is your resume supposed to stretch the truth, office bathrooms aren’t working, and more

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

1. Employer wants us to come to work even though our bathrooms won’t be working

I work at a university, and we received notice last week that water will be shut off for all buildings on our street on Tuesday.. We are expected to come to work (there is a strict “no work-from-home” policy) and to use restrooms at nearby university buildings, the closest one being a block away. My office is on the fourth floor of what used to be a house, so there is no elevator (unless I go down one floor, cross over to the adjoining building, and take the old and extremely slow elevator from there). This means that whenever I need a bathroom, I will need to spend a minimum of 5-10 minutes trying to get to one.

Our HR department tends to be very by-the-books, so I suppose the availability of facilities in other university-owned buildings covers any potential OSHA violations, so this isn’t a question of “is this legal.” I’m interested in whether you think HR is making the right call by mandating that we come to work rather than making an exception to the work-from-home policy.

(For what it’s worth, I am considering asking my manager to make a personal exception or to allow me to use PTO. I think it’s absurd and a huge waste of time to have to leave the building and scale four flights of stairs twice every time I need a restroom.)

Nope, I think they’re making a bad call. It’s not reasonable to ask people to take a 5-10-minute (or longer) hike when they need a bathroom. And how is this going to apply to people with disabilities who may not be able to easily accommodate that?

I’m also not sure it’s legal. OSHA requires bathrooms to be available “at every worksite,” although I’m not sure how they’re defining that. They also mandate that “employers allow employees prompt access to bathroom facilities,” and that “restrictions on access must be reasonable, and may not cause extended delays.”

2. Are you supposed to stretch the truth on your resume?

Are you supposed to pad your resume somewhat when applying for jobs? I just recently landed a new job six months ago, and the resume I sent to my now-boss was a 100% valid list of projects I completed and examples of going above and beyond. In other words, I didn’t lie or stretch the truth about my experience or skill levels.

So far two other employees have been hired in my department. It came to light that both of them lied on their resumes to some degree, and the jobs they were hired for were well above their experience level. One has been fired, and the other is there still but floundering. My remaining coworker has the same job title as me, and I can’t help but feel resentment that we are getting paid roughly the same but I have more experience. She accidentally let it slip that she worked with tea pot makers in her last job, but never actually worked as one. In my experience, it’s common to liaison with other departments at any job, but that doesn’t mean you gain the knowledge to be competent at their position through interacting with them. My boss and others have also voiced concerns privately that she padded her resume to get the job.

I’m not sure if I should be kicking myself now, as I feel I somewhat undersold myself and question if I could have gotten a better job. On the other hand, my skills and experience are not being questioned like my other coworkers, and that’s a position I never want to be in.

What?! No, you shouldn’t be kicking yourself, and no, you are not supposed to stretch the truth when applying for jobs. Your two coworker are perfect examples of why — one has been fired for lying on her resume, and the other is struggling and in poor standing.

Misrepresenting your experience can seriously harm your career for all the reasons I talk about here.

3. Coworker keeps commenting on my pregnant body

I work at a growing medical center, I am the owner’s assistant/ medical biller/ accounts payables and receivables. I have been with the company for about three years. I am five months pregnant. My weight is normally around 118 and my height is 5’0. At this point in my pregnancy, I’ve gained 10 pounds, which according to my doctor is a good amount of weight at this point in the pregnancy.

Well, the director of operations, who is the owner’s right hand, has been constantly commenting about my body in front of my coworkers. She says things to me like “you’ve got a turtle body since you got pregnant” and “what a strange body you have now, you’re so wide.” It makes me very uncomfortable. Is this okay? Because I really think those comments are very unnecessary whether it be in front of others or when I’m alone with her. Please advise.

Hell, no, that’s not okay. That’s incredibly rude, and you have every right to tell her to stop. The next time she makes one of these comments, say this: “Jane, please don’t comment on my body. Thank you.” If she continues after that, say, “I’ve asked you not to comment on my body. You’re being incredibly rude.” You can also try, “Why would you say that?” and “I really don’t want to hear your thoughts on my body. Please stop.”

4. How different should your thank-you notes be from each other, when sending several of them?

I read your post on writing multiple thank-you notes for multiple interviews. I was wondering how different you should make those notes from one another. How personalized do they need to be? Can you write everyone a note saying essentially the same thing, or would that look insincere?

You definitely don’t want them to all say the same thing! Even if they’re going to different people, interviewers will often share them with each other, and you don’t want them to look like form letters.

Keep in mind that post-interview thank-you notes aren’t really about thanking them; they’re about following up on the conversation and reiterating your interest and enthusiasm. You can make each note different by building on whatever was discussed in the most recent conversation.

5. Sharing a personal reason for wanting to work for a nonprofit

I went through a phone interview two weeks ago with a nonprofit that deals with cancer research and awareness. During the interview, the interviewer asked me why I want to work for them. Well, I answered that it’s because I want to help them with creating more awareness for cancer, and my grandmother had the cancer and passed away three years ago. Overall, the interview went very well and she said the next steps in the hiring process would be to invite candidates to an in-person interview.

It’s been almost two weeks and she didn’t invite me for another interview. Did I make a mistake by telling her my personal reason of why I want to work there?

I doubt it. It’s pretty normal to share that kind of thing when interviewing for a health-related or cause-related nonprofit; they hear that sort of thing all the time.

That said, it’s generally going to be a stronger answer is it’s not just about a family member’s situation. Ideally you’d also talk about what appeal to you about their approach and the particular job that you’re interviewing for.

{ 191 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous Educator*

    For #5, two weeks is also a very short time. You don’t know how much time they have to devote to interviewing or how many phone screens they’re doing before inviting in in-person interviews. Sometimes hiring managers will run interview processes concurrently (some phone screens happening simultaneously with other in-person interviews). Other times, they’ll do all the phone screens and then whittle it down to which candidates to invite for in-person interviews.

    1. SeekingBetter*

      Yes, two weeks can be a short time for an organizations’ hiring process. I did remember the hiring manager for this position telling me that it will only take a week for her to decide which candidates to bring in for an in-person interview. It’s possible that I’m not one of her best candidates. Oh well, if I hear from them, that’d be great.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        It’s fairly normal for processes to take longer than even the hiring manager thinks (in other words, if they tell you, “We’ll get back to you in a week,” that could mean anything from “We’ll get back to you in a week and a day” to “We’ll get back to you in a month” or “We’ll get back to you never”).

        It’s certainly possible you’re not one of her best candidates. It’s also possible you are her best candidate. You just can’t know. No point in second-guessing at this point.

    2. Nella*

      I am applying for a Canadian government job and now am in month 3 or 4, maybe even 5 of the hiring process. It has been that long since I applied, that I have forgotten just how long I have been waiting.

      1. SeekingBetter*

        That’s a long time! I hope you get the job, though. As for me, Anonymous Educator is right about the “We’ll get back to you in a week.” It also means maybe, later, or never. *Sigh*

  2. heaven help me*

    LW#2 – This is why the hiring process need questions directly related to the knowledge and experience need to do the job.

    1. MK*

      Yes. OP, what you need to take front this isn’t that you need to pad your resume to get a better job, just that your company needs to get better at hiring. They stroke out twice in the last few months; that’s a sign that they are doing something wrong. Don’t do anything like this; at another company, you probably won’t even get the job and harm your reputation.

    2. Joseph*

      Exactly. At companies with a more detailed reference check, LW#2’s lying co-workers would never have gotten a job in the first place.

    3. OP#2*

      Thanks, I have to admit I’ve been at the same company for two decades wearing various hats, and this was my first job at a new company. It’s been a bit bizarre at the new job, and the whole experience left me shaking my head and questioning if this what people really do. I guess I already knew the answer which is just common sense.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Yes! And – I wouldn’t feel jealous or bad that the other two got the job that way. The first one has already been fired, and the second one will likely lose the job (from the sounds of it) and also leave a terrible reference behind. Neither of them is going to have a solid reference from this.

