my husband’s employer is killing our marriage, applying to a company for a third time, and more

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

1. How can I get my husband’s employer to see they’re killing our marriage?

I am the wife of an assistant general manager for a hotel. His company is constantly taking him on lunch meetings with superiors that they deem mandatory. When I ask my husband about these, he replies that it’s important to socialize while talking about business to promote the bond of the team. But his work already takes up 90% of his awake hours, and as his wife I am left with a measly 10%. His work constantly refers to itself as a family, so should they not also treat me that way as it is highly offensive to his real family? How do I get his employers to see that they are killing our marriage without getting him fired?

You can’t. You can’t, you can’t, you can’t. You absolutely cannot talk to his company about this. Employers don’t negotiate or even discuss this kind of thing with spouses. This is 100% your husband’s to handle with them, and it would make him look really bad if you tried to talk to them about this rather than letting him manage his own career.

But you can and should talk to your husband! That piece of it, unlike his employer, is well within your purview. Ultimately, this is about the choices that he’s making, not what his company is doing. Focus on working it out between the two of you.

Also — lunch meetings are pretty normal. And since they’re generally during the work day, they’re pretty standard. I realize that he may not work 9-5 hours, so they might be falling outside his work day, but they’re a pretty common thing.

Read on for another example of inappropriate spouse involvement…

2. Employee’s husband called me to tell me she was taking unapproved leave

What do I do in a case where an employee’s leave was rejected and then her husband phones me to tell me that she will not be at work and she will take the leave? What can I do afterwards to prevent her husband from doing the negotiations on her behalf?

Unless this was health-related and an emergency (like the husband calling to say that his wife, your employee, was in the hospital), then yeah, he absolutely shouldn’t be a part of this conversation.

As for what to do to prevent him trying participating, you just shut it down and don’t allow it. Assuming this wasn’t health-related, you say this to the husband when he calls: “I’m sorry but I can’t discuss this with you. I’ll need to speak with Jane directly.” Repeat as needed, and hold firm. If necessary, say “I need to hang up the phone now” and then do it.

Then afterwards, you say this to the employee: “Your husband contacted me about this and I explained to him I needed to discuss it directly with you. In the future, please contact me directly; I won’t speak with a spouse about a work matter unless unless there’s an emergency.”

3. Will my name reflect poorly on me?

My first name is actually two separate names — for example, “Sarah Jane.” I have a different middle name. I have gone by Sarah Jane exclusively since I graduated college and began my professional career- all my emails, social media, and official documentation uses this name. However, 95% of people call me Sarah, which is fine with me, and only a few people call me by both names. I don’t have a preference, so I don’t correct people either way.

Currently, I’m looking for a new job, after being at the same company for 5 years. My brother, an HR exec in the same industry as me, says since there is a space and no hyphen between my first names, it looks like I’m adopting the trend of using my middle name to make myself stand out. I work in the entertainment industry, and this was a very very very common trend a few years ago. I’d say over half of my contacts used their middle name as part of their first name at one point or another. According to my brother, this trend has died, is very tired, looked upon as unprofessional, and that it could reflect poorly on my during my job hunt, especially since no one uses my real name (despite being printed everywhere!) I kind of agree, as I have found myself mildly annoyed by my colleagues constantly changing their names for the sole purpose of standing out.

While no one calls me by my full name, I do love it! I don’t want to add a hyphen or remove the space. It is legitimately my name, and I’d like to continue using it. I know that your advice to someone not in this industry may be different, but names and especially stage names are very important in my line of work. I don’t want a hiring manager to think I am out of touch with the trends in our industry. Do you have any insight?

I have exactly zero insight into the entertainment industry, but speaking of workplaces more generally, I’d say to go on using your name without any qualms. It’s your name, you get to decide what you’re called, and the fact that it resembles a recent trend doesn’t change either of those things. Most people aren’t going to spend too much time thinking about it, I promise.

But if you’re concerned that there’s something going on specific to your industry, talk to more hiring managers in your field. I know you talked to your brother and he might be exactly right — but he also might be way off-base, so get some other industry opinions in the mix. (Even then, though, that’s just about information gathering; I still wouldn’t suggest you change your name just to please other people.)

4. Applying to a company for a third time

There’s a company I applied for, got an interview with, and ultimately did not get the job, twice. The first time was last year, and the second time was a few months ago. The first time, I met a company recruiter at a job fair, and the second time I was sent the posting through my state’s unemployment and job training office. (They had my information because I got funding to attend a training program last year.) I just got sent another posting for the company from the state office–I think the matches are automatically generated, but I’d be sending my resume to the same state recruiter.

Would it be weird to apply to them a third time? I got the feeling they liked me from the last interview–I don’t have the sense I left them with a bad impression of me or anything, just that I wasn’t a great match for the position for whatever reason.

If I do apply, should I say anything about the past applications to the state recruiter and/or as a note with my resume? (They only ask for a resume, not a cover letter.) And is there anything I can do to figure out how to have a better chance than I did the last two times?

It’s fine to apply a third time — but be particularly careful about making sure that you’re a strong match with the position. If it’s more like “hey, I could do that job” as opposed to “I am a really solid match with what they’re looking for,” I’d probably wait until something closer to that second category comes along. Otherwise you risk seeming like you’re being pretty scattershot with your approach.

I’d also send a cover letter even though they haven’t specifically requested one, and in that you can mention having met with them previously. And after you apply, send a quick note to the person you interviewed with last time, letting them know that you applied for this one. If they remember you and think you might be a good prospect for this, that may nudge them to move you forward in this process — but even if that doesn’t happen, it’s just a generally smart thing to do and will help convey that you’re treating them like prospective colleagues and don’t think this is all some faceless process where no one will even remember you.

5. Using vacation time to attend a work appreciation event

This isn’t an urgent question, as I’ve long since left this position, but I’ve always wondered about how normal this situation was and if I was overreacting in being annoyed.

Every summer, my old employer (state government agency) would buy everyone tickets to an afternoon minor league baseball game as an employee appreciation event. Participation wasn’t required, but everyone was strongly encouraged to attend (in a genuine way – it wasn’t held against you if you didn’t go). What seemed strange to me, though, was that we were required to take vacation time for the duration of the event. (Vacation time is quite valuable there, because it can be cashed out when you leave.) I did attend the game one year, but my fiscal-minded brain couldn’t stop thinking about how I was losing money because my hourly rate times three hours far exceeded the $10 ticket my employer bought me.

Am I justified in thinking this is odd, and that they should’ve just treated the time as normal work hours? Or am I just a scrooge who pinches too many pennies? I’d love an objective opinion!

If you were in the private sector, that would be weird and not a good practice — because it was still a work event, even if it was fun and voluntary. However, the fact that you were working in state government probably explains it; it’s pretty common to do stuff like that in government, because otherwise taxpayers complain that their tax dollars are being spent to pay people to attend baseball games.

It’s a weird dynamic with government jobs — on one hand, most of us recognize in theory that part of running a workplace is occasionally doing things for team morale, but on the other hand, an awful lot of people forget that when it comes to what their tax dollars are funding. (This is the reason why government workers sometimes have to pay for their own coffee and Kleenex too. One day y’all will be forced to bring in your own toilet paper and desk chairs.)

{ 511 comments… read them below }

  1. Christopher Tracy

    OP #4 – I applied to the same company about seven different times and finally got an interview, then job offer from them last winter. My first time applying with them was in 2010. And the company I currently work for? I applied to two separate positions, both admin/executive assistant type roles, before being hired into one of their professional, non-admin/support training programs. The third time was the charm for me, and it may be for you too. Apply – the worst that can happen is that you get rejected.

    1. Cas

      I think it also depends how big the company is. I could apply for 10 different jobs where I work and never be interviewed by the same people or even people who regularly talk to each other (and they would be unlikely to discuss job candidates). So that’s a consideration as well.

      1. catsAreCool

        I know someone who was hired his third time applying for a similar position for the same company. I think the manager encouraged him to reapply because he was a good fit but the first 2 times a better fit was chosen.

    2. Lindsay J

      Yeah I think it’s industry dependent.

      My boyfriend has applied to probably literally about a hundred jobs at a couple companies over the past 3 years. Some of them were postings for the same position in different locations, some were repostings for a position that wasn’t filled or that was filled and then another slot opened up. And some are just that a lot of the positions require the same wide range of skills while otherwise being entirely different.

      There are only 3 major employers and maybe a dozen or so smaller employers for our field in the entire country, though. And it seems that this approach hasn’t hurt him because he continues to get interviews for positions at these places.

      He does only apply to positions he is well qualified to do, though. And many of the positions have different hiring managers/different recruiters so that makes a difference, too I think.

      I do joke with him sometimes that they must start scanning his resume and be like, “ugh, this guy again, really?” but it is entirely a joke.

      Though I would say that the worst isn’t necessarily getting rejected for that specific job. The worst is probably getting black-balled by that particular company for life. However, in the grand scheme of things that generally isn’t a huge deal.

      1. Anna

        A friend of mine applied for approximately 120 jobs at a major hospital in my area. He finally got an offer and started working there recently. When I first heard the number he’d applied for, I mentally freaked out. But this employer lists SO many jobs in his area of expertise that it doesn’t actually surprise me that he could do that. And apparently he wore them down. :)

        1. Elizabeth West

          The big hospitals here do that too. I applied for a ton of them myself. All the same kind of job (clerical), and I never got a call from them until after I started working at my current position (heh). They probably get so many applications I would be surprised if they ever even saw mine most of the time. But they were jobs that I would have taken, if only as a stopgap, because they didn’t pay that much. And they helped me fill the check boxes for unemployment.

  2. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)

    OP #3, take it from someone with a hyphenated first name — hyphening it wouldn’t stop people dropping the second half of your name anyway, so you might as well stick with the name you like!

    1. Alison Read

      Disclaimer: I am not in the industry but I wonder if you add in your middle initial it will make it clear Sarah Jane is your first name? i.e. Sarah Jane M. Jones. I am really curious to hear the industry types chime in!

      1. SusanIvanova

        I have a double first name and no middle name, so there’s no initial to use. I’ve been fighting computer systems since I was in high school in 1980 – the rule that allowed spaces in the name fields was named after me because a friend of mine was working on the databases. And I ended up in software too, and always made sure my software was smart about these things; don’t get me started on how splitting names into first/last by breaking at the first space is wrong – I have a list!

        I haven’t noticed middle names being more or less trendy over the years. I think the other commenters who said it’s popular with actors because they need to have distinct names nailed it.

        Unlike Sarah Jane, I *do* care if they call me by only half of it, but people who address emails/IMs to “Sarah” figure it out pretty quickly if you sign the replies “Sarah Jane”.

        1. AcademiaNut

          My Spanish and South American colleagues have similar problems with their double last names – two official last names separated by a space and no hyphen. It’s standard in their home countries, but a real problem with official documents abroad.

          1. Overeducated

            I have this problem with two last names separated by a space too. My university registrar and state DMV both told me their systems couldn’t handle the space. I agreed that the university could just use one of the names for years because it wasn’t worth fighting – until graduation, when i threw a fit (very politely!) when they told me I would be listed wrong in the program and seated in a different part of the alphabet. The person registering my license when I moved to my current state was very friendly and very clearly in training so I just let her put a hyphen in.

            1. Barefoot Librarian

              I have one first name but two middle names and two (hyphenated) last names. My second middle name gets dropped off forms and out of systems all the time, and my last name cut off three letters from the end on my Social Security card for YEARS. They finally added enough characters in the early 2000s to fit my whole name. Even hyphenated, most computer systems don’t have a clue what to do with my last names. I’ve just had to deal with it on a case by case basis. For example, the IRS customarily just squishes the two into one name (if I want to file my taxes electronically, I have to do the same). Other systems pick one arbitrarily and I have to guess which one. I feel your pain.

            2. Not the Droid You are Looking For

              I have a hyphenated last name (thanks mom and dad!) and I still deal with systems that won’t accept it :(

              1. Research Assistant

                I have one too, and it’s amazing how frequently it’s a problem! I like my last name, but it’s a big pain sometimes.

            3. Noah

              Yes, the Greek patronymic screws with people too. I guess it is a middle name, but it generally gets stuck in the last name field on official documents and then you run into the space and hyphen issues.

              I’m so tired of explaining my name to everyone. I already go by my baptism name because no one can spell Nikolaos right, even after I spell it for them. Also it was my grandfather’s name, so most of my family called me Noah anyways, despite my protests as a child.

            4. Anonathon

              Me too! I used to drop the first one a lot, mainly because it bumped me way up in the alphabet, but decided to use both consistently after college. But now people frequently stick a hyphen in there or ask which one is my maiden name. (Neither! My parents just didn’t want to hyphenate.)

          2. rock'n'roll circus

            When I lived in Japan, I had a similar problem, they don’t use middle names, but since my passport said it, my first name on all official documents was FIRST NAME MIDDLE NAME

          3. Laura

            I work in higher ed and this is a problem all the time. Students will use one name or another, or both… and there’s rarely any rhyme or reason to it. What we need from them (for the purposes of my job) is to use the name that’s on their social security cards/state IDs. Don’t even get me started on the systems handling it… ugh!

            1. Chameleon

              Or, your job needs to realize that what is on their ID isn’t necessarily their name!

              1. Laura

                I don’t care what they call themselves– for financial purposes, they have to use their legal name. Otherwise things don’t match up with the Social Security Administration, and then (in many cases) we would be breaking the law.

              2. Liz

                When you’re dealing with financial aid or enrollment/degree verifications, you need the official name. Not the name they go by, or that their parents/best friend/small sibling call them, but their official name. If it doesn’t match their social security record, they’re not getting financial aid, and if you attended as Elizabeth Smith, we can’t confirm that Susan Wood enrolled. (That’s also why it’s important to *update your name with the school* if you get married/divorced or otherwise change it.)

                1. Elizabeth West

                  Yes, this is true, though annoying. My school and all financial aid (collections) I’m dealing with now call me by my first name. I have to identify myself that way when I call them, and I hate hate hate hate it. I haven’t gone by my first name since I left high school *koff*thirty*koff* years ago!

          4. One of the Sarahs

            Given how huge the Spanish-speaking population of the world is, it always astounds me that this is still a problem in the 21st century.

            (I’ve also seen issues, in the UK, where systems just can’t cope with O’, as in O’Connor, or capitalisations after a Mac/Mc, as in McCartney, and I always want to scream, because OMG Scotland and Northern Ireland are part of the UK, and those are incredibly common surname-convenetions)

          5. Ife

            So frustrating. I have one last name with a space in it. Not two last names that function as one unit, not maiden name/married name, just one last name that’s split into two words. If someone asked me to “pick” one of my last names they would get a very blank stare, followed by [full last name as previously stated].

            It is not that uncommon of a thing, neither are names with hyphens or apostrophes. Or names with accents over the letters, etc. There is no reason a software system cannot handle them, other than Lazy Programming. You have to draw the line somewhere, but “12 English-alphabet letters or less, no other characters” is not the right place to draw it.

        2. the gold digger

          I’ve been fighting computer systems

          We couldn’t figure out why my husband could not register online with our health insurance company to take the mandatory health assessment for the premium reduction. Turns out that Blue Cross (I hate them with a passion) had not figured out that in 2015, the names of some people, like my husband, might have more letters than the field allows.

          It took us a couple of hours of calling to my HR and to BC to figure this out and get it resolved. In 2015. When we know and have known this is an issue.

          Idiots.

          1. Lynn Whitehat

            I have a Scottish “Mac” last name; think “MacDonald” or “MacGonagall”. Several times, I have tried to vote and found I was no longer on the rolls. Every five years or so, some clerk decides I obviously submitted my own name wrong, and it ought to be “Lynn Mac Donald”. I mean, what? (I do get to vote, it just takes extra time to straighten this out when it happens.)

              1. Miss Betty

                I might’ve told this story here before, not sure – but my mom’s name has a diminutive variation with several different spellings. She’s always gone by the diminutive and her mother spelled it a certain (acceptable, standard) way. When mom went to kindergarten and spelled her own name, the teacher changed it to a different (acceptable, standard, more common) spelling and told my mom she’d spelled her own name wrong. And mom went with the alternative spelling every since! (My grandparents were young and hadn’t completed high school; they may not have felt they had the authority to argue with the teacher. This was in the late 40s and I think parents interacted with teachers a little differently then.)

                1. I can spell my own name thank you

                  I was told I spelled my last name wrong all through kindergarten. Woe unto ye who does that now!

                2. Connie-Lynne

                  I have a hyphenated first name and across the board teachers dropped the second half unless I insisted.

                  I was in 7th grade before I was regularly called by my correct name.

                3. ZuKeeper

                  My mother’s parents named her Ann with no middle name. It upset the Catholic priest so badly that he baptised her as Mary Ann without checking with my grandparents. They were furious, and my mom still gets mail to Mary Ann occasionally.

            1. VintageLydia

              My husband has this issue where they dropped the apostrophe in our surname (but it was correct in mine.) The only grudgingly allowed him to vote in our primary. :/

          2. Judy

            I use my maiden last name as a middle name. When I would use the travel system at my former employer, it wouldn’t ever take one of my frequent flyer numbers, saying the names didn’t match. When I would log in to that frequent flyer account, the names matched. Eventually, I called the frequent flyer customer service, and we discovered that the company put my maiden last name as a middle name, but the airline put a double last name. Their online portal just “joined” the names, so I didn’t know it was separate fields. That’s why the names didn’t match.

          3. Anon3

            Idiots, eh? Funny.. Me and the other programmers here at BCBS are nice, hard working people. Systems have been in place for years and years and are not easily changed.

            1. animaniactoo

              Sorry, but I think her frustration is justified. This has been a known kind of issue for over a decade of fill-in-the-blank fields. If it’s not fixed by now, that’s because somebody doesn’t think it’s a priority and would rather make the people who have such names jump through ridiculous hoops for a process that works smoothly for everyone else. If they (higher-ups, not the programmers) thought it was a priority – as most other self-service setups have made it – it would be changed by now.

              1. Qmatilda

                Agreed. It isn’t as if we just broke some new boundary with long last names now. I’ve been setting those fields off forever.

          4. Mickey Q

            Don’t get me started. Years ago I worked for an alumni directory organization which everyone hates. On one project the data specialist limited the last name to 8 characters. We had to reprint the entire project when we found out. It was especially bad when the “A” was dropped off the end of Mr. Takeshita.

        3. Rey

          I’ve had this problem with two middle names. I had to explain very patiently to my high school graduation counselor that they were, in fact, *both* part of my name and that she would in fact be having *both* of them printed on my diploma.

          1. JessaB

            I had to fight because I would be married before graduation, and I was NOT going to pay a freaking fortune for an education that had my wrong name on the diploma. They pretty much had to walk it through the system by hand, but the diploma had my name on the date of graduation not the name on my school records from before then. But man they couldn’t understand why I’d be ticked off at them.

          2. Artemesia

            My kids have hyphenated last names and the private school my daughter went to in middle school (they were mostly in public school except for a short stint because of a bad school situation). They constantly fungled her name but the last straw for her was when they got it wrong on an award they gave her. She left that school to go to a magnet school at the end of 9th grade and she convinced 6 of her friends to transfer with her that year. 6 of the 7 girls made National Merit and that year the poncy private school in the south that couldn’t get her name right had the lowest number of Merit Scholars they had had in years. They publish this in the paper and it is a big deal locally and especially for expensive private schools. Small expensive school where they can’t get a student’s name right (subtext because they don’t approve of such things?) So served them right.

