4 more updates from letter-writers

Here are three updates from letter-writers who had their questions answered here this year.

1. My new company wants me to change my name

I did not take the job with the company that wouldn’t allow me to use my real name. I had decided to accept the job regardless until the company, at the last minute, decided to send me to a different location and make big changes in the hours worked. These changes were temporary ,they said, but they really didn’t know where my permanent assignment would be or what the hours would be. It just didn’t seem to be worth the hassle.

2. My boss is forcing me to fly

I took your advice and was more direct about the situation, saying that flying was not an option and that I would not be going. I realized after reading your advice that I had originally said it in a way that could be construed as weak or as if there may be a small chance that I would budge on the issue. He ended up going on his own.

…And in an interesting and convenient (for me) turn of events, our company closed the other office about three months after his trip. I was so relieved. Thank GOD I didn’t go – it truly would have been all stress for nothing!

I agree with the readers and yourself that eventually in order to promote further in my career, I will have to come to terms with flying. I am looking into the suggested alternate methods for reducing my flying anxiety and will speak to my doctor in the coming months as I recently got engaged and am pretty certain my fiancé will not want a cross country road trip for our honeymoon, so the issue is a little more urgent.

3. My workload will plummet while my boss is on maternity leave (#2 at the link)

I just wanted to thank you and your awesome commenters for answering my question back in September. I really appreciated the advice.

As for an update: It took a while to arrange a meeting with my boss as she has been quite busy, but we were able to sit down and discuss next year’s schedule today. I asked what her plans were for me while she is off as workload will be significantly reduced. Surprisingly, she said that it had never even crossed her mind to consider reducing my hours during her maternity leave.

The plan as it stands for now is that I will continue to work my regular full-time hours, doing my best to manage the office in her absence, taking care of all the administrative duties, and contacting her with anything urgent while she is off. She is going to talk with HR on my behalf about my helping out on some interesting projects to occupy my spare time. If that doesn’t pan out, though, then she says I can work on doing some professional development or just enjoy the slower pace for a bit instead. Regardless, I have been reassured that none of the changes will affect my current hours/pay, which is fantastic!

Alison, your advice was spot on. I am so glad I waited to talk to her. I really needed this good news. Thank you again for all of your help.

4. Should I resign or do I owe my employer a chance to try to keep me(#3 at the link)

I recently sent in a question about whether I should finally quit my job. (I’d been waiting for over two months for a plan to make my position more workable, after having given notice, and hadn’t heard anything.)

I finally told my boss that I’d be leaving, and gave a set date for my departure. My boss took me seriously this time, and my last day is now rapidly approaching. There’s unfortunately not much of a plan in place to help transition to whoever comes next, and they haven’t asked me to prepare anything. However, I’ve been putting together some things together to help my replacement, whenever they join on. I’ve also offered to make myself available to answer questions from my replacement, should they have any questions after my departure.

Thanks for the advice. I really did need to put my foot down and tell them I’d be leaving the company. I think I may have alienated some people at work by this decision, but I tried my best to do the right thing, and that’s all I can really do. As much of a people pleaser as I am, I ultimately have to do what’s right for me. Things are admittedly bit weird now. I’m being left out of my regular team meetings (I’ve discovered they’re sending out fake meeting invites, “canceling” them, and meeting elsewhere without me and have been doing so for weeks), which has made work in these last few weeks really difficult. That’s alright and I feel really happy about my decision. Just a few more weeks and I’m gone and off to better things!

{ 68 comments… read them below }

  1. sunny-dee*

    #4 — WHAT THE WHAT? You absolutely made the right choice, and any weirdness is all on them, not you.

    1. Jessica (tc)*

      This was the same reaction I had! It makes absolutely no sense to act that way, and it’s weirdness I’d be glad to be rid of!

    2. OP #4*

      Yeah, that was my reaction! I caught one of my coworkers slipping and mentioning that he’d attended the team meeting. One detail is I should add is that I work remotely, so I guess it’s not as strange as if I was working on site. At least they’re not physically going behind my back at the workplace.

