenience store that uses self-checkouts. I’m having difficulty keeping customers at those lanes from time to time, and they won’t listen to me or anything I say unless an official “closed lane” sign is up (and sometimes not even at that point). When I use that sign on my live lane, people are more willing to use the automatic ones, and I have a system set up where I can help out everyone and get them checked out in a timely manner. The store has a policy for no hand-made signs, but the closed lane sign is meant only for the automatic lanes. I usually get scolded about this and the sign gets taken down, even though the system actually works.

Is there anything I can do to keep this system in place with help from my manager? She adores my innovation and ideas, but while she usually smiles about my ideas and tells me how great they are, nothing really gets approved.

Go to your manager and make a clear, direct case for the system you propose: “I want to begin doing X for Y reasons. I’ve seen that Z results when I’ve tried it. Will you give me permission to do this going forward since it’s getting such good results?”

If she says no, there isn’t really much you can do at that point, but it’s worth laying it out clearly, and specifically asking for exactly what you want and for a clear yes or no. (Telling you how great your ideas are is nice, but what you need from her is a clear answer. Ask the question in a way that forces her to give you one.)

5. Asking for a lower salary so that I stay eligible for school assistance

I want to apply for another job, and on their ad it shows that the salary range is from $15-$17/hour, for 30 hours a week, for 180 days of the year. I did the math (hopefully it’s correct) and that means I would be making about $19,000-22,000 a year. I live and go to school in California, and the CalVet system pays for my school until I’m 27, as long as I make under $12,000 a year. If I get an interview for that other job, is it possible for me to ask for a lower salary? Around $11 an hour so I will be making only about $11,800 a year?

Hmmm. While you might be thinking it would be a great deal for them, it’s likely to make more decent employers uncomfortable; good employers want to pay you an amount consistent with their salary structure and what others doing similar work for them are making. I suppose there’s no harm in asking (the worst they can say is no, after all), but I’d be prepared for them not wanting to do that.

It sounds like the CalVet salary cap might be designed to discourage anything but very part-time work (less than 30 hours a week), but maybe someone with more experience with that system can tell us more in the comment section.

{ 277 comments… read them below }

  1. jmkenrick*

    Regarding Question #3: If you do decide to give your manager input (and, I agree with Alison, that’s entirely your call) make sure that you set expectations clearly. In my experience with surgeries, you’re usually offered a few dates, and after that it can be incredibly difficult to reschedule. You want to make sure that you’re not giving the impression that it’s an easy thing to rearrange if something comes up, and make it clear that you need to have the surgery within a certain time window.

    Personally, I would lean away from asking for the manager’s input, but perhaps you could tell her the dates before you’ve finalized them, so if she balks, you have the ability to reschedule?

    1. ParteeTyme Brand Yohimbine-Rohypnol Injection*

      If it were me, I would not let my manager have any say in the matter whatsoever. Even the simplest surgery can be complicated, inconvenient, stressful, and scary. And you’re adding to the complexity by traveling somewhere for the procedure. I think that the last thing you should do is add another variable into the equation. My limited experience with such things agrees with jmkenrick: you’ll have a limited selection of dates to choose from, and the medical profession tends to take the attitude that you need to schedule your affairs around their availability[1]. There is always the possibility that your boss isn’t familiar with how surgical procedures tend to go, but I think most people would not be surprised by a simple statement like “I’m having surgery on [month]/[day]”.

      [1] this might be different if you’re rich or the President.

      1. ParteeTyme Brand Yohimbine-Rohypnol Injection*

        Also, you wrote: … I’m obviously concerned that if I include her at this stage, she’ll suggest the surgery take place much later than I intend.

        I hope that you’re wrong that she would be so insensitive. But if you really think that’s how she’d react to your situation, I think this is a huge red flag warning against her involvement. And maybe a huge red flag in other ways, too, but I’ll not go there.

      2. jmkenrick*

        Agreed. No reasonable person could be upset if you just provide them with a date. And if her manager is unreasonable, then she probably shouldn’t have input into scheduling a medical procedure.

        Assuming OP works in an industry where the workload is relatively steady (ie: not a Christmas store or the ilk) then, really, the best thing that she can offer her manager and coworkers is solid documentation and hand-off for while she’s out.

        1. MsChanandlerBong*

          My mom is going through this right now. She was diagnosed with cancer on 9/13, and the oncologist can’t do her surgery until 10/20. Her supervisor (a living example of the Peter Principle) is already hassling her about when she’s coming back to work, mostly because one of my mom’s coworker’s was back to work within two weeks of having gallbladder surgery. My mom is really sensitive to anesthesia, and she also has some other health issues, so I doubt she’ll be back to work two weeks after having a hysterectomy.

          1. INFJ*

            2 weeks?! 2 months sounds more close to reality for a hysterectomy… and it is a lot of down time. The first few weeks are going to involve VERY limited mobility.
            I hope all goes well for you and your mother.

            1. QA Lady*

              This–my co-worker had a hysterectomy and was out for 6 weeks, and her surgery was very uncomplicated and she had a great recovery.

              1. NoPantsFridays*

                My friend had a laparoscopic hysterectomy and was out for 2 weeks, then worked from home for 2 more weeks, then was back in the office. She also had an easy recovery and was relatively young (~40), and otherwise healthy. And we have desk jobs. If you don’t have those factors going for you it will be tougher.

            2. MsChanandlerBong*

              Thank you! The oncologist wants to do it robotically. As long as he doesn’t get in there and decide to convert to an open procedure, he said she can go home the next day. However, I don’t see her going back to work in two weeks. She reacts terribly to anesthesia, and she is already worn out just from having the cancer.

              1. Cathy*

                I’ve been through that surgery (had an open procedure) and was home within 48 hours (don’t get me started on insurance companies and ‘forced’ discharges). I felt wonderful, just full of ambition to Get Things Done! And …..had the stamina of a week-old kitten. It took me all of the 6 weeks to just get my energy levels back up to peak operating speed. Your mom is already tired, and with the added complication of the anesthesia issues, will take longer to get back to her old self.
                Healing thoughts and energy to both of you.

              2. Vicki*

                I had gallbladder surgery 20 years ago. It was lapro. I went home the next day. I was SORE for a couple of weeks. I had difficulty walking, sitting, standing, felt like I’d been kicked by a mule, and walked like I was 100 years old.

                You never know what to expect, but one thing you can be certain of is that you won;t feel “good as new” the next day.

          2. INTP*

            I hate your mom’s boss. What kind of idiot doesn’t realize that different conditions have different recovery times? In what world is cancer + hysterectomy equivalent to gallbladder surgery?

            1. MsChanandlerBong*

              This supervisor is like a “handle on a piss pot,” to quote my mother. When my mom had her gallbladder out, the supervisor called her while she was off to see if she could come back any sooner.

              1. The Other Dawn*

                I truly can’t stand supervisors like that. I understand wanting things to get back to normal, but you don’t ask someone if they can shorten their recovery period in order to ship a few more widgets! That’s what cross-training is for. And it sends the message that sure we care about your health, but don’t inconvenience us by actually staying home to recover.

          3. BenAdminGeek*

            Very sorry to hear about your mom. I had to look up the Peter Principle, and now agree 100% on your assessment. You gotta love his assumption that “surgery is surgery” – bunions, gallbladder, hand transplant- everything can be 2 weeks.

      3. Merry and Bright*

        I would agree with you. Anyone can have a medical condition and need surgery, even managers. As far as possible the OP should put her health first. In any case, it sounds like the type of surgery she has opted for will probably mean less time of work. Added to which scheduling surgery is not like arranging a hair appointment.

      4. lawsuited*

        I agree that your manager shouldn’t have a say in scheduling your surgery, particularly if you’re worried that he/she will pressure you into kicking it further down the road. When choosing from the (likely limited) available dates provided by your doctor, use your own common sense to decide what would be least problematic for your and your department’s workload. Then email your manager telling her the finalized date, and explaining that you chose is because it would have minimal impact of project X and Y.

        1. Judy*

          In my experience, scheduling surgery is a very complex thing to get all the parts together. The patient doesn’t have much choice, it’s a lot like tetris as far as getting the right people and equipment together.

          1. fposte*

            It may depend on the facility and the advance time. I’ve been able to schedule surgery the week I wanted and even the day I wanted. I think the more specialized the facility the more flexibility they can give, especially if they don’t need overnight hospital beds; they don’t just do laminectomies once a week or once a month , they do them ever freaking day over and over, so you just stake out your spot in the pipeline.

            1. INTP*

              I think it also depends on the specialty. When I had my sinus surgery, I could only schedule it for a Monday, because the surgeon was an ENT who did office visits on other days. If it’s something any general surgeon can do, it may be simpler.

            2. Elizabeth West*

              That’s how my gallbladder removal went–I was able to schedule it for the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, so I had extra time to recover. I was out of Exjob Wednesday and came back to work the following Tuesday (though tired and slow, but I couldn’t spare any more PTO). It helped that there were no complications.

          2. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

            That was my experience as well. when my surgery was scheduled I basically had two choices: The day after my consult (because of a cancellation) or two months later. I was luckily able to drop everything and have the next-day surgery but there was no consultation on “what worked best for me” it was “here are the days that aren’t already full, pick now before that changes”

      5. Karowen*

        I get where you’re coming from, but I don’t think it’s that bad of an idea to discuss something about this with the manager. If nothing else, she hasn’t been in the job long and may not know that (for instance) November is just awful to have anyone out, but December she can come and go as she pleases. So maybe she shouldn’t ask the manager about specific dates but I think it would be worth saying something to the effect of “I have to schedule something before 2016 where I’ll be out for X weeks; is there a time that’s particularly bad or particularly good for me to do that?”

        1. INTP*

          I agree that it’s not a terrible idea to include the manager to a very minor extent, but I think she should consult the surgeon’s schedule and figure out her options before mentioning it. If she asks about the best time and the manager says “Well, November is our busiest month and just won’t work, but December is very slow and should be fine,” but her surgeon only has availability in November, she then looks uncooperative or disingenuous for scheduling that month. It would be much better if she went to her boss with the available dates and asked for input on which would work better.

          1. Hotstreak*

            That’s definitely an issue, but I think you can overcome it by framing the conversation in a way that lets your boss know that you want to be sensitive to business needs, but that if there’s only one option and it’s at the worst time, you’re going to be gone for that time. “I’d like to try and schedule this surgery around any busy periods or times when others have already committed to taking PTO, so please let me know when those are, but keep in mind that if the surgeon only has one or two dates available I might not be able to flex this”.

        2. Joline*

          I’d probably do kind of a hybrid where I would give specific dates. I’d talk to the hospital and ask what slots were available within the time frame I wanted – then bring those dates to my manager and say “these are the options they’ve given me. I was thinking option A unless you have a reason why it’d be better if I went with B and C.” So they get input but only on dates that I’m already okay with.

      6. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        Here’s what I would appreciate… although not necessarily expect, “I have surgery coming up and I may or may not have very much control over when it’s scheduled. If I do have some input, are there any particular dates you like for me to try to avoid?”

        But I wouldn’t get mad even if you did schedule on those dates.

    2. Artemesia*

      This. The moment you involve her in the decision it will seem easy to schedule and re-schedule. Not her business.

      1. Meg Murry*

        Yes, I agree. Because what if the manager says “ok, well then try to schedule between Christmas and New Year’s, that’s our slowest time” and then OP isn’t able to schedule for that time, because lots of people want to schedule medical procedures at the end of the year in order to stay within their annual deductible or to minimize the amount of time they take off of work.

        OP, are you looking at this minimally invasive procedure in Virginia because that is the procedure you want to have done or that your doctors recommend, or are you trying to do it in order to minimize the amount of work you take off? Because I suspect that it will be a very expensive proposition – for any insurance company I’ve ever had, going to a specialist like that would almost certainly be out of network. And many doctors aren’t going to just let you call up and get on their schedule – they are going to want to see you first to make sure you are even a good candidate for that procedure, which may mean at least 1, and probably a couple of visits down to Virginia pre-surgery. So again, if this is the way you want to go because you think it is best medically for you long term, yes, you should proceed down this path – but I think you should also explore what it would mean to have the traditional surgery where you live now.

