should I move into my boss’s spare bedroom, I told a coworker I was disgusted with her, and more

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

1. Should I temporarily live in my boss’s spare bedroom?

I’m in a bit of a housing bind, and dealing with some pretty serious anxiety to boot. I mentioned my anxiety issues to my boss to explain any lapses she may be seeing in my performance at work, and mentioned that my apartment search in NYC was a big contributing factor to the anxiety. She very graciously offered me her spare bedroom rent-free, where I could stay while I hunt for something that’s a better fit than the places I’m seeing now. (She was quite serious, and mentioned her offer again in a follow-up email later that day.)

Am I crazy to consider this? I definitely see the problems living with one’s boss, but I think we could handle it okay. She was my mentor for about a year before she came to work at my company and became my boss, so we have a fairly close relationship, though still professional. It would definitely be only temporary, but I’m not sure if taking my boss up on her offer would end up causing trouble?

The only way I’d do this is if you’d otherwise be homeless. It’s just too fraught with the potential for problems.

Yes, it might work out fine. But it could also cause huge problems. If she has to give you really serious critical feedback at work, do you really want to see her in the living room that evening? What if she has to tell you that your job is in jeopardy? What if she loses her job while you’re living with her and wants to complain to you every evening about your company? What if she wants to talk about work when you want to collapse in front of a movie and you feel pressured to let her? What if there’s a weird issue over money — will that really not bleed into work? What if she changes her mind and wants to kick you out early and you feel screwed over? And most importantly, what about the power dynamic? Are you going to feel comfortable telling your boss things you need to be able to tell a roommate, like “I really don’t want to spend a third hour listening to you talk about your ex?” or “Stop walking into my bedroom without knocking” or “Could you not blast Sia at 5 a.m.”?  (And you can find more potential issues with it in this old letter.) Particularly if you’re dealing with anxiety issues, this all seems like an unnecessary additional source of stress.

It’s also a really bad idea for your boss herself, for all the reasons above. The fact that she’s offering says there’s a good chance she’s not super thoughtful about boundaries (again, unless you’re truly about to be homeless) and that’s a flag to be really cautious too.

2. I told a coworker I was “disgusted” with how she handled something

I recently had an encounter at work when I forgot about a payment, was notified a month later, and rectified it immediately. Someone not involved in the rectification told my indirect supervisor that the issue had not been resolved and actually got me in a lot of trouble. I sent an email to this person and used the words “I am disgusted with the way this was handled,” as this all happened on a Friday night and actually had significant implications on the work I needed to do over the weekend.

I was in the wrong and let emotions get to me. All 20 previous emails were definitely kind and rational, but then I snapped and got emotional. On Monday, I was called into my indirect supervisor’s office, where I was given an extremely patronizing lecture on how I am young and don’t know everything, and based on this one line I was told that I am lovely in person but my email dialogue was that of a complainer.

I admit my email was wrong — 100% — and apologized profusely. I am now just dealing with my own pride and how to shake this impression I left with this supervisor. I have never had a critique like this before. I am definitely taking it on and will be super careful with emails going forwards, but do you have any advice on what I can do now? While I do feel like this has been blown out of proportion, I am honestly just embarrassed and I pride myself on being kind and rational. Is there anyway I can try and change this opinion and move on?

Yeah, telling a coworker that you’re disgusted with her isn’t great, even if you were in the right to be annoyed. I’m also wondering about the 20 emails — that seems like a lot, although of course I don’t know the context.

I can’t tell if your indirect manager’s reaction was over the top or not (if this was more than a five-minute conversation, it probably was, unless this was part of a larger pattern she was concerned about), but in any case, the best thing to do from here is just to be scrupulous about controlling your emotions and not showing anger at coworkers. If you’re feeling heated about something, take that as a sign that you should walk away from the situation and come back to it later when you’re feeling more calm. And avoid using email at all when something feels emotional to you — there’s just too much opportunity for emails to get out of control in situations like this.

When something like this happens, it’s easy to feel like it has forever altered how people see you — but if you replace this impression with lots of impressions of you being professional and pleasant, people will see it as a one-off, not something defining about you. You can get past it!

3. Playing Cards Against Humanity at a work event

We had a team building event and people brought board games. Everyone rallied around Cards Against Humanity, which I politely refused to play. One other employee and the manager also did not play, but we didn’t really have much else to do, and instead spent the rest of the event (another half hour), awkwardly making small talk and pretending to ignore people saying things like “jerking off into a swimming pool” and “badly timed Holocaust jokes.”

I thought my manager should have put a stop to it before it started, saying it wasn’t appropriate for work, but the manager tends to be super nonconfrontational, to the point of causing problems, so all I could do was not participate. Any ideas?

Cards Against Humanity is awesome, and it is also 100% inappropriate for a work event (let alone a team-building one — good lord). It’s full of sexual and, as your examples show, other potentially offensive humor. It’s pretty much the definition of what a manager shouldn’t be sanctioning at a work event because there’s too much chance that even a reasonable person could feel uncomfortable, offended, or even harassed.

Your manager absolutely should have said something like, “This one isn’t work-appropriate; let’s pick a different game.” If she didn’t realize ahead of time what the game was, once she started figuring out, she should have stepped in and said something like, “Oh whoops, I didn’t realize what this was — we really need to stick to PG games, y’all.”

It also would have been okay for you to speak up if you wanted to, by saying something similar.

4. When a coworker in a very large organization dies

I work for a very large organization, and getting information about anything is often difficult. Earlier this week, my manager casually informed me that a coworker whom I’d spoken to Friday had passed away. Someone had seen I had invited him to a teleconference and emailed her, so she told me over instant message.

This was a guy who was not only helping me save a smoldering account, but was also someone with whom I had bonded. Times have been stressful at the company and this news really put me off-kilter. There has been no email or Intranet announcement. I’d really appreciate knowing what happened, so I can at least send condolences to his wife and focus better. But I work remotely, and no one seems to know or be willing to find out anything.

What should I do? How should the company handle these situations? When they let several thousand go a few months ago, they of course gave us no info, but this seems different.

It’s possible that they announced it to his department but not more widely — which wouldn’t necessarily be unreasonable if your company is enormous, but is still going to be unsettling for people who knew him and didn’t get informed.

I think it would be fine for you to write to his manager and say, “I was so sorry to hear about Fergus. I worked closely with him at times and really liked him. I would like to send condolences to his family — is there a way for us to do that or get any other information about the situation?”

(I debated the “other information” part of that. I think some people would argue that you shouldn’t ask what happened in case his family wants to maintain his privacy, but I think as long as you’re polite and sensitive about the wording — the wording above makes it easy for the manager to not answer that part of the question if they prefer not to — it should be okay.)

5. My student paper is being published — should that go on my resume?

I’m a relatively recent grad who’s worked one year. Some very unexpected but fun happened to me today. I got a message today from my old thesis supervisor in grad school who wanted to ask my permission to publish a version of a paper I wrote (and that he’s since expanded on) as a case study in a major textbook in my field (along the lines of Gray’s Anatomy but in a completely different subject). I will get some money and credit in the book.

My supervisor suggested putting this on my resume, even if I’m not interested in an academic career. What do you think? I think it’s a cool thing but it’s not a major scientific study — just a case in a textbook albeit a fairly famous textbook.

You definitely can put it on your resume; it won’t look weird or out of place to do that. But whether you should put it there depends on whether it will strengthen your candidacy (it might if you’re applying for a job that values academic writing, for instance) and whether it would be taking up space would otherwise be used for something more relevant. So I’d look at how it fits in with the whole picture of your resume and the types of jobs you’re applying for before deciding. But all else being equal, sure, go for it!

{ 351 comments… read them below }

  1. A Non

    Oh man, playing Cards Against Humanity with coworkers is a terrible idea. The only thing that would be worse is playing it with one’s parents. (No, Dad, I am not explaining the meaning of that word to you. Just no.)

    Anyone tried crossing it with other word/description games? Some friends and I were playing a game that had cards with original, rather surreal artwork that we were supposed to describe in short phrases, so we tried using COH answer cards for the descriptions. It worked pretty well.

    1. Artemesia

      I played it for the first time at a holiday weekend with my son’s new Jewish in laws and my new daughter in law and other family members. It went better than one might have thought but when I drew Auschwitz — I just hung onto the card all evening — no way there is any joke I would ever make where that would be the punch line — and double that for lovely new Jewish in laws (we are not Jewish).

      Yeah, no way in a work setting.

      1. dragonzflame

        That could totally have been an episode of Seinfeld. Can you imagine a game of Cards Against Humanity in which George Costanza was involved?

      2. New Bee

        Agreed. I’m Black and my husband is Jewish, and what’s funny between us would definitely not be funny coming from coworkers. We once went to a party at his coworker’s house where one of her friends gave an anti-Semitic response to Scattergories, of all games, so playing CAH would be just the worst.

        1. Relly

          … I think I have to ask, here. What on Earth did your coworker’s friend say? Because I am trying to figure out how that even happens.

          I am not doubting you. I just cannot imagine what the category was, and now I need to know before it drives me crazy.

          (“If it weren’t for my horse, I would have never spent that year in college …”)

        1. A Non

          I should add – there’s one card in there that has made someone reach for a cell phone every time I’ve played it. Seeing who among my friends already knows the meaning of That Card has been more than I’ve wanted to know. The idea of running across That Card with my conservative Christian parents… NOPE.

          1. Blueismyfavorite

            I’m a conservative Christian parent and I’ve played this with my adult kids. They thought it was hilarious to hear me read the cards out when it was my turn or see which cards I’d play for my answer. We had a great time!

            1. Karo

              My mom got upset about some of the responses that were played last time we played Apples to Apples. No way am I inviting her to play CAH, for all that I love playing it with my siblings and friends.

          2. Sunshine

            I still haven’t looked up the meaning of That Card. Based on other’s reactions, I don’t want to know.

            1. Callietwo

              I’ve played the game with my daughter, son & son in law… I can’t for the life of me recall what card they could be talking about but nothing came up that was new to me so I can’t help you there.

              My husband was kind of horrified that we were playing this game together, though. He never joins in when we play board/card games but could hear us across the room. We laughed at him.

          3. Beezus

            Pretty sure I know the card. I had to define the word for my mother in law because I giggled when someone played it. Then I told that story to a coworker at an after-work social thing on a business trip, without naming the term. She said that she had to look up a few things when she played – “for example, b——! What kind of person would know what that is?!” I turned scarlet and choked a little, and then the third person in the conversation wanted both of us to define it (we told her to google it on her personal phone.)

            Thinking it over now, the moral of the story for me is that I need to control my facial expressions and other reactions a little better, haha!

            1. Jayn

              I think I had to explain it to my husband once (different context–it also comes up in a Saints Row game). I think he’d be disturbed to know how much I know about that sort of thing.

          4. LBK

            I’m now wildly curious which card you’re referring to, since I haven’t yet encountered one that I didn’t know the meaning of. I’m not sure what that says about me.

              1. LBK

                Ah, I think I got it now. I blame my knowledge of that term on a brief, misguided foray into going on 4chan in middle school.

                1. Rusty Shackelford

                  I knew it too… apparently I hang out in some dark, disreputable corners of the internet. ;-) (But I don’t know if this is actually the card A Non was referring to.)

                2. Beezus

                  I can’t remember where I learned it, but “dark, disreputable corners of the internet” probably covers it.