      But still, it felt really weird. I could see them not wanting me to be a part of certain meetings after I told them I would quit (in theory, I could work for a potential competitor and they might want to keep me out of the loop on some things; in reality (and what I’ve told them) is that I’m not going to work for another competitor in the same field), but the problem is that they’re discussing things I need to collaborate with them on. We don’t discuss long term business plans at these meetings. Rather, it’s the day to day stuff I work on. So lately, I’ve really had nothing at all to work on. But my boss is still asking me questions about work projects, so it’s all quite bizarre.

      1. Jessica (tc)*

        The fact that you work remotely makes it even weirder. They could just meet and not send any invites to you at all–without your even knowing all of this is going on! I’m sorry it’s affected your getting daily tasks done as you’re finishing up, though. That has to be even more frustrating at this point, but I’m glad you’re going to be getting out soon.

        1. OP #4*

          You’re spot on – frustrating and couldn’t be more glad to leave! I will say, when they did call me, they never did so at the scheduled time (sometimes an hour late) and the phone lines couldn’t have been worse. I could barely hear them, and despite my repeated requests, they wouldn’t (or didn’t know how to) set up Skype. When they had to cancel meetings in the past, they’d often forget to let me know and I just wouldn’t get a call at all.

          That will all soon be in the past though! Glad to be moving on.

      2. Sans*

        That is so weird and really, immature of them. They’re only hurting themselves. You need to finish up projects and really can’t make any progress if they cut you off from the info you need. It’s almost like middle school and you’re now out of the clique and they’re leaving you out of stuff. It’s that level of immaturity.

        Their loss, not yours. You’ll soon be off to bigger and better things and they can figure out on their own how to do all the things they are leaving you out of!

      3. KMS1025*

        Honestly if they don’t want you at these meetings because you are leaving, why not grow the heck up and just not invite you in the first place? This fake invite, then cancel is completely grade school nonsense! Be glad you are shaking this particular dust off of your feet :)

    3. Sparky*

      Someone, somewhere is being excluded from secret meetings about what first name to force all the staff to use, instead of their own, real names.

  2. Jessica (tc)*

    For #4:
    Wow, how much more work is it to set up a fake meeting and cancel it while setting up a real meeting and covertly meeting somewhere else that you aren’t supposed to know about? That’s…it’s…what the heck? Why would they even think of doing that when they could meet covertly without acting like they are canceling them all of the time?

    1. fposte*

      I know–that’s just supremely strange. But it’s nice when people make sure you won’t miss them.

      1. Jessica (tc)*

        That’s true! I’ve had jobs where things suddenly seemed to get better when I turned in my notice, and that always makes me second-guess myself (even though it’s probably only because I am less invested in the stuff happening). This, on the other hand, makes it much easier to clear out and forget it completely.

    2. INTP*

      Right? I mean, who is going to insist on going to an unnecessary meeting anyways? It would suffice to say “Since you’re leaving soon, you don’t need to come to the meetings.” Even if they said “We don’t want you at the meeting because you’re leaving and we’re pissed” I would silently rejoice at getting out of it.

      1. OP #4*

        That response would make more sense, but my boss is super indirect about everything. I think my boss wants to make me feel included, without including me, even though it’s painfully clear I’m being excluded (what workplace would cancel regular core meetings for over a month and not cease to function effectively?). That’s the only way I can make sense out of it.

    3. Annie Moose*

      I feel the same way! Just seems like so much extra effort to go through for no reason whatsoever.

  3. Rahera*

    #4 That fake meeting business is so childish, to say the least. I’m really glad you’re getting out of there, OP.

  4. LawBee*

    #4 – so weird. You’re leaving, there’s no need for covert tactics.

    #1 – I think you dodged a bullet there!

    #2- Congratulations! and #2 and #3, those are good updates!

  5. MoinMoin*

    “(I’ve discovered they’re sending out fake meeting invites, “canceling” them, and meeting elsewhere without me and have been doing so for weeks”

    Call me lazy, but I could never put that kind of effort into being petty.

  6. On My Phone*

    #4: “I’ve also offered to make myself available to answer questions from my replacement, should they have any questions after my departure.”

    You’ve created transition materials which in most cases is enough. It’s on the employer to help they new employee get up to snuff. Focus on your new opportunity and let them focus on their new hire.

    1. Sassy AAE*

      Yeah, if they’re being all squirrely already you don’t want to offer them more nuts. Just do your time and get out. Wash your hands of this weirdness.

