3 updates from recent letter-writers

Here are updates from three people who had their letters answered here this year.

1. Low performers in my office are paraded around and forced to wear dunce caps

It’s been a few months since my initial post so I wanted to update you all now that I’m in a new job.

Things at the company remained unchanged. I spoke with my peers and many did not agree with the dunce cap parade, but were afraid to speak up. After many months of job searching, I had lined up seven interviews within two weeks of each other. I was confident that I would land an offer with one of these companies, so I decided to speak up. I told my manager I thought the parade was humiliating and we should find better ways to deal with employee issues.

My manager did not take kindly to that suggestion. She said the practice encouraged transparency and high work ethics and even insinuated that people who disagreed with the practice were trying to slack off without getting noticed. She was getting hostile while defending it, so I dropped the subject.

She started acting coldly to me after that. She stopped doing our check in meetings or responding to my emails, which made it so I was unable to proceed with certain projects. When I did get the rare response, she would start nitpicking small things like forgetting a comma in an email or taking a 32-minute lunch instead of 30. I knew these were big red flags, but I was proceeding with second level interviews at that point.

Three weeks after approaching her about the dunce caps, I was fired for sub-par work. And I will admit that my work was sub par in those last three weeks because I was stalled by my manager and not given information I needed to do my work. No severance was offered, but they did cash out the three weeks of vacation time I had built up.

On my fourth day unemployed, I received an offer. It was a 10% pay cut from my last role but I don’t have a lot of savings so I accepted. The benefits are also much better. The environment is normal and less stressful and my coworkers and manager seem great thus far. I can live with this and work around the smaller paycheck for now.

2. Wearing a bikini on a work trip with board members

All my worrying was much ado about nothing, as it turned out to be a complete non-issue. Though I liked the suggestion from many commenters that I get a tankini, one-piece, or rash guard, I was too busy with event prep to go shopping. In the end, I brought my two-piece suit and a pretty modest cover-up (opaque, high collar, sleeves). Though I did spot a few board members at the pool, I slipped out to the beach unnoticed, enjoyed a quiet afternoon, and found an alternate route back to my room that avoided the pool area all together.

Having had this experience, I can say with confidence that I would NOT have been comfortable spending time the same area as the board members in a swimsuit of any kind – due to my own feelings of awkwardness and impropriety more than any disapproval from them. So that’s good to know going forward, as I’m bound to run into this situation again next year.

I would also like to add that no wives were driven into a jealous rage by my presence, nor did I tarnish the reputations of any board members by appearing inadvertently in any of their photos while being shockingly swimsuit-clad at a hotel pool. (One board member’s wife did give me an excellent sangria recipe, though!)

3. Losing interest in a job because of the city’s reputation (#4 at the link)

I ended up not taking the job mainly due to pay-related changes that occurred in my current job, at a very late stage in the application process. So, since I was already on the fence, I ended up staying at my current employer.

The would-be new employer (who sounded great) offered to fly me out, so I would have been able to assess things firsthand.

I concluded that the city’s reputation, while negative, was probably overblown. The locale in question was Yakima, Washington (which a commenter on my original question mentioned by name).

The most helpful tactic I used to determine the area’s suitability was to talk to residents there. For me, that was by contacting hiking and cycling clubs. The people I spoke to had only positives to say — in stark contrast to the hyperbole found on places such as the City-Data forums.

Another helpful tool was BestPlaces.net’s Compare Cities website, mainly for weather, crime, and housing information.

Between those two methods, I feel I have a reasonably good plan to suss out whether a faraway location would be suitable to me, even without visiting.

{ 110 comments… read them below }

  1. Yep, me again*

    I remember reading update #1’s original post and was seething. I’m sorry you didn’t land in a job with more $$ but I’m glad you landed somewhere else.

    Your former manager is a terrible person. She’ll get hers. I’ll post the reason why I said that later….

    1. Red*

      In her place, I’d start comparing the 10% cut (net of better benefits) to the amount I’d have to pay for a therapist due to working under someone so awful… It sounds like a win, honestly. Good on you for escaping, LW #1.

