advising a great applicant to run far away from my troubled office, husband wants to quit his job to job-search full-time, and more

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

1. My husband wants to quit his job to job-search full-time

My husband has worked for the same small company for nearly 15 years. This was his first job after college and he was personally referred to the position (so he’s never really searched for a job before). We agreed that this would be the year he either decides to leave or to stick it out to see if this small company hits it big. Considering he’s miserable at his current job and has days that he wants to storm out, he’s decided he wants to move on. I support this decision.

The problem is that we’ve made this decision over and over again throughout the years and he never really pushes to actually search for a job. I’ve helped him in the past and now I’m done taking the reins while he waits for something to fall into his lap (obviously I’m frustrated and my patience is waning).

His mother convinced him to take a week off of work so we could kick off the job search and figure out what he wants to do, but he didn’t even finish updating his resume. Now, he wants to quit his job so he can job search full-time. He’s convinced that the current job is demotivating him too much to search on off-hours. He wants to dip into our savings while he searches full-time for his new dream job.

Thanks to the economy in 2008, I’ve held many different jobs and searched while working and while unemployed and I know it’s much more difficult to search for a job while unemployed, but he says I’m not being a supportive wife if I don’t tell him to do what he “needs” to do. Will you help provide some perspective on the struggles of quitting a job before starting to job search?

It’s generally harder to find a job when you’re unemployed than when you’re employed — sometimes much harder. Plus, job searches can take a lot longer than people think they will, which could have real implications for your finances. More on both of those things here.

You didn’t ask about this, but I do want to note that the fact that he’s already taken off a week to focus on job searching and didn’t use the week very well makes it seem pretty likely that he could quit his job and not get actively into job searching at that point either. What does he say about what happened there?

And again, I know I’m answering more than what you asked, but the biggest issue here seems to be that he has said for years that he intends to move on but hasn’t taken any actual steps toward making that happen. You can’t make him, of course, but you’re allowed to express what you are and aren’t comfortable with as far as your joint financial partnership goes (i.e., potentially supporting him if he quits and doesn’t find something else right away).

2. Advising a great applicant to run far, far away from my troubled workplace

I recently had the experience of sitting in on an interview for an open position at my organization, which has a number of issues up and down the ladder. When the applicant (who would be working at roughly my level) asked about workplace culture, stress points, etc., our director lied outright about what it is like to work here and gave the applicant information that is directly counter to what I am certain they will experience if they come onboard. (I think the director both knew she was painting a rosier-than-accurate picture and does not believe that things are as bad as they are, perhaps because she herself is such a big piece of our problem.)

I held my tongue, but I am seriously considering reaching out to this applicant to say … what? “You’re wonderful, we need you desperately, please run as far away from us as possible, this house is not clear!” I’d want someone to tell me what I know now if I were the applicant, but maybe that’s just completely out of bounds. And yes, I’m job-searching, myself.

This is tricky because while you’re employed there, you have a duty not to go out of your way to sabotage their hiring process. So I don’t think you should reach out to her and just issue your warning. But what I do think you can do is to email her and say that you’d be happy to answer any questions that she has. If she’s smart, she’ll take you up on that opportunity, and ask you the sort of questions that will allow you to give her a different perspective on working there. Even then, though, you should do it diplomatically. There’s info here on how to do that.

If it would seem really weird to your employer that you’d reached out with an offer to answer questions (which it might, depending on the nature of your job there), an alternative would be to send her a connection request on LinkedIn (which is totally defensible if your employer knew about it) and include a note saying something like, “Great to meet you the other day. Drop me a line if I can answer anything further.”

Also! If your relationship with your director allows it, you should mention to her that you thought some of her answers might not have given the candidate the full picture, and that in order to screen for people who will be the right fit for the role, it might make sense to talk about X, Y, and Z. (Really, it’s in your employer’s best interests to do this. Truth in advertising is how you hire people who will stay and not run away screaming when they see what they’ve gotten themselves into.)

Read an update to this letter here.

3. Interviewers want to do third interview at a coffee shop

I had an interview with the SVP. Then I had another interview with another senior member of his team the following week. Both interviews went very well from my perspective.

After a week, I sent an email to the SVP inquiring the status of my candidacy. That afternoon, I got a call from the senior team member asking that she and the SVP “meet” with me for coffee outside of the office. What does this mean?

It means that they want to talk with you in a more casual environment, or that their office has loud construction that day, or that they feel like getting outside the office for coffee, or that they just like to inject some variety in the interview process. I wouldn’t read anything into it.

4. Letting customers into our store earlier than we officially open

I’m a assistant manager at a store. The store opens at 9 a.m., but during morning meetings I noticed customers arriving outside the store 10 to 15 minutes before we open. Some looked frustrated as they peered inside, so I started letting customers inside the store early.

The store manager told me that this was against company policy and told me to stop. I don’t agree with this policy and hate to see customers annoyed by waiting. Am I wrong to disagree with this policy? How can I persuade the manager to change the policy?

You should follow the policy your store manager has set, because there are good reasons for it. For one thing, if customers learn that they can come in early, you’re setting them and your coworkers up for frustration when they arrive early on a day you’re not there and aren’t allowed in. Also, your store may have an insurance policy that requires them to adhere to specific hours, or you might be renting space that restricts opening before a certain time.

It’s pretty normal for stores to have specific operating hours and to require employees to stick to those hours.

5. I said something weird during interview small talk

I have such a weird situation that happened, and I’m not even sure how I found myself in this position. I had an interview for a receptionist position the other day that went very well. I was a little intimidated by the second interviewer, even though she was really nice. We started talking about kids and school, and she said “Your kids are just starting school. Kindergarten?” I replied with “yes, my youngest.” The problem — my youngest is in fifth grade. I have NO idea why this slipped out of my mouth. Fast forward, and I have been offered the job. How do I bounce back from this? I obviously have to acknowledge this. How do I fix it?

