giving a reference for an alcoholic friend who won’t talk to me, new job is pushing me to move up my start date, and more

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

1. Giving a reference for an alcoholic friend who won’t talk to me

I work for a law enforcement agency and have become used to giving personal references for friends and extended family, who like having me listed as a reference due to my position in a place of authority. They know I answer my phone professionally and with my title with the agency. Yesterday I received a voicemail from a company looking for a reference for a friend of mine who I haven’t spoken to in almost a full year. Last time we spoke, she had been committed to involuntary mental health care due to substance abuse and a resultant suicide attempt. I was not alone in attempting to rally her from this both then and before her breakdown, trying to convince her to cut back on drinking. Unfortunately, after the incident, she froze all of her friends out of her life. She stopped responding to texts and phone calls, and the only way I knew she was still alive was because mutual friends informed me she was still showing up for work. Beyond that, it’s been pretty much radio silence for over 11 months.

After I received the call asking for a reference, I did some checking up with our mutual friends and according to them, she’s still drinking heavily, has lost her spouse to a divorce and her home due to most of her money going to liquor and beer. I’ve been told that she was still a good worker, right up until the end when her old company eliminated her entire department, although there was a time when she underwent “career correction” due to bringing her alcoholism to work. I would like to relay to the person who called me that she’s at heart a good person and still said to be a good worker. On the other hand, it feels dishonest to not include the issues she’s had, particularly as a personal reference. I tried getting in contact with her multiple times in the hopes of discussing it with her directly, but she continues to freeze me out and ignore my calls and texts. What should I say to the company who is looking for a reference?

Ooooh, yeah, this is tricky because you don’t want to mess up what might be part of an attempt to pull her life back together … but you also can’t give an honest personal reference that doesn’t include some of this — not the mental health struggles, but certainly the heavy drinking (particularly when you know the alcoholism did cross over into work in the past). Plus, she’s put you in a really unfair position by listing you as a reference while simultaneously refusing to talk to you! It might be different if she did talk to you, because then she might be able to demonstrate to you that things have changed enough that you could feel comfortable giving her a good reference without caveating it — but while she’s freezing you out, she’s making that impossible.

But that doesn’t mean you owe the reference-checker an accounting of all this. Instead, I’d just say this: “I’m sorry but I don’t think I can be a reference because I haven’t been in touch with her for so long.” If they pressure you to answer questions anyway, you can hold firm and say, “I have lots of good will toward her, but we’ve been out of touch for so long that I’m not comfortable being a reference. Thanks for understanding.”

2. My office is freezing and I have a circulatory disorder that makes me extra cold

I have mild Raynaud’s Disease: basically, a circulatory disorder in which fingers and toes are extremely sensitive to cold, to the point of pain. I’m on a small team in a satellite building as part of a bigger organization. We’re stuck on the top floor which sort of feels like the attic. Temperature has been an issue, at least I feel this way over the course of the 8 some-odd months I’ve been here. Serious heat issues in the winter, Antarctica air conditioning in the summer. And once the temperature hits, no joke, 60, BAM. FREEZING AC EVERYWHERE. WHY?!

There is no happy medium and everyone seems to agree. The building manager makes his rounds, and as sweet as he is, he seems a bit incompetent. He simply will ask, “How’s the temperature today?” or say, “Well because of the setup, there’s nothing we can do to make the air even. Sorry.” While I like to wear cutesy (but professional!) summer dresses and open-toed shoes, I sit at my desk with blankets covering my legs and feet. I’m still in pain. I go out for walks when I can.

I have tried to reserve my complaints because I’m relatively new and I don’t want to pull the “I have crappy circulation” card, either. But blankets and constant cups of hot coffee/tea are not helping, either. On more than one occasion, I have heard the VP of our department (whose office has its own temperature control, lucky for her, but when she blasts AC in December because she’s going through menopause, we all feel it) indicate that she is tired of “complaints all around” about the temperature. I don’t know if she’s just being callous or what.

What can I do to feel comfortable and not in pain? I’m already on medication. Space heaters are also prohibited, by the way.

Office temperature wars tend to be a constant battle that no one can ever win, and many offices have given up trying to respond to individual complaints because there’s no way to make everyone happy — but it’s an entirely different thing when there’s a medical issue involved. It would be very reasonable for you to talk to either your manager or HR (probably HR for something like this) and explain that you have a medical issue that makes you extremely sensitive to cold, to the point of pain (feel free to be explicit that it’s Raynaud’s Disease if you’re comfortable doing that), and ask to discuss potential solutions so that you can work with less discomfort. That doesn’t necessarily have to mean changing the temperature for everyone; for example, it could mean moving your office, blocking the AC vents near you, or making an exception to the no-space-heater policy.

That said, you probably should stop wearing the open-toed shoes and summer dresses while they’re trying to work this out or you risk looking like you’re not doing your part of helping to solve the problem or having them not take it as seriously as you need them to. (If I’m misunderstanding how those things might be impacting the situation, then ignore this part of my answer.)

3. New job is pressuring me to move up my start date

I am a student who will be graduating next week, and am lucky enough to have accepted a job offer about two months ago. At that time, we agreed on a start date that would give me about two weeks of vacation between finishing my school obligations and starting the job. However, now my new boss is pushing me to start a week earlier. While I haven’t made any concrete plans yet, I was hoping to either have a friend visit from out of town during that week or to go on a short trip. However, I don’t want to disappoint my new boss or start off on the wrong foot by insisting to keep my original start date. Do you have any advice on how to handle this situation?

Has your new boss said why she’d like you to start earlier? If it’s because they’re truly in a bind — for example, the person who will be training you will be out of town the week you start — and you’re willing to be flexible, I’d consider moving up your start date by a week (or even a few days) to help them out. It’ll build good will, and it’ll still leave you with a week off before you start the new job.

But if it doesn’t sound like they’re really in a bind, or if you feel like you really need the two weeks to decompress before you start work, it should be okay to say something like, “I’m so sorry, but after we set my start date at June 27, I made commitments for the two weeks prior that I can’t break.”

4. I don’t know if my out-of-town interview is covering my travel expenses or not

I applied for an entry/mid-level remote position at a tech start-up a few weeks ago. I had a phone interview with the COO, completed a writing sample, and was just asked to fly there for an in-person interview and to meet the team.

Despite having asked questions like “Could you let me know a bit more about the logistics of this visit – what are my next steps?”, the COO has not indicated who will be paying the expenses for this interview.

It is in five days, and flights are expensive (not even including lodging, meals, etc.)! Is it reasonable to expect them to pay for this expense?

Ask! Ask today! Asking about the logistics generally isn’t clear enough; you need to be much more explicit. Email your contact right now and say, “I should have asked this last week — do you reimburse for travel expenses, or how is that handled?”

As for whether it’s reasonable to expect them to pay, it really depends. Some companies do, some don’t, often depending on how much incentive they have to talk to non-local candidates. More on that here.

5. I adore my manager — am I weird?

Is it normal to love your manager? This is my first job out of college, I’ve been working for her for three years, work fairly closely, and we’re not far off in age.

I just…feel a lot of affection for her. Not the way I love my partner or my family, but like a close friend level of affection. And no, she’s not one of those managers who blurs the boundaries of work and friendship – our team goes out for the occasional happy hour or birthday lunch, and we’re friendly, but professional boundaries are definitely respected. I just admire the hell out of her, and don’t sense the same level of enthusiasm from my friends toward their managers.

Is this weird? Unhealthy? Totally normal and I just don’t know because it’s my first full-time professional job?

Not weird and not unhealthy. You got lucky — your first manager is someone you respect and who’s probably good at managing, and it sounds like you probably click with her and have good rapport. These are great things!

It’s true that it’s also very common for people not to have those things in a manager. But sometimes it happens. Take advantage of it — learn all you can from her, and pay attention to what makes her good at what she does. That way, at whatever point you move on to the next job, you’ll have a good baseline of information on how good managers function — which should hopefully help you screen potential future managers and up your chances of ending up with another good one. Yay!

{ 188 comments… read them below }

  1. JessaB*

    LW2 – I hate to be that person, but you do have options of wearing more clothing, wearing warmer clothing, using a blanket, etc. It’s more socially acceptable to get warmer than to get colder (IE there is a limit to being able to take *off* clothing, etc.) I say this as someone who is hyperthyroid and is constantly even with GOOD a/c cooking. Due to my medical condition (and my sister is anaemic and boy do we have issues with OMG your house is freezing when she visits me, I keep extra blankets, etc. and a heater in her room if she stays over,) however it’s better for me if it’s cold because if it’s hot I have almost no recourse. A portable heater is a thing that you can get for very little money, a portable a/c needs venting and costs over $500.

    As a talk with your management, since they can’t change the temp, you might be able to organise a heater for yourself under your desk. They may require a certain brand or set up so as to be safe vis fire codes, etc. But I’d look into asking for one.

    Believe me I’m sympathetic completely to people who have the opposite problem to me. The advantage is that you and I do have medical issues and we can provide documentation if we have to ask for reasonable accommodations. I hope you can work out something that lets you be both stylish AND warm.

    1. Kyrielle*

      To be fair, from my admittedly limited understanding of Reynaud’s, it’s worse in the extremities – and fingers and noses are generally not covered even by warm clothing. (And LW2 already states a blanket is being used.)

      LW2, depending on your job, would having a heating pad you can rest your hands on help? Would a heated keyboard or other supplies like that help?

      1. TychaBrahe*

        I came here to suggest an electric blanket.

        Space heaters are often banned because they have a huge power demand. A space heater draws more watts than a 20 cu ft refrigerator. A heating pad draws 5% of that amount (1400 W vs. 65 W). Also, many people forget to shut them off, and they can be a fire hazard. And they do heat the surrounding area, which affects coworkers.

        The problem with regular blankets is that they don’t generate heat, merely help retain it. If the OP isn’t creating her own heat, a blanket won’t help much.

