coworker might be napping in the lactation room, interviewer asked “love to win or hate to lose?” and more

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

1. My coworker might be napping in the lactation room

The lactation room at my company is located within a keycard access HR space, so it’s in a secure suite with low traffic. In additional to the basics required by law, it has some additional amenities including an overstuffed leather recliner. The recliner is functionally not awesome for pumping due to the physics involved, but it is super comfy.

Our company is currently going through rounds of layoffs, and as part of the realignment, the HR suite with the lactation room has been emptied. I’m the only remaining mother using the room. There have been a couple times during a pumping session when I’ve heard someone key into the suite, walk to the printer area, and then leave. Since I have access to the security badge system, I simply log in and check the keycard reader to see who it is. It is usually a coworker who used to sit in the suite and accidentally printed to her prior print station.

However, two days ago, an admin from a different floor keyed into the suite during my afternoon pumping session and did not leave. I looked around after exiting the lactation room, and the door to one of the offices was closed with the lights off. I left the suite and immediately put a trace on her badge. She didn’t key into another device for a full hour. Yesterday, she entered the suite a few minutes after I had started my session, stayed for 25 minutes, and then left and went back up to her department. I only casually know this particular admin, but I know she’s in her early 50s with two grown adult children. Her department is scheduled to be laid off sometime within the next three months, and I know she’s upset about it. Since she isn’t part of the HR department, she wouldn’t have access to print at those printers or reserve the meeting room in that suite. I suspect she is probably coming in to use the comfy recliner for an afternoon nap. It creeps me out just a little bit to know someone is sitting there in the dark waiting for me to finish pumping! My motherly paranoia is also kicking in and making me a little nervous to leave my expressed milk up there in the refrigerator, even though rationally I know that she would probably never do anything to it. Should I say something to her? Say something to HR? Let it go?

I’d let it go. She’s using an empty office for her own reasons. She could be taking a break, using it as a quiet place to concentrate, or sure, taking a nap — we don’t know. But it’s not really yours to police, and it doesn’t sound like she’s interfering with your use of the separate pumping room. And if there’s no more to the story than this, I don’t think there’s any reason to worry she has nefarious intentions toward your expressed milk; it sounds like she’s just looking for a quiet space, and this is one.

If it gives you peace of mind, if it happens again you could knock on the door of the office she’s in and just say, “I didn’t expect anyone to be in here, so just wanted to check” or something like that … but I don’t think you even need to do that.

2. Interviewer asked me, “Love to win or hate to lose?”

I recently was asked this in an interview: “Love to win or hate to lose?” My answer was that I was somewhat in the middle, but leaned towards love to win, because I think losses are learning experiences. (I was also thinking that I’ve definitely known some hate-to-lose types, and found them to be jerks, mostly.)

I then researched the question, and, of course, all the posts about this say that you’re supposed to say hate to lose, that it’s the attitude of champions, and that everyone loves winning, but if you hate to lose, you’re really motivated. Granted, most of the posts were on sites dealing with sales or sales jobs, and the position for which I interviewed wasn’t in sales, but now I’m curious: What do you think about this question and what employers might be looking for in an answer?

I think it’s a crap question asked by crap interviewers.

This is the sort of question interviewers ask when they don’t know how to interview and so instead randomly pick things off of internet lists of interview questions.

If they want to find out if you have the “attitude of champions” (puke), they should figure out what specific behaviors that manifests in that they care about and ask questions about times in your work life when you’ve needed to demonstrate those things.

3. I accidentally messed up my boyfriend’s work schedule and he got fired

My boyfriend and I both worked at a retail store. I’ve been there for about three years now. He was hired about a year ago, after me, and only stayed there for a few months. I love working there and he did too. He currently doesn’t have a job and this was his last one.

I wrote both of our schedules down. I was very careful and made sure I didn’t mess up the time or the days we had off. I wrote on his schedule that he had two days off in a row. Now, he worked very early in the morning (4 a.m.) as a stocker and he was late maybe two or three times due to having to commute from an hour away. Well, he did not have those two days off; he was supposed to work. Due to his attendance, he was fired.

I felt so bad and I still do feel bad. He reapplied to the same store for a different position and explained what happened with the two days he missed (leaving out that *I* was the one wrote his schedule down) but was told he couldn’t be rehired because they didn’t know if he would show up for work.

Should I go to the manager with my explanation? Would it help or make the situation worse? Or let bygones be bygones and hope he can move on to another job? It’s been close to a year since all this happened and it still bothers me.

There’s no real harm in telling your manager that you were the one who gave him the wrong schedule. She may still feel that ultimately it was his responsibility to get his correct schedule and that he shouldn’t have been relying on you to manage his schedule for him (and really, that’s not something you should do for him for all sorts of reasons, including what happened here). But if you’re in good standing there, it’s possible that knowing this could soften her stance a little bit.

That said, I would simultaneously let it go and figure this job isn’t on the table for him anymore. You’d be correcting the record more out of integrity than as a strategy to get him rehired.

4. Should we return money to an intern who over-donated?

We recently had a baby shower at work, and the person who gave the most money towards party and gift was an intern/Vista fellow. For comparison, all the mom’s supervisors gave $20 and he gave $40.

We have about $35 leftover in donations, which we are planning to save for the holiday party. However, our intern is leaving at the end of the month so he isn’t likely to be at the party.

He’s a really nice guy. He’s very involved in his work and though he’s in a different department, he did work on a project with the mom. But I feel bad that he gave so much when his salary is miniscule compared to others. Is there a nice way to tell him we had extra money and give him $20 back while stressing I really appreciate his generosity? He wasn’t even able to come to the baby shower!

Yes, definitely give it back! The trick is to do it without making him feel bad or like his generosity is being rejected. I’d say this: “We ended up having extra, so we’re returning some of it to you. Thank you for being so generous!”

For what it’s worth, you could have even done this at the time he contributed by saying something like, “This is so thoughtful of you but I feel bad having you donate when I know you’re on a Vista stipend, so your money is no good here” (since if I’m remembering correctly, Vista members only get a stipend for living expenses) or “Don’t worry, your contribution is on us!”

5. Hiring a candidate who dressed overly casually for the interview

I’m hiring for a pretty junior role as a part-time assistant to me, the office manager. We’ve been getting lots of candidates who come from the retail/hospitality industry, which is great for this role. The problem is, a lot of the candidates who have come in have been dressed inappropriately for our office. We are technically business casual, but we’re more business than casual. If a candidate is good in all other aspects than dress, how do you address it with them if you want to hire them for the role?

Explain it when you’re making the job offer, so it’s not getting sprung on them after they’ve already accepted. (Most people won’t be deterred by it, but you want to allow for the possibility that someone could be.) You can just be very direct — “I want to let you know that we’re more on the business end of business casual, which for us means (fill in details here).” And that last part is important — be sure to give specifics so that they’re clear on what is and isn’t okay; don’t assume that they’ll have your same definition of business casual.

{ 443 comments… read them below }

  1. CMT*

    #1 Tracing somebody’s security badge activity really seems like overkill, especially the fact that you’ve done it to more than one person. Unless it’s interfering with your pumping, it’s super nosy.

    1. Wendy Darling*

      Yeah, uh, that part actually creeped me out. And at the companies I’ve worked for with badge access I’m pretty sure that would be a firing offense — tracking other employees’ movements without a legitimate business reason is Not Cool.

      1. Caramel Popcorn*

        At my company OP would be in WAY more trouble for this than anyone caught napping!

        Also, someone messing with her milk!? WTF, why the heck would they do that? She’s got no basis for that really seriously paranoid thought and might need to reflect on why in the world she’d think that.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I have a feeling this is going to provoke a lot of comments along these lines, so I want to request that people not pile on about this point now that it’s been made a few times. Consider it made and presumably noted by the OP!

        1. neverjaunty*

          You should probably put this at the top, which means only 50% of commenters will miss it :/

        2. OP #1*

          Adding some additional info here at the top. I typically pull a report on the devices for all of our empty suites in the building a couple times a week just to make sure there isn’t any unusual activity in those areas either during the day or over night, because we previously had some reports of strange things happening as the suites were emptying. So I would have noticed her activity in the suite regardless of if I were in the room or not. In response to the comments about my paranoid milk-tampering thoughts, I totally admitted to being paranoid about that in my letter. I guess I just felt safer when there were other mothers in the room and other milk in the fridge (and other people in the HR suite). If she has a need for some quiet time, I’m all for that (and I totally understand), I honestly just didn’t know if I should say something to her or not.

          1. Recent Grad*

            Am I the only one thinking that she’s looking for a space for phone interviews? Yes, I understand that it’s a lactation suite, but that seems like a reasonable use, especially if she’s getting laid off

            1. ChrysantheMumsTheWord*

              +1 to this. At my last job we ended up moving half our staff out of part of our building in order to try to get it rented out and save some money.

              During my lunch breaks I would often use the empty office side for phone interviews. I even cleared my time spent over there to make some personal calls with our office manager because I thought that was fair.

              Especially with the upcoming layoff, it could even be that this behavior is condoned by the employee’s manager.

            2. OP #1*

              I thought about that, because people are using empty offices all over the building for interviews. It just struck me as super weird because the lights were all off in the entire suite (including that office) and there was no sound at all.

              1. Manders*

                If she’s in her 50s and knows she’s about to be laid off from a job she’s had for a while, she may just be feeling overwhelmed and looking for a quiet place to calm down or maybe even cry.

                It is a bit weird, but it sounds like this company’s in an unusual situation and people may be doing unusual things to cope with the stress of the layoffs.

                1. Laura B*

                  This was my thought. She’s in a stressful situation and trying to cope – an empty dark suite would be the perfect place to do that. I really think you need to give her a pass, OP.

            3. JetCityJo*

              This was my thought as well. Even if she is using one of the empty offices for a nap or meditation, it doesn’t sound like she is interrupting OP#1 and using “the comfy chair” if she’s going into another close office.

          2. Rey*

            OP #1, I definitely understand where your discomfort is coming from. You’re alone in a locked room in an empty (and presumably darkened) suite, doing something that I’d imagine could feel rather intimate and vulnerable, and suddenly there are footsteps outside. It sounds like the setup to a horror movie, so of course it’s pinging some irrational fears. I think that as long as your use of the lactation room hasn’t been interfered with at all, this isn’t a situation that you need to do anything about.

            And, if it makes you feel any better, here’s something my brain once came up with: I live in a fairly isolated house surrounded by woods. I was home alone for about a week and, despite the fact that the largest and most dangerous animal that lives in these woods is a white-tailed deer, a small part of my brain became convinced that if I didn’t get the front door unlocked AS FAST AS POSSIBLE, I was going to be eaten by wolves. Real, actual wolves that aren’t even native to my part of the country.

            Point is, we all have worries and fears that don’t always make sense. The trick is learning to recognize them for what they are and then to put them to rest. Best of luck to you.

            1. Whats In A Name*

              You made me laugh at the wolves! But also made a good point. I go right to horror movie, too, even when intellectually I know its not rational.

          3. Just a Thought*

            The thing a lot of people don’t understand about pumping is that being stressed out can actually affect your milk production. And being afraid that someone might come into the room while you are in there half naked is really uncomfortable! And if you don’t make enough milk while you are at work then you baby isn’t gonna get to eat. So it really is a Big Deal that the pumping space is private and respected.

            I think it is totally natural for mom’s to feel territorial about the pumping room. I certainly did when I was pumping for my son. I know not everyone is this way, but so many moms get such a hard time for pumping at work and most people just can’t understand what it is like. And many moms really have to fight to get an appropriate space – see the past post about being required to pump in bathrooms (shudder). I once had the maintenance guys ask if I would give them the code to our room so they could use the sink to wash their dirty paint brushes!

            The last thing is that, at least for me, while I was still pumping I was still full of Momma Bear hormones and they sometimes make you over-protective. So I totally get why the OP is upset about someone else using that room for something other than pumping. I would be royally pissed-off too.

            1. OP #1*

              This! I know, seriously I KNOW that she’s not going to open the jars of milk and put something in them, or anything even remotely like that. What I don’t know is whether or not she might open the fridge door and not completely close it, or something else *totally innocent* that would cause the milk to not be kept properly cold. I’ve been trying to taper down on pumping and start supplementing with formula but baby is not playing according to the plan so my supply is already at that point where I have just enough for each day.

              1. LizM*

                I just finished pumping a few months ago, so I understand how valuable milk is. If it makes you feel better, my lactation consultant told me that milk can actually be left at room temperature for 4-6 hours, plus if your milk does turn, you’ll know by it’s smell. So it’s unlikely that even if she got noisy she would ruin a day’s worth of milk.

                But if it makes you more comfortable, you can also keep your milk with you – I kept mine in a cooler at my desk. Milk can be kept on ice for up to 24 hours.

          4. No, just no*

            You didn’t “admit” to being paranoid, you excused yourself for giving in to an outrageous whim by waving the Mommy Flag. Nope, nope, nope. Stop that.

              1. Marina*

                What if the other worker is going through mesopause? Does that count? Or maybe she just got an unfortunate medical diagnosis. The OP really should rethink her priorities.

                1. Recruiter*

                  I think her priorities are correct-they’re centered on her child’s food. The livelihood of her child is more important than whatever else is gong on with a co-worker.

          5. Recruiter*

            I don’t think you’re being super paranoid…breast milk is worth its weight in gold in my opinion. When I pumped, and I happened to spill some, it was devastating to me. Only nursing mothers understand the time, effort, pain, tears, and time management that goes into breast feeding/pumping. I would be a tad paranoid like you. Is there a way to lock the refrigerator? Maybe that could ease your mind a bit. Don’t feel bad…that is your child’s food, and any parent would be thinking about the safety of their child’s food.

    2. Library Director*

      +1 for the creepy vibe. I’m not sure why the concern over someone tampering with expressed milk. Milk was left in the refrigerator when the area was staffed.

      1. Bookworm*

        In fairness to OP, she does acknowledge that her rational mind knows that no one is tampering with her milk. Some people consider pumping to be an intimate act (although I realize not everyone feels that way) and it’s understandable she might be jarred by the fact that someone else is using a room that she thought was only in use by her. We all follow irrational trains of thought sometimes.

        (That said, I still agree with Alison’s advice.)

        1. Nina*

          The second point crossed my mind as well. If I read it correctly, the suite is for lactation purposes only. If OP is the only woman using it now, I can see her being surprised at someone else walking in. The printer stuff sounds innocuous, and not long enough to warrant concern.

          But as for this woman, I would let it go, OP. Yeah, she could be sleeping or resting for whatever reason, but I don’t think she’s lurking there waiting on you to leave, and I definitely don’t think she’s tampering with your milk.

          People deal with layoffs differently. Some mentally check out entirely, others fall apart. She just might need some time to clear her head during the day.

      2. L.*

        That ‘tampering’ fear makes me think OP 1 has had some kind of run-in with this woman before, and left that out of the letter. Any remaining grudge would explain why she put a trace on the lady’s badge (!), which we all agree was excessive. Even if she doesn’t have a good relationship with this woman, Allison’s advice still applies.

    3. Eaten by a grue*

      Yes, if I’m reading right, there’s a secured HR suite and *within* the suite there is a private lactation room? (If I’ve misinterpreted, somebody correct me!)

      But if that’s the case and assuming there aren’t other concerns not mentioned in the letter…using one’s elevated system access to track your coworkers’ comings and goings without cause seems a little inappropriate.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Yeah, the way I read it, there’s an empty suite of offices, and each individual one has a closing door. One of the individual offices is the lactation room. The others are not being used for anything. They’re all private. So OP can have her privacy in one, and this co-worker can have her privacy in another,, without either one encroaching on the other.

    4. LeRainDrop*

      OP #1 – Perhaps your co-worker is going in there to nap, perhaps to cry, perhaps she had even been given a medical accommodation for a break in the day. Who knows? But as long as she is not interfering with your ability to use the lactation room when you need it, I don’t think there is anything that you should do about this.

      In my office, we did have one person who occasionally used the lactation room to nap, which was kind of annoying but tolerated since she timed it for after business hours. What was more annoying was the people who actually knocked on the door to get inside the lactation room while it was being used. The worst I heard was my friend had her shirt off for pumping, and another lady was banging on the door to get in. My friend was like, “hey, I’m using the room,” and the lady responded, “I left my cake in the fridge and I need to get it.” My friend was so caught off guard that she actually let the lady in, who seemed annoyed that she had to wait 30 seconds to get her piece of cake.

      1. ginger ale for all*

        I have a co-worker who is prone to panic attacks when she gets stressed out. Quiet time alone while she goes through some mental exercises calms her down. Perhaps your co-worker has something similar going on? It’s curious but let her manager worry about what she is doing and where she is while she is at work. Best wishes with all the layoffs and tension in your company.