This isn’t a big deal, and I don’t think you need to address it. There’s a good chance that your interviewer won’t even remember it (it sounds like small talk, not anything she would have been particularly focused on) and she probably talked to other candidates too, which can make stuff like this blurry.

If for some reason she asks you about it, just say, “I realized afterward that’s what I said, and I have no idea why — just interview nerves, I guess. My youngest is in fifth grade!” We all say weird things on occasion.

{ 378 comments… read them below }

  1. Mike C.*

    OP 1: Your husband likely needs more than a week to get his head in a right place, but I think he should also look into hiring someone to update his resume. That’s much cheaper than living off of savings, and he’ll only need to spend an hour or so on the weekdays looking for other work.

    I’ve been in his place, and I’m guessing what he really needs is some concrete steps towards a way out while he remains in. Getting the resume professionally done will be one way, getting job sites bookmarked will be another and so on. Toxic jobs really screw with your head, but I totally understand (and support) waiting for an offer before leaving.

    Heck, if the place is really that bad, he’s likely justified in leaving without notice. That could be a good bargaining chip to motivate him.

    1. Bookworm*

      Yes. I agree that it can be really draining to work and search for a new job – even though it doesn’t seem like it should be.

      But it’s also draining to be unemployed and doing the job search all day long.

      I’m really sympathetic to the husband’s position here, but agree with Mike that, if he needs extra help getting motivated, there’s probably better ways to invest money than by digging into the savings while he’s job-searching full time.

      1. HMM*

        It really is so tiring looking for jobs full time. You can get really demoralized submitting tons of applications and still only getting a handful of callbacks. You really need to be mentally able to handle that heightened rejection rate without caving into taking a bad job out of desperation.

        1. Anon13*

          Agreed. I’ve job-searched while unemployed after moving and while employed and I found that, while it’s tiring to look while employed, I only applied to jobs that were the best fit and that I really wanted. When I was unemployed and looking, I applied to too many jobs and actually wound up turning one down and asking to be removed from consideration during the interview process for three. I recognize that there’s nothing inherently wrong with realizing a job isn’t for you while interviewing and removing yourself from consideration, but I wound up having to do so because I was casting way too wide a net. Basically, I felt like I needed to work on job applications at least 40 hours a week, so I applied to every job I was remotely qualified for, even if I knew it probably wouldn’t be a great fit. It was not a great job-searching strategy, to say the least.

          1. Whats In A Name*

            Yes – this!

            When we moved I search for 4 months for a new job. Applied to anything and everything and ended up taking a job that wasn’t a fit because after 4 months I NEEDED work. Had I been employed I could have held out for a better position-fit.

            I was also going to suggest to LW#1 that her husband stick with the position and, like Mike C. mentioned, hire someone to help him with resume. The week off sounds like it should have been a week off to get his head straight and sit down and make some hard partnership decisions on what you can realistically do as a family.

            It can be scary to search after 15 years in one company, so that might be part of the hesitation on his part as well.

        2. Kyrielle*

          Yes. Also, depending on your skillset and field, there may not be that many openings that are a good fit. I don’t imagine it’s made any better by the feeling that you *should* be doing more but aren’t applying at all because the openings are far enough from what you fit that you either won’t get them, or will loathe them once you’re in them. The goal here is, after all, to get to a better job, not to jump to being the new guy at a similar one or where your skills aren’t a fit (and you don’t want to gain the skills that would be – switching industries can be awesome, but only if you wanted to do it).

        3. Elizabeth West*

          Yep. And an all-or-nothing approach can end up making you shut down because it’s so overwhelming. Maybe that’s why his motivation is lacking–he wants to do it, but it seems like a huge task. Plus, change is scary even if you hate where you are.

          The best way to approach it is like eating an elephant–one bite at a time.

      2. Mae*

        What about getting a part-time job (like a 20-hour-a-week retail gig) to help pay the bills while he job searches? Unless you have an endless stream of cash flowing in from some other source, quitting without plans to work at all is not practical. Plus, despite what some say, job searching is not a 24/7 endeavor- you’d go insane. You need to compartmentalize your time and fill your life with other tasks.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Don’t encourage him to leave without notice (assuming no issues of safety, health, etc.). He’s been there 15 years, so they’re highly likely to be called as a reference in the future and that could make future job searches harder.

      1. mazzy*

        I agree. The one time I job hunted whilst unemployed was extremely draining. It was as every job I applied to in another industry thought I was applying out of desperation, and honestly, some of the time I was. I also found it hard to keep boundaries up such as not responding to emails as soon as I got them (and thus looking desperate) while unemployed. And I also had basically no bargaining power after a while so took a job paying less than I had been making.

        As per his resume, some people just don’t write them well or get writers block. Taking off endless time to do one if you’re just going to get writers block again isn’t going to help, he probably needs help, someone to ask him a lot of questions to find what his accomplishments were and word how he advanced over the fifteen years.

        I think there might be times when you do something really specific and in demand and can get away with quitting, but if your job is even remotely generalist, it is going to be tough. So many jobs are a hodge podge of tasks that you’re honestly not going to like but your going to feel pressure to apply to.

        The position I got was one that felt so specific to me when it was posted. The interview had a “welcome home” feel to it. I felt like every application I had been doing to fill the days was a complete waste of time and it would have had the same impact to just sit around and wait for this job to be open.

        And the view that interviewing anywhere can be good practice? For some people, yes. But if your already good at it, then too much interviewing may not be good. I found myself skipping good answers/stories because I couldn’t remember who I told what to, or I got sick of saying the same things so many times even though they were good things to say, and I just got sick of talking about myself in general and sick of getting to know companies I then wasn’t really excited about. Kind of like dating fatigue.

        Would have been so much easier to keep my energy level up if I had been employed at the time.