          3. Ximena Guiomar Alejandra plus a bunch of non-hyphenated surnames

            I have two middle names, and my first name, while common in my mother’s country of origin, (and not difficult to pronounce) starts with an X. English speakers Can Not Deal. They tell me I’ve spelled it wrong (“you write your K to look like an X!”), they insert extra vowels, (“Xiemenia”), They start writing it the way they think they heard it and then put in the spelling I’m telling them “HeXm…?”) they can NEVER FIND MY FILE. Some people I’ve known for years NEVER learn to pronounce it (it’s consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel, sound it out, if you can pronounce Tabitha you can do this.)

            There’s a whole other social thing that happens, where once I introduce myself, the conversation becomes a ten-minute interrogation:
            “That’s Soooooooo Beauuuuttiifuuullll!”
            “How do you pronounce it again?”
            “Where did you get that name?
            “Where are you from? No, really, Where are you really from?”
            “well where are your parents from?”
            “and it’s pronounced…”
            “no, I want to get it right!”
            “what does it MEAN?”
            “But it MUST mean SOMETHING!”
            “Haven’t you bothered to research it?”
            “that is such an interesting heritage!”
            “why did they pick that name?”
            “soooo interesting!!”

            Seriously, this is EXHAUSTING.

            The work-related punchline is, I tend to work in call centers and customer service. This means I’m introducing myself twice every call. Somehow, I don’t mind this conversation quite as much when I’m being paid to have it, although it does tend to be a call extender.

              1. Seven If You Count Bad John

                No, Bolivia. But in Spain, South America, and large parts of Mexico, Ximena is as common as Jennifer is here.

            1. Anonymousaurus Rex

              I feel you. I have a four-letter name that is uncommon in the US, and no one can pronounce it or spell it. It’s four letters, people.

              1. AthenaC

                My son’s name is literally three letters long and is a rather popular Old Testament staple name experiencing something of a revival. Translation: His name is Eli, along with like a bazillion other children.

                Any time I take him to the doctor, they always squint, turn their head to the side, and say, “…. Ellie?” Different people every time, too!

            2. (Another) B

              My last name is just long (13 letters) and Polish and I get the same thing. It’s so annoying!

              “How long did it take you to learn how to spell that in kindergarten?” I have hear this at least 10,000 times. It got old fast.

              1. AthenaC

                Confession time: I still can’t spell my mother-in-law’s Polish maiden name, even after being married to her son for seven years. I think it’s mainly because it’s a Latin alphabet and I’m just better with a Cyrillic alphabet.

              2. One of the Sarahs

                My sister married into a Polish family, and laughed and laughed about the ‘but how will you learn how to spell it?’ question, given that all our life we’ve had to spell out our Celtic-ish surname-that-has-1000-variations at every possible interaction.

              1. Ximena Guiomar Alejandra plus a bunch of non-hyphenated surnames

                True story: I seriously considered creating a website with a FAQ about my name, and just handing people business cards with the URL on it. “This will answer all your questions, let’s move on with a real conversation now.” The kicker was I was going to put it behind a paywall. Just to prove to myself EXACTLY how much I would have if I had a dollar for every time someone asked.

            3. LiveAndLetDie

              My name is Finnish. I have the same problem. The frustrating part is that Finnish is a phonetic language, no tricks or silent letters or anything. But here in America people FREAK OUT that it’s not a “normal name” they’re used to seeing and they trip all over themselves making it 10,000x more complicated than it actually is.

          4. Jinx

            Mr. Jinx has encountered all sorts of excitement regarding his two middle names. His parents goofed the original documentation, so he has two different legal names depending on what piece of paper you look at. Some places he has two names, some places he has one. Makes things all sorts of exciting.

            1. Chameleon

              Mr. Chameleon has only one middle name, but it’s a common last name as well (e.g. “Timothy Hart Jones”). When they asked his parents what his name was for the birth certificate, they said “Timothy Hart” assuming the nurses would assume the “Jones” part.

              Fast-forward 16 years (!) when he had something official come up (can’t remember which). They asked him his name, he said “Tim Jones”. The lady looked at her computer and said, “No, that’s wrong.” Turns out he had been legally “Timothy Hart” for all those years. He got it changed, but still.

          1. SusanIvanova

            Yep. That’s the list I point to – if you spot a familiar avatar there, that’s me :)

            When Apple announced the NSPersonNameComponents class, everyone on my team immediately thought of me. It seems pretty comprehensive, but I’m convinced Siri is ignoring it because I *have* put both halves into the “nickname” field and she’s still screwing it up.

        4. Stranger than fiction

          Yeah, re: your last paragraph, the one thing it appears Op is not doing is correcting people. She should start now when interviewing and then when on the new job. If she does it each and every time, at least the coworkers should get it right. It’s not rude to correct people when they get your name wrong, just like if her name was Tara and everyone called her Sara, you’d correct them.

          1. fposte

            But she says she doesn’t mind that, so I don’t think she needs to correct people if she doesn’t want to. She just wants to know if it makes her look bad to use the second part of her name.

          2. TootsNYC

            I have a name just like that–but I also have no middle name.

            I always use the full name on resumes, published credits, bylines, mastheads, programs, cast lists, etc.

            I have never, ever gotten pushback as a pro. The only pushback I ever got was from my college yearbook adviser, who did not want to put the 2nd part of my middle name on my byline. He told me it was my middle name and nobody uses their middle name on a byline. I pointed out that it wasn’t, and I wanted it. He said it was pretentious. I pointed out that HIS name was Terry Vander Hayden, and he wouldn’t be happy if we left out the “Vander” part of his last name. He didn’t say another word.

            Like our OP “Sarah Jane,” I am totally OK to go by the first half as a nickname. And it never hurt me in terms of using the full name in print, etc.

            But at this job, the hiring manager asked me what I preferred, and it was really awkward when I said I didn’t care. So I said, “call me Sarah Jane.” And they mostly do.

            I do answer the phone “This is Sarah” sometimes bcs i’m lazy, but I always sign my name with both.

            It’s totally fine. I’ve never had any real problems.
            Oh, sure, people sometimes don’t get it, and computer systems could mess it up, but that’s not a real problem; it’s just annoyance.

            (Though once, in grade school, I punched a kid who kept arguing w/ me that “Jane” was my middle name. I finally decided he was insulting me by saying I was too stupid to know my own name, so I hit him.)

            My college adviser is right that very few people put their middle names on their bylines resumes. So if there are three names there, I think most folks assume that they’re important somehow. Either it’s a two-parter, or they actually go by their middle name, or there are lots of James Wilson’s around.

            So if anybody asks, tell them you prefer Sarah Jane but will answer to the nickname Sarah, much as some Jennifers prefer the long form but don’t mind a “Jen” now and then. Or, they use the Jennifer formally, and their friends call them Jenny.
            Then, make your email signature be Sarah Jane; sign emails “Sarah Jane”; etc.

        5. Chalupa Batman

          I knew a Mary Beth who pronounced it all as one word with the emphasis in the Mary rather than the Beth emphasis that’s more common in this part of the country-sounded like “MARE-ee-beth.” People who had met her in person rarely called her just Mary. It won’t work in all situations (like forms), and some names lend itself better to it than others, but it helped me mentally make it all one name, even after I saw it was spelled in two parts.

        6. Cyndy Witzke

          On the other hand, it’s taken me three months and numerous signings of emails for a group I’m involved with to spell my first name correctly. So be patient!

          1. NolongerMsCleo

            I always roll my eyes when people either email me or IM me and spell my name incorrect. I just think, my name is right there, next to where you spelled it wrong. I try not to get irritated, and I do have a name with multiple spellings, but it’s not hard to take an extra second and double check.

      2. Pwyll

        +1. I was coming to say just this: if you have a middle name, why not include the initial to make clearer that you have two first names?

        1. DoDah

          I have a similarly structured double-barreled first name. I don’t care, so over the years my name has devolved to the first part.

          Recently I worked with a sales rep who’s name was this format. Her introductory email to me was a full paragraph about her naming convention and what was not acceptable to call her. Please don’t be this person.

          1. Artemesia

            Yeah it is a fine line. You want to let people know but not be THAT person. I knew someone who made a habit of embarrassing people in public who got it wrong (people who were new to her and so didn’t know) She was in for a lot of ridicule.

            I kept my own name in marriage in the south 45 years ago when it was quite unusual. People often got got it wrong. I figure that if you are doing something that is not consistent with the norms then you have to be tactful how you deal with that and not jump down people’s throats who make what they think is the right choice. I always corrected them privately as in ‘oh by the way, it isn’t Mrs. Hislastname, I kept my name and it is Artemesia Mylastname.’ For people who did the former to chastise me for doing this disgusting thing, I had other techniques, but most people just follow convention and so it is my problem to correct them.

            Our doorman in Chicago told a friend ‘She needs to get the name changed in records here’ and my friend said ‘if she has been using it for 45 years of marriage, I don’t think it is changing any time soon.’ People often assume we are recently married since old people with different names are assumed to be a modern trend.

          2. Liana

            This reminds me of that epic email chain that made the news awhile ago about a woman who accidentally called her coworker Liz instead of Elizabeth, and was treated to a whole slew of emails from Liz about how that name wasn’t acceptable. I’ll have to find it!

            1. Elizabeth West

              Haha, I remember that.

              I’m fine with everything except my first name. I constantly have to correct them at my doctor’s office, even though there is a space for preferred name–they just don’t look at it.

    2. CanadianKat

      My coworker’s first name is Anne Julie (French pronounciation – i.e. zhoo-LEE). Nobody blinks twice that it’s a double name. And apparently it has worked well for her, since she gave her daughter a double first name as well.

  3. Sami

    #5: I’m a teacher and I’ve bought my own desk chairs. Since sitting on a chair sized for a 1st or 2nd grader wasn’t physically feasible.

      1. Stephanie

        I know a lot of schools have staff bathrooms or a bathroom in the teachers lounge.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian

            Someone should bring in one of those toilet booster things that you get at the medical supply store. They’re probably expensive, though. I worked briefly at a medical supply retail store, and the markup on everything was 113%.

    1. Muriel Heslop

      I’ve bought my own desk chair. Comfort!

      My last year at my old school I bought my own paper for year. (The whole faculty had to buy their own – not just me.) I went from worksheets to overhead as much as I could.

    2. Rob Lowe can't read

      I teach bigger kids, but I brought my own chair, too! IKEA, $11, it’s a thousand times more comfortable than the torture devices our students have to use. Worth it!

  4. state government jane

    “One day y’all will be forced to bring in your own toilet paper and desk chairs.” lol, so true. I love it whenever there’s government (especially state government) questions on AAM, because the dynamic is super weird and I’m still learning to navigate it. Sometimes state gov norms feel so not normal!

    1. Merry and Bright

      Ha ha! I switched from private sector/corporate to UK government agencies three years ago and it’s just the same here. The dynamics are totally different and I’m still learning stuff.

      1. Jennifer

        I work for the state… our entire, 9 story building once ran out of TP for a week. Yes, we brought our own.

        1. Hilda The Programmer

          Yikes, I work in corporate and I think people would half the company would quit if that happened.

        2. Mallory Janis Ian

          I work for a state university, and our toilet paper is flimsy, one-ply stuff. I don’t know if they know, but people just use more of that stuff. Well, they probably do know, but we have a toilet paper contract, and I’m sure they just buy a gazillion rolls per year of whatever is cheapest.

          1. Sara_MI

            That is exactly correct. I work for a large university in the central warehouse at that buys the TP, and when the custodial group goes out to bid, price is the main thing they look for. One-ply all the way. And yes, we go through what feels like a gazillion rolls per year. TP by the truckload!

            1. Barefoot Librarian

              I’m at a private college that buys crappy one-ply rolls…EXACTLY the same as the stuff my previous state university bought. It’s never made any sense at all to me because it just means we use more of it to get decent….uh, coverage.

              It honestly HAS to be more expensive in the long run.

              1. Fjell & Skog

                Someone explained to me once that that stuff is less likely to clog the plumbing, though. So now I can see the point of the crappy (pun intended) TP.

          2. LabTech

            In my state-run workplace, we recently had a water cooler removed, and replaced with a water fountain (which also required plumbing water and waste lines to that particular location), because we couldn’t sufficiently justify paying for the 5 gallon jug of water.

            1. Sarah in Boston

              That one at least I get. We did the same here (private corporation) and it apparently paid for itself in less than a year. Water coolers are surprisingly pricey to keep up.

              1. Ex Resume Reviewer

                We had to pay $4 a month towards the water cooler at my state job. :( Now I work for the private sector and drink aaaallll the hot water my bladder can handle!!

                1. state government jane

                  Yeah, I remember the first time I saw the sign on the cooler that it was for WATER CLUB MEMBERS ONLY, haha. But luckily I’m in a place where tap water is good, and our kitchens have those amazing instant-near-boiling faucets, so I just skip it altogether.

          3. JMegan

            A university in my town recently discovered that the staff get soft squishy two-ply paper, and students get thin scratchy one-ply.

            There was a revolution.

            1. Artemesia

              This probably resulted from years of students stealing toilet paper. Every college I have been around has had a problem with students outfitting their apartments with soap and paper products from the college if they aren’t doled out or nailed down.

              1. SusanIvanova

                My dorm’s housekeeping service apparently had a rule that there had to be two spare rolls of the cheap stuff sitting on the toilet tank. This annoyed my tidy dormmate who preferred to have it hidden away in the closet, but if you did that they just gave you more. It wouldn’t have taken long for us to have enough to TP an entire house.

              2. Ex Resume Reviewer

                I confess to taking an entire “roll” of plastic trash bags when I moved out of the dorms. Lasted a couple of years. But what I really wish is that they’d failed to deactivate my student ID so I could still get into the laundry rooms because they were free!

          4. Stranger than fiction

            Same here! Giant rolls of thin sheer paper that you need to use about 20 feet of after #2. There’s one bathroom in one dept that I’m allowed to use because I used to sit over there and for some reason just that one has regular two ply rolls and someone told me the execs have that tp too. So somehow the manager in that dept got it approved for them to have it too.

          5. Laura

            I think this is pretty true of higher education, though. Many of the buildings have old plumbing systems, and it’s best to go with thin toilet paper to avoid clogs. We had a minor plumbing disaster last week, and it shut down four high-traffic bathrooms… yikes.

            I am okay with cheap toilet paper. Just use more if you need it.

    2. Collie

      When departments have an open house for the rest of this federal agency, we, as individuals, pay for any coffee, food, plates, napkins, stirrers, etc. And, if we want tissues or whatever, that’s on us, too, regular employees and contractors alike.

      1. Anna

        That is insane. Providing basics to employees is not wasting tax dollars, people! If feels like a form of double taxation and wasn’t that one of the many reasons we fought a war with the British?

      2. state government jane

        Whoa, yeah, this does feel pretty extreme to me, even for “government normal.” We get tissues, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes for our desks, etc… but maybe we’re just lucky? I haven’t been in the public sector long. I’m curious about differences between state & federal, and even among agencies.

        1. davey1983

          I worked for a federal agency for some time– we didn’t get any of that.

          Anything we wanted, included paper plates, had to be paid for by us. There was actually a ‘coffee summit’ on what coffee to buy and how to pay for the coffee.

    3. Kittymommy

      Truth!! My friend on the private sector do not understand and are horrified that I bring in my own Kleenex, coffee (and coffee pot and microwave, and provide candy of my own pocket since it’s “always been there and the citizens expect it”. I’ve also brought in my own speakers for muggy computer, my own mouse (I’m not waiting a few weeks to get a $5 mouse approved for purchase), and dish Shari and cleaning supplies. We’re apparently not trusted with cleaning spray, so it’s locked up.

      1. AnotherFed

        It’s because it’s hazmat. We’re only allowed to buy specific allowed cleaners that do not actually clean, so everyone just goes to the store and gets their own to clean their spaces.

        1. A Government Drone

          Someone once apparently complained about the smell of the bleach cleaner that they used to use in my state workplace, so now instead of cleaning the bathrooms they just wipe dirty water around. It looks and smells as bad as you would expect.

        2. Mockingjay

          And make sure it’s out of sight when Facilities comes by to inspect your spaces.

      2. F.

        Private sector here, though at an admittedly dysfunctional company. At our building, we are considered second-class citizens. While the office where the owner works gets only the best, I have had to provide my own office chair, ergo keyboard, mouse, batteries for said mouse, coffee, filters, coffee maker, tissues, cleaning supplies, desk accessories, pens & pencils, lamp, computer speakers and, at one point when cash flow was extremely tight for our building, toilet paper. Is it any wonder I want to leave and work for a functional company?

        1. Lindsay J

          My goal in life is to work somewhere where I don’t have to bring my own pen to work.

          Every place I have ever worked just plain didn’t supply them, or functionally didn’t supply them because they were never reordered in a reasonable amount of time.

          1. Artemesia

            I taught high school in the late 60s and one of the old hands told me the first day that I should hide a ream of paper in my desk so that I would have paper for final exams because ‘they always run out’. When I left 4 years later that ream was still there.

            It is sad to see current schools. Where my grandchild goes, the parents have had to raise the money to pay for teachers to avoid having huge cuts and they provide all the supplies. Supplies were always provided when I was in grade school in the 50s; now parents have to supply them all and in poorer schools teachers supply them.

            I give to something called Donors Choose where I can provide money to teacher projects for their classrooms. This is managed so that the supplies are purchased and provided to the teachers so there is no issue of misuse of funds and allows teachers to create classroom libraries, do complicated art projects, get funds for science projects etc etc. All that was provided to today’s baby boomers; it really bugs me that we haven’t paid it forward.

            1. MsChanandlerBong

              I love Donors Choose! I hate that teachers have to ask for help buying supplies, but I am glad they have a place to do so. My old district just voted to cut art, consumer science, technology education, and LIBRARIES from all of the schools. I expect the teachers there are going to be signing up for Donors Choose in droves to keep their classrooms running.

          2. ZuKeeper

            I’m very picky about my pens, I like a super fine tip, so I would still bring my own pen. That’s what happens when you worked for an office supply company and could pretty much try what ever they sell. That’s the one thing I miss about that place. Of course, the cheapo pens they actually provided for us only ever lasted a short time before you had to grab a new one.

        2. leslie knope

          i worked at a private company (which is actually a very large international chain, if you can imagine) where there was no cleaning service. they cut it to save money so the employees were expected to do the cleaning.

          they also did the “no trash cans” rule that was posted about awhile ago on here.

        3. Elizabeth West

          Oh man, we are spoiled.

          We get free coffee, tea (hot and iced, though we have to make the iced ourselves), cocoa, plates/cups/cutlery, TP, paper towels, batteries, pens, sticky notes, paper, notepads, washing-up liquid, ice, napkins, and we have a cleaning service who comes in at night and runs the dishwasher (I call them house elves).

          We do have to bring our own stuff for our cubes, however. I bring my own Clorox wipes, tissue, snacks, my own tea (British), and anything I might want in my cube during the day. Most of our work is digital, so I don’t really need paper or pens often. I wash my own dishes and I also provided a cheap toaster when our old one broke (the company doesn’t do that). I need my toast.