    2. AF*

      +1 – so glad you’re in a much better place OP! It’s still pretty incredible that your manager could get away with not helping you do your job, and that YOU would get fired for it. Best of luck at your new job!

      1. Tyrannosaurus Regina*

        I feel like that has to be a common tactic when a worker is in a manager’s crosshairs: withdraw from the employee, weasel out of giving feedback, withhold important information, then slam the worker for doing sub-par work. I’ve been there, and it’s a terrible feeling.

    3. Chaordic One*

      This is the kind of story that should go viral. The former manager could should have to wear the dunce cap herself, at least figuratively.

      I’m really glad the OP was able to find another job fairly quickly. Good for you OP!

      1. Lance*

        Never mind figuratively, I’d go straight for literally. Let her see how it feels, and how ‘ethical’ it is.

  2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

    OP #1: I’m sorry things went badly when you spoke up, but I can’t say I’m surprised – any boss that thinks that dunce cap parades are a good idea in the first place is not likely to be open to thoughtful criticism! Still, good for you for speaking up anyway, and even better for getting out of there.

    1. Sherm*

      +1. I would take the firing as a badge of pride. And I hope that the employees that have felt too beaten down to leave will follow your example and head for the doors en masse.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        That would be awesome. And I hope the Op and everyone else who escapes posts all this nonsense on glass door and indeed.

    2. TootsNYC*

      I think I might have never said anything about the dunce caps, and then when I resigned, I might have said to anyone over my boss’s head: “I’m quitting because of the dunce caps thing. It’s humiliating and it was enough to make me leave you.”

      Because I think I’d have predicted the whole backlash thing.

      1. Annonymouse*

        If they’re getting paraded around the whole office though (assuming everyone works on the same floor) then the higher ups would have to know and be okay with it.

        But if enough people bring it up it should make them realise they’re losing good people because of it.

        Makes me glad I live in Australia. They can’t do that here.

        1. Ruffingit*

          Often times though, the higher ups aren’t even in the same location as the main offices or whatever so they may not know about this at all. I think it’s worth letting them know myself.

  3. Sharon*

    #1: I don’t know if this was suggested in the original thread, but you really should include this in a Glassdoor review of the company. Because if I interviewed with them, I’d want to know they have this practice before I accepted an offer. (Because I would NOT accept a job offer from them unless they remove this silly and demeaning practice.)

    1. gubuphet*

      This! I would not even consider working someplace that did this to its employees. I wouldn’t want to witness others being humiliated and I would not want the constant worry hanging over my head. I’ve always been considered a hard worker and a high performer, so the boss’ comment about critics just want to slack off themselves is absolute BS.

    2. TheBeetsMotel*

      Agreed. I don’t believe everything I read on Glassdoor, and I think I’ve gotten pretty good at spotting real complaints versus groping – something like this definitely needs to be shared for the sheer level of crazy!

    3. AndersonDarling*

      Please do! I’m sure this isn’t something they will bring up when interviewing new employees. “By the way, we team build by humiliating poor performing employees. They have to wear dunce caps and get paraded around the office. We are considering throwing rotten tomatoes at them as well, but we need to clear it with the housekeeping staff”
      Please warm people!

    4. Jaguar*

      Yeah, I pleaded with OP1 in the original thread to add a Glassdoor review and will repeat my call here (and even consider encouraging friends from the place to write their own reviews). Other job seekers deserve to know about this and the company deserves to have its reputation harmed by it.

      1. Anon today*

        Is it just me, or isn’t this potential actionable as some sort of hostile work environment? I seem to remember a case about a sales team that made lower performers go through a spanking line and that didn’t end well for the company.

        1. Koko*

          “Hostile work environment” refers to situations where a member of a protected class is being treated unfairly in an attempt to sabotage their work or drive them out. It doesn’t apply to people just being assholes – it has to be motivated by their membership in a protected class.

          1. Anon today*

            This is what I was thinking of. Not arguing with your definition but it seems like openly abusive behavior could create an issue for the company under some theory or another if
            somebody wants to push it.