      2. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed*

        Ughhhh I’d take that up with HR – they need to let people know that the room isn’t an all-purpose room. How obnoxious.

        1. LeRainDrop*

          Oh, for sure. My friend was timid, but a few of us convinced her that she had to tell HR., who of course was appalled! After that, a sign was placed on the door to the lactation room. The cake thing was just super obnoxious — I mean, we have nice kitchens with full-size refrigerators on each floor, but this one lady (who was not a pumping mother) I guess felt entitled to the mini-fridge in the lactation room rather than going around the corner to the all-purpose fridge.

          1. Clever Name*

            You’d be surprised how many people do. I was the only pumping mother at the time and I had to compete with lunches for fridge space, in the lactation room, when the regular break room with three full-sized fridges was right around the corner.

            HR here was unconcerned…

          2. Moonsaults*

            Given the acts of entitlement when it comes to places for very specific things in the workplace, this doesn’t shock me at all. Disgusts me nonetheless but shocked, not at all. Argh.

            I’m glad they put up a sign at least so if she ever pulled that stunt again it’d be written up.

      3. Whats In A Name*

        At least the woman knocked. I had a co-worker who was pumping once and must have forgotten to lock the door. Someone just barged in – a male no less – and she was just sitting there, milking away with her top off.

        1. Whats In A Name*

          Pumping…OMG…PUMPING. Not milking. I seriously need coffee…and an “edit” option.

          1. Moonsaults*

            I needed this at this time of the day. I so needed this. I’m crying from laughing more at this correction than anything else. Thank you for this accidental laughter.

        2. BeezLouise*

          I pump at work (with a locked door!) and housekeeping walked in on me last week by knocking and then UNLOCKING my door. She was super confused and kept asking for my trash while people were walking behind her in the hallway. Not my favorite moment.

          1. HYDR*

            OMG, my worst fear when pumping! We had just moved into a new building (academic building) and the door to the lactation room FACED THE CLASSROOM. I tried to time my sessions when classes were not in the room, because it was. so. awkward. to have people see you come in and out. Also, the lock that was put on the door from inside did not work. I was paranoid and tested it numerous times and you could override the lock from the keypad outside. We got that fixed ASAP.

            1. BeezLouise*

              There IS a do not disturb sign on my door. That’s the craziest part! And I’ve been pumping since January in this office, at roughly the same times each day (which sounds crazy, actually) and no one has ever even come by to collect trash while I was here. It’s all crazy.

          2. TrainerGirl*

            I worked for someone who used to pump in her office while we were having our 1 on 1’s. Now, I’ve had many friends who nursed so it’s not a big deal, but I do NOT want to see my boss topless.

      4. Machiamellie*

        I agree that if someone has an allowed work break, they should be able to do whatever they like, unless it’s been specifically stated that employees are not allowed to nap in that area or whatnot.

        Maybe she’s playing Candy Crush in there, who knows. Many people like to get away from their desks for lunch, but don’t necessarily want to go to a lunchroom and interact with people. I’ve been known to go out and nap in my car on my lunch break, or just listen to an audio book. I’d love to have a room where I could do so.

    5. MK*

      Iwouldn’t say it’s creepy so much as … inappropriately proprietory? The OP seems to have developed the mindset that it’s “her” suite and people need a “very good reason” to go in there.

      1. NolongerMsCleo*

        I can’t completely explain it, but I kind of see where she’s coming from. I just quit pumping this week and was also a bit territorial over the mother’s room. I’m sure it’s a combination of a lot of things including the fact that I was half naked behind that door a few times a day.
        Like I said, I can’t really explain it, but I understand.
        I also bought a mini fridge for my desk rather than leave my milk in a room that others were using. I didn’t feel comfortable leaving it where other people had unsupervised access to it (although there were many times my desk is unsupervised, but that didn’t bother me. Makes no sense, I know).
        I’m usually a very level headed person but pregnancy and nursing hormones sometimes made me irrational, I knew I was being irrational, but I couldn’t help myself. I laugh now but it was very confusing at the time.

        1. NolongerMsCleo*

          But I do completely agree. Tracking someone’s badge scans without a legitimate purpose is the much greater offense here. We would fire someone over that much quicker than for sneaking away for a little while during the day.

        2. Ro*

          Never been a mother but those feelings make perfect sense. It’s possibly some primal, protective feeling any mom would have. It’s food for your baby. It makes sense from an evolutionary perspective you’d have such feelings. Its all about preservation of the species and I doubt we can even control such feelings, despite what our rational mind tells us!

          1. NolongerMsCleo*

            Thank you! As a first time Mom, these insanely strong feelings hit me out of seemingly no where. That makes perfect sense to me though.

          2. Honeybee*

            I think there’s also a socialized aspect to it. Pumping is just private for some people, but women have fought for private places to pump for so long and there’s a very real danger of those places being elided or used as all-purpose rooms for people who want to nap, have phone interviews, store their snacks, etc. If these things start happening regularly enough, the room starts to get taken over by others who are not lactating and are using it for a bunch of other purposes, which then makes it harder or impossible for people nursing babies to use it.

      2. Just a Thought*

        But that is just the point. No One should be using the lactation room for anything other than lactating. So if she is the only pumping mom in the office then she is the only person who should be in the room. If the company wants to create nap rooms, more power to them. But it is inappropriate for people to think they can pop into the lactation room for a nap.

    6. Amelia Earhart*

      I was just coming here to say that. They aren’t bothering you, so why do you feel the need to police who is in there?

    7. Suomynona*

      For sure! I thought that was bizarre and seems like it might be a violation of some policy.

    8. Eddie Turr*

      This sounds like something I would do, more out of curiosity than anything else. But it’s definitely going to come off as nosy or creepy if you go to HR and explain that you tracked someone’s security badge because they were in a room that you didn’t expect them to be in.

    9. Stranger than fiction*

      That caught my attention too. That’s why I I would have used Alison’s last suggestion and just said something like “someone here?”.

    10. Clever Name*

      I’m really nosy, and as part of my job, I’m a really really good researcher. So I can see myself doing something like this were I in a similar situation. However, as Alison and others have noted, I wouldn’t do anything with this information. At most I’d file it away as background information on that person’s character as a coworker, but I’d still keep my mind open.

  2. carmendarlene*

    We have a “lactation room” where I work, but it is also used for other things. I get migraine headaches. I occasionally need to lie down after taking my migraine medication and I cannot do that in my office. The person that is using the “lactation suite” might have their own medical reason for doing so. I think it is incredibly creepy for the original poster to be looking up who is using their key to come into that space. If they aren’t bothering her and aren’t her direct reports, it’s none of her business.

    1. BlackEyedPea*

      That was my first thoughts as well–that the admin wasn’t waiting for OP1 to finish pumping, but had her own accommodation and was granted access to the HR space.

    2. Wendy Darling*

      Honestly I wish workplaces would have a “shut up and go away” room people could just duck into for 15 minutes when they can’t deal with the noise/hubbub level, especially in open offices! Sometimes if I was having a stressful day I’d get really overwhelmed just by all the people talking and moving around in the office and would end up sitting on a box in a storage room playing solitaire for 15 minutes or something just so I could decompress.

      1. BRR*

        That sounds so lovely. I usually end up going to get some water and go to the restroom when my neighbors get too loud. Basically my only option to get away.

      2. hermit crab*

        We have one! HR calls it the “wellness room” — people who need a place to pump get priority, but if nobody’s using it for that purpose then anyone can go in and chill out if they need to.

        1. LQ*

          We have one too. I think it is primarily for people who need a place to pump or pray, but right now we don’t regularly have any of either category so it is usually open. I know someone who had a loss in the family and suggested that she can use it, I know she has a few times and it’s been really helpful to have a place to get away and cry alone for a few minutes.

        2. Eddie Turr*

          Ours is called a “mother’s room,” so it’s still primarily for pumping, but we only have ~40 employees so it’s rarely in use (and it’s pretty easy to guess whether we currently have an employee who might need to pump). It’s the quietest place in the office and I’ve been known to disappear into it for a minute or two when things are nutty.

      3. Julia*

        Or at least permission to use ear plugs if you share your Office with a screamer who has the TV on during work. (No, really.)

          1. Callie*

            Whenever my mom comes to visit, she wants the tv on constantly. The shows are bad enough (Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, reality shows) but the commercials are even worse. Especially now that it’s election season. When we moved, our new place is set up so that you don’t need a cable box (the tv connects directly to the wall) so we told her that we don’t have cable anymore. No more chattering tv.

          2. Mabel*

            Sometimes when I have to do “mindless” work, I’ll put something on Netflix on my other computer. But it has to be something I’ve seen 100 times (like Law & Order episodes) so I don’t get distracted, and I do this only when I’m working from home, by myself. I think anyone would be distracted by this in a shared office!

            1. Allison*

              Yes, same here. I usually have something familiar on in the background if I’m working from home, or doing dishes, or trying to come down from a panic attack and fall asleep at 3AM. It’s my noise, and that makes it welcome noise, and far less irritating than my coworkers talking directly behind me all day.

            2. Elizabeth West*

              I used to do that when I had cable and was working from home–otherwise, the house would get quiet enough that I was in danger of falling asleep! A Kitchen Nightmares marathon worked well because I’ve seen them all and could ignore them when I needed to concentrate.

            3. Wendy Darling*

              I used to “watch” SVU when I was doing really tedious work that involved very little brain (I occasionally has to physically inspect like 200 prototypes, which basically involved dismantling them and seeing if a certain part was bent to hell or not). But my monitor was not visible to any of my neighbors, as I was in a corner and my monitor faced a wall, and I wore headphones. So I wasn’t bothering anyone.

              The great thing about SVU is if you stop paying attention for 5-10 minutes, you can still figure out exactly what’s going on within 30 seconds. And it was great to keep myself from dying of boredom while I unscrewed and rescrewed hundreds of screws.

          3. LQ*

            It’s odd, I used to always want it on. (Though I’ll have the same 2-3 tv shows looping, commercial free and quiet (and animated, I think there is something about that but I haven’t sorted that out) in the background.) But I no longer want it and now I will turn it off more and more and have silence. Not sure what changed but at one point I really always needed to have it on and now I really need to have it off a lot. I think this is a humans are different kind of thing.

          4. Simonthegrey*

            When I was working on my thesis in college, I left on Court TV all day, live courtroom coverage. It was just mindless noise but for some reason it was really helpful. I used to use ghost hunger shows for that, also, but anymore I would rather work in complete silence.

      4. Allison*

        I want this so badly! I have, on occasion, stepped away from my coworkers when there was just too much talking in our area, but only to the kitchen/cafe area, which isn’t really an option around lunch time. I wish we had a designated quiet area for heads-down people to just do their work in peace.

      5. Some Sort of Management Consulta*

        We do actually a literal “rest room” (;)) with a pretty comfy bed and a lock.
        It’s not like going home but it’s better than nothing when you need an emergency nap or have a horrible headache.

      6. Serin*

        Oh, man, that would be so nice. We don’t need to compete with pumping moms for space! Introvert space for everyone!

      7. Jubilance*

        My office has one of those, we call it a “quiet room”. However, when you badge into it, your manager gets an email saying you’ve used the quiet room – I guess to keep people from napping all afternoon instead of getting their work done. I like that it’s available, but I’ve never used it due to the Big Brother approach they take with alerting your manager.

        1. Allison*

          Oh yikes, I could see that deterring people from using the room. I’d hate to worry that every time I used it, my manager might pull me aside and go “why did you need to use that room? is something wrong? are you unable to work in our environment? is this job too stressful for you?”

          1. Jubilance*

            And that’s exactly why I don’t use it – I’m more likely to grab an enclave if I feel a migraine coming on, or I’ve just sent my manager an email saying I’m not feeling well and heading home. The whole email to your manager thing creeps me out.

        2. Cyrus*

          Eh, sounds Big Brother-ish, but it depends greatly on circumstances.

          In my previous job I definitely could picture myself using something like that. Not often; my previous office also had open grassy grounds and courtyards, so if I wanted privacy and the weather wasn’t terrible, I could just go outside. But in the winter or the rain or if I had mobility problems, I could have used a “quiet room” now and then. As for the manager-emailing part, I got along well with my previous supervisors, and my previous job was really feast or famine in terms of work. Some weeks I’d have literally nothing to do on any of my projects, and some weeks I’d be expected to edit a 500-page document in three days, plus multiple meetings.

          My supervisors would have understood perfectly if I spent half an hour to an hour in the quiet room when one of those surges was looming or when I had a bit of a lull in the middle of one.

        3. Clever Name TBD*

          I see where they are coming from – you’d want to know if someone was spending a large amount of time in there (i.e. several hours or a couple of hours every day). But I’d hate for my manager to get an email every time I needed 15 minutes to decompress. A much better idea would be a need to badge in and out and an email only be sent if a large chunk of time was spent in there (such as an entire afternoon).

        4. Meg Murry*

          Yes, I don’t love that aspect of it either, but I’m guessing it’s also a safety/risk management thing: if an employee badges into the quiet room and there is a fire alarm and now the manager doesn’t know where her employee is, or if the person has been in there for over an hour and the manager is concerned they may have passed out in there or something.

          But yes, I’m with you that I probably wouldn’t use it, or would only use it after sending a pre-emptive email to the manager like “FYI, I feel like I have a migraine coming on, so I’m going to go spend 15 minutes in the quiet room and then decide if I’m ok to drive home or if I need to call a cab or relative to come get me”.

      8. Stranger than fiction*

        Oh totally. My bf’s workplace has an actual napping room, while we don’t even have a break room (just a kitchen with nowhere to sit). So I walk over to this lovely zen-like courtyard at the old folks home next door when I need some quiet time.

    3. Britt*

      I was thinking this too. My husband gets crazy migraines and his last office had a “quiet room” that he used whenever he felt one coming on. Sometimes he could head it off and that room was usually the only reason why. OP, the person doing this could have a very good reason for doing this. As long as it’s not affecting you or your ability to pump, it’s not your job to track who enters and leaves.

    4. Patrick*

      I am not arguing against having lactation rooms be “multi purpose” but my office actually had a big kerfluffle over it a few years ago because ours was becoming occupied all day – while there are tons of legit reasons for someone to need a quiet space, there was also a suspicion that people were using it to make private phone calls.

      The solution ended up being that a schedule had to be made up so the women in the office who were pumping (or really anyone with a regular/predictable need to use the room) could reserve it and not worry about having to wait or kick someone out. Unfortunately that sucks for, say, migraine sufferers but ultimately (at least at my office) it’s tough to guarantee that a private space will be available whenever needed.

      1. Nanani*

        Sounds like an argument for providing MORE private space should be made, over restricting access on the basis of judging who needs it badly enough.

        1. Patrick*

          I don’t disagree, but I also don’t know how realistic it is to try and provide an abundance of private space in an office – I know in my building adding more private space would mean someone is losing an office or meeting room. Ultimately while it sucks I think in most situations people who need private space for medical reasons are going to have to be prioritized to not run afoul of the law.

          1. Lora*

            Hey, back in the olden days, a private office with a door was the norm for white collar workers. Cubicles weren’t invented until 1968. They had room for break rooms and locker rooms, too, and computers that now fit in your pocket, took up a whole floor.

            Somehow, our facility overlords figured out how to fit the people they needed into the space they could afford; they located their sites in smaller towns where commercial real estate was cheap, they gave administrative support functions to actual secretaries so their executive staff could focus on their jobs instead of filling out requisitions for blue ink pens and organizing TPS reports, they did process development work to minimize the footprint required to produce their widgets. It can totally be done, it has been done in the past. We don’t do it now because we choose not to do it.

            1. Doreen*

              I don’t think a private office with a door was ever the norm for white collar workers unless you use a fairly restricted definition of white collar worker. From 1984 to 1994, I worked in neither private offices nor cubicles. The jobs I had during those years reserved offices for managers- the rest of us had desks in open rooms large enough to fit anywhere from 10 to 100 desks depending on the job. Cubicles would have been an improvement – one job had rows of desks literally touching each other , like in those old photos of typing pools.

              1. Lora*

                The bullpen! I was actually thinking back in the ’60s and early ’70s. Before cubicles were widespread. But I worked in bullpens too. I was thinking more like junior and middle managers, who are now in the cube farm/open office/hoteling with everyone else.

    5. DoDah*

      At old job–folks with migraines had to lay down in their cars. No one was permitted to use the lactation room unless they were nursing.

      1. LQ*

        This is kind of odd, maybe it is just me because I don’t have a car but I feel like a car would be the worst place to be with a migraine. So bright and smelly and loud and people walking by and jumpy. I’d rather sit under my standing desk (which I have done, and oddly helped, because it was cooler and darker and I couldn’t smell perfume) than in a car. (And of course since I don’t have one, I can’t.)