      2. Mike C.*

        Huh, it seems that some of my response was deleted. I had a part where I said, “while I know what it’s like to be in your husband’s shoes, I completely support waiting for another job”.

        The “leaving without notice” was once the husband has an offer letter and start date. I figure that having permission not to have to sit through those last two weeks will make things somewhat easier.

        1. Mike C.*

          Christ, I totally misread that, sorry.

          I figure that if the place is that terrible, there are going to be plenty of people for reference checks. 15 years doors make me think on that again though…

        1. Mike C.*

          It’s not tactless in in the slightest if you’ve ever worked a toxic job. Employers don’t own you and if they wanted the nicety of two weeks notice, they would have treated you better in the first place.

          I really get tired of “things that are nice to do but not required” being turned into “things that are required to do”.

          Also, I still have a ton of great references from the job I quit without notice because everyone who wasn’t part of the owner’s family understood what was going on. It’s not a universal thing that can be done, but it’s not the type of activity that will “burn every bridge ever” either.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          It depends on the situation.

          There may be no bridges left standing, why would anyone stay and allow themselves to be continuously abused, if they have a way out and there is nothing to salvage?

          In other cases, if one’s medical or mental health bills are starting to use up a chunk of their check each pay period, why keep the job?

          As far as being tactless that could easily pale in comparison to what is being done to the employee. In some cases, I would not worry too much about being tactless to a group of toxic people, they probably don’t know what tact is anyway.

    3. Kiryn*

      I’ve been there too, and I did leave my job without something lined up first. I was seriously overworked, doing the work of 2-3 people due to constant downsizing in our department, and didn’t have the mental energy to do much more than collapse into bed when I got home every night. Getting anything constructive done outside of work was laughable.

      Luckily my husband and I were in a good place financially with plenty of savings and no major obligations (and I wasn’t being paid enough anyway), and I was definitely able to focus more on my job search once I got out and had a few weeks to get some decent rest for once. It was a scary thing to do, definitely not recommended, but it worked out for the best in my case.

    4. Engineer Girl*

      Hubster sounds really burnt out. That means poor decision making skills on what to do next. Burn out also means a desire to just walk away from the job. He should resist the urge if possible, as there are negative ramifications that could affect his professional reputation.
      On top of this he has never had to job search. As Several people noted, he probably has no idea what steps to take.
      Can he enroll in some job search classes? Can he read Alison’s book? Can he get some counseling? All of these might add structure to the search and give some self confidence. In fact, staying at the job actually gives structure to his life. If he were to quit when burnt out it would be far too easy to start drifting.

      1. mander*

        Yes, as someone who has experienced plenty of unemployment and demoralizing job searches I am alarmed at the prospect of him just quitting with the idea of searching full-time. Sitting at home with nothing to do except hope that a different job from all the ones I applied to last week pops up is a quick way to more serious depression and inertia. Even a job that sucked would have given me more structure in my life.

        I second the idea of looking for a class or meeting of some kind that he can go to for help. Even if the advice is far below his level it can be helpful if there is someone else waiting to see the result of his efforts (his resume) besides you. For me it was very easy to blow off my husband because I knew he was sympathetic, but I felt foolish turning up to a job fair without a CV so I got busy and created one.

        1. mazzy*

          And the disappointment when you’re a few month in and you realize that a lot of the “new” jobs you think look awesome are just ones that get constantly posted and might just be “hoping for the rainbow unicorn to come along” type ads. Or the disappointment when you inadvertently find out how many people you’re competing against when you do get an interview. Too many areas to stir up more anxiety

        2. JMegan*

          Agreed. I think the idea that “looking for a job is a full time job” is highly exaggerated (and hopefully going the way of the one-page resume.) Yes, it takes time, and yes, you need to put some careful thought and planning into it. But it’s not an eight-hour-a-day activity, unless you’re applying to a whole ton of jobs – in which case you’re probably doing too much, because it’s unlikely that all those jobs are going to be a good fit for you.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I think so too. It doesn’t take that long to go through email, read job board postings (especially with search criteria), etc. And you’re not likely to have a full workday’s worth of interviews lined up every day.

            When I was job hunting, I did all online searching, calendar and spreadsheet updates, etc. in the morning. At the end of that period, I could disconnect from job searching and use the rest of the day for whatever activities I wanted to doc.

            A routine will help. And so will a job tracking spreadsheet.

            1. myswtghst*

              “A routine will help. And so will a job tracking spreadsheet.”

              Yes to both of these! Getting organized and making a plan makes it all feel so much easier.

              While working 50+ hours per week at the same company I’ve been at for 11 years, I blocked out some time during my lunch, in the evening, and on the weekends to do the job search thing, and just made sure I was organized about it. It took me about 4 months (including multiple rounds of interviews at 3 companies), and I’ve just accepted a new job which I feel really confident is a good fit (thanks in part to all the great advice here!). :)

              For me, that meant a brand new notebook where I could list out what I needed to do (re-read Alison’s book, review posts on this site, update my resume, create a generic cover letter to be updated as needed, etc…) so I could check things off as I completed them, and space to make notes about each job I applied for & heard back from. It helped me just to have a complete list of where I applied, who responded, where I had phone interviews, and who were the people I spoke to during the process. I also made notes on the expected interview questions and my answers, my questions for interviewers, etc… which really helped.

              Spending a few hours during the week and a few on the weekend to review job postings on LinkedIn and some industry-specific job boards also really helped me get a better idea of what I wanted and what I was qualified for. Since I’ve spent so long at the same company and with the same team, it did take some searching to figure that out but some of it was a pleasant surprise, too.

          2. Alex*

            “Agreed. I think the idea that “looking for a job is a full time job” is highly exaggerated”
            Seriously this. It is so tough though not to fall in to that mind set. If your unemployed, suddenly your job search activity becomes a subject of scrutiny for people around you. In my experience, people out of left field would start sending me to job links to out of date postings that don’t even remotely align with my skill sets. Then they would start asking me if I called to follow up on the posting. When I would point out that I am not a good fit for that job and calling would be seen as out of touch, then people would imply that I must not really be trying. Dealing with the scrutiny of actively job searching while unemployed ends up becoming a full time job unfortunately.