            $1.7 Million to Spanked Employee. Sales managers had a practice of publicly spanking employees who came late to meetings and encouraging the other attendees to jeer and “hoot.” When a woman sued, the company defended by claiming that both men and women got spanked. However, the employee in question was injured, and a jury found the spanking on the buttocks to be sexual harassment and awarded $1.7 million under state law. Orlando v. Alarm One, Inc. (Cal. Sup. Ct., 2006). The company has also settled claims with three other spanked women, and issued an apology to all other employees. It claims it was unaware of the unprofessional behavior of a few sales supervisors. However, part of the verdict was due to the company’s failure to train its supervisors on proper conduct.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              That’s sexual harassment though.

              What the OP describes in the letter isn’t legally actionable since it’s not based on sex, race, religion, disability, or another protected class. Jerky, but not illegal.

            2. Ruffingit*

              Spanking employees? WTHEACTUALFU*K?? That is assault and I would totally quit over that and fight to the death for unemployment benefits. It is astounding to me that anyone would ever think this was OK…but then I’ve worked in pretty screwed up environments so I believe it.

            3. S. Valle*

              There is a difference between physically abusing people and emotionally abusing people. As detailed above the spanking was linked to sexual harassment. While humiliating people is totally unacceptable it doesn’t fall under the scope of the EEOC’s oversight in protecting against discrimination of protected classes, age, sex, race, etc.

    1. OP #2*

      I am happy to spread the sangria joy:

      – 1 bottle red wine (ideally a Spanish wine like a Rioja or a Tempranillo, but I’ve made it w/ Pinot Noir and liked it just as much)
      – 1/3 c. peach brandy
      – 1/3 c. Grand Marnier
      – 3 tablespoons of white sugar
      – juice of one lime
      – juice of half an orange
      – juice of half a large lemon
      – 1 Gala apple sliced into chunks.
      – the other half of the orange, sliced thinly
      – the other half of the lemon, sliced thinly
      – 1 lime, sliced thinly

      Directions: combine the lime and orange juice, and mix the sugar in until dissolved. Pour the wine, brandy, and juice/sugar mix into a pitcher and stir, then add all the fruit. Refrigerate OVERNIGHT. (A few hours minimum, but 12 hours+ is ideal), then serve over ice.

      The best part is you can sub just about anything in and out. We’ve made it less sweet by using regular brandy, less boozy by using Triple Sec instead of Grand Marnier. This time of year you can add peaches or nectarines instead of (on in addition to) the citrus. The one thing we don’t swapped is the apple – Gala apples are firm and sweet, and they soak up the wine like a dream.

      You can also add a spritz of sparkling water when you pour it, but according to the woman who gave me the recipe, “it’s just stupid to water down good sangria. If you need it last longer, use two bottle of wine.”


  4. LawBee*

    LW#2: Share that recipe! Good sangria is surprisingly hard to get.

    LW1: I’m glad it worked out for you. what a terrible manager – good in you for speaking up.

  5. justsomeone*

    Oh hey, Yakima. I’m from there! I wish I’d realized when I read the original letter. It was a great place to grow up and has recently undergone some major improvements. It’s nowhere near as dangerous as the reports would lead people to believe.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      And there are excellent hiking areas that are really close (Pacific Crest Trail, Mt. Rainier) since it’s on the edge of the Cascade Mountains. There is also white water rafting, snow skiing, and so much else in the area. It’s a place where there is lots of fresh local produce, decent weather, no bad traffic. The town has a bad reputation, but it’s being compared to nearby places where it’s even safer. I live about an hour away and have only had positive experiences in Yakima.

      1. Honeybee*

        I’ve noticed that in a lot of Washington locations – people have made ridiculous value judgments about some of the towns/cities here because WA is so lovely overall, they are only comparing lovely places to even lovelier places. I’ve never been to Yakima but that’s been my experience when listening to lifelong residents of the greater Seattle area compare the different suburbs and neighborhoods to each other. (For instance, my eyes always bug out when people describe pretty much any Seattle neighborhood as “bad” or even “sketchy.”)

        1. Formica Dinette*

          I’ve lived in the Seattle area for more than half my life–but have lived elsewhere too–and can attest to the fact that there are no “sketchy” neighborhoods in Seattle.