          I’ve never worked anywhere that didn’t have a coffeemaker and at least some paper plates/plastic cutlery in the break rooms. Often there are stray mugs people have left in case you want to use them, and at one job, it was part of my duties to wash them.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian

            I am irritated because I have moved to a stickler college at the university from one that knew its way around bureaucratic nonsense. At old college, we had free coffee and tea because we could just write in, “for guests, faculty, and staff of the — department”, with “guests” being the magic word that got our purchases up the approval chain. New college is really, really sincere about complying with the very letter of the law, so they insist that it is impossible and against state law for us to have the things that flowed freely in old college. I’m a circumvent-the-bureaucracy person myself, so I was probably a much better fit in my old college. I comply with everything in the new one, but I’m constantly in a state of concealed eye-rolling.

      3. SusanIvanova

        Mom worked for the government when computers first started coming in. There was a rule that you could not change the software on your PC, *and* a rule that you couldn’t have games on it. Windows, of course, came with Solitaire, so immediately everyone was written up for having games.

    4. Sydney Bristow

      I’ve worked somewhere in the private sector where we had to bring our own toilet paper. The staffing agency had 150 of us contract attorneys stuffed into a floor (in addition to all the regular employees) with a bathroom that had 5 stalls. It was ok during the week but we were expected to work weekends and the tp wouldn’t be restocked so we would inevitably run out. That place made it on my “I’ll never work there again unless I’m about to be homeless” list right away.

    5. Sapphire1166

      Federal worker here. Have to buy our own coffee, coffee makers, hand/dish detergent, and cups/plates/utensils for the potlucks we have every 4 months or so. Unless we want to use 30 year-old (no, I’m not exaggerating) binders and file folder holders, we buy our own. We also get 1 ply toilet paper and the thinnest paper towels known to man (although it’s better than air dryers IMO). We ARE lucky that we get two 1/2 “organizational” days where we go to the ball park/bowling/etc each year, but we have to buy our own tickets. Still a fair trade for good health insurance, a decent 401k, and work/life balance (although the government is still WAY behind the curve on maternity leave).

      1. A Government Drone

        As a state worker, I envy you feds. You’re paid better and have a better retirement (our pension plan was slashed). Our sick leave accrues pretty quickly though so it would be really easy to take a long maternity leave here, provided you’ve worked a while. The only people I would recommend to state employment are those who want more of a life balance. Steady work hours, holidays, and tons of sick leave are the only perks.

        1. The Rat-Catcher

          Work-life balance is the primary reason I have stayed. My paycheck may be peanuts but when I need to pick up my sick daughter from daycare or want to take a day off and go to the salon, it’s never an issue. Literally ever. Plus even though we don’t have paid maternity leave (boo!) vacation time stacks up so quickly that even though I’ve only been here 2 years I still have plenty of PTO to take off and be with new baby.

        2. Gov'ment Drone in Waiting

          Hey, a plug for state AND federal government: loan forgiveness. Law school don’t come cheap.

          1. state government jane

            In my state, if you’re a permanent employee of the state (with exceptions in certain industries), you can take classes at any of the state colleges (including community colleges) for free. They don’t advertise that much, but it was one of the big reasons I decided on my government job over a more dreamy private sector option.

          2. davey1983

            That depends on your agency– not all federal agencies will do that (mine wouldn’t pay back student loans, and that includes the attorneys they hired).

            Technically, it is not loan forgiveness, the agency actually pays back a portion of your school loans. For federal agencies, they can pay up to 10,000 per year on your loans, and you are expected to stay 2 years for every year they pay on your loans.

            1. The Rat-Catcher

              They might be referring to Public Service Loan Forgiveness, where you can make income-based payments for ten years and get the balance forgiven at that time. And it does refer to “government organizations at any level,” although I’m sure you could find exceptions somewhere.

      2. NK

        Most of the private sector has crappy maternity leave too, I think. You hear about the Googles and Nexflixes, but that’s far from the norm unfortunately. My work lets us use 6 or 8 weeks of sick time (depending on whether you have a c-section), which is OK for this kid, but I likely will have basically no sick time accrued for the second kid we’ll ideally have in another two years, so it will be almost entirely unpaid leave.

        1. Proof is in the pudding

          In the UK you get 39 weeks paid parental leave (and you can add 13 weeks unpaid leave on top if you choose)

    6. Xay

      I used to work for a state health agency where they eliminated the hot water to save money while we were pushing a handwashing campaign (Step 1: Use hot water).

      1. A Government Drone

        It’s a good thing government workers in most states aren’t covered by OSHA, am I right? Heaven forbid the government would have to follow its own rules.

        1. LCL

          yeah, I researched this a little bit because of a turf war we were having with facilities. They were keeping the water heater temp at 110 degrees, which is much less than that by the time it gets to the faucets. Facilities said we don’t get to decide, we being handy with tools adjusted the heaters to a more appropriate 120 degrees, facilities got angry. And Facilities eventually won, because they are empire building, and it turns out that the latest studies show you don’t need hot water to wash up. The temp of water used for hand washing is low enough it won’t kill germs, you want the warm water so washing up isn’t unpleasant and people are more apt to wash properly if the water is warm enough to be comfortable.

    7. The Rat-Catcher

      State government employee here. My state pays terribly even for state pay (we’re either 49th or 50th in the US for state worker pay, depending on where Adjacent State to the South falls that year), because our voters are Against Taxes, Always. However, our budget is actually balanced, and we’re provided with decent TP, pens that actually write, cleaning supplies, etc. Adjacent State to the East pays its workers $10-$20k more than we make for the same jobs, but are constantly out of TP and other paper products/cleaning supplies/office supplies because they can’t order any more. I really do prefer working here.

      1. Brett

        I am pretty certain you are the same state as me. Adjacent state to the east is actually the highest state worker pay in the country, and adjacent state to the north is top 5. (I would prefer adjacent state to the north, because they can actually balance a state budget and provide a decent work environment).
        Adjacent state to the south has actually been working on their retention and nearly moved themselves out of the bottom 10.

        What is also particular bad about state #50 falls in pay, is that it also ranks near the bottom in number of state workers per capita. Not only are the workers almost certainly underpaid, they are definitely badly understaffed.

        1. The Rat-Catcher

          After looking at more recent figures, I think you are right that we are in the same state. I did not know about the pay/decent budgeting in adjacent state to the north. (Unfortunately, I live close to the southern border.) Adjacent state to the south is doing much better though!

          Our agency is currently in a hiring freeze, which is just causing more turnover as our workers get stressed out over their increased workload and leave, making everything worse. *sigh* July 1st can’t get here fast enough!

        2. A Government Drone

          I think I might be in the same state too. I did not know about the understaffing, but we usually only get one qualified applicant when we try to fill professional positions within our department. Have you looked at the turnover numbers? They’ve been steadily increasing. I can’t wait to see the conclusions of the total compensation study the legislature just commissioned. It’s not going to be good considering they changed the pension plan. With the layoffs and position cuts, we don’t even have job security anymore.

          1. The Rat-Catcher

            “I can’t wait to see the conclusions of the total compensation study the legislature just commissioned.”

            Yeah, you’re in our state. (And me neither!) We’ve been through our register so many times that we’re going all the way down to 70% scores to fill the positions, and our head clerical has a copy of it with notes by names from previous interviews. Our turnover is nuts…making the hiring freeze all the more mystifying.

            I’m under the new retirement plan…Didn’t seem too bad, until I got to see the old one!

          2. Brett

            I worked for big county on the east side of the state. We had a total compensation study as well, and it only resulted in a bunch of people getting reclassified (despite assurances it would not happen) and no actual market adjustments.
            Unsurprisingly, turnover is currently the worst it has been in county history.

            1. A Government Drone

              I’ve no doubt that the study isn’t so much about identifying pay disparities as it is just trying to convince us state workers that our pay isn’t actually low.

              1. The Rat-Catcher

                You know the term “total compensation study” is worded that way so they can include our benefits (which are admittedly pretty good, though not what they once were).

    8. A Teacher

      The school owns the 4 tables and my teacher desk and 3 file cabinets, I own 33 chairs, a couch, a file cabinet, 2 bookshelves, the teaching podium, and have to supply my own white board markers, DVD/VCR player to run morning annoucements on the smartboard and show video; we have to buy kleenex/papertowels for us and for our students; hand sanitizer is out of our pockets are are in notebooks, pens/pencils/scissors/stapler and staples, etc for our student to use in class. I think last year I spent about $850 out of pocket on supplies for students to use-not just myself.

      1. Faith

        I think you could probably find one administrative (not clerical, but rather the high paid execs) position to slash that could be used to keep all of you in supplies for the year. As a taxpayer, that is a pet peeve. The top people have very high salaries, and create more jobs like that, and the teachers and students suffer.

  5. Sketchee

    OP#1: The employer is doing absolutely nothing wrong. You need to talk to your husband about his long term career plans. Is this a job he’s planning to stay at for a long time? Or is this a more temporary situation? It’s obviously important to him and at the same time, I’m sure you’re important to him as well. Talk to each other and work out a plan. You’re not on the same page about your current situation in your marriage. It’s not really a workplace issue. Some careers and workplaces require long hours. Does you and your husband feel this is a good fit and what’s the timetable if not.

    1. Moral panic

      I love these posts because you just know it is never the FULL story. We could get a letter from the husband complaining that he is trying to advance his career but his wife is constantly harping on him to spend more time with her.

      Many spouses would avoid a fight by giving the excuse that they are being made to work so much time. If it really mattered to them they’d plea with their bosses or start looking for a new job!

      1. Random Lurker

        These types of questions always seem one sided (and not just here, they bleed into another site I visit that is also not relationship advice in nature). I often wonder what the expected conversation at home is for these types of questions. “See! This online forum agrees with me! You shouldn’t be having lunch with your employer!” Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I never would contemplate bringing a relationship issue to a group of strangers on the internet.

        As far as the issue at hand, sounds like OP and her husband need to have a conversation. Expecting a working spouse to have lunch regularly with you isn’t realistic, but if she really feels that he’s spending 90% of his time away from her, that is something a couple should be able to talk out. I work a ton, and I feel I’m very fortunate that I have a husband who is supportive of that. He uses the time I’m away to pursue hobbies that I’m not interested in, hang out with some friends that I don’t necessarily enjoy to be around, etc. He learned to enjoy our time apart, which let me not feel guilty about it, and also enabled him to be super supportive when work stressed me out and got me down. But to get to that point, we had to have very honest communications with each other about what we wanted out of the relationship, life, etc., and we both had to make compromises.

        1. neverjaunty

          No, you’re not “old fashioned”. Asking strangers for personal advice by writing in to a column goes back at least to the 19th century. It wasn’t novel when West wrote Miss Lonelyhearts.

          Also, er, you’re reading this column, yes? It seems a little weird to be interested in personal letters to the degree of taking the time to write comments about them, while simultaneously scolding the letter-writers.

          1. Sadsack

            I think Random Lurker meant that she wouldn’t ask strangers for advice about personal relationships specifically, which I also wouldn’t do. This column is specifically focused on work topics.

            1. neverjaunty

              Work topics and personal relationships overlap; that’s why people write in here for advice, instead of simply Googling the appropriate FAQ from the Department of Labor or OSHA or whatever. Regardless, it’s more than a bit silly to tut-tut about somebody writing into a column for ‘personal advice’ when one is avidly reading and commenting on that same personal advice.

              Also, while we the AAM commentariat are without question a brilliant, witty and attractive bunch of folks, let’s not flatter ourselves that the letter-writers are asking us (the ‘bunch of strangers’) for our opinions; they’re asking Alison, who is the actual writer of the column and the one with the credentials to give work-related advice.

              1. Sadsack

                I think you are really exaggerating Random Lurker’s comment. And of course writers are writing to Alison, but they also write to “us” on Fridays and join in the comments section on other days. No need to be so aggressive about this.

        2. Stranger than fiction

          Ah! At first I was thinking she must mean that he’s whisked away to these lunches on his days off with her. Now I’m thinking she means he used to come home for lunch? That is not normal. It is not 1950. And the hospitality industry requires all kinds of kooky hours so it seems his current industry is not compatible with her expectations. And even if he switched industries he’d likely not be close enough to come home every day for lunch.

          1. Stranger than fiction

            By not normal I mean not common. Of course there’s nothing wrong with going home for lunch per se.

            1. neverjaunty

              If she said he used to come home for lunch, she probably would have said that. It sounds more like these lunches are scheduled at times other than Mr. OP’s normal lunch break during work hours.

              1. ^__^

                My so is a manager at a major hotel too and the management often have lunch meetings that often last longer than just lunch hour (and they often come back to work a bit toasty, lol), however his schedule is consistent throughout the week. He only has to work a weird schedule every 6-7 weeks when they flex the weekends for all the management.

                I dont really get the questions by the OP. Is she upset that he is having lunch with other people off-site during his work hours? Upset that he isn’t coming home during lunch? Upset that he isn’t meeting her for lunch? Or upset that he has to leave early to attend lunch meetings and then works in the evenings/overnight?

                My so works a “first shift” 7-5 most days, mon-fri so my situation is different. But I dont understand her complaint here.

          2. Oryx

            It’s also possible he works an overnight shift typically and was home for lunch just per his schedule, but now is leaving and adding in commute time it could be a couple hours she’s talking about.

            (Not that I think it gives her a right to complain)

              1. ^__^

                hotels are 24 hours – but if he is the AGM he likely doesn’t work overnights (they have night auditors) and the GM, AGM and Dept managers usually work some variations between 7am-11pm

            1. BananaPants

              She has a right to complain if his job is negatively impacting their home life – but she should be complaining to HIM and trying to figure out what solution is best for the family, absolutely not complaining to her husband’s employer.

              My husband worked an awful job where they had to go to unpaid weekly sales meetings 90 minutes away during non-work hours. Even if it was a scheduled day off (and it almost always was in his case), he had to go. I hated it. I didn’t complain to his boss, though – I complained to him!

          3. Lindsay J

            This was the thing I came here to say re: the hospitality industry.

            The reality of it is that unless he gets to be very high up, he will not have the work-life balance she expects.

            I’ve worked in amusement parks and hotels, and my dad works in the restaurant business and has his whole life.

            It’s never going to be a 9-5.

            First of all, you’re always going to be working on off-hours. Because the people your business is catering to work 9-5 then come see you in the hours outside of that. People go to amusement parks on their days off and vacation times, hotels the same time and on weekends (aside from business travelers), and restaurants after work. So those are the times when staff needs to be there.

            Second, these industries typically can get away with doing more with fewer employees, so they do. Every hospitality industry type job I’ve seen has had people working 10-12 hour days, 5-6 days a week. My dad used to be a kitchen manager and then a GM for a restaurant. He typically worked from 10am-10 or 11PM or midnight at least 5 days a week. When I worked in a hotel I worked 7 days in a row (two 10 hour days and 5 12 hour days) and then had a week off.

            I really enjoyed the work in those industries, but one of the reasons I left it that I saw how hard it was on my mom when my dad was working those hours when I was little (and how hard it was for him to miss so much of our lives when we were growing up) and decided I didn’t want that for my future relationships/family.

            1. BananaPants

              Agreed. My dad worked in the restaurant business for 40 years. As a restaurant GM he typically worked 60-70+ hour weeks and it ALWAYS included weekends and holidays. For special events happening on weekends (sports banquets, dance recitals, etc.) he needed to plan well in advance to have an assistant manager come in for him so that he could attend. There was no last-minute weekend trip to the beach or anything of that nature. It’s just the way it is in hospitality management and you know that going in.

              We have friends where the husband is a restaurant GM. Literally *everything* happening with the kids on weeknights or the weekend falls on the wife because he has to work.

            2. ^__^

              so is is a manger at a hotel and works 7-5 most days. sometimes he leaves early, sometimes if it gets crazy busy he stays later. His AGM and GM actually work even less than him often. They come in later and leave at the same time as him or earlier. Maybe he struck out, but he’s been in hospitality for over a decade and has always had a decent work/life balance, especially once he moved up in roles.

        3. Myrin

          In addition to what neverjaunty says above, I’d say the result people hope for when “bringing a relationship issue to a group of strangers on the internet” isn’t to later be able to say to someone else “See! This online forum agrees with me!”, but rather to say it to yourself. People generally write in to advice columns because they’re unsure of how to view a certain situation, how to proceed with it, etc. A group of internet strangers can help people figure out that their instincts regarding any given situation are correct, that their behaviour is totally unacceptable, that a problem they thought was unique to them is actually quite common, how to approach a certain problem, what phrasing to use when appraoching a problem, and so on.

          Also, especially with relationship issues, strangers on the internet tend to be more neutral than someone directly involved in a situation or relationship. Of course everyone brings with them their own opinions and experiences but you’re still probably going to get a more objective answer about, for example, your spouse’s weird behaviour from a group of internet people than you are from people in your real life who all know your spouse and have certain feelings towards them already.

          1. Lindsay J

            Totally this. Usually if I ask the internet before I talk to my partner about things, it to flesh out what I’m feeling for myself, potential solutions, or trying to decide whether what I want to talk about is something I should talk about or just let it go.

            And honestly, I prefer asking internet strangers to friends and family because I’ve found that asking friends and family tends to bias them towards you and against the other person, both specifically on that issue (when I don’t want an echo chamber telling me that I’m totally in the right, I want actual advice) and in the long run as hearing about every struggle someone has with their partner tends to make you associate that partner with negative emotions etc. I don’t want my family to think badly of my partner because we had a fight over something stupid one time. I honestly couldn’t care less about what internet strangers think of him.

            Also, sometimes the Internet can help come up with a compromise or solution to an issue that neither party could come up with because they were both too invested and couldn’t see the forest for the trees.

          2. Barefoot Librarian

            I agree completely with you. When you are actually having a problem (especially a relationship one), it can be hard to see things in context. Asking a bunch of internet strangers who aren’t involved, can be helpful even if they don’t necessarily give you the answer you want. That being said, I agree with the majority of comments that say she should talk to her partner about expectations and be prepared that he won’t be able to change anything. I have a lot of after hours and lunch work-related meals and meetings and it’s just part of the job expectation. I can get out of some of them, but it starts to look bad if I avoid too many. My hubby is super supportive of me though and, in exchange, I make an effort to block out nights for just us.

          3. Elizabeth West

            Yes. And also, something you might not have encountered before may seem very weird to you but is actually quite common. You wouldn’t know that if your experience with it is limited.

            We see that in letters about work too, where Alison and commenters tell OPs “Oh that’s quite usual in corporate jobs, etc.”

        4. Artemesia

          The lunch thing only makes sense if he is working the night shift; otherwise it is weird.

          But the bottom line is ‘not her business.’ Her husband is her business but his work is not and the best way to destroy his career is to develop her own reputation as a nagging impossible wife. It may be that the job is unsustainable or that he needs to guard his off time better, but that is his to figure out. She can decide if she wants to be married to him. She has no place in the workplace.

          I fired the last person who had a wife who tried to intercede when he didn’t get promoted. That was not the reason but it sure didn’t help.

        5. Kylynara

          Sometimes when two people are arguing about something they can’t agree on what is “normal”and need 3rd party input. Input from complete strangers who can’t associate it with specific people can be less revealing than than getting someone you know involved. Also more objective and less likely hood of people taking sides. How often do we get LWs who say “My boss is asking for , it seems slightly over the line to me is just one of those things that I need to accept?” And the answer something like “WTF!?!? NO, Not Normal. This is so far over the line, it needs an overnight flight to see the line.”

          It could be husband spends most his time with people working for this company, who spend 95% of their awake time on work and feels like he’s doing the bare minimum at work. She might have a view that’s skewed the other way and they both think the other is completely out of touch. Maybe they both are, maybe only one is, doesn’t matter some objective input and from outside their circles.