        1. KR*

          I’ve found that sitting in my car can be very relaxing at times, especially after a long day. If weather permits, I’ll sit in there with all the windows up while it’s off and it’s very quiet.

        2. afiendishthingy*

          During high-stress periods, I’ve been known to take breaks under my desk or bring the laptop down there to work. It’s comforting. :)

    6. Melissa B*

      A late twenties friend and former co-worker of mine got cancer and our lactation room was the only place she could go to lay down for a few minutes. Using the recliner doesn’t necessarily mean napping (though as a fellow migraine sufferer, making may mean I could stay in the office the remainder of the day rather than going home).

    7. Lora*

      That was what I thought of, too – migraines. You take one pill, wait 30 minutes to see if it’s working well enough, then take another if you need it, then wait another 30 minutes, and if it isn’t better by then call the doctor/go to urgent care for a cocktail of benadryl, toradol and zofran, with maybe some valium thrown in for good measure. Ugh. And for that first 30 minutes it feels like a large vulture has seized your skull with claws made of white-hot steel, and the evil bird is now trying to smash your head open on the pavement so it can eat your brains. But if you can just lie very very still in a quiet dark room for 30-45 minutes, waiting for the meds to kick in, you’ll be sort of OK. And sitting in a fluorescent-lit office with colleagues talking becomes its own special kind of hell, in which you wish someone would kill you to put you out of your misery.

      1. Carolina*

        This is, quite possibly, the best, most accurate description of getting a migraine at work I have ever seen.

    8. myswtghst*

      The person that is using the “lactation suite” might have their own medical reason for doing so.

      This was my thought as well. I don’t necessarily see the checking as creepy, especially based on the OP’s follow up above, but I know I work with a few people who need quiet time in a dark room for various medical conditions (including migraines, heart conditions, and anxiety / panic attacks) so having a room in the suite (which is not used for lactation) being available for that might be a blessing for the coworker.

  3. Guava*

    #1 made me think maybe she’s going in that room to cry :(

    You know she’s being laid off and she’s upset about it….

    Also, you put a trace on her badge?! Wut? I’m a person who must-know-all-the-things! but a trace sounds a little excessive (verses just looking up who keyed in at 2:38 pm).

    1. BRR*

      While we don’t know what’s going on that’s my guess. She’s upset and needs to compose herself and this sounds like a good spot. I would just leave it alone in general but especially with her being laid off there isn’t really any reason to let it occupy your time.

    2. L.*

      This was my thought too- about 3 years ago I was in an extremely toxic/stressful job where towards the end I cried nearly every day. I would do it wherever I could get some privacy, mainly the ladies bathroom, or sometimes just with my back turned to my coworkers in our awful open-office plan. I would have definitely slipped into a lactation room if I thought no one would notice. I think Allison is right to tell OP to cut the poor lady a break. The knocking option in particular is a subtle way to let her know that OP notices she’s there. I’d wager she wants privacy too, and would look for somewhere else.

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        This was my thought exactly. This sounds like a quieter, more private space than anywhere else. (The need to be *away* from everything is the reason why I go sit outside on my breaks, even though our wooden benches desperately need repainting/finishing and stay wet for 24 hours after any rain. I’ll put up with a wet butt to be away from everything…)

    3. Not So NewReader*

      The thought that hit me was that if OP can trace the coworker’s movements, then so can TPTB.

    4. Anon13*

      My immediate thoughts were that she’s going in there to cry or she’s going in there to do phone interviews. (I’m not sure how much the OP can hear from the lactation room if both the door to the lactation room and the door to the office the co-worker is using are closed.) It’s not out of the norm to have to do some job search activities during the day if you know you are about to be laid off, and many workplaces have no problem with it, as long as you get your work done.

      1. L.*

        Phone interviews are a good guess too! I think that could be right. I doubt OP can hear her talking, or else she wouldn’t be so suspicious of the worker.

    5. OP #1*

      Yeah, I guess I didn’t realize “trace” would be a hot-button word. That’s the term our software uses for exactly what you described…looking up who keyed in at such-and-such a time.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Hey OP — I don’t think the word is the problem, actually. The action you’re taking is rubbing folks the wrong way.

        But more than that, I hope you can just accept that other people use the suite (in ways you may not know or understand, because it’s not relevant for you) and find a way to be comfortable while you’re pumping.

  4. Kittens*

    My background is hospitality/food service and I see a LOT interviewees — it’s true that they tend to show up in pretty darn casual attire. I’m thinking back to what I wore for my interview (got the job) — it was a knee-length cotton black polka dot dress with a simple but fashionable sweater over it and simple black flats. So yeah, I totally think hiring someone who was a bit casual and letting them know ahead of time the dress code is spot on.

    1. Mike C.*

      Especially if they have everything else you’re looking for. If they’re qualified enough to do the job, they’re going to be qualified enough to follow direct instructions about proper business attire.

      1. MK*

        Don’t be so sure; plenty of qualified people have trouble getting these things right, even when they try, not to mention those who refuse to comply on principle.

        In any case, it should go without saying that dress itself shouldn’t be the sole deciding factor; but, baringa few things that are absolutely unacceptable, nothing really should be the sole deciding factor. Everything is taken into account along with the rest of the factors and put into the context of what is importsnt for the job, as well as how the rest of the candidates are comparing.

        1. Joseph*

          There are some people would have trouble with the dress code after having it explained, but I think OP should start by just assuming it was a simple mistake/lack of knowledge rather than something more serious. Explain the dress code and see what happens. If the new employee happens to have trouble getting things right (or refuses to comply), then that’s a separate issue that you deal with appropriately in the future.

        2. Mike C.*

          This would be a crappy world if people only hired folks who are not only qualified but also show all the “correct” social class qualifiers as well. Getting a job should be about the demonstration of appropriate skills, not a demonstration of the middle class secret handshake.

          If it continues, then do something.

          1. Whats In A Name*

            I didn’t see where the OP said she thought their social status was an issue, just their dress choice. I didn’t’ see where commenter above alluded to that either.

            I agree with Alison’s advice that it shouldn’t be a deciding factor but talked about at offer stage. Example: and ONLY an example: Ripped jeans and flip flops might be a non-negotiable for the interviewee and the organization and should be discussed

              1. Kelly L.*

                And she says they’re coming from retail and hospitality, which is usually lower-paid than the usual “office job.”

                1. Whats In A Name*

                  Right, but she says that is the experience she wants. I am having a hard time finding where the OP or other commenters are saying “Since they are obviously lower class we are hesitant to hire them.” which is what Mike C. seems to be implying concerns about dress are implying. I am not seeing the connection in this particular case at all.

                2. Mike C.*

                  @What In A Name

                  MK started off their post with, “Don’t be so sure; plenty of qualified people have trouble getting these things right, even when they try, not to mention those who refuse to comply on principle. “

                  I’m mentioning class as a way to to explain why some may not intuitively understand dress code norms right off the bat and bolster my argument that otherwise qualified folks should be given a chance.

                  The portion you have in quotes is not a point I am trying to make.

                3. M-C*

                  +1 to Mike and Kelly – ‘business’ dress is meaningless to someone whose parents didn’t demonstrate getting dressed for this kind of job. And coming up to standards wouldn’t be obvious to someone who’d been horribly paid for years.

                  I’d throw in a reference to (horrible name I know) for the employees who are trying but don’t get it, they have tons of advice for interns, transitioning students etc including spoofing it while you pad the bank account.

                4. Whats In A Name*

                  @ Mike C – thanks for explaining more, I was taking at very surface and apologize for confusion on my end.

              2. Anxa*

                I think access to the clothing can be a bigger deal than knowledge. I used to be solidly middle class, and sometimes I have the perfect outfit picked out in my head, but I don’t have shoes that go with it anymore, can’t afford to buy it, it doesn’t fit anymore, etc.

                I’m at a point where I can’t really afford to buy a complete wardrobe ‘just in case.’ I don’t even have an interview suit right now as I started working out (ironically to get stronger for the lifting requirements of some jobs) and now I feel the pants may be too tight (although the next size up will likely drown me) and the one I invested in 8 years ago isn’t really well-fitting.

                1. Marina*

                  Access to information about appropriate dress is not limited to only those people who saw their parents get dressed for work. It’s classist to think so.

              3. Marina*

                But the information isn’t classified. Plenty of people who grew up without first-hand observation of how to dress appropriately have managed to figure out what to wear, because they were motivated and resourceful enough to find out.

                1. Mike C.*

                  You do realize that folks from lower socio-economic classes have, by definition, access to fewer resources, right?

                  There’s no need to be so dismissive about the experience of others.

          2. OP #5*

            That’s why I asked for advice actually. I just wasn’t sure how to broach it with a candidate. We’re not looking for someone with a college degree, or particularly middle class, but they will be acting as a receptionist and will be the face of our company. So dressing well will be part of the job. I would never disqualify someone based on their dress, so if we find someone perfect, and we need to address their clothes, I want to know the best way to do that to get the point across about how important this is for our company.

            1. M-C*

              The good point of addressing the topic of dress as part of the offer, as suggested by AAM, is that you’ll establish that it’ll be normal to give some feedback on the topic later, so the new worker isn’t blindsided by that. I’d also recommend a bit of positive feedback if it works out :-)

            2. Mike C.*

              I really appreciate the approach you’re taking here, I could easily imagine folks who take one look and say, “this person obviously doesn’t care because they were too lazy/dumb to dress properly” and so on.

              The only thing I would add to Alison’s advice is maybe during the interview take them around the office and have them meet their “potential team members”. That’s a common thing in interviews anyway, and they could see what folks dress to set the stage for a chat during the offer.

              1. anon for this*

                I really like your suggestion, Mike C. It’s helpful to meet other coworkers to get a sense of the personalities you’ll be working with / the culture in the office, and it also gives you a relatively subtle way to scope out the dress code.

                Also, for me, it would be a relief to hear about dress code in the interview / offer stage! I always feel like it’s a bit awkward to bring up as an applicant (and don’t want to sound like I’m overly focused on it), but it is definitely a factor in my decisions (coming from a current workplace where jeans are the norm).

                1. Wheezy Weasel*

                  We just had a similar discussion regarding our upcoming applicant interviews: the boss made point to ask us to wear something that’s not too dressy so the applicants don’t think we always dress like that, but make a point to elevate from your non-meeting-day outfits of jeans+polo so they know the baseline expectation of what is considered normal business wear.

          3. Lora*

            Thank you for saying this, from someone who scoured Salvation Army thrift stores for professional looking clothing for her first job out of college.

      2. Stranger than fiction*

        I totally agree except if they’re young people recently out of school there may be budget issues, unfortunately, prohibiting them from purchasing office attire. Hopefully that’s not the case here, but I only mention because this has happened to my 20-something niece a couple times. She was so broke she had to borrow something for interview and then my sister my mother and myself ended up giving her a bunch of office clothing we weren’t using any more.

    2. blushingflower*

      Also if their background is hospitality/food service or just any sort of uniformed job, it’s possible that they don’t have much in the way of business-casual clothes, especially that trend more towards business. I had a lot of jobs with uniforms so most of the clothes that I owned when I started my current (office) job were not really business-y. My current office is very casual, so if I moved to an organization with a more formal dress code (even just more on the business end of business-casual), I would have to go shopping.

  5. any mouse*

    #5 When I worked for Association for Teapot Repair Professionals there was someone who came in for an interview dressed really casually for the position. It was between her and another candidate. I was the receptionist and the Dept Head asked me my impressions (one of my unofficial duties there) and the other candidate was questionable in the topic of conversation and the questionably dressed candidate seemed more interested.

    Questionably dressed candidate got called back for a second interview , dressed closer to the office norms and got the job. The Dept Head even told the person (much later) that their attire was an issue. But Questionable Candidate ended up getting promoted to Department head (after the other Dept Head left) which is a good reason notto judge someone just based on how they are dressed .

    1. Karo*

      I think what I love about this is that when she came back, she had already (presumably) realized that she was a little under-dressed on her own, and had corrected – even if she still didn’t get it quite right the second time around.

    2. OP #5*

      I’m definitely not trying to disqualify anyone based on how they dress. This person will be part time receptionist, so they’ll be the face of our company, and so dressing well will be important. I actually like the idea of a second round interview to see if they dress better the second time after having been in the office.

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        The only hesitation I have with second in-person interviews is that if someone’s coming from the retail/hospitality interview, this may be hard for them to schedule. I know when I first trying to move from retail to a 9-5 job years ago, it was incredibly difficult to schedule one interview, let alone two. And if this second interview is merely to gauge their dress and not anything else…well, that’s a waste of time for them.

        Could a solution just to write something in the email inviting them in for the first in-person interview. I’ve had jobs that send me the details after a date/time is confirmed that state the location and dress code – this has usually been for start-ups or more casual places and some of them say things like “we’re business casual so khakis or a work-appropriate dress instead of a suit won’t be out of place” or “we’re laid back so jeans are fine”.

        1. Clever Name*

          My company specifically tells applicants after their phone screen when scheduling an interview what we expect them to wear. Granted we are business formal, but our recruiters usually say something like ,”just letting you know our dress code is business formal so men here generally wear a suit, button down shirt and tie.”

          If someone looks like they tried but obviously had to borrow clothes to piece something together, they are not dinged, if you show up in a pink polo with a popped collar, shorts and boat shoes, you are (true story, it happened).

      2. AVP*

        You can even tell them about the dress code when you offer a second interview – this happened to me in high school and it was a really valuable lesson! I was applying to be an after-school tutor and, when calling with info about a second round interview, the HM said something like, “Hi AP, we’d really like to have you come in and meet with more of our team and see how you work with the children. However we noticed that you wore jeans on the first day, with unhemmed cuffs, and wanted to let you know that our dress code here is business casual, so we’d suggest wearing khaki pants with neat hems. Hope to see you then.” That pretty much did the job.

        1. AVP*

          I should mention that I didn’t take the second interview because i was offended by the idea of wearing khakis and realized the job wasn’t for me. Oh, youth!! But at least I didn’t waste their time.

      3. Biff*

        Please keep in mind that someone can change their wardrobe after a few paychecks if need be. Skillsets don’t change nearly as fast.

  6. Justifiably Paranoid*

    You are missing the point. The admin has a keycard to HR. The company is going through lay-offs. She can sabotage the system.

      1. LQ*

        Yeah, it would be incredibly strange if there were actually important files still there. (And “the system” would generally be a digital thing which wouldn’t be key card access anyway, and since people aren’t in the suite they wouldn’t be leaving their computers unlocked when they went to the bathroom.)

    1. Colette*

      As Cary said, there’s likely both to sabotage. The admin has been given access, presumably intentionally, and thus likely has a legitimate need for the space. The OP should let her use it in peace.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        That’s a really nice leather recliner you got there. It’d be a shame if something happened to it.

  7. Stellaaaaa*

    OP5: Going forward, how about you tell your interviewees to dress business-professional for the interview? “Business casual but more business than casual” would confuse a lot of people who aren’t even new to white collar/office work and who haven’t been to your offices before (this isn’t a criticism of your office culture; just a suggestion to help you avoid explaining the dress code over and over). Let the candidates be overdressed at the interview and then tell them there that the usual dress code is slightly more relaxed.

    1. Gaara*

      I’m a white collar worker, and I know what business casual means, but I have no idea what is supposed to be between business and business casual.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Granted this was 10+ years ago, but I’ve worked at a place where “business casual” was just not a suit. So a blazer was often expected, just not necessarily matching the pants/skirt/dress. I feel like the general definition of business casual is usually more casual than that.

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          Well, business casual has meant something different at literally every place I’ve worked in the last 15+ years. And even then , there’s employees that interpret it different and seem to get away with it. I wish they’d get rid of the term all together and come up with two or three new terms to replace it.

        1. Anon13*

          To me, this is business casual. I think the definitely really varies from office to office (or, sometimes from city to city).

        2. MillersSpring*

          Yes, your description is more on the business side of business casual. On the more casual side, I see a lot of men in khakis with polo/golf shirts and women in cropped pants or sandals.

      2. Kyrielle*

        Business is suit and tie for men. For women, lose the tie, and it’s a skirt-suit or a pants-suit, but standard suit jacket.

        Business casual – I have heard this used for “blazer instead of suit jacket, men don’t need a tie”, “no jacket needed but still suit-style pants or skirt and a long-sleeve button shirt”, “reasonably formal slacks and a long or short sleeve button shirt”, “as previous but add polo shirts”, “okay, you can wear khakis too”, and even “t-shirts are fine as long as they don’t have inappropriate text on them”. Somewhere in the list, women being able to wear dresses that are on the formal side, and farther down the less-formal side, adds in, but that’s a trickier line to judge.