    2. afs*

      It really is lovely out there! I’m from the South Sound area and recently spent the weekend in Zillah and Yakima wine tasking with some friends and was delighted at how cute the area is!

    3. CanadianKat*

      Hamilton, Ontario is also often seen as inferior by outsiders. Many think of it as a dying, dirty city, full of horrible polluting factories, – because when you pass by it on the way from Toronto to Niagara falls, that is the side of town that you see. But if you actually live there – it’s beautiful. Lots of wonderful nature trails, waterfalls, conservation areas. Lively downtown events. Lots of farmers’ markets. Some beautiful neighbourhoods.

      You can’t always judge from appearances and news reports.

      1. Lark*

        My husband and I stayed in Hamilton on our honeymoon before going to the safari in Cambridge. I didn’t find it to be a nasty place at all. We wound up wandering the streets at midnight looking for food, and nearly got sprayed by a skunk in the process. This was after my dear husband soaked our room by turning on the Jacuzzi *before* it was full. Needless to say, we have very fond memories of the area. :)

      2. Nanani*

        Is THAT why? Learn something every day.
        I had always assumed it was outdated impressions from when the factories were more active and less environmentally responsible.

        *Hammer fistbump*

        1. TLake*

          Also the impression isn’t helped by the fact as you drive by on the 395 there a huge faded billboard that reads “Yakima – The Palm Springs of Washington”. This memory still make my smile.

      3. Kix*

        I just came back from a three week Canadian vacation and spent several days in the Hamilton/Waterdown/Ancaster area. It is, indeed, a beautiful area and I enjoyed the proximity to the water.

      4. the_scientist*

        I spent five years of my youth there and will always have a fond place in my heart for Hamilton. It may still be a bit rough around the edges (certain neighbourhoods, especially) but it also has an incredible arts scene/community, gorgeous architecture, and a world-class university…..not to mention the hiking and climbing!

        I live in Toronto now and my partner and I are house-hunting and seriously considering making the move to Hamilton. While real estate values are climbing, it’s still orders of magnitude more affordable than Toronto, and it honestly is a really cool, scrappy city with a rich, interesting history.

      5. vanBOOM*

        Ha! I used to live in Toronto and Hamilton (both when I was a kid), and living in one place or the other didn’t really seem to matter to me in terms of my happiness and finding things to do. Based on some vague memories, I can kind of understand why people driving by Hamilton would have those specific impressions that you mention based on looks alone, but I can’t say that I endorse that view.

    4. Trout 'Waver*

      Totally agree. I’ve visited friends in that area and there’s tons of excellent wineries around there, great fishing and hiking, and you’re within striking distance of Seattle and Portland for cultural events. This is the first that I’ve heard that Yakima has a bad reputation.

    5. LN*

      Oh, yeah, Yakima is nice. I grew up in the Seattle area and I didn’t even realize that it had a bad reputation!

      1. A Non*

        Same! I mean, it’s in a rural area that is not wealthy, so it has different issues than what you find in the big cities, but I had no clue it was known as “OMG worst crime rate ever”. I grew up thinking Yakima = pretty agricultural area just over the mountains, decent place to go to/live/be from.

    6. Nunya*

      I spent many summers in Yakima as a kid. If you like hot weather and open spaces, it’s not a bad place. And like others have said, close to some great recreational activities. Not a terrible drive to Seattle if the passes are open (winter travel can be iffy).

    7. A Signer*

      I’m from there, too! I’m glad to hear that it has improved; my experience growing up there as a baby lesbian was… not great. But cities change and it’s great to hear that some major issues have gotten better.

    8. A Non*

      I live near Yakima too. The whole Yakima valley has poverty issues (as expected when most of the population is field workers or on a reservation, man has our society worked hard to shit on those groups), but for the most part everyone’s working too hard to be interested in making trouble. It’s really not that different from urban poverty, just more visible because there are far fewer people. Yakima itself is actually a live and growing city (rather than a dying one), with lots of cool stuff going on, so I’d be quite okay with living there.