        6. Jill

          But taking your question to a site like this allows you to put the blame on someone else -the Employer, which is easier than admitting that maybe your spouse’s job is more important to them than a happy marriage. I’m not saying that to kick the OP while she already appears to be hurting. I’m sure there’s a lot more to the story than Husband having to attend lunch meetings. I just agree with everyone else – OP and Spouse need to have a conversation about the impact the job is having on the marriage. Which is not an issue for the Employer to be involved in.

  6. Dan

    #5

    I work for a government funded non profit, so we have no “fun perks”, cause, you know… but you know what? They pay us reasonably well, great benefits (I swear) and good work life balance. And you know what? I actually like going to work and not having to deal with social stuff. I guess my point is there’s nothing wrong with the ban on public sector “fun”.

    I would not go to things that required me to actually burn PTO to attend. No way. So I’m glad we don’t have them.

    1. CheeryO

      Yeah, at my agency we have to use vacation or personal time to attend our holiday party since it’s in the afternoon. I do attend since it’s only a once per year thing, and I am more than willing to give up half a day. When it comes down to it, I would trade free tissues and coffee and other fun perks for stability, a 37.5 hour work week, and great benefits any day.

      There are plenty of people who don’t attend since they don’t want to use half a day, and as far as I know, no one thinks any less of them.

    2. LQ

      Wait…is TP a “fun perk”? Chairs? I guess you could argue for coffee being too fun and social.

      But I think that it isn’t a horrible idea to give people you’d hope would be excellent (not just mediocre) employees enough “perks” that they want to stay at the job because those are the people who will have the most choice to go elsewhere. It seems short sighted to me to say that keeping it as lean as possible is good because mistakes and poor employees are expensive.

      1. Anna

        Exactly this. I work for a contractor and while we DO have to bring our own coffee (I don’t mind, I have my own office and coffee pot to make it in), the idea that I would have to take vacation time for a team building activity is BS. I pay my taxes too, so if it bothers someone that much, they can pretend MY own taxes paid for my three hours in the afternoon to do something fun with my coworkers.

    3. themmases

      I work for a state university and it’s actually quite a nice place to work. Really the only fly in the ointment is totally manufactured political state budget crises. The funding to pay me doesn’t come from the state, but if the state university I’m housed in ever can’t function…

      We do have coffee supplies and some basics (dishwashing supplies, plastic cutlery, coffee condiments). Our research center pays rent to the university to be in this building and I suspect it comes out of that. In practice we don’t make coffee that often so I’m sure it’s very affordable to provide.

      I also would just skip an event that required me to use PTO, especially the OP’s example because I don’t like sports and a minor league baseball outing sounds like a very un-fun way to use it. I get more satisfaction out of going to the dentist.

      1. chumpwithadegree

        ” Really the only fly in the ointment is totally manufactured political state budget crises. The funding to pay me doesn’t come from the state,” Preach it. The joy of being a state employee when not one but two governors mandated 3 days per month furlough-which is a 15% pay cut-only to have the courts rule against it much later…oogh. We do have a budget for ‘appreciation’ though, and everyone gets afew hours twice a year.

    4. stevenz

      I think there *is* something wrong with the ban on public sector fun. If the private sector is held up as such a model of productivity and “real work” then why doesn’t government adopt *all* of its methods instead of only the onerous ones? People need to feel appreciated, and government is usually an absolute appreciation desert. Attendance shouldn’t be required because parties and ball games and picnics aren’t for everybody, but they should make you *want* to go. Stingy, bitter, cynical taxpayers be dammed.

  7. Dan

    #1

    Is your husband actually working 14.4 hours/day or 100.8 hours/week? If so, he should have a problem with that. But I suspect that you embellished a bit.

    My ex wife didn’t understand work boundaries very well, and it’s one reason she’s my ex. Be careful about how you approach this with your husband. Embellishing won’t help you make your point.

    1. Engineer Girl

      This. You shouldn’t expect him to come home for lunch. But if he’s leaving at 7 am can returning around 6-7 pm that’s pretty normal.
      That said, I’ve seen employers destroy several marriages. Usually the people were “required” to work 60+ hours per week (as in you have to do this to keep your job). They’d be so physically exhausted they had nothing left for the spouse.

      1. Emmy

        It could be as an assistant manager in a hotel, he’s working nights. And then having to come in for long, lunch meetings during the day. And that will wipe a person out.

        Even so, it’s a relationship question, not an employer issue. They need to decide as a couple what will work for both of them and then figure out how to get there and, no matter what, the employed person is the one who communicates with the employer. I remember asking my husband, “Can you get fired if I tell your boss he’s a sleazy, slimy, two-faced backstabbing liar? He can’t call it insubordination because I don’t work for him.” Alas. Of course you can’t do that.

        1. Jeanne

          It’s a lovely dream though. You could hire someone to tell your boss the things you’ve always wanted to say.

          I was also thinking the lunches aren’t during the normal work day. Is he being paid overtime for these lunches? With the new rules, he might not be exempt any more. The lunches might end after the rule change when they have to pay him to be there.

        2. Stranger than fiction

          Oh that’s another good point, that he’s working nights. If so, I assume it’s a seniority thing and eventually he’d be able to move up to day shifts?

      2. babblemouth

        I didn’t realise how much of an impact my former job had on my relationship until I started a new job. People can get blind as to how much they’re giving to the job and how much they take a relationship for granted.
        That being said, it’s not something for the non-overwokred spouse to take with the employer. Deal with it as a couple, and the overworked spouse can then take it to the employer.

      3. ^__^

        so works management in hotel. He works 7am-5pm but with commute he leaves every morning before 6am and he doesn’t come home until well after 6pm – so I don’t see him “all day” long (when I am leaving at 8:30 in the morning and home by 5:30pm) but he has a lot of energy and so we often meet up somewhere after work instead of at home to eat together, have drinks, see a movie, shop, etc and come home to crash. Weekends are usually free for us to do as we wish, except every 1.5-2 months when he has to flex weekends. But we usually get a week day off in return the next week to do nothing or everything.

    2. neverjaunty

      Maybe we could take the OP at her word rather than nitpicking her math? Likely OP is also thinking of the time that her husband is getting ready for work and traveling to and from work as “work time” rather than “family time”, even though her employer doesn’t count those as work hours.

      Boundaries are absolutely important – in both directions. Someone who can, but won’t, set boundaries with an employer is signaling to their spouse exactly how low they rank in the hierarchy of importance.

      1. snuck

        Agree on the nitpicking. Sometimes it can get pretty popular here and it’s a real turn off.

        1. Anon for this

          This. I love this community, but I honestly will never submit a question for comment because of the nitpicking and projecting that goes on sometimes.

          1. Callie

            Yep. I submitted a question once and I got so lambasted and told I was a horrible person that I never connected that post with me, and I never followed up on it when Alison asked down the road. No way in heck am I subjecting myself to that again.

      2. Dan

        If we take her at her word, how many hours is he working, and how many days a week is it?

        “Nitpicking her math” implies he is working 100 hours a week. I’m asking for confirmation.

        1. fposte

          I don’t know that that’s out of the range–when I look around, that fits with what other people are saying for hotel management. 12-16 hour days at least 6 days a week.

          I think it’s worse the smaller the hotel–the small family-run franchises are pretty notorious.

          1. ^__^

            yeah i am guessing this may be a smaller hotel/smaller franchise. my so has a good balance but in a major hotel group.

        2. neverjaunty

          Why? So you can smugly tell her that she’s wrong and in fact he only spends 82.3% of his time at work? Or that he spends 75 hours a week at work rather than 100 so she really has no beef? If he does in fact spend 100 hours a week on work, are you going to graciously allow that maybe she might have a point, instead of derailing?

          The exact number of hours he works (and spends commuting, etc) is really not the issue here; it’s that, from the OP’s perspective, he works a ton for an employer who sees itself “like a family” (now THERE’s your boundary issue), and he spends very little time with her. AAM’s advice is correct regardless of the math.

          1. Oryx

            Comments like this are why I love you neverjaunty. You and @fposte are two of my favorites here.

          2. Stranger than fiction

            If this is the case, 80 hours, 100 hours or whatever, the problem is the number of hours period, not the lunches themselves.

          3. Ask a Manager Post author

            Agreed. The point is that she feels it’s too much and is looking for advice on whether she can intervene on his behalf; the number is irrelevant, because there’s no number where the answer would be “yes, you should call them.”

            Agreed on the nitpicking too, thank you.

          4. Dan

            No, because if he’s really working 50 hours a week and has two full days off, it’s going to be totally different than if he’s working 100 hours a week.

            1. fposte

              Not for her, though, and she’s the one who wrote in. It doesn’t make any difference if she married a startup whiz who claimed to work only ten hours a week but is now working twenty-five, if she married an admin assistant who’s working a 100-hour week, or if her husband the sea captain is now gone for three months at a time–she can’t complain to his workplace, and she needs to talk to her husband about how to balance his work time and their marriage. There’s no “reasonable” number that needs to be tripped to allow her to be unhappy or to legitimate that conversation.

              (There may be for him, but we’re not him. I think maybe you’re identifying a little with him here :-).)

              1. neverjaunty

                Yes, exactly. And it’s baffling to me that people are fixating on the supposed math and breezing past the party where Mr. OP’s work “constantly refers to itself as a family”. As we all know from many AAM discussions about this very subject, a company thinking that it is not a business but a “family” is probably terrible about setting appropriate boundaries and respecting employees’ personal time with, you know, their actual families.

        3. Kyrielle

          I’m not sure it matters, honestly, since the real point is that she feels like she’s not getting enough of his time.

          But if you do want to check the math then I think you also have to take sleeping hours into account. If I am sacked out in the sleep of the dead because I’m exhausted, I’m not “with” my spouse in any meaningful way, whether they are awake or asleep.

          If he is working night shifts and she is on a “standard” days schedule, part of their time together may in fact involve him being asleep while she is awake. If she works outside the home, it is even more probable that *most* of their time is that way (other than, perhaps, if his days off and hers are the same). Which is one of the hazards of working a night shift, and still up to the husband to address or not address.

          1. BananaPants

            This is accurate. My husband works 2nd shift with alternating weekends; technically we’re both at home together from 11:30 PM to 7 AM, but one or both of us is asleep for all or most of that block of time. We only really spend waking hours together for around 30 minutes every morning, on his midweek day off, mornings of his working weekends, and all day on non-working weekends. It’s definitely less spousal/family “face time” than we’d have if he also worked a normal M-F 9-5 job.

            And I won’t lie, it’s stressful and I think it would have been harder earlier in our marriage, before we had children. However, we knew when he accepted this job that the hours would be like this so neither of us can really complain. If it became too stressful on the family he would need to look for a job with different hours. I’d certainly never dream of complaining to his employer about it!

          2. Elizabeth West

            Cripes, yes. This is a huge problem with shift work of any kind. When I did cafeteria work in factories, I met several people who worked nights while their spouses worked days, so someone would be with the kids, and they never saw each other except for a few hours on their days off. I don’t know how they did it. Rotating shifts are even worse–once you get adjusted, you have to readjust when everything changes. Rawr.

      3. Roscoe

        I don’t think its nitpicking if its what she is saying. Because I can feel like my work takes up 90% of my waking time, because I’m unhappy, but if in reality its only 60% (which is a little over average) then the advice may be different. It could go from talk to your manager about your hours to find a job that doesn’t feel like torture.

        1. fposte

          I don’t think it changes the advice your wife would get, though, which is talk to your spouse about how this job fits with your marriage.

          1. neverjaunty

            Exactly. If they have a disagreement about whether those hours are unreasonable then that’s a whole additional issue.

            1. Dan

              Hell I’m not going to admit that 100 hour work weeks are reasonable. Necessarily evil might be one description.

          2. Dan

            Sure, but I’ll admit that if my spouse complains that working 50 hours a week is too much, my tone and position are going to be completely different than if I were working 100 hours a week.

            The advice is to talk, sure, but managing expectations is huge.

            1. neverjaunty

              Dan, you keep wanting to paint this as some objective metric where X hours a week of clocked in work time is always reasonable but Y hours is not. That’s really not realistic or fair.

    3. Hospitality drone

      An AGM is pretty much 2nd in charge at a hotel. They’re often in charge of all operations and like GM, it’s a 24 hour job. Its a pretty high up position and a stepping stone to running his own hotel as a GM. If it’s a management company it can be demoralizing and intense because they take relatively young managers and send them to work in struggling properties or markets as AGMs for franchised select service brands. Its trial by fire for a few years but is a short cut to working 20 years in one property or brand and slowly moving up to GM of a full service property managed by that specific brand instead of a franchise.

      Hospitality has few work-life boundaries to begin with and it can feel like it gets worse as you move up the ladder. He is probably in the middle of a pay-your-dues phase of his career but if he does well it will create more opportunities in the future.

      Hotels and restaurants can really chew up your home life due to the 24 hour nature of the business an AGM has staff and guests at work all day every day and there’s no shortage of small disasters that need attention. If a guest gets hurt or a fire alarm goes off at 3am he’s going to be the first to hear about it.

      1. Sunflower

        Yes to all of this!! I was a hospitality major in college and there’s a reason that 5 years out of college, maybe 35% of my grad. class works in a hotel or restaurant- most have moved into other parts of the hospitality industry, like schools or hospitals, that have more set hours. This is 100% normal for the industry and its a conversation you need to have with your husband.

      2. Rebecca in Dallas

        Agreed! When my husband and I were first together, I was in retail store management and he was in restaurant management. I swear between the crazy shifts we worked, it was like we were just roommates sometimes! But that’s the nature of those jobs and I can only imagine that the hotel/hospitality industry is the same if not worse. Hotels run 24/7 and their business is making people happy and comfortable while they are traveling.

      3. Stranger than fiction

        Thank you for that context. At first I thought the Op was just miffed he wasn’t spending lunch with her, but if the picture you paint is their ordeal, that makes more sense to me why she’s upset.

    4. EngineerWoman

      Well, I’d kind of like to “nitpick at her math” just a little. It would help to understand if the hotel is truly unreasonable in its demand of husband’s time (in which case, people might potentially provide suggestions as to how to address this as a work issue), or if the OP is very frustrated and feels like she only has “10%” of her husband’s time (which is a personal issue). More details can help. For example, is there a long commute also? In which case, the problem could be from taking a job so far away from home in the first place. Maybe moving closer to work will free up some time for the couple to spend together.

      Some comments indicate that an AGM / GM at a hotel has long working hours. I echo those who then ask if this is the right career for OP’s husband’s career if it might mean putting their marriage in trouble. I don’t have experience with this field, but am familiar with other fields with insane hours (both long or strange, i.e. night shift). Such can also wreck havoc on relationships. But that is for the employees and their spouses/family/etc to deal with – as long as the job is within the norm for that industry, unfortunately. You can change industries, but you can’t “get the employer to see they are killing your marriage”.

      1. Dan

        Yeah, I hear the frustration in the op’s letter. The reality is, they need to have a real heart to heart about careers and all of that. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but op can’t walk in with a chip on her shoulder. One thing a husband needs in that situation is support from his wife. It sucks to be doing the best you can to support your family and get criticized for it, especially if there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

        1. LBK

          Yeah, I agree – if the OP is feeling like she doesn’t get enough time with her husband, that is a completely valid and reasonable feeling, but I do also think that when you’re working extremely long stressful hours, you want to come home to your partner providing you support and comfort. The last thing you want is to come home to another source of stress; I did a few months of crazy hours and I can’t even begin to explain how much my boyfriend’s support helped me get through it.

        2. neverjaunty

          While you’re right about the heart to heart and need for support, I really wince at the idea that having emotional needs or feeling ditched is automatically having a “chip on your shoulder”.

          I say this as the person who IS the long-hours-working breadwinner – and has seen colleagues’ marriages fall apart because they treated their spouses as an afterthought or a sidekick.

          1. Anna

            Or merely support without the need for support themselves.

            My husband had a job he loved, but was untenable for our marriage because he couldn’t find reliable people to work with him. So what should have been a 1 or 2 week trip would frequently turn in to a month or more trip away. I got quite used to functioning on my own, but we had to have a real hard talk about what it meant for our marriage for him to continue to work this job. Hard choices are made for the sake of what’s important. If the OP’s husband’s job is more important to him, that’ll be clear soon enough.

            1. neverjaunty

              This, also.

              A friend of mine was married to a man who had one of those jobs with lots of hours and unpredictable travel – he might be told that he needed to be overseas the next day for a two-week project. One day as she was driving him to the airport and he was apologizing for the Nth time for leaving the family in the lurch, she turned to him and said “It’s okay. Every time you do this, we learn to manage without you a little better. Pretty soon, we won’t need you at all.”

              That was a serious wake-up call for him, and made it clear that he needed to make some choices about his priorities. He chose his family, ultimately. Some people might not, and that’s their decision.

              1. Patrick

                Not saying the wife’s feelings weren’t totally valid in that situation, but man that’s a nasty way to put it. It’s a tough situation on both sides and if I was that husband I would be tempted to read that as “I want a divorce” not “we need to talk about how your work is impacting our family.”

          2. Dan

            It’s all about the framing. If she walks in and make the focus about her husband, his choices, and what she wants, that’s not going to go over well.

            If she makes it about what’s best for the marriage, that’s a completely different framing. At 100 hours, I’d freely admit there’s an issue. What to do about it is a whole different story, and needs to be dealt with as a team.

            1. Sorin

              Fortunately for everyone, whether you admit there’s an issue is irrelevant to the LW.

      2. Anonymous Educator

        I think the nitpick should be more about “OP, are you sure you want to present it to your husband this way?” than “OP, are you sure you can even do math?” If she says “You’re working too much,” it’s almost guaranteed he’ll be put on the defensive if she exaggerates how many hours he works (even if he works too many). If he works 80 hours a week, and she says he’s working 100 hours a week, that’s not going to make him more likely to be receptive to making a case to scale back (or to switch jobs).

        That said, I don’t even know what can be done necessarily. I don’t know a ton about the hospitality business, but if you’re in that position, can you even scale back? In other words, is this standard industry practice, or is his hotel overworking him (more than is normal)? I would think if it’s the former, there wouldn’t be much he can do apart from switching careers. And if it’s the latter, he might have to switch jobs.

        Also, I couldn’t tell from the OP’s letter, but does her husband think he works too much, or she just thinks he does?

      3. caryatis

        “For example, is there a long commute also? In which case, the problem could be from taking a job so far away from home in the first place. Maybe moving closer to work will free up some time for the couple to spend together. ”

        This is a great point. People have a tendency to blame the employer for commute time, when in reality, most of us get to choose our commute.

    5. Jen

      And very often it’s not about how much time is at work vs. how much time is at home but how much time he’s present at home. My husband works in an industry where layoffs are frequent and when that happens, he freelances on his own for a while and he has NO ability to set boundaries. He will work 15 hour days. When he’s home, he’s on his computer. So I understand what you’re saying and I really do agree with you that this kind of work devotion puts a serious dent in the marriage. But you have to tell him that it’s about time spent with you – you need more of it and you need him to be present when he is with you.

    6. Hospitality Manager

      Normally I’d say she’s exaggerating but in hospitality it really wouldn’t surprise me if he was working 14 hour days at least 6 days a week in that role. The managers I work with have spouses that understand the payoff in the end is worth the lack of home life right now. If if they don’t like it they switch careers.