        Sunbeam sells heated throws. She could toss one over her legs and tuck the bottom under her feet to keep her feet warm. If she folds the lap part back and then forward again, she creates a pocket into which she can stick her hands. A throw is a bit warmer than a heating pad, but only draws about 200 W on their highest setting, and most have a an automatic switch that shuts the blanket off after a few hours.

        1. Lead, Follow or Get Outta the Way!*

          I second this! I keep a heated blanket under my desk and it’s been absolutely wonderful. I even use it in the summer when the A/C is blasting and I’m freezing.

        2. Xanadu*

          Came here to recommend this – I only survive arctic summers in my office due to my beloved heating blanket.

      2. SusanIvanova*

        Yep. I could be wearing so many layers over my core that it’s sweltering, and my fingers might still be faintly blue. Fingerless gloves are a godsend.

        1. Audiophile*

          Fingerless gloves help??

          I have mild Reynauds (my fingers get blue/white and some pain) coupled with mild cerebral palsy (I really hit the jackpot) and I’ve searched off and on for fingerless gloves. Have yet to find any.

          1. Ducky*

            I bought mine at Claire’s, and they really do help, though they make me look like some sort of office hobo if I leave them on when I go to the water cooler.

          2. SusanIvanova*

            Sockdreams (dot com)! They have all sorts, from thin velvet ones to thick knit ones, and of course socks.

    2. LisaLee*

      The LW might also look into “crafter’s gloves” as a temporary solution. These use light compression and insulating fabric to keep the hands warm while crafting/typing and you can usually find them at Joann’s or Michael’s for fairly cheap. Etsy also has some fairly professional-looking fingerless gloves.

      1. Belle*

        This is actually what we did recently to accommodate an employee in a similar situation. We keep our temp around 70 and it was too cold for her, so we purchased special gloves and a heating blanket as an accommodation. We can’t have space heaters due to safety reasons in our older building, but this seems to be helping out.

        1. Christopher Tracy*

          It’s very nice that you all did that. A lot of companies would just leave it up to the employee to figure it out. (And I’m mad my company won’t let us bring in space heaters when they know they blast the air conditioning at an obnoxious thermostat.)

          1. Belle*

            In this case it was a medical accommodation and we went through the interactive process to help the employee. We also couldn’t go space heaters (they draw more power and could blow fuses, cause fires, etc in our old building) but we wanted the employee to be accommodated as best as we can.

            If you have a medical condition then I would also recommend you reach out to see about an accommodation. Many employers will help once they realize the medical reason tied to it.

            1. Colleen*

              Definitely talk to HR about accommodations. I do interactive process all the time for employees and it always feels great when we can reach a workable solution.

    3. ScarletInTheLibrary*

      Trigger warning:
      You do get to the point you can’t put on any more clothes. I don’t have a diagnosed ailment, but I lose heat quickly. Winter is painful because of the cold, but also my back hurt so bad from wearing so many heavy layers. Then people (who are in short sleeves with light materials) say I could put on more layers because I’m still cold, because it’s more socially acceptable than to raise the temperature a few degrees.

      With this being said, I work in a field that everything is climate controlled (and the rest of the building and patrons) often mention best we can say is that this temperature is best to prolong the life of materials (though some small collections would benefit from freezer storage). We have had volunteers quit because it’s so cold. I know dresses without tights, hose, and leggings are impractical. I still don’t know how coworker with open-toed shoes does it. I think she does it to reduce foot odor. Fingerless gloves, especially if they can be converted to mittens, can make a huge difference. I have different gloves at work (due to the need for tactile touch and working with photographs), but fingerless gloves are great for data entry etc. Also look into cowls. They can be worn around the neck, but can be wore like a headband. It can at least make it feel less cold.

      1. Jennifer*

        I figured out while camping in the desert that after you’ve put on nine layers, you can fit on no more.

        If you need to be able to use your fingers, I don’t even know how you’d do this, though.

        1. a*

          I’m confused too. Aren’t trigger warnings sort of useless if they don’t say what the trigger is?

    4. JB (not in Houston)*

      As another Raynaud’s sufferer, it’s not really enough to just pile on more clothes or blankets. I wear close-toed shoes every day, and I use blankets, but it’s not enough. And it’s not just a matter of feeling uncomfortable from being cold. Raynaud’s sufferers can get gangrene and lose fingers and toes from the condition if it gets severe, and even people with mild cases can have flare ups of bad episodes. Even with my mild condition, I’ve had episodes where I basically had no blood in my fingers, and if I hadn’t been somewhere I could do something about it, it would not have had a good outcome. Some people have to take medication and move to warm climates because just layering up isn’t enough. Mine is relatively mild, but winter and summer are both agony for me.

      There’s also the depressing factor of having to wear what feels like frumpy clothing all the time. How I would love to wear cute sandals again! And none of my coworkers know what the shirts I wear really look like because they never see me without a cardigan on. I’m not saying the rest of the office should have to sweat it out so that I can wear sandals, I’m just acknowledging that it does take a mental toll on you.

      LW, something that has helped me a lot–I bought a set of those warming mitts that are used in salons for paraffin wax treatments. There are some that are shaped like booties, but mine are just flat sleeves. Search on amazon for “heated mitts” or “warming mitts” or “spa paraffin mitts,” that kind of thing, and you will find some. It makes a world of difference for my feet. You can also use those to periodically warm up your hands. Also, you can buy fingerless warmer gloves that plug into the USB port on your computer. I also use a radiator by New Air that draws a lot less electricity, so it’s safe for my office use. It doesn’t put out a lot of heat, but it’s better than nothing.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq*

        I have a pair of fingerless gloves that actually plug into my computer via USB to generate heat. They work great and cost like $7 from China or something. I think I got mine from Tiger Direct, but they’re all over Ebay also.

        1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

          I have a pair that I bought from Think Geek!

          My first office in Chicago was in an old carriage house that had not been restored. They tried their best to heat it in the winter, however, they just couldn’t get it warm enough.

      2. Friday Brain All Week Long*

        +1 on how much it sucks to wear heavy clothes year round. I’m currently wearing two long sweaters, pants, socks and shoes, and I have my space heater going. I’ve tried all sorts of gloves and nothing works. The coworkers run much hotter (probably some menopause going on) so I make do as best I can.

        OP, you won’t get any sympathy from folks if you’re still rocking a summer wardrobe. Get the pants and sweaters out and see how much of a difference it makes for you first.

        I’ve already decided that when I’m in menopause, I want Veep Selina Meyer’s entire professional wardrobe. All those wonderful dresses!

        1. hayling*

          Although it sounds like tights and closed-toed shoes won’t actually help the OP comfort-wise, it might help her perception-wise. I’m sure that most people don’t understand your medical condition and will wonder why you’re not wearing more layers.

          1. Another person with Raynaud's*

            That’s unfortunately true about the perceptions, but it’s horrible to be wearing the same clothes year round. Also, if OP walks to work or has a non-car commute, it adds another layer of complication. I can dress for my commute, or I can dress for the office. Either way I’m uncomfortable somewhere. Generally I tend to dress for my commute, as otherwise I end up a hot sticky mess, then I go outside for “defrost” breaks at lunch and midafternoon, and supplement with warm clothing that I keep in my cubicle. (The current mix gives me a choice of: wool fingerless gloves, wool lap blanket, full-size fleece blanket, cardigan, wrap. I often wear the wool fingerless gloves during the summer otherwise I can’t type.)

            And while I’m doing all this my coworkers on the other side of the room (by the windows) have to blast their A/C. I think we’re all just resigned to it now.

            1. Another person with Raynaud's*

              Oh, and investigate invisible layers. One of my coworkers often comments that he can’t understand why I’m not more cold, but it’s mainly because I wear extra layers under my summer gear. Strappy tops or silk camisoles can help you retain heat without adding bulk, and both work under many summer outfits. If you’re wearing a longer skirt you can add 3/4 length silk base layers, and that may help with static cling too.

            2. newby*

              I keep a change of shoes at work so that I can wear open toe shoes outside (I work in a lab, so closed toe shoes are necessary).

          2. neverjaunty*

            Well, it’s true that summer dresses and closed-toe shoes won’t by themselves fix the LW’s problem. But they won’t make it any worse, either.

          3. Friday Brain All Week Long*

            Optics are important. I doubt my coworkers care about my plight for warmth but at least they can see that I’m making an effort on my end. We went to an outdoor party for work recently and they were actually amazed I owned a sundress.

      3. Anxa*

        “There’s also the depressing factor of having to wear what feels like frumpy clothing all the time. How I would love to wear cute sandals again! And none of my coworkers know what the shirts I wear really look like because they never see me without a cardigan on. I’m not saying the rest of the office should have to sweat it out so that I can wear sandals, I’m just acknowledging that it does take a mental toll on you. ”

        Yes to this. I do wish that just one day I could wear the clothes that I feel good about my appearance in at work. I definitely dress much more casually less professionally so that I can stay warm and comfortable, and while it’s the reasonable thing to do…I do miss my older work clothes (I used to live in a colder climate, which actually was warmer to work in because the AC wasn’t as blasty)

    5. Student*

      OP #2, have you tried re-usable hand warmers? They’ll fit in socks or loose gloves. You snap them and a chemical reaction generates heat for quite a while. You boil them briefly to reset the chemical reaction. As long as your workplace has some stove-top you could boil water on, you could use a couple of these all day. If no stove-top is available, you might just need to buy enough to get you through the day and boil them at home.

      And, really, it’s a bit too much to say, “I want to wear my cute clothes that are very cold when my building has recurring temperature problems – they should redo the building ventilation rather than expecting me to dress appropriately for the temperature!” At best, you’re being very unrealistic and naive about how large building cooling works; it’s actually pretty hard, and in all likelihood fixing the problems requires major construction work. At worst, you’re harming yourself to “look cute” at work, which is a counterproductive set of priorities.