              2. anonderella

                An ex of mine was talking about that term (we stayed friends after dating, and I have pretty thick language-skin) while explaining a different joke he and his roommates had said earlier, only my friend has an unusual accent and I couldn’t understand the term.
                Imagine the horror when he went on to explain it in detail (went something like “You don’t know b–? You must have heard of b–. It’s when….”) and then I realized what he was talking about.
                Imagine the compounding horror when I had to tell him I already knew what it was, and corrected his pronunciation.
                The more you know : )

              3. Formica Dinette

                I was shocked when that word came up during a CAH game…shocked because a group of my peers didn’t know what it was.

                1. Lily in NYC

                  oooooohhh! hahaha. My friend is not a native English speaker and confused that word with backache at work and hilarity ensued (luckily most people had no idea what it meant so he was only slightly mortified).

                2. TheBeetsMotel

                  Does it say a lot about me that i couldn’t even bring that word to mind as being “weird” as I’ve known what it was for so long?

                  The corruption of the Internet started young in me, it seems :p

                3. Amy

                  Ah, this whole time I was thinking it was the b-word that rhymes with pumpkin… which is definitely more obscure.

                4. LBK

                  Oh…I was thinking of the one Amy was thinking of. I didn’t realize the other one was that obscure.

                5. Annie Moose

                  @TheBeetsMotel – saaaame! I used to be such a nice, innocent girl (or at least I claim I was), and then I discovered the internet (and how to delete your search history). There’s… a lot of things I know now that I kinda wish I didn’t.

                6. Feo Takahari

                  I spent most of this thread assuming it was “blumpkin.” The eleven-year-olds at my school used to love that word.

                1. Callietwo

                  hahaha… @Anna… my daughter (28) claimed she didn’t know the meaning and couldn’t be bothered to look it up. haha

                  But I have a friend who is 31 and I asked her using the ‘Sounds like Shiitake” and is ‘that card’ in CAH.. she was like, Callie.. you KNOW… and then explained it to me :)

                  Just didn’t know that word, is all. AAM is more educational than you thought!

          5. Thumper

            I know which card you’re referring to, but I also love that other card that has some word that sounds legitimate, but when you look it up, the definition is “A card from Cards Against Humanity that you’re looking up right now on Urban Dictionary because you don’t know what it means”, which I think is hysterical

              1. Thumper

                Not sure, always played with other people’s games so I never knew what version they are. The word was “swooping” (which I’m now realizing IS an actual word, but in the context of CAH it’s easy for one to assume it has some dirtier meaning).

            1. vpc

              Yes, that is the *one* card that my peer group had to google when it came up, and it completely cracked us up.

              We have also filled in the blank cards with additional phrases that are in-jokes, since we usually play as the same group of peers. Those can be great b/c depending on who is picking winners for the hand, you sometimes just *know* that they will pick the in-joke no matter what it says or how it relates to the prompt card.

        2. Random Lurker

          I played it with my parents once. To be honest, I’m confused how they even managed to conceive me. That’s how little they knew.

            1. Anna

              I wish my dad would pretend to be clueless.

              “Dad, never ever say that word in front of me again. Like, ever.” Conversation I had with my dad just a few weeks ago.

      1. Artemesia

        No kidding. I am an Old and there were not a lot of phrases on the cards that were news to me. There were a few I would not be willing to make a joke about though, in particular ones that could only be anti-semitic if used in a joke and of course plenty that are sexist or potentially sexist.

        1. Sparrow

          The group of friends I’ve played with has a standing rule that if you pull something you’re completely uncomfortable playing, you can draw a replacement. There’d be no point in playing if you were doing that every hand, but I appreciate the out if there’s something that I just can’t fathom joking (or being ironic) about.

          1. Megs

            I have a house rule against rape jokes, which does render a couple of cards useless. I like your general “out” rule, too.

          2. Linguist Curmudgeon

            I have friends who lived through the VA Tech shooting, so they take that card out. Other people might find it cathartic. People are different.

      2. Wendy Darling

        I maintain a certain suspension of disbelief with my parents, e.g. even though I exist and have a live-in significant other of many years, we all just pretend that the other party has never encountered the concept of sex.

        Considering it logically I’m sure my parents could make just as many truly appalling Cards Against Humanity plays as I can, but I just don’t want to live in a universe where I know that to be true. :P

      3. GreenTeaPot

        Remmds me of when my daughter was in 7th grade and told me her generation had coined the F word.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          When I was 15, I told my mother that I was sure that people didn’t continue having sex after a certain age, since it would obviously be too disgusting once one was old. She asked what age I thought it stopped at. My answer? 26.

          She sent me condolences on my 26th birthday.

          1. Katie F

            That’s the thing about Moms – they always play the long game. She waited ten years for that joke to pay off.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian

              Ha. Yes — what can I do to my kids when they’re of a certain age. I’m sure I have some. Unfortunately, some of them would depend on them becoming parents themselves . . .

          2. Audiophile

            That is amazing.

            When I was 5 I innocently asked my gym teacher if he slept with his wife who was also a teacher in the same school. This was not received in the innocent way I intended it and resulted in my mom having to come in for a meeting with the principal and the gym teacher. I didn’t get suspended, thankfully, my mom was able to talk some sense into them.

          3. wickedmizeri

            Late to this post/party but I just snarfled New Belgium Fat Tire, a wholly novel experience. I think I should thank you for the laugh but … ow.

      4. Barefoot Librarian

        This is so true. I was playing CAH with some professors and librarians (not a work event but a private get together) and one of the professor’s 80-something-year-old mother happened to be there, so she joined us for a few hands. I was both shocked and delighted at just how filthy that old lady’s mind was. She offered to take one of the male librarians around the corner and demonstrate when he jokingly said he didn’t know what “fisting” was.

        She was a delight, I can tell you. :D

        1. Happy Lurker

          Will never forget playing Bingo at church with my grandmother…O-69 is called and Gramma nudges her girlfriend of 50 years and says “my favorite number” I DIED laughing and then went to school and told all my good Catholic friends.

            1. (Another) B

              My grandma was a nurse, I love how she uses the technical terms for sexual organs. It’s hilarious.

      5. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

        My sister and brother-in-law are planning a large family vacation (for his side of the family) at their lake house. 19 people, ranging in age from 4 to 50. They emailed me to ask for advice on some board games to bring. A couple of days later, my sister sent me an update and said that my brother-in-law ordered Cards Against Humanity, not knowing what it was (just that it was a top selling game). She was sitting with her niece when he told her. She blurted out: “Oh, no, the kids can’t play that!” and the niece said “Oh, god, my parents can’t play that!”

      6. Mallory Janis Ian

        My college-age daughter plays COH with her friends almost every evening (via Skype now that she’s home for the summer), and she has told me things that I didn’t know. And I’ve had to look up things on Urban Dictionary. I had no idea I was so naive.

        1. Renee

          Mysterium is a big favorite in our house. My teen daughter LOVES to be the ghost (and she’s very good at it).

      1. themmases

        Yes! Dixit is such a great game.

        I especially like how, since you are reading meanings into the images, you can just decide how to moderate your own answers. Nothing inappropriate ever *has* to come up, but it’s easy to see how it could, if you wanted.

    2. neverjaunty

      I would rather play CAH with my mother than with my co-workers. Because while playing with your parents might be horrifying, playing with your co-workers is a huge, screaming sign that you have zero concept of workplace norms or boundaries.

      1. A Non

        My parents are conservative Christians who pride themselves on not having dirty minds. If I really had to choose one or the other, I’d rather play CAH with coworkers than with them. I can find a new job if I have to!

      2. Rhiannon

        I must work in an inappropriate office environment then. We play CAH during beer hour from 4-5 every Friday.

    3. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

      Parents, hah.

      I’ve never played Cards Against Humanity but I really really want to. I announced this at our nuclear family gathering a few months back, “Oh we have to play this” and adult son bursts into laughter and says “No mom, no. I am not playing Cards Against Humanity with my *mother*.

      Damn teaching kids boundaries and standing up for themselves parental thing I did.

      My adult children are the people I hang out with most! Damn Cards Against Humanity.

      1. Barefoot Librarian

        I play with my kids (18 and 20). It’s not as awkward as one might think lol. My 18 year old regularly wins though. She’s good.

        1. Elle

          I’ve played with my similarly aged kids, and it was fun. They did have to explain a couple of words to me though, which seemed to be less embarrassing for them as it was for me!!

        2. Rusty Shackelford

          I play with my 17-year-old. There are a few cards neither of us will play with the other.

        3. C Average

          I am not sure I have ever laughed so hard in my life as when my teenaged stepdaughter came up with “What do you not want to find in your Kung Pao chicken? Lance Armstrong’s missing testicle.” Kids can be astonishingly and dementedly creative.

          1. animaniactoo

            My dad got it for Hanukkah one year and we immediately cracked it open and played it. My then 19-y.o. son won the round for “What is the new McDonald’s happy meal toy?” by playing “a micro penis” on it.

            We love the hell out of that game. Played it with my in-laws had a ton of fun, although my FIL turned bright red as he later admitted that he held one particularly sexually filthy card in his hand for the entire game because he just couldn’t play it.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian

              Hmm . . . my kids and I do read passages of Harry Potter while substituting the word “penis” wherever it says “wand”, and we laugh our heads off over that; if that’s all COH is like, it might not be all *that* bad.

        4. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

          Okay so this is really not fair.

          My kids won’t let me play Cards Against Humanity! Not fair! (This is some kind of payback for my close inspection of video game ratings and content when they were little, isn’t it?)

          1. animaniactoo

            It absolutely is. Honestly, I would tell your kids that you’re prepared for your relationship to transition to a more adult-to-adult thing where you CAN play these kinds of games with each other. Tell them you promise not to lecture them or find fault with what they play, and suggest that if it’s too awkward after the first 5 rounds, you promise to stop and let it go.

            “C’mon mom, can I just try it? Can I, can I?” (I am not above saying such things to my kids when they’re telling me I’m too old to act like this, but I am a well-known chopbusting sarcastic brat of a kiddult. You can only imagine what my poor children have had to suffer through.)

          2. Beezus

            There’s an app called Evil Apples, where you can basically play Cards Against Humanity with strangers. I can’t remember if it has exactly the same cards, but the spirit is definitely identical.

          3. Dynamic Beige

            Buy a set (or make them, you can download it on their site) and play without them then!

        5. MashaKasha

          My kids (19 and 22 at the time) and I played one round, got bored, and went back to playing dirty Quiddler.

          I don’t know what that says about our family. The youngest has been doing standup on and off since age 18. We went to see him a couple of times. It would take a lot to shock and embarrass as as a family. CAH is not even close.

    4. Nea

      I’m currently building a CAH variant called Appledore to Appledore that’s entirely quotes out of the Sherlock Holmes books for my local Holmes group. You can get mild R but not offensive, and I’m dodging the Victorian racist bits.

      1. zora.dee

        That. Is. Amazing.
        I wish you would make this available to the public somehow when you are done! That sounds like fun!

      2. Kristine

        I didn’t know I needed this in my life until now. Would you be willing to share it when it’s complete? I would gladly purchase it! I also think it’s very cool that Holmes groups exist and now I want to find one near me.

      3. Library Director

        Where is the big, giant like button? Get this on Kickstarter now. I have money! Take it! The Baker Street Irregulars group I belong to would love it.

      4. JTD

        Oh wow. Is there a blackmail add-on? Also, if there’s a kickstarter or equivalent, I’d love to contribute.

        Mind you, I once had a mega argument with a friend about the District Line when I pointed out that the key point in the Bruce-Partington plans still held true. We actually talked through every station on the District line between Earls Court and Aldgate before she conceded.