        You came in with the projects and abilities you claimed, and your position, standing, and reference are solid, and your salary secure.

        1. Kyrielle*

          Well, as secure as any salary ever is, but you’re in a much better position for keeping your job based on performance, I mean.

  3. Audiophile*

    #3 I’ve mainly sent the same notes to everyone, with some slight variations. When it’s been an interview with multiple people and everyone’s asked a different question, it’s been easier to make some part of the letter different. Otherwise, I find it difficult.

  4. Polka dot bird*

    “You’ve got a turtle body” – ??? What is she even talking about? It’s clear that this lady a) is quite rude, and b) is projecting her own issues around weight and/or pregnancy onto you.

    Alison’s advice is great. I’d also add that calmly walking away if she keeps going on is also a good strategy to back your words up – go to the kitchen, the bathroom, the records store, whatever. She’s being rude and it’s not okay.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      Why? Why would anyone think it’s okay to make comments to a pregnant woman about her body?

      WHY?! My head is exploding.

      1. Expecting*

        Yes, these are rude and straight-up bizarre comments. I’m also pregnant, and a few of my coworker’s that I’m very close to sometimes comment about my appearance – but in complimentary and rather sweet ways. “Oh, I can she’s growing in there!” and “You are looking beautiful!” come to mind. (These are women who are old enough to be my mother and are feeling kind of grandma-esque excitement.)

      2. Observer*

        Actually, why would anyone think it’s ok to make comments on anyone’s body, at all?

        I get that there are SOME exceptions. Like if there is a legitimate health concern that you raise in privet ONCE. But just random comments about how “strange” your body is or categorizing the shape? eeeew.

        How rude. And utterly unprofessional.

      3. many bells down*

        When I was pregnant and teaching, the father of one of my students offered me his wife’s old maternity underwear. Caught off guard (obviously), I stammered out something about my regular underwear being just fine under my belly. His response was “Well, that’s not very attractive.”

        At that point my brain finally woke up and I said “The attractiveness of my underwear is not your concern!”

            1. Marisol*

              Well I’m pretty impressed that you thought to tell him “The attractiveness of my underwear is not your concern!” Hopefully he learned from your comment.

    2. Artemesia*

      When I saw the headline I thought ‘oh they are making the usual, ‘wow you are getting huge, is it twins’ or ‘you look like you are about to pop’ comments. These are inappropriate but sort of typical cloddish remarks not meant to demean. After all getting big is what happens when you are pregnant. But the examples the OP gave her are creepy. Such specific comments about the shape of the body? Shudder. This is beyond over the line and should be shut down as Alison suggests. If asking doesn’t help this is one to take to HR or her boss; this is creepy and completely ‘off’.

      FWIW. I had a close friend who endured ‘Wow, you are huge, is it twins?’ remarks from the 5th month on and was heartily sick of saying ‘no I am just getting big.’ After they delivered her first son, they discovered there was another and she much to her total shock went home with two little boys.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Even the ‘is it twins’ or the like comments are rude and can be kindly shut down in the same way Alison suggested, but yes, the ones the OP is enduring are even weirder and creepier, and deserve a shutdown very much.

        And oh my for your friend! Now there’s a family story to enjoy, once recovered from the shock.

    3. Snork Maiden*

      Not only is the “turtle body” remark rude, it’s also confusing. Turtles have shells on their backs. And they give birth by laying eggs. And they walk on four legs. Or maybe she meant Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?

      On second thought, having a built-in nap room and avoiding live birth sounds like the way to go.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Probably she means that the pregnant woman has a short roundish body and that her arms and legs look proportionately short to how big and round her body looks. Because that’s an observation that should be stated aloud at every opportunity. /sarcasm

        1. Myrin*

          Oh man, you totally managed to inject some “sense” into this remark because I was equally as confused as Snork maiden.

        2. Persephone Mulberry*

          I get what the speaker was going for because my pregnant body’s MO is to get wider for the first several months until my abs give out and suddenly POP, baby bump. But that doesn’t make it okay to point it out.

      2. Poohbear McGriddles*

        The TMNT are quite ripped, and skilled at martial arts, but the possible compliment is overshadowed by implications of sewer dwelling and a diet too high in pizza.

        1. Mookie*

          Also they are (more or less) fathered by a rat. So, an “unconventional” family on top of the heavy carb and fat loads and the sworn enemy who behaves, conveniently, like a pizza-cutter run amok.

    4. Cora*

      Classic insecurity, manifested by putting others down to make her feel better about herself and her own body issues. Of course the high road is to do what Alison recommends; but I’d be seriously tempted to look at co-worker with a tender smile and say, “I know a great psychologist who works with body insecurity issues. Would you like her number?”

    5. Van Wilder*

      Uck, crazy. I’m pregnant and I hate comments about my body from coworkers. I’m ok with “wow you’re getting bigger” but less ok with ones that really seem to analyze just *how* pregnant I look. Even “you don’t look pregnant” when I clearly do is rude to me. But anyway, turtle body and your body is so weird now? Icky and this woman clearly has issues. I’ll count myself lucky.

  5. Liz*

    OP1, you’ve just described my worst nightmare! Bad knees, a tiny bladder, constant dry mouth that keeps me sipping water all day… I’m just going to sit quietly under my desk until the cold chills pass. I hope your HR has second thoughts about this very bad idea.

        1. Marty Gentillon*

          To be emptied in whoever’s office made this decision? /s

          On a serious note, a brief conversation on how this is going to work (considering emergencies) should suffice to convince anyone that this is a horrible idea. Especially what cleaning products should be used.

    1. Christopher Tracy*

      I have stomach issues that make it so I don’t always know when I need to go to the bathroom until I’m thisclose to exploding, so the whole going to another building (!) would not work for me. Accidents will abound in this situation. OP’s HR department is insane for this. The office should be closed until this is resolved.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Me, too. I’d be terrified of having an accident while walking ten minutes to a bathroom across campus. There are times when the urge sneaks up on me, and I thank my lucky stars that I made it to the bathroom just down the hall. Plus, walking just further stimulates the urge to go, so if I had to walk for ten minutes, it would be to my car to go home.

      2. Perse's Mom*

        ^This x 100. There are days when getting to the 2nd floor bathroom at work is my limit; if I was having a bad day and neither bathroom in my building was available, I’d be going home “sick.”

    2. Bobcat*

      A former workplace did this to us one day. No water for the day. We weren’t even given the option of another building in the same facility, just told we’d have to find another bathroom on our own. I ended up walking a few blocks to the New York Public Library to find a public toilet.

    3. Jane Eyre*

      This happened to me once. The water was shut off to the entire facility. Employees were instructed to relieve themselves at other businesses while on breaks/ lunch! I barely made it through the day and finally went home early.

    4. Marie*

      I have menorrhagia, and the heavy days of my cycle routinely surpass the standard for “if there’s this much blood, go to urgent care,” which, if you didn’t know, is soaking through one tampon an hour — I soak through one every fifteen minutes. On those days, ready access to a restroom literally dictates the entire structure of my day. If I don’t just work from home, I go in late and leave late because I won’t even risk getting stuck in rush hour traffic.

      Not that this isn’t true for almost any other bathroom woes, but when you need to deal with menstruation, you need to deal with it NOW, not ten minutes and four stories from now. If my company wouldn’t let me work from home on a day like this, they’d have to accept me taking my laptop and working next to the closest restroom for the entire day.