      1. Cordelia Naismith*

        +1 on the hand warmers. I came here to suggest something like this: Wear them inside fingerless gloves (fingerless so you can still type), and they should help keep your hands warm. I can’t think of anything equivalent for feet, though, except maybe a small space heater that you keep on the floor under your desk.

    6. Anxa*

      I agree that it’s best to dress for the office temps as they currently are.

      There are two limitations to this, though:

      It seems really reasonable to have to trudge to work on 90F+ days in long pants, tights, full suits, sweaters, winter coats, etc. just to get to an office temp of 65 or below. Even if you have a car and can bring a car, there are rarely dressing rooms in a lot of offices. I don’t think layering on it’s own is enough: you can pile on layers of polyester and be sweaty and chilly at the same time; I tend to need sweaters and full length sleeves more than just more layers.

      There is a limit to how much more you can put on. First of all, there are pretty much no layers you can add to your hands without affecting your productivity. I would love to be able to type, but it’s so hard at work (and at home when it’s not summer). I try sitting on my hands periodically and slipping them into gloves once in a while, but that’s hard to maintain. Also, blankets and coats aren’t read as professional. And they also tend to create hot spots and cold sweats while you’re trying to just get a nicer ambient temperature.

      1. I'm a Little Teapot*

        Yes, this!

        As people have noted below, cold temperatures can actually harm some people. One of my relatives has Raynaud’s and she had to have the tip of a toe amputated.

        I don’t have Raynaud’s, but I often end up feeling sick – as if I have a fever – if I’m in a cold environment too long. Even if it’s only my face that’s exposed, if it’s cold enough. There’s something weird about cold that tricks my body; I’m not sure if this is how everyone feels.

        Also, blasting the AC all the time is a huge waste of electricity.

        1. Anxa*

          I suspect I’m losing a toe nail over the drastic temperature shifts and working in a cold office. In part from repeated trauma from constant stubbing when I go numb.

    7. Freezing Librarian*

      Another thought (since my handle comes from my being in the same boat – not Reynaud’s but poor circulation, and a 62-65 degree office): There are definitely times when despite my layers of clothing and fingerless gloves, my nose and fingertips just go numb. So I try not to let it get to that point, by making sure I walk around the building at least once every half hour. I make fists to warm my fingertips as I walk. Yes, getting up interrupts my concentration sometimes, but it’s way better than not being able to type!

      I hope you have luck getting some kind of accommodation, though.

    8. Ellen*

      I feel guilty at work during temperature wars. Between my thyroid and menopause, I’m often red faced and sweating around my sweatered sisters at work. I have no control over the ac, set at 71 degrees. I hide in the walk in fridge, sometimes.

  2. Sami*

    OP # 2– I, too, have a mild case of Raynaud’s plus another condition that make it difficult to regulate my internal temperature. No advice, other than to echo what Alison said. Good luck!

    1. MCR*

      Me too! It’s really annoying. Putting more clothes on your core doesn’t help my extremities. And there is a limit on what you can put on your hands to keep them warm without interfering with your ability to type and write. I’ve been in some environments before where I’m simply unable to type because my fingers have gone numb.

  3. WhiteBear*

    2.) I was recently at a big box store in need of those gel cold-packs bags that most people keep in their freezer. The ones I picked up indicate they can be kept in the freezer to give off cold and thrown in the microwave to give off heat. If you can find them, maybe keep them on your toes and have them on your desk for your hands during times when the AC is causing your extremities pain. Good luck!

    1. Alison Read*

      I also suffer from Reynaud’s, for my toes I use the small peel & stick toe warmers in my shoes. I’ve even used them under my toes in sandals!

      On a side note, touch screens are a nightmare. Supposedly temperature doesn’t make a difference, I am not sure what’s at play since a stylus works, I’ve had many people witness me repeatedly trying to use my touch screen only reach over and one tap accomplish what my bloodless fingers can’t!

      1. Anna*

        Temperature does matter! I do not have Reynaud’s but I know that after I’ve been in cold weather where I live, there are times I cannot get my phone to recognize that I’m touching it.

    2. Cactus*

      An old sock full of uncooked rice, tied at the open end and warmed in the microwave for about 1.5 minutes, can also help. I’ve mostly used those to assist with neck pain, but their warmth might be helpful for LW2 as well. You can also add herbs to the rice to make them smell nice (mine has lavender and rosemary in it).

  4. Bartimaeus*

    I also have Raynaud’s, though it is milder than the #2 OP’s version. I partially control mine with a dietary supplement called ‘Alpha-Lipoeic Acid’— while my fingers will still get cold at times, they do not become ‘frostnip cold’.

    I don’t know if this could help #2’s OP, but I thought I might speak up in case it does.

    1. Random Lurker*

      I control my Raynaud’s through lots of ginseng added to my diet. Not sure if that works for everyone, but has helped me a lot in my really bad Raynaud’s months (usually April and October when it is around 45-50 degrees here).

    2. Dietitian*

      To elaborate, Alpha-Lipoic Acid is a very potent antioxidant that breaks down glucose into usable energy within the body (read: helps significantly boost the metabolism – of which heat is a byproduct). It is also excellent for repairing nerve damage which is a big benefit for nerve and circulatory disorders. HIGHLY recommend as a fellow Raynauld’s sufferer. As a side benefit, your skin will also see much improvement in tone and texture!

    3. Anonymous 369*

      I somehow outgrew mine in my 20s, which was good – no more dead waxy-looking fingers. No matter what I wore on my fingers, once they got cold, no amount of covering could help till they “came back” themselves.

  5. Sandy*

    #5 enjoy it, and soak up all the learning you can! For all that we try to find a silver lining on bad bosses and say we learn how *not* to do things, it’s so much nicer to learn how to do things the right way from a good boss!

    My boss-history has gone something like this:

    -good boss
    -not-so-good boss (micro-managing and didn’t actually “boss” very well)
    -good boss
    -very inexperienced boss (I think she wound up being good later on)
    -FANTASTIC boss (seriously, I will spend the rest of my career trying to get another boss like that)
    -2nd-worst boss I’ve ever had
    -great boss
    -worst boss I’ve ever had

    I figure I’m due up for a good one *knock on wood*.

    1. Boo*

      Haha! Yeah just to echo this really OP – don’t question it, make the most of it while you can! For me my boss history went like this:
      1- meh
      2- ugh
      3 – utterly brilliant and we still keep in touch and meet regularly for lunch/mentoring if I ever get married he’ll be invited and may be asked to give me away
      4 – ugh
      5 – argh
      6 – worst boss ever, fortunately on fixed term contract (brought in to restructure/sack a bunch of people) and left before I had a full blown nervous breakdown
      7 – lovely, not mind blowingly awesome but a huge relief after #6, very kind, flexible and all about personal development. I am scared about what will happen when I eventually have to leave this job but I’m going to hang on to it for as long as I possibly can.

  6. Uyulala*

    #2 – I know you said a space heater isn’t allowed, but what about an electric blanket? They also make heated gloves and heated mousepad-pocket things.

    1. Kiryn*

      I had so many problems with keeping warm in my air-conditioned office (huddled over a cup of hot cocoa while wearing a thick coat in the middle of July) until I discovered electric blankets. I got a small one the size of a throw blanket that I could just wrap around myself, and it did far more than just wearing more clothes ever did. For some reason more insulation wouldn’t warm me up (my toes would still be freezing under three layers of socks) but adding more heat to my core worked wonders.

      1. Uyulala*

        That’s what I discovered too! And they are usually allowed by office policies since they don’t heat up the outside air and have automatic shut-offs.

        1. Milton*

          I was just going to suggest she just get a space heater anyway, but this is a much better option :)

          My previous office has a no space heater policy too and yet everyone from assistants to directors had their own mini heaters. I was the only dummy with two blankets.

      2. T3k*

        Man, I wish I’d thought of this at my last job. I had a space heater, jacket, and even covered the vent in my little office and there were still times my covered feet would feel cold.

      3. Dangerfield*

        That’s what I’ve got. I leave it on my desk in front of my keyboard. If I were really suffering I’d be tempted to get another one to leave on the floor, but keeping a pair of slipper socks in the office is sufficient for my feet for now.

      4. TychaBrahe*

        A blanket doesn’t make heat; it helps retain the heat you yourself are generating. If you aren’t making enough heat, the blanket doesn’t help much. An electric blanket makes its own heat.

  7. SL #2*

    OP #5, are you me? I’ve gotten really lucky with my manager and this is also my first post-college job. Let me tell you, we’re the envy of all our friends. :)

    1. Violet Fox*

      I’m at what was supposed to be my first serious post uni job until I figured out what I wanted to do with my life.. That was a decade ago, and I am still here, and well rather then needing to move on to expand I have an amazing manager who has made it possible for the work to grow with me, more responsibilities, more control, etc and a lot of trust from my manager. He is the big reason why I’m still here, well he and the work environment he’s created.

      One of the big things I have learned from him is that good management is worth it’s weight in gold and then some.

      Great managers do happen, it is just that people rarely write into a blog asking for help because their manager is great, and things are going rather well at work, so we tend to see the stories about the bad side of things.

      1. Violet Fox*

        For a while in there, I did, for a few years work for a different manager due to some very boring and arcane organisational reasons (this was even though I was doing the same job), and well the difference was night and day.

    2. Jennifer*

      I’ve actually really liked almost all of my managers. I was so-so on one fellow, but he was so-so on me back so it’s only fair. He kind of got thrust into managing unexpectedly and I don’t think he really quite got what to do about it at the time.

    3. Laura*

      I’m a year out of college, and on my third job. The first two were duds with just okay management. Well, third time’s a charm! I LOVE my boss. She is the most kind, compassionate person I could ask for, and I love that she keeps work and personal life separate as much as possible, for everyone involved. Hashtag blessed.