    5. TheCupcakeCounter

      Anyone ever gotten any of the unsanctioned add-on packs? We did. They are 10 times dirtier. Crabs Adjust Humidity has a lot of funny cards but Guards Against Insanity is FILTHY. There are a few other copy cats that we haven’t tried but I have gotten at least one add-on pack for my husbands Christmas stocking every year so I’m sure I’ll be getting Carps & Angsty Manatees soon.

      1. Bowserkitty

        I keep seeing Cats Against Humanity float around my Facebook ads, has anyone played with that?

      2. many bells down

        I got a custom card at PAX one year. They’d insult you and then make you a card based on it. Except, I was in a Star Trek uniform so they geeked out and my card is “Me and Captain Picard in a tub of Jello.”

    6. Bowserkitty

      The only thing that would be worse is playing it with one’s parents. (No, Dad, I am not explaining the meaning of that word to you. Just no.)

      Ohhh, I’ve done it at a big family gathering. My cousins were mortified. I was a little TOO amused.

      I didn’t have to explain anything to my mother, which was…unnerving, now that I think about it.

      1. (Another) B

        My mom laughed along like she knew what the card meant. I called her out – “No mom, you don’t know what that means and we’re not going to tell you.”

    7. Pwyll

      Hah. I play Cards Against Humanity every year on Christmas Eve with my entire family. We have a blast!

    8. AnonEMoose

      I love Cards Against Humanity, but there is no way I would play it at a work event or with co-workers. I actually would play it with my parents, though – it really depends on the parents and the relationship. But because of the offensive humor, it’s just not a game anyone should feel pressured to participate in, and there’s just too much potential for that at work event.

      At work, stick to “Apples to Apples” if you want a game with similar play. (I have actually participated in a game that combined “Apples to Apples” and Cards Against Humanity – that was pretty fun.) There are lots of good games out there that are quick to learn and don’t involve some of the concepts included in Cards Against Humanity.

      1. JustaTech

        Someone suggested CAH as a game to play at a work event (as a joke) and the supervisor was all “oh, that sounds great!’ So then the social committee had to come up with an example of a card to explain why we couldn’t play it at work, without mortally offending the boss. “Lance Armstrong’s missing testicle” is the go-to choice (we work in urology, so there’s some leeway).

        Then I had to play it at Thanksgiving with my in-laws when their super-conservative friends brought it. We all lived, but never again.

        1. Beezus

          We broke it out and played a few rounds when an old friend brought his new girlfriend over for dinner, and she didn’t have the right sense of humor to appreciate it. Awkward.

    9. Mae

      Why don’t people just stick to Apples to Apples when it comes to work events? Or a strategic board game like Ticket To Ride or Settlers of Catan?

      1. neverjaunty

        Superfight. Quick, intuitive and nothing inappropriate (unless you go out and buy the R rated expansion).

    10. C Average

      My husband and I play it with my teenaged stepdaughters. They LOVE it. We’re a pretty anything-goes kind of family when it comes to what can and cannot be discussed, and it’s actually led to some genuinely useful conversations involving topics like sex and drugs.

      And because my husband and stepkids are Jewish, they actually love getting Those Cards. We even ordered the Hanukkah expansion pack.

    11. Morning Glory

      My friends and I played Pictionary once using COH cards. It was pretty hilarious. Though it did help that we had played so many times the regular way before that we knew what a lot of the cards were, which helped make it easier to identify drawings.

    12. ThatGirl

      My husband works at a university and some of the ResLife staff got in big trouble for playing CAH with students after one of the students complained about a racially insensitive joke (which yes is sort of the point)… so yeah, I would never ever play that in any sort of professional setting.

    13. Liane

      After reading many of these responses, I don’t think this is the card game for me, even though I am far from a prude.

      My 18 year old daughter has suggested I might like it. I think–especially after Alison’s “Sex ends before 26!” tale–that I now have the perfect refusal if she brings it up again. “Desdemona, dear, remember when Avengers first came out? How difficult–no traumatic–it was for you that I, your *Mom* thought Thor and Cap were just as hot as you did? If you had problems with that, I doubt you’d be able handle playing CAH with me. How about we stick with Munchkin or Cataan?”

      1. Megs

        I’m not a prude, but I’m not a big fan of CAH either. The biggest issue for me are the jokes about sexual assault, but the racial stuff doesn’t exactly rock my world.

        Munchkin is my jam, though. So much fun.

      2. Renee

        I’m not a prude either but I think CAH is really boring. It’s fun for maybe five to ten minutes with new people and then it just reminds me of kindergarten poop jokes. And I already knew what “That Card” meant.

    14. SophieChotek

      Since I had not even heard about CAH until AAM today (the things on learns about here) I had to run Google it.

      Reminds me of a card game I played years ago when I was a grad student…don’t remember the name…but it could get out of hand/things taken wrong way when outside close/trusting group — wasn’t my favourite game either, but my friends liked it.

    15. Elizabeth West

      I LOVE that game. I once sat with friends in a doughnut shop for three hours playing it (we were back in the corner and kept our voices down when anyone sat near us). But I would totally not want to play it with my coworkers! OMG no way!

    16. Donkey!

      My husband and I played with my inlaws on vacation. It was amazingly awkward and hilarious. My father in law traded in any cards that could be racially, culturally, or religiously offensive – so basically only played the inoffensive or sexual cards, lol. My mother in law decided we were all going to hell. My husband played the “How did I lose my virginity?” card and said “f*** you all!” when he read the responses.

      My husband claims to be scarred for life, but great fun was had by all.

    17. JustaTech

      Crossing Dixit with CAH? That’s diabolical! That’s brilliant! I’ve got to share that with my gaming group.

    18. bridget

      I have played cards against humanity with co-workers, with interns present(!). Although most of us were personal friends from school, it was definitely a bad idea. The group was large enough and there were definitely people who very likely felt uncomfortable with it. No big repercussions happened, but I definitely feel bad about it and wish I hadn’t done it. (The people who were personal friends sometimes socialized outside of work, we could have played it there; it’s not like we would have been really burdened by not being able to play at actual work).

    19. Student

      Once at an after-work social event with lots of co-workers, somebody brought out CAH. I declined to play, but stuck around watching them and chatting with others who weren’t playing.

      One of the co-workers had her kids at the party, and one of those kids decided to join his mother in playing. The kid was about ~12. That was just not something I could engage in, and was deeply surprised other people would participate in. It doesn’t bother me, per se, that the kid was playing CAH, or that he was playing it with his mother – that’s their family’s call to make.

      But man, as an adult, I don’t want to play with a co-worker, even in a social setting, because YUCK and potential job implications. I don’t want to play with a kid in any setting because YUCK. I don’t want to play with a kid and the kid’s mother, because YUCK and the potential for dealing with an angry mother. I especially do not want to play with a co-worker and her young kid! That’s YUCK^2 and potential for job issues and potential for an angry mother. Why would anyone want to take that risk? What were they thinking?

    20. Linguist Curmudgeon

      I haven’t scrolled down yet (phone ), but the crazy-art game is called Dixit and it is AWESOME.

  2. Anne (with an "e")

    I am having an extremely difficult time wrapping my mind around the words “joke” and “Holocaust” being used in the same sentence.

    1. The IT Manager

      That’s an appropriate answer for CAH which is why it’s a terrible game to play with coworkers.

      That manager should have spoken up.

      1. catsAreCool

        I would think that Gentiles like me would be uncomfortable too. I know I would have been. How can anyone joke about so many people being murdered like that?

    2. Rob Lowe can't read

      There are a lot of things in Cards Against Humanity that are hard for me to wrap my mind around. I’ve played once…that was more than enough.

      1. Dangerfield

        I’ve edited our version. I only took out six or seven cards, but they were ones I knew would never be funny to me under any circumstance. It made the game a lot better!

        1. AnonEMoose

          I know a few people who have done that. I think it’s a good idea – if there are things that just aren’t going to be funny to you or to people you care about, there are plenty of other cards available.

        2. Sparrow

          I think this is a really good idea! I also have friends who allow you to redraw without penalty because they feel that making people actively uncomfortable is not fun. If you get something that makes you think Hell No, just slip it quietly back in the pile and draw again.

        3. starsaphire

          I tried that. When I realized that I’d “removed” 2/3 of the cards in the deck, I gave up… ;)

        4. Elizabeth West

          The group I play with tends to self-edit. I KNOW they’ve gotten really awful cards before but not played them–I do the same thing. You get ten cards, so it’s easy to draw stuff you can say that’s gross but not necessarily horrifyingly offensive.

          1. Kelly L.

            I just talked about this downthread too. We tend to self-edit a lot. Poop jokes hit the “gross but not bigoted” spot pretty well. We also do a lot of the “sad but true thing about the world” combos that aren’t really even funny per se–remember the meme going around where someone put together “Why can’t I sleep at night? The glass ceiling.”

        5. Margaret

          We haven’t really played enough to put this into practice, but we decided to have a house rule that everyone playing gets one veto per game that they can swap out a card that they just don’t think they can play. If they do, we put a black dot on that card. If a card gets three dots, then we’ll take it out of our deck altogether. So eventually we’ll at least remove the worst of the cards that just can’t be played without being overly offensive.

        6. A Non

          Yeah, my friends do the same. There are a couple slurs in there that various people aren’t cool with, even in a reclaiming way, so those are out.

    3. aebhel

      Cards Against Humanity basically functions on the “crosses the line twice” school of black humor, which means that (a) it’s not something that everyone can enjoy and (b) it is definitely 100% inappropriate for a work event.

      1. Noah

        Yes. The game is funny because it crosses boundaries. If that bothers you than you should not play it.

        I have played it with coworkers, but they are friends and it was not at a work event. In no way do I think it is appropriate to play at a team building event with everyone.

      2. Lissa

        Yup, I love it but it reaaally isn’t for everyone. The problem is that to be OK everybody needs to be super on board, which means it needs to be a group where it’s fine for one person to say “not for me” and it to actually be OK. With coworkers? Hell no!

    4. Petronella

      +1. I have zero desire to play CAH. My daughter tried it once with friends and came away shaken and disgusted.

    5. stevenz

      I have the kind of dark sense of humor that can make anything funny, but the line is drawn at the Holocaust. Though I have heard one or two jokes.

  3. Jeanne

    #2, It’s hard for a lot of us to put aside our emotions at work. I’m not even sure that I agree we have to. Your wording was a little harsh but it sounds like it accurately reflected your feelings. In the future, you can be careful about sending those emails but I would also be careful dealing with that coworker. First she reported you weren’t doing your job and then she reported you told her what you thought. Try to avoid her and keep all interactions brief.

    1. MK

      That “disgust” accurately reflected the OP’s feelings is not actually a point in their favor; at best it’s irrelevant, because work e-mails are not for personal expression, at worst it’s part of the problem: if the coworker didn’t act maliciously and reported the OP’s perceived ommission in good faith, them sending 20 e-mails culminating in an expression of disgust (which sounds to me how it panned out, but maybe I read it wrong), then the manager has reasonable concerns.

      1. Miss Betty

        How can it possibly be good faith when she actually lied about what happened and got the OP into trouble? She told the OP’s indirect supervisor – not even her direct manager – that the situation had not been resolved. Either she didn’t know the facts and didn’t check with the OP first or she deliberately lied. Either way, very bad. Sounds like a troublemaker to me, someone good to avoid if at all possible.

        (And good for the OP for, first of all, fixing the situation immediately upon becoming aware of it and, secondly, realizing that she erred in sending that email and coming here to find out to try to rectify this situation.)

      2. Petronella

        I don’t follow that part of the letter: who wrote 20 emails? There were 20 emails written back and forth about the OP’s one mistake, which she rectified as soon as she became aware of it? 20 emails is overkill. I sympathize very much with the OP. Alison’s advice is good, to just be uber-professional and controlled from here on. I also agree with Jeanne’s advice to avoid any unnecessary communication with this coworker.