        Also, regarding your review – I think it is probably better for you to have time off this calendar year. Almost everywhere I’ve worked, my first annual review has been across the board “average” – because in less than one calendar year, you are still in the process of being trained and haven’t really had much time to make an impact. Unless you purposely went out of your way to schedule elective surgery (and what you are describing does not sound elective to me, I’m talking truly elective, like a cosmetic only nose job) during your company’s one biggest and busiest event of the year, no one is going to ding you for taking time out for surgery. And if you happen to be out of the office on the days the boss was planning to do the review paperwork, him pushing it back to January instead of December isn’t such a big deal. I have been out on maternity leave 2x during review season, and all that meant was that my boss did all the paperwork either immediately before I went out on leave, or did it while I was on leave and then we met to formalize it the week I came back.

        If your concern is the cost of missing 6 weeks of work, you should talk to your HR department about whether you would be covered under short-term disability – at many (but not all) workplaces you would be, and therefore would be covered some % of your pay (typically I’ve seen 50, 60 or even 100% of pay for X weeks). And again, regarding your review – the way everywhere I worked handled it was that they pro-rated the raise. So if you were given a 5% raise but you were out for 6 weeks, but worked the other 46, they would give you (46/52)*5% or 4.4% raise that year.

        If for some crazy reason your workplace is the type to penalize you for taking time off for necessary surgery with a negative review – well, they will be showing your their hand, and giving you the sign that you need to get out of there ASAP. Showing concern for your boss and making sure as much as possible is documented before you go out on a scheduled procedure is common courtesy – but you don’t need to bow to them more than that.

        1. BenAdminGeek*

          +100 for all of Meg’s comments here, especially about in- vs. out-of-network and STD coverage.

      2. INTP*

        This is a good point too. Or making her feel she should have a say in scheduling any major follow-up procedures.

    3. Ad Astra*

      I think it depends a little on how reasonable her manager is and a lot on her medical needs. The symptoms and procedures OP describes don’t sound like any condition that I’m personally familiar with, so it’s hard to know what kind of flexibility OP has here.

      If the manager is reasonable and OP has a lot of flexibility about timing, it would be great to say “I need to have surgery within [time period] and I wanted to know if there was a particular time that would put less strain on our department.”

      If the manager is unreasonable and OP has a lot of flexibility, it might be smart to wait until after evaluations — if that makes sense for OP’s health and quality of life.

      If the OP doesn’t have much flexibility, she needs to just pick a date and make it clear that she’ll be out of the office.

    4. INTP*

      Yeah, I would absolutely not mention it to my manager until I had a list of available dates. I also wouldn’t put myself out to schedule the surgery around work – I wouldn’t delay it for months, schedule it so that I’d still be in bed recovering on Christmas, etc. If I received dates that were more or less equivalent to me, I might say “I can schedule the surgery for November 11 or November 18, is there one week that would be more convenient for work?” but that would be the extent of my flexibility.

      If you offer before consulting your surgeon’s schedule, you risk, say, being told “Well, if you are offering, the first two weeks in November will absolutely not work” and then discovering that November 11 is the only date your surgeon is available until February. You’d then appear less considerate for scheduling it on that date than if you had not asked at all.

      1. JMegan*

        I agree. Definitely get the available dates from your doctor first, and *then* talk to your manager.

        The phrase I like to use is “least worst,” as in “What’s the least worst time for me to take off?” This recognizes that there may not be a *good* time for somebody to take three weeks away from work, but given that the surgery is non-optional, there may be a time that is less disruptive than another time.

    5. AdAgencyChick*

      #3, I’m hoping your hesitation in wondering whether this should even be a question is just apprehension on your part, and not justified fear that your manager will have any objection!

      I just had surgery — for a medical problem not as serious as yours — three WEEKS into a new job. Like you, I was a bit apprehensive about approaching my manager about it, because it’s a new relationship and I wasn’t sure how she would take it. On the other hand, I had just come from a job where my crappy manager had made it clear that she expected my taking care of this particular health problem to take a back seat to work, so I was really not in the mood to be told no. I approached the conversation respectfully but firmly — told my boss I needed to have this surgery, I wanted to get it done as soon as possible, but wanted to inconvenience the team as little as possible while not unduly delaying the surgery. I asked her whether there were any days she preferred that I didn’t do it, but my mindset was always “I am going to do this at some point soon.”

      She was totally reasonable about it — gave me one date that she’d prefer I was around (and the surgeon couldn’t even have seen me that soon anyway) and even persuaded me to take MORE time off than I was originally proposing, which turned out to be a good idea.

      Your health issue is more serious than mine, and you’ve been at your company longer than I have. In your shoes I would never even consider scheduling the surgery around work, even if it were going to happen at a particularly crappy period for the rest of the team. This is something you need to have fixed, and soon! I’d approach the conversation with a respectful tone — being belligerent and presenting what you need as demands isn’t necessary — but from a mindset of “here is what I need to do; what can I do before and after to make things go as smoothly in the office as possible?” I would expect any reasonable manager to say yes to that.

    6. ReanaZ*

      I was recently in a similar situation (right down to the meds they put me on causing fake early menopause, ha) as OP3. I agree with the commentators who’ve said this comes down to how reasonable your manager is. My manager is exceedingly reasonable and has been great with health stuff in the past, so I looped him in. I was trying to balance a major project wrap up, my partner’s leave availability, and my doctor’s availability. I basically told him “I’d prefer to have it during these two weeks if possible; otherwise, I’m going to have to wait until x month for my partner’s next work break or have it when he’s not around to help as much.”

      And he said, “Oh, you don’t want to have it in x month, that’s so long and it will be so hot then and I bet you don’t have air con and that will be miserable. And you definitely want to do it when you’ll have help. It’d work better here if you do it the second week of that window but your health comes first, so just let us know what your doctor says and we’ll make it work.” Then I went to my doctor and said that second week was best and we were able to schedule a day in the middle of that week, which worked great for me, my partner, and my work.

      But this only worked well because I knew he’d be reasonable about it and work with me no matter what–only people who are reasonable and courteous and concerned for my well-being get courteous heads-up and a chance to give input. For me, it was significantly less stressful to have this surgery scheduled so it resulted in minimal work stress, so I am even more thankful to be in such a healthy work environment. But a more controlling or shittier manager would have gotten “I need to have surgery on this date, sorry, it’s already scheduled, can’t change it, how do we make this work?”

      Can you picture your manager’s first response being something helpful and supportive like mine? Either way, there’s your answer as to whether or not they should get a healds up.

  2. Fleur*

    To OP#2: I work in a consulting firm where weekly travel is expected, and your schedule is definitely awful. That’s why for clients that require you to be on site 5 days/week, we prefer locals.

    First, is there any way you can get on a more traditional consulting schedule? So 10 hours per day for 4 days, then fly home Thursday night? If you’re stuck with this, you might also see about alternate arrangements. For example, I had a month long training session out of town, and we were given the option of flying each week or staying at a long term hotel (e.g. hotels with kitchens) so we didn’t spend all our free time traveling. I stayed the full month, but other colleagues went home at the two week mark. This is a nice option if you don’t have family to go home to and the hotel costs are about equivalent to the flight costs.

    Definitely talk to your boss about alternate arrangements. This kind of travel is not sustainable long term.

    1. jmkenrick*

      Personally I’m curious about what expectations were set for the OP. In my experience, jobs that require that much travel usually really emphasize the travel burden / expected schedule during the interview process. If this was something that was sprung on her after she was hired, that’s incredibly short-sighted of the company.

      (And, to second your comment Fleur, I don’t know of any company that has such rigorous requirements about not traveling during the workday. Although some trips do require the occasional weekend/red-eye travel, what OP is describing seems over-the-top to me.)

      1. MP*

        I’m a consultant too and can definitely confirm that they were very upfront about the fact that this was a 90% travel job and exactly what that meant. I’ve also had many clients that require me to be onsite for all my work hours (because they won’t allow their data to be accessed remotely) but, as Fleur suggested, most of the time those clients allowed me to move hours around so I could at least arrive a little late on Monday morning and leave a little early on Friday afternoon

      2. Sammie*

        At OldJob we were required to “fly on personal time”. Lots of red-eyes and Sat/Sunday flying. No comp time (heaven forbid). This was most definitely NOT revealed during the interview process. I’ve found this to be pretty typical at of a lot of small tech firms.

        1. Anonymosity*

          Our consultants travel on weekdays. I almost never see someone’s schedule say “Flight Blah blah blah from City to Home” on a weekend. Of course, we’re a larger company. Also they’re exempt and I don’t know what they get paid, but it has to be pretty decent, because both my team leads have boats and RVs.

        2. Long Time Reader First Time Poster*

          Yeah — I had a job that required a LOT of travel (not disclosed in the interview — they said ‘occasional’) and they absolutely REFUSED to give comp time. I’d get home from a trip at 1AM and be expected in the office at 8:30 sharp the next day. And when you were on the road you’d typically work 16 hour days. My salary was decent (ish — not if you calculated my actual hourly rate for those trips), but some of my staff were younger and got paid diddly squat. It was a small firm and the guy who owned it was a workaholic who didn’t understand that everyone else actually wanted to have a life outside of work. Lots of turnover at that place…

          1. Anna (OP)*

            OMG do we work in the same office? My boss also has no life and no respect that others do. And not only are we expected to come in at 7am after arriving home at 1am, we’re expected to fly coach overnight redeye, little if no (terrible sleep) and go directly from the airport to the office without so much as a shower.

            1. Koko*

              Geez, on top of not having respect for your personal lives, does it not occur to him that maybe, just maybe, a well-rested person can do more work with fewer errors in 5 or 6 hours than a sleep-deprived, jet-lagged, coming-down-with-airplane-induced-sinus-infection person can do in 8 or 9 hours?

        3. Anna (OP)*

          Likewise this was (of course) not revealed during the interview period. Scary to know it might be common in some fields (I too am in tech).

      3. Charityb*

        I suspect that OP knew up front about the amount of travel, and the weirdness has more to do with the fact that they have to travel only on their off-time. The company should have made that very clear upfront though; it’s possible that they did and the OP didn’t realize how draining that would be until actually doing it consistently for a while.

        I work in consulting and a lot of times new consultants focus a lot on the financial aspects of travel — per diem and the benefits of travel (frequent flyer miles, etc.) — and don’t really wrap their heads around the fact how little they will be at their houses. (I remember some of my college friends who wound up at Big 4 firms complaining about how much they pay in rent and how little they actually get to enjoy their expensive first apartments). I don’t know how new the OP is to this kind of traveling job but something about the letter (probably the, “is this legal??” bit) suggests that she might be.

        1. Hotstreak*

          It’s pretty crazy, but for a lot of those folks it makes financial sense to put their stuff in storage and live out of hotels when they’re “at home”. Especially since all those airline points mean vacation time is often spent away!

          1. BeenThere*

            Yep I was going to say the same, why would you bother owning/renting a place to live in if you are never there. Many of the AirBnB places I’ve stayed in have belonged to consultants who travel all the time however still want a cool apartment in the best locations.

      4. Ani*

        The “no travel during the workday” ultimatum sounds familiar to me in the sense that I think there are government guidelines (for government? maybe for a former private employer of mine?) about paying for travel time — but only if it’s conducted during normal work hours.

        1. Jules*

          I had an employer for a while where my boss was in NYC and I was based in London (UK), with monthly trips to NYC for ‘catch ups’. She expected me to work on the plane, then come into the office for a full workday when I arrived in NY (no side trip to the hotel for a shower….) and then fly home on my weekend, with no comp time. The kicker? I had to pay for travel expenses upfront and was not reimbursed until after the trip had taken place.

          I did not last long in that job….

              1. Elizabeth West*

                I can but only for a very short time. That’s an eight-hour flight. I wouldn’t want to work for eight hours on the plane and then get off and work for another four or five hours (or whatever). And if you took a red-eye (if there were one coming back), when would you sleep!?

      5. Stranger than fiction*

        I’ve never heard of companies not giving a comp day for travel, either. That totally sucks, and I get the feeling Op was not fully informed of that. They probably said something vague like “80% travel required”. I wonder how high the turnover is and when they’ll realize the cost of constantly hiring and training new recruits.

      6. Anna (OP)*

        I was told to expect up to 50% travel, but the HR policies of not traveling during work hours were not disclosed until after work started. At this point they would fly me around 100% of the time if I was agreeable, 50% isn’t exactly true either.

        Like you say, I’m quite happy to fly outside of work hours when required, like I’m willing to work long hours if there is a deadline, but this is an enforced policy, I travel outside work hours ONLY. It sucks.

        1. jmkenrick*

          Yeah, that’s absurd. If they want to have a policy like that (which I think is short-sighted, but hey, I don’t run a company) then they should make it excruciating clear during the hiring process so people know what they’re getting into.)