  8. Artemesia*

    I think there are electric blankety sock things for feet and certainly heating pads and such that could help. You can’t wear summer dresses and sandals and complain about the cold though; you have to at least look like you are trying to cope. This doesn’t seem like a medical condition that sharing might lead to discrimination and so sharing the specifics of your need to have a less frigid office might also be a strategy and one that is more likely to come across as problem solving rather than nag nag nag which seems to be how the boss is now reacting to complaints.

    1. Augusta Sugarbean*

      My husband has electric socks from his hunting days. Not cutesy or fashionable but warm as hell.

      1. GeekyDuck*

        I have those, and they’re great! I also have a kickass pair of polar fleece-lined blue jeans. Probably the single most useful item of clothing I own; if your husband still hunts occasionally, they make a great present!

  9. snuck*


    I’m totally with Alison here… this isn’t your monkeys/circus.

    Have you ever worked with her? If you haven’t you could dodge the reference saying “I’ve known her for a number of years socially, but not professionally so I don’t feel able to talk to that” and if pressed “I’ve not actually been in contact with her over the last year, so I can’t even comment on her personally in any recent context”.

    And remember… if she was part of a mass layoff (rather than fired) she *should* be able to lean on more direct/professional references. If she can’t do this then do you really want to be standing up for her? Your reputation is at stake here too – as you say… your reputation and professionalism means you get asked to be a reference reasonably often yes?

    None of this is hanging her out to dry. None of it means you aren’t supportive. Lying to get her a job isn’t supporting her, it’s enabling her… if she reached out to you and talked to you, asked you to be a reference, you knew who she was today (by your own inference, not the reports of others) then you might actually be able to be a reference.

    Another option is to reach out to her and say “Hey, I’ve been getting reference calls for you… can you tell me what that’s about and how you think I can help?” and then you have a chance to know what sort of reference she’s using you as, and may be able to steer her to more fruitful pastures? She obviously isn’t thinking badly of you… so it might be a chance to reconnect if you wish to, while still not having to be a reference because of how long it’s been since you’ve talked.

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      It sounded from the letter like the OP has tried reaching out to the (former) friend since getting the reference request, but that the friend is blocking her calls and ignoring her texts. Which is all very strange and would make me more hesitant than ever to provide a positive reference.

    2. Willis*

      Seconding the idea that you’re not hanging her out to dry by using Alison’s script and declining to be a reference. She’s left you with few options considering you would either have to lie to the reference checker, or go into some of her previous work issues. But, even if she doesn’t get back in touch with you, a text or voicemail letting her know that you don’t feel comfortable being a reference would be good to prevent her from listing you as a reference in other job applications.

      1. Mookie*

        Seconding the whole thread. People have a right to “freeze out” / “ghost” / unilaterally break ties with and excise from their life anyone they like, and it’s often healthy to do so (but any reason for it is valid). LW 1 sounds like they’re handling that quite well, by giving their friend space rather than nursing a grudge or harassing the person back into the relationship. But it’s just not on to make that decision and then tacitly and by a third-party ask that person, whom you won’t speak to, to do work for you.

        LW did their due diligence quite graciously and tried to connect with the friend regarding the reference, but absent some future response, their obligations (which never existed in the first place, because personal references are a favor and not a duty) are now at an end. It’s not even really necessary to return the call the recruiter, in my opinion, because No Answer is an answer, and the friend will eventually discover this and move on.

        I’d be galled by this, personally, because it feels so presumptuous.

      2. TychaBrahe*

        You know, honestly, even if someone had been an exemplary employee when I had known them (personally, not worked with them), I would decline to be a reference if I hadn’t spoken to them in almost a year. I mean I would try to reach out to them, as the OP did, but if they refused contact, what could I say? “Well, she seemed like a diligent employee when I last talked to her in July of 2015”?

        So much can happen in a year. A person who doesn’t have a substance abuse problem can develop one. A major life event (like a divorce or being foreclosed upon, as the OP has been told her friend went through) can affect someone’s attention to work. How can you vouch for someone you don’t really know?

  10. Persephone*

    OP #1: It seems really odd that she’s listing you as a reference when you two haven’t spoken in eleven months. Do you have any sense of why she’d do that, or what is making her think it is okay to do that? I mean you ask references if you can use them before you actually do, but here she apparently has just listed you without even knowing if you’d be around to do this for her.

    OP # 2, why would you wear lightweight clothing and open shoes if you are prone to being cold? It’s painfully familiar to me as a co-worker, now in another department, does the same thing–only she uses it as a way to be passively-aggressively vicious toward others. There is warm undergarments and battery-operated gloves and socks. Since you can lose a lot of heat through your head, a hat of some kind might help. It seems to me that you have the primary responsibility to accommodate your needs to the “norm” to the degree you are able.

    1. snuck*

      Re No.2

      I actually agree to an extent. The heating/cooling wars of office spaces aren’t to be underestimated, and it IS really hard to get consistent temps across a floor where there’s large windows, interiors with limited sunlight and post airconditioning fit outs that block or corral vents…

      So yeah… I agree with Persephone to an extent – each person needs to be doing their bit to cope – even with a medical condition there needs to be reasonable attempts by ALL parties… this includes wearing a cardigan in the office, maybe a thermal singlet or shorts/leggings, or close toe shoes and stockings, or a shoulder wrap, or having a heating pad for your feet to sit on, or a wheat bag for the early mornings until the office warms up a little… None of these things stop you wearing pretty dresses, I’m not saying you have to wear a snow suit… but if you do, and no one else in the office does… then is it reasonable to have to heat the office to that extent (hyperbole, I know… )? What passes as reasonable needs to meet the test as reasonable for most people, not just one (I think?) … something that is really hard to get right in large office floorplates.

      It might be that you can swap desks and sit somewhere else, or put a sheet of paper over the airconditioning duct where you sit so the air doesn’t flow onto you (ask!) or that you fit some brisk walks into your day so that your blood gets circulating again and you might feel warmer, or any of a number of other things… but I think you need to be part of the solution too.

    2. Aloot*

      Sorry for being nitpicky, but one doesn’t actually lose more heat through one’s head than one does through the rest of the body.

      (Plus, if the OP is like me, a hat won’t do anything for cold fingers.)

      1. snuck*


        But with Reynards I think the issue is with extremities…

        And even though you lose a lot of heat through your head …wearing a beanie isn’t going to offset the sheer heat loss that having the rest of the body poorly covered will incur. If you are so cold you need a blanket then it’s time to rethink the little summer dresses and bare legs…. a hat isn’t going to warm them up.

      2. LSCO*

        No, it’s an urban myth.

        And in some ways, it doesn’t actually matter if a cardigan/vest/hat will help the OP’s condition – it’s an optics thing. Having someone complain about the cold but being sat in a sundress, bare arms and open sandals will foster some resentment from others. At least if OP looks like she’s trying to help herself but it isn’t enough I think she’ll garner more sympathy from coworkers/facilities staff/whoever.

        1. Jwal*

          I think this is the thing.

          What constitutes a reasonable adjustment is quite woolly, so if OP goes to HR/management/whoever and brings up this issue the first thing they’ll probably tell her to do is wear warmer clothes (it’s the logical next step because that wouldn’t have any impact on other people). If OP can demonstrate that hey, they’ve been wearing leg warmers (or whatever) and gloves, then at that point it would be for the firm to do something to help.

          TLDR, changing clothing habits might make the employer more inclined to act quicker.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            What constitutes a reasonable adjustment is quite woolly

            No pun intended? ;-)

            I agree pretty strongly with this. I’m the one in the office who’s always hot. I’d love to wear pretty lightweight cardigans in the summer like so many of my coworkers do. Hell, I’d love to wear sweaters in the winter. But I don’t, because I’m too warm. I can’t legitimately ask if anyone’s okay bumping the thermostat down a degree if I’m wearing a sweater. And whether or not the presence of fabric over your arms affects your Reynaud’s, it really looks bad to wear lightweight, skin-baring clothing and strappy shoes while you ask to have the temperature turned up.

          2. DeskBird*

            Yup. People will always notice your clothing choices in relation to what direction you want the temp to go in. I have a friend who complains endlessly about a woman at her office that always wears heavy cardigans in the summer then complains that it’s too hot in the office and wants to turn the temp down.

            Due to a major seating re-organization recently my office has FINALLY reached a temperature that is not similar to a polar bear habitat. I am so happy about it! I mentioned to an office friend that It was so much nicer in here now – and he told me he thought it was a little too warm. I told him point blank to take off his stupid suit coat (not something even vaguely needed by our office dress code). So – fair or not fair it can really matter how you present yourself when you come forward with this.

            1. Anxa*

              Yeah, I’m sure sometimes the way something seems matters more than what’s actually going.

              I wear a cardigan when I start to sweat through the base layer. Usually I sweat more when I’m cold, but sometimes I layer up because I’m getting too warm!

        2. Clever Name*

          This. Maybe it’s unfair, but it looks, I don’t know, selfish? a little clueless? to wear skimpy clothing and complain about the ambient temperature. Our office has thermostat issues too (doesn’t everyone’s?) Our office manager loves the heat and likes to proclaim she isn’t happy until it’s 80 degrees. In the winter she will wear tissue-weight “sweaters” that aren’t even long-sleeved. And she’ll complain of the cold. Meanwhile, I’m wearing an enormous sweater and a long underwear top underneath, and I sometimes pull out a blanket. So yeah, I give her the side eye when she complains about being cold.

      3. Sarah M.*

        A couple of points to add to this discussion: 1) adding more layers when your circulation has shut down won’t help. Layers only trap the heat that is escaping through your skin. No blood flow -> no heat. So adding a heat source (electric blanket, warming socks, etc.) may be a lot more helpful than just adding a thermal layer. 2) Reduction in circulation in extremities may be (not guaranteed, but it could be) your body’s reaction to key systems not retaining heat. Key systems are your heart, lungs and brain. So adding an extra layer on your torso or a hat or a scarf (to help keep blood flowing to your brain warm) can actually help keep your extremities warm. There is some truth in the old wives tale, “if your neck is warm, you’re warm all over.”