        1. Happy Lurker

          OP you have my sympathies – I am disgusted for you! I have worked with people like the one that got you in trouble and they used to get me in trouble when I was younger too. Now, I refuse to play. Take Allison’s advice and do not engage especially when frustrated or angry.

    2. Judy

      LW2, I think that the fact that you are concerned about the wording you used speaks a great deal! I think if you continue to be kind and rational, you will be able to move on. I agree with Jeanne, about being careful with your coworker, because it looks like she’s a busybody!

      I have a question about if you’re on the receiving end of harsh wording like this, not reporting it upwards, but how to deal when you have a coworker who can be a bit harsh and lash out from time to time. For instance, I have a coworker who I get on quite well with most of the time, but has an issue putting emotions aside at work. Most recently, another member of our team and I were having a conversation troubleshooting something that had happened, he butted into our conversation, interrogated us for more details, and got angry out of nowhere about our answers, subtweeted us, and didn’t talk to us for the rest of the day. It felt really not great. Stuff like this happens periodically, and I know it doesn’t have to do with me personally. I wouldn’t report this person, like what happened to lw2, but everyone, including this person, knows that this trait of not being able to set aside emotions can be a problem. How do you set your emotions aside when you’re on the receiving end? How can you be resilient and move on?

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        To the extent that you can, I think you have to see it being about the other person and not about you. When someone has an inappropriate reaction, it really is much more about them. So if you can keep that in the forefront of your mind — and maybe even feel a little sorry for him because it’s got to suck to be the person who gets so upset that he gives coworkers the silent treatment over something like that — it might help keep it in perspective.

        1. Julia

          Thank you so much for saying that. I have a co-worker (who I share an office with, unfortunately) who is incredibly rude to me and undermines my work, and it has really been getting to me, especially as no one does anything even though it affects work getting done.
          I Keep telling myself that I can quit this job for something better and be rid of her, but she will always have to live with herself, and that cannot be fun.

      2. Random Lurker

        What I ask myself when I send any email in an emotionally charged situation is: what do I envision as a satisfactory result to this situation? Will this email help obtain that? In most cases, the answer to the second question is going to be “no”. If you think about what an email on either side of this equation accomplishes, it is usually blowing off steam, or getting the last word in. Neither moves the needle on resolving a conflict, building/repairing a relationship, etc.

        I see more good people shoot themselves in the foot by acting emotional in email. It’s really the worst possible medium for handling emotional situations.

        1. Amber T

          The best advice I ever got from my college job was “wait 24 hours to send that email.” I was a student worker, another student worker did something inconsiderate, I wrote out this long email, 100% sure it was appropriate. My manager, who knew I was right to be upset/angry/disappointed/whatever feeling it was, didn’t even read the email and told me to read it tomorrow and send it then if it still made sense. I protested, saying it was professional, it was appropriate. She just shrugged and said, “see if that’s true tomorrow.” It wasn’t. I was definitely an email where I let my emotions get the best of me. By then I was able to sit down and pen a short response that was actually appropriate, that discussed the problem but didn’t dwell on it. So, moral of the story – write the angry email, save it in your drafts, and check again tomorrow.

          1. Sparrow

            Incredibly valuable advice. I tell this to the college students I work with all the time. I’m better now about being able to recognize when I’m too annoyed/worked up/exhausted to respond appropriately, so most of the time I don’t even bother trying to write the response until I’ve given it time to percolate. Definitely saves time in the long run!

            1. JustaTech

              One of the lab managers at my college taught that to the students who worked for her. And then one day they (and the rest of the school) got a spectacular example of why you don’t send email when you’re angry – a professor had not gotten tenure and one of the tenured professors was so angry about it she sent out an email to the entire department (including student workers) that ended “I quit”.

              So then she had to go find another job.

              1. Sparrow

                Ooof, yeah, that would leave an impact. My biggest professional regret is sending a hasty, overly emotional email while declining a job offer – I ended up job hunting, too, but at least I was still employed and my relationships with coworkers were still intact! And yes, I’m very aware of how lucky I am that it hasn’t had any impact on my professional life (yet, anyway…)

            2. OhBehave

              Write the email to your email address. That way it can’t accidently be sent. I’ve had almost immediate regrets about sending an email that could have been written better.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian

              I write it in email, but I don’t fill in the “To:” line with anything until/unless I’ve decided to send it. I don’t want the possibility of accidentally hitting “send” before I’m ready for it to go anywhere.

              1. Chocolate Coffeepot

                This is what I do, too, or I put myself in the “To” field. I usually end up clicking on ” send” out of reflex but would never want anyone else to read that first reaction.

            2. ArtsNerd

              Even better is to handwrite it.

              No, I almost never do it myself, but when I need to, I’m always really surprised at how EFFECTIVE that is for stopping the internal dialogue that just bounces around in your brain, making you angrier and angrier…

          2. Angela

            I do this a lot. Sometimes it doesn’t take a whole day. If I know I’m even slightly annoyed, I’ll just minimize the email and then re-read in a couple of hours. And I frequently don’t put anyone in the “to” field until after I’m sure it’s ok to send.

      3. Lora

        Oh boy. I have not one but three colleagues who do this *and invariably hit Reply-All*, including both their boss and mine in the email, along with a few grandbosses and on more than one horrifying occasion, clients.

        I’ve tried replying just to them and explaining directly but politely that we need to please focus on solving the problem at hand, which is X, and please be as constructive as possible and remember that we are all professionals here just trying to do our jobs, pleaseandthankyouhighfive.

        They forward it to the same Reply-All audience complaining that I am a terrible person who made them feel bad about themselves for expressing their feelings. I wish I were making this up.

        My boss told me, just ignore them when they do that because they perceive it as being told they f’ed up. I said I am not going to accept that nonsense like it’s no big deal, they need to get ahold of themselves and act decent. He said well, I will deal with it.

        Shortly thereafter I saw him in the grandboss’ office with the door closed several days in a row. Then he walked out, read a website I was reading over my shoulder that was about a new business expansion in the area, and said, “is (company) hiring? do they need a program manager?”

        On the plus side, they are sales people, and in my next job I will most likely be a customer they need to appease. Revenge is best served cold…

        1. Katie F

          I can’t decide if that was your boss tacitly telling you to job-hunt now, or if he was considering leaving and wondering about a position for himself…

    3. Elder Dog

      Seconding not giving that coworker another chance to go to someone who is not your manager to try to make you look bad. If she reports you haven’t done something to someone who is not your manager again, go to your manager and ask how to handle the situation, and express concern it appears to be becoming a habit between the not-your-manager and this coworker.
      If someone has concerns about your work or your attitude, she should be taking them to your direct manager, not someone else who doesn’t know you, your work, or whether you’ve finished your work or not and getting you into trouble and interfering with your work over something that’s not true.

    4. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

      I once got “in trouble” for a heated email exchange with a senior manager of an adjacent division. HE was the one being the ass and HE was the one using heated language, not me. My language was firm but reasonable in return. However, the trail was long and I kept answering him.

      The trail got forwarded to the Greatest Powers that Be, including Wakeen Himself. And we both got yelled at and told to cut it out and act professional and this behavior was way beneath our job titles.

      I was so angry! Furious, completely unfair, right? I flew upstairs to defend myself in person.

      Here’s the thing. The PTB did not really read the trail and when I tried to get PTB to read the trail, PTB is like “I don’t care”. And as mad as I was to be unfairly lumped in with that jackass, I learned my lesson. Do not engage and especially don’t engage in writing because how right you are doesn’t matter when somebody else thinks you look wrong.

      1. hbc

        Ooh, that kind of situation is absolutely my weakness. I can disagree and let it go, people can pull rank to override my decision and I’m fine, but if you’re demonstrably Wrong and coming at me with derision and anger and bad logic…apparently, that *is* the hill I want to die on.

        Luckily(?), the manager I most often disagree with has a tendency to forget that anyone ever disagreed with him. He either continues on thinking everyone supported his view, or absorb the counter-argument so thoroughly that he doesn’t remember ever having a different opinion.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

          I probably even said ” but he was using BAD LOGIC, can you see the BAD LOGIC!” Honestly, I probably did.

          1. A Girl Has No Name

            Haha! I’m cringing for you…and for me as I remember a similar moment of my own…

        2. Gaia

          OH yea. That is 100% my hill to die on.

          I am often told that I am the manager of our group that relies the most on facts and data. Don’t come to me with “I think X + Y = Z” when you can clearly see it actually equals N. Because I will point that out and when you come back and say well it feels Z I’m going to come back and say well it feels N to me because, look at the facts. And I just won’t be able to give up.

          1. JessaB

            Me too. I can’t stand it (if you’re familiar with Singing’ in the Rain, think of this as said in the tone that screeching nasal tone Lina used, “I caaint staynd it.”)

      2. CM

        That’s a great example. My go-to response when things start to get heated is to move it to an in-person conversation. I might reply to the email and say, “It sounds like we need to resolve the teapot spout issue before we can move forward. Let’s talk about this in person tomorrow.” Cuts off the thread and people are a lot more likely to be civil in person.

        1. Hooptie

          This is VERY good. I just copied and pasted this into my ‘Things to Remember’ document. My guess is that most people will drop it before have to talk face to face. :)

      3. Joseph

        “However, the trail was long and I kept answering him.”
        My personal limit is one email response when someone is clearly angry. If you send me an irritated/angry email, I will reply once via email to try to simmer down the situation and explain my side. If it doesn’t resolve the issue, I stop using email and switch to a better form of communication.
        Email is a useful tool, but once emotions get involved, it becomes useless at best and actively counter-productive at worst.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian

          Email is a useful tool, but once emotions get involved, it becomes useless at best and actively counter-productive at worst.

          This. As soon as I can tell that the email discussion has become emotional or has drifted toward misunderstanding, I quit emailing and move to an in-person or phone conversation. I’ve been able to de-escalate the situation and reach a mutually agreeable solution with the person most of the time. There have been other times where the situation was de-escalated, but we still couldn’t reach an agreement and had to get the perspective of higher-ups.

      4. SophieChotek

        @Wakeen – I would hate that! If you were being polite, other person not, but you still get called to account.

        Good reminder though –

        1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

          This was over 5 years ago and my inner child still stamps her foot “not fair!”.

          This is the same child who wasn’t overly popular with grade school classmates due to her smug rightness and insistence on making her point also so, mayyyyyyyyybe she’s not such a good guide. Just maybe. ;)

    5. LotusEclair1984

      As FLOTUS succinctly (and brilliantly) said, “When they go low, we go high.” Much easier said than done, of course, but this is a wonderful mantra to embrace in so many scenarios.

  4. Honeybee

    I like the idea of Cards Against Humanity, but actually playing the game with anyone but my very closest friends always results in awkwardness and discomfort for me.

    One time I went to a coworker’s house for a barbecue that was mostly other coworkers (no managers or anything). One of the black cards played was “White people like _____.” I’m black, and I am the only person of color on my team, and it was…yeah, what do I even play there? What do they play there? Uhhhh, no thanks.

    I generally pass when that game comes out these days.

    1. Junior Dev

      No kidding. I think it’s theoretically cool the game is open source and anyone can make their own cardsets, but I’m never going to participate in it for as long as the “base” game involves making fun of vulnerable groups (homeless people, trans people, rape victims).

      I legit have a fear of gross/offensive/possibly triggering pop culture stuff coming up at work or at a social event with coworkers. I have PTSD and so i am using the word “triggering” literally, as in, I might have a panic attack.