  8. Alternative

    Regarding #4, I was actually looking through the archives for guidance on this earlier this evening, so, good timing! I do think it’s normal, at least at a large employer, for a candidate to apply for several jobs. I was actually rather puzzled by some links provided in the comments (in older posts) that implied that if you apply for more than one job at a place, you come across as desperate and will be “blackballed.” Some organizations are HUGE, and may have dozens of positions that are practically identical (for example, 20 openings for a staff accountant, all with the same job description and qualifications needed). It’s likely the hiring managers for all these positions don’t even know each other, and they all have their individual preferences for whom they hire. So, why not apply for multiple jobs that you are a great match for?

    A couple of years ago I applied to around 15 separate (but extremely similar) positions at a very large university. I ended up getting one of them. It was a wonderful job! I am just not sure where this “you can only apply to a place once” line of thinking is coming from (at a small company, it’s completely different, though).

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I think you mean links to stuff that’s not mine, but in case not — I don’t think it comes across as desperate or that you’ll be blackballed …. until a point. Even with large organizations, there’s a point where applying over and over will start to look off (but it’s a much, much higher number than it is with smaller organizations). A lot of ATS’s will show your application history, and it can look a little off, especially if you’re applying for wildly different jobs and lots of them.

      But at three applications, the OP is nowhere near that.

      1. Liy Rowan

        YES. I work at a place that a lot of people want to work at, just on principle. So they apply for any and everything, at all different levels and areas. It’s easy to see their application history, because it’s right at the top of their current application, and I do write those people off pretty quickly.

        1. Foxtrot

          Does this rule still apply for recent grads? It’s not uncommon for places to open positions in September for May grads and not get around to interviewing until January. Can I have a few open applications with a large company, provided they are all in the same line of work?

          1. Ms. Didymus

            I think the key is they are all in the same line of work.

            You should not, for instance, be applying for a client service role, a bookkeeping role, the business analyst position and the desktop administrator position all at once. It looks unfocused and like you don’t want the job, you just want a job.

        2. Revolver Rani

          This is true for me, too. Yesterday I looked at a candidate who had applied for more than 150 positions since January. I was not hugely surprised that the candidate’s resume had very little that stood out for my particular opening, and I probably don’t even need to say that there was no cover letter to explain why the candidate wanted that particular job or would be a good fit for it.

          On the other hand, it’s very common for me to see candidates who have applied to 6-8 positions, and I don’t think too badly of that – we have a lot of closely related positions, or positions with slightly differing focus that on paper are demanding the same background and skills, and it’s understandable that someone who is just getting a masters degree, for example, might find a range of them interesting. I will even look at candidates were rejected from related positions that didn’t even apply to mine, and occasionally contact them to say “hey, any interest in this other opportunity?”

          1. Christopher Tracy

            150 positions since January?! Dang. Now I feel better about my seven in five years.

            1. Oryx

              Right? I think I did three over the course of two years. I no longer feel weird about that.

        3. Patrick

          Same here – I work for a company that’s seen as trendy/”cool” and has picturesque offices that occasionally pop up on “coolest places to work” lists. A while back I had to explain to a friend trying to get in the door that telling a recruiter he would take anything (he apparently said he would be happy to work in the mailroom!) was a major red flag.

          We also tend to get the resume spammers who don’t know the title structures in our industry and end up applying for different levels of the same job (assistant/associate/etc.) I occasionally get the impression that applicants think these are discrete jobs not different levels of the same position. Some of these people might be a good fit for one position but a lot of the time that spamming disqualifies them off the bat.

      2. writelhd

        An HR rep actually told my fiancee once that he had applied for too many jobs there and that they were going to blacklist him. It was a large corporation with a lot of open engineering positions with a lot of (frustratingly vague) job descriptions. (I mean, who *doesn’t* “apply concepts to problems of medium complexity?”) I don’t know how many he had applied for, probably 4-5. Being in a position of low-self esteem due to job loss and one of those classic introverts who depreciates his own social skills, he took that comment really hard and from then on refused to apply for more than one job again at any company, or even apply months later for a new opening at a company he’d already applied at, no matter the circumstances. Obviously not HR reps fault he took it so hard or so literally, but it took a long time to convince him that no, that really isn’t the norm!

      3. Alternative

        Yes, sorry, I did mean links to other sources of career advice, not yours. And, completely agree that applying for lots wildly different jobs looks bad.

    2. Devil's Avocado

      I just looked back, and I applied for 7 jobs over the same number of months at the university I currently work at (3000+ staff).My previous experience is in a number of areas, so my applications were for everything from EA to development to admissions. That may have looked a little graspy, but if you look at my resume it actually makes sense. (I hope!) I ended up in something admissions-adjacent, which is actually the area I am least experienced in.

  9. Rocky

    I work in govt and so does my husband. His job is with a high-profile Minister so he often travels with the Minister and works long hours. It does have an effect on our family, so we have an agreement that he doesn’t renew his contract without a family discussion. I have an internal limit of no more than 18 more months. As to no perks in govt, yeah it’s annoying sometimes. I can’t accept even a candy bar or coffee from a contact, for fear that it can be interpreted as corruption. But on the plus side I really do care about New Zealand taxpayers getting great service from our government.

    1. Cas

      Can relate indeed.

      Always seemed very unfair that Ministers themselves seemed to have no concept of the ‘not accepting gifts and favours’ though. I don’t even mean in a corrupt way, just in general- it was hammered into us so much, but not them!

      1. Boo

        Gah, yes. When I worked in local government, any gifts had to be given to the mayor’s office to be raffled off for charity. A colleague of mine had a toilet cleaner call to ask if she should give away the box of chocolates a member of the public had given to her at Christmas as a token of appreciation. We PAs decided between us to let her keep them. I mean, come on. She cleans toilets for a living. It is literally a crap job with crap pay, and it’s hardly as though she has any authority she can abuse even if she wanted to.

    2. Amanda

      As an American, I read your whole comment thinking of a minister as in, a pastor or a person leading church services. I had been wondering why it was capitalized! I couldn’t imagine why a minister’s staff would have such a stressful job! Please excuse me, I got s really good laugh once I realized my error. Stupid American here!

        1. Lindsay J

          Third lol. The other meaning didn’t occur to me until reading Amanda’s comment.

    3. Murphy

      Yeah, jobs with Ministers are the most fun you’ll ever have as a public servant and also the most exhausting. There’s a reason that (here at least) a lot of the Ministers’ Chiefs of Staff are unmarried and/or don’t have kids. It’s a tough job when you have a family.

      1. Anna

        I think that’s the case for any higher political position. I can’t imagine being Chief of Staff for a well-known senator in the US. No thanks.

  10. AcademiaNut

    Private sector employees get free Kleenex?!

    But yes, at my institute we now have to take vacation days to attend the annual holiday party, by government decree, because government employees shouldn’t get perks. This would make more sense if the number of (also government mandated) vacation days wasn’t zero in the first year and five in the second for contract employees.

    1. Anon2

      Oh my! So what does that mean – any employees who have been there for less than a year automatically cannot come to the party?!

      1. A Dispatcher

        We actually do have that year rule, but not because of PTO issues. Rather, until you are off probation (which is a year for my agency), no holiday party for you.

        Also, because we’re 24/7 365, there’s literally no way for all employees to attend the party, luckily not everyone wants to go so they’ll usually swap shifts with those who do.

      2. AcademiaNut

        You could take an unpaid day off if you wanted. As it is, there are enough people who don’t go, for a variety of reasons, that skipping it doesn’t mean you’re sitting in the office alone, but it’s still annoying.

        The really frustrating thing is that my institute itself has no problem with things like decent vacation or holiday parties, it’s the government regulations. And the end of year party is offsite and paid, so they need to submit lists of attendees for the budget, which means that taking an unofficial day off (which would otherwise be totally fine) doesn’t work, because it could be matched against the leave records.

    2. Stephanie

      Oh yeah, when I was a fed, we had to pay for our holiday party (that was in the conference room).

      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        We have paid luncheons and parties, but there has to be a “business reason” for them, so usually the department head or dean will spend, say, two minutes discussing the ostensible topic (“So, staff, how about that budget?” “Fine with us.” “Well, then, there being no objection, let’s eat!”). And then we write it up as a staff meeting, even if the real reason was a going away or some such.

        1. The Rat-Catcher

          That’s how we would get around it too. Our monthly meetings nearly always have food, and the holiday party is always part of December’s “monthly meeting.” Also, there’s a lot you can justify in the name of “team building.”

        1. Elizabeth West

          Oh wait, I lied–our quarterly meetings were lunch meetings, where they paid for food. We had to attend those, however. You couldn’t bail like you could on the holiday party.

    3. Tsalmoth

      The very first thing my first boss at [current employer] did when I started was hand me a bottle of Purell. We’re hard a good cashflow institution (small university, bad economy), but there are still things I clearly take for granted.

    4. A Government Drone

      Yep. Nothing says “we appreciate you” like making an employee take leave to attend the state worker appreciation day activities.

  11. Who is responsible

    #1 It is your husband’s responsibility to say no and make time for you, not his workplace. I hate to put doubt in your mind, but is he really spending it all that time at work, or is it an excuse? I tolerated a similar situation for years only to discover my husband was in another long-term relationship with someone else. No wonder he always seemed to be working. I hope there is not a similar situation in your case, but good to question it. If the employer really is creating a lot of social team-building events and wants to be seen as family, in my opinion they should once in a while include spouses/partners/significant others so you can get to know everyone as well. That would help alleviate doubt and concern.

    1. Anonymous Educator

      You’re absolutely right. It doesn’t even have to be an affair, though. I had an old boss who would stay late at work… not even doing work necessarily… just so she wouldn’t have to spend as much time with her husband.

      1. Who is responsible

        Exactly. There could be other issues such as depression, gambling addiction and the like. Not that that is necessarily the case, but these are not on the employer’s side of things.

  12. CMT

    In my state government office, employees had to pitch in to buy a refrigerator for the break room.

    1. So Very Anonymous

      Same here. You also have to chip in if you want to drink water from the water cooler.

    2. LQ

      One of our directors bought it out of his pocket. Fridge, microwave, toaster. I think when that one broke someone brought in a spare from home.
      I also wonder if the employer (state) bought the tickets or if some employee group or something did. I know our division has all of the directors and managers chip in money to a small fund for things like that occasionally, but most staff don’t know that it is the directors who pay for it.

      1. A Government Drone

        Our state salaries are incredibly low, so naturally turnover is very high. We often have managers’ meetings where the topic of turnover is discussed. Since of course salaries are not going to go up, it’s always suggested that employees receive appreciation in other ways, such as food and gifts. No, there is no fund for this. Yes, managers are expected to pay for all of it themselves.

        1. LQ

          This is the thing that is just so strange because turnover is expensive! If you wanted to really save money over the bigger scale, paying people more and giving reasonable benefit would save money. Whenever people talk about running government like a business they don’t seem to mean doing what they can to create a great working environment to attract the top talent to work efficiently and effectively?
          Bad business practices + bad government practices does not equal success!

          1. Creag an Tuire

            But it’s easier for some wannabe muckraker to stir up outrage about state employees living it up at an all-expenses paid retreat using your tax dollars, than it is to get people upset about high employee turnover leading to increased costs in training and loss of institutional knowledge.

      1. davey1983

        Another former federal employee– same for us.

        I’m still bothered to this day that I was asked to go help transport the ‘new’ refrigerator (we bought it used off an employee that was moving away) when I got to work one day by my manager, only to be told I needed to use a few hours of my vacation time -after- I returned with said refrigerator (as I wasn’t ‘actually working’).

  13. Karl Sakas

    #1: Apart from the boundary issues in the question, hotel management is notorious for long hours—you’re running a business that operates 24/7, where your customers are temporarily living in your business and expecting a high level of service.

    #3: Why not just list your name as Sarah Jane Q. Smith? If you list a middle initial, it implies that Sarah Jane is your first name.

  14. Jeanne

    #2, the husband calling in, is a certain kind of chutzpah. I think that, in addition to what Alison said, I would add that since the leave time was denied and the employee didn’t contact you that the days would be considered NCNS (no call no show) which can result in termination. I would have a hard time letting her come back to the job since it was clear the time off was denied.

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger

      Even if the employee had called, that doesn’t protect her from being fired when the leave was denied! (I’m assuming, like Alison, that the leave wasn’t to have surgery or something.) The husband calling it s an extra level of unprofessional/problematic, but even without that this is still a Big Deal.

      1. Melissa

        This can be a red flag. We had a situation in my office where the husband was doing this, and trying to isolate his wife. It might be a good idea to refer the employee to the EAP program, or at least ask a few questions about what led up to the spouse’s call.

      2. Bobcat

        This was my thought. Husband tells wife to take time off. She requests it, but it’s denied. He tells her she’s taking it off anyway. She balks at telling that to her boss, so he calls and does it for her. I am actually a little scared for her.

      3. anonymouse

        Maybe, but we don’t know the whole story so let’s not armchair diagnose. I’ve seen one too many comments on AAM that immediately jump to assuming a spouse is over-controlling or abusive in these situations, and that’s not something we can get from a small question sent it.

        1. Sherry

          Agreed. It could simply be that the employee didn’t want to have an uncomfortable conversation with her boss, and let someone else do it for her.

        2. Lindsay J

          This.

          I feel like people online jump to the idea of abusive situations way too often.

          And yes, I know they happen. I was in one for a long time.

          But somehow I find the idea that she is in an abusive relationship and that nobody ever had a hint beforehand, her spouse knew the work number (in the day of cell phones most people don’t call their spouses at work numbers anymore), her spouse called in for her, and physically prevented her from getting to work in some way a little less plausible than the idea that she said, “Here, you call and tell them. They already said no to me.”

          And to jump to that conclusion when we have no evidence to support it is being a little quick on the trigger finger IMO.

          And honestly, there is only so much an employer (or anyone) can do for someone in an abusive relationship anyway. And it’s not the employer’s job to be part of her support network. That is what friends, family, domestic violence hotlines, EAPs, therapists, internet forums on the topic, etc are for. Presumably the employer hired someone in that position because they needed someone to do a specific job. And presumably the leave was denied because they needed someone doing that job there those days.

          I’m not saying that the employer shouldn’t be flexible to the extent they can be and sympathetic if they find out there is an abusive situation going on. They totally should be.

          However, I think their only responsibility is to approach it on the surface. They have an employee. She asked for time off. It was denied. Her husband called and said she won’t be coming in. She didn’t come in.

          I would honestly have her meet with management first thing when she comes back and ask what the deal was. (I pretty much always do this as part of a disciplinary process anyway. Almost everyone thinks they have extenuating circumstances for their behaviors, and that everyone would agree that they were totally in the right if they just heard their side. So I listen to their side. Then proceed.) If at that point she bursts out crying or says something like, “My husband was so angry that I didn’t get the time off I was scared of what would happen if I didn’t go on this trip with him,” then yeah, proceed with the domestic violence conversation.

          If it’s anything other than something that obvious I think they just need to proceed as they would if it weren’t a potential issue. Because even if it is happening (and I entirely understand that in most cases when abuse is going on the victim isn’t going to say anything and will make up a cover story), unless she brings it up she is making it clear that it’s a boundary she is not ready or able to cross at the moment with her employer.

          And if she is in an abusive relationship, many victims take a long time (months or years) in order to become mentally ready to accept that and leave. And until they come to that point on their own time it’s difficult for anyone – friends, family, etc – to get through to them. And even when they do come to the point where they want to leave it can take time and many false starts for them to do so. And as callous as it is, the company needs an employee that can be relied on to show up and function in their role and probably can’t afford to wait years to do that so I’m not sure what type of help people think the employer can provide that the victim wouldn’t be able to come up without the employer’s involvement. Maybe the company HR can plaster the EAP information up in a few places, but otherwise.

        3. Emilia Bedelia

          I feel like this husband could almost have had the same thought process as the wife in the other letter- “my wife’s job is tearing our family apart! If I call, it’ll be more convincing”. I can honestly see someone thinking that having family call would be a good idea. With everything we hear about parents/married people getting special treatment, I feel like some misguided people would want to emphasize that they have a family when trying to take off time

        4. Jeanne

          I agree about the armchair diagnosis. But still what is the boss supposed to do? You can’t approve extra vacation because someone might be in an abusive relationship. The only thing you can do is say she has to call in herself.

      4. Not Karen

        Or it could be that the wife said to the husband, “My boss denied my leave, so could you call for me and tell her I’m not coming in? That way she can’t say no to me.”

      5. NK

        You never know what’s going on. My uncle runs a small business that needed to be open the day after Thanksgiving. His new employee asked for the day off, and he said no because there wouldn’t be any coverage. The guy’s brother then called my uncle to ask for him. Which is just as not-OK as a spouse calling, but I feel like people wouldn’t jump to the controlling conclusion as much. Who knows, maybe the wife asked him to call.

    2. Christopher Tracy

      That was my initial reaction, Jeanne, but then I thought maybe I was being too harsh. Now I’m back to thinking some kind of disciplinary action for this is warranted.

      1. Katie F

        The LW needs to call the woman in, if only to talk to her about the situation. If it’s not one of isolation or abuse, good, we know that, we can deal with the disciplinary issues there. If it’s a situation where the woman has been essentially held hostage by a spouse who refuses to let her go to work (it seems far-fetched, but I know women this has happened to), then getting her in for a meeting may be the best way to let her know someone has really noticed something is wrong.

        1. Kathy-office

          Agreed. it could also be the husband’s way of sabotaging his wife’s career, which is also a thing in toxic and abusive relationships. I think it’s safe to assume that if she hasn’t done anything else that seems generally unaware of workplace norms, that she would know that she needs to handle work situations herself. Very sadly, abusive relationships are common enough that it’s not completely out of the way to consider that may be a factor. regardless of the situation, talking to an employee to understand the situation is a good next step.

          1. Katie F

            Yes. In my friend’s situation, she was in the process of trying to leave her dangerously abusive husband and he attempted something almost identical to this in order to get her fired so he would get custody of their child in the divorce.

            Basically a “if you leave me, I’ll ruin your life” Abuse Hail Mary.

            It did not work – her boss was made aware of what was going on and interceded for her with HR and everything ended up working out. But for anyone wondering why my comments went straight to abuse/isolating, it’s because this situation is so similar to my friend’s that I was startled to read the letter.

            1. AthenaC

              Oh my gosh – I had an ex-husband not only try to get me fired, he tried to get me expelled from school, he got my daycare lady to drop me, and he got me kicked out of our apartment. And you know what happens? Everyone jumps to “she’s unreliable” and then you have nothing. And when you try to explain that this is temporary and you have a timeline and a plan in place to resolve it, they either: 1) just go back to “she’s unreliable” OR 2) conclude that “she’s just being dramatic.”

              Fun stuff!

              So, yeah – I would err on the side of providing an abuse resource or two.

              Also, if it turns out that there’s no abuse going on and it’s just wild ignorance of professional norms, I would think an “Are you okay? Please, consider these resources if you need them” would help clue them in that they are signaling things to people with their behavior that they do NOT want to signal.

              1. Katie F

                Exactly. My friend was very lucky – many people had seen signs that the husband didn’t think they picked up on and were prepared to help get her out of that situation. But there are so many women whose friends and family label them unreliable or dramatic or “he’s so nice, he could never be an abuser!” or “well, he never hit the kids and kids need a dad” or whatever it takes to justify not stepping in to help.