      1. Marie*

        FWIW, I did have a manager that tried this. The water was unexpectedly shut off for two hours in our building, and our manager initially stated we should all stay since it was only two hours. I went to her office and told her I had a medical condition that required immediate access to a restroom. She seemed to think I was lying, so tried to call my bluff by asking me to outline specific accommodations before she would allow me to go home. I suggested towels and a deep cleaner to get the menstrual blood off my work chair. A few minutes later there was an email stating we could all go home if we felt we had to.

        I can theoretically understand managers failing to consider workplace changes for many types of disabilities, either from lack of familiarity, forethought, or consideration, but I should think everybody has had at least one experience with restroom immediacy, such that managers could stretch their imaginations enough to consider the lack of a restroom will effect literally every employee and have potentially disastrous consequences that will appear within almost ten minutes.

      2. Anon? anon.*

        I had fun times with menorrhagia last year, and the whole prospect of a bathroom in another building ten minutes away made me recoil. That would be annoying enough *now*! Back then, I could never even have made it to my building.

        (Incidentally and OT, thanks for the tip about “if you are bleeding this much, seek urgent care” which I hadn’t heard of before. I was never really sure how to handle that and talked myself out of going to hospital at some points where in retrospect I really should have. It sounds like a good rule of thumb to have.)

        1. Marie*

          It’s a rule of thumb that applies more to people whose periods are within the range of normal 99% of the time. A heavy day getting heavier isn’t a thing, but a heavy day that crosses the line into the soak-through per hour means something bigger might have changed and should be checked out.

          After getting thorough check-ups to make sure I don’t have endometriosis or ectopic pregnancies or fibroids, my only options are hysterectomy or hormonal birth control to solve what is *probably* PCOS (though the official diagnosis right now is *poke poke* “Hm. I dunno”). Not feeling the hysterectomy, and HBC messes my system up BAD. This is just how my body does things, I guess, and unless something new happens, I don’t have to drop into urgent care every month. I just eat a lot of steaks and take a lot of naps instead.

          1. Anon with PCOS*

            I know it isn’t for everyone, but a third option is a copper IUD. Not sure if that is not an option for you personally. To deal with this problem myself (I do have PCOS and hyperplasia), I have a Mirena (which is hormonal BC) but the copper IUD was another option. I’m sure you’ve already discussed your options with your doctor.

            1. Marie*

              Already got the copper! Or as I like to call it, the bionic uterus. I was advised against it since it would make my periods heavier, but since my only other options involved frequent migraines, uncontrollable weight gain, that weird hormonal fogginess, and zero libido, I went for the copper — I’ve got solutions for heavy periods, but not for the other stuff. Been very happy with it!

            2. kafm73*

              I don’t have the copper, but I’m on my second Mirena. Haven’t had a period since 2004-5? The rare pink spot (and I mean rare, like maybe twice a year)…and I’m indignant, LOL! I’ll take the teeny spot over the horrendous “even the biggest, maxi-est, overnight pad won’t catch the channeling capabilities” of my previous periods while attempting to sleep on my back!

          2. Mookie*

            I just eat a lot of steaks and take a lot of naps instead.

            I had a menstrual period that hit the 65-day mark before I could see my or anybody else’s GP / OBGYN / kindly veterinarian, and I wish I’d thought of this. Wouldn’t have solved the problem, but those two months would’ve gone like a dream.

            1. Marie*

              Oh man, I know your pain. In addition to the heavy flow, I used to have a completely irregular cycle. I remember going to my OB once because I’d been having my period for 42 days, and she told me if I hit 90 to come back. Luckily (???), I stopped at 67, since I knew their only solution for me was HBC and I really can’t tolerate that. Definitely wish medical science had advanced beyond *shrug* “more hormones I guess… or… less hormones??? it’s definitely one of those, probably” as far as uteri were concerned!

              I took up training for a 5k last year and after hitting that level of fitness, my cycles suddenly evened out to normal for the first time in my life. Seems a lot of people have their own story of what particular change did something for their body — I tried the low GI diet and the teas and the acupuncture and whatever all else, but for whatever reason, the jogging is what did it for me. I can’t tell you how much I loathe jogging, but hey-o, I loathe 67 day periods more!

              In addition to steaks and naps I also recommend yowling like a cat until somebody comes to pat your head, it seems to help.

              1. Mookie*

                Same here. Mini-pill was their only offer, and the standard test for a pituitary problem. Lost a hundred pounds over the following year, and now it’s scarily regular and very short. Argh. I feel so bad for people who can’t hit upon a solution because their medical care won’t budge. Nobody should have to live like that.

    5. LW1*

      Yeah, I have a combination of dry mouth from allergy meds + chronic pain, so the amount of times I would have to walk back and forth would make me lose so much time, on top of being painful!

    6. TG*

      My agency once entertained the idea of having the building stay open during a water shut off and letting the hundreds of building employees use the 2 port-a-potties down the street. About an hour after sending the email announcing this, after numerous complaints, they sent another one saying that on second thought, the building would be closed that day.

  6. eemmzz*

    #3 Crikey. It’s never appropriate to talk about a person’s body at work. What is she thinking! If it was me I’d have most likely have handled it like:

    Coworker: “You’ve got a turtle body since you got pregnant.”
    Me: “Wow.” *walk away*

    I’ve seen just using “wow” suggested by Alison before (I think I saw it here anyway) and I’ve used it once or twice. I think keeping the tone of how you say it quite neutral but just showing a hint of shock tends to drive the message home that their comment isn’t appropriate.

    I really like all of the suggestions Alison has given. They’re good boundary setting phrases.

  7. empmat*

    Just wondering I’ve seen a lot of mention of teapots whilst reading this blog, is it a business term?

    1. Little Teapot*

      It’s an injoke; a way to stay anonymous. So you say you’re a teapot major, or work in Sprouts, or whatever. It’s a way to de-identify.

      1. empmat*

        Thank you, I study business management and I was searching business dictionaries thinking I was missing some sort of industry buzzword!

      2. Teapot Curious*

        Since teapots exist… I’ve always wondered if there have every been letter writers that have actually worked with teapots as a teapot spout analyst or something! While it is a way to de-identify writers, I can only imagine how outing it could be for someone who was genuinely describing their role – or even worse, being a teapot worker who gets assumed to be a letter writer.

        1. Artemesia*

          Teapots exist but these are chocolate teapots; thinking they are not a thing except here.

          1. Mookie*

            Edible kitchenware / appliances / underwear always pique my interest but the combination of chocolate and a freshly-brewed cuppa sounds unpleasant.

        2. neverjaunty*

          Pretty sure that if everybody is referring to chocolate teapots and rice sculptures, nobody who says they work in teapots is going to be ‘outed’.

            1. neverjaunty*

              “No, I am Spartacus! And I’m head of the Chocolate Teapot Spout Quality Assurance division at my company!”

    2. Joanna*

      Teapots and teapot related things are swapped in for whatever industry or role the letter writer actually is actually involved with to help keep the question more anonymous. I don’t think it’s a term used outside this site

      1. empmat*

        Thank you, I study business management and I was searching business dictionaries thinking I was missing some sort of industry buzzword!

        1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

          It started with a phrase a commenter used, “as useful as a chocolate teapot” (that is, not useful at all!). Alison was delighted with the phrase and started using it as a generic company.

          1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

            I just spent way too long trying to find the comment where the phrase first came up, and am sad with myself for failing…

          2. empmat*

            Ah that’s a common phrase in the UK, chocolate fireguard and fart in a space suit are also popular ones.

            1. Aella*

              Oooh, I will start using chocolate fireguard. Whenever I use chocolate teapot in my mother’s hearing, she reminds me that someone has actually tried, and the tea is fine, if somewhat chocolate flavoured.

              1. Apollo Warbucks*

                Sorry I was reading the comments from the bottom and didn’t see Chocolate Teapot had already been covered.