        In my current office, “business casual” means you’re wearing a button-up shirt (short or long sleeve) with your jeans. I’m not sure I can actually grok that as “business casual” after my prior experience, but it’s what they mean. (This is because plenty of people wear t-shirts with jeans or even shorts here…that’s casual-casual.)

        1. Whats In A Name*

          Yes, in my experience business casual is all over the place and honestly quite hard to manage. Offices that were business were much easier to exist in from an HR perspective where lines are clearer on the meaning.

          1. Kyrielle*

            I was kind of shocked when a manager here (a peer of my manager) told me that he was advised to “dress up a little more” when promoted to manager…and they meant “replace the polo shirts with button-downs, but the jeans are fine”. Fortunately, ‘casual’ here – which is the standard for the line reports – means within allowable framework, wear what you’re comfortable in, so I don’t stand out. (I’m not fond of jeans or shorts, so I didn’t revise my wardrobe down to the maximum casual allowed. I’m glad it’s allowed, but also glad that no one cares if you don’t go that far.)

        2. SevenSixOne*

          Yes! Business casual is way too broad.

          Complicating things even more: Men can usually wear polo or button-down with optional blazer or sweater + dark or khaki pants for just about any business casual dress code without being glaringly under/overdressed, but I don’t think there’s a universal equivalent like that for women.

    2. Pearl*

      Yes, if I were interviewing I would prefer being told to dress up if OP doesn’t want to have to continually explain the dress code with examples. If I just heard the phrase “more business than casual” my impression would be, “so, business.”

    3. Sunny Days*

      That would be awesome. I wish more companies would say something about how to dress when inviting candidates in for an interview. It would relieve some of the stress and let the candidate focus on preparing for the actual interview. Something like, “We’re a business casual office,” would be fine.

      1. Patrick*

        Not trying to be snarky at all but the fact that “business casual” varies from company to company seems like the root cause of OP #5’s issue. If someone mentions business casual for an interview I’ve always gone with the “suit with no jacket” interpretation to err on the safe side.

        That said, I work in a very casual office/industry and we tell interviewees to dress casually. When I interviewed I was explicitly told not to wear a suit, and it was great info to have.

      2. (Not an IRS) Auditor*

        I’d go a little farther if it’s an identified trend. Include a paragraph in the email with interview info that explains the dress code. “We’re a business casual office, which in our case means formal but not necessarily a suit / no jeans or jean cut pants / anything but torn jeans.”

      3. Stranger than fiction*

        But when they don’t, the rule of thumb is to dress professional, not dress down. (usually, but I’m from an older generation maybe that’s changing)

    4. OP #5*

      This is actually a great idea. I wasn’t the person who invited the last round of interviews in, so I have no idea what they were told, if anything, in regards to dress. I’ve now taken over the process and anyone I invite in I’ll let them know what our dress code is.

      More business than business casual just means that while suits aren’t required, long sleeves are the rule for men. It’s a little more lax for women, but jeans are a no go all around. And we’re on the conservative side, so tank tops, dresses with cut outs, etc. aren’t quite appropriate.

      1. OP #5*

        It also just occurred to me that our recruiting team is generally never looking for anyone this junior so they may not have said anything to the candidates about what to wear. So going forward this will definitely be something we address.

      2. the gold digger*

        dresses with cut outs, etc. aren’t quite appropriate

        Unless you work at a bar or a nightclub, are they ever appropriate? My general rule for work clothes is that I cover the skin between my knees, my upper arms, and my collarbone. And my feet. No naked toes, even if it were ever warm enough for that.

        1. OP #5*

          We had to have a conversation with one of our younger staffers this week actually because she was wearing dresses with cutouts. While they are super cute, and she looks super cute, they are really not appropriate for our workplace. Some places they are fine, but we’re more conservative than that. And I dress like you describe, so it’s easy for me to know what’s appropriate, but I think for kids coming right out of college, or who haven’t had a corporate job before may have a harder time with it.

    5. Chinook*

      I don’t know, “Business casual but more business than casual” actually does help because it let’s you know which way to lean style wise. Then again, I remember asking about a dress code for my overseas job and was told “business.” I countered “Vancouver business or Toronto business.” They replied “Tokyo business” and I knew immediately not only what they meant but that I was going to have to buy a few things.

  8. Chaordic One*

    #5 On a couple of occasions in the past we’ve hired entry-level employees who did not dress very professionally, (although we were a branch office that did not often have to deal with the public or even other business people). I’m not sure how they got hired, and I never asked. I wish I had because, in both cases, after a couple of pay periods the new hires went shopping and upped their wardrobes to match their professions. Incidentally, they turned out to be very good employees.

    I kind of think that they might not have been able to afford appropriate clothes until after they had been hired and earned some money. My supervisors must have discussed this with them, though no one ever said anything to me about it. Too personal, maybe?

    1. Chocolate Teapot*

      From the description in the letter, it sounds like the candidates either have little/no experience in an office environment or they do not have much money. Even if the cheap clothing stores (Primark) sell plain black trousers for 15 euros, it is still expensive if you are waiting to be paid!

      That said “More business than casual ” would confuse me too. At least with an explicit dress code “No ripped jeans, miniskirts or flip-flops” etc makes it easier to work out what is and isn’t permitted.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I’d be confused too. If it’s business, I would know to wear a suit and nice shoes. Business casual, I would go for slacks and a nice top, with maybe a blazer or something similar for winter (I don’t do skirts for work). But I’m not sure what fits in between the two.

        1. Anon13*

          Agreed. For me, one big difference between business professional and business casual is that I’d feel comfortable wearing a cardigan instead of a blazer in a business casual environment. I’d also feel more comfortable wearing certain less conservative patterns and some shoes. (I used to wear peep-toe shoes, but otherwise conservative/basic all of the time in my business casual office, but was explicitly instructed to only wear closed told shoes in my current business professional office.) I’m just not sure how there’s much between the two, unless people are coming in dressed in a put-together, but casual style, kind of like what I would wear on casual Fridays (trouser jeans, a blouse, a cardigan, pointed-toe flats). To me, that kind of look is just casual, not business casual, but maybe some people consider it business casual?

          1. Stranger than fiction*

            See now I worked somewhere many years ago that said they were business professional, but ladies didn’t have to wear a suit every day and the guys didn’t have to have a tie on, but some did. Ladies could wear slacks or skirts and blouses, but had to have tights or hose on.

        2. Kyrielle*

          I would read “more business than casual” as exactly what you describe for business casual. There are multiple different meanings to business casual (see my comment above), and the one you’ve done is on the “more business than casual” end of the spectrum.

          Seriously, if you say “business casual” to one of my coworkers, I’d hope they’d remember the version of it here is *really casual*, or they’d show up in jeans and a button-up shirt and feel pleased with themselves. “More business than casual” might at least move them into good slacks, though I don’t know if they’d wear a blazer.

      2. RobM*

        ‘That said “More business than casual ” would confuse me too.’

        — and me. My immediate thought when I read that was “So not actually ‘Business Casual’ then? Where dressing appropriately is important to the employer, I think its beholden on the employer to have reasonably clear dress codes that don’t ever go near phrases like “Business Casual but more Business than Casual” because that is just pure nonsense.

        Having said that, the candidate should have turned up better dressed for an interview. Unless explicitly told differently, always overdress slightly for an interview. As a guy, I certainly have the option of taking my tie off and/or leaving the suit jacket in my car if I get to an interview and I’m clearly over-dressed whereas I’m kinda stuffed if I turn up in just chinos and a shirt.

        1. EddieSherbert*

          I think this makes a lot of sense. I wouldn’t know how to dress if I was told “business casual but more business.”

          I definitely agree that a dress code – with examples of what to wear and what not to wear is more helpful, because these labels can mean a lot of different things these days.

          For example: I’ve been in one office that was labeled “business casual” where jeans were allowed, one where they were not, and one labeled “casual” where the acceptable dress was exactly the same as the “business casual with jeans” office but you can also wear flipflops.

      3. Anononon*

        It sounds like they’re almost referring to the original definition of business casual, which for men meant a suit minus the tie and jacket. Khakis and polos would be too casual, though that’s now what people think of with business casual.

        1. Kyrielle*

          Yeah, I think in this case “business, but you don’t need a tie or jacket” (if true), might be a better way to put it.

        2. OP #5*

          This actually! The original definition of business casual before people started calling jeans and flip flops business casual, haha. We’re a step down from business professional, but definitely not jeans or open toed shoes.

        3. Nancypie*

          I think it would be in people’s best interest to assume is is the case, to avoid faux pas. I will add that for women, this often means that you are still wearing a jacket (or a structured sweater), it just doesn’t have to match the bottoms the way a suit does. Or a really nice blouse.

      4. OP #5*

        I think part of the issue is I have know idea what was told to the candidates when they came in to interview. And my comment about more business than casual, was describing our dress code, not necessarily what was told to the candidate. We’re a consulting firm, so to client site we dress business professional, so in the office we dress business casual. However, I’ve worked at places where business casual was jeans, t-shirt, and sneakers. That’s not business casual in our office, that’s casual. In our office business casual is dress slacks, long sleeve button down for men. Skirts and dresses, dress slacks, for women, but nothing that shows too much skin.

        1. Formica Dinette*

          I wonder how much of the interpretation of business casual is subject to your field. In my mind, “consulting firm” automatically means much more professional attire, but someone coming from a retail background probably wouldn’t know that.

          Or I could be totally off base.

          Anyway, I think it’s great that you aren’t writing candidates off solely for wearing insufficiently professional attire and that you’re trying to figure out how to make the process work better for everyone!

  9. Chaordic One*

    #1 Have you been reading “Dilbert” lately?

    (I’m thinking of the recent story line where lazy and useless Wally turned the Lactation Room into a “Man Cave”.)

      1. Edith*

        And yet not at all surprising given Scott Adams’s well-documented misogynistic leanings. I used to love Dilbert but had to stop reading it after Adams wrote a blog post about how great it is to be a rape victim.

        1. catsAreCool*

          Yuck! I’m glad I missed that. I stopped reading Dilbert because I got tired of all of the political, etc. posts he put next to his cartoons.

    1. Ever and Anon*

      I looked up the comic based on that comment. That is hilarious, thank you for the tip. (Also, Wally got the boss to install a lactation room even though nobody was nursing in the first place.)

  10. M_Lynn*

    I was a VISTA employee who helped plan a baby shower during my service! If the volunteer is like me, it is also one of those non intuitive office culture things of not knowing how much an appropriate donation would be. That is something I didn’t know when I was 23. My coworkers were very surprised that I chose to donate to the baby shower at all and made sure I knew it was truly optional, but that for us VISTAs it was even more than optional! I was happy that my coworkers knew my financial situation and made clear what the norms were, so I think the VISTA in the letter will also appreciate getting a bit of money back. For the sake of saving face, I like Alison’s phrasing that doesn’t make it clear that the VISTA is the only person getting refunded. While the sensitivity to the ViSTA’s income is great, it could be embarrassing to be the poor intern receiving charity.

    1. Tallulah*

      OP here, thanks for chiming in. I don’t think he’ll know it’s only him but yeah, don’t want to make him feel poor! We only asked for $5 which seems a reasonable price point and ppl who don’t pay always show up to work events. But now that I think about it, his only other work event he planned was a going away for a supervisor so maybe he thought we were going more lavish than we were!

      1. N*

        Hi OP–I’m currently a serving as a VISTA also. Because VISTAs live in a temporary kind of poverty, I don’t think you need to worry too much about making him “feel poor”–he probably already expects everyone around him to know that he is living on a small stipend. I think it’s slightly more likely that he might be embarrassed about being perceived as misunderstanding the office culture, like M_Lynn says.

        1. M_Lynn*

          Yay all the VISTA love! I would love to see am AAM post on national service members in the workplace!

      2. TootsNYC*

        I’m curious–did you specifically ASK people to give $5?

        That might change my answer a little bit. But only a little:
        If you had suggested people give $5, and he gave $40, I’d probably circle back to him and say, “You gave $40; that’s a lot. We only need $5 from everybody, and we didn’t have a shortfall, so here’s your $35 back.”

    2. Eddie Turr*

      I suspect the “appropriate” amount to donate is going to vary pretty widely from one office to the next, anyway. At my office, everyone gives whatever they want and the person collecting donations keeps that information to themselves. I have seen the totals, and I suspect a lot of $10 and $20 donations from the more junior employees and closer to $50 from managers.

    3. MCL*

      I was also a VISTA volunteer. I totally agree with M_Lynn. The volunteer will likely really appreciate getting some money back – $40 is a lot when you’re earning a living expenses stipend!

    4. TootsNYC*

      “non intuitive office culture things of not knowing how much an appropriate donation would be. ”


      In fact, I think they did the intern a disservice by accepting that much money from him.

      I personally would have been privately saying to him, “I’m going to return your money so you can start over–$40 is beyond the norm in our office culture. Normally only those who know her well will give $20, people of higher rank might give $20 to $40, and people who are of lower rank or haven’t been here as long, or don’t interact with her much, will give $5 or $10. So think about what you want to do, and make your contribution accordingly tomorrow.”

    5. valereee*

      A $40 donation is actually pretty shocking from a VISTA. It definitely feels like being unsure about the office culture (and not wanting to give too little), and in my family, the $40 would have been the result of a panicky text to me (Mom), who replied “Baby shower gift? Offer $40, I’ll pick it up.” The intern probably didn’t feel comfortable asking a co-worker how much they should give. If $5 would have been sufficient, I would tell the intern that; that’s part of his education about office culture.

  11. Guava*

    IDK, I guess if it *really* bothered me that the majority of my candidates were coming to the interview dressed too casually I miiiiight (and that’s a really hesitant might) mention it on the phone when scheduling the interview. Over the phone only, not email. Seeing it in writing seems too finicky.

    Eh. At the end of the day you’ll still find someone great!

    This reminded me of when I had just graduated college and I got a job as an assistant elementary teacher and other than my interview outfit I had no business casual/elementary school friendly outfits! At the time it was financially stressful to buy 5 tops and two bottoms. It really bummed me out.
    I still have at least one of those tops after 10 years. Teehee!

    1. Eddie Turr*

      I always appreciated when hiring managers (or HR — whoever set up the interview) told me what the dress code was for the interview. Obviously it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed in these situations, but it’s still pretty uncomfortable to be wearing a suit and heels when the interviewer is in jeans and a baseball cap.

      These applicants might still have a different interpretation of “business professional” than the OP (either from inexperience or financial necessity), but they might come closer to hitting the mark.

    2. TootsNYC*

      My 4-years-of-college daughter has few interview/office clothes. She might have some if she delved back to her high-school wardrobe, but I don’t know, even then.

      She wants to go into coding, so that might cut her some slack.

      I hesitate to say anything to her–she’s pretty fiercely independent. And she’s 22.

      1. fairyfreak*

        My graduation gift from my parents were several work appropriate outfits. It was great, because one of the offices I was going to spend time in was business professional. Fantastic gift, and I got to go shopping with my mo before leaving the state for work.. win-win.

  12. Apollo Warbucks*

    #1 OP I won’t get into the ethics of this as we’ve been asked to move on but I will say, when you say your co worker hadn’t keyed in at another device for an hour, you don’t know that she didn’t follow some one else through a door they opened with their card. Honestly I forget my card a LOT and it doesn’t stop me moving around the office I work in.

    1. Orca*

      +1 My door is currently not locking so if someone were to look up my card activity I would never be in my office! I’m not sure if our cards even have that capability but it definitely has the capability of not telling the whole picture.

  13. New Bee*

    OP #3, I agree with Alison that telling the manager probably won’t get your boyfriend his job back, especially since you mention him showing up late a few times (presumably, days outside the accidental two days off), so that error may have been the last straw. Plus, I would side-eye the “I wrote down his schedule” bit; unless there was a reasonable explanation (like you were there on Monday and brought home both your schedules for the rest of the week rather than him having to drive just to pick his up), I would see it indicating immaturity/his lacking personal responsibility. I hope he finds something soon though!

    1. neverjaunty*

      Yes, this – the boyfriend being late “two or three times” really is a big deal when it’s a shiftwork job. And “my girlfriend wrote my schedule down wrong” is the opposite of a good explanation.

      1. Colette*

        I’m also a little confused about how the OP got it wrong if she wrote it down and checked it. Either she didn’t catch the error or she’s suggesting his schedule changed. If she’s going to accept responsibility with her employer, she’ll need to admit that she got it wrong – a year later is too late to suggest the schedule changed with no notice.

        1. Baker's Cousin*

          I wrote my own schedule down wrong once when I was in retail. The schedule was posted on a tall bulletin board, and was on a grid printed on white paper. I had to squint and stand on my tippy toes to see it, and I ended up writing down the time for the person below me for one of the days. I was written up for missing the shift. After that, I stood on a chair and used a ruler to make sure my schedule was written down correctly and just dealt with everyone being annoyed at me for taking so long and being in their way.