                I think there are several people in the comments saying, “this happened to me/someone I know so I would make that assumption” vs. people to whom this experience doesn’t really have a reference for them, so they don’t go to abuse right away. Both mentalities are totally understandable. But if my friend’s boss had just punished her or assumed she was trying to get out of work despite her reputation as a hard worker/reliable in the past rather than managing to speak with her in private and figure out what was happening, she would have been left trying to divorce a dangerous man with no job, no money for a lawyer, and a child he was hellbent on taking away from her.

                1. Kathy-office

                  I totally agree with this. I know there are a few comments saying that commenters are jumping to conclusions, but the fact is that these conclusions are “jumped to” enough. No one is saying that it’s the employer’s responsibility to tell her she’s in an abusive relationship and call the police. It’s just a matter of at least asking if they’re ok, and not assuming that they actually wanted their husband to call in for them. Starting a conversation with the employee and getting a bit more information would make such a difference in the situation if it is actually abuse, and next to no negative consequence if it isn’t.

        2. Lindsay J

          This.

          Though if I were the employer I wouldn’t bring up the idea of abuse. That’s not really their place to do based on one phone call (unless there have been other signs).

          Just state the facts “You asked for time off. We weren’t able to grant it. Your husband called us saying you were going to take the time off anyway. And you didn’t show up. What happened?”

          And see what she says.

          1. Christopher Tracy

            Yup. I like that script a lot. And there also needs to be something in there telling the employee that short of hospitalization or severe illness or injury, she is not to have anyone call out on her behalf ever.

  15. Bend & Snap

    #2 I hope there’s also going to be a conversation about how inappropriate the husband call was and what “unapproved leave” means…

    1. Blurgle

      As long as the OP keeps in mind the possibility that the husband is deliberately and with malice aforethought undermining his wife’s career.

      1. Apollo Warbucks

        That was my thought too, The husband might be an abusive ass. It just as likely he isn’t but it’s worth considering before being to hard on the employee.

        1. babblemouth

          I agree. My mind jumped to thinking this is an abusive and controlling spouse.
          OP, you can maybe put this phone call in the context of how the employee has behaved in the past… Are they regularly trying to get away with more time off and cheating the system? Or is this completely unexpected and unusual from this person? That should guide your judgement.

          1. Former Computer Professional

            That was exactly my first thought. All I could think is that she told her husband “They won’t give me that time off” and he blew a gasket.

            I suppose it is technically outside the purview of the manager, but were I her manager I would think about taking her aside, privately, and asking if things were OK at home and giving her the number of an abuse hotline.

            It may be too much digging into or interfering with someone’s personal life, but if I didn’t try and the worst happened, I’d feel awful.

            1. Christopher Tracy

              I suppose it is technically outside the purview of the manager, but were I her manager I would think about taking her aside, privately, and asking if things were OK at home and giving her the number of an abuse hotline.

              If a manger did this to me, no matter how well meaning, I’d be pissed. Handing out numbers to abuse hotlines because you got one inappropriate phone call from my spouse with no other signs that anything was wrong in my personal life – well, that’s a pretty serious accusation and assumption to make. Yeah, people can be secretly abused or controlled by a significant other at home, but if the OP thought that was the case, I think she would have mentioned those concerns. And let’s remember that some people are just foolish with severe boundary issues – it doesn’t make them closet abusers, it just makes them clueless.

              1. Melissa

                Well, then you’d be pissed at the wrong person. If your boss acted with kindness, and tried to look out for your wellbeing after your husband went that far over the line, you’d blame boss?

                This might be the only sign there is something wrong with your home life. But it is a sign.

                1. Christopher Tracy

                  That far over the line? He didn’t call and resign for her – he called her out for the time she requested off that was denied. Since we’re all speculating, for all we know, OP’s report had her husband call in because she knew she’d already been told no and didn’t want to have the uncomfortable conversation with OP herself where she’d have to explain the absence in light of their previous discussion.

                  And yeah, to your point, if my partner ever called out for me barring my stint in a hospital or some other severe illness or injury that precluded me from making the call myself, I’d be pissed at him too. But moreso at the manager because that kind of assumption about my partner with no evidence to back it up is offensive.

                2. Katie F

                  If my boss had never met my husband, didn’t know anything about our relationship, and did such a thing? I wouldn’t be offended at all – I’d think that they were working with very little information, and the information they had suggested a serious temper problem on SOMEBODY’S part. Sometimes, women and men who are being primarily verbally or emotionally abused (#maybehedoesnthityou on twitter was a good example of this kind of abuse) simply don’t even realize how things look/are from the outside until something jars them – something like a concerned boss handing them information that suggests things look pretty dire, for instance.

                  I wouldn’t be offended. But if my boss did know my husband, had interacted with him, or we had an ongoing casual rapport wher eI had talked about my marriage/home life with my boss, then I would be perturbed that that was where their brain went.

                  It really depends on the OP’s relationship with this employee.

                3. Christopher Tracy

                  and the information they had suggested a serious temper problem on SOMEBODY’S part.

                  A temper problem from a simple phone call? Now if the OP said the husband was screaming at her, then yeah, I could see making that assumption. But once again, people keep inferring a lot of things that aren’t actually in the letter to try and rationalize why it would be a-okay for a manager to do exactly what we’re all railing against the OP’s report’s husband for doing – violating a boundary. Talking to your direct report and insinuating abuse or violence of any kind based on one phone call one time is a stretch. And an offensive one at that. I’m sorry, but it is.

                4. NK

                  I think there are two likely possibilities here: the wife asked the husband to do this (or gave him permission to), in which case the referral to an abuse hotline should be a serious wake-up call about not only how inappropriate and unprofessional this kind of thing is, but the kind of message it sends.

                  OR, the husband did this without the wife’s permission, in which case either there could be legitimate abuse going on or it may again just be a wake-up call about how bad this kind of thing is and what it suggests about a spouse’s behavior.

                  If my husband ever did this to me without my knowledge or consent I’d be apoplectic, and it would venture into serious marriage-damaging territory.

                5. AthenaC

                  Couple people are talking about “if there are no other signs then asking about abuse is overstepping.” Well, in many cases there aren’t other signs. If you have someone who is abusive because of a temper and lack of self-control – sure, there will be a pattern because they are sloppy. But if it’s someone who is more deliberate and calculating, they will show exactly how many signs they want to show. And they would rely on an outsider’s assumption that “well, there are no other signs so it can’t be abuse.”

                  My ex was the calculating type and it was all-but-impossible to get help.

              2. Katie F

                Yes, I think reacting to a vacation denial by calling up to say, “I don’t even care, I’m taking this vacation/time off/just not showing up ANYWAY” shows a temper problem, no matter what your voice sounds like on the phone. Vacation denial isn’t personal, but essentially getting yourself fired like this turns it into a personal thing.

                1. Christopher Tracy

                  Again, not if the wife asked him to call on her behalf. And yes, tone does matter. If OP’s report had called in herself and simply said, “I know you said I couldn’t have the time off, but I’m going to be out today anyway because of X” – if she said that in a calm, rational tone, that’s not showing a temper. If her husband also called and said the same thing in the same way, he’s not showing a temper either.

                2. Katie F

                  Unless “x reason” is “child/spouse/parent/relative/friend is in the hospital/has been in an accident/needs emergency help”, then no, I can’t see it being anything but taking an impersonal denial and making it personal.

                  Or, I suppose, trying to get fired. I’ve never worked a job where taking time off when you’ve already been denied it wouldn’t result in just that.

          2. Kelly Kelly

            It made me think maybe theyre going thru a divorce and hes wanting to cause her grief, and cost her the job.

      2. Raine

        To what extent, though? If the employee herself did not show up to work after the leave was explicitly not approved, did not call in herself after she learned her husband had — I mean, where does the employer finally hold his employee responsible? When she has filed a police report? It seems there’s benefit of the doubt, and then there’s just not managing.

        1. Apollo Warbucks

          Yes the manager needs to hold the employee responsible but they can also show some sensitivity to someone who maybe being physically and emotionality abused, it is not un-heard of for abusive people to try and isolate their victim and make them even more dependant on them.

          If the OP’s employee just wanted the time off then they should be punished maybe even fired, but before rushing to that judgement the OP needs to keep an open mind.

          1. AnotherFed

            In most domestic abuse situations, the victim is going to cover for the abuser, and an employer hsd a business relationship with the victim, so really dont have any right to stick their nose into employees’ family situations. Also, it fundamentally doesn’t change the fact that employees have to show up for work.

            1. Apollo Warbucks

              Well if the employee covers for their victim there’s not much the OP can do, and they shouldn’t stick their nose in to the employees private life. All I’m saying is the OP should keep an open mind going into the conversation.

          2. blink

            I agree. I was someone for whom the call hoisted the red mainsail on the good ship “Eek!” and honestly I would be kind of surprised if there weren’t some element of that going on. Abuse is common.

            The other thing this makes me think about, though, is, if we say “whatever, Jane should know better than to let her husband do this and she should face the consequences,” then at what level of relationship (to the employee and to the manager, I guess) is there legit cause for concern? Like, if a stranger identifying herself as “Jane’s kidnapper” called in on Jane’s behalf using a voice distorter and asking for a ransom in exchange for the PTO days, I’d feel okay about calling some kind of authorities about that.

            If I’d met Jane’s wife Sarah many times over the course of several years and Jane talked freely with me about her happy and stable home life, and Sarah called in explaining that Jane had laryngitis using Skype with Jane in the background waving and making apologetic gestures, I would probably not worry as much about Jane’s safety as in the scenario above.

            What about
            (a) … “Jane’s boyfriend” (who I’ve never met or heard about)
            (b) …”Jane’s boyfriend” (who Jane has said some kind of scary things about)
            (c) … “Jane’s mother”
            (d) … “Jane’s sister”
            (e) … “Jane’s cousin/friend/pedicurist/parachute instructor/mortician…”

            I’m not saying there’s a chart, but I think that this is part of the reason that no one should be making these calls on anyone else’s behalf anyway except in emergencies, and why I think Alison’s advice above (and pretty much any time this comes up) to just not deal with surrogates is the only way to go.

            If I’m insulted when my boss calls in a SWAT team, well, I’m the one who made it weird in the office by having my kidnapper call in sick for me.

          3. Creag an Tuire

            I think Allison had a decent script for this here: https://www.askamanager.org/2012/10/my-husband-emailed-my-manager-about-our-family-decision-for-me-to-resign.html

            TLDR; “Some people could interpret a spouse ‘taking control’ of your professional life in this way as a sign of an abusive situation. Only you know if that’s true but if it we have resources for you. Otherwise, your home life isn’t our business but we will not be discussing employment issues with your spouse again.”

      3. AnotherFed

        That doesn’t make it the employer’s responsibility to sort out, or even mean they have any obligation to put with an interfering spouse (or stalker, SO, parent, etc. with boundary issues).

      4. Random Lurker

        While I would be sympathetic to this if it was a friend or family member, as an employer, this is firmly Not. My. Problem. If a controlling spouse is calling in a leave to undermine the career of their employee, I fully expect the employee to resolve this issue without involving me.

      5. fposte

        If that’s the case, then it would be clear when the employee shows up for the days she was told to show up. But I think it would be unusual to undermine somebody by making their boss give them what they asked for; I think it’s likelier that she was calling in backup and spectacularly misjudged.

        1. Christopher Tracy

          I think it’s likelier that she was calling in backup and spectacularly misjudged.

          My thought as well.

        2. themmases

          I kind of read it that way too. The first letter, and many others that have been answered here, demonstrate that plenty of people think if a work requirement interferes with your family life (defined as anything your family wants), then the boss has to back down.

          I would call this naive, maybe old fashioned, before saying that it is controlling necessarily.

        3. Ultraviolet

          I’m not sure I understand–it sounds like you’re saying that the employee showing up will either prove or disprove that their partner was trying to damage their career when he called in on their behalf, is that right? To me, that could show whether he had succeeded in exerting control in this situation, but not whether he’d tried.

          Also, I suspect that “undermin[ing] somebody by making their boss give them what they asked for” is not the framing of the abuse scenario that most people here have in mind. I think most people are conceiving of something like this: Partner tells Employee she has to take those days off for whatever reason (maybe just to exert influence, maybe he wants her to attend something with him, etc), she requests the leave and her boss says no, he calls in on her behalf in order to demonstrate that he has more control over her life than her boss does and the relationship takes priority over her job. I actually don’t think this would be unusual in an abusive situation at all.

          That said, I agree that other explanations are more likely than abuse. My guess is that the employee was afraid that if she told the boss herself she wasn’t coming in then the boss would tell her to come in or be fired, but thought the boss wouldn’t give such an ultimatum to an intermediary. But I think the abuse scenario is less far-fetched than it comes across in your comment.

          1. fposte

            I was thinking that people meant calling in to screw with her work rep, rather than calling in to warn that he was keeping her home. If he really is trying to screw with her work, calling in is a lot less effective at doing so than just not letting her go in *without* calling–but I guess there’s no guarantee that somebody who wants to screw with his wife’s work life will be good at it.

    2. Bend & Snap

      This is a lot of supposition though. Bottom line is leave was denied, the employee didn’t call in herself, and there’s no other information.

  16. Elizabeth the Ginger

    That’s true. I am a little concerned for the wife in this situation. Maybe she’s just trying to dodge a difficult conversation or thinks that this is the way to get away with it – or maybe we have a controlling, abusive spouse.

  17. Stephanie

    #3: Someone help me here, I heard in entertainment (like wrt to SAG/union rules) that two actors couldn’t have the same professional name and that that accounted for some actors using middle initials or middle names. But definitely ask other people in the industry.

    1. MK

      I think you can’t register in a union with that same name as someone who is already a member, but it’s also common sense: an actor wouldn’t want to go by a name already used by someone else.

      1. Aella

        That’s actually how I got my surname! I’m Aella Dudley-Forsyth because when my father registered with Equity there was already a Jolyon Forsyth, so he registered as Jolyon Dudley, which was his middle name. By the time he stopped being an actor, he was used to it, and legally changed to Jolyon Dudley-Forsyth.

        (…none of these have any relation to our actual names)

        1. Jane

          Yup. The J. In Michael J. Fox stands for nothing, but there was already a Michael Fox in the union.

            1. Jane

              Did you see the David Tennant episode of “Who do you think you are”. His mum was a bit out that he choose Tennant from a magazine, rather than choosing a family name!

              1. Oryx

                If he had picked a family name, the whole David Tennant playing Ten wouldn’t have had nearly as much awesome impact.

          1. Jennifer M.

            His middle name is actually Andrew, but he didn’t want to be Michael A. Fox since in the ’80s fox/foxy was more used as an adjective and he didn’t want to sound narcissistic.

        2. OP3

          OP 3 here- yes, youre on the right track. I’m part of different a union not mentioned here, and there are no rules regarding naming. I’m trying to stay vague because it’s a small world out there!! But it’s the same concept– lots of people, everyone wants a unique name.

        3. Mike C.

          So quick question then – if uniqueness based on how the name is written or how the name is pronounced? Say, if there’s a Mike Reid, can a Mike Reed register later?

          1. Christopher Tracy

            Yes, but I think it’s only if Mike Reid retires and is no longer using that name can Mike Reed use his. The SAG-AFTRA rules ask that you submit up to three alternate names for consideration in the event that your chosen name is already in the system. If I ever go into film acting (ha!) from theater, I’d have to provide alternates and use one of them because there’s already someone registered with SAG-AFTRA under my given name (and she’s not a big star – she maybe has three credits on IMDb).

      2. Christopher Tracy

        Spot on, MK. That’s why Michael Keaton had to become a Keaton instead of using his real surname Douglas.

      1. Seven If You Count Bad John

        ISTR it’s okay to have the same name as long as you’re not working in the same genre. (Same rule for titles too, IIRC.) I may be misremembering.

  18. Stephanie

    #1: I work in an industry and setting that involves 24-hour shift work. Past a certain seniority level, it’s pretty much a 24-hour on-call job (or close to it). It can definitely wreck relationships if you don’t have discussions about hours and expectations. I’m single and I had to work actively at socializing to keep up any friendships. Definitely have a talk with your husband.

    And to be fair….shift work is hard on personal lives. There’s usually a (good) reason there’s a differential for working outside 9 to 5 hours.

    1. Ann Furthermore

      Yeah, it’s hard. I have a friend with 8 year old twins and a 15 month old. Her husband has a job that keeps him out of town during the week and sometimes over the weekend, so she is essentially a single mom. It’s a real struggle for her to keep up with everything, but his work pays really, really well. They’re trying to get out of debt and build up a nest egg, so this is the fastest way to make that happen. Everyone is making sacrifices, but with the understanding that there’s a goal and an endpoint in mind. In the meantime though, she’s really got her hands full.

      The OP needs to talk with her husband and see what his career goals are and how long he anticipates this continuing. And then she needs to decide if that’s something she can live with. Reaching out to his employer on her own would be career assisted suicide for him.

      1. moss

        she is essentially a single mom

        no, she is absolutely not. Being a single mom involves many more challenges than “oh my husband is gone a lot”.

        1. Ann Furthermore

          When I say she’s essentially a single mom, I mean that at least 90% of the time she’s responsible for getting all the kids up, dressed, fed, out the door to school or daycare, taking them to all their various activities, getting them home, fixing dinner, supervising homework, getting all the kids bathed, storytime, bedtime, lunches packed for the next day, keeping the house somewhat picked up, and that all has to be done before she can sit down and take even 5 minutes for herself. She also has a full-time job, and since her husband is usually at least 2 hours away, that means she is the one who has to drop everything if one of her kids is sick. About 2/3 of the time her husband isn’t able to come home for the weekend, so she doesn’t get a break then either.

          So no, technically she’s not a single mom, she does have a husband and her kids do have a dad. And no, he didn’t walk out on them, and she’s not chasing him down for child support. But logistically, she is, most of the time, a single mom. Please don’t parse my words.

          1. Vin packer

            I think it’s likely that the other commenters knew what you meant.

            While I understand not wanting people to nitpick, I do hope you’ll think about the objections to that choice of words, however. It’s not uncommon to describe a caregiver with an often-absent partner as a “single parent” but it’s not terribly thoughtful about what it really means to be a true single parent. You blow right by the “pays really, really well” part of your first comment and “no he didn’t walk out on them” and “her kids have a dad” like they don’t matter here, but they really, really do.

      2. Oryx

        “She’s essentially a single mom.”

        Seriously? No, she’s a woman whose husband travels a lot. My dad traveled a lot growing up, sometimes for weeks at a time. That did not, in any way shape or form, make my mom a single mom.

    2. Dan

      I spent 7 years doing shift work, half of it midnights. I was single at the time, but it gave me a lot of time to think about what I wanted out of a career and life.

      Rush hour commutes suck, but I’ll take them over schedules that are completely opposite normal life any day.

    3. Laurel Gray

      I worked in a hotel (large, 4 star) overnight several years ago and the GM and AGM were long gone by 7pm unless there was something big happening (major VIPs partying in the banquet space). The people who worked the crazy hours were the Front Desk managers. They were around for all banquets, weddings, conventions, meetings etc. They put out fires day and night. I remember one who had what was supposed to be the 3-11PM shift (my shift began at 11pm) who often times didn’t leave until 3AM. I wonder if the OP’s husband is dealing with staffing issues or if the AGM has front desk manager duties with the different title….or if there is something else going on here and long hours is the excuse. Whatever it is, talk to your husband OP #1 and get an understanding of what is going on and come up with an action plan that won’t have a negative impact on your marriage. Good luck!