    3. dragonzflame*

      You’ll also see a lot of references to Wakeen – it’s an intentional misspelling of Joaquin from an old letter, used as a generic stand-in for a name.

      1. Annie Moose*

        Aha! I knew where the teapots were from, but I always vaguely wondered about Wakeen.

        1. Aurora Leigh*

          The first time I started reading here I was very confused by a detailed comment about Wakeen working at the teapot factory . . . I was sure someone was being WAY too specific. (Also, I thought Wakeen was a Hawaiian name)

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          There was a thread where readers were telling their most embarrassing moments at work, and one reader wrote about thinking she had two separate coworkers, Joaquin (which she would see in writing and think was “JO-a-kwin”) and Wakeen (which was the spelling she pictured when coworkers would talk about Joaquin). She spent a good bit of time talking to her coworkers about Joaquin/Wakeen as two separate people before finally realizing her mistake. So we, the commenters, adopted Wakeen as one of our generic names.

      2. Anonymousse*

        I actually worked with a real person named Wakeen. Since I was only familiar with the spelling “Joaquin” I thought it was bizarre the first time I saw Wakeen’s name written! When I saw Wakeen written in an AAM PST I thought okay, I guess spelling it Wakeen is a legit spelling after all!

  8. Rebecca*

    #1 – my workplace experienced a water shutoff a few years back when the main water line developed a leak and had to be repaired. It took several days, and they brought in porta-potties, with hand sanitizer, paper towels, etc. We also had bottled water before, so extra water was also provided because the drinking fountains were also affected. Perhaps this could be a partial solution, along with easing up on the work from home policies for those with mobility issues or medical issues?

    IMO, it’s completely unreasonable to expect people to have to walk a block away to find a restroom, and perhaps have to stand in line when you get there due to all the overflow from other buildings.

    1. GreenTeaPot*

      That is the was to do it! I ran a NPO housed in a small, free-standing building with two, single-stall restrooms. Across the street was a municipal office, also in a free-standing building. They used our restrooms for one day during major plumbing work. It as horribly inconvenient. There were five of us and 30 of them.

    2. Maxwell Edison*

      Back at ToxicJob, the water main ruptured and all the water in our building was shut off. For about an hour management insisted we should stay; if we needed to use the bathroom, we just had to take the elevator down to the basement (we were on the 8th floor) and use those toilets, which sort of worked thanks to gravity. At the time I had some medical issues that meant I was running to the bathroom frequently, so I was very pleased when management soon realized that this solution was not going to be feasible and sent us all home (the fact that they even considered it says a lot about them, IMHO).

      1. LW1*

        See, I would have been fine if I could take an elevator to a bathroom in-building (but I can see why that wouldn’t work for others).

  9. TL17*

    Forcing employees to go on a voyage to find a bathroom will end the second the manager has to do it herself.

    Or when someone gets injured on the way to take a whiz and they have to suck up the comp claim and explain that this bathroom situation really was a thing.

  10. Mazie*

    Re #1: 5-10 minutes? you’re lucky! When this happened TWICE to me this past year, the nearest bathroom is a 3-5 minute drive!! That’s right I said drive! Good luck and hopefully it won’t last all day.

    1. Phoebe*

      Yes! Our building has had water problems a couple of times over the last few years and at least twice it’s been off for half the day and once an entire day. They brought in bottled water, but we’re located in a small suburban office park and and the only options were a small strip mall just outside our entrance with a Chinese restaurant and a Waffle House or around the corner to the Publix.

    2. K.*

      Yeah, my old job was in a middle of nowhere suburb (I hated it) & if this had happened, we’d have had to drive to the main drag of the town or to the company’s other building, each of which were 5-10 minutes away via car. I’d have worked remotely.

      1. Mazie*

        No can do for my job (to work remotely). The first time it happened they (the higher ups) closed us to the public and the second time, luckily it only lasted 2 hours.

    3. Boo*

      This is ridiculous. What about people who didn’t drive or didn’t have their cars with them, were they expected to ask a coworker to take them? Ugh.

      1. Mazie*

        Honestly the only way to get to my work is to drive because it’s not on a bus route and there in fact no sidewalks that lead to it. So anybody who comes out to us, has to drive or bike.

  11. Robin B*

    They are talking about AAM on The Today Show right now!!

    Okay, it’s over now, but it took so long for the page to load so I could post this….

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Dang, I missed it! I wonder how long it takes after an episode airs until clips are available?

    2. fposte*

      Was it general, or was it a recent post (guessing the interns with the petition if so)?

      1. Robin B*

        Yep– it was about the interns with the petition. The anchors were all stunned, and recalled how humble they were in their own intern days. “May I get you coffee?” …..

  12. Cranky*

    #1: For us we lost both bathrooms in the 2 buildings we had side by side. I nearly cried when we were told that we would have to go to the bathroom at the coffee shop down the road. It was the middle of winter, I had a UTI, and the coffee shop required us all to purchase at least a donut hole to be able to use their washroom. I was out a good $10 by the time our washrooms were fixed and essentially embarrassed because it was extremely noticable that I was going to the bathroom much more frequently than anyone else.

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      That sounds like a definite OSHA violation, though since it’s in the past it’s probably not worth bringing up now.

  13. animaniactoo*

    My dad helped me with my very first resume ever, and half of it was absolutely a pack of lies of stretched truths. When I pointed that out, he said “Hey, this is an advertisement. You don’t believe in truth in advertising, do you?” And I kind of shrugged and went on my way with my half-falsified resume.

    However, what he did was carefully craft a resume which ONLY lied about where I had gotten my experience and how much of it I had working in an office setting. None of my actual skills were falsified, and the experience portion had a cover that was checkable. His business partner was listed as my reference at their company. I quickly outgrew the need to falsify anything on my resume, but I do have to say having it look like I had solidly worked for them for a year and a half before the next (actual) 2 year job was definitely a help in appearing a more attractive candidate with a more solid work history than I would have had if I’d listed the McDonald’s summers-and-holidays job, the summers and fill-ins working for my dad’s small business, etc.

    So while you shouldn’t lie or stretch the truth on your resume, I think it’s somewhat understandable when you’re first starting out and every job “requires” 1 to 2 years of work experience minimum. I don’t think it’s understandable after that. But either way, don’t like about your skills. Not ever. Lying about work history can get you fired, lying about your skills WILL get you fired when it turns out you don’t have them.

    And my dad still bemoans that there was no such thing (then) as a job playing Tetris. Cuz I could have made a killing doing that.

    1. Christopher Tracy*

      So while you shouldn’t lie or stretch the truth on your resume, I think it’s somewhat understandable when you’re first starting out and every job “requires” 1 to 2 years of work experience minimum.

      I’m going to strongly disagree with this. A lie is a lie – many of us got jobs just fine when we were just starting out without having to lie about where we worked and what kinds of experience we had. This is an integrity issue that would give me serious pause if a job candidate or coworker of mine casually dropped this information.

      OP, this is not a thing. Most people, especially honest ones, are not lying about their work history on their resumes. Don’t feel like you missed out on anything by telling the truth. You can take comfort in the fact that you earned your spot fair and square, and you won’t have to spend the rest of your career looking over your shoulder wondering when you’re going to caught up in your lies. Because this stuff always has a way of catching up to you. Look at your fired coworker as an example (and her reference from your company is now shot to hell).

      1. Artemesia*

        I know someone who didn’t get a promotion because the bosses got ahold of an earlier resume she had used and compared it with the resume she had prepared for the promotion process and found enough discrepancies that they lost confidence in her integrity. I actually thought they were being petty because the differences were not terribly egregious but it was enough that she didn’t get promoted.