      There are so many things that people think of as “fun” at work that are actually potentially really bad for a small minority–obligatory drinking-centered events for people in recovery or with religious restrictions on drinking; athletic events for people with physical disabilities (or even those who are just out of shape); any sort of humor that is based in offending people as its main theme.

      I’d much rather have 90% of people in a workplace miss out on some fun if it means the remaining 10% can be safe and respected. I don’t go to work to have fun, and while I like many of my coworkers they are not my friends. Work should be where you go to get stuff done and get paid; if someone’s idea of a good time interferes with others’ ability to do that safely, they should do those “fun” activities at home.

      1. JessaB

        Thank you. As a non drinker (choice – I hate the taste, requirement – medication countre-indications,) and a disabled person as well as a fat woman, those kind of office things are awful. So thank you for looking out for us 10 percenters.

    2. Marzipan

      Try Apples to Apples instead – it works in a similar way, but without the deliberate shock value of CAH. You could play it with your grandmother quite safely, for instance. Perhaps without the deliberate shock value many people would feel it wasn’t ‘fun’, though…

      1. Pluot

        Yes – I second Apples to Apples. It’s still fun and you can get weird with it if you really want to, but it’s not offensive.

        1. Liane

          I third Apples to Apples. We first played it when our kids were in 5th or 6th grade, at a party of mostly adults. It is a good family game.

      2. Sparrow

        Love Apples to Apples. My friends and I STILL argue over one hand from like 8 years ago (The word was lazy and it came down to “rainbows” or “cold pizza.” Neither of those were my card, but I was still completely outraged when the judge chose rainbows. How could you, when there has never been an answer more right than cold pizza??)

        1. esra

          I was outraged reading to the end of your post that they did not pick cold pizza. But I find with apples to apples I either kill or no one thinks my choices are funny. There’s no in-between.

          1. Sparrow

            Right?? My apples to apples success depends largely on who I’m playing with, as I rely heavily on inside jokes and personal preferences to play things that I know will go over well. So I can be pretty meh when playing with people I don’t know well!

            1. Megs

              I enjoy Apples to Apples much more than CAH both because I’m uncomfortable with some of the humor in CAH, and because I think A2A is much more conducive to in-jokes and actually trying to target your answer to the person.

              1. Snork Maiden

                A2A is harder, because the constraints force you to be more creative. Sort of like how not being able to swear makes you use your words.

        2. BeautifulVoid

          On the way to a party, the friend I was driving told me about a harrowing incident with a weed whacker at his landscaping job. At the party, we played Apples to Apples, and that friend was the judge for either “dangerous” or “deadly” (something like that). One of my cards was “weed whacker”, and I confidently told the rest of the group that it didn’t matter what they played, I was winning this round.

          The other friend who played “electric chair” was pissed that he lost that round to me. Hey, I did give him fair warning.

          (But I agree with you on rainbows vs. cold pizza!)

          1. vpc

            I legit like cold pizza; it’s not lazy at all to skip the microwave.

            I have no idea why rainbows are lazy, though.

    3. Gandalf the Nude

      I don’t even like playing it with my friends anymore. I don’t like indulging those ugly parts of myself in any context, and I actually find it a little disturbing that we can be such terrible people when we’re relaxed.

      1. Morning Glory

        Agreed. I’m over that game and would be satisfied never playing it again. Nothing against the game, it was just for the span of like 2 years that’s all anyone wanted to play.

        Slash is fun. Similar concept, but with real life and fictional characters that people try to pair off. I’ve only played it once so far, but we played the entire deck and it was a ton of fun.

        1. vpc

          That one is SO MUCH FUN. It’s as filthy as you want to make it, but not quite so offensive, and lets you imagine all the wonderful fanfic pairings in your head, which is frequently both hilarious and induces head tilts with a “hmmmm….” Rule 34, man. (or Lady.) Anything you come up with in that game has already been written by someone.

    4. Mazzy

      I was at a party once where we were all mixed demographically and it was still awkward. There are the racial stereotypes and other topics like that, and if you couple a card or two like that with someone who just isn’t naturally funny or doesn’t word something the right way, it can get awkward.

      Actually the whole thing was awkward because it was obvious that one of the other women I hadn’t met before had a lot of social pull in the circle. Someone else would say something hilarious and would barely get a reaction, and she’d get a cringe-worthy card and say something that wasn’t funny but half of the group would be ROFL. The power dynamic killed the game for me.

    5. stevenz

      Well, I had never even heard of the game until I read this post. One more reason for me to despair at the increasing coarseness of society… I’m sure it’s compensating for something but I can’t figure out what.

  5. CATS not CAH

    Hi Folks! OP number three here, of the Cards Against Humanity team building event. Thanks for answering, Alison! Glad to hear I’m not off base in feeling this was super inappropriate.

    I’m the only Jewish person on my team so the Holocaust thing really got to me. Some of our team really relishes being off color, supposedly because our job is so stressful (we work in human services). I actually made a complaint against one of the coworkers who led this game earlier this year because she repeatedly made me uncomfortable with overtly sexual stories and wouldn’t stop despite my voicing my discomfort- apparently it didn’t make much of a difference!

    1. Junior Dev

      I’m sorry your work is so consistently bad at boundaries. I hope you can at least keep your distance from that woman even if you can’t get her to stop.

    2. Amber

      I’ve played the game and would only play it with close friends. I work at a gaming company and even I wouldn’t play it at work. I’ve overheard coworkers playing Secret Hitler and that also is super awkward to hear people talking about at work.

      1. anonderella

        I wish you could see my face as I try to figure out (without googling) what is Secret Hitler.
        The question marks have an exponential positive relationship with time.

    3. neverjaunty

      Your co-workers are terrible people and not in a funny way. “Well we work in [stressful occupation]” is not an excuse to be jerks and make others uncomfortable.

      1. EmilyG

        Right? It’s like they’re saying “We work in a stressful occupation! Let’s make it *more* stressful for certain of our coworkers!” That’s garbage.

      2. CATS not CAH

        Right? If anything, I hold us to a higher standard because we’re supposed to be teaching other people how to manage and deal with stress…

    4. Security SemiPro

      Very inappropriate. I also work in a stressful industry, and my department uses that add one of the reasons why we have to work on being kind to ourselves and others. If you don’t work against that tide, you end up losing your humanity and burning out. The stress is ever present, but losing yourself to it isn’t inevitable.

      Basically, your co-workers are just being horrible people, it’s not the job, it’s their choices. (I won’t play CAH at all, the easy “jokes” are all awful at the expense of people. I find it kind of gross.)

    5. Sunshine Brite

      Oo, this gets me even more. I work in social work and wouldn’t dream of playing that game with coworkers at a work event. Maybe on my old team at a non-sanctioned event like a birthday party but no way at like a team event. Plus she’s made you uncomfortable before, yikes.

    6. C Average

      I have to admit I’m the jerk who would jump at any chance to play CAH, because I love it. I’ve played it with my Jewish husband and stepkids, my gay sibling, and friends of various colors. I’ve never played it with colleagues, but if they asked, I would, and I’d probably enjoy it. I wouldn’t suggest it, but I’d for sure bandwagon on someone else’s suggestion, because I find it really fun and generally assume other people do, too.

      All that said, if I had even an inkling that it was making someone uncomfortable, I’d gladly pack up the deck and do something else. As would any other reasonable person, I hope.

      1. Gandalf the Nude

        I really hope you’re reconsider that. You can’t always know when someone is uncomfortable. There’s often a cost to being the naysayer to an activity other folks enjoy, as we’ve seen in previous letters, and it’s not fair to put those coworkers in the position of sucking it up and being uncomfortable or raining on everyone’s parade and dealing with the backlash.

        1. Lissa

          What do you think C Average should reconsider? They didn’t say they’d suggest it, and I don’t think it’s fair to say somebody needs to be the naysayer to something they aren’t upset by because somebody else *might* be. I’d agree with you if the post was “I always suggest CAH with coworkers and do it all the time!”

          1. Gandalf the Nude

            It’s a lot easier to step up and say, “How about a different game?” if just one person recommends CAH and everyone else is just “meh, okay” than it is when multiple people are lobbying for it. Just by jumping on the bandwagon C Average would add to the atmosphere where the uncomfortable folks have to pit their discomfort against everyone else’s fun. It’s not fair to force them into that situation over a game that’s completely inappropriate for the office anyway.

      2. HannahS

        Building on what Gandalf said above, your husband is married to you, and so knows you’re not a closet antisemite. As your hypothetical coworker? I don’t know that. When people make antisemitic jokes, I assume they’re antisemites. And I wouldn’t let it show, because what would be the point? Even if you, personally, are a very respectful person, would apologize, put the game away, and then defend me against people accusing me of being “uptight” and “unable to take a joke” about the genocide of my people…I don’t know that, and I wouldn’t bother saying anything. I’d mentally write you off. We’ve talked on this site before how, “But I have a ______ friend/sibling/husband” doesn’t excuse a person’s anti_____ behaviour, and I hope you don’t think you have a “free pass” on gay people and Jews.

      3. MashaKasha

        My family is Jewish (ethnicity, not religion: we’re non-religious). My great-grandparents died in the actual Holocaust (they were executed along with everyone else in their ghetto). You and your family could play CAH with us anytime. We’d play it amongst ourselves anytime. We’re a “nothing’s too far, nothing’s too soon” family. But we do realize that most people are not that way at all. And we have to respect that.

        It’s different with relative strangers and coworkers though, than it is with one’s family/inside circle. Especially coworkers. I wouldn’t discuss anything but the weather with most of the people I work with. From overhearing conversations and seeing occasional FB posts, I have a general idea that our views on a lot of things are wildly different, and have no intention to discuss that any further with people whose reaction might directly or indirectly affect my take-home pay.

        I admit it’s been eye-opening to me, finding out from this thread how many people and/or their friends, family members, or colleagues, are horrified by CAH. Like I said above, my sons and I played it once and found it boring. I had no idea it was such a minefield of a game. I’ll be super careful with it in the future!

        1. Mazzy

          I’m sorry about your family history. I’m also nothing’s too far, so while I don’t get offended at CAH type responses, I don’t find them funny either. I definitely had to force a smile at some of the comments when I was playing, since there were strangers in the group I didn’t want to offend.

    7. CM

      Is your coworker named Alice and she’s the daughter of your mom’s friend who is also a neighbor?

      (Sorry, been reading too much AAM. And this is a reference to a recent letter in case this comment is too cryptic.)

    8. Ellie H.

      I work on the Holocaust, and like a lot of people in the field, I have a very high threshold for discomfort/jokes/sensitivity about that specifically, but I really dislike Cards Against Humanity. It seems tasteless to me in that it’s only “funny” because it’s offensive. It’s a totally one note joke and also the joke is “on” anyone who feels sensitive about certain things, which some people do and that’s fine. I don’t think it’s funny/clever or a good game.

      1. Megs

        One of the first times I played was while I was a law clerk and working on a particularly awful sexual assault case. I immediately put in a house rule removing certain cards from the game, but I never really warmed to it after that.

      2. Kelly L.

        A lot of it depends on who you play with. I’ve noticed that when my friends and I play, there are several “we just don’t go there” topics. I don’t think it’s ever even been discussed–certain cards and certain combinations just don’t get used. And instead we end up spending the night joking about politicians and poop.

        But I’d definitely be wary of playing with people I don’t know well, and no way would I ever play with work people.

    9. stevenz

      I don’t think being off-color has anything to do with work stress. It’s more to do with wanting attention, and it works. Gosh darn it.

      1. CATS not CAH

        I think that’s exactly it- one of the workers really likes to attract attention to himself and making me (and other people, sometimes) uncomfortable gets them an instant fix. I’ve tried grey rocking them but I’m not very good at it…and there’s the injustice part of it, where I get annoyed that I even HAVE to.