    2. neverjaunty*

      Yes. OP, you should not follow up on this offer. I understand you’re a ‘people pleaser’, but you don’t owe this business your unpaid labor after you leave; it’s on them if they don’t currently choose to prepare for the transition. Stop feeling bad about walking away!

      1. Artemesia*

        This. Perhaps answer half a dozen questions in the first month for the new hire and then simply be unavailable. Period. You could be unavailable from the gitgo — but given your tendencies to draw weak boundaries, you do need to be sure that even if you do respond initially that you withdraw completely after a handful of transition questions. There are people who continue to ‘do the job’ as the replacement calls daily.

    3. periwinkle*

      + a whole bunch of numbers

      Focus on your next stage. Document anything you think would be helpful, make sure that more than one person knows where you put the documents (heck, broadcast it to the whole workgroup), do NOT reiterate your offer of help, and that’s the end of your obligation to this odd workplace. Apparently *their* obligation to *you* ended quite some time ago. Onward to better things!

    1. fposte*

      Oh, that’s really interesting. The Xanax has, very slowly, reduced my flying phobia, and one of the reasons I think it takes so long is because it impairs memory somewhat, so I didn’t immediately write over the panicky memories with calm ones even though I was okay during the actual flight.

    2. Winter is Coming*

      Arachnophobes, DO NOT OPEN THIS LINK. I’ll be back in an hour after I finish shaking & hyperventilating.

      1. Jessica (tc)*

        Yeah, I opened it with my arm blocking my entire screen, assuming there would be a big spider on the page. I saw a piece of leg when I slowly started to move my arm down, so I clicked right out before seeing anything else. I’ll see if my husband will read it for me.

        1. Jessica (tc)*

          Side note: why do articles that talk about curing phobias of something always have a big picture of the thing they are talking about? I want to read it to see what they are saying, because I do not like being so freaked out by spiders that I hyperventilate, but I can’t read the article because there is a huge, freaking spider on the page!

          1. ThursdaysGeek*

            (I removed my avatar just for you)

            For the same reason that when I tell people I don’t watch PG-13 and R movies because I don’t do well with violence and graphic sex, they then tell me that it’s a great movie and the only violence and graphic sex is…and then they go into details on just that part of the movie. Yeah, I don’t want to hear about it either!

            1. Jessica (tc)*

              ThursdaysGeek, I’ve had Gravatars blocked here (using my adblocker) for ages, so no worries on my end there! Thank you, though! :) You always have insightful things to say, so I didn’t want to have to rush by yours all of the time.

              I don’t understand why people go into details about the very things you tell them you don’t want to hear or see. It’s like they think you don’t really know that you don’t want to hear it. Maybe if you heard it from them instead, you’d be okay with it! *sigh*

        2. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Oh, wow, sorry about that Winter is Coming and Jessica (tc)! I’m not good with recognizing things like that.

          To give a very brief and sloppy summary, some phobias are due to memory pathways in the brain that get reinforced every time a person has a strong flight response, and some medications kind of keep that memory from being accessed in a way that provokes that adrenalin/flight response. Once the person can approach an object of anxiety or phobia without that response, they can sometimes create a new pathway almost immediately that don’t involve that negative response, and therefore completely bypass that phobic response from then on.

          I know it sounds weird, but it made sense the way they explained it. I’m going to try to read the original research, because it sounds fascinating.

            1. Kyrielle*

              To add this, they used propolanol and had the person repeatedly visualize the spiders while affected by it.

              Then a week later they had them come in and pet a tarantula – and although they *expected* to have problems with it, they didn’t. (!)

              1. Winter is Coming*

                I can’t even begin to imagine being able to pet a tarantula. That’s a huge leap from not even being to look at a picture of one. I’ll be watching this research, as long as there are no pictures!

                1. Kyrielle*

                  Me too, though in my case for dogs and not for spiders. Getting my gut fear reaction disconnected from seeing a friendly dog would be *awesome*.

            2. Jessica (tc)*

              I know! I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t give anything to be cured of whatever phobia they have. I want to be able to gently shoo the spider away or outdoors, but I just freak out and run away. Then all I can think about is the fact that there is a spider somewhere in my house and I don’t know where it is anymore.