    2. Meg Murry*

      Yes, other people I know that work in consulting will do a schedule like what Fleur is mentioning – either 4 x 10 hour days, travel on day 5, or stay over the weekend for 2-3 weeks, and then take a longer weekend off. For instance, my cousin is a consultant, and his regular schedule is 3 straight weeks at the client site, where he works off his laptop out of the hotel for part of the weekend, and then the 4th week he is at home, where he may have to field an occasional question via email but otherwise he is off the clock.

      I also know a few people with a schedule like OPs – but they are paid very handsomely for it, and some of them make out even better by not even bothering to have a home with their own bed to come home to – they just stay in an extended stay hotel paid for by the company and fly “home” to stay with their parents in their childhood bedrooms once a month or so, and store their belongings at their parents’ house or in a storage facility. Its well understood that that is the kind of position where people go at 1000% like that for 2-3 years, make and save a ton of money, and then are able to transfer to a really nice position that requires far less (or no) travel after that.

    3. Rat Racer*

      It’s interesting: at my company we travel a LOT (or we did before this year’s travel freeze – hooray!), and there was no expectation that travel should occur on one’s own time. However, the Work is what it is, and to get all my work done while travelling back and forth cross country means that I’m working on the plane and on the weekends trying to make up for lost time.

      I used to love travel – now I dread it.

      1. Bailey Quarters*

        Interesting. I’m a consultant too, and our travel is expected to be within working hours (insofar as is possible). WE do get “credit” for those hours worked. Plane work is expected as well.

    4. RVA Cat*

      When a travel schedule would stress out even George Clooney’s character from “Up in the Air,” you know it’s excessive.

    5. YouHaveBeenWarned*

      I agree: totally not sustainable long term.

      I get some absurd travel requests, but they are rare. Example of recent email chain:

      Boss: You here yet?
      Me: Where is here?
      Boss: The hotel.
      Me: What hotel?
      Boss: Oh, right. Any chance you can get to Cleveland today?

      Super inconvenient travel can be managed once in a while, but not every week.

      1. Anna (OP)*

        I can beat that even!
        TEXT FROM BOSS AT 3AM: “Rise and shine, flight in 3 hours!”
        No prior warning. Expected to get up, pack and leave by 4am.

          1. RVA Cat*

            Yes. I have to say, this makes my list of Things That Would Make Me Quit on the Spot. It’s not quite as bad as others on the list, like Asked to Commit a Crime, but still….!

    6. louise*

      If it wasn’t part of the original deal, or wasn’t explained adequately before accepting the job, I’d determine a price that makes this bizarre travel worth it (if there is one) and negotiate for additional compensation. “When I accepted this role, it included A, B, and C, so $X made sense. As we’ve gone on, it’s clear the job also entails D, so $Y is more in line with this position. I’m open to continuing for $X, but we would need to revisit some of the job requirements and if we can’t adjust the travel schedule, that isn’t going to be sustainable for me much longer.”

    7. Dot Warner*

      +1 to the long term hotel idea. If the OP is flying to NY on Saturday morning and returning to San Diego on Sunday afternoon, it seems like it’d be more cost effective and less stressful for them to stay in a hotel rather than ping-ponging across the continent.

      1. Anna (OP)*

        To be fair, I’m not looking for less flying time, I’m looking for more time in my own home. This was never part of the deal to not be home for weekends. I’m even happy to travel in personal time on Thursday evenings, but not Friday nights, weekends are my time. I don’t want to stay away from home longer by staying here for the weekend.

    8. Anna (OP)*

      Hi Fleur and thanks for your job comparison (it helps)!

      My job unfortunately already expects extreme working hours, I already work from 7am to 9 or 10pm (or later) most days, especially if I’m traveling,- the option to work longer hours in order to get some comp time back I would gladly do, but I don’t think that is going to fly. Even when I give them between 4 or 5hrs extra work time each day (which they don’t even allow me to bill for) they still won’t give me a few hours a week to travel during work hours. What annoys me the most is that whenever we fly, we’re still expected to be online and working (even if it’s personal hours) so regardless of whether we fly during work hours or not, we’re still working!

      I don’t have family, but that doesn’t really mean that I don’t want to be in my own home with my own belongings and being able to say yes to regular everyday life invitations, like having a drink with a friend after work or going to a movie. This is now out of my life. So staying longer to avoid the travel won’t solve the root of the problem, which is not being home on my weekends.

      I agree, the best solution here is to probably find new employment with more generous HR policies.

      P.S. The client does not require me to be onsite 5 days per week, in fact they always are puzzled why I don’t fly until the evening on a Friday night as most of them leave the office themselves early on a Friday, and suggest that when they travel they always fly on a Friday in the afternoon. Ha!

      1. Meg Murry*

        Ok, so if your client doesn’t expect you to be onsite 5 days a week, could you fly out Thursday night and then “work from home” on Friday? Or plan to come in to the home office at some point on Friday?

        Are there other people doing your job, and are they all doing the same crazy travel schedule you are? Have you talked them to see how they handle it? Are there other loopholes you aren’t aware of?

        Otherwise, I’m pretty sure this falls into the “crazy but legal” category, and you just need to look for a way out. I’m pretty sure in any interview if you said “I’m tired of having to fly out on Sunday night and not get home until early Saturday morning for weeks at a time so I’m looking to change roles” any normal human would understand.

      2. Fleur*

        What about the option to do remote work? Your schedule sounds pretty similar to our consultants – the 4 x 10 is pretty much lip service to allow them to travel on Thursday, but they work remote the rest of the time.

        If your company can’t even set up this incredibly common travel schedule like almost every consulting company I’ve heard of, I think you need to take your talents elsewhere. I would only put up with a schedule like yours if I were guaranteed it was a very short term engagement.

    9. Anna (OP)*

      Hi Fleur and thanks for your job comparison (it helps)!

      My job unfortunately already expects extreme working hours, I already work from 7am to 9 or 10pm (or later) most days, especially if I’m traveling,- the option to work longer hours in order to get some comp time back I would gladly do, but I don’t think that is going to fly. Even when I give them between 4 or 5hrs extra work time each day (which they don’t even allow me to bill for) they still won’t give me a few hours a week to travel during work hours. What annoys me the most is that whenever we fly, we’re still expected to be online and working (even if it’s personal hours) so regardless of whether we fly during work hours or not, we’re still working!

      I don’t have family, but that doesn’t really mean that I don’t want to be in my own home with my own belongings and being able to say yes to regular everyday life invitations, like having a drink with a friend after work or going to a movie. This is now out of my life. So staying longer to avoid the travel won’t solve the root of the problem, which is not being home on my weekends.

      I agree, the best solution here is to probably find new employment with more generous HR policies.

      P.S. The client does not require me to be onsite 5 days per week, in fact they always are puzzled why I don’t fly until the evening on a Friday night as most of them leave the office themselves early on a Friday, and suggest that when they travel they always fly on a Friday in the afternoon. Ha!

    10. KH*

      It’s common for companies to make you travel whenever the schedule happens to work out, but expressly stating that you can’t travel during working hours is just sleazy in my opinion. Sure, it impacts productivity, but we have a choice in where we work. What other slimy policies do they have?

  3. Sonya Mann*

    #5 — if possible, wouldn’t it be better to work less time at a higher pay rate? E.g. 20 hours per week at $12 per hour. (Apologies if this is obvious and you’ve already factored it in…) Maybe this job just doesn’t fit what would work for you. Like Alison said, the type of employer who will give you a good working experience won’t want to pay less.

    1. Polka dot bird*

      I’m a bit confused by the maths as well but if I have it right then working 30 hours a week for 26ish weeks @ $15 per hour is a total of $11 700. This would still be under the cap.

      This is assuming they are calculating based on how much you would actually earn per year but I would be surprised if that were not the case.

      1. Brett*

        180 days probably is 36 weeks, not 26 weeks. (The 180 days makes me think this is a school related job, so the days are 5 days a week.)

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      I’m guessing that if they advertised for a particular sechdual that’s what they need, and trying to work part time wouldn’t necessarily be an option.

    3. Stranger than fiction*

      You know, I’m a bit worried either way she does it. What if she gets a bonus? What if business necessitates her work more hours here and there? 12k in California is peanuts, not sure how she does it.

  4. Annoy Sumo*

    #5) I’m not sure the math is correct.
    180 days/year = 26 weeks/year. So $15-17/hr * 30 hr/week * 26 weeks/yr = $11,700 – 13,260/yr.
    (And that’s before any tax withholding; I have no idea whether or not that is factored into the CalVet minimums.)

    1. De*

      Depends on what the 180 days are supposed to be. If that’s work days and the OP works 5-day weeks, that’s 38 weeks, not 26.

      1. A Dispatcher*

        Yep, when I saw 180 days, I assumed it was a job in a school system (many have 180 day school years), so I figured it was working days and not half a year, but I could certainly be wrong.

    2. Jade*

      I think it depends on whether it’s 180 working days, or 180 days converted to 6 months of working!

    3. Annoy Sumo*

      Regardless of how the “180 days” are calculated, the math still doesn’t work out. Think of it this way:
      $19,000-22000/yr ÷ $15-17/hr = about 1,275 hr/yr. (regardless of the number of weeks)
      1,275 hr/yr * $11/hr = $14,000/yr, which is well over $12,000.
      To get OP5’s target annual salary based on the numbers they gave, it would need to be $9.25/hr * 1,275 hr/yr = $11,800/yr. So there is a math error somewhere.

      Point is, there is certainly “harm in asking” if you don’t have your math correct. If you ask for $11 when $15 would have kept you below the maximum, you just lowballed yourself. Worst case, if $11 doesn’t take it below the CalVet maximum, you have cost yourself on both ends!

      (I assumed the listing would have calendar days rather than work days, because of temp guidelines. But regardless, same point: confirm everything *before* lowballing yourself to the employer.)

      1. Judy*

        I think the OP was saying that adding that job to their current job would put them above the limit for the program.

        1. Unpopular Opinion*

          I realize this may be an unpopular opinion, and I also realize I’m getting a little off-track of what the letter writing was asking about. That said, I tend to think that if you are able to make enough money that disqualifies you for some kind of financial aid – that’s not a bad thing. That’s a good thing – becoming financially independent. I would encourage the letter writer to seek employment at a level where he or she could still pursue additional education on their own. My opinion may be swayed by several individuals I know who “work the system” for various financial aid style programs – where they try to “hide” income to stay eligible to aid, when the individual clearly makes enough money to no longer need the aid. **I absolutely don’t think the OP is trying to “work the system” – I think it’s a normal thought process. I’m sharing that my advice would not be to lowball your income to keep financial aid, but instead to make enough money to no longer need the aid.

          1. Katniss*

            To be fair, one can get income that would disqualify you for aid and still not be making enough to cover basic bills. Student loans are a huge example. I make enough on paper to pay rent and other basics, and wouldn’t qualify for aid, however with student loan payments I really could use it. Not every aid program will take private student loans into consideration when they look at your pay vs. your bills, though.

            1. RG*

              Yeah, and to piggyback off of that, there’s been issues with parents that only qualify/can find minimum wage jobs or jobs close to that. By the time they account for transportation and childcare costs, that money is mostly gone – in fact, they might have to pay some of that cost out of pocket.

            2. Stranger than fiction*

              Yes, I understand the overall message Unpopular brings up, but it’s true especially in California, that you can make too much for assistance but still not make enough to live, and that’s a horrible spot to be in. True, there are plenty of people that take advantage, but I assume Op is a young student, just starting out, and that this program covers tuition, books, and maybe even partial living expenses.

            3. Hotstreak*

              Another recent example is the $15/hr minimum wage in Seattle. Many low income workers in the city relied upon subsidized housing, food, and healthcare, but no longer qualify for those programs with their increased wages. They are making an extra $10k per year pretax, but are paying an extra $1,000/mo on housing, plus extra for food and health insurance. The system’s not perfect!

          2. Elsajeni*

            I think that can be true in some situations, but the idea that, if you’re making above the cutoff, you’ve become financially independent really doesn’t seem to apply in this case — even taking the highest end of the OP’s calculation, do we really think someone making $22,000/year can cover college tuition no problem? And as for “make enough money to no longer need the aid” as advice… there aren’t a lot of jobs out there that a) pay enough to support yourself plus pay tuition with no need for financial aid, AND b) are available to someone who (presumably) doesn’t yet have a college degree and (most likely) isn’t available to work full-time.

            1. Krystal*

              No, but as a counterpoint – getting government-funded tuition assistance is nearly impossible. The entire system is broken.