  6. Chocolate Teapot

    4. My previous company was much larger (several thousand employees worldwide) and I remember a message on the company intranet for that particular office* that a co-worker had been killed in a road traffic accident and the funeral details.

    *The smaller offices did not have dedicated intranet pages and so the homepage would be another of your choosing.

    1. ThursdaysGeek

      I think our company has several thousand employees in multiple divisions and companies. We get emails when someone who retired years ago has died, with links to the obituary. If someone is hurt, we know and are occasionally given the opportunity to help monetarily. We get welcome emails for new employees with pictures and a very short bio. Ok, we do get lots of emails, but it’s also nice to see the people that make up our company.

      1. ThursdaysGeek

        And I just got notification of a co-worker who died in a traffic accident while at work. :(

  7. Amber

    #4 I don’t think you should ask what happened. I think it’s ok to contact the family and give condolences but I’m wracking my brain and can’t think of any actual reason to know “what happened” other than curiosity. I had a coworker’s wife die recently and yeah I wanted to know what happened. I knew her and considered asking what happened but since her wife didn’t volunteer it, I took that to mean she wanted it to be private. Thinking about it rationally, if someone has a heart attack, or commits suicide, or was murdered, or died peacefully in their sleep, or had a car accident, none of it has any bearing on the end result that is a friend has passed away and family/friends are grieving. If they don’t offer an explanation, don’t make them explain it.

    Also assume that at work happy news is widely announced but sad news usually isn’t.

    1. Random Lurker

      I once worked in a large department (500+) of a large organization (5000) of a large company (>250k). It was impossible to know everyone in the department, let alone the larger org. Someone in the org died unexpectedly. I had no idea who he was, but there was a town hall to announce his death and to basically eulogize him. It was creepy and inappropriate. The worst part was people started moralizing (the death was under investigation as a possible suicide…. I do not recall how it resolved). It caused a ton of workplace arguments about suicide, mental health, etc. I remember the fallout, but couldn’t tell you the name of the deceased coworker.

      TL;DR: not sure what a company would hope to accomplish by making large announcement with sad news.

      1. Rafe

        I regret that my company does not announce major retirements or when someone long with the company has been let go. It can feel oddly alienating and abrupt to just discover the loss sometimes months later.

        Yet deaths and major illnesses are announced companywide. For funeral arrangements, I am grateful. But people react strangely — one woman throws a major crying fit at her desk whether she even knew the person, another who basically makes a point to not socialize with anyone at work is strangely obsessed with immediately getting on social media and email and being the first to send out RIP emails/posts/tweets…

      2. Editor

        I don’t know how my late husband’s death was announced at his company years ago, but some of the nicest condolences I received came from people who worked with him in other departments. He was a systems programmer who had been overhauling legacy systems with inadequate documentation, working with old COBOL and machine language code. So there were some people who were pretty unhappy. The most touching story came from a young woman who handled hardware repairs. She told me how kind my husband had been with her, and from the way the story was related, the subtext seemed to be “most men are jerks about computer repairs.”

        Announcing a death and giving a link to the obituary may give the grieving family the consolation of a glimpse into the work word of the deceased and the reasons others will miss him, too. That can be a real consolation, particularly when a life is cut short prematurely.

        1. EddieSherbert

          I think it’s really lovely to hear about the situation from the “other side.” Thank you.

          I think OP should definitely reach out and send his family condolences.

    2. hbc

      I have the same thoughts about the “how.” It’s understandable curiosity, but it doesn’t change the situation one bit. “Will there be a public memorial and where can I express my condolences?” are the only questions that are meaningful.

    3. Ineloquent

      I recently had a situation at work where basically no one wanted to formally announce the passing of a coworker at all – because he took his two tiny daughters with him in a rage and jealousy fueled murder-suicide because his wife, who was divorcing him, was dating someone new. It was the day before Christmas. Almost no one wanted to talk about it, and those who did presented it with a disgusting relish for the gossipy dirt that really makes me think less of them. Be glad they are telling you that it did happen, and don’t dig- you may find something that will totally destroy your image of this person.

      1. Temperance

        Oh, how awful. I’m so, so sorry for all of you decent folks – and those little girls.

      2. BananaPants

        Oh, that’s heartbreaking. :(

        A colleague of mine committed suicide and I was the only one at work who knew how he died. He was young, but had been on short term disability for around a month for unspecified health problems – I knew it was because he had been hospitalized for psychiatric treatment, but that’s because we had become friends outside of work and I knew of his mental health struggles. He had recently told me that he was doing better and looked forward to coming back soon, but asked me not to tell anyone else the real reason he was out – his own manager didn’t know the real reason he was on disability. When the police found him, his wife posted on Facebook and when I asked what happened she told me privately what had happened.

        I ended up being the one to tell his boss that he had died and after HR got in touch with his family then the all-hands email went out. There were a lot of questions about what had killed him, but I didn’t share what I knew because at the time the family wasn’t saying outright that it had been suicide. It made for some awkward moments waiting in line at the visitation.

    4. Government Worker

      I like Alison’s wording, though, because asking for “more information” in the context of asking for contact info for the family came across to me as asking if there will be a public memorial, or if the family has made a request for donations to a particular charity in lieu of flowers, or a link to an obituary – the kind of thing that often gets put in death announcements. And yes, it could also include information about what happened, but the request is vague enough to raise fewer eyebrows.

      1. Anon Millennial

        A coworker at my company succumbed to her addiction recently and my boss sent a company wide email telling us she died “unexpectedly” and vaguely described what happened. I work in a different office and had the same sort of relationship with her as the OP did to theirs so I was very upset for a couple of days. I didn’t press for details but my boss came in a week later and told me everything. I think asking the manager for contact information to send condolences is appropriate but I wouldn’t ask for any details just in case it was something like what me or Ineloquent described.

        1. J.B.

          Yes. Asking for contact info or if there is any information about the funeral/memorial is fine.

    5. Not Karen

      We’ve had some company-wide (n~150) e-mails about coworker’s parents/spouses passing away, and personally I find it weird to be told that much private info, especially when I don’t know the coworker. (For the record, I also find it weird to be notified in the same way of weddings and babies.)

      Once upon a time I showed up to a meeting to find the project manager’s face bruised and covered in bandages. The curiosity was killing me, but I never did find out what happened.

      1. Elizabeth West

        Ouch!

        Exjob was small so when our coworker died, the manager told everyone. When I got to work, he came up to my desk and told me himself–“Phineas passed away in his sleep over the weekend.” I did cry a bit because he was a great guy and we all loved him. Everybody was very quiet and glum for a while. (I later found out details from his boss/friend but didn’t spread them around.)

        But then, weeks later at the quarterly meeting, they did not mention him AT ALL. Birthdays and work anniversaries, yes, but not so much as a peep about Phineas. I didn’t know if they were afraid all the guys would start to cry or what, but NOT EVEN A MENTION!? It was as if he never existed. :\

    6. Tammy

      This week at work, someone many of us knew (he was a contractor who provided a service for us, but many employees knew him and treated him as “one of us”) passed away suddenly. An announcement was made via email to everyone in the office he worked in (1,000ish people) saying something like “Our good friend and Fergus passed away unexpectedly. The family has set up a GoFundMe page, and you can offer your support here if you want to. We’ll miss him and wish them well in this difficult time.” Someone who knew him well enough to do some Facebook archeology could have found out more details, but they weren’t offered (nor, IMO, should they have been.)

      1. CM

        I think that’s the perfect way to handle it, plus passing along funeral/memorial details if it’s appropriate for coworkers to attend.

        1. vpc

          We do get company-wide announcements of deaths (both of retirees and current employees), with one of three tags: “passed away unexpectedly”, “after a short illness”, or “after a long illness”, and then a reminder that EAP is available to us all. Sometimes memorial service or donation details are included and sometimes they aren’t. My guess would be that someone from HR is in contact with the family at some point and says “company-wide announcement, yes or no? does it include memorial details, yes or no?” and then they plug into a generic template.

    7. ThatGirl

      My now-boss, about … six? years ago, her husband died really suddenly, in his early 40s. I was pretty curious what had happened, because he was so young, but at the time I didn’t know her well and I certainly wasn’t going to just go asking around like an insensitive idiot.

      I had no idea she’d end up my boss someday, but she is now, and enough time has passed that she can talk about it so I actually did find out (it wasn’t suicide, or anything – he dropped dead of an undiagnosed heart condition).

      In semi-related news, we had an employee here (not someone I work with) hit local and regional (possibly national?) news when one of her tween daughters killed the other one, and the company kept issuing vague emails about support and privacy… that was an instance where co-workers probably knew more than they should have.

        1. ThatGirl

          She works in a completely different department from me, so I never had any reason to know any further info nor how she’s doing now, but the whole thing was pretty heartbreaking.

    8. Ellie H.

      Often when cause of death isn’t listed it’s suicide and is purposefully not listed. I actually had the exact same thing with a coworker I was somewhat close with. I wouldn’t ask about circumstances but would definitely ask about expressing sympathies.

    9. Friday Brain All Week Long

      I had a former direct report at an old company who moved onto another department, but the company was so small that we worked very closely together and when I moved on to a new job, I told my boss and HR that he was absolutely the best candidate to promote to my old role. He was also battling depression, and he ended it about a week after I started my new job. Old company made sure to tell everyone in person, and the HR director called me at my new job to let me know as well. It was truly the kindest way to spread the very sad news.

      1. Chocolate Coffeepot

        I wish my company had done something like this when a former coworker died a few months ago. Instead there was total silence from management. Most of us found out from a colleague who had stayed close friends.

  8. Temperance

    OP #4:

    I would probably follow Alison’s advice, and maybe not ask about what happened. This is just my take, but I remember when a law school classmate died by suicide and his family tried to keep it quiet. I honestly judged the hell out of everyone who was asking for details (especially all the people who didn’t actually even go to our law school). So maybe express condolences and don’t ask for details?

    I also had experience with a death like this at the large company I worked at pre-law school. It was truly awful; a woman who managed one of our offices across the country was murdered in a home invasion, in what was likely a targeted attacked because the woman was a lesbian. My company issued a statement expressing their condolences to the entire network. They included information about the manner of her death so that people wouldn’t be tempted to ask questions … but this was a truly upsetting and shocking killing.

    1. Erin

      I agree with you. The family’s privacy in the matter should trump the LW’s curiosity about the how. Often times you can gather specific information about the cause from the memorial page or obituary. If it isn’t mentioned there, I’d argue that the family wants to keep it private and should be allowed to.

  9. Jersey's Mom

    OP #4 – Google “co-workers name” and “obituary”. Most times you will find their obituary and funeral information on line and you can either attend the service (if you feel that strongly) or drop off a card.

    Otherwise, Alison is spot on — contact the co-worker’s supervisor. If you don’t know the supervisor, contact anyone in their department and ask to speak to “co-worker’s supervisor” about a project.

    My large company (9,000+), has a “retirement” and “deaths” page on our internal internet….but the info on it can be a month or so dated, so not very helpful.

  10. AdAgencyChick

    #1: No, no, no, no, NO!

    I sympathize. If you’re already feeling anxious, finding housing in NYC doesn’t help. In so many other places, you can make plans well in advance of a move, and here you may literally not know what apartment you’re going to take until a week before you move in. It’s awful. But living with your boss would be worse, for all the reasons Alison suggests. Even if you have to take a room in a neighborhood that’s farther away than you would like, or take a short-term sublet and move again in a couple of months — I would still do all of that before I’d move in with my boss.