        1. Christopher Tracy*

          Did they actually verify that she lied though? Because if all she did was, say, reword job duties to accomplishments, that’s not a lie if said accomplishments could be verified. You may be right that they were being petty, or at least, not entirely rational here.

        2. potato battery*

          Oof, that would make me wonder if she hadn’t been understating her skills and accomplishments on the previous version of her resume. I know mine has gotten better at advertising what I can do over time, as I’ve had more confidence to paint my (actual, earned) skills in the best light.

      2. animaniactoo*

        I’m not saying you should – I’m saying that in this specific circumstance – because I’ve seen it in action, not just for me, but for others who found themselves practically unhireable because they didn’t have that miminum work experience (and I don’t mean in a category, I mean at all), I can understand taking that risk. But that’s the only place/time I can see it, and you have to be aware it’s a risk for all the reasons you listed, and that skills should never ever be a thing you lie about, even then.

        1. Christopher Tracy*

          I’m sorry, but I still can’t understand taking that risk. I was one of those unhireables after college (and I had four years of part-time office experience at that point) – it took me a year to find a job because I just didn’t know how to present the skills and experience I did have in a compelling way. Same for a lot of my friends, but none of us resorted to lying. One of my friends went into default on her loans, couldn’t afford to pay her parents the rent and utilities money she owed, and so by your statement above, it would have been understandable if she had lied on her resume to get a job even though she was lacking in experience. But she didn’t do that because it would have said something negative about her character in the workplace that would have followed her for years. And I guarantee had her boss found out she fudged the truth about her experience, she would have been out the door in a heartbeat.

          1. animaniactoo*

            I guess it really depends on your circumstances. I’m known as a pretty straight up and honest person. Slightly less so back then, but only slightly. However, I didn’t have the option of relying on my parents at that time due to circumstances that were a jumbled mess. For resume and job-hunting help, okay. For financial and shelter help, it wasn’t there. I had to be out of my parents house (already was for the time period I’m talking about), and I don’t know what my next move was if I couldn’t find something fairly quickly at that point.

          2. Marcela*

            Well, let me present you my friend’s situation. She was a sahm for about 15 years or so. Before her marriage she worked in anything she could find, but she decided with her husband that their two girls were more important than her “career” and later, that his husband’s career development was more important than hers. Her family didn’t believe in education, so they never helped her to study or told her it was important to educate herself. She graduated from high school a couple of years later because she repeated two years, and by the time she realized she needed to study to have a better life, she could not pay it.

            This year, after she helped her husband to get a degree and when she was almost ready to ask him to support her study with that new money he earned, he got a girlfriend. A couple of months later, she is pregnant and they are in the middle of an horrific separation. She is living in their house, not fully paid yet. And although he promised (unofficially, of course) to pay for the house, he only paid for a couple of months before stopping.

            She was looking for a job. Any job. She got help from people who knew her before her marriage and she was cutting vegetables and making salads every weekend, in something that can be described as a farmer’s market without the fancy hipster aspect. Working in “ferias”, as we call them, it’s very hard work (so you can see her desire to get her life back in track is strong), but it’s also considered a job for poor people, and it’s not going to help when looking for a better job: it will actually be detrimental.

            When she told me her situation, I added myself and another friend as references in her resume, and we said she had being working for us the last 3 years. She is willing to do whatever it takes to get out of her hellish situation, but nobody was going to call her without recent experience. And she was going to lose her house. So we lied. I value truth over almost anything, but not empathy or compassion, and having seen my father through the same process, not being able to get a job because for similar circumstances he didn’t finish high school (at that time it wasn’t mandatory), this time I wasn’t going to sit caressing my “honesty” or “integrity” while my friend’s life was going to be destroyed.

            She got a job. And although she wasn’t familiar with Office anymore, she has been getting excellent reviews because she is working very hard, studying so she can close all the gaps she had. However, the lie was imprescindible, for she was hired only because of her last job, the fake one, and told she was going to be given an opportunity because of her situation.

            1. Christopher Tracy*

              I’m sorry that your friend was in such a terrible place. But what you all did still wasn’t okay. Sorry.

              1. Anon1234*

                I’m glad that you have only been in perfect situations and never have had to compromise your perfect values for anything. But life isn’t always black and white.

                1. Myrin*

                  Of course life isn’t always black and white. But first of all, there are people in situations like Marcela’s friend who don’t lie on their resume despite being desperate, so I think it’s hugely unfair (for lack of a better word) to fluff up your resume like that. As someone from a poor family, I resent the implication that it’s only natural for people like me to lie to make themselves look better and that I can’t possibly be honest about my job history.

                  Now, of course these other, non-lying people don’t have to be of interest to you as the one who got the job, but still, iffy. Apart from that, I’m hugely surprised this even worked – where I am, you’d need to present quite a bit of documentation on this former job and I personally wouldn’t ever do something like this even for my best friend or someone from my family; if not for moral reasons, then because it’s actually pretty likely to come out because as an employer, I’d need to have paid taxes and insurance for this employee and it’s super easy to find out that I never did that, so this situation would actually be likely to get me in legal trouble.

                  Lastly, unless the friend was explicitly told she got that job because of the previous one, she can’t really know that now, can she? If this new employer was willing to hire her because of her circumstances, that might very well have been the driving factor behind it and not the other job per se.

              2. Marisol*

                I strongly object to people making proclamations that something is or is not “okay” as though they were the sole arbiter of okayness. Reasonable people can disagree on what is ethical, moral, and the best choice for their particular situation. Although I have never lied on a resume and don’t condone the practice, I also don’t set standards for other people. I just find comments like, “what you did wasn’t okay, sorry” to be quite presumptuous. If *I* think it *was* okay, then which of us is correct? Do we cancel each other out?

            2. Mookie*

              Well, I think the situation warranted this and I’m glad she had friends like you to help her.

        2. Stitch*

          Yeah, I think it’s really common in “early resumes” to do that. And people around us encourage us to do it. My grandma kept telling me to put her down as my reference, since she owns a business. I wasn’t really comfortable doing that (“How can she speak to my work? I’ve only helped her file things, like, once.”), but when you’re 16 or 18 or 24 and trying to get a job with a string of summer jobs, work-study gigs, and maybe a bit of freelance work, it feels like you don’t have any other options.

          I know I’ve put down “tutoring” as a job when I did it off-and-on for neighbors and as a volunteer over years to pad the resume. I’ve listed not-my-manager-but-higher-level-employee-who-knew-me-better as my supervisor on online applications because I’d get a better reference. I’ve emphasized the one-analysis-project I did in my general assistant role because I have the educational background/skill but that’s the only time I got a chance to do it for a company.

          I felt uncomfortable about all those slants, but… I think everyone is going to feel uncomfortable about selling themselves. I think people who say “lying is bad!” might not consider some of what I just listed to be lying. That’s the problem with RULES that just state something is bad or good. There’s nuance to this. Is it lying to just list the years for my work-study job that spanned a school year? Maybe. Is it lying to just list the years for a 4 year position? No. So the way we can help young people make accurate but effective resumes is not just saying “lying is bad” but talking about what that means. Because I don’t think everyone agrees on that.

          1. Christopher Tracy*

            People are saying that, in the context of this letter and this thread, making up where you obtained a skill set (e.g. fabricating a position) or just flat out stating you have experience with X when you really don’t is lying. That’s not selling yourself – that’s selling a falsehood that doesn’t exist. That’s why people get fired for these things.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Yes. It’s lying. It’s not normal, it’s not okay, and it’s a huge integrity issue. Please don’t defend that, Stich and animaniactoo!

              1. animaniactoo*

                To be clear, I’m not saying it’s not lying. I’m not saying it’s okay. I’m *simply* saying that there exists a set of living-in-the-real-world circumstances where it’s an understandable risk. I’m not defending it as something you SHOULD DO. I’m actually (poorly) saying it’s something that you should NOT do and there is very little justification to ever break that boundary.