          3. Brett*

            The CalVet education benefit can be as much as $13.4k/year.

            More importantly, it automatically grants you resident status even if you are a non-resident (cutting your tuition by up to another $25k/year if you would otherwise be a non-resident).
            So, that extra $7k (before tax) could be costing the OP $13.4k (after tax) or even as much as $37.4k per year. That is not a really financially sound choice.

          4. doreen*

            I don’t entirely disagree with you, but part of the problem is that a lot of aid programs are like falling off a cliff – it’s one thing if making an extra thousand dollars reduces your aid by a thousand dollars , but a lot of them have strict income limits and are set up so that if you make slightly over the limit you are completely ineligible. For example, affordable housing programs in my city are set up so that for example (and it’s an actual listing) , a studio costs $565 if your income is between $20,743 – $24,200. It’s $716 if your income is between $25,920 – $30,250. If your income is between $24,201 and $25,919 , you’re out of luck. It’s hard to fault someone who passes up overtime or a raise that would take them out of the lower bracket and leaves them in the middle”out of luck” group.

    4. Anx*

      I also wonder, if this is based on AGI and through the IRS. I had an issue where I was automatically receiving tax credits and breaks that I’d rather not have (I was trying to get a high AGI for ACA subsidies).

      1. davey1983*

        Were you using a program to help do your taxes? Legally, you do not have to take tax credits or deductions.

        Though, in general, aren’t the bigger subsidies for the ACA when you have a smaller AGI? The subsidies phase out as you make more money. Do you happen to live in a state that didn’t expand medicare? Then I could see why you would want to increase AGI if you happen to be in the ‘donut hole’– to much money for medicare, to little money for subsidies.

        Another option is just take the deductions and credits and put your refund in a savings account and use that to pay for the health insurance.

        1. Anx*

          I don’t typically use a program. Although this year, I did, because the health insurance stuff is so wonky in a non-expand state. The program made it a lotle confusing, because they ask questions like “did you _____” instead of the forms where the credits seem a little more optional.

          I live in a non-expand state. And making ‘too much’ for Medicare doesn’t even mean you make anything. I was unemployed with <$500 income one year, and it was 'too much' because I am not a parent. So the the goal is to try to clear the FPL. The silver lining, I suppose, of living in a non-expand state is that I will only have to clear 100%FPL instead of the 133% FPL so I should be able to get there sooner.

  5. YandO*

    you need to check to see if they are looking for gross income or the AGI number. Cause if they want AGI, then you should take excess money and invest into a traditional IRA

    1. Brett*

      It _is_ AGI. (Assuming this is plan B and not plan D, which is for children of medal of honor recipients.)
      So, your idea could definitely help (but the IRA limits still might not be enough to make up the difference between poverty level and the pay of the new job).
      Under Plan B, a students Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) shall be verified with a SIGNED
      copy of the return filed with the IRS (1040, 1040EZ, TeleFile) or similar FTB form, or if
      a copy is not available, a statement from the IRS or FTB must be provided verifying AGI
      or the fact that there is no record of a return being filed”

  6. Marzipan*

    #4, I’m confused about whether you’re saying that people don’t use the self-checkouts unless the normal checkout is closed (but that the lack of signage means they can’t tell this is the case); or whether you’re saying that you’re making the normal checkout appear closed so people will all use the self-checkouts and you can manage them more easily there. If the former, yes, a sign (or better yet, a physical barrier) would help. If the latter, I imagine customers would find this extremely frustrating – I quite like self-checkouts but many people hate them – and I suspect this is part of why a policy against doing it exists. (I mean, it’s frustrating for those customers even if it’s really closed, but you know what I mean).

    Either way, something seems to be up with the staffing levels at the checkouts – are you supposed to be simultaneously running the normal checkout and the self-checkouts? I think part of the conversation to have with your manager – especially if they say no regarding the sign – would be to make observations/ask for advice on how to handle this aspect of your role (e.g. “I’m noticing that customers tend to do X, leading to them becoming frustrated because Y. Since Z isn’t an option, is there any possibility of assigning more staff to the checkouts, or do you have any ideas for how we can improve customer experience in this area?”) Really, self-checkouts need a dedicated person to assist customers (“Unexpected item in the bagging area!”) and if the problem is that your store can’t or won’t provide this, then making sure your manager knows the impact it’s having is important. Suggesting ideas for how to improve things is great, but communicating the problem is key.

    1. Tau*

      I interpreted it the latter way as well. OP seems to be focused on reducing the time spent at check-out, which is understandable, but many people would rather wait for longer in order not to have to use a self-service check-out. (Me included if I have more than a few items, tbh. I find self-service check-outs really terrible at dealing with people bringing their own bag and it becomes a stressful juggling act where after every item I wait in dread for “Unexpected item in bagging area!”) So the latter policy carries the clear chance of customer dissatisfaction with it – go ahead and suggest it to your manager, but don’t be surprised if she refuses.

      Also agreed that it sounds like the person manning the normal check-out shouldn’t also be in charge of the self-service check-outs and that the issues that causes sound worth bringing up with your manager in any case!

      1. misspiggy*

        Agreed – my invisible disabilities mean I can’t use self checkout, and it’s a bit concerning that people appear to be thinking up ways to force customers into using it.

        1. Rebecca 2*

          Most self-checkout places I’ve seen are pretty friendly to all kinds of able-bodied and disabled peoples. I think this is a cost-saving measure a lot of companies are taking on, and it’s totally an option for the patron to shop elsewhere if it bothers them.

          1. KellyK*

            Wow. I’m pretty sure misspiggy knows better than you do whether she can use a self-checkout or not. Vision or hearing issues would make it difficult, and that’s just what I can name off the top of my head.

            And yes, she’s free to shop elsewhere, but 1) it’s silly for a business to push paying customers away and 2) they are supposed to actually accommodate disabilities within reason.

            1. Rebecca 2*

              I’m just not understanding how it isn’t accommodating, and I spent several years working in a grocery store. Willing to be educated.

              1. fposte*

                Well, there’s been a lawsuit over it at least once. There are also neurological and muscular problems that can make the sustained precision of hitting the numbers a problem with certain keypad locations (I know I had real difficulty with them in one store when I was recovering from surgery, because you had to lean at them and I couldn’t lean and finger-stab at the same time).

                I don’t know that it’s possible to make a self-checkout universally accessible, but I didn’t see miss piggy as saying that that was necessary–she was just noting that she couldn’t use it.

          2. INTP*

            And the OP can also work elsewhere if it bothers them, since the management does not seem to be interested in forcing customers to use self-checkouts.

          3. Beezus*

            I would shop elsewhere, that’s the problem, and I can, because most retailers won’t force patrons to use them. I would actually pay slightly more at another retailer to avoid it (shop at Meijer instead of Wal-mart, for example.) In the event that I did shop at a store knowing I’d have to self-checkout, I’d also make fewer impulse purchases, because every item I put in my cart is another item I have to get the stupid thing to scan.

            Those things make your cost-savings measure a revenue-eroding one. How many customers feel that way (and I admit I don’t know) determines whether the cost savings measure is worth it, but evidently, the OP’s company feels it’s better to keep a manned checkout open.

            1. Lana*

              I cannot stand self-checkouts. I have absolutely stopped shopping at certain individual stores that basically force customers to use them — some self-checkouts seem to almost always require a live person to come over anyway, which defeats the purpose. It would seem one of the most important points where a store would make sure to be efficient and fully staffed is at the checkout, to secure the money — but no, THAT’s where stores want to save a dime.

              1. Mabel*

                Something odd happened at our local CVS recently. They used to have six self-service checkout stations, and all of a sudden those are gone, and everyone has to use the regular checkout. The employees were saying over and over, “we don’t know why they made this change” so I’m still curious about what happened. Other CVS stores in the area use the self-checkout stations, so it’s not a universal change.

        2. Ad Astra*

          I don’t know what your disabilities are, and I’m sure you’re the best person to assess what you can and can’t do, but if you ever find that self check-out is your only option, there should be an attendant who can help you — even to the point of scanning and bagging all the items for you. I’ve had employees ask to check me out at the self-checkout when the traditional checkout lines get too long.

      2. Allison*

        I used to hate them, but I think they’re better now than they used to be, and I actually prefer them unless there’s something I need behind the counter. I feel like much less of an inconvenience if I just take care of the transaction myself.

        1. fposte*

          I like them at most places, but there’s one place in town where they’re legendarily awful, so all four SCOs will be open and there’ll be a line of seven people at the live checker. And while the OP doesn’t have control over this, if that’s what’s going on in her store, that’s a sign that there’s something really unfriendly about the SCO system.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            And if the SCO is that unfriendly, I’d rather just use the live checker than be coached through their PITA AGO system by the checker. I get that it’s more convenient for the clerk to have customers using the SCO, but isn’t the retail experience supposed to be more about the customer’s convenience?

          2. some1*

            My local “fancy” grocery store self-checkout doesn’t let you ring anything else up if you don’t put your item in their plastic bag on the counter. So I have to put all my items in one of their bags, then take them all out and put them in my backpack or my reusable bags that I bring with.

            1. Allison*

              I just put things directly on the counter when I’m using my own bag, unless it’s a big grocery haul. My old grocery store used to let you use your own bag at self-checkout, but you had to hit a button saying you were using your own bag and sometimes it didn’t work, I think that’s part of why they got rid of self-checkout.

        2. Nina*

          Same. Unless I have a full cart of groceries, I much prefer the SCO because it’s faster. Sadly, my local grocery store just got rid of the SCOs in favor of more express line clerks. Despite being an express line, (15 items or less) there’s still a considerable wait.

          1. Jules*

            I’m not checking out my own groceries unless the retailer is giving me a discount for saving them the staff costs….

        3. Elizabeth West*

          I don’t like them–the ones at Walmart don’t like my card. Or they didn’t; we are getting chip and pin cards in the US (FINALLY!!!!!) and I have a new one, so we’ll see.

        4. Joline*

          I prefer them unless I have a lot of produce (unless it’s something wrapped with a scan code). Fruit seems to often have the sticker with the code but a lot of veggies I end up having to click through all sorts of screens to find my item. I’m more likely to use the self check-out in a place where the produce in the search is listed alphabetically as opposed to them trying to arrange in “helpful” categories (“ethnic” is my pet peeve produce category).

          1. Anna*

            I’m 50/50. If I’m only picking up a few items and all the checkers have lines, I’ll use them. If I have a cart or a lot of items, I go through the checker. My husband refuses to use them at all.

      3. Kelly L.*

        Yeah, I think your last thing is the issue–I think she’s running the normal checkout and the self-service at the same time, and so she’s always having to leave the regular one to deal with the SS ones and vice versa, and it ends up going slowly for everybody as lines build up.

    2. Liane*

      If the setup is like at OldJob, the OP has a tiny station at self checkout (SCO), where they can both watch the SCO registers and check out customers with 2 or 3 items total or run a suspended transaction.
      While I sympathize with OP’s dilemma, I don’t think the signs would be much help. When I did regular or SCO registers – I was customer service but often had to cover – a number of customers seemed to have trouble reading both signs or the (large) buttons on the touchscreens. These folks could not find the Pay For Order button, which was about the size of the palm of your hand, on the SCO screens. They also wondered why an SCO with the Closed Lane screen wasn’t ringing up their items, or why their cards weren’t working when they had to move a No Cards placard *from in front of the card slot* to insert their card.
      (Sorry folks I know no no one on AAM is one of Those Customers)

      1. Allison*

        “I know no no one on AAM is one of Those Customers”

        I try not to be one of “those customers,” but I have to admit, sometimes I have “those days” where my brain doesn’t work. I’m sorry!

    3. Three Thousand*

      It’s possible it just didn’t occur to the management that self-checkouts would require dedicated staff oversight (“It’s called a SELF-checkout; what the hell’s the point of having one if I have to hire someone to work it?”) if they’ve never used them before. It might be worth bringing up.

      1. Sadsack*

        Yeah, where I shop, there is usually one clerk assigned to manage all the self checkout units, but there are always other lanes with individual clerks doing the checking.

    4. Myrin*

      I am beyond fascinated by this whole conversation since I didn’t know self-checkouts are a thing! I mean, Wikipedia tells me they do exist in my country (only with some chains, though) but I’ve certainly never seen one in all my life and the whole thing seems very foreign to me. Anyway, I think OP meant the latter of your two interpretations? Regardless of that, I really like your suggestions since at the core of this there seem to be some staffing problems. (As well as some, well, boldness (?) on OP’s part. I mean, you “usually” get scolded for doing this? So you just keep doing things you were explicitly told you shouldn’t be doing? That is… not a good thing, generally. Also makes me wonder how much the manager really “adores” OP’s ideas, to be honest.)