          3. Alex*

            I do want to add that her husband would probably benefit from setting some goals as far as his job search so that he has something to evaluate his job search progress with.

          4. Wheezy Weasel*

            +1 on this. If I’ve only got 3 hours a week to apply to a job because I’m in my other job, I take extra care to only apply to those which are worth the effort. When I was home on sick leave, suddenly i was spending time on jobs that were not a good fit, just because I felt I had to ‘show progress’ or do something to fill up my job search time.

      2. AnotherAlison*

        Regarding resisting the urge to walk away, I second (3rd, 4th) this.

        My read on this, based on the view of someone else who has worked a long time at one place, is that he should look for similar work (chocolate teapots) in another company in his industry, or a small position change (vanilla teapots) at another company. This type of role change shouldn’t be some sort of life changing time consuming job search activity.

        Work away from your role in steps, not all at once. Work towards a dream job by taking positions that incrementally have more of what you like and less of what you don’t. You can’t sit in your living room and imagine that Job X is going to be exactly what you want.

        1. myswtghst*

          Agreed. I almost wish he hadn’t already taken off a week to “focus on job-hunting” because he’s probably at a point where taking a week off for actual relaxation and fun would be more beneficial so he can be less burnt out when he returns to work and resumes the job search.

    5. Ros*

      I was once in a similar situation of being so overwhelmed with a toxic, horrible job that I couldn’t manage to job-hunt. I updated my resume.


      3 months later, he’d scheduled me for interviews at 2 different companies, we found one that was a great fit, and I was starting at a new, significantly less toxic place.

      If he’s got a skill that’s in demand (not even HIGH demand), a competent headhunter might be the key to bypassing the job-hunting stress he can’t seem to manage on his own.

        1. Amy*

          My husband is a recruiter. He finds about 80% of people through LinkedIn, 15% through referrals and and 5% from candidates who have contacted him. The client is always the employer.

          1. myswtghst*

            For me, just updating my profile on LinkedIn and ensuring I updated whatever the setting is which makes me visible to recruiters led to several recruiters contacting me, including the recruiter for the job I accepted yesterday and start in 3 weeks. :)

        2. Golden Lioness*

          Remember that headhunters and recruiters do not work for you, though. I use them a lot, but I always keep this in mind when I don’t get an answer to my follow ups because they are busy trying to make money with other candidates that have already been selected for other interviews.

          I guess what I am trying to say is don’t just contact a headhunter and sit around waiting. Still continue to do your due diligence and apply to other jobs. I would always check with my 2 favorite recruiters before I applied. Sometimes they had internal contacts and were able to help me out, and others I just applied on my own.

    6. LQ*

      Toxic jobs can screw with your head. But I think leaving without something lined up is just about the worth possible decision you could make unless you don’t need the money to exist.

      The problem is he needs to be his own motivation. His own steps forward, which clearly he’s having a hard time taking. I think something like classes, goals, whatever would be a good way to do it. The professional resume might help but vet the heck out of the place first.

      Find 3 jobs a week worth applying to. Sit down and put in an application/resume/cover letter to at least 1 of them. Do this every week. Whatever needs to be done. But he’s got to do it. And if he quits it will all be so much harder.

    7. Not really a newish lurker anymore...*

      My husband is in a similar boat. For the last 2-6 years, he’s been talking about job hunting. I’ve tried to help and nothing. He reached the point earlier this year where he really wanted a different job. He’d been checking job listings on a couple of websites. He hired a really great guy to write the resume and basically hold his hand for the start of the search. Resume guy was a godsend for us. My husband got an amazing resume and is heading into 2nd rounds of interviews with 2 different companies.

    8. TootsNYC*

      I like the idea of calling in some pros. There are job-search coaches (I used to work w/ Maggie Mistal, who has carved out a radio/podcast/website/speaker niche but also takes private clients).

      He should seek one out. (Hey, Alison–there’s a revenue opportunity for you: the Ask A Manager badge, which job coaches earn by taking a course and passing a test, so you can be sure they don’t give people bogus advice.)

      Or, does he have any former colleagues he could sit and strategize with?

      It’s so important that he have other brains on this project (and perhaps even someone to hold him a bit accountable), and they need to NOT BE YOURS.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Also, if he hasn’t already done this, he might want to look at the LinkedIn sites of former coworkers who got out, who were doing approximately similar things. A LinkedIn site is not a resume, but it has much of the same info, and how they tailored it might be helpful to him, to see. (It might not too – depends on the former coworkers. But it’s worth looking to see if it sparks any ideas.)

      2. myswtghst*

        “It’s so important that he have other brains on this project (and perhaps even someone to hold him a bit accountable), and they need to NOT BE YOURS.”

        This is such a great point! I love my husband and totally help him with his job-hunting since I’m better at a lot of that stuff, but it can also be a bit exhausting for both of us when I have to be the one to hold him accountable. Having someone who is not family to advise / motivate him can be tremendously helpful if he’s having trouble motivating himself.

    9. Stranger than fiction*

      I think it’s one of those things where when something seems so new and foreign to you, its really hard to get started. Op says he’s never had to job search, so I can see how he’s sorta stuck and having a hard time getting started. Once he finds his groove, though, I’m sure he’ll be fine. Agree he absolutely should stay st the current place. Depending on his field he could be looking at six months or more to find the right fit. Maybe Op can find some statistics for his field related to how many job openings there are, how long the typical job search is in their area, etc, by takking to friends and people they’re connected to on Linked in.