    9. Windchime*

      I have family in Yakima and it is indeed lovely. Yes, there are some bad spots like in any medium-sized town but it’s truly beautiful and the weather can’t be beat if you like sunshine all spring, summer and fall.

    10. Artemesia*

      My grandfather lived in Yakima and I spent a lot of time there as a kid — surprised it has a bad rep. A cute town and not far from a lot of great outdoor activity either west to the Cascades or east to Idaho and Montana.

    11. KR*

      There’s a training ground for the military there and my fiance’s friends and him referred to it as Yakistan because it was said to be just like the middle East in the summer, ahaha

    12. Formica Dinette*

      Yakima–and Eastern Washington in general–have reputations for conservatism and racial intolerance. I’m not putting conservatives down, and I’m not saying Yakima or Eastern WA are *more* racist than lots of other places. However, I imagine someone who was Latino/Indigenous/liberal/etc., might have concerns about moving there.

      I do agree with you that Yakima isn’t dangerous and has improved considerably lately.

  6. Beaker*

    #1 – Wow! I’m going to remember this any time I start to think my job even remotely sucks. Dunce hats! Ok on robots (I keep picturing Iron Man), not ok on humans.

  7. JMegan*

    Good grief, I forgot that Dunce Cap Boss was also in 2016. What a year this has been (and what a remarkably prescient comment in Alison’s introductory paragraph!)

    OP1, I’m sorry you didn’t get more money, but I’m glad to hear you got out of there. I hope the 10% pay cut is balanced out by the better work environment, and the almost-certain improvement in your mental health.

  8. Owlette*

    #3 – I recently moved across the country for my husband’s job, and I wish I would’ve thought of calling clubs before moving here, instead of worrying about what I read on the City Data forums! This is a great idea and I think anyone considering moving faraway should definitely try–call groups that have the same hobbies as you. And that means you already have a head start on making friends in the area as well!

    1. sheepy sue*

      City data really can be terrible – it depends on the forum, some have some balance but every forum seems to have a fair number of people who are super down on the area in general, people who are scared of areas they don’t actually know or go to, etc. I used to read the Pittsburgh one regularly when I lived there but while it had some good posters and good news/info about things going on in the city, I still referred to it as the “scared suburbanite message board”. Lots of people whose ideas of parts of the city were based on decades old reputations, people who were straight up racist, etc.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      You know, even finding that the city has groups that like the same things you do is a good sign that you’ll probably be happy there. At least you’ll have stuff to do and people to do it with. :)

  9. Murphy*

    I just read that first letter for the first time, and my mouth dropped open. That is absolutely ridiculous! I just…what? Be glad you got out of there, no matter the cost. Ugh.

  10. March*

    I could have sworn I’ve read the first two updates before, today’s been heavy on deja vu…

    OP #1 I’m glad you got out of there! It sounds like a terrible place to work. It’s great that you got an offer so quickly and your new work place is delightfully normal.

  11. Petronella*

    Good updates, but one of those letters I don’t remember…what on earth was the problem with Yakima, Washington?

    1. Natalie*

      Well, the OP didn’t name the city in their original letter. As far as what was wrong, from the comments upthread it sounds like nothing is really wrong with the city except for an undeserved bad reputation online.

  12. Theresa T*

    I would love to be in the room when OP1 interviews for the next job and they ask for references from the awful job. “Okay, but be warned they’re going to tell you I was fired for subpar work, but I never had to parade around the office in a dunce cap for being a bad performer, so I really don’t think that was it…”

  13. AthenaC*

    #3 – I’m glad it worked out well in the end. Personally I’m super-leery about relying on an area’s “reputation,” especially if it’s negative. In many cases, the people generating the negative reputation are people who are impossible to please, who can’t / won’t do anything to work toward their own happiness, be that either: 1) find the good things about the place and enjoy them; or 2) move. Some of the worst offenders are members of the military who get “stuck” in small central TX towns or small Alaska towns, or get (gasp!) “trapped” on the island of Oahu. Whereas I have loved every place I have lived. So far. Maybe I’m weird but I just don’t find it that hard to enjoy wherever I happen to be “stuck.”

    That being said, being “stuck” somewhere is a far cry from choosing to relocate (or not), so you are right to consider whether you might like an area or not.