    Good luck! It’s not a fun process.

    1. N

      OP1–I wanted to jump on this thread to add that a coworker of mine once had to live with our current boss for a whole year (add to this the strangeness that she was a woman in her mid-twenties and he was a middle-aged man). I don’t know the whole dynamics of how that played out, but they DID somehow manage to make it work and to not be very odd. As they say, proceed with caution, but if it does absolutely have to happen, rest assured that you can make it through without it becoming too weird.

      1. Elizabeth West

        The ONLY way I would do this is if the boss had a pool house or a guest house or some kind of lodging separate from his/her own, not right down the hall. And I would absolutely insist on paying something, even if it were only a contribution to utilities. And get everything in writing.

        1. JessaB

          Whether or not there’s a payment, whether or not it’s a separate building, if OP does decide to do this (and I’d suggest NOT,) they MUST get things in writing. Rules of the house, payments of any amount for anything, how one or the other would get out of it (they want you to leave, how do they do that, do they give you x days to get out, etc.)

          Also in most states staying like that for more than a week or so as a friend, is going to get you into landlord/tenant territory. Which means things like them having to give you notices or evict you if they want you out. Also what do you do if they fail to pay the utilities (you have a legal right to heat and water in any tenancy.)

          Look around for a legal form site that either has some kind of room mate agreement or basic lease if you’re going to do this.

          1. Chriama

            It actually won’t if you’re sharing a bathroom and/or kitchen. Under landlord-tenant law you’re a roommate in those cases.

  11. Susanna

    #2 – I’ve struggled with this before, and I still struggle with holding off emotions – just because it’s difficult to deal with “other people’s” stupidity.

    Other people’s in quotes because just because they’re being (what you perceive as) unprofessional and wrong, doesn’t give anyone the right of retaliation, and sometimes they might very well be in the right, but you can’t see it because you can’t see their side of the deal.

    I make these situations easier to myself by not sending any emails when I’m annoyed. I type it up, save to drafts and leave it for a few hours, after which I get back to it and look at it in the mindset of “if they hadn’t said/done xyz, would I still write this?” 9/10 times I either delete the email or change the wording. It’s something I learned the hard way, but it’s also a very important lesson to learn.

    1. Damn It Hardison!

      I do the same thing – delaying writing/sending a response until I’ve had time to distance myself emotionally from the situation at hand. It is definitely a learned skill for me, and one I have to consciously practice.

    2. fposte

      “and sometimes they might very well be in the right, but you can’t see it because you can’t see their side of the deal.”

      I think this is really relevant here. The OP is considering her overlooking of sending out a payment to be a forgiveable mistake but her co-worker’s reporting of a problem as being worthy of big recrimination. From where I sit the OP’s error was the larger one even *before* the offensive email.

  12. WellRed

    I actually stayed with a boss for a month or two, although I was a staff writer, she was the publisher so my direct day to day wasn’t worth her. I also had my own bathroom right in the same little wing as my bedroom, which probably made all the difference. And, we DID NOT hang out watching TV or whatever in the evenings. So, it can work, but looking back, I see how odd it could have been.

  13. Joseph

    OP#5: If you’re just out of school, you absolutely *should* include your published paper. You don’t have much work history, so companies will necessarily include academics as part of their evaluation. Even if the company didn’t normally care about publications, they’ll take it as a bit of proof that you’ve got dedication and focus.
    It’s essentially equivalent to how companies handle college GPA. If you’re ten months out of school, people are still going to care about it since you don’t have much of a professional work history. But if you’re ten years out of school, it’s basically irrelevant.

    1. OP #5

      I am recently out of school, yeah. :)

      I mean the best case scenario is the one you describe but I was afraid it’d look arrogant to put ONE publication of a small thing on my resume.

      it’s not like I don’t think is cool (I ran around my office and phoned my family when I got the mail) but it’s feels like more of a trivia item (I might actually bring it up in a cover letter type of thing. I wrote in my cover letter that I’ve won a trivia game show on TV and didn’t meet a single interviewer who didn’t comment on it or think it was cool. This feel more like that.)

      1. CM

        Is it relevant to the field you’re working in? If so, absolutely put it on your resume! It’s not arrogant at all. It sounds to me like you’re downplaying this out of modesty. But your resume is not the place to be modest! I find it useful to think about what advice you’d give to a friend. If your friend got a paper published in a prestigious publication, would you say, “I guess it’s cool, but it’s just ONE paper, and you’re arrogant to bring it up?” Or would you say, “That’s awesome, you should be proud of what you’ve accomplished, and absolutely tell potential employers about it!” I’m guessing the latter. Don’t be dismissive of your own accomplishments!

      2. Photoshop Til I Drop

        I can see how it might feel weird to have it sitting by itself on your resume. It might seem less random if you include it as a bullet point in a section of your resume called “various accomplishments” or “misc. recognitions” or something similar. Of course, you could always find something else to publish, so you can make a legit “publications” section on your resume!

        1. Megs

          This is what I was going to recommend – in the legal profession, a decent number of people who were on a law journal in school get an article published in that journal. If it’s your only publication, it’s common to put that under educational activities.

      3. Memyselfandi

        As someone who had an academic career before transitioning to the world resumes my suggestion would be to look at the concept of a curriculum vitae. It is a record of my life and has dates of education, trainings, publications and reports as well as employment. It is the document I shop from when creating a resume. Each item can be evaluated for relevance and recency. Some things do go out of date as one ages. You are young, but something like this may be relevant at some point and you might not have the details you need if you don’t record them now.

  14. Erin

    #1 – As usual Alison brings up excellent concerns to consider, but I would probably not be quite as against it as she is. You did know the woman beforehand, which is a huge factor, and I would also possibly argue that this could alleviate some of your anxiety.

    If you do decide to go through with it, I think the key is to have very strict boundaries/rules that are out in the open, and that you revisit from time to time, checking in to make sure all is good. “Hey, we’d agreed I’d get the TV after dinner on Thursdays, is that still working for you or did you want to switch times or anything?” (Silly example, but you know what I mean.)

    The other important thing I’d suggest is having an end goal. How long is this really going to go on for? Would it be something like, you’re still actively apartment searching and will have a Plan B if you don’t find something in X months? Or could this potentially drag on to become something more permanent?

    What’s the money situation? If you’re living rent free does she expect you to pitch in for groceries or utility expenses? And what are you doing with that money you’d otherwise be spending on rent? (She doesn’t need to know this, but just throwing that out there.) All things to know and be open about before jumping in.

    I’d say if you feel pretty comfortable with it, go for it, but keeping in mind Alison’s concerns and everything I mentioned here. Have boundaries out in the open and know what the end goal is.

    1. Library Director

      This. I’ve offered an extra room to an employee going through a horrible situation. It was “If you need someplace to go I have a safe place”. Boundaries are key. You don’t have to watch TV together and there definitely needs to be an end point. I would know I wasn’t expected to entertain you. Pitching in with rent or other expenses is a must.

    2. Willis

      I lived with my boss for a couple weeks after my lease ended but before I could move into my new apartment. And to complicated it further, we both worked from home. My situation worked out totally fine but I could definitely see some of the issues Alison and others pointed out. I’d second Erin’s suggestions that if you decide to do it, you should have an end date in mind, and work out any questions regarding stuff like groceries, utilities, common space, etc. beforehand.

      Also, I’d look at this less as a typical roommate situation and more as being a guest in someone’s home. Maybe that means putting up with different noise levels, cleanliness, tv watching, etc. than you’d choose on your own, but all more incentive to get your own place sooner!

  15. Anon Millennial

    OP #1: I live in NYC too and have only lived in two places for over six months in my five years here so I understand the anxiety. However, I think it’s best to find a sublet while you look for something better (even if you’re about to be homeless – there’s always someone with a room). Don’t limit your search to NYC though. I lived in Jersey City for a bit and my rent was very cheap ($600 plus utilities) and my commute was shorter than it was when I lived in Queens and Brooklyn. Good luck!

    1. Anna the Accounting Grad

      As a Brooklynite, I can confirm that commutes can be a drag. But the same would be true for anywhere outside (most of) Manhattan. And OP didn’t say where in NYC this job is; many employers are located outside Manhattan, too, and can be hard to get to even within the same borough. I’d be wary of recommending housing in any particular area without knowing where OP has to get to every day.

    2. Floral Laurel

      OP #1: I’m not sure what field you work in, but there’s a Facebook group called ‘Gypsy Housing’ for the artistic types to find sublets and other housing accommodations. I know the theatre scene very well in the city and a lot of people found housing there too.

      Another option would be to try to connect with alumni from your university (if you attended), or high school, if they offer it. I was pleasantly surprised with the connections I made when I was working in NYC.

      As someone who was living out of their car last winter, I understand your anxiety. I would take your boss’s offer as a last-resort. Check out Trulia, Facebook, your friends, friends of friends, alums, etc… I’m wishing you the best!

    3. AVP

      I have a few friends who recently moved here and airbnb-ed a room for a few weeks while they found something more permanent.

      I’m sure that was very expensive but might be worth it if it won’t jeopardize your job (even more expensive!)

  16. Birdie

    On living with a manager/coworker… recently a coworker offered to let me move into their very spacious home. I had only briefly mentioned looking at new places to live. I am not in any danger of homelessness nor am I stressed about my situation. I thought it was very strange, I would never think of living with someone I work with/met at a professional job.

    1. LQ

      Some people really like having other people around. I had a friend who would basically let anyone live with her just so she wasn’t living alone. From what I heard she wasn’t bad to live with, but it was very odd to me. But I think it is a different value set.

      1. Temperance

        My MIL is like this. She has a roommate, her parents live with her, and she LOVES having visitors.

  17. Rat Racer

    Dear OP #2, I’m someone who wears her heart on her sleeve, which often serves me well in the workplace, but can just as easily get me into trouble. I was going to come here and confess all the times when I’d written something over email in the heat of the moment and then deeply regretted it – or worse – gotten into a heated exchange on the PHONE with a co-worker (and then – [gulp] – hung up on her) and was called out by the VP of our department. I still cringe and want to hide whenever I remember it. But my stories are long and I can’t write them without adding in just a little context of what an asshole the other person was, and really, the point I want to make is that you can make mistakes on a job, get knocked down, and get up again. It’s how you learn, and how you start to develop the skin of rhinoceros over time.

    1. Phoebe

      “…, get knocked down, and get up again.”

      I read this and started singing that Chumbawumba song. Now, I’m going to have it playing in my head all day! LOL!

      1. Rat Racer

        I sing it to myself sometimes for morale boost – then the annoyance of the song outweighs the any comfort and I switch back listening to NPR.

      2. Pennalynn Lott

        Oh, man, now I’m going to be singing that song ALL DAY. Thanks, Rat Racer and Phoebe. :-P

  18. Sandy

    I am not the world’s biggest fan of Cards against Humanity, but I think some of the comments here may miss the point.

    CAH is less of a “who can out-outrage” everyone else who is playing (which, frankly, would have been my preference) than an exercise in emotional intelligence and group dynamics. Since the dealer chooses the winning card, you need to be able to read your dealer and their sense of humour well in order to win.

    In which case, (as a Jew), I wouldn’t play any of the Holocaust-themed ones with my in-laws, but I might with certain groups of friends, and I might play the Heternormativity card with my political science friends but not with my accountant friends (these are obviously generalizations).

    That doesn’t make it appropriate for work- too many opportunities for bad judgement in cards to result in weird workplace dynamics- but I can see where the manager might be coming from.

    In any case, I think the OP’s best bet in this case may have been to proactively suggest other options, as in “I’m not sure CAH would be appropriate in this context. What if we tried Apples to Apples/Carcassone/Bananagrams/Insert Game of Choice Here?”