        2. Kelly L.*

          I’ve had the “schedule changed with no notice” thing happen to me when I worked jobs in that field, and it sucks. My guess is that they really did change it, the OP copied it right, but that she knows it’s too late to prove it, so she’s going to take the fall herself.

        3. Sketchee*

          “My girlfriend is doing my job for me” wouldn’t go over well to me. Part of doing your work is showing up. Mistakes happen. At the same time, we’re responsible for the consequences for our mistakes. Whatever the explanation, the problem happened.

          The OP isn’t responsible for it and should step away from managing his work relationship. She can let herself stop feeling bad about it, forgive the situation, and learn from it.

          Perhaps advise the boyfriend to explain that he wasn’t keeping himself accountable. That in the future he will take this lesson to heart and keep tabs on what he is supposed to do. Not that this will get him his job back. It would at least keep the bridge from being burned and show maturity.

          1. Anxa*

            For what it’s worth, having someone check your schedule to save you a trip to work on your day off doesn’t really seem like you’re having someone else do your job for you.

            I lived reasonably close to work, but didn’t have a car. It could take me an hour to get to work just to check the bulletin board if I couldn’t get a ride. Theoretically you could call, but then you still have to trust that the person in the office (if they are there) is reliable, too.

            Ugh, I hated that. I was so happy when I had a job where they emailed you your schedule.

            1. Whats In A Name*

              I was also in a similar situation to you…however, I called in and got the schedule from my manager. That way if it was ever wrong somehow I had gotten the info from the top.

      2. Alton*

        Yeah, I used to work in a job where we had to check our schedules online, and some people were either computer illiterate or didn’t have reliable internet connections and would have a friend or family member log in for them and check. I was sympathetic, but it was still an issue sometimes because these people often had incorrect or incomplete info.

        1. LQ*

          For a while I was getting work schedules for someone else emailed to me. (I have a pretty unusual name, but one change can make it very common, and it is an easy handwriting error.) Reading them was like reading another language (even to find an actual email to say, hey you have the wrong person!) so I would guess if friends or family are doing it they could be misreading it too. (Though I’d expect someone who worked there to know, there might be differences if it was a different job.)

    2. hbc*

      Yeah, being late for a 3-4am commute doesn’t have a lot of good excuses (what, was there major traffic?) and relying on someone else to tell you your schedule isn’t a good combo. Either one is possibly understandable, but you’d have to be a pretty stellar employee for them to overlook both.

  14. Attitude of Champions (puke)*

    WTL here. I don’t have much to say about #2 other than a user name had to be made from Alison’s comment. As well as a bumpersticker. Somebody get on that bumpersticker thing.

  15. LSCO*

    Related to OP3, I was once in a similar situation to your boyfriend, albeit on a wider scale. I worked in a kitchen with about 10 people in total, and several of us had a system where whoever was on shift at the time the next schedule was posted would take a photo of it and send it round to all the other employees. It worked great for a few months, but one week a co-worker took a photo of the wrong week, and so we were all coming in at the wrong times. It was mayhem.

    The kitchen supervisor, once she realised what had happened, called an all-staff meeting and told us all in no uncertain terms that we were ALL on a final warning for attendance matters. A few tried to protest & blame the man who took the wrong photo (we were all pretty young) but the supervisor told us all that we were individually responsible for our own schedules. We could choose to rely on others to send us the correct information, but that was our own risk and if we were given wrong information it was our problem.

    That was a huge wake-up call for the 20-yr-old me. I’d never been in trouble at work before, and since then I’ve never relied on anyone except the scheduling manager to give me my schedule.

    1. Stranger than fiction*

      It seems to me, going off what little info the Op has given us, that the boyfriend relies on her for a lot more than just his schedule. She said she got him the job there, he hasn’t worked in the 9-ish months since, and now wants his job back there?

      1. GreyjoyGardens*

        Yes, I’m side-eying that, too. It sounds like Boyfriend needs to level up in responsibility and initiative. Unless they live in a “company town” where Boyfriend lost a job at the only, or one of the only, good employers there, he needs to polish up his own resume and start scouring the job listings under his own steam. Meanwhile Girlfriend needs to not “mommy” him.

  16. JHS*

    As a recently lactating mother, I can understand why OP #1 feels strangely that someone is accessing the area without a reason. It was a little hard for me to follow the different suites/rooms and understand the logistics, but I will say that pumping for me was very, very intimate and it could really mess with your head if you think someone is lurking around. It’s almost impossible to explain and I don’t think I would have been able to understand prior to being a nursing mother. So I understand wanting to know who/why someone is in the lactation area if you’re sure you’re the only nursing mother around. However, I agree with Alison that OP should just knock on the door and see what’s going on in a nice, innocuous way. I think it would ease the OP’s mind above all because I do doubt that the person is interested in the lactation area for any nefarious purpose.

    1. Colette*

      If the OP chooses to approach the coworker, she should remember that the coworker does t owe her an explanation. She could have her own medical issues that she doesn’t need to share.

    2. Sophia in the DMV*

      I was a lactating mother at work about a year and a half ago and I don’t understand the paranoia OP has, perhaps because it seems from her description of the room, the lactation room is inside another suite (with multiple rooms) and the other person went to a different room. She was in the lactating room by herself, which I think is all that is needed.

      1. JHS*

        Yeah I wasn’t really sure because I couldn’t tell if the person was in the room connected or what have you.

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          That confused me too because I assumed this recliner was in the lactating room.

    3. Yeah I'm commenting!*

      Yes! I was hoping someone would say this! When I pumped I was working at a college and pumped in an empty classroom that was in a suite with another classroom and the suite was separated by a main door to the hallway. These two classrooms were always empty during the day and I had access to the schedule and always double checked before going in. However, anytime someone happened to come into the suite I was HIGHLY uncomfortable. Even though I locked the door and put a sign up, just the thought that someone was so close to me while I was essentially topless being milked (lol) was very unnerving. Pumping to me was very intimate and the thought of a stranger or even a coworker being around gave an odd indescribable feeling. It didn’t help that I once had someone with a key come in the room. Talk about mortifying!

      1. JHS*

        Yes! The lactation room in my office can be locked, but it’s right connected off the elevator banks so you can hear voices as people wait there. Every time I would hear the voices, I would feel so weird. I can’t even explain it, but it felt intrusive. I’m not sure it’s rational, as some are saying, but it really is unnerving!

      2. OP #1*

        Thank you so much for saying this. Unnerving is exactly right. Back when the suite was occupied, the 5 or so people in that suite once had an impromptu meeting in the hallway right outside the lactation room door. I could hear everything they were saying, and they were surprised when I opened the door to exit the room. They all just stopped talking and looked at me rather uncomfortably. Awkward!

        1. JHS*

          I hope you get a resolution. I think many in the comments are being overly harsh. Your feelings are understandable, although as others have pointed out (in not necessarily the most kind way), there are many reasons why the person could be in there that are legitimate.

    4. Observer*

      Having been a lactating mother, I’m going to say that I think Allison is right that she’s better off not even going there.

      Had the OP not been so paranoid, I’d say maybe. But the fact is that she IS paranoid about it – and it’s NOT “motherly instinct” at play here – and that’s likely to come through, although I’m sure the OP would try not to.

  17. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed*

    OP #1 –

    I want to say this as gently as possible, but are YOU doing ok? Honestly, your concerns and actions don’t sound entirely rational to me right now, and I’m wondering if maybe the work stress is getting you down to the point that you’re going full Rear Window on this woman? Advice is definitely the same – let it go – but you might alwso want to give some thought to your own stress levels and mental state right now. It doesn’t sound like a great place to work at the moment.

    1. J.B.*

      That’s a good point. Also, postpartum depression and anxiety are real things, and can last longer after birth than you’d expect. Particularly if there are other stressors going on, it can be hard to cope.

    2. Grey*

      This sounds like a rational concern to me since no one has good reason to be in that room for a long time. If the OP chooses to investigate just to be sure there’s nothing shady going on, I’m not going to assume she’s mentally unhinged.

      1. Mike C.*

        since no one has good reason to be in that room for a long time

        No one really knows if this is true or not.

          1. Katie the Senual Wristed Fed*

            It’s not her room, and it’s not her place to find out more. She’s allowed access to it. She’s not allowed EXCLUSIVE access to it.

            Also, I never said she was mentally unhinged. Not even close. Please don’t put words in my mouth.

                1. Grey*


                  Irrational/”Rear Window”/mental state. However you want to label it, I was only saying that I wouldn’t call her that.

          2. Oryx*

            It’s none of her business. The room has a key card access. The woman’s card lets her in, which means she’s allowed to be there. That’s all the OP needs to know.

      2. JB (not in Houston)*

        Yes, agreed. The OP explained that she had to check who had keyed into the area anyway because they’d had some strange goings-on in office areas that had been emptied, so doing that proactively instead of waiting for the report doesn’t seem all that strange. And if it were me, I’d feel very weird and very vulnerable that someone who had no reason to be there was coming in and just . . . lurking. That doesn’t mean anything weird is going on–I’ve often wished I had a room I could go to just to be alone for a while during a bad day. (Though I’d not go in there and stick around if I knew someone was in there nursing since it seems like such a personal thing) But it’s not paranoid of the OP to be uncomfortable or check who has been in there. The milk tampering is a bit over the top, but the OP acknowledged htat.

        1. KR*

          It doesn’t seem like she’s using the room OP is in though… it seems like OP is in a completely separate room if I’m reading it right.

  18. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed*

    OP #4 –

    You guys really shouldn’t be collecting money from the interns in the first place. I’d give him the full $35 back with the language Alison suggested.

    1. Tallulah*

      OP here, we only asked everyone for $5. This is the first and hopefully only time I collect money for a work event. Ppl were just coming up to me and handing me money. I am not used to that and tried to offer everyone “change” but most ppl said they were happy to contribute.

      1. Sophia in the DMV*

        How did you let people know it was $5 because some might have missed it. Next time this happens, especially for an intern, I suggest Alison’s wording and telling the intern in the moment

  19. Joseph*

    #2: “I then researched the question, and, of course, all the posts about this say that you’re supposed to say hate to lose, that it’s the attitude of champions, and that everyone loves winning, but if you hate to lose, you’re really motivated. ”
    This is a stupid question, because you could make a great argument that hating to lose can be a serious character flaw.
    1.) You know who fails a lot? Creative innovators. People who think outside the box. People who are flexible. People who are growing and learning new things. If you really hate losing, then you’d be overly conservative – after all, any time you do something that isn’t 100% tried-and-true, you risk failure.
    2.) Losses are a part of life. If you really hated to lose, you probably don’t experience it that much, so you don’t know how to deal with it when it does happen. Some of the most “refuse-to-lose” people are also some of the most miserable people in the world to deal with when there’s a setback.
    3.) Most business teams only succeed if everybody is pulling in the same way. Someone who loves to win is a lot more likely to go above and beyond to help others, since they’re motivated by the team getting a win. Someone who hates to lose might avoid stepping in, because after all, Johnny might screw up and fail, whereas if you stay out, then you’re not part of that failure.

    1. BRR*

      I hear “hate to lose” and I think sore loser. There are also times where I’ve lost to people who are better than me. Lots of times back in my musician days but also just a couple weeks ago I got rejected for a job and saw they hired someone I know who is amazing. My first reaction was “yeah I would have hired her over me too.”

      1. F.*

        I hear “hate to lose’ and think of someone who will lie, cheat and steal and do whatever it takes to win regardless of whether it is legal, ethical or moral, along the lines of Alinsky’s “ends justifies the means”. However, it is a good question in that it is a red flag for the dysfunction in that workplace. That is so not me, that I’d be out of that interview so fast it would make your head spin!

        1. LizM*

          Exactly. I’m in the legal field, and I would never, ever hire an attorney who “hates to lose.” It makes me think of someone who would spend all my money litigating rather than seeking a reasonable settlement.

          Honestly, if I were asked that question in an interview, my answer would probably be something like, “what a strange question.”

      2. Gazebo Slayer (formerly I'm a Little Teapot)*

        Yeah, I think of a little kid kicking over the board and throwing a fit because he ALWAYS has to win ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS, or the adult equivalent of a coworker who sabotages the departmental project or starts sulking and refusing to do her work when she doesn’t get promoted. (And then ends up the subject of an AAM letter.) No thanks.

      3. Trout 'Waver*

        I’m in the “love to win” camp, but I think people are bashing the “hate to lose” camp too much.

        My SO is very much a “hate to lose” type person. She’s a trial attorney and goes into every case with a positive outlook trying her best for her client. Her job demands that of her. But you would never know that she is a “hate to lose” person, because she is professional, polite, and an all-around nice person. When she loses a case, she is civil and polite to the other parties. She then pores over the case to see if there is anything she could have done differently to change the outcome. That “hate to lose” mentality drives her to continuously improve and be the best possible advocate for her clients.

        Commenters here equivocating “hate to lose” to sore loser, unethical, board flipper, cherry picker, or anything else are way, way off base. That’s like saying “love to win” people are arrogant, boastful, poor winners, or narcissistic. The bad ones might be, but they’ve got other issues.

        1. Joseph*

          People are bashing the “hate to lose” camp purely because the websites discussing the question are viewing it as a binary black/white: If you didn’t say “Hate to Lose”, then you don’t have the attitude of a champion and shouldn’t get hired. Whereas in reality, there are potential flaws on both ends of the spectrum, so really, the ideal here should actually be to have the positive attributes of both rather than being too extreme on either side.

          1. Trout 'Waver*

            I think we can all agree that the websites are silly and questions like this one are at best useless.

        2. BRR*

          I’ll bash on the love to win too haha (and that’s why I would classify myself as). I can see some love to win people as those who would lie, cheat, and steal in order to win. I think both answers can have good and bad qualities associated with them but it’s a dumb question since… well both answers can have good and bad qualities associated with them.

    2. Joseph*

      As per the interview answer itself, I think the key here is just to give a solid, reasonable explanation either way. Also probably good to (mildly) point out the flaws of the other side too just in case the interviewer did just take it from the Internet without really thinking it through. Maybe something like:
      There are pros and cons to both. I would be more on the side of “love to win”, but I don’t like losing. However, I realize that losing is a part of life, after all, even the best Teapot Programmers have flaws in their code and being too afraid of failure can lead to stagnation, which can be a big problem in our industry.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This is probably what I would do–I hate questions like these, but I try to take them seriously because if I raise my Spock eyebrow and say, “Really?” like I want, that would tank the interview.

        Yes, I hate to lose–I hate getting rejected when I query, but if I weren’t querying, I wouldn’t be trying. I don’t like when a project doesn’t go as planned, but if I look at the failure, I can see what went wrong and do some process improvement in the future.

        1. F.*

          “Spock eyebrow” I’m stealing that! I have one of those eyebrows that goes clear up to the ceiling when my BS detector is set off.

    3. hbc*

      Yeah, I absolutely hate those supposedly insightful questions with only one right answer without explanation, but this one is a doozy because if I had to pick the “right” answer with no explanation, it would be the person who loves to win. The people I know who hate to lose complain about the rules, cheat to avoid coming in last, stop working hard when they’ve at least clinched second to last, and/or are content to be the biggest minnow in a tiny puddle.

      But I don’t really have an answer for myself because I don’t judge my results by who my competition happens to be. I either ran a 5:20 mile or a 5:30 mile. If winning/losing/competition enters into it, I probably ran the 5:20 mile trying to keep pace with a 5 minute miler and 5:30 when everyone was slower. I don’t hate that loss (I’m likely thrilled) and don’t care about that win.

      1. Joseph*

        Great point in the last paragraph. Even in sales, winning and losing don’t exist in a vacuum. A salesman who only goes after small local work with existing clients is probably going to have a great win percentage. The salesman who’s expanding your business into a new market with MegaCorp is likely to have a much smaller winning percentage due to tougher competition, but when he *does* get a sale, it really matters.
        Is it better to hit a consistent string of singles or hit home runs while striking out more? Depends on the company, probably.

        1. Attitude of Champions (puke)*

          FWIW (and WTL here, still sticking with this username of awesomeness for this topic), we literally DO hire and train and promote for desire to win. We’re a sales org and we need everybody in the org to want to win the order, win the customer, and to some degree beat the competition. We like people who would spike the football.

          Within all of that, I believe, you need to be able to suffer the losses, that’s like A #1 thing you need to be able to do because: there are more losses than wins, for pete’s sake. You can’t get all weepy over the losses, move onto the next win.

          So I don’t get the question or the stupid supposed correct answer because it doesn’t make sense to me.