        I have worked in some extremely frigid rooms and found that adding a big fuzzy hat helped a lot more than fingerless gloves ever did. Plus it was much easier to type.

  11. I'm not a lawyer, but ...*

    Sorry #2 but I think you have to own your part. I’m ALWAYS hot but if my legs are exposed they get cold while the rest of me roasts in shorts and a tee shirt. Put on some slacks, socks, and enclosed shoes, and I’ll do my dangest to warm it up for you. Cardigans and jackets are stylish too. You can wear flimsy clothes and open shoes in your un-air conditioned apartment.
    This reminds me of the coworker who took a $50 taxi ride to the office to tell us she needed 2 weeks off without pay because she didn’t have a coat to wear, and hoped the end of January would be warmer. On the East Coast. If she had called me I would have given her one of my coats and driven her to work.

  12. Dan*


    Sometimes this stuff is industry specific. In tech, the employer pays, period. If they so much as hint that you should pay, they are very out of touch.

    1. Gene*

      Add in (at least) local government, the employer almost never pays.

      That’s one reason we pushed interviews back almost a month for the position are filling, all the qualified candidates are from out of state, and more lead time will save them money.

      1. Megs*

        I would suspect that government jobs never pay for travel – I’ve interviewed twice for a federal attorney position in DC and paid my own way both times. When I interviewed for a large private west-coast firm, however, they paid for everything. As usual, I’m completely behind Alison’s advice to just ask and not feel uncomfortable about it.

        1. Kittymommy*

          Depends on what you’re interviewing for. Top tier, administration level, we did. Several candidates on a couple of rounds. Hotel, car, airfare.

  13. Nina*

    #2: I feel you. I’m always running cold so I keep a small throw at my desk, and it helps a lot with keeping my legs warm in the summer since the office is freezing. Amazon sells some nice handwarmers that are USB activated, and some places sell cheaper charcoal versions that you can stick in your gloves, or even in your socks, like I do.

    If you’re wearing summery dresses and things like that, you could try pairing them with thick stockings/tights/socks, or leggings. You may not need to change your whole wardrobe.

    Good luck. Thermostat wars are never easy.

  14. Alienor*

    #5, you’re not weird at all. I also loved my first manager after college. We worked together for more than 10 years–sometimes with me reporting to her, sometimes not–and now we’re close friends. As it happens, I’m having some problems at work right now, and it makes me long for the days when she was there in the office to look out for me!

  15. Sarkywoman*

    Yeah, #2 I have Raynaud’s and part of the way I manage it is to dress warmly, with the risk of looking a little out of place during the summer months. I even wear fingerless gloves to work (I’d wear gloves with fingers if they didn’t interfere with typing!) And my office is usually well-balanced, temperature-speaking.

    1. Stranger than fiction*

      I don’t have reynauds either, but my feet are almost always cold. I look like a bit of a dork sometimes because I’ll wear socks with ballet flats, or ankle boots in the middle of summer. but you know what? I don’t care as long as my feet are warm. If I were going out after work and needed to look cute, I’d just bring a pair of sandals to change into. And that’s the great thing about layers, you can wear tights under a dress and a sweater over it, and simply remove them once you leave the office. Not to mention the heated gloves and stuff others have mentioned.

    2. J.B.*

      I have a currently mild tendency towards reynauds which I expect to get worse as I get older. I used to wear clogs with open backs and couldn’t keep my feet warm even with great socks. Switching to close toed shoes made a big difference. A vest can also be a nice alternative to a cardigan to keep your core warmer which helps with the extremities.

  16. TJ*

    OP #5: Me too. It’s awesome. I’m going to be really sad when I eventually have to leave.

  17. Volunteer Enforcer*

    5 – its perfectly normal. As a volunteer I am in a department of three managers, two of which I report to. Part of a good day is seeing them all. We all respect each other and have a good laugh, I feel really appreciated and get great work.

  18. Eng manager*

    #2, you’re aware that exposure to cold can cause nerve death for people with Raynaud’s, right? Get warmer clothes but also consider that not saying something can cause you real damage if you have any finger or toe seizures. I ended up with usb-powered gloves to heat my hands at one point.

    1. Hlyssande*

      USB heat gloves are amazing. The pair I have converts to mittens (and there is a heating element in the mitten part too).

      I actually use them as a mini heat pad for cramps more than for my hands now that I’m sitting against a window that gets sun for most of the day, but you really can’t go wrong with heating gloves as long as you have access to USB ports.

  19. Lexi*

    OP2 – you might want to get a thermometer. We had a problem with it being too hot and being able to grab the thermometer and say it’s 95 degrees helped during discussions. We finally got action after submitting a list of dates/times and temps.

    1. Xarcady*

      This is a good idea. I did the same thing in an office where the summer temperatures would hover around 80 degrees (F). No one believed me that it was too hot, but they believed the little digital thermometer I bought.

    2. blackcat*

      Back when I was teaching, my classroom was controlled by a central station, though there was a separate A/C unit for my wing. I once had the following discussion with facilities over the phone.

      Me: “Hi, can you get someone over here to look at my A/C? It’s currently 85 degrees in my classroom.”
      Facilities Guy: “Our system says its 72 in your classroom. Everything should be fine.”
      Me: “If the monitor says that, then something is wrong with the monitor. Can you send someone to look at it?”
      Facilities Guy: “No, not if its 72 degrees.”
      Me: “But it’s 85.”
      Facilities Guy: “It probably just seems warm to you because its sunny.”
      Me: “No. This is a science classroom. I have more than a dozen thermometers in this room. They’re all reading 30 degrees Celsius, which is 85 degrees Fahrenheit. It is definitely 85 degrees in here.”
      Facilities Guy: “Um. I’ll send someone to verify that.”
      Me: *Hang up in frustration*

      1. BeautifulVoid*

        Ah, the Facilities Guy. I won an argument with one once back when I was teaching. I had a general music class, and there was supposed to be an aide in there for the kids with special needs, but when there are budget cuts, the non-core subjects are the first to go for everything. After chasing one kid around the room for basically the whole class to prevent him from not touching/breaking any of the cellos and basses on their stands (no other place to put them), he ripped the thermostat out of the wall right before the bell rang.

        Me: Uh, one of my kids ripped the thermostat out of the wall, and I’m really sorry about that, and I tried fixing it, but there’s air coming out of the wall.
        Facilities Guy: What room is this?
        Me: (room number)
        Facilities Guy: That’s impossible, air can’t be coming out of that wall.
        Me: I’m standing right next to it. There is air coming out of the wall.
        Facilities Guy: It’s a cinderblock wall. Air can’t be coming out of it.
        Me: There. Is. Air. Coming. Out. Of. The. Wall.

        I actually walked down to his office and practically dragged him back to the room. “Hey, there’s air coming out of this wall!” *headdesk* Sure enough, the kid had snapped whatever line was attached to the thermostat and air was hissing out of it. I also got an aide in there the next day.

        I don’t miss teaching that much.

    3. Rebecca*

      I agree with this so much! I did this, as it was always so hot in my office, and others were freezing. Turns out it was routinely over 80 degrees and there are a lot of hot and cold spots. Now, we’ve been able to open and shut vents and finally have the air going where it needs to go.

    4. Ama*

      Yes, this. I worked in an office for a while that had a largely open floor plan in a building that was a block long. All the cooling ducts were on our end of the floor, so in the summer the people at the other end would get hot, and then they’d crank the a/c up so we would freeze. Finally my coworker brought in a thermometer and we were able to show the building staff that the temperature was regularly in the low 50s on our end of the floor. It didn’t stop the thermostat wars but it at least meant the building staff listened when we called them to complain.

      1. Cafe au Lait*

        A former supervisor did something similar! For whatever reason, the cooling ducts did not push out air in our corner of the building. The rooms on either side of us were freezing, but ours never had had air. Finally she attached ribbon to the air duct vent, and insisted that the head of maintenance come see for himself. He took one look, saw that the air wasn’t flowing and started to investigate. Apparently someone decided to shut off that vent since they thought “it didn’t go anywhere.”

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I’m on the top floor of my building, toward the east side. There is a definite difference between the west and east sides–you can actually feel it as you walk toward my cube. In summer, when the AC is on high, I freeze. In winter, I freeze. I keep a small fleece blanket in my footrest. The braces I wear for my wrists (the soft kind, sort of like the crafting ones) help keep my hands warm.

        No Reynaud’s here, but hypothyroid, so I am a little more sensitive to cold.

    5. Zaralynda*

      The funny thing about our HVAC folks is that they measure the temperature coming out of the ducts. If that temperature is 72, then they won’t do anything, regardless of the air temperature where I’m sitting. I had to get them to come measure in the winter (when ambient temperature is low) to prove that the HVAC system wasn’t doing anything in my office, then was able to get approved for a space heater (we aren’t allowed to have them in general).

      1. Anna*

        I had a supervisor go through the same thing. His office was sweltering in the summer. But no! It couldn’t be that hot because blah, blah, blah. They finally decided to look at it independently of the HVAC system and realized they may have some leaks to repair.

    6. newby*

      Yep. Last winter the radiator broke by my desk and maintenance refused to come look at it until I measured the temperature and told them that it was 4 degrees Celsius at my desk.

  20. Elizabeth*

    Re #5, It’s awesome to have a manager you like and admire, but you do need to be a bit careful that you don’t become blind to signs of trouble. I’m not saying you should become paranoid, suspicious or not admire your manager, just make sure you’re still sensible. I learned this one the hard way. In my first job out of college, I had a manager I really liked and admired. I was impressed by her knowledge and achievements and she seemed like a great person. Those things made me not take warning signs seriously. I trusted her enough to not question the fact that my pay didn’t seem to quite line up to what I understood I was legally entitled to (discovered after I left the job I was right). I let myself believe that since she was so experienced some dramatic and unexpected disciplinary action must not have been as bad as I experienced it to be. I explained away some things the business did that in hindsight were unprofessional and maybe borderline illegal. In so many ways the job turned very very bad. I hope nothing this dramatic will happen to you, but if it does I hope you’ll be able to see the signs to intervene early.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

      This is good advice.