    10. Bob*

      I did what OP’s husband is considering and it was a huge mistake. Every interviewer looked at me like I was crazy and none of them believed I wasn’t actually fired. Since then I’ve talked several friends and co-workers out of following my example and they have all thanked me when they eventually found another job. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned but I think not being currently employed almost always makes you a less attractive candidate. On the flipside, being a current 15-year employee of one company might make me think this person is looking for his next long-term job which would be a plus.

      Either way, I would at least tell him talk to some companies/recruiters to gauge interest before quitting. If he has never job searched before, I wouldn’t put much stock in his assessment of the market. I’ve switched jobs a lot and feel very confident of my worth in the market.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        Oh, that too is a great point. My BF went through that same thing when he left a toxic job with an insane tyrant boss. It was a well known start up in our area and he got qiestioned over and over why he would leave this “great” company. He finally lucked out in that the recruiter that got him his current jon knee of the turnover and some things that were actually going on at that place and was able to explain that to the hiring company and backup what he was saying.

    11. Engineer Woman*

      I suggest for OP’s husband to stick with his job a little longer while setting some goals for job hunting. Unfortunately, employers tend to want to hire people who already have jobs. Somehow, unemployed people must not be “as good”…although with the rise in lay-offs and such, I do think employers are getting better at removing or reducing this stigma.

      That said, not having a job might cause added pressure in the job search as others have mentioned if husband is not able to find a new job in a time period that he has expected. It’s also especially hard to go from working for 15 years to not-working. It seems husband has just started on the hunt (not having yet even finished updating resume). Try for some time to job search in parallel with working. Then maybe revisit idea of quitting later. It seems very drastic to just move to quit and job-search “full time”. I echo those who posted – job searching is NOT something that can occupy 8-10 hours a day – at least not in my experience.

  2. Frustrated Optimist*

    OP#5 — I have a theory why you made the mistake, especially given interview nerves: Kindergarten generally = *5* years old, which you conflated with *5th* grade. I agree that it’s unlikely anyone will really remember, but you could always explain it this way.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      OP, if you had to flub you flubbed in one of the more benign ways possible. There is nothing of importance here, nothing material to your ability to do the job.
      Cue people telling similar stories, I’ll start. I have goofed on the age of my car and messed up my own phone number, which I corrected immediately, but still, it’s MY home phone.

      There are folks out there who subscribe to the theory if a person can’t get the simple stuff right how can they ever do the job. Then there is the rest of us who know this is how life goes, no one is perfectly correct at all times and some how we manage to do things anyway.
      Anyone who would make a big stink over that little flub is probably not going to be that great an employer. Decide that you will use the level of response to the flub to help yourself gauge what type of people you are working here. If called on it, apologize, say, “those darn interview nerves” or some other bland thing and watch how they react. If they have an over the top reaction, RUN.

      1. Government Worker*

        I had to try three times to get my phone number right the other day, and it’s a number I’ve had for 15 years. A customer service rep read it to me from their system and had it wrong, and I stumbled around verbally for like a minute trying to correct him. I was embarrassed, but that sort of thing happens to everyone.

        1. Anna*

          The other weekend my husband was giving someone his phone number and he ALWAYS transposes two of the numbers. Except this time, but I still corrected it to the wrong number he usually gives people, got completely flustered, finally gave up and gave them my number and then we both looked like idiots. So…brains, man. Right?

          1. irritable vowel*

            I used to have a phone number where the last 4 digits were very similar to the last 4 digits of my social security number, and in any situation where I got asked for the latter, I would *always* give the phone number digits and then have to scramble to remember my actual SSN without making it look like I was trying to perpetrate identity fraud. I still get tripped up sometimes!

      2. OP*

        I’m the OP, and this makes me feel so much better! I feel like such an idiot. Like, if I lied about that small thing, what else am I lying about? And it was just a silly thing to say! This eases my nerves a lot!

        1. Jaydee*

          You didn’t lie. The connection between your brain and your mouth shorted out before you could finish the sentence. “Yes, my youngest…is starting 5th grade.”

        2. jannrasp*

          I was at a salon getting my hair cut by someone for the first time. As she cut my hair, she asked how my kids were doing, and without missing a beat, I replied, “They’re great! Thanks for asking!” I have no children. And I have absolutely no idea why I said what I did.
          The next time I went back for a haircut, I learned a little more about them–a boy in college (really?! Did I look old enough to have a kid in college?) and a girl in high school. I kept up the ruse for a few more months and then finally had to stop going to this stylist because I couldn’t keep up with the lies. (The stylist was shocked that we would go away for a week in the summer while my daughter was on the swim team. Ooops!)It’s a completely ridiculous thing, but makes a funny party story.

      3. AK*

        In High School, a teacher confronted me about not doing my homework and said he was going to call my parents – “what’s their number?”
        I was so scared (he was a scary guy) that I blurted out the wrong phone number. Of course, no one believed me later when I said that I’d honestly forgotten! I know I had to serve a few hours of detention over that one.

      4. sarah*

        My favorite recent one was a cashier asking me how old I was (because I was buying alcohol). I immediately responded, “Oh, I’m 21” (I am 32) because I knew it was in reference to an alcohol purchase.

    2. TootsNYC*

      Just say, “Oh, I must have misheard the question–sorry about that.”

      She won’t remember exactly how she said it.

      And you may have been answering the first part (“just starting school?” at the end of the summer might mean, “just starting back to school,” so you answered that one).

      1. TootsNYC*

        (I wouldn’t say “nerves”–don’t bring that into the conversation.
        If you say, “I must have misheard the question,” it puts things at a neutral place.)

    3. Pwyll*

      That or it was just a wonky thing that happens. I have a huge family, and have often heard family in a wide variety of contexts just simply get grades and ages wrong in conversation. recently, my aunt was talking with a coworker on the phone (they’re remote workers) and repeatedly complaining about her “pre-teen daughter’s attitude lately”. Her daughter is 17. It just happens.