          1. LQ*

            The problem with going for the football spikers is that not everyone buys from football spikers. When I’m buying something I want someone who says “let me know if you have questions” and walks away. If I have questions they better know the answers (and yes, I will be testing). I don’t want pushy. I will walk away from pushing. I want informed and calm.

            You need a range of people to handle the range of buyers. Unless you don’t want my money, you need more than just football spikers.

            1. Catalin*

              “Informed and calm” +1

              I helped a family member buy a car last autumn and we went through multiple dealerships, getting the full spectrum of Couldn’t Get Served to Get Away From Me Dude. The winner was calm, informed, eager to help but not pushy.

              Months later I chose him as my car salesman — asked for him by name and insisted on it. Often, vehicles are basically the same across several brands: Yaris and Accent, for example. The salesman sold himself before trying to sell a car.

            2. Attitude of Champions (puke)*

              Ah, you’d never know my people were getting ready to spike the football while they were working with you. They are, to a person, informed and calm and “let us know when you are ready to move ahead!”.

              The point would be joy and celebration at win, but not despair and misery and pouting at loss. That’s actually what let’s them be so calm when they are working with you.

    4. plain_jane*

      I hate to lose, and I see that as a personal issue I need to work through – because it leads to procrastination, and not going for the big wins, because the risk of failure is too high. On the other hand, it has helped me a lot, because it means I set up contingency plans, and try to make sure everyone is very clear on expectations (so I know what I need to meet), things are documented (so I have proof that I didn’t fail to meet what was agreed on), and communication on timelines and progress are ongoing.

      Raptitude had an interesting article that touched on this recently:

      I think that interview questions like this are always most interesting if you push the followup – how has this helped you? hindered you? how do you work with people who are the opposite? If the interviewer doesn’t ask those pieces, volunteer the positive ones – if they think there is one right answer, defending your potentially wrong answer could change their mind.

    5. Rat Racer*

      Agreed. And how does this square with the latest business pop psych about “failing fast”? We should all fail, fail fast and recover, right? Hard to do that if you’re loss averse.

      This question is so stupid that I would be inclined to intentionally mis-hear it and respond with “Oh I definitely HATE Balloons!”

    6. Sunny Days*

      I agree. Hating to lose goes with playing it safe. People who are successful at anything take chances and experience a lot of losses on the way to winning. You have to learn to take it in stride, to see the losses as part of the pathway to success. And don’t trust advice from strangers on the internet!

    7. Grey*

      This is why I hate those Myers–Briggs personality tests that some employers require. There are just too many different ways to interpret the questions and and answers.

      Q. I like to display my awards, trophies and certificates.

      Answering “no” could mean you don’t take pride in your work. I could mean you just don’t to like to brag. It could mean you’re not vain enough to think people care. Or, it could simply mean that you don’t like office clutter. Who knows?

      1. Joseph*

        “There are just too many different ways to interpret the questions and and answers.”
        True. There’s also plenty of individual interviewer bias that comes into play here. If your last boss had a massive I LOVE ME wall of trophies/awards*, then you’re probably going to assume that a “yes” answer indicates an egotistical/narcissist worldview that you don’t want on your team. But if the interviewer was that last boss, then he’d probably assume “no” answers are only for people who aren’t proud of their work or losers who never win awards.
        *FYI, this is supposedly pretty common in the military – though most officers are professional enough to keep it at home.

    8. AthenaC*

      I actually got asked this question for one of my interviews for the job I have now. Obviously everyone loves to win and hates to lose. So I said that if it involves other people, I more strongly hate to lose because I just made their job more difficult and I hate letting other people down. But if it’s just me, I more strongly love to win; consequences of losing fall only on me and ideally I would learn not to repeat whatever mistakes I made.

      My interviewer seemed to like that answer!

      Maybe I’m in the minority but I liked the question. It was a nice change of pace from the “tell me about yourself” and the “tell me about a time when you X” questions I had been fielding.

      1. CM*

        I would immediately feel like the job was a bad fit for me because I don’t see work in terms of winning and losing. (Then again, I am not a salesperson or somebody who needs to be competitive in their job.) But I like your answer.

        1. AthenaC*

          I just chose to see the win / lose in terms that would make sense for my job. In my role I manage client projects, so a win would be a project that succeeded from my hard work and my team’s hard work. Not necessarily a zero sum game where my win means someone else loses. And a loss would be a project that failed for any number of reasons – I dropped the ball, I failed to catch and address issues timely – whatever.

    9. SevenSixOne*

      The “hate to lose” types are extremely frustrating to work with because they have a hard time admitting they’re wrong and letting things go. It’s difficult to have a straightforward conversation with them because they have a counterargument to everything you say, no matter how inconsequential.

      …and that’s not even getting into the kind of “hate to lose” person who MUST win at all costs, no matter what.

  20. Meg Murry*

    In addition to everything else that has been mentioned, since the admin in #1 is slated to be laid off in 3 months, she may have been given permission to use the (otherwise empty) HR suite space for activities like a private space to take a phone interview, etc.

    Or as others have mentioned, she may be using the space to cry or to do some deep breathing to come down from an anxiety attack, or a dark room to close her eyes until she can get past a migraine to drive home. Since the space is otherwise empty, and OP is the only nursing mother, it isn’t interfering with her use of the space.

    At most, OP, if you are worried, you could say something to HR like “I was under the impression I was the only person using the HR space, but I’ve heard a few people badging in and out, and it makes me jump and wonder every time. Have other people been given permission to use the space too, or should I let you know about it?”

    And if OP is really paranoid about her milk (unlikely to have anything actually happen, but I get that level of “what if” worry), she could put her milk into a bag/cooler with 2 zippers and clip the zippers together with a small luggage lock – that might help her feel like she’s doing something to avoid tampering.

      1. LTR*

        Absolutely. If you brought this to me there would be an awkward pause, followed by me asking “Why are you telling me this?”

        1. (Not an IRS) Auditor*

          Huh. I’m not in HR, but this wouldn’t strike me as weird at all if it concerned rooms in my department. I totally get why someone pumping would feel vulnerable and wonder about folks hanging out in vacant offices around them. Phrased as suggested, “Have other people been given permission to use the space too?” I would (briefly) answer the question and not think twice about it.

      2. JMegan*

        Actually, I don’t think it’s such a bad idea, as long as she’s not asking for details. “I thought I was the only one using the space – should I be worried if other people are in there occasionally too?” – that’s a pretty reasonable way to frame it, and might allow her to stop worrying so much if she hears people moving around while she’s in there. She’s not saying “I need to know who else is in there and why,” she’s just managing her own expectations as to whether or not she’s likely to be fully alone.

        As for bringing it to HR, I read that as asking them because they are the owners of the space, not because it’s an HR issue in particular. If Finance had been the team who most recently vacated the space, OP would be asking them instead.

        1. Meg Murry*

          yes, I suggested bringing it to HR because they were the past owners of the space, so they would know if there are still sensitive files in the area, etc – and also because HR is usually the ones that handle access to space like a lactation room/wellness space. It wasn’t in a “bring it up with HR to get people in trouble” kind of suggestion, but more of a “this used to be HR’s space, let the know what’s going on” suggestion.

  21. Pam*

    #1 – I agree with others who say there could be a valid medical reason for the other person’s use of the empty room in that area. Some treatments – radiation, for instance – can cause extreme fatigue. When it hits all you can do is lie down for a bit. You don’t know this person’s situation, so don’t jump to conclusions or use it as an excuse to ‘track’ a coworker.

  22. all aboard the anon train*

    #1: At my last company, we had a similar setup, with a suite where there were two rooms you could reserve. Nursing mothers were told it was a lactation room, but HR told other people it was a health room for napping, migraines, being sick, etc. One of my coworkers who scheduled the room to pump used to book both rooms at the same time even though she was only using one and it was, to say the least, annoying.

    If there’s another room in the suite, what someone does in there is none of your business. You can ask if you feel it’s that necessary, but they don’t owe you an explanation and it’s a bit insensitive if they have their own mental or physical issues they’re dealing with that they don’t want you to know about.

    #2: I was recently asked a similar question in an interview, though mine was, “Would you rather lose your luggage or have an 8-hour delay?”

    I still don’t understand why it was relevant to the job, and when I asked, the interviewer gave some washy answer, but the internet tells me it shows whether you’d rather take longer to do a project with all the resources available and have it be excellent or do a project with no resources available and maybe have it be okay. It’s a dumb interview questions imo.

    1. the gold digger*

      Would you rather lose your luggage or have an 8-hour delay?”

      Clearly asked by someone whose luggage has never been lost on an international trip.

      An 8-hour delay for a business trip stinks (been there) but at least you can (sort of) work at the airport. (DTW, I am looking at you – your wifi, even the paid wifi, stinks.)

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        Right? I answered that while neither were ideal but that it was really dependent on the situation since there are some instances where I’d prefer to lose my luggage to make it to an important event and some situations where a delay would be better than losing my luggage.

        I hate the “this or that” questions because I’m somewhere in the middle for most of them and I think a lot of other people are as well.

        1. Adam*

          That’s the thing that bugs me too. So many of these situations are context dependent in my brain. Being able to think on your feet means actively evaluating the situation at hand. Having a blanket answer for every situation isn’t going to get you very far.

      2. Whats In A Name*

        Well in my brain that is way to situational to answer. If I were on my way to a conference where my job depended on information I learned or on potential sales if I were a vendor I’d rather lose my luggage and be on time. If I were on my way home and could check email/make phone calls/enter information into my computer in lieu of being in the office I’d rather the delay.

        Crazy interviews? If they are so concerned with how you travel or handle circumstances a better question would be: Tell me about a time you had a major flight delay that impacted your workday. How did you handle it?

    2. Kyrielle*

      That question can also be class / income separator. Because my response is, “Unless I packed something that should have been in carry-on because I can’t afford to lose it, I’d rather lose my luggage. I can always replace it completely if I *had* to, but they usually find it and get it to you within a day, often a few hours.”

      But my frame of reference is business travel where an 8-hour delay means I’m late or got too little sleep; or personal travel where I have two children under 10 traveling with me, and they do not have saintly patience for their ages. Solving lost luggage is a much simpler issue than solving an 8-hour delay in either of those scenarios.

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        Yes! Which is why I tried to be vague about it, because I really didn’t want to say, “well, if I lose my luggage I have no idea how I’ll afford to re-buy all those clothes.”

        Let alone the fact most of my 8-hour delays would be train or bus, so losing luggage would be my fault instead of the bus/train drivers. Plane tickets are expensive.

      2. Trout 'Waver*

        I agree that this is a terrible question. For a lot of people, losing luggage means missing vital medications. That could take this question into some pretty questionable territory.

    3. Tammy*

      but the internet tells me it shows whether you’d rather take longer to do a project with all the resources available and have it be excellent or do a project with no resources available and maybe have it be okay

      My answer to the question is “I’d rather have an 8-hour delay because I can easily read on my iPad during the delay, but my luggage tends to carry [important medical supplies] which would potentially endanger my health if I was without them for very long, and which cause embarrassing questions/problems to take through security as carry-on.” I don’t see how that answer says anything about my project management style.

      I wish interviewers could just be straight and ask what they want to know instead of dressing their questions up in this cutesy and imprecise nonsense. (I’ve been making a concerted effort to do so with the half dozen positions on my team I’m hiring for right now.)

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        I don’t either, and I think it can delve into some pretty personal territory if you let it. Like mentioned above, class/income status or in your case, medical status.

        Honestly, I’d rather someone just flat out ask me if I’d rather do a project with 100% of the resources available or a project with 0% of the resources available. At least then I can make it relevant to work whereas the travel one is just off topic and trying to make it work related sounds forced.

      2. Xarcady*

        “I wish interviewers could just be straight and ask what they want to know instead of dressing their questions up in this cutesy and imprecise nonsense. ”

        I think the reason we get asked these sorts of questions is that the interviewer fears that if they ask what they really want to know in plain, straightforward language, there’s a chance the interviewee will give the answer they think will get them the job, not a truthful answer.

        So, instead, interviewers ask cryptic, odd, round-about questions, that the interviewee doesn’t always understand, or might easily misinterpret, and has to struggle to figure out any kind of an answer. Yep, that’s a sound strategy.

        1. Tammy*

          I think the reason we get asked these sorts of questions is that the interviewer fears that if they ask what they really want to know in plain, straightforward language, there’s a chance the interviewee will give the answer they think will get them the job, not a truthful answer.

          Sure. The trouble is, it’s also plausibly likely they’ll ask the weird gimmicky internet question of someone who’s seen the weird gimmicky question before and will give the answer they think will get them the job, not a truthful answer. Which is why I (and, I think, you) think this is a dumb strategy.

          For my part, I’ve got several open spots on my team right now so I’ve been doing a ton of interviewing lately, and I’m pushing to make our process as straightforward as it can be. I don’t want to be wondering if the candidate has correctly teased out the right hidden meaning in my oblique and gimmicky question. I want to draw out the information that tells me (a) if the candidate has the necessary technical skills to do the job I’m hiring her for, and (b) if she has the necessary soft skills to succeed as part of my team.

          This is also why I like “tell me about a time when you ___” kinds of questions: There isn’t a right answer, since the candidate has to talk about her actual work history and experiences, and I’m transparent about what kind of information I’m trying to draw out (so there’s no guessing about hidden meanings).

    4. EddieSherbert*

      “Would you rather lose your luggage or have an 8-hour delay?”

      What? That’s a ridiculous question – for all the reasons people mentioned below. It depends on what’s in your luggage, what’s in your carry-on), how you are traveling, where you are traveling, WHY you are traveling, and who you are traveling with…

      I can’t imagine a single person getting that question and immediately (or after a few moments) thinking “if I delay, everything will turn out better or I can leave the resources and be done faster but it might not turn out as good! JUST LIKE AT WORK.”


      1. Oryx*

        My first work trip I worked so hard to get everything into a single carry-on bag so I wouldn’t even have to deal with the potential of lost luggage.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I’m always the one who stuffs the crap out of her purse, her luggage, etc. I’m working on it….I read Rick Steves but can’t seem to bring myself to follow his advice when I’m actually packing.

  23. Roscoe*

    #1 You honestly seem a bit paranoid. You feel the need to run a scan of any key card that enters? And what exactly do you think she will do to your milk? Try to poison your baby? Hell, even if she is taking a nap, I can’t see how that is your business. We have a wellness room at work, but no mom’s who are using it. They encourage us to use this for a nap. Worry y about yourself and stop trying to be Nancy Drew.

    #2 I typically hate “gotcha” questions like that, however depending on the role, I think it can give you some honest information. I’m in sales, so I definitely can see wanting a “hate to lose” person on my team, because that’s what its about. There are other fields where it wouldn’t really make much difference. I’d give a pass on that one.

    #3 It sucks that he got fired, and you should feel guilty. That said, it is really his responsibility to get his own schedule and verify it. In the past when I had part time jobs, I’d definitely have people grab mine for me. But after the first day of the schedule, I’d verify it for myself.

    #5 Are you telling people that it is business casual when you schedule an interview? Because if so, its not really fair to hold that against them because they erred on the more casual side than the more business side. As Alison said, just bring it up in the offer stage if you are concerned.

      1. Kelly L.*

        I agree. If “hate to lose” is what’s sought in a salesperson, that explains why I dislike being sold to. “Hate to lose” says to me, at best, you’ll rebut me three times before accepting a no, and at worst, that you’ll lie about the product to get me to say yes.

      2. Roscoe*

        Well, I”m in sales, and I’m a hate to lose person. Its not necessarily like that. You can feel free to make a blanket statement though. I think there is a huge difference between being unethical and being persistent with a sale. But I will say, when you have a job where a good portion of your income relies on people buying, you can’t just be super passive.

        1. Kelly L.*

          If we’re wrong, then, what does it mean to you? How does the catchphrase “hate to lose” play out in your actual technique?

          1. Roscoe*

            It means I hate to lose. I don’t think that is hard to understand. That relates to everything in life. Its a competitive spirit that some people have. I grew up playing a lot of sports, and while the goal was to win, I absolutely HATED losing. Sometimes it was inevitable (the other team just was far and away better), but when it was based on our mistakes, it is awful. So in my sales job, I hate losing a sale when its because of something I didn’t pick up. People are often bad at expressing their needs, so its up to me to pick up on certain nuances. If I lose a sale because I didn’t do it, it sucks and I hate it. Or if I didn’t give the client enough attention that they need (many need to feel like they are your #1 priority). If I lose out because of a feature that my product doesn’t have, well, thats part of life and its a lot easier to deal with

            1. Kelly L.*

              Well, “love to win” and “hate to lose” are both competitive attitudes, and I don’t think one is really more competitive than the other, or that they’re even mutually exclusive. I don’t find a “competitive spirit” “hard to understand”! :) I was only asking about what it means in the context of sales technique. Thanks, your explanation makes sense.