      I love my direct report team as well as some of the other of the employees in my division. I love them! But it doesn’t change that this is still a job, and I’m still their boss and it’s still a professional relationship where everybody’s ultimate loyalties lie with the company for the source of paycheck and their families with the reason they are working.

      I’ve had my heart broken when somebody I loved turned out to not be who I thought they were – a few times, many years ago, before I learned how to enjoy the blessing of working with people I love while always keeping the professional relationship dynamic in the front of my mind. (Turns out, some folks can be really nice and loyal to a boss’s face and be actively working against them behind the scenes. Who knew such a thing could occur! I’ve also gotten way better judgement along the years about who to love, and how long I know someone before I let myself trust them as a person.)

      IDK if that all makes sense. It’s great to love as long as you never forget it’s business and what your priorities need to be.

    2. Sarahnova*

      Yeah, this.

      I do think it’s important to still keep in mind that it’s a business relationship – your boss may have to make hard decisions that affect you in future – and that there is a power dynamic, plus that your association is not voluntary. As long as you can keep a clear-eyed view of that, admire away, and hopefully you will have a long and productive relationship.

    3. Person of Interest*

      Yes, I came to say the same – with all of the upsides of this kind of relationship, it can be really hard to keep your perspective. One of my first bosses was a lovely, caring person – until I asked for more responsibility/pay and also later when I decided to move on. Then she became pretty emotionally manipulative, convincing me I wasn’t ready for responsibility over tasks I was already leading, or trying to get me to stay on, which made it so much harder to leave on good terms. Another boss, whom I still love and respect, made some leadership errors that I was too blind/naive to recognize until we were all getting laid off. So, I think my advice would be like Sarahnova said, just be aware of the actual workplace power dynamics and that at the end of the day, things may not play out like you would expect from a true friendship.

    4. themmases*

      This is really true. I had a boss at my first professional job that I loved and thought of as a mentor. The dynamics in my department made it easy to brush off any problems until overnight she decided to take away all my autonomy and stop crediting my work (I am in research, this is a huge deal) for no reason at all. She even started a false rumor about me to justify the changes. Other people were aware of this side of her, but no one wanted to mess up our relationship by telling me.

      That’s not to say you should automatically worry when you love your boss, just that it can be hard to look at the whole picture when you are new or really admire someone. In a good professional or mentoring relationship, you won’t need to put aside your own concerns. They will survive you doing what’s right for yourself– that may even be a goal– as long as you behave appropriately.

      I love the people I work for now. Each has at some point offered me help even though it was more work for them or might not benefit them. I don’t think someone has to do that to be a great boss, but it is something to consider when thinking about whether you can really trust someone. The opportunities I got from my old boss were all about me doing work she needed done in exchange for credit– in other words something totally normal– presented as a great opportunity for me.

    5. stevenz*

      Well, she does say that she has worked for her for three years so any issues that were going to come up probably would have by now. From my experience it’s hard for me to believe any manager can be *that* good, but I take OP at her word.

  21. Fish Microwaer*

    OP #2, any sympathy I might have felt for you evaporated on reading your snarky comment about the VP and needing a cool office because of menopause.

    1. Mookie*

      A sliver of this I agree with, in that both the LW and the VP are suffering from opposing sensitivities to temperature*–although exacerbating Raynaud’s disease and phenomenon actually poses a serious risk to the sufferer–but “complaints all around” almost sounds like some people are complaining, perhaps behind the scenes, that they are uncomfortably hot with the present temperature while others uncomfortably cold. So, VP might be in a rough spot there. That said, I don’t think the LW was intending to be snarky but to explain about competing needs and that the VP’s in the unique position, apparently, of governing the gauge, which she does to suit her own (unless this is conjecture and the VP never referenced her menopause in a conversation about AC control).

      *the difference is, the VP doesn’t know the LW is suffering and is not blithely going around trying to make her miserable or ignoring her discomfort; we don’t know how she’ll react were the LW to discuss this with her in the context of a medical issue, and the reaction could be quite accommodating

      1. Liane*

        All around reads that the VP is hearing complaints from everyone, presumably that they are too cold.

    2. Zillah*

      Huh? That’s really not how I read it at all – the point I took away was that it’s frustrating to have the VP who has control over the temperature in her office express that she’s tired of people complaining about the temperature when she gets to avoid the issue.

      1. stevenz*

        Agree with this. I think it is very insensitive and arrogant on the part of the VP to say such a thing when she’s in a privileged position.

    3. LBK*

      How was that snarky? I thought the OP was just pointing out that the manager doesn’t have a good sense of the issue because she has her own space with its own climate control, so she doesn’t really know or care what the temperature is like outside of her office.

      1. Doreen*

        I think that point could have been gotten across without the mention of menopause and air conditioning in December

        1. fposte*

          Speaking as somebody with menopause and my own thermostat, I didn’t find it snarky.

    4. Petronella*

      Yes, that was an unnecessary poke from the OP. After all, every menopausal older lady was once a slim young thing shivering in her sundress.

      1. A Middle Aged Person Who Still Has A Circulatory Disorder*

        Though somehow I doubt every menopausal older lady was once a young “thing” with an actual circulatory disorder.

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        Nah, I’ve basically been a menopausal older lady my entire life. ;-)

  22. Gaara*

    #2, definitely go to HR about your health condition. There’s a good chance they’ll make an exception and let you have a space heater (there’s also a chance they will have to). Although they could push back about your clothing choices (would socks and closed toed shoes help?), so be prepared to talk about that.

  23. shep*

    #2–I commiserate. I’ve had to purchase several new outfits for work just because it’s freezing in my office. I used to wear dresses all the time, but now it’s leggings and a nice blouse. I also rock blankets and jackets in my office.

    1. shep*

      Another suggestion, as others have said: If you can get a small heater, go for it. I’d love to do that myself, but they’re prohibited in my office.

    2. Katniss*

      Yup, I’m constantly cold at work and have cardigans and scarves there even in summer. One coworker asks at l say once a week why. I don’t know many times I’m supposed to explain that I’m cold.

    3. Lindsay J*

      My office is always cold. I wear a big woolly hoodie all the time, which completely covers my cute outfits, but it’s better than freezing.

    4. Lia*

      Office suites in my building have their own thermostats, and there’s one on my floor where the manager has set it to 60, because he runs super hot (plus he has a treadmill desk). His secretary wears a fleece, pants, and warm socks year-round. She had a space heater for a while until he complained that it made the outer office “too warm”.

      He’s on a one-year contract — I hope his successor is a little more humane temperature wise for her sake!

  24. Nicole*


    I don’t have Raynauds but have issues with my fingers and toes getting cold easily too so I sympathize.


    Ditch the summer dresses for work. Yea, it sucks, but wouldn’t you rather be comfortable?

    Wear a pair of wool socks over a pair of nylons. This combo works wonders over just wearing more than one pair of regular socks.

    Consider wearing Ugg type boots in the office (Target sold a reasonably priced version) or any type of fur-lined boot.

    Buy some Hot Hands hand and toe Warmers.

    Wear fingerless gloves.

    Buy a lavaseat from Bed Bath and Beyond. You heat up the inner pouch in the microwave and it stays warm for hours. I would place it on my lap and put hands on it to warm them up.

    Use an electric blanket.

    And the single best purchase I made to use in my office that doesn’t allow space heaters – a Cozy Toes heated floor mat ( It isn’t cheap but was well worth the investment.

    Good luck!

    1. Meg Murry*

      Yes – I was coming to suggest this. Our office doesn’t allow space heaters, but we can have the heated footrests, and it really does make all the difference to put your feet directly on a warm spot.

      I also agree with everyone else that you aren’t helping your case by wearing open toed shoes and summer dresses, unless you are in a situation where you have to spend parts of your day in conference rooms or outdoors where it isn’t so freezing cold. Wearing a summer dress and then wrapping yourself in a blanket just makes you look silly – dress for the appropriate conditions in your office, even if that means wearing open toed shoes on your commute and then putting on socks, shoes and a cardigan (with pants obviously, not a dress) once you get to your office.

      One of my coworkers takes public transit or walks in the summer, which means she gets quite hot on her commute, but it’s too cold in our office for outdoor clothes. She wears a lightweight shirt, a knit skirt and sandals or slip ons to work, then once she gets to work she pulls on pants, socks and shoes and a cardigan or blazer and puts away the knit skirt and summer shoes until it’s time to go home. Is it annoying to have to change? Yes, but she’s going to be at the office for 9+ hours a day and she doesn’t want to suffer. Due to the work we do, our workspace is 68-72 degrees year round – which is normally pretty comfortable, but feels crazy cold when it’s 90+ degrees outside. I’ve learned that it means that I adjust my layers for going outside, but at work that means I wear pants + t-shirt + cardigan, all year round.

      1. Evergreen*

        Yes! Speak to your company about heated footrests (or radiant floor mats). And do your research too – these use significantly less energy to provide same thermal comfort and therefore have limited effect on the building AC system. Having your company buy a proper one from a reputable manufacturer (and getting it tag tested etc) will help mitigate any fire risks (generally this is why heaters are banned)

    2. RVA Cat*

      Just posting to add that I’m seeing a lot of cowboy boots with summer dresses so that’s another option (and this is on the East Coast).

  25. Allison*

    #1, I second Alison’s advice. Even if she’s known for being a hard worker, I wouldn’t feel comfortable sticking my neck out for someone with a history of destructive behavior, especially when we’re personally not on good terms! I know a part of you wants to help her get her life back together, but it’s really rude of her to expect a reference from you while deliberately freezing you out.

    1. Jennifer*

      I would politely say that I haven’t spoken to her in a year and can’t speak for anything that’s gone on since then. If you’re feeling nice, you can say what your experience of her was before her trouble, but…I don’t know if you even want to go there.