  19. Uyulala

    #2 – I’ve probably been watching too many true crime stories, but if my employee wouldn’t (or couldn’t) come to the phone and someone else is telling me that they are just not coming to work, I may be calling a welfare check on them. It would depend on what I knew about the situation and if I could hear my employee talkng without fear in the background, but I wouldn’t rule that out.

    1. Little Teapot

      That’s very true. There have been documented cases of murderers calling in sick for their victims work to buy them a few more days. In fact we had one case here in Australia where the murderer had the victim’s cell phone and was texting the victim’s mum: ‘all good here! Just got a cold! Will call you in a few days!’ to buy time.

      It’s unlikely, but if it does happen to you you’ll be thankful someone took that extra step to check.

      1. Meg Murry

        See, I was actually thinking the opposite – the employee didn’t want to make the call herself, but she didn’t want the bosses to assume she was dead by the side of the road so she agreed to let her husband call in.

        That’s definitely a good point to add to a crime novel or movie – have the bad guy email or text in to the person’s office to call off sick to buy a few days.

        I also was thinking about the previous posts with people talking about taking FMLA/leave for mental health, and whether this was that kind of situation – employee asks for leave to deal with her health or some other FMLA situation, company says no, and the employee is so down they can’t even bring themselves to call in, so the spouse does it.

        Unfortunately, any way you look at it, this goes back to one of Alison’s previous posts: it is on the employee to call in themselves, unless they are physically incapable because they are hospitalized or similar emergency situation or have completely lost their voice. I think this has to count as the same kind of situation as a no call-no show, because even though there was technically a “call” it wasn’t the employee doing it and there doesn’t appear to be a reason for the employee not to have made the call herself.

        1. Katie F

          Can the company legally deny FMLA? I was under the impression that if you are able to produce even the tiniest it of legitimate proof of medical need (and that literally just consists of “note signed by doctor”), you are entitled to FMLA.

          For my maternity leave, all I had to provide was a piece of paper my doctor signed that said I required between 8 to 12 weeks for the purposes of healing. It didn’t even mention the baby, and HR said it didn’t have to.

          1. fposte

            Not legally, if she were really eligible, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

  20. TheLazyB

    I work for a government organisation in the UK and we get free tea, coffee and milk, and free hand sanitiser. I’ve always worked in the public sector. I can’t tell you how excited i was when I started here :)

        1. Omne

          and turned into wages/purchases that go right back into the pockets of the working people. I swear people think that any taxes collected go into a huge vault never to be seen again. All taxes collected go back into the economy one way or the other.

  21. Jane

    #5 I’ve only ever worked in the education sector in the UK. Do other employers provide free coffee?! I’ve always (four employers) had to mark a chart whenever I take a cup of coffee and settle up at the end of the week/month. Is this not normal in other sectors?

    We also provide our own butter, nicer hand soap, biscuits, etc.

    1. Boo

      Depends on what type of organisation you’re in I think. I’ve worked in various places in the UK since 2000. Private sector everything came out of a budget held by the facilities or office manager. Public sector (local authority) things like bog standard soap were provided but tea, coffee, biscuits were generally paid for by managers (at least from director level, I don’t know what mid/lower level managers did), now I work for a charity and everything is paid for through a budget again. I’ve never had to buy my own tea or coffee at work. I think we’re a bit spoiled in my current place actually. We get ground coffee as well as instant and you should see the panic when we run out because people don’t say when we start to run low.

    2. AcademiaNut

      I think it’s pretty standard in the private sector, but paying for your own is also pretty standard for government jobs. I have personally seen legal prohibitions regarding free coffee for government employees in four different countries.

    3. UK Nerd

      The office where I currently work provides tea, coffee and milk (plus mugs and a kettle to make them with).

      At OldJob, we had coffee machines and had to load money onto a card up front to buy the coffee with. When I first started we got a free coffee every day, but after a while that was dropped for cost saving purposes. This did little for morale. I mostly drank hot water at that place.

      So yes, some employers provide free coffee, but not all. And after OldJob, the coffee situation is definitely an aspect of company culture I’d want to know about before accepting a new job.

    4. LSCO

      The only place I’ve worked where I had to pay for coffee was working retail, and we all chipped in to buy instant coffee/teabags/milk/whatever.

      Other than that, all places I’ve worked have provided free tea & coffee in some form or another, although in my current office many prefer to bring in their own coffee/teabags/fresh milk rather than drink the free vending machine drinks. But the free option is always there.

      1. bkanon

        My retail employment, we had to pay for sodas and the ‘fussier’ drinks, lattes and what have you, from the cafe, but we got all the free coffee we wanted. That was the only reason I started drinking it!

    5. NN

      I work for a university in Australia and we have to provide our own tea/coffee (& mug), milk, biscuits, tissues etc ourselves too. I’m moving to a different university next week and although it pays almost exactly the same, they provide all of these perks for free, plus my new department has a fancy coffee machine for everyone to use. I’ve also heard that last year they got a barista to come in and teach everyone how to make all different coffees and have a chance to try different beans/blends and then they had coffee-making competition as a bit of a reward for surviving grant-writing season. Man, I hope they do that again!

    6. Misc

      It’s the unofficial standard (occasionally enshrined in union agreements) in NZ for employers to provide tea/coffee/milk/milo.

    7. Ponytail

      I’ve worked in a number of different educational establishments and it really depends on the organisation/department – some are happy to provide free (rubbish, instant) coffee and tea, some provide milk too, others have rotas and others don’t provide anything.

    8. Judy

      I’ve worked in F50 companies my entire career until the last 2 years. This company is privately held. This company is the first one where coffee is supplied. At the F50 companies, the cafeteria vendor contracts required that the coffee be purchased from them.

    9. CR

      My company is sponsored by a major brand that produces coffee – we have free coffee out the wazoo!

    10. Snow

      I work for a nhs organisation and we had free vending machine coffee, tea and hot chocolate for a year and a half because they moved us into a new building that didn’t have hot water boilers like the old one (we have too many staff for kettles to be viable) it took them a year to add hot water boilers then half a year to remember to turn the charge option back on the vending machines.

      1. MaggiePi

        I love England. I lived there for awhile and I miss it.
        I love that “we have too many staff for kettles to be viable” is A Thing there.

          1. MaggiePi

            I don’t think boiling water taps even exist this side of the pond!
            When I got back to the US I bought an electric kettle since they were so handy in the UK and I used it for everything there. Of course I didn’t think it through and the realize that they boil so fast there because your current is higher. They are still handy here, but it still takes longer to make a cup of tea.

            1. Oryx

              They do exist here! We have one at work, it’s part of the coffee maker system. It’s a little tap on the side.

              1. Elizabeth West

                Yep, we have them too. I use it every day at work.

                I also have an electric kettle–it was a gift from my mum. It gets tons of use. Though I nuke water in the morning for my one and only cup of (instant) coffee, the tea gets nice fresh boiling kettle water.

              2. ThursdaysGeek

                Yup, us too. And then I put my mug in the microwave to get it hot enough for tea, because it’s only coffee hot, not really boiling.

              3. Ultraviolet

                Ours is actually a tap at the sink, just like the regular water faucet. It claims to be over 200F, though I’ve never tested it. It’s really popular here and I recommend it to anyone in a position to get one for their workplace!

    11. Kera

      UK education-adjacent, commercial arm of a charity here. Free (instant) coffee, tea, milk, sugar (and mugs, if you need one). People occasionally donate other types of tea, and we’ve a (massively subsidised) fancy coffee machine in the (reasonably subsidised) staff canteen.

      They’re pretty generous. Previous commercial employers have been variably so – thinking specifically of Evil Empire Employer, who only had vending machine tea and coffee available at a horrible markup – not even a kettle. Another had quite a valuable revenue stream from the on-site barista, who they’d set up in the open meeting area and the third just provided hot water – supply your own tea bags/coffee

    12. Tau

      I’ve worked in two places in the UK, private sector, and there was free coffee in both! One provided instant coffee + kettle, bring your own mug, one has an actual coffee machine (the tea isn’t great, though, and the sheer waste involved horrifies me a little, so I bring in my own teabags and mug and have a milk rota with a few other people.) Free fruit and biscuits at the first place, too. Although honestly, they talked that up so much in their interview process that it struck me as a perk meant to disguise other downsides to the job – sure, the pay’s way below market value, but free biscuits!!!

  22. TotesMaGoats

    #1-Talk to your husband. This is between you and him. And only you and him (and maybe a counselor).

    #3-I once worked with a woman whose name was Precious. In higher ed that’s far more out there than Sarah Jane. Use the name you like. She seemed to be proceeding up the ladder without any issues.

    1. enough

      There are twins my daughter played basketball with who are named Precious and Perfect.

    2. I'm a Little Teapot

      Yikes! All I can think of is “my preciousssss.”

      Some parents don’t seem to think about how their kid’s name is going to affect them later in life. Sarah Jane? I can’t imagine a problem with that? But Precious (or Alexandra Sylvia Smith or Ronald McDonald or…)

      1. fposte

        It was a pretty common name for a while, the way “Nevaeh” had a brief run. I don’t think it’s all that different from Grace or Hope.

      2. themmases

        I actually love names like that. I used to work in a children’s hospital so I saw them all. My favorite was Miracle– Diamond was a close second. There is nothing particularly naive or thoughtless about naming a child Precious, I’m just happy it’s true for them. And I like meeting those kids, it’s like they’re celebrities in their own families with names like Precious! Miracle! Best Kid Ever!

        Also when you meet these children you will notice a pretty clear pattern to the race and class of the parents who named them. That suggests it’s not very nice to be making fun of their names or suggesting that their parents just didn’t think it through, whether the name is to your personal taste or not. (Also my kids were literally precious miracles, they all had congenital heart disease or cancer.)

        1. I'm a Little Teapot

          Ehh, it really just makes me expect crazy helicopter parents who think little Precious or Perfect can do no wrong and how dare you give them a bad grade/fire them/tell them to stop kicking your seat on the bus.

        2. Petronella

          Thank you for this. Name snark is almost always racist and/or classist. I think Precious is a beautiful name.

        3. MayravB

          I agree! Naming conventions are nothing but conventions. Frankly, the only reason people don’t snark on the names of my community is that ours remain in our native language. Translating my family’s “literally words that people use in conversation” names into English yields: Life, Deer, Innocent, Joyfully, Pleasant, and Palm tree. It’s not stranger to name a longed-for child Miracle than to name a child something trendy like Hunter. Or to name a child after yourself. Whatever floats your boat.

          1. Ximena Guiomar Alejandra plus a bunch of non-hyphenated surnames

            Yeah, the fetish so many people have for finding out the MEANING of your name just really irks me. “it doesn’t have a meaning, it’s just a name” just does not fly with some people and they cannot let it go. At least if you’ve got, like, a modern Hebrew name (it’s a very very common convention in Israel) like Ofer, it’s easy to just say “it means fawn in Hebrew” Then you have maybe a chance they’ll accept that and move on.

            But the larger point is, a person shouldn’t have to justify their community’s naming conventions (or their unconventional name, for example, do not ask someone named StarChild if her parents were hippies) within two minutes of meeting you. (And the fact that your name is George and you know it’s supposed to mean courageous or smart or whatever in Finno-Ugric, doesn’t give you a pass on this.)

            1. MayravB

              You’re right. Funny coincidence, I DO have a modern Hebrew name (which is not Mayrav). I have to say that people asking the meaning of my name doesn’t bother me as much as people NEEDING to know its origin, because while “What kind of name is that? What does it mean? That’s so CUUUUUTE!” is irritating, “What kind of name is that? Are you Israeli? So you’re Jewish…” gives people information about my background and religion that I wouldn’t otherwise tell them. And boy-oh-boy you can tell when people are immediately uncomfortable with it.

      3. Ximena Guiomar Alejandra plus a bunch of non-hyphenated surnames

        Sarah Jane is doomed to constant Dr Who spinoff references.

    3. Righty

      Honestly, can we NOT make fun of names like Precious and Nevaeh? It can come across as pretty classist, and in some cases, racist. There are different naming customs depending on your background. Its really not ok to discriminate against someone who has what you perceive to be a “weird name” for WHATEVER reason. (To be clear Totes, I’m not saying you are doing so, but this comment and those below are making me cringe.)

      1. I'm a Little Teapot

        I did in fact know a Ronald McDonald, who was a middle-class white dude. I never said a thing to him about his name, and certainly didn’t treat him any differently, but I did feel bad for him and wonder why his parents saddled him with that; it seemed a cruel thing to do to one’s child. Children are, after all, independent human beings who have their own lives, not playthings.

        1. fposte

          Sure, but naming somebody Precious doesn’t make her a plaything. It’s a perfectly legitimate name; it’s just that it’s more common in some communities than others. I think Ximena makes a good point upthread about the follies of dismissing another community’s naming practices.

          1. I'm a Little Teapot

            Thanks, I’ll think about that and read Ximena’s comment. My parents gave me a name one letter off from my grandmother’s; I suppose a judgmental third party…like me…could think that meant they expected me to be a little copy of her, but they really didn’t.

  23. Brett

    #5 My wife had to buy her own TP when she worked in public schools. There had a building that was built with its own teacher restroom (in the 1950s) because it was too far away from the main restrooms. The school would not stock it with TP, so the teachers in that building bought their own (and the nice janitors put it in the dispenser for them).

    I saw people buy their own officer chairs many times when I worked for county government. Each building had its own furniture contract, and often that contract would include only one non-frills office chair (or sometimes that office chair was only a conference room chair without armrests, whatever got the low bid). So, people would buy their own.

    The awful part was that you could not just buy your own, you had to buy it and donate it to the county. At which point the county could (and often did) transfer it to someone else! Because of this, supervisors pretty much always looked the other way if you bought your own chair.

    1. AnonNurse

      Ok, that’s LOW. I would be having none of that. If I went to the expense of buying my own chair I would carry it around in my car every day if I had to and would write my name all over that thing. Wow. Won’t buy a good chair but will take one an employee ponied up for. Just wow.

      1. Christopher Tracy

        LOL! I too would be taking my chair home at night – good ones aren’t cheap!

    2. LQ

      All this chair talk makes me glad for the regulations around ergonomics that are apparently very big here because of a union thing a while ago, we all get fairly decent chairs that are ergonomically suitable.

    3. Kelly Kelly

      This reminds me of the comment someone made last week about the office had horrible chairs ( I think she was in legal) and she bought her own and was told to take it home the other employees were jealous. She told the supv that the chairs were on sale and which store if they wanted to get their own like she did and was told no, to carry hers home.

  24. Collie

    #3, my initial reaction to the double name thing is a horribly ingrained stereotype (that I realize isn’t true in conscious thought, but humans are imperfect creatures and I wonder if this might be something you’d want to consider). Generally, the first concept that jumps to mind with double names is the southern hick stereotype, especially with traditional names such as the example you gave. I’m not advocating for you to change your name, just wanted to throw a perspective out that I hadn’t seen yet for consideration and emphasize that I don’t believe this is good or right, just what I see as a pervasive and awful stereotype. When anyone wants to mock southern U.S. culture (the “hillbilly,” if you will, though I understand that’s a slur or something like it — apologies for my ignorance there), they use names like “Billy Bob” and what-have-you.

    1. Amelia

      When I heard the name “Sarah Jane”, I did assume that she was probably from the midwest or south since a lot of people from those regions use double names. I don’t see that as a negative stereotype, just a trend for those areas. The reality is that certain names are more common for certain demographics. Not always, but often enough that people are going to notice a trend. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. The actual stereotype in your example is assuming all southerners are unintelligent or inbred. (Not that I’m saying you did this yourself.)

      1. Creag an Tuire

        When I heard “Sarah Jane” I assumed she was an English investigative reporter with a robot dog, but that’s just me. ;)

    2. OP3

      OP 3 here- It’s funny, a lot of people assume I’m from the South because of my name. I don’t mind it at all though, even though I’m a west coast girl. What’s more annoying is when people insert my name into “billie jean” by michael jackson– I get that ALL the time.

      1. Collie

        That must be super annoying! Hope I didn’t offend/insult. Perhaps I’m only one of a few who jumps to the awful uneducated southerner stereotype unconsciously, but thought it was worth a mention. Name changing for the sake of others is a tough thing to do — I hope whatever you choose is both comfortable for you and works out!

    3. SusanIvanova

      I *am* a Southern girl with a double first name, but I’ve never had anyone jump to the hick stereotype – I’m usually the one pointing out that this is a valid cultural tradition, like a Spanish double surname. It might help that it’s not double nicknames like Billy Bob.

  25. Fabulous

    #4

    If it doesn’t give you an option to upload a specific cover letter, you can always add one in as the first page of your resume. I’ve applied to staff positions at universities where they’ve specifically request that format.

  26. Nervous Accountant

    #1 & 2– NO NO NO NO NO NONO! just reading this makes me…ugh!!!!!

    I’m all for strong relationships and marriages (I’m in one too) but good GOD this is too much!

    And, going by exactly what the OP in #1 said–these are lunch meetings…lunch is during work hours…..am I missing something here??

    1. PeachTea

      Hospitality hours are different. His normal hours could be 8pm to 6am for all we know. She didn’t specify and since it’s a hotel, it’ll be open 24hrs.

      1. Laurel Gray

        Even with this as a possible explanation, I am with Nervous Accountant – what are we missing here?

        I worked in a hotel before, overnight, I used to have a list of things to do before I left at 7am (or I worked some OT) when our VIPs would be in town – as in the hotel’s corporate bigwigs and I remember having to confirm lunch reservations at 11 at night for the following day at 12:30 and dinner at 6-7pm or book something touristy – meals were always at reasonable hours and the GM and AGM worked in the 8am-7pm hours. The OP specifically said lunch, and not dinner, and mentioned he was eating with superiors – superiors in the hotel industry most likely aren’t doing long shift work type hours and having business meetings at 11pm.

        1. Natalie

          I think PeachTea is suggesting OP’s husband might work non-standard hours and then come in additionally for lunch at a more traditional hour, not that people are having business meetings at 11 pm.

  27. anonymouse

    #2: What the husband did is wrong, but can people please stop immediately jumping to abusive relationships and bad home life situations? A lot of people have the tendency to do that there to these types of questions and we have no way of knowing whether the husband is controlling or whether he thought he was doing a genuinely nice thing like standing up to the employer on behalf of his wife or whether the OP asked her husband to call in.

    Jumping to assumptions based on two sentences is just as bad as armchair diagnosing. Maybe it’s because of my line of work, but I’ve seen one too many cases where people jump to the wrong assumptions and assume the worst and embarrass themselves and the person they were trying to protect.

    1. Ultraviolet

      I don’t think people can stop immediately jumping to abusive situations actually. Everyone here is bringing their own perspective–that’s one reason the comments section is valuable–and for some people, this type of interference with the workplace really genuinely does call to mind domestic abuse. It’s certainly fair to argue that you think that explanation for the letter is less likely than other ones. And of course not everyone who discusses the possibility of abuse will necessarily be correct or reasonable in every way (e.g. the relative probability of abuse occurring or the correct way for OP to approach the situation.) But to request that other people just be quiet about it bothers me, especially since the comment section is nowhere near in danger of being overwhelmed by comments devoted to that scenario.