            2. hbc*

              So is the underlying assumption that it’s “Hate to lose and satisfied with winning” versus “Love to win and satisfied with losing”? Because without that, the only difference I see is whether you’re motivated by positivity or negativity, and people generally want to be on a team with the person who’s got a positive attitude, all things being equal.

              1. Roscoe*

                Its not that simple really. Look, if you are on a sales team, and you have quotas to make, you want the people who are going to help get to those quotas so you can make more money. So there may be people I can’t stand and may be “motivated by negativity” (which again, is very much making this way too black and white), but if they are winning sales for us, I’m happy to have them on the team.

                Michael Jordan may have been a jerk, but he was a Hate to Lose person, and is widely considered on of the best athletes of all time.

        2. Lucie in the Sky*

          Sometimes I get the idea that people here have no idea what a lot of people who work in sales do on here when they start talking about sales. If I’m trying to win my company a program yes I totally want a “hate to lose” person on my team cause they’re going to come up with ways to win. If I’m trying to win my company business it’s not all about being pushy cause that’s not what’s going to get it done and will just be frustrating the buyers at the other company…

          1. Roscoe*

            Thank you. I think people have had bad experience with salespeople, so they attribute that to everyone in sales, which isn’t fair. You may have had a bad teacher, but don’t consider all teachers lazy. You may have had a doctor with bad bedside manner, but don’t consider all doctors jerks. But somehow, sales is a profession that people feel fine dissing.

          2. hbc*

            Maybe you’re right that this is a matter of understanding sales, because I’m not getting your distinction. How will a “love to win” person not equally “come up with ways to win”? If the only options are Win or Lose, then it doesn’t matter if you’re motivated towards winning or away from losing, both end up in the Win spot, no?

            It gets interesting if we’re talking non-binary situations. Like if you’re in the Olympics, is a “hate to lose” person mad about being a silver medalist, or is losing only when you’re not in the recognized group, or just not last place?

  24. Rat Racer*

    #1. Between today’s letter about the paranoid pumping mom, and yesterday’s about the mom who makes everyone else work overtime so that she can be with her baby, I’m feeling like this is a bad week for the reps of working parents. (Alison – am an avid and devoted fan of yours – and I know this wasn’t your intent. Just feeling compelled to say that the vast majority of working parents are NOT like this)

  25. Temperance*

    Re: LW #1:

    Last summer, we had a pretty terrible intern (not in my department, thankfully!) who was caught napping in the breastfeeding lounge. As soon as it was confirmed that this is what he was doing, he was fired. There was about a weeklong period where he would just be … missing, and would then tell his bosses that he was running errands for the firm. Super strange.

  26. Katie F*

    #1, you really need to back off. It’s not your business what’s happening in the other rooms, and frankly it’s really unsettling to me that you’re so focused on what other people are doing in private rooms you are not in. I understand your general unease, I totally do – I had to pump for six months in the kitchen/breakroom because my workplace had no other spot for me, and things sometimes got iffy since there was an office RIGHT NEXT DOOR to the break room. My coworker thankfully would make himself scarce/absent whenever he saw me come down with my Pumpin’ Bag, but I also worked for a Psycho Boss who had to be specifically told not to come down and listen. So I get the unease with peple in the general area.

    But this woman isn’t messing with you. She isn’t even speaking to you, or doing anything inappropriate that you know of. Maybe she IS napping. Maybe she’s crying because she knows her department is getting laid off and she has bills to pay and she’s worried. Maybe it’s a stress relief to just go sit in a dark place. None of that is important to you, or should be.

    If the fact that you’re aware of people coming and going really bugs you, I’d recommend getting some headphones and listening to some music. I used to play music/videos on my phone while pumping, which was a great help to get my mind off the fact that I was literally sitting in the Place Where People Make Their Food trying to pump before anyone else got hungry enough to need lunch.

    1. JT*

      Wow your boss would come down and listen to you pump? That is unsettling in so many ways. And I say that as someone who is totally up front and open about pumping and nursing in general.

      1. Katie F*

        He didn’t – he mentioned it to another coworker who reacted with horror and said they would ensure HR knew about it if he did, so he dropped it after that. The coworker did helpfully let me know about the conversation, which I appreciated.

        1. JT*

          Ah – he wanted to I see. Sounds like he thought you were just goofing off in there, which is crap and would have let to some big stink eyes from me. Glad your coworker helped you out.

    2. KR*

      +1 The headphones are a great suggestion. I have to agree with what is being said here. It’s really nice that you get your own suite to do your pumping in right now, but you can’t expect people to avoid the whole wing in general because you’re pumping there. The company owns/leases it and they can use it how they need to.

  27. YankeeNonprofitChick*

    #5, a very long time ago I was hiring for an assistant position. A young woman came in to interview and I really liked her, but she was wearing a denim skirt. Our fundraising office dressed a few steps above the rest of the organization and I thought, if she wears a denim skirt to the interview, how much more casually will she dress for the office? I thought about it a great deal and finally called and asked her. She said she had dressed comfortably because interviews were stressful but would be fine dressing to office standards. I hired her and never had a problem with her attire. She was a great hire and went on to be promoted a few times after I left. I was glad I didn’t disqualify her based on the denim skirt.

    1. Sunny Days*

      Omg, I want to second the “interviews are stressful,” part. Sometimes people panic and have a wardrobe malfunction on the way to an interview (like spilling coffee, tripping over something and landing in a puddle – I’ve done these things). Or they over think what to wear, or take bad advice. If you’re inexperienced, it’s easy to accidentally do the wrong thing.

      These days, I dress in plain, professional attire for all interviews and bring a back up set of clothes with me in case of some kind of disaster.

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        Ohhh, the back up set of clothes is a fabulous idea. I don’t know why I never thought of that, especially since I usually bring a back up pair of shoes (or, rather, public transportation shoes and then more professional interview shoes).

      2. LA Gaucho*

        That is a good idea! I’d definitely bring a back-up for an interview and/or during the first week jitters.

        I may or may not have spilled coffee all over myself on my first day of my grad school internship.

  28. Sunny Days*

    #5 – The thing about customer service and entry level jobs is that people usually apply for a lot of them while juggling a full work schedule that doesn’t make it easy to take time off plus other responsibilities. In an office, it’s pretty easy to slip out for an “appointment”, but if you work in customer service, taking any extra time off, even calling in sick, is really frowned upon. And it’s not unusual for people making hourly wages to work multiple jobs or be going to school, something that adds up to more than the usual 40 hours per week. This person might be filling gaps in their schedule with interviews, and maybe doesn’t have time to change clothes or couldn’t afford better clothes. I’d give them the benefit of the doubt and talk to them about it.

    1. Katie F*

      When I was trying desperately to claw my way out of the service industry, I definitely had a few interviews where I know I looked drab compared to other applicants – but I was wearing the only business-appropriate clothing I could afford. Spending an extra 30 – 50 dollars to buy nicer clothing? That would have to come out of a food budget that was already stretched thin enough to see through.

      We’re talking black goodwill suit jacket, black dress pants I’d owned since high school, and one of three business-appropriate shirts I owned (again, since high school). The first out-of-service-industry job I got, the first thing I did with a paycheck that had extra money on it was buy nicer clothing.

      1. Sunny Days*

        Yeah, same here. I know you can buy professional clothes at second hand stores like Good Will, but in some areas they’re expensive there too or there isn’t much to choose from.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Yep. It can be done, but sometimes it fits oddly or has that hard-to-define air of being a bit out of style or is faded. Options can be even more scant if you’re an unusual size.

          1. Sunny Days*

            It would be great if companies gave new employees a signing bonus to buy new clothes and other work-related things. It would help to get people off on the right track. If you’re coming from a lower paying job, there can be that awkward week or two where you’re meeting all your new co-workers while wearing that ugly sweater and kakhi pants that don’t quite fit.

            1. SevenSixOne*

              Even the people who don’t need to buy new clothes or supplies would probably appreciate that money while they’re in the dead zone between the last paycheck from their last job and the first paycheck from their new job.

          2. KR*

            +1 to this. Barely anything I’ve found in a thrift store fits without looking horribly frumpy on me or making me look like a little kid who borrowed her mom’s clothes.

        2. Eddie Turr*

          Thank you for mentioning this! Some people find great stuff at thrift stores, so I understand why it’s such a common suggestion, but I worry that people think everyone can find nice, professional clothing at thrift stores and that anyone who can’t come up with a professional wardrobe just isn’t trying. People who are particularly big/tall/skinny/short have an especially hard time finding stuff that works — as a plus-sized woman, I’ve realized it’s not even worth the time it takes to dig through the racks.

      2. Xarcady*

        Thrift stores really depend on the area. When I lived near a large city, the thrift stores were full of nice clothes, barely worn. Now that I’m in a small city, in a rural area, the clothes in the thrift stores area mostly WalMart and Target brands, faded, and very worn. There is a market for these clothes, but the thrift stores are not where I’d go to find interview clothing.

        1. SevenSixOne*

          “There is a market for these clothes, but the thrift stores are not where I’d go to find interview clothing.”

          Absolutely. You may find amazing interview clothing if you’re a frequent thrifter who shops for fun and has the patience/foresight to think “this thing I don’t have much use for now would be perfect for a job interview sometime in the indefinite future”… but if you’re scouring Goodwill for something to wear to an interview tomorrow, you’re gonna have a bad time.

  29. STX*

    “Business casual” can mean such a wide variety of things in the first place. Maybe because I tend to work in mixed-manufacturing/engineering environments, in my jobs it has meant anything from wool slacks and dress shirts to clean jeans and the company polo (“casual” being grease-stained jeans and a Harley Davidson promotional t-shirt). I think the people who are scheduling interviews should be more clear about what the dress code of their office is, if that is important.

    1. Roscoe*

      Yeah, I made a similar point. 3 offices can have 3 very different ideas of business casual. If its a big deal to you, then be sure to explain what your definition is

    2. OP #5*

      This is a good idea. I plan to do this for all future interviews. I wasn’t the original contact and as our recruiters typically hire for our consultants, who generally know what kind of clothes to wear to an interview, they probably didn’t realize they maybe should have said something about our dress code. I also like the idea of having a second interview with someone and seeing if they dress a little better after being in the office.

  30. Sunny Days*

    #1 – I’m not a mother, but I understand that being a new mother makes some people more sensitive and protective. I think the point has been made and we should back off.

    OP, have you considered bringing this up with HR or a manager? Not mentioning the other co-worker, but just asking how private the room is. You could say, “I was wondering, is the suite still being used for other purposes or is it only for lactation now?” Something really general that makes it about your own privacy and doesn’t refer to co-workers.

    1. Mike C.*

      Again, there is no need to bring this to HR. Why would you go to HR to inquire about other people using other random rooms in an office? That makes no sense to me.

      1. Sunny Days*

        It’s fair for her to ask about her privacy. She just needs to frame it as a general / personal question and leave other people out of it. I said HR because they might know more about what the room is being used for than her manager would.

        1. Roscoe*

          If there is a door that locks, and there is no window, its not about privacy. I mean, it shouldn’t matter what other people are doing in the suite, as long as her privacy is protected. This goes beyond her privacy. If it is about privacy, she should respect her co-workers privacy and not check up on their key card

          1. LQ*

            This is important. This coworker may also need privacy, and may have been told this is how to get it.

    2. OP #1*

      Thanks! This is exactly what I was thinking, too. I’m kind of wearing two hats in this situation. One is of the person responsible for keeping an eye out for unusual activity (such as this admin being in a completely empty suite). The other is of a user of the room. I have no problem at all accommodating other users of the room if it’s supposed to be available for them. It would just be nice to know to expect others and possible work out a mutually beneficial schedule.

      1. hbc*

        If you would be responsible for reporting on or investigating that admin if you saw her go into the office while you were walking by, or you noticed furniture had been rearranged, then feel free to follow up on that responsibility. But your accommodation is not for the entire suite, and the idea that someone may or may not have a right to be there is completely separate from your activities.

      2. animaniactoo*

        I can see wanting to know just for general purposes that somebody else may be in the area, but you could also just go ahead and assume that may happen now that you know it’s happened a few times. It does sound like you have the standing to ask if that use is supposed to be happening as part of your awareness of unusual activity, so I’d go that route on that portion of it.

        From what you’ve said, I can’t see what needs to be worked out that may be mutually beneficial. You have the use of the room you’re in and are able to use it without interruption while you’re in there. The other employee(s) are using the rooms they are in without being interrupted by you. The only thing that could conceivably be more beneficial would be to have the entire suite to yourself, and I think that’s an unreasonable ask on the privacy level. As long as no one is entering or attempting to enter a room that is actively in use, you have all the privacy you or another could reasonably ask for in a work environment.

        1. OP #1*

          Oh, no, I meant mutually beneficial as in I would try to make sure I didn’t schedule over a time they needed to use the room and vice versa.

          1. animaniactoo*

            I’m sorry, I’m still confused – so far, there’s no indication that anyone else needs the room you’re using, so what would you be scheduling that would interfere with their use of the room they’re using and why would anyone else be using the lactation room instead of one of the empty offices?

            1. OP #1*

              I don’t know for sure if anyone else needs to use the lactation room, but I’m also not trying to claim the room for myself or anything like that (as some commenters have suggested). If someone wants to use one of the offices in the suite to take or make calls, ok. The main thing that creeped me out was that I didn’t hear any conversations or movement and the lights were off. I only suggested in my letter that she might be napping in the lactation room because if I were in desperate need of a nap and my only options were the floor of a completely empty office or a leather recliner, I sure wouldn’t pick the floor.

              1. hbc*

                So it sounds like what you want is to avoid someone hanging around outside the room waiting for you to be done, yes? I don’t think you can guarantee that, but you could try:
                -Posting a sign with your contact info asking that people get in touch if they’re finding they want to use the room too
                -Post your schedule/”reservation” of the room if you’re pretty reliable
                -Put up one of those clock thingies where you move the hands before each pumping session to show approximately when it will be free.

                To be clear, all of that should be on the lactation room door, not on the suite door. You cannot dictate how the suite is used just because it is lactation-room adjacent.

              2. animaniactoo*

                I think that until you have an instance where you show up and the lactation room is unavailable because someone else is using it as you’re theorizing they might, or for a non-approved purpose, you should leave this alone. There are so many possibilities, and if they’re respecting the availability of the lactation room by using one of the other offices instead, it’s really a non-issue. You’re looking at the potential for there to be an issue, but there’s just as much potential for there not to be an issue that it’s not worth raising.

                fwiw, I once headed into an empty area of a warehouse and sat on the floor to break an asthma attack because I didn’t want people watching or seeing me in that condition. The only thing that might have been heard by somebody walking by would have been an inhaler puff, and I’m not sure you could even hear that through a closed door.

              3. CMT*

                The fact that they’re being quiet and you can’t tell that lights are on makes me think more than anything else it’s for their own medical reasons.

      3. Oryx*

        This is where I’m getting confused, because you’re in a room within a room, right? That’s how it’s described in the letter — a lactation room within a larger room. So I’m not sure why you need a mutually beneficial schedule if you already have a private area you can go into. It seems unreasonable to request the entire HR suite to yourself when you’re already getting a private space there, too.

  31. Mental Health Day*

    #2 LOVE TO WIN
    Yeah, as AAM says, it is a crap question. Unfortunately, these types of “zingers” are not at all uncommon in interviews, at least in my own experience.
    However, I think interviewers use them for a variety of reasons and so I believe context is pretty important here. As AAM mentioned, for some people, they just aren’t good at interviewing. I think there are quite a few managers out there that are reasonably good, but they just don’t have much experience interviewing. I’m willing to give this a pass under these circumstances, and this wouldn’t be too much of a red flag for me. Maybe they are just inexperienced interviewers, but are decent managers, and perhaps got some bad advice.
    On the other end of the spectrum are the people that know exactly what they are doing with these types of questions. These degenerates like to indulge in the mental masturbatory fantasy that they are some kind of FBI psychological profiler. They view the candidate as a live specimen being vivisected in a petri dish and like to poke and prod and cut “just to see”. At their heart, these people are sadists. If you have other supporting evidence that you are dealing with a sociopath, then you have to take these types of zinger questions as an enormous red flag.
    And, of course, most people that use these questions probably fall somewhere between these two extremes.
    All of that said, I can’t imagine I would ever answer in any other way than “love to win”, regardless of what it says out there on the internet. But YMMV.

    1. Kyrielle*

      The interesting thing for me is that for sales “hate to lose” is desirable, according to some people. For most jobs I’ve been in, a straight “hate to lose” answer would be someone I didn’t want to work with, because they aren’t going to yield gracefully when they’ve presented what they think should be done and told they were heard but we’re doing it some other way. And a software engineer who gets upset whenever something breaks (because it always does) isn’t nearly as useful as one who views every bug report as a task they can excel (“win”) at.