                1. A Bug!*

                  I don’t think for a second that you didn’t need the job or that you weren’t competent to do it when you got it. But when you made the decision to lie on your resume, how did you reach the conclusion that you needed and deserved the job more than the person who otherwise would have gotten it?

                  If someone else had made the same decision you did and ended up getting the job instead of you, would they have been justified in doing so?

                  After you won the job you had to lie to get, did you ask your employer to remove the unnecessary experience requirement, so that future applicants would not face the same unjust disadvantage you did?

                2. animaniactoo*

                  I didn’t decide that I needed it more. I decided that I needed it as much as. It still could have gone to someone else. I can honestly say that I believe now and I believed then that short of being homeless, it was not possible to be in more need of a job than I was then. So I wasn’t elevating myself over somebody who needed a job more than I did.

                  I did not ask them to remove the work requirement – I wasn’t in a position to do so, but at a point when I was somewhat involved in the hiring process, I did push that what we really needed was a skills test and set one up. That became a bigger factor than the work experience.

                  And I do continue to push back against things like the idea that anybody needs a bachelor’s degree to be a receptionist at a small(ish) company.

          2. Temperance*

            That sounds honest and reasonable, actually. Putting your grandmother down, especially if she had a different last name, would have been lying.

        3. neverjaunty*

          Why not? That’s a genuine question – if you’re selling yourself, and the ends justify the means, why draw the line at skills?

          1. animaniactoo*

            Because it does no good to not be able to perform the job and be right back out of it as fast as you were in it. I actually knew Excel and Word and DBase III, and typed 80 wpm and could competently do data entry. Anybody hiring me for those skills got somebody who could do the functions of the job.

            1. neverjaunty*

              So it’s a matter of getting caught? If so, then why not stretch (or even lie about) skills if you’re confident that you can pick them up on the job or find other ways not to be right back out of it?

              1. animaniactoo*

                I don’t place “confidence you can pick the skills up on the job” in the same category as “actually have the skills pre-existing”. Confidence can be misplaced. Guarantee that you have the skills, have exercised them and know what you’re doing can’t.

                I’ve picked up a lot of skills on the job, and then went out and sold those skills, but I always had the base skill(s) that I was hired for.

                1. animaniactoo*

                  Also to say, I’ve never lied about my work history beyond that first resume when I desperately needed a foot in the door. As quickly as I could, I dropped it off my resume.

                  I want to be clear that I’m not advocating lying on your resume. All I’m saying is that I think there is a specific kind of circumstance when it’s understandable that it might be a risk someone takes, and even then there are limits and what skills you have is one of them.

    2. matcha123*

      It worked for you and it works for a lot of people, but honestly it’s not fair to those of us that are honest about the skills we bring to the table. When I was in high school and university, a lot of my classmates did things like inflating their roles in student groups or at jobs, and it seems to have helped them get above others.

      It’s just infuriating for someone like me, who knows that not only are other people lying, but they are getting rewarded for it. Unlike the OP, we can’t see the outcome…the firings, the ruined reputations, etc. because we were rejected from the start.

      1. BronxRosie*

        The other issue is that industries, neighborhoods and cities are much smaller than you realize. Tools like LinkedIn make it easy to see who the hiring manager and candidate have in common. So beefed up resumes and skills are often found out through professional networks. Now you have burnt a bridge with the potential employer and the contact on your LinkedIn profile.

        In my current job, we just fired someone who over sold his skill level within a year. Two jobs ago, an offer was pulled when it came out, through industry contacts, that the individual had lied on her resume (and funny enough, that skill was not a requirement of the role). She had already resigned from her current job.

        Don’t do this. The business world is just too small. When your Dad was looking for a job, it probably was easier to stretch the truth.

        1. animaniactoo*

          Yeah, to be fair, when he made that comment it was 25 years ago. He was also in/around an industry where he knew wholesale that people were lying on their resumes because the industry was dying, companies were going out of business left and right, and references *couldn’t* be checked for them. But he also made sure that I did have a checkable reference, and because I’d done some work for him (and he’d trained me), he was well aware of what the level of my skills were and those were not being oversold.

          1. neverjaunty*

            Well, sure, but I think the thing that’s making us all side-eye him is the rationale. I totally get a parent wanting the best for their kid and persuading themselves that it wasn’t really lying (it was), but the bit about ‘advertising’ is flat out saying that other people lie for their own benefit so you should too.

    3. Temperance*

      I think that’s pretty immoral actually. Your dad taught you a pretty bad lesson. Truth in advertising is a good thing, IMO.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Whoa. No. Maybe this will become more obvious if you turn it around and imagine someone lying to her you about her experience when applying to be a teacher or nanny for your kid, for instance.

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      Don’t do it.

      Marilee Jones (MIT), Joseph Ellis (Mount Holyoke), Stephen Glass (The New Republic)…

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        And I fully agree the primary reason should be having integrity, but the possibility of getting caught is definitely a secondary reason worth keeping in mind.

  14. Snarkus Aurelius*

    OP 3> I’m four months, and my mom doesn’t understand why I don’t want to tell people. Your letter is why! I don’t think any of my coworkers would do this, but there’s a good chunk of them who would turn into mother hens, reminding me about things that are common sense.

    Seriously, if one more person tells me I need to rest well and eat, I’m going to scream. Quit forcing me to eat when I’m not hungry!

    1. Artemesia*

      The same people forcing food on you will later be worriedly asking you about your weight.

      1. Snarkus Aurelius*

        And then they act like their wisdom is some major truth bomb that no one else had ever heard of.

        I don’t know what it is about pregnancy, but it’s that controlling, condescending mentality that allows people to think it’s okay to say that stuff to OP 3 and to anyone else. (Not only is it NOT okay, but it’s NEVER okay to comment unsolicited on someone’s appearance — man or woman or pregnant or not.)

        Anyone who has taken a sex ed class or has an ounce of common sense has a general idea of what pregnancy is and what’s required of it.

        Yeah, I’m going to be a grumpy pregnant woman when I start showing, I think.

        1. neverjaunty*

          It takes the usual cultural issues about women’s bodies and women’s incompetence and magnifies them by a factor of about a scrillion.

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          And then they act like their wisdom is some major truth bomb that no one else had ever heard of.

          I’d want to make a t-shirt: “Pregnancy Advice Accepted. You pay me $5 for my time and come up with something NOT on this list:” and then list in small, small print all the hundred or so common pieces of advice.

        3. Dr. Johnny Fever*

          My goodness, when I was pregnant over a decade ago, many women took that as license to tell me, in gruesome detail, every issue with delivery including grave injuries to sensitive areas. By my 8th month, I was convinced that with my luck, my labor would more closely resemble the John Hurt Alien scene than any normal birth.

          This is SO not OK! Not to mention, I could never quite look these women in the eye ever again, as it was way too much personal information about them to process, and I really didn’t want the mental images their stories invited to mind.

          1. Petronella*

            Yeah, and not just their own gruesome delivery war story, but that of their sister, neighbor, best friend etc. Walking away is awesome, I highly recommend it.

            1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

              That was the worst! I would horrible delivery information about women I knew who had no idea that *I* knew. It was ethically and mentally disturbing.

              I would have loved to walk away but I worked in a cube farm and was often the trapped recipient of these tales.

          2. Grapey*

            Being a young teen and hearing how someone took a dump while pushing out their kid was the nail in the coffin for any desire to be pregnant. I’ve never told anyone this IRL but all I think of now is brown slip and slides when people talk about natural birth. You’re welcome, everyone.

            I heard this at a baby shower where it seems to be more acceptable to talk about this stuff.

        4. Grapey*

          I wonder if it’s a case of ‘misery loves company’ mixed with ‘it happened to me, so I have to do it to the next generation/next pregnant woman I see because norms’.