    5. Sadsack*

      I am also confused by this post. If OP is trying to herd people to the auto lanes and not provide a lane with a clerk, then I would ba an annoyed customer. I always have issues with the auto lanes if I am buying more than one item. Every single time. It sounds like OP is trying to remove a portion of actual customer service. She claims the system works great, but that is from her perspective. It seems that she is not considering that some customers prefer to have a clerk ring them up. Sorry if I am misunderstanding though.

  7. seisy*

    Man, random pointless territorialism is so annoying. I had a coworker who did that to me constantly (and mostly just me, I have no idea why), often in conjunction with setting me up to fail. Like, oh, I once was in charge of a project that absolutely had to be completed by a certain date. But there was one missing piece, the bit that particular coworker was responsible for. She delayed, complained, delayed, and claimed to just be too busy to get around to an absolutely vital project. The day it needed to go out, I finally just put together a template of the thing and offered to finish it for her. At which point she threw an absolute fit about] my infringing on *her* job. And then after the deadline had passed, she made a point of very publicly insinuating that I had dropped the ball on the whole project, and that my judgment was seriously questionable as evidenced by my leaving out vital thing X. Luckily, since it’d been going on for a week, I’d already alerted my supervisor to the situation and was able to get permission to go ahead without her, but man. It was not only petty, it was entirely pointless. She had nothing to gain from any of it, and I wasn’t a threat to her. It’s not like I’d have been after her job anyway, it wasn’t any improvement on mine. I never really understood it.

    And it was over such a small thing, too.

    1. JGray*

      I agree and it was even weirder that she had this reaction with her boss and over funding. I worked for many years in a nonprofit that relied on donors/fundraisers and it I had asked my boss about something & she had explained it had to do with donors coming in than I would have been fine. The reaction seems odd to me over something somewhat trivial. I agree with Alison that the LW should talk to the employee again but I have a feeling that the issue might be bigger than just recognition for her work.

      1. AnotherHRPro*

        Sometimes people react strongly to something trivial if it is a specific example of something that has been bothering them. I would guess this person is feeling underappreciated and this sample schedule is just one specific example that she can point to that reinforces her feelings.

      2. Stranger than fiction*

        It does seem she overreacted, but I’m wondering what her comment “You always have your name up there” meant?

      3. fposte*

        Here’s my take–this is the one public time when funders see the names of the facilitating staff next to what they’re actually doing (even on a pretend schedule), and instead the boss put her name up on programming she wouldn’t in reality do. And on the one hand, I get that it’s a sample schedule and it doesn’t matter; on the other, I’m not even one of the staff and I don’t get why the OP’s name went up instead of the name of somebody who would actually do the programming. In equivalent situations, I like to be pretty clear on the optics and make sure my staff are well represented as carrying the loads that they do. So while I think the staffer overreacted, I would have advised the OP to avoid doing this.

        1. Delyssia*

          I read the letter as indicating that when they have a full slate of programs up and running, the OP *will* actually be doing the work. It’s not 100% clear, so I could be misinterpreting it, but that’s how I was interpreting “will require all staff.”

        2. Anna*

          From my understanding there is a grand total of three members of staff including the OP. They have three slots on the board for activities, but currently only two activities are going on simultaneously because only two staff do activities. The OP, in an effort to show off what they COULD do with appropriate funding, filled all three slots on the board, but instead of leaving the 3rd slot without someone leading the activity, put in her name. To me she didn’t leave anyone out, she just included herself. Quote: Because there are three slots per time frame and three staff including me, I put everyone’s name up on the program schedule.

          1. Anna*

            Add in, I wouldn’t advise her not to do that because it’s a marketing thing for an open house, not an actual schedule that goes out and lies about things. It’s an example of what could happen, not indicative of what would happen, and looks better than writing “Unknown” or “Future Staff” or “If You Give Us More Money You May See the Name Sue or Joe Here!” And is certainly better than putting Staff Jane on there if Staff Jane is already written in another slot to do another activity.

            1. Jennifer*

              Hi im the letter writer..exactly this..there are only 3 of us..i was trying to keep the letter short and to the point but should have added that none of these people at the fundraiser know us from eve and have no idea if someone is the director or the janitor. Also, yes my name stays on the board for lunch hour and the one activity i have to do each day after lunch as these are the times i send my 2 staff on alternating one hour breaks..(one from 12-1 and the other from 1-2)
              Follow up: i had informed my supervisor of her comments just in case any future issue came up..we agreed it was odd and i did have a follow up talk with the staff member one on one and reiterated my appreciation/recognition for the hard work, reiterated that i know we have a huge job ahead of us building a brand new program with minimal staff (WANTED to remind her i did all this alone for 2 months worth of ten hour days before i hired her and then sweated right alongside her for another two months before finding another staff member but i digress..) and mentioned that i was taken aback by her reaction to the sample schedule but understood how she could feel about it…she didnt seem to change her tune, just said she had to get it off her chest but that she loves her a proactive measure a few days later i held a staff meeting -did not mention the schedule debacle-to get feedback on day to day operations and include staff on planning future activities (as i do at each meeting) and then opened the discussion to any issues anybody may be having- no one had an issue- shocking…

    2. J.B.*

      Ohh, yeah. Territorialism is such a barrier to getting things done! Definitely pushes me to beg for forgiveness, because approval is such a headache.

  8. Apollo Warbucks*

    #3 It’s really good of you to want to lessen the impact of your absence on your job but I wouldn’t worry to much about it, people get sick and need time off it’s a normal part of running a business.

    Maybe ask the hospital what dates they have so you’ve got a couple of choices to present to your boss, but your are not asking their permission to take this time off you’re informing them that you need a couple of weeks and you’ll be gone.

  9. Apollo Warbucks*

    #2 Your company is being unreasonable travelling time for work is a normal cost of business and you shouldn’t be consistently using your weekend to travel. I’m all for catching the redeye occasionally if it’s the most convenient option but it’s not sustainable in the long run.

    I’d look at other flight times and present them to your boss so your travel sechdual is more reasonable, like getting home at 7:00 on Friday night not 10:00

    1. MK*

      I have never known travel to happen during business hours; usually people travel early enough so that they can be there to start work when the office opens, or else the previous evening.

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        When ever I’ve travelled I’ve always had a slightly later start or finish at work and that’s quite common in the firms I’ve work for.

      2. the gold digger*

        People are usually not expected to travel on personal time at my current job or at the job I had years ago. At NotSergioLandia, however, I did spend the day after Thanksgiving on a flight to Dubai. I did get that day as a comp day, as it was an official company holiday (but had to fill out a bunch of paperwork for it), but not the rest of the weekend. I was not happy about that. I really did not want to spend Thanksgiving weekend in Dubai and I really did not want to spend 13 hours flying there, arriving at 11 p.m on Saturday night and then going to work the next morning (Sunday is the start of the work week there).

      3. Not The Droid You are Looking For*

        I traveled for two years as a consultant and I always traveled during working hours, unless I wanted to go early (sometimes it’s nice to arrive on Sunday evening rather than Monday mid-day).

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          It really seems like they’re trying to cram as much work/customer visits into the week as they possibly can. Otherwise, at least the shorter, two-hour flights could be same-day turnaround. I’m really curious as to what type of business this is.

      4. Amtelope*

        That’s more common in my experience as well; when we travel, it’s for meetings that begin at 8 AM and run until at least 4 PM, so if there’s a Monday meeting, we travel on Sunday, and if there’s a Friday meeting, we get home late Friday night. It sounds like it’s the volume of travel that’s making this unsustainable for the OP, though — all week, every week? I’m not sure that would be significantly improved by flying home slightly earlier or leaving for the site slightly later.

        1. AnotherHRPro*

          I agree. While we don’t have a policy about traveling on personal time, it frequently happens based on when meetings start and end. I used to travel about 3 days per week for several years and mostly found myself on planes very early in the morning or in the evening. It was grueling, but not nearly as bad as the OPs situation. I think doing it 5 days a week, each and every week would break me.

        2. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

          When I was expected to stay weeks at a client site, we did extended stay hotels and just stayed over.

          I couldn’t imagine the strain for flying back and forth.

    2. Anna (OP)*

      I wish that was the case, but it’s not even an option to even DEPART by 7pm, suggesting arriving home would be returned with “not approved, this is against HR policy”. This is the entire root of my problem.

      1. Mabel*

        Sounds like the HR policy is very unfriendly to employees. Do you know why this is the policy? If you decided to talk to them about it, please send an update. I hope it gets better!

  10. Tau*

    #3, are you me? Because all this sounds distressingly familiar. I too had a health condition crop up that was making me severely anemic and eventually gave me fainting fits, where it turned out that the only real way to deal with it was surgery, and started a new job only shortly beforehand.

    So, from that experience… don’t apologise. And don’t give them the input. Reasonable managers won’t need it, unreasonable managers will abuse it.

    I know it can be hard when you’re worried about taking weeks off so soon after starting, but your health is more important than your job and you deserve not to live like this! Simply tell them something like: “Due to a persistent health issue, I am having surgery on X date which I will need about 2-3 weeks to recover from, and therefore will need to be off work from Y-Z dates.” How you take the time off and the details of FMLA etc. is one thing, but that you need the time off is something only a very unreasonable person could protest against – and those are the last ones you want to be promising flexibility to.

    All the best, OP #3. I hope everything goes well with your work and especially with your surgery!

    If it’s any reassurance, I had my own surgery two weeks ago on Friday and it went incredibly smoothly. I was walking around the day afterwards, have felt pretty much back to normal since the weekend and am back at work as of yesterday. (And deeply looking forward to recovering completely and being able to regain normal levels of fitness after a year of anemia!) I don’t know if we have the same condition, but it does sound at least very similar, and I wanted to offer that bit of reassurance.

    1. AnotherHRPro*

      Yes, please have the surgery when you need it. If you can schedule it to miss a specific hectic time or project, etc., great. But otherwise, take care of yourself. I have an employee who needed multiple surgeries this year. Some of them happened when the timing was not ideal but guess what? We figured it out. The work will get done and you should take care of your health. People understand that.

  11. Lou*

    #4 This sounds like a supermarket in the UK. In most retail companies hand made signs are against company policy for certain reasons, for one HR doesn’t know about them, so could potentially put the store at risk or you at risk. Sounds silly but they are unauthorised, and not company protocol. So someone could complain and say stuff like ‘I saw the sign which said such and such when you never do such and such thing in other shops’. So company will reprimand the store for going against company policy, thus getting your manager in trouble (your manager is the one who will get in trouble because you are considered your manager’s charge and are under their team, it will be seen as a management failure) as well as misleading the customer.

    It misleads the customers because it goes against the brand standards and in the customers eyes, it sets a precedent that all stores under the brand do this, and therefore if they go into another shop under the brand they will ask why this is not in place or demand that in that shop. Make sense?

    If you keep getting scolded it will come up in your 1 to 1 briefings about you being insubordinate and going against company policy. Whilst your system is ok. It’s not how things work and things work a certain way for a reason. As a checkout assistant your job is to process trolleys and interact with customers, even if you have to constantly say ‘have a nice day’ you have to constantly say ‘this checkout is closed, please use the self service atm’.

    1. Ad Astra*

      That makes sense about the signs. It seems like a hand-written sign might be ok in a true emergency, but sticking with official guidelines is important for lots of reasons that might not have occurred to OP. I’m wondering if the signs themselves are the sticking point for the manager — in which case, why not just order a new sign? — or if there’s something the manager doesn’t like about OP’s system. It sounds like it’s worth asking, since she seems to have a decent relationship with the manager.

    2. HRish Dude*

      My first thought when I read “convenience store” and “self checkout” was a Sainsbury Local…so I’m also presuming it’s in the UK.

  12. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

    #4 made me twitch.

    OP, it sounds as if you mean well, but I wouldn’t approve your idea for a bunch of reasons, and would be irritated that you initiated it on your, and would also be irritated if you kept coming back to me with it after I told you no. Here’s why:

    Customers should be allowed to purchase in method that is most convenient to them. Some people like to use self checkout and many other people don’t. It sounds like you’re thinking “self checkout is the most expedient way to move customers through the store fastest, therefore I won’t give them another choice and see how great this will work”. While it may be efficient, a customer focused business presents customers with as many options as possible.