      1. Mental Health Day*

        Yes, absolutely. I suppose “hating to lose” is a desirable trait for some particular fields. Just not any of the fields I would choose to work in ;)
        I don’t think the OP mentioned their particular field, so I was just responding based on my own experiences/viewpoint. But, yes, a very solid point you have.

  32. Alan*

    Consider #1 from a security standpoint. It sounds like someone is accessing a secured area and they should not be. From that standpoint, reach out to the manager and say “An audit determined that this person has been entering the HR secure area. If this is an issue, we need to update the security card’s access.”

    1. Sunny Days*

      I agree that it could be a security issue, but tracing someone’s activity without a business reason is also a security issue, possibly a bigger one. I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt, but she should look at this as a mistake and reframe the concern as one about her own privacy and whether or not the room is being used for other purposes, leaving out any information she gained from things she shouldn’t have been doing.

    2. Oryx*

      But if she’s able to get into the secure area with her own card (which the OP determined by putting a trace on her) that would suggest, to me at least, that she has permission to be there. Just because the OP doesn’t know why she has access doesn’t mean she’s entering for nefarious reasons.

    3. Mike C.*

      It sounds like someone is accessing a secured area and they should not be.

      Their keycard works, so it sounds like there isn’t a problem here.

      1. CM*

        Yeah, I was wondering about this — if her keycard gives her access to this suite, isn’t she allowed to be there? If my card gave me access to an empty office, and I wanted to use it for whatever reason and it didn’t seem like that was against the rules or interfering with anybody else’s use, I would think it was fine for me to use it.

      2. KR*

        +1 and I agree with Oryx. It’s simply no one’s business but the coworker, her manager and/or whoever gave them access to the room.

      3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Yes, exactly. I can imagine myself doing this without even thinking about it: Oh good, a quiet room I can work in when the cube farm gets too noisy! Oh good, somewhere to eat lunch and read my book for a little while. Oh good, a private room to make that awkward phone call.

        Unless I’d been told not to go into that space, I’d use it in whatever ways made sense for my work day.

  33. Ardeo*

    Former Americorps volunteer chiming in on #4. The person probably gave what they felt they could so there’s probably no need to feel badly about it. I also wouldn’t personally cite the stipend when giving money back to the person – I took pride in doing what I could on the stipend I was given.

    That said, an extra $35 would’ve been a pretty huge windfall to me, so it would be really kind to give it back.

    1. Collie*

      I’m going to add agreement to not citing the stipend. I’m also one who prides herself on being very conscious about how much I allocate to what. I’d feel slightly insulted and infer the person giving the money back didn’t really feel I had a handle on my own finances. Returning the money is fine and kind and even right, here — but leave the stipend out of it.

  34. EddieSherbert*

    #5 I think you should definitely take Alison’s advice here and talk to your casual interviewee. Don’t turn her down because of it, but don’t offer it without saying anything and hope she gets it (say more than “business casual but more business,” and don’t stay quiet and hope she’ll see everyone else’s clothes and “get it”).

    We had Intern at ToxicJob who just did NOT get the dress code and manager just hoped she’d get it. After there were complaints, our HR very much tried to soften it every time they talked to her about her clothes.

    For example: When someone complained about her fishnets, they told her “no fishnets” (at the beginning of her shift, which she then had to finish while wearing said fishnets)… so after that, she wore her mini-skirt and go-go boots WITHOUT fishnets underneath.

    P.S. She has a butt-cheek tattoo. I used the water fountain after her once.

    And yes, you’re picturing the boots correctly:

  35. Observer*


    The suit is supposed to be empty. So, the only relevant question is whether there is anything accessible there that could be at risk. You know that she hasn’t vandalized the furniture, so that’s not an issue. If you have reason to believe that sensitive paper files might have been left behind, or that there is an access terminal that’s hardwired to some sensitive services, then check with HR for the former and IT for the latter. Otherwise, leave it. Your privacy is not being invaded. (If she were standing outside the door listening, that would be a different story, but that’s not what she is doing.)

    As for your fear about the milk, I think the question upthread about your mental state is valid. It’s really fairly over the top. You don’t really want to feed the paranoia, but if you REALLY need to do something to assure yourself that your milk is safe, put a piece of tape over the top and side of the bottle. Quick, easy, and tamper proof.

  36. animaniactoo*

    OP1 – food for thought questions: How would you feel if you found out that the other admin was badging your usage and checking to see how long you were in the room when you were using it?

    Possible she’s taking her lunch period in an empty room? If she is, is there a reason why it should be a problem for her to do it in this room?

    Why is your first instinct and action to check and see who is in the room/has entered the area, rather than benefit of the doubt assuming that they have a legitimate reason to be there that you just don’t know about and don’t necessarily need to know about?

    I’m asking that last question, because if that portion is in any way tied to your new motherhood, it’s something that you should really back up and take a harder look at. If it’s tied to a feeling of protectiveness, the need to protect yourself and your child, I would urge you to do some research and think hard about this. Because it could be a marker for a kind of overprotectiveness that you don’t want to let go unchecked. The ability to do something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s something you should do – not even to make yourself feel safer and more secure. Sometimes, interfering rather than allowing or accepting impedes something else you want to have. Whether that be a child who is ready to interact with the world as they grow, or a work environment where people feel safe vs scrutinized and watched. So just to say… think about what you’re trying to achieve and why, both short term and long term, and think about the drawbacks that any particular choice might have, and use that to inform yourself to make very purposeful decisions that further both ends of the goals.

    There will be no bulletproof plan, so there’s going to be a lot of risk assessment in here, and thinking about whether the level of risk to your expressed milk or the company by this employee’s possibly illegal use of the room is high enough or realistic enough that you should act on it is a good place to start. Having thoughts that may be kind of “out there” isn’t necessarily an issue. What you choose to do about those thoughts – the actions that follow – is where you need to be careful about who you want to be in the world.

    fwiw, if any of that resonates with you – My dad used to watch us sleep, just long enough to make sure we were breathing. Throughout my entire childhood. If we woke up or were awake, he only told us he was checking to see if we were asleep. And he encouraged us to go outside and play and be out of his eyesight for large chunks of the day. As he puts it, he panics easily and “writes headlines in his head” every time things happened like – oh, we were too far down the block and it took 3 calls before we heard him/came. But that was his issue to struggle with and he was careful to try and not make it a problem for us. In the end, doing that gave him the ability to be calm and cope and be useful when it was actually time to panic. Like when we fell off the monkey bars and stuff. His level of concern without panic made those experiences a lot less traumatic than they might have been otherwise.

  37. EddieSherbert*

    #5: Definitely follow up with her, regardless of your decision. I hope you won’t reject her because of her wardrobe, but it’d be worth mentioning if that’s the case.

    If you give her a job offer, be specific on dress code – give her examples of what is and is not appropriate. Be blunt and to the point, it might be weird but definitely appreciated!

    At ToxicJob, we had an intern who just Did Not Get It when it came to dress code. She was incredibly inappropriate from day one, and management just hoped she’d “catch on.” Every time Manager/Hr said something to her, they tried to be gentle and would end up saying, for example, fishnets aren’t really appropriate.

    So after that she wore her mini skirt and go-go boots without fishnets.

    (BTW, she had a butt-cheek tattoo. I was behind her at the water fountain once.)

      1. EddieSherbert*

        Sorry all! My computer was not my friend this morning and I thought I didn’t get this post in.

    1. OP #5*

      Thanks for the advice! I will be following up with her, but there were a few other issues other than just dress code, so we’re looking for a few additional candidates. I do like the idea of letting her know regardless so she knows for future interviews. I have no idea what our recruiter told her as far as dress, we usually aren’t looking for someone as inexperienced as we are for this role, so there’s a good chance the recruiter didn’t say anything about it. Which would definitely be on us and we wouldn’t hold against a candidate anyway.

  38. Jerry Blank*

    OP#3: Your boyfriend’s schedule is your boyfriend’s responsibility. He shouldn’t be delegating the administration of his own life, and it’s not your job to mother him.

    1. Jaguar*

      This seems like a short walk to “don’t ever trust anyone.”

      Is it really so unreasonable to ask someone to pick up your schedule and trust them with that? Is it unreasonable to feel like you hurt someone when they trusted you and you gave them the wrong information? These rigid rules about everyone being responsible for themselves is a chilling world and not one I want to live in. Thankfully, I don’t think I do. It seems strange to me that management would not be receptive to OP telling them that her boyfriend’s absence was actually her fault.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Okay, but does it even matter? Either he wrote down his schedule wrong, or the person he entrusted with getting his schedule wrote it down wrong. If “having your schedule wrong” is a fireable offense, he gets fired one way or the other.

        1. Jaguar*

          Sure. I just don’t like the advice that you should consider everyone undependable and only trust yourself. That’s a tough way to live.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            I think better advice is “understand that when you delegate to someone, and they make a mistake, it’s the same as you making a mistake.” In circumstances like this, anyway. When you rely on others to gather information for you, they are going to make mistakes occasionally, because they are human, but it’s going to be just like YOU made that mistake. No one would expect the bank to waive a bounced check fee because “my girlfriend forgot to write down a withdrawal.” This is the same thing.

          2. Anonymous Educator*

            When your job is on the line, trust… but verify. Honestly, if my spouse said, “I checked your work calendar, and it looks as if you don’t have to work X and Y days,” I’d say “Really?” and then double-check myself. I wouldn’t just take the days. It’s not that I think my spouse is lying or incompetent. It’s just that we all make mistakes, and sometimes it’s helpful to verify things and double-check, especially if you could be fired for the mistake!

      2. nonegiven*

        They may well have changed the schedule after she wrote it down. It’s been known to happen.

  39. JoAnna*

    The building I worked in after my oldest son was born had a lactation room (there were several companies in the building, and all employees shared it). It was very nice, with a microfiber glider and ottoman and a mini-fridge. The other moms and I worked out a system between ourselves as to when we’d take turns using the room, but we ran into problems with that schedule because other employees (i.e., non-nursing mothers) would use it to paint their nails or take a nap. We reported each instance. It got so bad that the management company ended up putting a lock on the door and issued keys to all the nursing moms. It was sad that it had to get to that point, but I’m grateful the management company who ran the building was responsive to our complaints.

    1. JoAnna*

      I should add there was already a lock on the door previously, but it was a push-button lock that could only be locked from the inside. The new lock was a keyed lock that could be locked from either side.

  40. J.B.*

    OP1: Based on your later comments, I think I misread the “tracing” as a specific activity related to your position rather than the software. My response was based on that. I apologize. The whole thing sounds odd and unsettling for everyone, I hope things settle down soon!

  41. Coolb*

    About the territorial vibe towards the lactation room – In my HR role I’ve seen this happen several times and been super annoyed by it (like why does she care if a guy uses the room for afternoon prayers as long as it’s available when she needs it and the door locks). Reading through these comments, I’m getting it. Okay, so I’m now slightly kinder and more understanding after reading this blog. Hooray for online communities.

  42. Fuzzyfuzz*

    Eh…I was nursing/pumping until recently and I still think the territoriality is unreasonable and doesn’t really need to be accommodated. It’s great to be understanding, sure, but nursing moms are entitled to a private space, not an exclusive one. And, beyond the legal standards, I don’t think nursing/pumping is entitled to any more protection or understanding than any other accommodation. You still have to co-exist with other people with other needs, and yours are not paramount.

    1. TootsNYC*

      I had a crisis period where I needed to do a short meditation every 90 minutes. I had nowhere to do it, in our open-floor plan office. All the conference rooms had glass walls, etc.

      I wished I could have used the lactation room, but I didn’t even ask. I didn’t think they’d say yes.
      It wasn’t a suite or anything–just one room.

      I sort of wish all companies would have a set of rooms like that for purposes like those.

      1. Here, kitty, kitty...*

        It is ridiculous that so many offices put pumping moms’ needs above other employees’ needs. There might be just that one room, but it needs to be shared amongst all who need it: the pumping mom, the person who needs to meditate, the person coming back from a chemo appointment, the person with a nascent migraine, the person who suffers from anxiety and just needs a few minutes alone to calm down before resuming work. In each of these scenarios, plus many more not mentioned, the person in question requires and deserves privacy, yet it seems that more often than not, it’s nursing mothers who get it at the expense of others. It’s bullshit.

          1. Here, kitty, kitty...*

            I know, and I find that really unfair for people (like me, surprise surprise) who suffer from chronic migraines and anxiety.

  43. TootsNYC*

    “love to win”–oddly enough, I’d rather hire someone who says, “I love to win.” Those are the people who go out and do things; I don’t want someone who focuses on the negative.

    It reminds me of the whole “girls/women won’t take risks (i.e., guess at the answer to a question on the SAT) if they’ll be penalized for getting it wrong, but men will.”
    Funnily enough, “hates to lose” is the “female” pattern there.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I’d probably say “love to win,” if really pressed for an answer, but honestly I’d also not really care about the job any more (unless I were truly desperate) if an interviewer asked me this sort of silly thing. I’m here to do work, not play silly mind games. I don’t care about winning or losing. I care about doing my job well.

    2. Jaguar*

      I don’t know if we can really assign genders to them. It speaks more to how competitive people are, I think. I’m a fairly competitive person, and what drives me is the thought of losing. If my competitiveness gets triggered and I don’t make a conscious effort to keep a cool head (which, after practising and general growing/maturity is not a difficult task), it’s the idea of losing something I’m trying for becomes completely unacceptable to me. I have to pass that stranger on my run. I have to get out the door before my co-worker. I have to get my mom a better gift than my brothers. Winning anything provides very little positive feeling (in fact, upon reflection, I usually feel bad about how stupid I was being), but losing is just the worst. Most competitive people I’ve met and talked about this generally say the same sorts of things.

    3. nonegiven*

      There was a martial arts demo I saw once. I don’t know if it was some kind of trick or what but it seemed to demonstrate that love made you stronger than hate. People who were repeating “I love peace.” showed more physical resistance than people who were repeating “I hate war.”

  44. thekatcameback*

    Re #2 I’m finding the difficulty between the two camps so interesting! I think for me personally my gut reaction was “both are terrible”– which I’m sure says something about me as much as if I love to win or hate to lose.

    Having thought about it, I think it’s really a matter of what result MOTIVATES you. When I’m writing a chapter I’m not thinking how happy I’ll be when it’s done and how much people will like it, I’ll be thinking about how terrible it would be if I DIDN’T finish it or didn’t do a good job. So are you motivated by the feeling of winning, or avoiding losing?

    For that, I think it makes sense that the salespeople say they like “hate to lose–” they’re frequently in positions (or avoiding positions) where they do face that rejection and failure, whereas another job like teacher might feel satisfaction out of seeing a kid finally master a skill.

  45. LizM*

    I recently stopped pumping at work. On one hand, I don’t think OP#1 has a monopoly on the suite. At my workplace, we have a “wellness” room, and others were able to use it for resting. I know of at least one person who was going through cancer treatments and rested every day, others who rested periodically. As long as the room wasn’t reserved, it was open. Because I pumped at the same time every day, I was able to reserve it so there was never a problem.

    On the other hand, even if I weren’t doing something as private as pumping, I can see it being deeply unnerving to be alone in a dark suite, then hear someone come in, but not know who it is, or what they’re doing, and to not see any lights. She may have a totally legitimate reason to be in there, but I wouldn’t be comfortable being alone in a suite in that situation without knowing who is in the next room. I see it similar to being working alone on a weekend.

    I don’t have any advice for the OP, but I understand why it would unsettle her.

  46. OP 2*

    Hi all –

    Sorry to return to this thread so late, I was waiting to hear back on the job for which I was asked “love to win, or hate to lose?”

    Context: This was the 4th interview for an in-house legal position. I’d had 2 phone interviews and 1 in-person interview with multiple people, and this was a phone interview with the head of the company. He asked this after going through more specific questions about the job, my background, etc. This was one of a few red flags for the company, though a relatively minor one.

    After all of that, I found out today that I didn’t get the job. Was it because I didn’t answer that I hated to lose? Since, even after all of that interviewing, they didn’t give me a reason for the rejection, I suppose I’ll never know.

    Thanks for all of your responses!

  47. Norman*

    #1- DON’T TELL ANYBODY. What’s your plan, admit you’re using your access to the company keycard system for a purpose for which you almost certainly are not authorized?

  48. Meg Danger*

    Sorry I am so late to the (comment) game! I wanted to suggest giving the Vista intern a good-bye card signed by their co-workers. You could tuck cash, or an equivalent gift card inside as a “thank you” without bringing up the baby shower at all.

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