    4. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

      I always blank on my kid’s ages when someone asks me. I have no idea why. If someone asked me about them when I was nervous, there’s no telling what I would say.

      1. Kelly L.*

        I have a friend who, for some reason, asks me every time we meet how old all my nieces and nephews are. There are 7 of them. I’m about ready to print out a brochure to hand her, because right on the spot, I can never bring all the ages to mind.

      2. Karo*

        My in-laws asked me this weekend how old I was. I blanked, and my husband made it worse by looking at me like I had 12 heads when I turned and asked him.

        1. BeautifulVoid*

          My husband is six months older than me, so for half the year, we’re the same age, and for the other half, we’re not. Since he turns the new number first, I can always remember how old he is, but for me, I sometimes have to stop and think….

      3. Panda Bandit*

        I attribute this to people’s ages always changing. :) The best solution I found is to remember what year they were born and do some quick math.

    5. Aurion*

      I forgot how old I am with some regularity. I was asked “were you even alive in X year?” and I said “of course I was!” …pause five minutes…”wait a minute…” In the same vein, I usually respond with my age +/- a year when asked directly.

      The other day it took three tries to spell my name. Seriously, OP, this is not a big deal. Your interviewer likely won’t even remember your answer, and on the off chance she does, she will likely assume that she remembered it wrong, rather than you misspoke.

  3. Mike C.*

    One more here, because I’m really curious what folks think.

    This is tricky because while you’re employed there, you have a duty not to go out of your way to sabotage their hiring process.

    I think it’s fair to say that by clearly lying, the boss is acting in a highly unethical manner here. Why is that considered “sabotage” to reach out and correct the record directly, but not if they come back with questions later? The difference between reaching out and correcting the record and reaching out to “answer other questions” is only the savvy of the candidate, right? If the boss was a truly effective liar, the candidate may find no need to ask additional questions, rendering the advice moot.

    I appreciate that this isn’t an easy question to give advice on, but It seems to me that if there’s any “sin” here, it’s in giving out contradicting information. Reaching out directly with it rather than only after being asked feels like only an aggravating factor. On the other hand, I have to wonder if silence (explicit or in the right questions aren’t asked) makes the OP complicit in this unethical behavior.

    Again, this is tricky, and I’m really curious what folks think.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s about whether the employer would rightly consider her to be committing a major breach of her duty to them or not. Proactively contacting a candidate to tell them not to take a job is the sort of thing that even a reasonable employer might consider firing someone for — it’s a huge over-step of what her role is and what they’ve authorized her to do, and would raise all sorts of questions about whether they could trust her to act in their interests and to respect the boundaries of her role there.

      1. JoJo*

        It’s possible that the candidate will think that the LW is just trying to sabotoge him out of fear of the competition, and might even report the conversation back to the manager. I’d stay out of it entirely.

      1. Macedon*

        Yep. Glassdoor can be invaluable at this point, and most candidates who do their due diligence check out the site.

        1. DoDah*

          Oh Glassdoor is BS! I work at a shite company. Our PR manager writes reviews that he either posts himself or commands that others post.

          1. Macedon*

            I worked at a place where the owners used to do the same – a couple of us actually got in touch with Glassdoor and alerted them to those comments. When several people are willing to say they entertain suspicions, they seem to look into it. (But this was a situation where it was very, very obvious the owner was just trying to make sure the top review was overwhelmingly positive…. while thirty other reviews were given the workplace negative feedback. )

        2. Kore*

          Glassdoor is tricky, though, because there are often conflicting reviews so it’s hard to know what’s real and what’s not – if the person giving the 1 star review is disgruntled/unhappy with something and trying to take it out on the company, or if the person giving the 5 star review is a manager/boss trying to make the company look better. You have to look for patterns, but even then it’s not always indicative of something. So even a terrible Glassdoor review might not make the applicant turn away.

          1. Macedon*

            Yeah, you can’t take everything that’s on Glassdoor at face value, but you can usually ID patterns, as you’ve said, or kind of read into whether the reviewer has reached b*tch-eating-crackers stage with the job and is exaggerating every little downside.

          2. Photoshop Til I Drop*

            Conflicting reviews makes perfect sense, though, if you consider that the problem is middle management. Working in one department might be a dream, while another is hell on earth. Sorting the reviews by job position helps to find these patterns.

    2. Macedon*

      Think it’s less about ethical nuance and more about which behaviour lets you defend before your boss that you weren’t actually working against the company’s best interests (getting this hire) by volunteering further damaging information. Ethically, you’re in the wrong the moment you don’t correct or add to your boss’ input on the workplace environment during the interview. Lying by omission is still lying, but it has to be balanced against OP’s odds of losing their livelihood to a manager who decides that they only want to be so candid about the real goings-on.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      The director put the OP in a difficult spot by lying, because now the OP has two conflicting ethical choices, neither optimal: be complicit in unethical, harmful behavior (deceiving applicants), or breach their duty to their employer. Because while they work for this director, they have an ethical duty to do as they request, and there’s always an implicit mandate for an employee to support whatever actions your managers or your company take while they are paying you for your time, although in my opinion the ethical duty to be truthful takes priority.

      Many people resolve these types of conflicts by allowing themselves to be complicit the first time, then avoiding the conflict in the future. They could avoid them by quitting, or take the more ethically ambiguous approach and (if possible) not be involved in interviewing applicants any longer, so they can feign ignorance about the director’s deceptions.

      1. Feotakahari*

        When you put it that way, this sounds like a situation for Captain Awkward. “This person did something that made me uncomfortable, but did it publicly in such a way that I’ll look like the bad guy if I address the discomfort! How do I keep them from doing it again without facing social blowback?” (Alternately, you could view OP’s boss as Gideon Gleeful.)

        1. AcademiaNut*

          The difference is that it isn’t social blowback, it’s professional.