  26. Tuckerman*

    #1 I wonder if if your friend applied for this position when you two were talking. I work in academia and have seen the hiring process take a year. Not that this should change how you handle the phone call, but it might explain why you’re being contacted for a reference when you haven’t spoken in so long.

  27. Little Teapot*

    OP#5 – I love my manager too! I’ve been there for 8 years and we’re not close in age at all (me 29, her 50-60ish). She’s been brilliant; a real mentor, always has time for me, gives great advice, always goes above and beyond. She’s incredible. I’ve told her if she ever leaves I’ll try and follow. I feel so lucky I have a brilliant manager who has my back and helps me progress. My partner is SO SICK of me saying ‘do you know how much I love Manager?’ That manager’s name is banned in our house haha.

  28. Cube Diva*

    My current manager is also amazing. She’s been here for 16 years, and I’m at almost three. It’s usually just the two of us on business trips (in fact, we have one this week, too), and it’s a really friendly professional relationship. It took me a few jobs/managers to get a great one, but I am so thankful I now know what that looks like!

    It’s actually the thing that keeps me in this job when things get really rough. Then it gets better when the job duties even out. :)

  29. Shinsekai-Yori*

    #1 Is it possible that this person has your number / email blocked without realising it? Like, she blocked you a year ago and then forgot about it and now she doesn’t realise you are unable to contact her because she’s never unblocked you?

    I had this happen back when I was a teenager, when I took a private argument to a public forum (note: I don’t recommend doing this. Like I said, I was a teenager). When the other person (rightly) got angry with me for doing so, I had to point out that she had blocked me from contacting her privately and while she could PM me (which is what started the argument) I had no way of PMing her back. She hadn’t realised this at all when she first messaged me. We both apologized, worked out our argument, and went on with our lives :)

    1. fposte*

      Could be, but it’s on the requester to figure it out, so “I haven’t been in touch” is still an appropriate response.

      1. Shinsekai-Yori*

        You’re definitely right about that, and I didn’t mean to imply otherwise. I was just suggesting one possible explaination for this person’s bizarre behaviour where she used the OP as a reference while not reacting to the OPs attempts to contact her. Because if this isn’t what happened… Well, it’s bizarre :/

  30. Not Karen*

    #4 If they haven’t already brought up the travel, they probably aren’t going to pay. At the two places that have paid for me, it was in one breath: “We’d like to invite you in for an on-site interview. Jane will contact you shortly to discuss travel arrangements.”

  31. kittymommy*

    LW#2, I have nerve damage in both hands, so when my office gets cold my fingers end up becoming stiff and painful with limited function. Considering one of my primary job functions is computer work, this can be a little irritating (to put it mildly); this isn’t even including just personal comfort – many times I am literally shivering because of the cold. Dressing warmer becomes a little difficult due to where I’m at, currently in central Florida. It’s going to get in the mid-high 80’s today (which is kinda low for us in June) and that’s only due to a tropical storm about to hit. It’s 8am in the morning and we’re already at 85% humidity. Wearing a coat/sweater/turtleneck in the middle of summer isn’t really that practical, especially if you want to go outside for longer than a minute. Wrapping up in a blanket also isn’t easy to do and still be able to move around a desk (it also wouldn’t be acceptable at my current job). Right now I wear a lot of suits and always pantyhose (even under pant suits) and I’m still cold. The fingerless gloves may be an option, but I’ve never even heard of a heated keyboard – I may need to look into that

    1. Andrea*

      I’m also in central Florida and sometimes when it is 90+ outside, my office is in the 60s, but it’s inconsistent, so I can’t really do much about it. I wear layers, and keep blankets and fingerless gloves in my office.

  32. HeeHaw*

    OP, I hope you really push back on the start date and stick with what you originally agreed to. Sure, there may be circumstances where it is a win-win for you to go ahead and start. But, keep in mind, at many organizations it is very difficult to string together a consecutive two-week vacation, especially in your first year on the job. Of course, not all organizations or jobs are this way. However, you don’t know otherwise, so it would be safer to assume that this will be your last chance for a while (possibly several years) to take a vacation of this length. The initial learning curve can be quite steep at many jobs and it is better to show up on Day 1 refreshed and ready to go. Again, there may be a legitimate reason that would make starting earlier beneficial to you, but otherwise I would really stick to your guns and avoid it if possible.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      I agree — I bet there aren’t really that many brownie points to be gained by saying yes, but there’s a LOT of rest and relaxation to be gained with a two-week break.

      I called the week-plus I took between jobs last year my “ritual purification” in which I rid myself of all of the baggage from my shitty previous boss. It felt GREAT!

      1. HeeHaw*

        Yep, I once started a job on Monday after last day at my previous job on Friday. Never again (if I can help it). To me at least, it’s worth the one week loss of pay just to get a little sanity back before I take on a new role. Granted, I usually work myself to death the last week of any job trying to tie up loose ends and leave things in a good state for others. And, I’m pretty sure my new employer is not going to be impressed if I’m falling asleep at my desk on my first day. So, yeah, time off between jobs really works to everyone’s benefit.

    2. OP3*

      Thanks, I ended up using the second script about having already made commitments, and my boss replied right away saying that she understands and we can stick to the original start date. I really do need this vacation after a 5-year program!

  33. Ad Astra*

    I think it makes sense for OP #2 to talk to her manager or HR about what they can do for her specifically. While I think most people would be willing to turn the ambient temperature up a degree or two to help a coworker with a health problem, it’s difficult to precisely control the ambient temperature in a decently sized building. That’s why the only choices tend to be arctic and hellfire.

    I’ve seen a lot of suggestions like heated blankets and hand warmers, which sound like good options (in my uneducated opinion, anyway).

  34. Lorio*

    #2: I also constantly struggle with being freezing in my office and am constantly swaddling myself in blankets and extra sweaters. My last place of employment also didn’t allow space heaters and I know that what helped me IMMENSELY was hot water bottles! I know they’re very old fashioned but they’re very cheap (on amazon for around $10) and VERY effective. I’ll fill mine with boiling water in the morning and hold it on my lap under my blanket and the heat will last all day. It’s one of the few things I’ve found that really warms me up (including cold hands and feet).

    I know it would be ideal if your employer made accommodations for you, but in the meantime I wanted to give you this piece of advice in the hopes that it give you some kind of relief!

    1. Artemesia*

      There are pads filled with microwavable substances often just groats which hold heat well and can be reheated as they cool. A lot less messy and weird looking than hot water bottles. You can even fill a large sock with beans or lentils or groats and make your own for practically nothing if strapped for cash. And there are seat warmers like a heated seat in a car. I hate being cold and if space heaters are not allowed then I would cope with the heated socks, seat warmer and heated gloves.

    2. Jo*

      I just came here to say please rethink filling hot water bottles with actual boiling water. The safety instructions usually warm you to use hot, not boiling water – so if you have a boiling water tap rather than kettle, put a bit of cold in first. We had one burst at my workplace and the owner was taken to hospital with bad scald burns, it really taught me not to gamble with that aspect!

      If you were just speaking hyperbolically, fab, ignore me! :)

    3. Lindsay J*

      I find cute hot water bottles at Ross and Marshalls all the time. They’re usually over by the soaps/beauty tools/beauty products shelf. I was contemplating picking up one yesterday – it was blue and had drawings of the eiffle tower on it. I’ve also seen pink ones with hearts (maybe?) and flowers on them.

  35. a_non_ymous*

    I have a mild case of Raynaud’s, and I use those air activated hand warmers. They have ones that can stick to the soles of your shoes, too. I find that they can last me all day. I’ve given up on wearing dresses and skirts and just stick to pants. I also find that it helps a lot to wear socks. Sometimes I’ll layer up to three pairs of socks, including a pair of knee socks and a pair of wool socks. I just make sure to put a nice pair of black socks over them. It doesn’t look great wearing socks with dress shoes, but it’s better than being freezing and in pain all day.

  36. azvlr*

    #5 I too love my manager! It’s great that you recognize how rare and precious this is. In my life, I have gone from some very rosy situations (awesome team, awesome supportive circle of friends, awesome manager – not all at once but at various times) to not-so-great situations. It came as a heart-breaking shock that the rest of the world did not operate the same way.

    Learn all you can from this manager about what normal and healthy should look like, then when you go to your next situation, you can enter with your eyes wide open. Also, so not be as afraid as I to go into the new environment saying, “We did it like this at Old Job. Can we try it here?”

  37. Ihmmy*

    Could OP1 get in trouble for talking about the alcoholism as it’s often classed as a medical concern? I mean, yes it affects the persons performance as it’s crossed into work, but it seems like a potentially problematic thing to bring up.

    1. Lindsay J*

      OP is not a medical professional so HIPAA would not apply and I don’t know any other law that would affect the disclosure of medical information by a layman. It’s generally not considered a socially acceptable thing to go gossiping about someone’s medical condition, but unless you’re in the medical field and know the information because of that, it’s not something you can get into legal trouble for (assuming the information is true. If it’s false and they can prove damages from it they could make a case for libel or slander).

    2. Augusta Sugarbean*

      A person’s medical providers are the ones who are prohibited from discussing medical issues without a release of information. HIPAA doesn’t apply to people you’ve put down for references :-)

    3. Observer*

      It seems that current alcoholism may not be treated like a disability in terms of ADA. In any case, even if current alcoholism qualifies as an ADA disability, the ADA explicitly allows an employer to define reasonable core expectations, and then hire / fire based on those expectations. So, an employer CAN require regular attendance as part of their core expectations, and if someone is not able to meet that need, then the employer doesn’t have to hire them even if they have a medical need.

      In terms of the fact that this is potentially a medical thing, that’s not really relevant. Individuals are not bound by HIPAA unless they come by their information through employment at a covered entity (eg you are a doctor or are employed in a doctor’s office.) That doesn’t apply to the OP.