    2. Jubilance*

      Oh that would drive me crazy! I’ve told my office that I’m expecting, and mostly I just asked how I’m feeling. My company is huge, so there are always women pregnant, on maternity leave, or just returning at any given time. I think maybe people have figured out what to say and what comments to avoid, luckily!

      After I announced my pregnancy to my immediate team, a male teammate asked a female teammate when she was going to have a baby. I immediately told him “you don’t ask that, it’s a personal question, and insensitive.” He immediately apologized – he thought it was an innocent question, and I had to remind him that it could be hurtful to someone who is having fertility issues.

      1. Myrin*

        Awesome of you to react like that to your coworker, Jubilance! (It also saved your female coworker from stammering and stuttering and needing to find an excuse or similar, I bet she was super glad you were there.) And congrats on the pregnancy!

      2. Kate M*

        Oh man, when I was a teenager, my hairdresser had just had a baby recently. My mom took me to get my haircut, and I (a very shy teenager), trying to work on my social skills, was attempting to make smalltalk with my hairdresser and asked her if she planned to have any more kids. My mom was mortified and said “you can’t ask that!” I’m glad I learned at an early age, although it was embarrassing at the time.

      3. Laura*

        Way to jump in and defend your teammate! Great job, and congratulations on your pregnancy!

    3. Rana*

      Oh, man, the resting and sleeping advice was so annoying. My exhaustion was pretty overwhelming so it wasn’t like I needed to be told that resting was an option. And the number of people who seemed to think that sleep was something (a) comes easily to late-term pregnant people, and (b) could be saved up for later. WTF, people, WTF.

      1. Van Wilder*

        Yes! “Sleep now while you can.” I mean, (a) would if I could; (b) sleeping now is not going to be saved up for winter.

  15. Geek*

    Been there, got the t shirt for #1.

    Our business made arrangements with neighboring businesses to use they’re facilities. I chose to walk further for more privacy and no line.

    What else could they do? Bring in porta potties? I’d have gladly walked further to avoid those. :-)

    This seems like very much a first world problem. You have water. You have bathrooms. Was it ideal when we had our water shut off? Nope. I hated it. But there was an end in sight when I knew I could once again resume my privileged life of easy water and toilet access.

    1. Geek*

      Is there a way to edit? On phone and didn’t notice wrong swype for “they’re” until hitting submit. :-)

    2. Jubilance*

      It’s rude to dismiss someone’s concern as a “first world problem”. Certainly she has it better than others in other countries, but that doesn’t make the situation any less inconvenient. Having to be away from work for that long is going to be a hinderance for her, and she’d rather just take a day off to avoid the lack of productivity. In her position, I’d probably do the same thing.

      Based on your logic, this blog wouldn’t exist because we’d all just be happy with the jobs we have now, because someone else doesn’t even have a job.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        It’s rude to dismiss someone’s concern as a “first world problem”.

        Especially when it’s been pointed out above that people sometimes have medical issues that preclude them from just sucking it up and being grateful that they’ll even have running water at some point.

    3. Boo*

      I feel like this is unnecessarily harsh and you’re assuming OP and all her coworkers are healthy and able bodied. For instance what about those with medical issues such as IBS or Crohns who may not always be able to hang on? It’s forcing them to either gamble that their health will be ok on those days, or forcing them to disclose.

      1. fposte*

        Or even that the weather is always nice. Bladders don’t care about raging thunderstorms or heat warnings.

    4. Observer*

      You are right that it’s a first world problem – but not in the way you mean. It’s a first world problem because in the kinds of places you are talking about, you just go outside to the privy (or hole in the ground.) So, the sanitation is terrible but no on has to walk 5-15 minutes to relieve themselves.

    5. neverjaunty*

      This is the workplace equivalent of ‘starving children in Africa would love to eat your cooked broccoli’.

      1. Observer*

        LOL. Actually I’d say it’s the workplace equivalent of ‘starving children in Africa would love to eat your food that you are highly allergic to’.

      2. Mookie*

        Exactly. Handwaving away a local problem we have the capacity to readily and safely solve because the world isn’t otherwise perfect is an unimaginative, empty gesture that gets us no further to solving any problem but allows the speaker to feel good, rather than petty, parochial, and uncharitable, for belittling someone else’s hardship. It always trivializes the “third world” problems it purports to care about, using them callously as pawns (cf Dear Muslima, where Dawkins tries to pit the world’s supply of women against each other in order to minimize the severity of sexual harassment, as though sexual harassment is something only spoiled white women experience). In this instance, it suggests that so long as someone has access to sanitation and potable water, they are not eligible to complain when they are being mistreated. It’s not a constructive rejoinder at all, but a lazy little golem made of straw.

    6. ceiswyn*

      It must be nice to be physically healthy enough that walking 5-10 minutes is no hardship.

      I have permanent damage to the bone and cartilage of one ankle, and chronic achilles problems in the other. I am physically unable to walk more than 600 m in a day. Is it still a ‘first world problem’ for anyone who gets to choose between wetting themselves or crippling themselves?

    7. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      Yeah, we should just go back to outhouses and copies of the Sears’ catalog, just like the old days!

      All these soft kids with their first world problems.

    8. Kate M*

      I’ll never understand the race to the bottom mentality. Other people have it worse, so you should be ok with having it worse too! Maybe we should start NOT be ok with having substandard policies/wages/opportunities/facilities for us or anyone else around the world, instead of suggesting that it’s ok for a workplace to do these kinds of things because “somebody always has it worse.”

      1. K.*

        +1. Having working bathrooms nearby is not even close to an unreasonable expectation. At all.

      2. Rana*

        Agreed. The only time I can countenance “first world problem” type scolding is if someone is blatantly and cluelessly waving their privilege in the face of someone lacking similar benefits. But this isn’t that situation. It’s reasonable for everyone, no matter where they live, to have decent access to sanitary facilities. (Or decent jobs, or fair wages, or clean and sturdy housing, or, or…)

    9. LW1*

      The answer to your “what else could they do?” question is right in my letter: HR could allow (and encourage) people to work from home. Cal it a first world problem if you want, but we have laws to protect people from these situations, and per Alison’s answer what my employer is doing probably breaks that law, and at the very least is incredibly inefficient. That’s what I was writing to find out.

      But yes, I would echo what other commenters are saying re: the relevance/helpfulness of your comment.

    10. Perse's Mom*

      I’m sorry, I didn’t realize a menstrual cycle and digestive problems were ‘first world problems.’

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Um. Not sure what is expected here. This is a work blog discussion for people who work in offices. It’s not meant to resolve third world problems. If you went on a blog for a bunch of engineers discussing engineer problems, they are not going to be talking about how to crochet afghans. Likewise here, people are going to be talking about problems at work in their offices; people are not here to focus on third world issues.

      Going one step further most questions could be answered with, “oh, first world problem”. This is not instructive to the person facing the dilemma. It shows a failure to grasp the intent of this blog. And it discourages people from writing in.

      There is a huge need out there for people to read and learn about workplace issues. People need to be able to ask candid questions in a learning environment. This helps people to remain employed and be successful in their jobs. Alison has done more than anyone else I can think of to help people find employment and stay employed. I am including our country’s leadership in this statement.

      Yes, we are talking about first world problems here. It’s not a crime, nor is it a sin. But apparently it is a surprise.

  16. Terra*

    OP #2, resumes are marketing documents so they’re not obliged to be 100% open and honest which is probably where the idea that it’s okay to lie and pad came from. Basically if you feel something doesn’t add to your candidacy you’re not obliged to put it on your resume, someone who’s chronically late doesn’t have to say that they are for example. You’re also not obliged to put things in a context that makes them less impressive, for example if I say that my rate for something is 100 per hour then I’m obviously trying to present that as a good or impressive thing. So I’m not going to tell you that my coworker’s rate is 300 per hour, or that 150 per hour is the national average or anything like that. The trick is that resume statements are “truthful within the context”.