    1. dragonzflame*

      Also, people see what they expect to find. Where I live in NZ is a very tiresome national joke with the reputation of being boring, uncultured, and somewhere you pass through on your way to somewhere better. The thing is that yeah, it’s probably not that great to visit (though I’d wager you could do worse) but it is an awesome spot to live in. But most people see that reputation and ignore the cool stuff that lurks just below the surface.

    2. Temperance*

      Eh I grew up in a very undesirable area (Scranton) and I am so happy to let everyone know that it sucks. Because it really does. I have friends who have worked really hard to find their niche, and they have, but I’m far too much of a liberal atheist feminist to fit in with most people there.

      1. sheepy sue*

        Haha ok fair enough, Scranton does suck. Although it depends on what you’re looking for; there’s easy access to a lot of beautiful places to hike, boat etc if you’re someone who cares about that stuff and not the political/cultural climate. I wouldn’t want to live there though!

    3. Elizabeth West*

      It depends on why it sucks. Different people have different levels of success in a town–what works in one place for one person may not work there for another. And people do get stuck–moving is expensive.

  14. eplawyer*

    Oh, the dunce promote transparent and are a motivator — because if you complain we will nitpick you to death, then fire you. See what a great motivator it is.

    Consider the 10% pay cut an offset to all you were losing in mental health to that place. You probably come out ahead in your new place.

  15. Anon today*

    #2 – A few years ago I agreed to participate on a panel at seminar given by a vendor of ours. They put my spouse and I up at a world class hotel (where the event was held) for the weekend and paid expenses. My official duties were limited to some group meals, a rehearsal and the speaking panel. Day 1 I’m out by the pool in a two piece. I’m not young but I’m in good enough shape to wear a two piece in a crowd of strangers. At some point I need the restroom but I realize that between me and the facilities my business contact from the vendor/host for the event is sitting on a lounge chair and I will have to pass him to get there. I just can’t walk past him, not even with a towel so I sit there for 90 minutes until he leaves, texting my co-workers about how I can’t move because I won’t ever be able to look vendor guy in the eye again after a bathing suit encounter. Even if I had a suitable cover up with me, he was shirtless and in trunks so that alone would have kept me rooted.

    1. OP #2*

      Yep! I truly think the Board members would not have cared, but I was really uncomfortable with the idea of both being seen in my swimsuit and seeing them…

  16. Jaws*

    LW #1: talk to a lawyer. You might be able to get a nice settlement, which you deserve to cover your pay cut. You should have talked to a lawyer before speaking up about the dunce caps, who would have advised you to document all the ways that the manager was making you unable to do your job.

      1. Case of the Mondays*

        Being fired for complaining about the conditions might be actionable though. Retaliation is illegal in most states. In my state the standard for common law wrongful termination is being fired for refusing to do something that public would abhor or being fired for doing something that public policy would promote. That’s in addition to the usual whistleblower laws. Also, our human rights commission protects people who make are fired for making a claim even if that claim would not have been sustained. So for example, I had a client file claiming racial discrimination. The commission decided she was not discriminated against. However, the employer had retaliated against her for report to the commission and they were punished for that despite the fact that her initial discrimination claim didn’t hold up.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Right, if you make a good faith complaint of illegal discrimination (meaning it’s based on race, sex, religion, etc.) and it’s found to be unfounded, you can’t be retaliated against for making the complaint. But complaining about the dunce caps wouldn’t fall in that category since it’s not based on race, sex, religion, etc. There’s no legal protection in the U.S. for making complaints of general jerkiness.

          In most states, workers are protected from retailiation if they band together to complain about working conditions, but it sounds like this was a one-on-one complaint.

      2. Jaws*

        Being fired for cause when the poor performance actually was the manager’s fault sounds legally actionable. Also, sometimes you can get a settlement even if you wouldn’t win a lawsuit because the company doesn’t want the hassle. I find that distasteful normally, but not in a case like this.

        But I am not a lawyer, and lots of things vary by state, so that’s why I suggested talking to a lawyer.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Employers can fire you for any reason they want, even if they’re at fault, as long as it’s not based on discrimination by protected class or retaliation for engaging in legally protected behavior (like reporting harassment or discrimination).