    Cash only is the most cost effective $$ payment method because there are no fees. Businesses offer credit cards, and many as they can, so customers have choices. For product selection, it’s much more efficient and cost effective to only offer one brand of toothpaste and a small variety of the types they offer, than the huge selection you see at store right now. Same thing, more choices for customer, better.

    Your customer’s checkout choices are the same and, if you keep artificially closing your lane (with a hand made sign) you are going to lose business for the store because people will go where they have more options.

    That’s why your boss said no. Think about the big picture. (And no, no hand made signs and no, you can’t make your own rules about when your lane closes, you need to follow your boss and the company procedures so your customers have a good experience.)

    1. Not Today Satan*

      I’m also confused by, “they won’t listen to me or anything I say.” Is she telling them not to use the lane that she’s working in?

      Personally it annoys me when a worker comes up to me and tells me there’s a self checkout. First, I’m not going to move all my stuff over. Second, last time I used it there was an “error” every other item. Nope.

      And OP, a reason that many people purposely use the in-person checkout is because self-checkouts decrease cashier jobs. You might not want to encourage self-checkout too effectively.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

        I get crabby when Chilis tries to prod me into interacting with a machine on my table instead of my server. Like really crabby if there’s too much prodding. We have a sizeable check (4 adults, all of legal drinking age, apps and dinner) and we tip well. I’ll take a human being coming over to ask me about my next drink, please.

        If I wanted to order from a machine, I’d order Papa Johns online, thanks.

        Point being, I’m sure somebody is happy to reorder their drinks on that advertising vehicle but it’s not me and stop gently suggesting it or I’m going somewhere else.

        1. Ad Astra*

          The last few times I’ve been to Chili’s, the waitstaff has just said “Um, you can try ordering drinks from the screen here, but honestly it usually doesn’t work and I’d be happy to put in the order and take your card at the end of the meal.” I got the impression there was some sort of incentive to push customers toward the machine, but that business strategy only works if the machine works — and, apparently, it doesn’t. I actually wouldn’t mind using it if it worked reliably.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

            We do a family dinner a few times a month there (I love the Patron margaritas), and I always shove that giant thing to the side, facing the wall, when I sit down. The waitstaff that knows us doesn’t suggest the machine anymore. Sometimes a newbie brightly does and I remember my manners and am polite (I hope) in telling them nope.

            When we first started going, the servers pushed it multi times per visit – showing how to order drinks, reminding we could order desert, telling us that we can use it for payment, etc. IDK if they dropped it off by policy or because we’re familiar faces and my shoving the machine away from me facing the wall might give the message. :-)

            1. Elizabeth West*

              That is absolutely the kind of thing that would make me skip going there ever. If nothing else, I would refuse to use it because I don’t like the idea that it could replace the servers.

              1. Grapey*

                Unless the food was delivered on a conveyor belt, a server would still have to walk the drink over to you.

        2. Kyrielle*

          We have a local burger chain that put those out – I would dislike them more, except that you can still talk to your server (they don’t discourage that), and there is a little “could my server please show up?” button on the screen. In a busy restaurant with poor line-of-sight, THAT is handy.

      2. BRR*

        I was never pleased with self-checkouts. It takes me a lot longer. If I’m understanding right, maybe it helps one employee ring out as many customers as possible but it takes a customer a lot longer to ring out. I believe I read somewhere (sounds credible right) that stores are doing away with automated check outs for time and/or theft reasons.

        1. Karowen*

          This is tangential, but:

          maybe it helps one employee ring out as many customers as possible but it takes a customer a lot longer to ring out.

          The actual scanning/bagging process may be longer for an individual, but the cashier can oversee 4+ lanes at a time. So you can’t think about it as “time from first item scanned to last item bagged,” you have to think about it as “time from first item belonging to Person A scanned to last item of Person D bagged.” So it may take twice as long as your individual transaction, but half as long as if you had to wait for all these other people to finish before you got to process yours.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

            You forgot to factor in:

            Reduction of customer volume/transactions by 50%, since they went some other damn place where they didn’t have to check themselves out. :p

            When customer volume is reduced to only those willing to use self checkout, it all goes very quickly.

            1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

              p.s. I’m kidding, but I’m also serious. If you were PTB and you wanted to push self checkout hard, you would actually have to put the customer drop out factor in the math you just did. Ecommerce folks, like me, have to consider drop out rate in (whatever) process in all of our maths, and then make metrics tied to dollars to show x cost for y improvement in drop out rate = $increase in sales.

            2. Meg Murry*

              Yup. A local big chain in our area keeps taking out more and more regular lanes to put in self checkout lanes. I didn’t mind using the self lanes when I was running in for lunch and had an average of 3-6 items. But the other day I went there and now there are even MORE self checkout lanes and only had 2 regular lanes open. So I went to use the self checkout lane, and NOPE. You have to have one of their freaking courtesy cards to use the self checkout lane. I don’t want another freaking card to shop at a store I go to at most 3x a year.

              So now I avoid that store, except for very rare occasions, because they have pushed me over my limit on annoyances.

      3. JGray*

        Agreed. I don’t really like using self checkouts because as you pointed out 1) they decrease cashier jobs and 2) the machines never seem to work correctly. I always call the things bossy because you are trying to bag your items and if you aren’t fast enough the darn thing keeps saying unexpected item in bagging area or it says take your receipt but it hasn’t printed. Also, there has to be a person there to monitor the checkouts anyway so I’m not sure they are the more efficient way to go. What also stood out to me was the LW argument that they way they had come up with was more efficient but I had to wonder if it really was. People might use the self checkout more if the LW has a line of 3 people or more but since I think most of us will automatically go to a person first I think all that was occurring is people getting annoyed.

        1. Kyrielle*

          If the people using them are comfortable with doing so, I’d argue they can be more efficient. (People who don’t want to use them, or are not able to do so efficiently for one reason or another, are going to skew that significantly.) Our local store has a bank of six of them monitored by one staff member. I have never had to wait more than a few seconds when I had a problem with one, and I mostly don’t have problems.

          That said, I use them mostly if the regular check out lanes are fairly busy; I’d rather not encourage the loss of any more cashier positions, I like talking with the people, and they’re still faster at it than I am even though I get through it okay. And this store usually has 1-4 express lanes and anywhere from 2-10 regular lanes running at the same time, so anyone who doesn’t want the self-checkout is fine.

          1. fposte*

            And if the system is good. There’s a lot of UI idiocy in some of them, and in a complicated interaction like this there’s not a lot of wiggle room.

        2. Grapey*

          I used to be the cashier that would watch 4+ of these at once, and they are effective if the cashier is actually watching them. (Cue “kids these days” speech.)

          As for the unexpected item bit, that is a way to alert the cashier that the customer might be stealing something. Each item in the store has a pre-determined weight to reduce theft so you can’t add 5 steaks to the bag after scanning one. The bagging area is sensitive to weight to tell this difference. In reality, 99% of the time, the added weight was from someone letting their kid sit in the bag area or resting their purse on it.

          1. Zillah*

            Re: weight sensitivity – I can understand that, but a lot of self checkouts say that if you use your own bag and put that in the bagging area, which is a huge pain. (Not that you have or had any control over that, of course! Just saying.)

    2. AnonAnalyst*

      Yes, this. Personally, I am a big, big fan of self checkout, but I understand why other people aren’t. I do think the OP is thinking about this from a customer experience standpoint, and is thinking that pushing everyone to self checkout will better serve customers because she’ll get them checked out more quickly, so they can all be on their way faster. However, (as you so well articulated!) the flaw in that thinking is that all customers value speed more than ease/interaction with a person/etc. Customers have different needs and preferences, and it might help the OP to realize that some customers will be perfectly fine waiting a little bit longer to have someone take care of the checkout process for them.

      1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

        What drives me absolutely batty about self checkout is there is no line direction!

        When there are four self-check out machines, do you make one line and then the next person goes? Do you just make four random lines? Do you ignore the line of people and just jump to open machine because you are a jerk happened to me last week)?

        The lines/customers at self-checkout are always an unregulated mess and honestly, I’d rather spend 5-10 minutes waiting in line for a cashier than deal with the chaos.

        1. AnonAnalyst*

          I think this is part of the reason why the self checkout machines were removed from my local grocery store (unfortunately, because now I have to go scope out who’s working each check stand before getting in a line to avoid the guy who gets unreasonably pissed off when one of my items isn’t in the system and stomps off to yell at the relevant department. This has happened multiple times, by the way, so it wasn’t just a bad day..)

          Anyway, the self checkout machines at the grocery store I usually shop at tended to result in a disorganized group of shoppers standing around when all of the machines were in use. There was no marking for a line, so some days there would be one line, some days there would be multiple lines, and some days it was a free-for-all with no line.

          I still prefer to use the self checkout if I can, so I would deal with the chaos, but my partner couldn’t stand it and always went to a cashier. So I do see the other side!

          1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

            I should say that I do use the self-checkout at the one grocery store that uses stanchions…its so wonderfully easy and makes it clear who is actually waiting in line.

            But ohmygosh, I couldn’t deal with a cashier who stomped off!

  13. Problem with ads*

    Is anyone else having trouble with the site crashing? A video ad will play like 1 second of audio and then the audio cuts out and the whole page freezes up. Sometimes there’s a message about a “long-running script” or the page being “non-responsive”, sometimes the page eventually recovers, but usually I have to force-quit. It usually happens within the first minute of loading a page, but sometimes much later after I’ve been on for a page longer. If it happens and the page recovers, usually it happens again within another minute. Sometimes it sounds like there’s audio from 2 different ads simultaneously. 1 second is an average; sometimes it feels like it’s a fraction of a second, other times maybe closer to 2 seconds. It’s happened when this is the only site I have opened.
    (Win10, using IE11. In the past, turning on ActiveX filtering and has stabilized it. But today that hasn’t worked at all.)

      1. ADverse reaction*

        I also experience regular issues with the ads, both on my phone (chrome) and on a PC (chrome & Mozilla). Lately, they have been crashing the page more than usual. I also find that certain ads drag the page to the ad and won’t let me scroll through the comments without pulling me back to the ad. The comments are often the best part!

        As much as I like this site and would like Ms. Green to earn money, it’s such an unpleasant experience that I’m not coming back as frequently. Hope it gets fixed for all, tho!

        1. The IT Manager*

          That’s starting to happen to me too. I get frustrated dealing with the ads and, for me, mostly pop up message that an ad is trying to open locally and close the site. I can’t use ad blocker at work so I just use the site less.

          1. Ann O'Nemity*

            I’m in a similar boat. It’s actually a compliment to Alison’s great content that I keep coming back despite the crashing, freezing, and noisy ads. I wouldn’t put up with that crap from most sites.

    1. Allison*

      Yup, my Shockwave plugin frequently crashes when I’m on this site, which makes everything freeze up for a minute or so, so I just disable Shockwave and then re-enable it when it I need it.

    2. Tris Prior*

      Yes, frequently, on my laptop. My phone seems to deal with it ok but I hate reading lots of text (like the open thread) on my phone!

    3. MsChanandlerBong*

      I can’t visit the AMM site unless I disable Flash first. If I don’t, the video ads totally crash my browser and make my computer run at a turtle’s pace. I actually thought my laptop was at death’s door until I realized the site does the same thing to my desktop.

    4. MegKnits*

      Yes! I love AAM and don’t mind the ads (I keep my computers on mute all the time usually). What I’ve been doing is waiting for the text to load and then hitting stop (the X on your broswer). Usually I can catch it before it loads the ads which saves my browser from crashing.
      I’m glad that the site is coded to load the ads last rather than first like other sites I’ve been on.

    5. Bostonian*

      I like this site enough that I really wanted to find a workaround, so I finally just set plugins to “click-to-run” instead of having them run automatically. Now I need to click for flash and pdfs and other things, but this page doesn’t crash anymore (and some other sites load faster, too).

      Google how to change plugin settings for your particular OS/browser.

    6. Mary (in PA)*

      Yes, constantly. I’ve switched to reading the site on my tablet, where the ads don’t load at all, rather than reading on my computer, where they constantly crash the Flash plugin.

      I hate to complain about a valuable (and free) resource, though, and I respect Alison’s need to be compensated for her work. Still, I would like that goal to be accomplished without my browser crashing.

      1. simonthegrey*

        I had to install ublock on my home computer to access the site because it was causing major headaches. The good news is I have referred three people to the info about resumes here in the last week!!

  14. Colette*

    #5 – honestly, asking for a lower salary so you can remain eligible for a government program you otherwise wouldn’t qualify for seems unethical to me. $12,000 is a low threshold, but that doesn’t justify shenanigans to stay under the threshold, IMO.