  17. Wondering*

    #3: Would the advice/situation change if this was a male commenting on her body?

    I’ll never forget the day at work where two female coworkers had been looking at my standing sideways and started commenting on how large my breasts were compared to the rest of my frame. I was mortified that they would think that was okay to comment on… when I spoke out against it they made a comment that ‘we are all women here’ as if it is somehow okay to comment on my body because they aren’t men. If a male coworker was openly commenting on my breasts I would have a clear sexual harassment complaint, but because it was a woman I was just supposed to take it.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      This has been a few years ago, but some women coworkers at my old job were talking, and somehow got on the topic of boob size. They started a game of, “What do you see first when you stand up straight and look down: boobs, belly, or feet?” Nobody was goaded into participating; it was just something that they all found funny at the time, and there were no men around. For the ones of us who saw boobs first when looking down, the ones who saw their feet first wanted to know, ” Well, how far do you have to lean forward before you see your feet?” We all just got a good laugh out of it, but I could see it being a problem if anyone were uncomfortable or pressed to participate.

    2. Observer*

      Nope. Sure, sometimes women can indulge in that kind of thing and it’s not a problem. But, there are limits to that. And CERTAINLY, if the comments are judgy and or / one way, or if the object of the comments is uncomfortable, you’ve gone well beyond the limits. The gender of any of the people involved makes no difference at that point.

    3. Rana*

      Ugh, I’m sorry. No one should be treated like an object to be judged and scrutinized. That’s just gross.

    4. Lemon Zinger*

      That is so tacky! It doesn’t matter if it’s a man or a woman commenting. It’s still totally inappropriate, and possibly harassment.

  18. Observer*

    #3 – If your efforts to shut your coworker down don’t work, bring it to HR or your boss. Not only is she being incredibly rude, she being massively unprofessional. And, she’s saying this in front of others, which can lead to liability if other staff are made uncomfortable and issues with patients if any of them hear these wildly inappropriate comments.

    You don’t say what kind of patients you center sees, but unless it specializes in geriatrics, there are going to be women who are pregnant, want to be pregnant, are trying to get pregnant or were recently pregnant, coming in to the place. I don’t think any of those women (and a good chunk of their spouses) are going to be happy with such comments.

  19. anon again*

    #1: It might not be a viable solution in your situation, but is there another building you can move to while the water is off? I once worked at a university and there were times when we would schedule a computer lab for our office staff for the day if for some reason our office wasn’t habitable. It might have been for water or electrical outage or if some other maintenance issue was occurring that made it difficult to be in our building.

    1. LW1*

      I did actually ask about this! Space is at enough of a premium that I was encouraged to ask for HR approval for WFH, which is what I ended up doing.

  20. Anony*

    For #2. I’m going anonymous here because I wanted to say that in my professional service company/industry we’re explicitly told to fancy up our resume by the powers that be (I work with an industry leader so this isn’t some CEO going rogue). While this doesn’t mean lying completely about the projects/work we’ve done (as it seems your coworkers did), it definitely involves some wordsmithing. This is a fine line to walk because you don’t want to make up skills/experience you don’t have. A lot of times we’ll talk in terms of the project. So for example, if I managed one workstream, but was involved in 5 others, I’ll talk about the project as a whole as being the implementation of 6 teapot divisions. I have access to everyone’s resumes, so I know this is being done company-wide. I can’t really talk to you about the ethics of wordsmithing resumes (because I honestly don’t know how I feel about it), but our resumes definitely aren’t 100% verbatim what we’ve done. I guess to answer #2’s question from my industry’s perspective: lying is bad, wordsmithing is okay.

    1. neverjaunty*

      But is that industry-wide? It seems like the kind of thing that works well within your company, but if you were to go outside that little niche, you might run into problems.

      1. Anony*

        It’s industry-wide. I’m talking about our “professional service” industry, because we actually work with firms across all industries.

    2. nonprofit manager*

      These are resumes you use for insertion into proposals, correct? And not resumes that you would use to look for another position outside your company? If so, this is something I have seen in my previous career at two different professional services organizations, where resumes were wordsmithed into marketing documents for insertion into proposals. All were fluffed. None were ever used outside of that marketing purpose.

      1. Anony*

        Yes, you are correct. These are internal resumes used in proposals. I can’t say with certainty what people would use when applying for an external position, but the culture of “talking up your skills” makes me think that at least some level of wordsmithing happens (though probably not to the extent of the proposal resumes).

    3. NoWhiteFlag*

      I call this guile or deception. It is quite common in certain industries but more evil than out and out lying. It is insidious and corrupting and contaminates everything it touches.

      When a person lies and says I have a degree, it reflects poorly on the individual only, not on education, in general. However, when a person wordsmiths or uses guile, it reflects poorly on the individual but it also tends to taint associated things. IT consulting, politics are examples of things that have been corrupted in this way. A series of half-truths have removed integrity and trust from so many aspects of life and business.

      I hope I never have the misfortune of working with your company or others like it in the future. I have had that experience in the past.

      It is not okay.

      1. Anony*

        I agree with you. The fake it til you make it attitude can only get you so far, and doesn’t replace real experience. I think the big difference though with my industry is the team aspect. As nonprofit manager pointed out above, these are internal resumes used in proposal where you would typically be working in a team. The thought being that the gaps in one person’s experience will be filled by another team member’s experience. I.e., if you have 3 generalists and 1 expert on a project, it will work out. Of course this doesn’t always work out, and it definitely doesn’t work if you’re apply for a solo position where you don’t have a team supporting you in the same way.

        I think my company does good work most of the time, but we’re not perfect and balls do get dropped from time to time. If you’re working at a large firm though, you have very little chance of avoiding us completely :P.

  21. Kathlynn*

    ouch on the water shut off. At my last job, the people on shift were unable to use the washrooms for a few hours due to renovations. They were told to go outside behind the shed to relieve themselves… And some of them actually did so.
    My first response was that I would have just gone home and stayed home as soon as I was told that. Different country, but AFAIK, we can’t be required to work if there are no bathroom facilities available. And I said that.

  22. Alton*

    #1: The bathroom situation sounds like it could be potentially inconvenient for a lot of people. If the whole street is without water, are there other departments that are also going to have to go to this other building to use the bathrooms, too? That could mean a lot of people competing for a small number of bathrooms, and I actually kind of feel for the people who work in the building with working water, because this will be a disruption for them, too.

  23. Katiedid*

    This might be a little late for followup, but for OP #1, you may want to check your community’s fire code and/or city ordinances. I know in most of the communities around me, a business can’t be open while there is no water (I do think there’s some kind of requirement that it be off for a certain amount of time before it kicks in). I’ve actually been sent home before because of it. It has to do with fire regulations and, I think, bathroom access.

  24. Not So NewReader*

    #3. I have to wonder why Jane is so interested in your body changes. Surely, she has seen a pregnant person before.
    I am concerned that Jane is sending out a message that it is okay for people to discuss other people’s bodies. I would not want to go into a medical place like that. I don’t want people discussing my body shape or the lack thereof. But let’s say you are not public facing, even still, medical people should know better than this. But I know I have had nurses tell me stuff that was way out of whack.

    I think I would look Jane square in the eye and without blinking say, “Jane, I don’t talk about other people’s bodies because that is how I expect to be treated.”

  25. The Rat-Catcher*

    #3: I see what you are getting at with the numbers to say that your weight gain isn’t excessive, but honestly, comments like that would be inappropriate no matter how much weight you’d gained.

Comments are closed.