  17. Workfromhome*

    #1 Glad you got out of there. Taking a paycut to move jobs is never fun. Even if the benefits are better it still sucks to see your pay deposit look smaller. Especially since going through the effort of a job search is often the only way to get t a raise these days we almost expect that taking the trouble to switch job will be a step forward in pay. I went though this and while my pay was essentially the same and benefits better (so at the end of the year $ for $ I’m probably ahead) it was still hard to wrap my head around leaving a place I’d put 13 years into but not get a raise. It was worth it ! life is so much better now I’ll probably spend less on being sick etc just from the change.

    The main thing I get from #1 is that when you are in a culture that is abusive like this that discourages any dissent at all you are still better off to keep your mouth shut get out and leave silently. I’m all for standing up against wrongs but if you know that no matter how right you are they won’t change and they will punish you might as well take care of yourself and find another battle you can win. I know that’s what I did. I saw what happened to people who spoke up. Best to avoid the stress and the (undeserved) black mark of a firing and just stay silent until you escape.

    Hope the new job is great!

  18. Bea*

    What! I love this blog for its helpful tips, but I think I’m going to have to take a break for awhile because reading it makes me so depressed! I’m about to graduate from college and what I’ve learned about being an employee sounds TERRIBLE! Parading around employees in dunce caps? Slashing benefits and denying pay? Allowing employees to post demeaning pictures on FB and then saying HR can’t do anything about it!?…In general, it sounds like employers can be rude and inhumane with little to no consequences, and employees just have to grin and politely bear it. Is it too late to become a Buddhist nun? Please tell me some one out there has a job that isn’t torture.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      These are interesting letters specifically because they’re so weird. Most jobs are pretty uneventful. Many people love their jobs and their managers and coworkers. They tend not to submit letters to advice columns though because they don’t need to. So don’t let this skew your sense of what’s normal!

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        Yeah, it’s like reading a relationship advice column – if you only paid attention to that you’d conclude that most relationships are miserable, everybody cheats, in-laws are always awful, etc. But really people in happy, generally-functional relationships don’t write to a columnist for advice!

    2. Hodie-Ho*

      Bea, I’ve had crummy jobs and worked for bad bosses. I now have an interesting and well paid job with a very good company and awesome bosses. This blog helps me be more grateful for all of it. I wish this had been around when I was starting. I might have avoided some badness, or coped better with it.

    3. Jaguar*

      There are 340 million first-language English speakers in the world and almost 1 billion that are fluent. Allison posts, what, 40 questions a week? And half of them are pretty mundane questions with even more mundane (or repeated) ones being selected out. You probably have a better chance of having a piano fall on you than you do working somewhere that will make you wear a dunce cap. Don’t worry about it, Bea. You’re going to be fine.

    4. Honeybee*

      I have lots of friends and former students with great jobs out of college that they like or love, and the vast majority are at least not miserable in their jobs. Don’t worry :)

    5. Clever Name*

      We see these posts because they are the worst of the worst. I’ve been in the post-college working world for over 10 years now, and I’ve had 4 jobs, and my “worst” job was working for a guy who was a doofus and sometimes was a jerk. I was unhappy there, but really it was pretty mild, and I worked there for 3 years while I looked for another job, and I was really picky. Now I have a great job with great people.

  19. Elizabeth West*

    #1–Your boss was a huge [insert very rude British curse word here] and I’m glad you’re out of there.

    #2–Yay! Also, sangria! \0/

    #3–Hmm, interesting. I’d still want to visit, however, and get a feel for things. But that’s me. I’m going to save that site you mentioned, in case I decide to pursue opportunities further afield.

  20. Norman*

    I’ve been to Yakima several times. There’s really nothing wrong with it, but I wouldn’t want to live their either.

    1. Norman*

      Also, there are plenty of outdoor activities right in Yakima and many more way closer than 30-60 miles, so that aspect of the original letter is weird.

      1. Honeybee*

        Yeah, I thought that was weird, too. Yakima is located pretty close to a bunch of national state parks.

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