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      I don’t see it as shenanigans, the limit is what it is and as long as the OP is earning under that they have met the requirements for the program.

      What would be unethical is trying to work off the books and not declaring their income when applying.

    2. KT*

      Agreed–the program is in place to help those under the poverty line, with currently no way to improve their income, increase their education and eventually their employability and potential earnings. Trying to circumvent the system even though you’d be making well over the poverty line is just…not right to me.

      If a potential employee suggested this to me during negotiations, the job offer would be immediately rescinded. Someone willing to manipulate the system is not someone I want on my staff when there are people really struggling who need a break.

      1. F.*

        I agree with Colette and KT. As a taxpayer, I would resent paying for you to circumvent the system in this manner in order to receive a benefit paid for with my tax dollars, not to mention possibly denying the opportunity to someone who truly does need and qualify for the program.

        1. Apollo Warbucks*

          But would you think the same if they were only working part time hours to stay under the earning threshold for the program?

          1. F.*

            If a part-time job that pays under the threshold is all they can find or are capable of, then no. It does not sound like this is the case, however.

            1. Apollo Warbucks*

              But the threshold applies to actual earning not hypothetical earnings. Imagine you turn down a job paying $10,000 extra the IRS can’t come and tax you on that money, and just because the OP wants to leave some income on the table doesn’t mean they are doing anything wrong.

            2. Amtelope*

              But making the choice to get a full-time job that would pay slightly over the threshold would mean not being able to afford college. I don’t think anyone’s ethically required to get a full-time job and pass up the chance to go to college rather than taking advantage of a program intended to pay for education for the kids of veterans.

            3. Elsajeni*

              But most college students could theoretically work more hours, thus earning more money and needing less financial aid. We don’t demand that they all do that because there are benefits to not working full-time while you’re in college — from increasing the likelihood that you’ll graduate on time (or at all) to freeing up your time so you can take jobs, internships, or leadership positions related to your field. It doesn’t sound like this program is intended only for people who physically can’t earn more than $12,000/year, just for people who don’t.

        2. Zillah*

          As a taxpayer, I would resent paying for you to circumvent the system in this manner in order to receive a benefit paid for with my tax dollars, not to mention possibly denying the opportunity to someone who truly does need and qualify for the program.

          I want to challenge you on this.

          I don’t have the impression that this is a limited-number-of-spots situation, so your “denying the opportunity to someone else” scenario doesn’t really hold water.

          Much more importantly, though, would you really resent someone for using your tax dollars to pay for their education through a state program they have access to because one of their parents was killed or disabled while serving their country? That seems like a really inappropriate use of your resentment, particularly since the idea that the OP doesn’t “truly need” the program is pretty absurd on the face of it – it’s not like they’d be turning down a $60k/year job. The job they’re looking at really wouldn’t put them in a great financial situation – just slightly less bad.

      2. Meg Murry*

        I interpreted the $12,000 limit as a way to say “you can work a part time job while in school or at an internship, but we want this to be for people focusing on school, to discourage people from trying to work full-time while in school”.

        For the OP – are you planning to be in school full-time? Or would you drop back to part time if you got this 30 hour a week job? And is part-time school allowed under the CalVet program? My concern is that 30 hours a week is a lot of work for a full-time student, and as a hiring manager I wouldn’t want to hire someone to work a 30 hour a week position who was also in school full time because that person would almost definitely be stretched too thin.

        Also, you should check to see whether a work-study job would count toward the $12,000 limit – in many programs, work study jobs don’t count toward income caps the way “regular” jobs do.

      3. BananaPants*

        The CalVet program is intended for children of servicemembers who have a service-connected disability or died of service-related causes, or surviving spouses of wartime veterans who are totally disabled or died as a result of service-related causes. For children of such veterans there are rules for income earned in the previous calendar year for each year of the tuition waiver in order to remain eligible.

        OP5, it looks like it’s based on your AGI – you may be able to open and contribute to an IRA or use other deductions to keep your AGI under the limit. I think the IRA contribution limit is $5500/year so it may not be enough to keep you under the income limit. But in the end if you want to keep your tuition assistance you may just need to pass on this particular job opportunity.

        As a side note – as a taxpayer and sibling of an active duty servicemember, I have a hard time getting worked up about people having tuition waivers for higher education because their parent died as a result of service to their country. You don’t get to decide if their circumstances are worthy of this program, their state of residence has already done so. If they can find a part time job within the waiver program requirements to help pay for living expenses/room and board and textbooks, more power to them – those expenses often add up to more than the value of the tuition waiver itself. I don’t view our OP as trying to circumvent the system by simply trying to make sure a potential new job doesn’t knock out her tuition waiver.

        1. Ad Astra*

          Personally, I can’t think of any situation in which I’d be upset about my tax dollars going toward someone’s education. Maybe if that someone was Hitler? But surely he wouldn’t qualify for a number of reasons, such as being dead.

          1. Zillah*

            Seriously – and particularly not when we’re talking about the children of veterans who were killed or disabled while serving their country. I just don’t understand that at all.

      4. AndersonDarling*

        Exactly what I wanted to say. I would be put off by anyone asking me to game the system. We aren’t talking about $0.05 an hour difference. The OP is asking the employer to significantly alter their pay scale so they can take money they would not be eligible for.
        The OP should really be deciding if they want the job or the educational assistance. I wouldn’t bring the employer into the equation.

    3. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

      I looked up the CalVet college program, quickly, and it looks to be for children of service members killed or disabled in action?

      I’m having a hard time getting taxpayer ethically worked up over college benefits that go to the children of service members killed while on duty.

      Maybe I missed other conditions but that’s what I got on fast skim.

      1. J*

        Yeah, pretty sure that given the choice, they’d rather have their parent alive and take the higher-paying job. As it is, the system has certain requirements, and they are trying to meet those requirements by totally legal means. The program doesn’t specify that there has to be a reason why you’re earning below that income — only that you are.

        1. Kyrielle*

          Agreed. And taking a low-paying job that pushes them over the threshold amount, and means they can’t afford to attend college (which almost certainly costs more than the extra pay from the job), will mean they don’t graduate, and significantly lower their lifetime earnings potential / quality of life.

          It’s an unfortunate catch-22 – there’s a point at which earning a little more means having a lot less, with these sorts of cutoffs.

          I would argue the OP should look for a job that pays less, or has fewer hours, though, and possibly combine that with contribution to an IRA if that contribution won’t count against the amount. (That will also benefit them down the road in retirement, so that’s a win-win!).

      2. some1*

        That’s what I assumed from the title of the program – I thought those responses were kind of snotty given what vets had to do to earn the benefit.

        1. AndersonDarling*

          I get that, and vets and their families have all my sympathies. But what if it wasn’t this program, and the OP was asking about lower wages so they didn’t have to pay child support? The OP would be asking the same question of their employer, “will you lower the wages so I can wiggle through the system?”

          1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

            Child support? How is helping a deadbeat skip out on child support anything to do with this.

            We have several employees on social security who request to make a maxium $xxxx which is the limit before their social security is impacted and not only is it no big deal, as far as I know, it’s a common request.

            I don’t think that OP has formed her request the best way (lower hourly dollar amount) but there’s not difference one, to me, between her request and the request of our social security employees whom we’re happy to accommodate.

          2. Zillah*

            Those two situations are so far apart they aren’t even in the same country.

            In your example, the person would be reducing their income at the direct and significant expense of their children, and they’d be doing it out of pure spite – they would gain nothing from reducing their income.

            In this situation, the OP wants to reduce their income from an already-low amount to access a government program designed to help children of veterans who were killed or disabled while serving their country.

            Even if you think that what the OP is doing is wrong in some way, the analogy is so out there it’s actually quite offensive.

  15. rori795*

    #1 We are similar in our jobs (I’m a Recreational Therapist in a continuing care retirement community). I oversee 8 staff members, and I don’t do programming unless one of them calls out and I can’t find coverage. My job is administrative. I do budgeting, staffing, scheduling, QA, regulatory compliance, training, assessments, etc. My staff do programming, and they plan their own calendars and programs with the residents (I review and edit calendars before printing them to ensure quality, non-repetitive programming, therapeutic value, etc.). At the end of the day, even if they are planning and facilitating programs, the calendar and everything else from the department is my responsibility. If something is incorrect or wrong, it’s on me as the Director, not on my staff. It is completely appropriate for your name to be posted with the rest of your team’s name. Not sure how it is in Adult Day Programs, but our Healthcare Administrator’s name is posted on the wall at the entrance to our facility. Is she providing care, and working hands-on with residents? No. But it’s her responsibility to make sure everything is running smoothly and within regulations. If we get a deficiency on a survey, she is the one who takes responsibility for it.

    In short, your role very different from your staff’s roles. As was stated in the original answer, as long as your are appreciating them and giving them credit where it’s due, you’re on the right track.

    1. Jennifer*

      Thank you, yes it is similar in day programs..i am suppsed to be more administrative but i am a hands on style manager and like to lead by example but also because right now our program requires it as we build our census and the staff to go with it. And yes, our directors name is up(not on the schedule) on the board and she doesnt know half the participants names- i dont feel her name shouldn’t be there- shes doing her part! I do like running programs when is possible to stay connected to our clients and their needs. I even toilet people when need be! I also tend to encourage any initiative or extra efforts and always lead with a positive reinforcement before any constructive critisisms..i float around while programs ate in progress and deal with issues like wanderers and trouble shooting and aetting up rooms for the next scheduled program! I never sit or take a break so if i sat and complained about no recognition nothing would ever get done! Thanks for listening to that rant! Id love to exchange activity ideas with you!

  16. BananaPants*

    Re: #3. Have your surgery scheduled for when it works best for you. Don’t factor your employer/manager into it at all or give your boss any input into scheduling. You may not really be able to offer much flexibility anyways – one of our kids has a mild medical condition and we’re already finding that when specialists schedule clinic visits there are usually few options due to the need to coordinate different staff members and the doctor and other resources for a specific block of time. We’re basically told when her appointments will be – there may be alternative dates but it’s another month or two out, beyond when the doctor wanted her to be seen.

    Alison said, “If you take the time off for the surgery through FMLA, your manager legally cannot factor that time away into your evaluation.” I’ve used short term disability and FMLA twice now after giving birth and each time my manager (different managers each time) factored my absence into my performance review and it negatively impacted my merit increase for that year. Just because it’s not legal doesn’t mean it can’t happen. The pessimist in me says that if it does happen, perhaps it’s better for it to happen in your first partial year working for this manager than to happen once you’re well-established in the group. Your first review is usually pretty average anyways, especially if you haven’t been working for a manager for long.

    With the second baby, I expressed concern to my manager that my merit increase was low compared to the average, even though I’d still met or exceeded every one of my objectives for the year – including completing a major project that I’d been told would lead to my promotion. He said, “Come on, it’s not so bad considering you were out for a quarter of the year because of the baby…” and then realized that he’d just admitted to using my parenting status and medical leave as a reason for me to get a low merit increase. He tried to backpedal but it was clear what had happened. He’s still my boss today and that incident pretty much permanently tainted my view of him as a manager.

    1. Meg Murry*

      Everywhere I’ve worked the time was factored in, but only in a pro-rating way, as I mentioned about. So you were judged on what you got done during the time you were there – if you were doing above average work during that time you still got an above average ranking – but then the % increase was pro-rated based on time off – so if you were out for 12 weeks, your raise was factored by (52-12)/52, so a 5% raise would go to a 3.8% raise for that year.

      The only place where I saw someone have to fight was when she tacked vacation time onto the end of her maternity leave, so she took 16 weeks off total – 12 maternity + 4 PTO weeks. The boss had pro-rated her as 16 weeks off, and she had to go fight with HR that it should only be 12 weeks off in the pro-rating calculation, since no one else was pro-rated for taking their vacation time – but that was a misunderstanding on the boss’s part, not a deliberate ruse to rate her lower.

      1. BananaPants*

        With my first baby, I got no merit increase for the year despite having an above average ranting for the year and cutting my maternity leave short by 2 weeks at the request of my then-manager. Several months later when merit plan time rolled around, he told me that I should have only taken the 6 weeks of short term disability and that using additional FMLA showed that I wasn’t committed to the company and to my job, so I got nothing. It took every fiber of my being to not march in the next day with a resignation letter. I understand pro-rating, but giving me NOTHING under the circumstances was a slap in the face. So given that history – which my current manager was well aware of – I found it unfortunate that he wasn’t more circumspect in discussing the issue with me the second time around.