  38. Episkey*

    My dad has diabetes and his feet tend to get really cold — he isn’t allowed a space heater either, so my mom found him this floor pad that plugs in and heats up and he takes his shoes off and puts his feet on the pad. He said it helps. For him, it’s the winter that more of the problem as his office isn’t sufficiently heated.

    1. Lady Kelvin*

      I was coming her to recommend that. Our last apartment was really poorly insulated, so we either paid super high electricity bills all winter or I dealt with it being cold all day since I work from home. I have a heated pad that plugs in for my feet and it is awesome for keeping my toes warm. It is so awesome that my dog will crawl under the desk to sleep on it and try to force my feet out of the way. We end up compromising with my feet between her and the mat, then I get warmth from both directions.

  39. NoWorries*

    This is letter writer one here, and thanks for the responses so far. I know this person very well, we went through a shared unpleasant experience which I’m not going to elaborate upon, but we were the victims. During that time, we both had to deal with our other friends and and loved ones, who had varying degrees of sympathy and/or culpability. She apparently turned to heavy drinking, worsening after we lost contact. I did not think of the fact that she might have me blocked, which is entirely possible, but I know of no other way to reach her.

    I’m probably going to go with Alison’s suggested response of stating that I’ve been out of contact, but I’m concerned that this could negatively effect her chances. I just want her to stay on her feet and, more importantly, I really want to avoid ever having to deal with her in a professional capacity with my role in law enforcement.

    1. Sarahnova*

      Please do remind yourself that you haven’t done anything to negatively affect your friend’s chances – she listed you as a reference, despite apparently not being in touch with you or willing to speak to you, and if any negative implications are drawn from you saying you can’t act as a reference, they will be on her. Alison’s suggested actions are professional and compassionate, and all you can do.

      Your warm wishes towards your friend do you credit.

    2. Recruit-o-rama*

      I don’t have advice for you but I want to express my sympathies. Dealing with addicts can be so heartbreaking. On one hand, addicts can cause so much damage to themselves and others and it’s easy and totally justifiable to be angry at them. It’s also true that only part of it is on their control and people have varying levels of success in overcoming addiction. They are simultaneously victims of a real medical condition and perpetrators of real abuse of others. It’s very difficult to see a loved one destroy themselves. I hope your friend is able to overcome her addictions and that eventually you can be friends again.

  40. peachie*

    I so understand the issues with coldness in the office. I haven’t been officially diagnosed with Raynaud’s, but an NP friend of mine strongly suspects I have it (always cold, numbing in extremities, sometimes my fingers and feet turn blotchy white or purple) and yes — it is MUCH more than just being a little uncomfortable. It’s painful and sometimes so bad I can’t work (I remember one day my hands were so numbed I lost the ability to type).

    I’m definitely going to try crafter’s gloves or fingerless gloves, as others have suggested.

    This doesn’t help with your hands or feet, but I’ve also started using direct-on-skin heat therapy patches for cramps, and they have the wonderful additional benefit of heating you up at the same time. Sometimes if I’m extra cold I sit with my hands on the patch for a few minutes. It doesn’t solve the problem, but it helps a little.

  41. greenbeans*

    #2. I have Reynaud’s too. When I worked in a cold office, I kept a pair of thick, fuzzy slippers under my desk. I didn’t walk around in them, but when I was at my desk and my feet weren’t visible, I had those puppies on. It helped a lot. Hands are harder though for sure.

  42. A. Nonymous*


    She may not be using you as a job reference at all. If she ever used you as a personal reference to a loan and then defaulted on that loan, the collection agency can call you in their attempts to find her. This is a really common tactic called “Skip Tracing”.

    You’ll know for sure if they call again after you spoke to them telling them that you don’t know her. Legally they’re allowed to call you every 7 days unless you tell them not to.

    It’s super shady, but legal

    1. NoWorries*

      That actually did not occur to me at all. I’ll be on the lookout to see if that’s actually what’s going on here.

  43. SMG7*

    #2–I totally get that it sucks to have to adjust your wardrobe. But (and this is unfair) perception counts for a lot. People may see your outfits and think ‘Well, she can’t be THAT cold! She’s wearing open-toed shoes!’ Perhaps the sight of an individual wearing heavy, warm clothes with gloves and blankets in the middle of summer will startle them into realizing ‘Oh, wow, she’s really in pain.’ A lot of the suggestions above such as heated blankets and ‘fingerless’ gloves are good ones. I empathize–I have always sat in open areas and have no control over heat, AC, bright fluorescent lights, etc. I hope the situation improves.

  44. Catabodua*

    There was a time at old job where I shared space with a woman who was the complete opposite of me as to temperatures. It was sort of a horrible set up, the kind of old building where they put walls up where they weren’t originally planned so some offices had 3 vents and some had one.

    She and I shared an office with a cubicle wall in the middle and right above it was the vent. I was always cold, she was always warm.

    We put a cardboard shoot made out of a copier paper box top up where in the winter I got all the heat and in the summer she got all the A/C. It wasn’t perfect, but it helped so much.

    We had that setup for 4 years, until a new manager started and told us our cardboard made the office look “trashy” and made us take it down. Ass.

  45. Purple fingers*

    I have severe raynauds and it’s definitely hard to cope with. Best tip I ever got is to overheat your body so that your warm blood goes to your fingers. Wear a couple layers and a jacket if possible. I’ve found that sporting clothes are better than regular clothes but your dress code may not allow that.

    Ultimately I got sick of people laughing at my purple hands and extreme amounts of layers and had to work from home.

  46. MommaTRex*

    OP #5 – I think it is one of those things where more people talk about the negative instead of the positive.
    I have had both great and horrible managers. A horrible manager can drain the life force right out of you. When your life sucks because your manager sucks, you want to talk about it A LOT. When your manager is awesome, life is awesome and you have more energy to talk about beautiful things or be a sounding board for people who have terrible managers.

    Good managers happen. And it is wonderful. Appreciate them. Learn from them.
    You can also learn a lot about terrible managers from your friends, hopefully enabling you to avoid them in the future! (and not become one)

  47. neverjaunty*

    OP #1, I am going to be that person. Do not recommend someone for job purely because you believe they have a “good heart” despite bad behavior. Do not recommend someone for a job because you heard, third-hand, that at a different time in their life, when circumstances were very different, they could have been a good employee.

    How would you feel having to work with a train wreck of a co-worker (or worse, supervisor) who got the job because somebody who felt sorry for them lied for them?

  48. JennyFair*

    Re: #1- ‘Cutting back’ is not really a thing for alcoholics, or a helpful approach. If a person is in control of their drinking, they aren’t an alcoholic. In most cases, you can’t help them until they’re ready, but one of the questions I’ve been given (by my alcoholic parent who has been in recovery for about 30 years) to ask in an attempt to prod them towards realizing they have a problem is, “Have you ever started the day promising yourself you aren’t going to drink, but then wind up drinking?”

  49. SusanIvanova*

    Any fellow Raynauds people have suggestions for guitar players? I love my fingerless gloves when I’m typing but they’re either so loose-fitting they catch on the strings, or they have short finger sections (as opposed to looking like chopped-off mittens) and no matter how thin the fabric, the doubled-over hems interfere with getting my fingers into chord position.

    1. Liza*

      If you knit, or have a friend who knits, you could try Cheryl Niamath’s free “Fetching” pattern (if you search for “cheryl niamath fetching knitty” without quote marks, it’s the first result). It doesn’t have fingers, and you can make it shorter or longer as you wish.

  50. Anne*

    LW 2: I have had the opposite problem. I used to get very, very hot at my old school. It was explained to me by the facilities folks that it had to do with the air ducts and the air not distributing evenly. One thermostat controlled four classrooms. If one classroom was comfortable then the others were either freezing or burning up. All four were never in sync. Then I got menopause and became even more miserable. I had to buy a new lightweight wardrobe and cut my hair really short. By the end of the day I often had migraines which were caused by the heat. Try teaching thirty high school students during 7th period with the glare of the sun shining through an entire wall of windows. The students were hot as well; but there was nothing I could do. I reiterate, I would be physically ill by the end of the day.

    Speaking as someone who has suffered in the workplace because of the cooling/heating situation, I would resent someone complaining about about being cold who is wearing inappropriate clothing. I may not say anything, but I would definitely think to myself, “Why are you wearing that dress and those shoes if you are so cold?” I would think, “I’ve had to cut my hair and buy new clothes so why do you insist on wearing that outfit?”

    Thank goodness the temperature in my new school in comfortable. Yay!!

  51. specialist*

    Raynaud’s was first written up over 100 years ago. When just the abnormal response to cold stimuli it is termed Raynaud’s Disease, when it is a symptom of an underlying condition it is termed Raynaud’s Phenomenon. It is usually the result of an overactive sympathetic response which severely constricts arterial inflow into the digits. Women are more commonly affected. It is a component of scleroderma and CREST syndrome. It is a common reaction after hand injury and in these cases tends to improve with successive years. Vasoconstriction can be so severe as to lead to gangrene and amputation. First and foremost in treatment–stop things that trigger the constriction. Smoking is absolutely contraindicated as is all forms of nicotene. Cold avoidance strategy is very important. Use oven gloves when removing items from the freezer. Always dress appropriately for the weather/temperature. That means the summer weight clothing in a cold office is out. You wear clothing appropriate to the temperature of the office, which means you wear cuddleduds, silk long undies, sweaters, long sleeves, tights, pants, snuggies, foot warmers, gloves, hand warmers, etc. Disease comes before cute. Paraffin baths are helpful. Take time to warm up between cold exposures–may have to take a break from clearing the driveway of snow and let the hands warm up. Low dose nifedipine is helpful in those who can tolerate it. Botox injections have been shown to be very effective for several months at a time, but are expensive. Digital artery sympathectomy is effective, but involved. Ulnar artery occlusion can be seen commonly in some variants, resection or reconstruction with vein graft is very helpful. Start with your primary care doctor. Nothing will “cure” you so that you can wear summer things in a cold office.

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