          If you warn someone that a mutual friend they are romantically interested in already in a relationship and lying about being single, you risk blowing up a friendship if they find out. You can decide to live with that possibility, and that you’re happy letting them be mad.

          If you contact a potential employee to let them know that your boss deliberately lied about the work environment, and warn them off the job, and your boss finds out, it could easily result in being fired, and a future bad reference for deliberately sabotaging their hiring process. For most people, that’s going to have a much more damaging effect on their life than having a friend or family member mad at the for calling them out for bad behaviour.

      2. nofelix*

        Unless it’s possible to persuade the director to be truthful, quitting is the only true high-road here. Sadly an option essentially unavailable to most of us.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I will talk out of both sides of my mouth.

      Ethically, I think that there is an issue here. In the greater good, you would not let a fellow human being walk into a mine field literally or figuratively speaking.

      Reality check. If we tell OP to call the person, OP could end up losing her job. Since OP wrote in and not the candidate, our first allegiance is to advise OP with an action plan that keeps OP employed first and foremost.

      Applied solution: I’d go with what Alison says. And I have. I did not ever hunt the candidate down to warn them, but if asked directly I did not lie to the candidate. My justification in part went this way, for me to tell the candidate what a bad place this is to work implies that I think the candidate is like me with similar skill sets. It could be that the candidate would be able to navigate in ways that I can’t foresee. The candidate may do better than I do with difficult people or the candidate may have leverage that I do not have and be treated with a deference that I do not receive.

      Should this person take the job, I would support them in any way possible. This is including encouraging them to find new work, IF they asked me about moving on.

      1. DoDah*

        “It could be that the candidate would be able to navigate in ways that I can’t foresee. The candidate may do better than I do with difficult people or the candidate may have leverage that I do not have and be treated with a deference that I do not receive.”

        This is so very true. We just interviewed and hired a guy. We gave him “hints” via questions during the interview: How do you succeed with no clear direction? How would you support 15 year-old technology with no budget? How would you handle a situation where your VP and the project owner could not work together?

        When he took the job I was surprised. It’s early days still–but he seems to be covered with sparkly unicorn magic. He is offered the deference of kings–it is mind blowing.

        1. Izzy*

          An applicant might be focused on getting the job that they don’t get the hints. The team of future coworkers who interviewed me asked me what I was looking for in a supervisor/manager and how I handled stress. I didn’t put those two together until after I worked there, and found out the supervisor was very stressful to work for. I had that magic too, until someone with more sparkle (or fresher sparkle) came along. Too much love in the beginning, in employment as in relationships, can be a red flag.

          1. Christopher Tracy*

            Too much love in the beginning, in employment as in relationships, can be a red flag.

            So very true. In my last division, my manager treated me like I walked on water – until I decided to leave for a better internal opportunity. Then everything I did from that point forward was shit and she wanted to try and take me down a few pegs.

    5. sstabeler*

      Basically, it comes down to the fact that if you actively say “This is a crappy employer” without the candidate asking, it looks like you want your employer to hire the wrong person for the job. That outweighs the moral issue of letting someone accept a job at a crappy employer, because only being able to attract bad candidates may well stop the employer getting better.

      If the candidate specifically asks, though, you aren’t expected to lie for your employer. So the person who originally lied to them is the one who takes the hit, morally speaking.

      1. Mike C.*

        The only thing holding me back is that if this candidate is hired without the additional knowledge, all trust will be lost because the OP never said anything. “Why did you lie to me?” will be a very difficult question to answer in the workplace.

        1. Izzy*

          Not sure if this fits here, but when my sparkle wore off and the boss who thought I hung the moon suddenly turned on me, I asked one of my coworkers why they didn’t warn me. “Would you have believed us?” was the reply. And he was right, I wouldn’t have.

        2. hbc*

          OP didn’t lie, though, and it sounds like the manager wasn’t saying something provably false like “We cover 80% of health insurance” when you really only cover 50%.

          I don’t think I’d come into a job and be pissed off that my coworker didn’t contradict his supervisor in the middle of our interview to say, “I guess it’s an open, friendly atmosphere–in that your feedback will be shouted across the open office and that you have to be friends with the powerful people to get ahead.”

        3. Not So NewReader*

          People have lied to me on interviews, yeah, great place, yep. I never held it against them. Does not mean everyone thinks like I do, of course, but usually by the time the new hire finds out how crappy the place is then the new hire has forgotten all about who said the place was great. In other words, there’s bigger issues than just that.

          Now if a cohort repeatedly crosses me over a period of time, then I might remember how they lied. The fact that they continued to cross me would be my focus of concern.

      2. Lynn Whitehat*

        “Crappy” is in the eye of the beholder, so I would never tell an applicant that the job is “crappy”, even if I was 100% immune from being fired (or didn’t care). It may be possible to thread the needle by giving facts about the job, but not assigning them any emotional weight.

        “We have twice-weekly 6 AM phone calls with our supplier in India.” “We support three groups with different priorities, and satisfying one often means disappointing another.” “We use proprietary software that is no longer being maintained.” Those are facts which the applicant can decide for themselves how much they care. And you didn’t tell them not to take the job, you told them there are early phone calls or whatever.

    6. Jen*

      I’ve recently been on the receiving end of “DON’T COME WORK HERE” advice.

      For background: I work for the federal government, and the hiring processes are very different than the private sector — in my field there’s an initial screening of your application, a written exam, an interview, the reference/security/languages check, and then the offer. If you’re in the running for a position with someone who didn’t actually participate in the hiring process, you can be asked to come in for a “right fit” interview.

      I passed all the stages of a process with a different department, and got word that I was being considered for positions in two different branches. The morning I was due to have my “please come work for me/no work for me!” meeting, I got a phone call from a director with a totally different branch who told me, “I know you’re going to get two offers, and I’ve seen your application and think you’re awesome, so I want to warn you — one of the directors is a crazy woman (his words), and I don’t want to see you get burned by that. Ask around, anyone will tell you, etc.”