      Bear in mind too that while there are a good handful of people here who are seeing and discussing the potential for domestic abuse in this situation, that’s often an underrepresented viewpoint outside of Domestic Violence Awareness month. That means (among other things) that there’s a motivation for people who are coming from this perspective to back each other up and say, “Yes, I think that’s important to consider too. It’s good to be aware of this and it’s okay to talk about it.”

      Incidentally, there are problems with armchair diagnosing beyond “There’s not really enough evidence to be certain of this.”

      1. Righty

        +1 To want to silence DV survivors is not a good way to approach this.
        And even if some form of control or DV is unlikely compared to the other solution (also keep in mind that whether it is unlikely is hugely a matter of your perspective and this is something that happens more than you think), the possibility is serious enough that it probably should be given at least some thought. A responsible employer can try to make sure that’s not the case, then move on. But when you get a red flag for a serious thing that may be only true in say, 10% of cases, you still check because its way more important and urgent than the other statistically likely solution.

      2. AthenaC

        Exactly. Also, there’s a reason a lot of us are jumping to abusive situations – they’re far more common than many people are aware of. How many people chimed in saying, “This sounds just like what happened to me / my sister / my friend and it was a manifestation of the abuse from their partner”? So these speculations aren’t coming out of the blue.

  28. PeachTea

    #1: As an HR person in the hospitality industry, I cannot stress enough how common this is. We stress so much in our interviews that the hours are crazy and long. Managers are expected to be at work a minimum of 60 hours a week. A MINIMUM. This doesn’t count their being expected to answer important emails and calls at home too. We always tell our candidates, this is *hard* on home life. You really have to take a look at yourself, your kids, and your marriage before committing to this line of work. And quite honestly, your husband is only the Asst. GM. It’ll get much worse if he wants to be the GM eventually.

    We’ve lost many a great managers because they decided that their marriage was more important (which obviously, it is). But the job isn’t going to change and if your husband wants to do this, you’ll have to find a way to accept the hours craziness attached to it.

    1. Sapphire1166

      A quick Google search shows me that the average Assistant GM at a hotel makes less than $40k a year. Do industries really expect 60 hour weeks for $40k pay? Maybe your industry is different, but it would be really, REALLY hard for me to justify those hours for that pay unless it was a guarantee of much higher pay and less hours in the future.

      1. PeachTea

        We pay 65 to 75k. I can’t speak to other companies. But no. We don’t expect people to work that much for crap pay.

        I do work at a third generation family owed ‘Christ’ centered company that believes in treating our employees as we’d like to be treated. That could have something to do with the higher than ‘average’ pay. Though I’m honestly very surprised the average is 40k. We’d never find anyone good at that salary.

      2. Mary

        Good point, what is the payoff for the employee. If the GM works longer and harder, when is the reward?

        1. PeachTea

          The money is the reward. The front desk manager is going to make 30k+ less than the GM. Do you expect the staff accountant to work harder and longer than the CFO? No. So why is it any different for hospitality managers? A higher title means more responsibility, not less.

  29. Gov Worker Bee

    5) I too am a government worker that gets an annual appreciation event (usually a picnic). We were never required to use leave to attend the event. I completely agree with you that I would definitely be skipping the appreciation event if I had to use my leave just to go and enjoy it.

    1. A Government Drone

      We have to use leave to attend ours if it can’t fit in the time around the lunch break. Since it is across town, most people at this office skip it. We are also required to take leave this year if we want to attend our Department’s conference. Did I mention that this conference is often the only opportunity to meet with clients in person and get continuing education points for the year?

    2. Brett

      The problem here is probably that it is a baseball game. We did not have to use leave for the christmas party and summer barbecues, but we did have to use leave for the memorial golf tournament and similar events where we were more likely to be seen out in the public. (And which the media could readily attend.)

  30. LadyCop

    #5. Sorry, but ZERO sympathy. As a taxpayer…who has a city job… I see waste every day and penny pinching in all the wrong places. If you’re getting paid your vacation time for it, you weren’t losing money at all, even if you want to think of it that way.

    1. J.B.

      It’s perfectly reasonable for the OP to decide on using leave for vacation rather than an appreciation event.

    2. OP #5

      LOL – wasn’t asking for sympathy, just curious about workplace norms. In my neck of the woods, government jobs tend to have fairly high turnover because of the low(er) pay and lack of ANY perks that are standard in the private sector. (We don’t have to provide our own toilet paper, and we do have a water cooler, so I guess I should consider myself lucky compared to other readers!) I wonder whether offering limited perks – yes, at taxpayer expense – would reduce that turnover rate and thus save money in the long run on lost productivity, training new staff, etc.

      1. A Government Drone

        I think you are right about the turnover. I believe penny pinching in the wrong places is because government officials care more about appearances and the few busy body complainers than they do about actual waste. Someone called in to complain that a state car was parked in a McDonald’s at noon, so we get a lecture about public appearances. Have to perform an inspection at a casino? Park down the street and walk. I assure you, this is not saving money, and the frustration is why a lot of good state workers burn out.

      2. Murphy

        It also helps public service attract and retain really good talent. I’m a public servant and (especially in some of the competitive fields) we really struggle to compete with the private sector in terms of culture, pay, and perks. If you want the best people you have to be able to compete for them and part of that is paying them well and treating them like they’re employees, not indentured servants who are just lucky to have a job.

        Sorry, the hate-0n for public servants and “government waste” drives me up the wall!

      3. Brett

        I used to sit on the communications committee for our last county executive. I quickly learned that most county government norms are dictated by “will the media report on this and make the county executive look bad”. If there was a bad news story about employees attending a baseball game or similar on public hours, then there would be a policy in place requiring employees to take leave.

        Basically, local and state government tends to be very reactionary and slow to unwind those reactions.

        Normally the only way overly reactionary policies were unwound was for the media to run a story about the overly reactionary policy. Unfortunately for us, since there was considerable anti-government sentiment in our area, stories like that tended to be perceived as government worker whining and did not get far. (Compounded by media policies that allowed for employees to be terminated if they spoke to the media without permission.)
        Lower pay tends to be an indicator of those anti-government sentiments in an area, so you might be a similar boat where policies will be readily tightened but rarely loosened.

        1. A Government Drone

          I think you said it better than I did. All of our weird issues around the state vehicles was because a city newspaper followed them around for a month to do an article on state waste. I don’t think they even found anything super incriminating, it was just the fact they were doing it.

      4. NASA

        State government worker here. Large state. Not the norm. Sorry you have to use vacation time, that sucks.

        We have our own staff appreciation event in a few weeks. All the managers chip in to pay for it.

        Only people who have never worked in government think government workers get paid too much. There are definitely outliers though. You see those published in the newspaper all day, every day.

        I’m often conflicted when it comes to government spending vs private sector spending…so a private company can pay to take their employees on a cruise and have lavish quarterly parties via upping the price of their product 200%, not being transparent with anything, probably skirting around taxes here and there…and yet I have someone on my nuts for requesting a new stapler? I worked with a broken stapler for 3 years. I didn’t request a new pen for 2. Obviously, this is my personal experience. And private vs gov finances/budgets are much more convoluted… I guess you have to be okay with it if you are voluntarily buying X company’s product versus feeling upset that $0.0Y/$ABC of your taxes goes towards the 12 pens I just got for the year.

        Oh, and I pay for the water cooler privileges :)

        1. Creag an Tuire

          I think that’s the heart of this resentment towards government workers — you can refuse to do business with a private company that raises its prices too much, but you can’t decline to pay your taxes — so instead you nitpick over every nickel and dime the government spends. (Of course, most of the complainers wouldn’t actually boycott a company over lavish quarterly parties, but it’s the principle of the thing — nobody likes feeling powerless.)

          Well, that, and there are a handful of government employees who end up in the papers for making six digits to watch Netflix. But invariably, these are some elected politician’s sister’s cousin and are never touched. :/

        2. Omne

          Our water coolers were taken away even though employees paid for them. Perception problem apparently.

          We were planning an off-site meeting several years ago and got some quotes for conference space. The lowest was a resort that was pretty nice. So of course we paid literally twice as much to use a facility that wasn’t a resort (and not very nice) lest taxpayers start complaining.

          False economies drive me nuts.

  31. Not Karen

    #5 This is eerily similar to a situation my coworkers were discussing a couple weeks ago, so I have to ask: what if this was neither in government nor the private sector, but a nonprofit? (unless a nonprofit counts as “being in the private sector”?)

    1. Jennifer M.

      Courtesy of our good friend Wikipedia: “The public sector is the part of the economy concerned with providing various governmental services. The composition of the public sector varies by country, but in most countries the public sector includes such services as the military, police, infrastructure (public roads, bridges, tunnels, water supply, sewers, electrical grids, telecommunications, etc.), public transit, public education, along with health care and those working for the government itself, such as elected officials. The public sector might provide services that a non-payer cannot be excluded from (such as street lighting), services which benefit all of society rather than just the individual who uses the service.[1]

      Businesses and organizations that are not part of the public sector are part of the private sector. The private sector is composed of the business sector, which is intended to earn a profit for the owners of the enterprise, and the voluntary sector, which includes charitable organizations.”

  32. Gallerina

    OP #1 My husband also works in the travel industry and to be honest, what you say sounds completely normal. When my husband is awake, with the exception of the off couple of hours here and there, he’s working. He answers emails between reps in the gym in the morning and takes conference calls when he’s walking the dogs at night. It really is a 24/7 industry, so he’s probably not going to be around more unless he gets a job in a different area altogether.

    However, I also wouldn’t say it’s done any damage to our marriage. There are times I get exasperated because he’s on the phone to a client and we’re trying to have a date night, but I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s marriage wrecking.

    1. Chinook

      “However, I also wouldn’t say it’s done any damage to our marriage. There are times I get exasperated because he’s on the phone to a client and we’re trying to have a date night, but I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s marriage wrecking.”

      I think a lot of whether this type of schedule wrecks a marriage is based on the parties of the marriage. As a cop, DH and I haven’t had a long weekend where we were both off and not on call for the 3 days for a couple of years. He has cancelled date night because of a last minute call 10 minutes before the end of his shift that he knew was going to take hours (it was easy to verify as it made the local news and he was detachment media guy). He has left movies because his phone went off and he had to answer. But it has never caused anger or resentment because I know that this is his job and it isn’t personal. It is the price to pay for a secure financial future. In the meantime, when we do have uninterrupted time, we do appreciate it more.

      Maybe it helps that I have always been independent (I only married at 29) and have my own life that doesn’t revolve around him. I was also exposed early on to other families of shift workers, those on-call and those work 10 and 4s. No one truly resented a parent who wasn’t awake when they were or was away due to work. That’s life.

      As for the comment about this not being like a single parent, I sort of disagree. True, you don’t have financial instability of single parenting, but you do have the emotional and physical toll of being there 24-7 with no support because, when the working parent comes home, they rarely have the time or energy to do the disciplining and other non-fun stuff. I have seen a lot of parents deal with this and they do get as worn out as single parents, they just don’t have the same level of financials struggle (sometimes).

      1. AthenaC

        ” you do have the emotional and physical toll of being there 24-7 with no support because, when the working parent comes home, they rarely have the time or energy to do the disciplining and other non-fun stuff.”

        I agree – I’ve been the single mom and I’ve been the effectively single mom (as in, I have a husband but have no access to him). I can’t say that either situation was stressful financially because I was fortunate to either: 1) get connected with the right social service programs quickly; or 2) be the breadwinner so I’m making the money anyway. But in some ways, being the single parent because you have no access to your husband is worse than actually being single because you feel that absence so much more. And when you’re actually single, you also have the option of finding some temporary … uh … companionship to recharge and get your adrenaline going again. Not so much when you’re married but alone.

  33. Anonymouish

    #3, I’m also in the entertainment industry. While I know what you mean with the whole ‘wanting to stand out’ thing, I’ve never seen a resume dismissed for having three names on it, there are usually far more pertinent reasons to cull the herd! You could, if you wanted to experiment, send out some resumes as S. Jane Lastname, just to see what happened.

    But I’m most focused on the fact that you were already at a company for five years. If you have a professional network or contacts, do they refer to you as Sarah Jane? If they do, you definitely want to keep it. I know someone whose name is Mary Sue (not really) and if you asked people about ‘Mary’, they wouldn’t know who you meant, or would immediately say ‘ohhhh, you mean Mary SUE!’ If 90% of your network/references/etc call you Sarah, though, then I think that’s what you should use, to avoid the impression of adding the name just for the sake of newness/difference.

  34. Afiendishthingy

    #3- if I saw your resume I would guess you either went by Jane and therefore listed both names, or you wanted to be a little more memorable than Sarah Miller, or you just… Wanted to put your middle name on it. I wouldn’t give it much thought at all. Then when I called you for a phone screen and asked to speak with Sarah Miller, you could just say “this is Sarah Jane!” And I would think oh ok, she goes by both. I’m definitely not in an industry where we’re trying to be “trendy” though.

    I know someone named Sarah Rose. I did think for a while that Rose was her last name, but no. I think it’s pretty. Don’t chamge your name if you don’t want to.

  35. AVP

    #3 – I hire for the entertainment industry in New York, as well as freelancers from all over the country, and I don’t think this is an issue. It’s your name, you get to use it however you want! My MUA uses Firstname Middle Lastname because her first and last name are pretty generic and no one has ever batted an eye (and she gets tons of work).

    Caveat being that I’m not in LA and maybe things are different there?

    1. k8page

      Just chiming in to agree – OP #3, in my opinion you don’t need to give this another thought. I have worked in and hired for the film & tv industry for 20 years in both NY and LA, and have never encountered this as a trend or an issue/problem. I’ll refer to someone by the name they use on their resume or email signature, and I always ask new hires how they want their name to appear in email accounts, on business cards and directories, etc. A person’s name is never what makes them stand out to me; work accomplishments and communication style are what catch my eye first when recruiting. Also, life is too short to spend it remembering to answer to a name that doesn’t feel like you!

  36. animaniactoo

    LW3, I’m a 43 year old woman with the first name Caitlyn. I’m not planning on stopping using my *full* name just became it has a bunch of hype around it in the entertainment industry these days.

    fwiw.

  37. LN

    Op #1, please take this advice to heart. Your marriage isn’t the responsibility of your husband’s employer. Many, many people spend long periods of time away from home for work, and still have to figure out how to cultivate healthy, happy marriages on their own time. Your husband isn’t on deployment, hell, he’s not even doing a 36 hour shift at the firehouse. I know how tough and lonely this kind of thing can be, but trying to get your husband’s employer to change their policies and MO is not practical or reasonable.

    Consider cultivating your own friendships and interests that don’t depend on your husband. If you spend a lot of time and energy simply waiting on him to get home, you’ll run your brain into the ground like a dry engine. If you find that spending more than 10% of your time together is a necessity for you to be happy in your marriage, then you need to have a serious, non blamey conversation with him about pursuing job opportunities that won’t take him out of the home so often. But do understand and accept that this is your want, your need – which is fine and good! But that does not make it a universal expectation that everyone in your life and your husband’s life must go out of their way to accommodate and respect. Focus on what you can control here. Best of luck.

    1. Yep, me again

      Furthermore, this job makes it possible for him to provide for you and your family if you have one. While I understand, completely, that it’s frustrating and hard, so is unemployment and unfulfilling work if he were to take another job because you don’t like this one he is working.

      Is it possible your husband truly enjoys his work? That he feels a sense of accomplishment, that his employer recognizes his work and is giving him more challenging projects and promotions? There are many women in your position but they find a way to adjust and make do.

      Above all else, talk with your husband about this. A real conversation about how you feel about his working and ask him to make time for you.

      1. neverjaunty

        Your last paragraph is spot-on, but it’s not really fair to the OP to say “well it’s better than unemployment or a crappy job”, as if that was the only alternative to her current situation, and it’s not helpful to tell her that OTHER wives don’t mind.

        The issue isn’t just the long hours, but that the company holds itself out to be “like a family” (always a huge red flag) and appears to believe that it has first claim on Mr. OP’s free time.

      2. Green

        “There are many women in your position but they find a way to adjust and make do.”

        I also don’t think that’s fair to say. Everyone is entitled to set their own expectations for their marriage. Some of the tips above are helpful (about how to be less dependent) and it could be valuable for the OP to try. But if ultimately it doesn’t work for her, that’s not really a failing on her part. The point here is that his schedule seems normal for his industry, and that she should discuss her expectations and different alternatives with him and not his boss.

  38. Anon Guy

    I work in IT for a government agency and they have employee appreciation events but they don’t count against our vacation time. That sounds really odd.

    I know that, in the news, people see some egregious examples of government employees abusing their jobs but, trust me, most of us work just as hard as people in the private sector. When there’s an emergency, such as a system down, we have to work nights and weekends just like the private sector.

    Once a year, we have a holiday party that takes an afternoon. Once year, we have a “how are we doing/appreciation lunch” that takes half a day, but also includes “work” in that the various managers present their plans for the next year. Finally, once a year, we have a purely “fun” event where each team does some type of team building exercise.

    There are pros and cons of government work. The pros are that it’s satisfying to help the public, important (to me anyway) to make government systems as secure as possible (often times on older technology because governments can’t always afford the latest and greatest), good benefits, good vacation, mostly good work/life balance.

    The cons are no bonuses or stock options, COLA raises only, salaries published in the newspaper for the world to see, and dealing with the stereotype of “lazy government employees”.

  39. Ruthie

    OP#3, it’s common in my field for resumes to include middle initials. Maybe you would feel better listing Sarah Jane S. Sarahson? That could help indicate that you have a middle name that you do not usually use, and that Sarah Jane is your first name.

  40. De Minimis

    For my former employer, we had an extended lunch for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and an Employee Appreciation Picnic once a year that was also an extended lunch [and we actually closed for an hour.]

    The rule was if you didn’t actually go to the event, you didn’t get the extended lunch [so if you still took off the entire hour, you had to use half an hour of vacation.]

  41. newlyhr

    we all chipped in for coffee, which was fine until the boss started offering it up to all the people who came to see him. (he wasn’t chipping in).

  42. Jane

    My fiancé and I both work jobs which tend to have long and unpredictable hours. Some weeks, we barely see each other awake. I think at some point anyone in this situation will need to slow down somehow or get better flexibility (either by becoming more senior at work and having greater flexibility with hours as a perk or by changing jobs). I think this is a pretty common struggle and for a lot of people, changing jobs is simply not an option due to finances. At least in my industry, the highest paying jobs have the worst hours, so if I ever wanted to change to a job with more flexible/better hours, I would be taking a substantial pay cut (which I may well do, but understand it’s not reasonable for everyone). It also seems like this workaholic (a word I don’t love because it implies that there is something wrong with the person or they have a choice in the matter) culture in the U.S. dictates how people are expected to behave. I think in other cultures/countries, it seems like attitudes are different.

    1. fposte

      It varies, though–you still get bankers dropping dead at their desks in Europe, and then there are the junior doctors on the NHS, whose starting salary was the equivalent of $35k for the joy of working 90 hours a week.

    2. I'm a Little Teapot

      Bingo. This is a cultural, systemic problem, not a personal one, and it’s caused by the absurd expectations of many businesses in this country. It’s not a problem that has to exist – it doesn’t have to be this way – but it’s probably not the husband’s fault.

  43. OP 4

    Thanks Alison. I ended up not applying for different reasons–I ran into someone who worked there and really didn’t like the work environment–but this is useful for future reference.

  44. Beancounter in Texas

    #3 – I know a lady by the name of MaryCarol. Using pascalcase doesn’t technically change your name, but signals clearly that it is your entire first name. :-)

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