    1. Mirve

      You are assuming people are playing to win (reading the dealer to get them to choose), rather than playing to “out-outrage”.

      1. LQ

        Absolutely this.

        In theory tennis is about scoring points. But when I play with family we always just try to volley as long as we can no matter what.

        Lots of people play games for reasons other than to win and with intents other than to win. My experience has been a small segment of the group plays to “win” and some play to outrage or get the rest of the group shocked/laughing/whatever. Lots of ways to play. I don’t think you can assume you will have a 100% to win group.

        1. AnonEMoose

          Yep. I’ll sometimes play combinations just because I think they’re funny, and I’m pretty sure the rest of the group will, too. Winning is nice, but I enjoy getting the rest of the group laughing just as much.

        2. Mallory Janis Ian

          Ha. As a teen, I had only ever played tennis with non-competitive people for whom the object of the game was to keep a volley going. I was shocked (and way out of my league) the first time I played with a college friend for whom the object was to keep me from returning her volleys.

      2. Elsajeni

        Also, I don’t think there’s necessarily a distinction between the two — some people’s sense of humor is “I’ll choose the most outrageous thing on the table,” so of course players will sometimes try to play to that, whether or not they’re playing to win.

    2. Kati

      If the workplace is within the international development/INGO sector, then JadedAid is a pretty hilarious work-relevant version of Cards Against Humanity: http://jadedaid.com/

      (Though, at my workplace, CAH would be totally appropriate for some of us. The lines get blurry when you work in sexual and reproductive health and rights).

  19. Applesauced

    OP #1 – try r/nycapartments, r/nyc, or a sublet. (a note on AirBnB in NYC – it’s illegal to rent a whole apartment for less than 30 days, and a room in a shared apartment is only legal if the lease holder is present) Good luck, and welcome to the city!

  20. Secondthoughts

    re: OP #2 – This might not have helped prevent your situation, but I find setting up my email so that it delays sending — for like 3 minutes — is extremely helpful. I use it more to catch typos or allow time for me to add one more thing I just thought of, but it can also allow a brief cooling off period. I go back and edit emails in my outbox before they get sent all the time.

    1. AFT123

      I used to have a 2 minute email delay rule in my Outlook and it saved me many, many times. Forgot an attachment, a new piece of info came in, they end up calling me back before the email has sent, forgot to scrub the email chain to make sure the forwarded info was ok to send… I could keep up my preferred momentum of typing something out and getting it off my plate but still had the opportunity to edit. It was great! Unfortunately, my new email software at work doesn’t have the same capability.

      1. Megs

        Gmail’s e-mail delay function is so fantastic. Sometimes I think I only see typos after hitting send.

  21. Tennessee INFP

    OP #1 – My brother and his wife moved in with his in-laws while they tried to find a house in the area. It is 7 months later and they still haven’t found anything and even though they have a great relationship, this has put a strain on it, though it’s nobody’s fault.

    I said that to say, #1 – housing searches tend to take longer than one anticipates. And #2 – even living with someone as closely related as his in-laws whom he has/had a great relationship with, it still has become awkward and put a strain on the relationship.

    I would highly advise against it, unless as Alison said, you have no other option.

  22. Court

    OP #2 – I’m really wondering if I was the one you sent that email to… I don’t think so since that specific wording wasn’t used in the situation I was in, but I’ve been on the receiving end of something eerily similar and I can tell you how much it stings to receive that kind of criticism for something that isn’t your fault.

    I’m really encouraged by your tone in this letter, though. It tells me that you are really trying to learn from the experience and understand why your reaction wasn’t appropriate. That’s something that most people never learn, so I applaud you fervently for reaching this point. You’re on the right track and I hope it’s encouraging to realize that.

  23. animaniactoo

    On #4 – I do think it would have been far more appropriate for the manager to pick up the phone and let OP know that he’d passed away.

    It sounds like this was a pretty casual instant message “Hey, Jane reached out to let me know you invited Fergus to a teleconference. It looks like you didn’t hear the news, Fergus passed away over the weekend.” which if you’ve just been working with someone or planning to work them – even if you’ve had pretty limited contact up to now – is pretty shocking news. It does need a buffer and some more human-feeling contact, a little formality to acknowledge the size and impact of it.

    “Hi, I’m sorry but I have some bad news. I heard you were planning to talk to Fergus later this week, unfortunately he passed away very suddenly over the weekend.”

    Benefit of the doubt to the manager, a lot of people have problems handling death and everything that surrounds it, and they just may not have been comfortable doing this at all, and did it the best they could in the moment. I don’t think it would be inappropriate to say to your manager something along the lines of “It was really surprising to see that in an instant message, I would appreciate it in future if you could call when something is that “big” in terms of news. I mean, I would still have been shocked, but just your calling me would have let me know it was big news that you had to pass on to me and put me in a more prepared state of mind for hearing big news.” But later on, after the funeral, etc.

  24. Katie the Fed

    #2 – I can commiserate. Sometimes emails just miss the mark. I just got pretty thoroughly chewed out by my boss this morning for an email I sent. I deserved it. I intended to ruffle some feathers and I was a little too successful. It happens. Just don’t let it be a habit.

  25. Anonsydance

    OP1: If you haven’t started working with a good broker, get one. My boyfriend and I were able to get an apartment within 2 weeks of starting. He saw the apartment on Monday July 25th, signed on Thursday, and got most of his stuff in on this past Monday. We had worked with a few different brokers, and one was actually really bad (how many times do we have to mention that we have a cat for them to not show us no-pets-allowed apartments????), but the one we went with got us into a really good sized, transit easily accessible, cats allowed, safe apartment in the Bronx. Seriously though, very best of luck. It was a pretty anxious 2 weeks of getting the appointments made. I still haven’t even seen the apartment yet, only videos he sent me.

  26. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

    Coming from an old geezer – anything with Holocaust and joke doesn’t mix. When I was in high school in the sixties, I could make jokes about things like that.

    Then I got to college. And was living in Newton, Massachusetts. Now, this is an experience that Generations Y and millennials may not have, but…

    My attitude changed immediately, when I’d go to the supermarket and would see Holocaust survivors. Men and women. I knew they were. Before anyone asks “how did you know this, huh, huh? How do you know they weren’t makin’ it up?”

    I saw the numbers tattooed on their wrists. You probably won’t see too many people like this anymore.

    I can’t tolerate ethnic, religious, or racial slurs, even if they’re not directed at me. And they have NO place in the workplace, let alone society at large.

    1. Buffay the Vampire Layer

      Yeah, I’ve got to co-sign. There are some things which should be treated with reverence, for lack of a better word. I’d add in jokes about rape and child abuse. When you’re dealing with those things at a distance I’ll take your word for it that it’s hilarious, but I just can’t see it.

  27. Sarashina

    Oh OP #2, I feel you. My two HR interviews for my last job were basically a long series of snafus, and by the time I was called up for the second interview 45 minutes late, I was pretty noticeably on edge. Turns out the poor woman who called me had been told I was a totally different candidate for a different job, had nothing to do with my hire, and she understandably told the hiring manager that I was rude to her. I was completely, utterly mortified and thought I’d tanked my reputation at the new job before I’d even started – but while that person and her department were kind of chilly at first, once I apologized and proved that’s not how I operate, they did warm up.

    In any case, please try not to beat yourself up. You apologized and you’re working to make it right and be thoughtful about your word choice in the future – that speaks volumes about you!

  28. alex

    OP1– I was in between homes in NYC, and it was stressful and miserable, but I lived out of nice hostels and friends’ sofas, and after a few weeks, I found a room of my own via an acquaintance. There are very nice hostels in the city; your stuff can go in storage or with a friend.
    Do not live with your boss; it doesn’t have to come to that. Find a spot for your stuff, check into a nice hostel daily, and wait for a good rental fit. Living with your boss is just insane, honestly. Make it work in all ways possible except that.

  29. Master Bean Counter

    #2–I’ll share something that has served me well. When you get an email like the one you received think of two things. One, what are the facts. Two, what is your desired future outcome?
    In this case it looks like the facts were that the situation was resolved before the other person said anything. The desired future outcome would be that this person actually takes the issue up with you first in the future, so issues like this don’t come up.
    Here’s the email I would have written:
    Dear Jane,
    I understand you had concerns about the payment to Acme Inc. While this payment was late, it went out last week. If you have any future concerns about payments for Acme or anything else please don’t hesitate to contact me.
    Thank you,
    OP #2

    When in doubt always do your best to look like the rational professional. I learned this lesson the very hard way.
    Don’t worry too much about it now. what’s done is done and if you keep acting professional this will be a distant memory.

  30. Lora

    #4: large company (60,000 employees) that was my first job handled it pretty well – they sent a mass email to the company stating that Dr. Scientist had unexpectedly passed on (date) and that in lieu of flowers donations could be made to (scholarship fund) at the request of the family, memorial to be held on (date). Then we were told in person what had happened. This was necessary because two deaths occurred only weeks apart at a time when the company had just been purchased by MegaCorp and longtime management-level employees were being let go every week, and those two particular deaths were guys who were quite outspoken about their feelings on the takeover, so to NOT explain that no, Joffrey and Ramsey had NOT been assassinated, it was a couple of absolutely coincidental freak accidents (one guy fell off his mountain bike in a rocky area, other one was a weird car accident), would have just fueled the gossip fire and paranoia.

    Worst way deaths were handled at work was the job prior to grad school – one employee, known to have depression and alcohol problems, drank himself to death in the elevator late one night. Security found him in the morning. Nobody said anything other than, “Tyrion is no longer with us, sadly,” which could mean he was simply fired or quit, and then when the actual circumstances came out (as was bound to happen sooner or later) everyone went ballistic and there was no end of tasteless jokes about using the stairs.

  31. The Shrieking Eels

    Can I suggest Codewords as a future card game for team building events? You split into teams and the leader of each team tries to get their side to pick certain words by describing them with another word- like you’re trying to get people to guess “red” and “sun” so you could say “hot 2”. This leads to such fun discussions among the team as “our leader said vegetable 2 and there is only one vegetable- unless they think a kiwi is a vegetable?!”. I believe it was selected for game of the year and it would lend you more useful insight on the inner workings of your colleagues’ brains than CAH. (Not that CAH wouldn’t be enlightening, but more in a “I can’t un-know that about you” way…)

      1. The Shrieking Eels

        It is a Princess Bride reference and also a veiled version of how you’d pronounce my initials. :)

  32. Pennalynn Lott

    #1 – I’ve seen this situation, but in the reverse. Boss was getting a divorce and co-worker (who was his direct-line employee) offered up his spare bedroom. They worked a couple hours apart, so didn’t commute together. One day Boss didn’t show up for work, and when co-worker went home later that day he found Boss dead from an overdose. (There was a suicide note, so it wasn’t accidental). Co-worker was racked with guilt, and felt there should have been something he’d said or done to head it off.

  33. Em Bargo

    Several employees at an Ohio TV station were fired earlier this year for playing CAH at work on New Years Eve. They might have been drinking as well. I personally love CAH, but would never play it at work. I am friends with some coworkers and we’ve played it away from work.

  34. Ryan A.

    I brought CAH to a team meeting once to allieviate stress during a period of awful happenings within my whole team at work. It was so awkward but actually got eveyone laughing which was much needed…and (luckily) it didn’t reflect poorly on me since I was promoted to a new/growing team 6 months later. I definitely don’t recommend playing at work though :X

  35. Eric

    Well Crap. I’m about to go on my wife’s work retreat with her and a big part of the plan is drinking and Cards Against Humanity.

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