        My coworker who used 8 weeks of FMLA to care for a family member didn’t have her subsequent merit increase pro-rated, nor did my mentor who used nearly 12 weeks of short term disability for a medical condition. That’s what chaps my hide – the pro-rating seems to apply only to those of us who use FMLA after giving birth.

      2. Beezus*


        IANAL, but treating pregnancy related absences differently than absences for other medical issues is sex discrimination in the US and violates the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which falls under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and is regulated by the EEOC (source link to follow).

        Pro-rating increases for FMLA absences probably violates FMLA laws, but prorating for pregnancy related absences and not for other absences probably violates the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Another good thing to know is that the EEOC enforces the PDA on private employers with 15 or more employees, which is lower than the bar for FMLA, so it applies even if the employee is not eligible for FMLA.

        The only time I’ve seen pro-rating used for FMLA absences is when it’s used to modify goals – for example, if everyone has to participate in 4 process improvement projects in a year, but I was out for 12 weeks to care for a terminally ill parent, my goal would be modified to 3 projects. That’s okay.

        1. Beezus*

          oops, important correction, ” prorating for pregnancy related absences and not for other *medical* absences”.

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      “Come on, it’s not so bad considering you were out for a quarter of the year because of the baby…”

      Jeez that’s terrible your boss is an asshat of the highest order.

      1. Judy*

        The large corporation I worked for when my first child was born had an annual review and raise cycle. I was on FMLA during the review time and the raise time. My first week back to work, I had the review for the previous year and my manager told me that because I was on leave when the raises were given, I wouldn’t be given a raise that year. I asked for an explanation, and he told me to talk to HR. I went down to HR, who said “WHAT???”. My manager came to me pretty quickly after that, telling me that he had been confused. I couldn’t get a raise in the “normal automatic way” because I was on leave when that happened, but he was supposed to put in an HR action form to put my raise into the system on my first day back.

  17. Sunshine Brite*

    Adult day programs are often pretty territorial (group homes too). From what I know from interacting with them through work and my husband and some friends used to work at one, it’s pretty easy to run into situations like this. It sounds like you haven’t done any of the direct care for 6 months now and then all of a sudden (to this staff) you’re making it look like you’re doing direct care once donors are involved and the ‘public’ is involved. It would seem to me as a direct care person that you’re trying to put on a show, which happens when it comes time to schmooze for money but it would be frustrating after me being the more public face with the clients for awhile now. I would say more yellow flag really knowing the personality of staff that tend to gravitate and gain experience with adult day programs, not that it’s right.

    1. fposte*

      I was wondering this–thanks for crystallizing my thoughts and coming from a place of knowledge. I could see being a staffer and thinking “If it was just to fill the names in, you could have used the names of the actual people who do the programming.”

      1. Jake*

        I wouldn’t react like the person in the post, but I’d certainly do an internal eye roll and look for a pattern of the OP being a self promoter.

        It’s quite possible the op meant nothing by it, but the optics are still pretty bad.

        1. Shannon*

          I agree. It would have been better to ask the coworker for a sample or to use an old schedule as a sample. The sample schedule the OP created doesn’t sound accurate if she’s not actually going to be one of the people running the activities and it’s misleading to clients to try to pass herself off like she’ll be involved in direct care if she’s not.

          It sounds like the OP has more slots available than personnel available to run those slots, also.

        2. some1*

          Right, I can see where the LW’s employee could be coming from, but it still was overly confrontational. There’s a way to raise concerns with coworkers when you feel like they are trying to take credit undeservedly from you.

          1. fposte*

            Oh, no disagreement there. But I think the LW is selling a little short the possibility that this was a weird way to do the board.

        3. Meg Murry*

          Or I wonder if OP put her name by programs that the employee herself brought in, or if the employee is concerned that once they do get up to full enrollment that is how the schedule will look.

          If the employee was the one who came up with and coordinated a popular program like Chair Yoga or got funding to buy Wii’s to have Wii Bowling tournaments, I could see that employee getting annoyed if the sample schedule had OP down for all the “good” or innovative programming that the employee did all the legwork on, and the employee down for the less desirable ones like Bingo or supervising watching a movie.

          I’ve worked places where the high-er ups put on a fancy show like they were the ones doing the day to day work and downplaying the day to day workers as if we were just peons, and it is demoralizing.

          Or maybe the staff member just thought it was dishonest to have a board showing 3 activities a day when that isn’t true, unless OP put the word “sample” or “example” on it.

          Or I could see a fake schedule being confusing to the actual attendees, and the employee being the one who has to calm them down and explain that “no, that activity isn’t actually happening” or “no, don’t worry, I’m not canceling 10 am craft time”.

    2. rori795*

      The impression that I get here is that the OP is a recreation/activity coordinator, and is organizing the program, but not hands-on facilitating programs. That is a very typical structure for facilities like this. The Recreation Director or Program Coordinator is ultimately in charge of coordinating, planning, etc. and front-line staff implement programming. There is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes (budgeting, staffing, QA, regulatory compliance, etc. that allows little time for hands-on contact).

  18. Jake*


    I hired somebody who wanted to work full time but only get paid for half of their hours for a month to keep eligible for a health insurance aid program.

    I told her that was illegal, and we could not do that. However, we structured her offer such that for the first month she would work part time at a lower wage, and if that worked out she would be promoted to full time with a significant pay increase. We then used that month as a training session.

    That doesn’t help the op, but at least it is one data point showing some businesses are willing to get creative to make it work.

  19. Erin*

    #5 – I’m afraid that at worst it feels like you’re trying to manipulate the system, or at best, it’s going to be perceived that way. Although I admittedly know nothing about this system.

    Here’s a suggestion: What if you asked for fewer hours instead of a lower salary? It’s possible that this company only needs someone for 15 or 20 hours a week, but because most people are looking for full time work they bumped it up to 30 to entice more applicants.

    If you get called to interview, it couldn’t hurt to ask, citing your school commitments. If they say no, we need someone for 30 hours, then you can take it from there if you want to forgo being a part of the CalVet system. You can always decline an offer.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

      We have multiple employees who have maximums they can earn before their social security benefit is impacted. Nobody feels like they are manipulating “the system”.

      Again, AFAIK from what I see when I look this up, it’s a benefit for the children of service members who were killed or disabled in action. I don’t know why it’s income limited (maybe limited to what would make them a dependent if their parent was still alive?), but after what was given to earn that benefit, it’s not manipulating to try to keep it.

      1. Zillah*

        after what was given to earn that benefit, it’s not manipulating to try to keep it.

        This is my feeling. I think it’s awful that there’s an income requirement, tbh.

  20. teclatrans*

    OP#4, my reading comprehension isn’t the best pre-coffee, but I think the system you want to get approval for is, essentially, putting a closed sign on your register while you have a heavy load and forcing people to do self-serve checkout, then removing the sign when you no longer feel underwater? If I am reading that right, I can totally see how this feels like an efficient system to move the people/widgets through the registetd/processing machines, but I think you are missing the human element.

    You *might* be able to convince your manager to make this change, but it is quite likely that it will be seen as poor customer service. My understanding is that self-serve checkouts are a convenience, and most stores will want customers to feel like they have access to a live person. Your system denies customers that access. At a minimum, to win over your manager you will need to address the customer perspective.

    Finally, this maybjot be the case, but if you are constantly making suggestions and getting a pat on the head, your manager might not actually think they are that great. Alternatively, if you are relatively new and seeing improvements to be made everywhere, then you might want to spend more time doing things the company way for a while, as eager newbies who think everything needs to change are rarely listened to (mostly because many of their ideas are new only to them, or don’t take additional factors into account; this means truly useful innovation gets lost, and even that might be more beneficial if developed with a deeper understanding of existing processes).

    1. teclatrans*

      Well, hunh. The website didn’t load any of the related comments on this when I first read through 10 minutes ago. Looks like plenty of people touched on these points up above.

  21. Log Lady*

    Uuuugh #3, all I can say is you have my sympathies. I’m pretty sure I know what medication you’re on, cause I was on it too, and it was awful. Get the surgery and take care of yourself.

  22. Brett*

    #2 Small correction… for a non-exempt employee, weekend travel does have to be paid if it during normal scheduled hours for your M-F schedule (and the travel involved at least one overnight stay, which classifies it as travel away from home community).
    e.g., if you normally work 8-5 Monday through Friday and have weekends off, then any travel time away from home community (overnight stay) between 8am and 5pm on Saturday and Sunday is also considered work hours travel and needs to be compensated.
    (Reference links in a reply to this post)

    1. Brett*

      FLSA Hours Worked Advisor Screen 70 (
      Regulation 785.93 (
      “The employee is simply substituting travel for other duties. The time is not only hours worked
      on regular working days during normal working hours but also during the corresponding hours on nonworking days.
      Thus, if an employee regularly works from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday the travel time during
      these hours is worktime on Saturday and Sunday as well as on the other days.”

  23. Charityb*

    Maybe it’s because I don’t work at that store, but I found the OP’s system really confusing. Basically what she does is put up a sign that says “LANE CLOSED” at her live checkout line to drive people to use the automated lines. She says that this works really well, but earlier in her description she points out that people tend to ignore the sign anyway, and also that her manager likes to take down the sign because it’s against policy. I’m sure this makes perfect sense but I read that letter four or five times and I still couldn’t make heads or tails of it and it’s possible that the OP’s description of the system to her manager might be equally opaque.

    It might be worth looking over the “pitch” to make sure that it doesn’t contain any extraneous or apparently contradictory detail. If your goal is to get the manager to support the sign, for example, it might not be a good idea to note that customers sometimes ignore the sign.

    1. Myrin*

      I’m in the same boat. Granted, as I mentioned above, I’ve never seen one of these self-checkout thingies in my entire life so I don’t really know how to imagine this whole procedure (don’t worry, I googled it, but experiencing it is probably still quite different). However, I really can’t wrap my head around any advantage of having a live line closed and a self-checkout line open instead. Both at the same time? Okay, I can see that. But only the self-checkout? Wouldn’t that take a million years longer than just going through the live checkout? Surely not everyone knows how to use a self-checkout, at least not perfectly/as well as a cashier knows their machines? And they seem to be prone to errors? But yeah, I’m with you in not quite getting what is going on here in the first place.

  24. Charityb*

    Maybe it’s because I don’t work at that store, but I found the OP’s system really confusing. Basically what she does is put up a sign that says “LANE CLOSED” at her live checkout line to drive people to use the automated lines. She says that this works really well, but earlier in her description she points out that people tend to ignore the sign anyway, and also that her manager likes to take down the sign because it’s against policy.
    If the manager always takes the sign down and if customers often ignore the sign then how does the system work consistently enough for OP to know that it’s a good idea??

    I’m sure this makes perfect sense but I read that letter four or five times and I still couldn’t make heads or tails of it and it’s possible that the OP’s description of the system to her manager might be equally opaque. It might be worth looking over the “pitch” to make sure that it doesn’t contain any extraneous detail. If your goal is to get the manager to support the sign, for example, it might not be a good idea to note that people sometimes ignore it since it kind of undermines your argument.

  25. Bee Eye LL*

    #2, do you at least get to keep the frequent flyer miles in your own name or do they go to the company?

    If I were you, I’d starting looking for a way out. That’s a really crappy way to treat employees.

    1. Anna (OP)*

      Yes at least we get our own FF miles, but boy, I would rather have none and my own weekends! :-)

      I agree, this is only the tip of the iceberg with my company’s HR policies, they are the worst people to work for. I already know they are mean, I just wondered if it was actually legal. It seems, sadly, to be.

  26. boop*

    Don’t people go to school to make $17/hour? If you can live fine on $12k/year, wouldn’t the extra $10k pay a large chunk of schooling? Your assistance program must be paying you quite a lot of money! :O

    1. Beezus*

      Someone upthread pointed out that the program automatically gives students “resident” status, even if they’re a nonresident, which can make a HUGE difference in tuition costs.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

      It would be a windfall, if it were 1978 and a parent didn’t have to die or be disabled in action to get it.

      What do you think college costs? We’re at $28,000 in checks written, per year, for the state school my son is going to.

  27. Minister of Snark*

    Re: #1

    If your employee honestly doesn’t understand why you, the program coordinator, would need to have your name on the board where donors could see, I would start to doubt she has the judgement to do her job. And the fact that she got confrontational with you and “had to tell you how she felt” instead of processing her outrage internally until she could talk about it civilly with you, brings my estimation of her judgment even lower. Continue to monitor her work and watch to see if her poor attitude/judgement is negatively impacting her performance.

Comments are closed.