              Anyway, I found some articles that are free via PDF for one of the researchers that my husband told me were in the article. I’ll put the link to the Google Scholar search below. There is also another interesting one if you have access to an online journal database, so I’ll give the citation for that one, too.

              1. Jessica (tc)*

                Merel Kindt research: https://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=propranolol+phobias+merel+kindt&btnG=&hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C24&as_vis=1

                Other article:
                Brunet, A., Orr, S. P., Tremblay, J., Robertson, K., Nader, K., & Pitman, R. K. (2008). Effect of post-retrieval propranolol on psychophysiologic responding during subsequent script-driven traumatic imagery in post-traumatic stress disorder. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 42, 503-506. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2007.05.006

          1. Jessica (tc)*

            Hey, you didn’t choose the picture to go with the article! ;)

            I’ll have to see if I can find the original research as well. I’ll do a search for some of the keywords and see what I can come up with. Thanks!

      2. Observer*

        For anyone in this fix, there are ways around seeing the images. In firefox there are at least two add ons that let you block images. Prefbar is the one I use. I would assume that at least in Chrome, similar options would be available.

        1. Jessica (tc)*

          Thanks, Observer! I’ll check out that extension to see how it works. There are times I want to see images, but not when I’m pretty sure there will be spiders around.

  7. Michelle*

    #OP 4- How incredibly petty and immature of them to try to have “secret” meeting. Glad you are getting out.

  8. Amber Rose*

    It absolutely never fails to amaze me how office politics can resemble playground politics. Like some people just never stop being age five in terms of maturity. And I count my blessings that my current job has basically none of that.

    Way to escape, #4. High five.

  9. hbc*

    Congratulations, #4. Your company is so crazy that most commenters are ignoring the whole “We can’t tell you where you’ll work or when you’ll work there, but we do know we won’t call you by name when we tell you” of #1.

  10. KS*

    #2 – I used to be afraid of flying. It wasn’t as bad as it sounds like it is for you but once I even turned down a free trip because of it; and if there was even the slightest hint of turbulence I would be gripping the arm rest. What changed for me is that my job/living situation was such that I had to start flying a lot more frequently. And just by flying all the time I gradually started to get over my fear and now flying doesn’t bother me at all, not even the turbulence (I realize this may not work for you). That is my roundabout way of saying that once you start flying it may help alleviate your anxiety – sometimes the fear of something is worse than the actual thing. I hope you can reach that point, because it will open up the world to you.

    1. OfficePrincess*

      It really helped me to fly with people other than my parents a few times so I had to *pretend* I was fine. And now I mostly am, though I do have to remind myself to breathe during takeoffs and landings sometimes.

    2. lawsuited*

      I find it so strange that #2 did not address her issues with flying for a mandatory business trip, but is going to do so in order to go on a honeymoon! Proof of the power of love! And a reminder that one should never make any assumptions about someone else’s priorities because we are all so different.

  11. Bowserkitty*

    Flying is still a little scary for me. I studied abroad one school year and in the course of that year I had about 6 full flights between my host country and my home country. I thought I was cured because while the first flight was frightening (the flight attendants about fell over from a heavy bout of turbulence) the very last one was a gem.

    After I’d returned home for good, I went on vacation a week or two with my mom to Florida and we dropped out of the sky I don’t know how many feet but I was seriously convinced I was about to die. Turns out the size of the plane matters, and all those international flights I’d been having were on huge planes more equipped to deal with the turbulence.

    Now I’m back to square one, but I have anti-anxiety medication that would come in handy if I flew again. Good luck, OP2.

  12. Kate*

    #4 ” I’m being left out of my regular team meetings (I’ve discovered they’re sending out fake meeting invites, “canceling” them, and meeting elsewhere without me and have been doing so for weeks), which has made work in these last few weeks really difficult…”
    That’s so childish.

  13. Dorothy Mantooth*

    #1 – A salon in my area makes stylists choose a different name if there is already an employee with that same name. I believe the reasoning is that if a client calls to schedule with “Katie” there is only one possible stylist they could be referring to. I didn’t know this when I first started going and got very confused when I noticed my stylist’s cosmetology license had a drastically different name than what I knew her by.

  14. Toruk*

    OP#2 I had same problem…never completely went away but my honeymoon was first big step towards motivating me to change :)

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