      I spoke to a former manager of mine who said she was a “toxic sociopath” (again, his words), and said that she was the reason he fled that workplace. He said that she was worlds worse than the horrible director we had had, and to run from the offer.

      It’s a shame, because that offer was really interesting, but there were a whole list of other downsides to it, so I composed a very polite email that I had vetted by a few people and declined.

      I’m still in the pool for other possible jobs there, but I’m glad I had been given the head’s up and had a chance to do my own research before going over (not that I would have, since there were definitely other problems with the offers, but I’m glad to have been cautioned).

    7. Bob Barker*

      I would like to retroactively thank my coworker for engineering a situation in which she and I were able to “interview” our prospective new boss alone. Because the one candidate worth our time, we sat her down and told her ERRRRYTHING that was wrong with the job. In the interest of honesty and fairness.

      Made aware it would be a hard and thankless and full of shmucks job, she… took the job anyway. And negotiated a hell of a lot for both salary and title, so it was a good career step for her. (We’d made it clear there weren’t any other candidates besides her — or, none that would survive more than a week.) She wasn’t the strongest worker in the world, but she came in fully aware of what she would be dealing with, including the fact that she had two coworkers who would be brutally honest with her. And… you know, it was still hard and thankless and full of shmucks. But she lasted a year and a half and left on her own terms, and will be moving on to greater things.

      (And will hopefully hire me when she does.)

    8. designbot*

      One big test is, what are you willing to do out in the open where the employer can see it? It’s telling that the manager felt comfortable lying in front of you, but you certainly wouldn’t tell your company if you contacted this candidate.

  4. HMM*

    Op1: Fwiw, I’ve twice now quit my job without another one lined up, taken a break/spent my time job searching full time, and still been hired. Once it took 4 months, the other time it took 1.5 months. I don’t have particularly specialized skills either – mostly administrative, project management, event planning type skills.

    I’m not going to say that this is for everyone. I’ve set up my life to be able to do things like this. I have always had enough funds saved to get me through at least a year of unemployment and I don’t have a family to support or consult. I don’t live lavishly either, so I can have a huge financial cushion.

    I really like doing it this way, even though it’s a little risky, because I am someone who needs external motivation and pressure to get things done. Also the anxiety of not having a steady paycheck actually makes me look for a job. When I had a steady job I hated, the fact that it still paid the bills made it easy to blow off job searching after work. Plus, having time off from working was really nice and helped me clarify what I wanted from my next job – I would usually give myself a week or two with no pressure to find a job, then be refreshed enough to get down to business.

    The most important thing if your husband does this is to make sure you are truly able to do this without panicking. Even if it’s been several months of unemployment, you both need to be able to wait for a job that’s the right fit, otherwise you risk getting into an even worse employment situation out of desperation. You’ll feel anxious and stressed a lot of the time while job searching, and during interviews you’ll feel like it could be the end of the world if this job doesn’t pan out, but you still have to be able to walk away.

    1. New Bee*

      I think the only thing is the husband didn’t use the week he took off to actually look (and of course that isn’t much time to decompress from job stress, but it seems to be part of a pattern of him not following through), and the OP frequently references what “we” should do, which doesn’t suggest he’s prepared to actually job search independently. The OP said she’s tired of taking the reins, and I could imagine the strain the husband thinks he’s leaving behind at work being put on their marriage if he doesn’t actually job search (or doesn’t do it without his wife being involved) and they have to worry about running out of savings.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I think the husband needs a reality check, and if the couples’ finances can’t handle an extended period of unemployment, and/or the OP wants to make sure that her husband understands what is involved before he tries to job-search full-time. I would suggest that the OP suggest that before he makes this huge leap, he get his resume polished (professionally or not) and apply to 5 jobs. Kind of like making your dream of creating Teapot Playing Cards as a side business before you quit your job to pursue it full-time. Make sure that it’s viable, and that it’s what you thought it was. The OP’s husband needs this kind of a reality check with job searching.

        Of course, he may also need a week off to recover his equilibrium, but right now the issue facing the OP is that her husband thinks that he is ready to job search full time, when there are clear signs that he is not. I’m thinking that the resume and five applications is a good way to test those waters.

        1. myswtghst*

          I think this is a great suggestion – identifying a few reasonable goals and achieving them, then reassessing the situation. Husband might find he can make it work while still at current job, or at least make enough progress to ensure when he does leave current job, he’s not starting from scratch.

      2. AMT*

        I agree. The other thing is that he’s been at the same job for fifteen years and that might make his resume a little less desirable to employers. It’s not a dealbreaker, but it’s also probably not a “no worries, I’ll get a job in two weeks” situation.

        1. Kyrielle*

          That will depend on the industry and also on what he’s been doing – if he’s done the same thing all those years, yes. If he’s changed roles and responsibility – or even just had increasing responsibility – then in many industries it could be an advantage, or at least not a disadvantage. Although two weeks to a new job would be impressive just because of hiring timetables, in my experience, but the long tenure doesn’t have to be strictly a disadvantage.

        1. Jennifer*

          This just blew my mind.
          I hate that the “solution” is to let things fall apart, though. That makes it worse!

      3. anon for this*

        The OP said she’s tired of taking the reins, and I could imagine the strain the husband thinks he’s leaving behind at work being put on their marriage if he doesn’t actually job search (or doesn’t do it without his wife being involved) and they have to worry about running out of savings.

        So much YUP to this. My husband and I have been in this situation for over a year and half now (he left his job but has done nothing to seek new work, wants to change fields but is completely paralyzed, etc.) and it has definitely created an underlying strain and imbalance in our marriage that I hate but feel powerless to fix. To the OP, I would advise strongly encouraging him to remain in his current job while he looks for a new one, because him being unemployed and not doing anything to get out of it is going to be WAY more stressful for you (and him) than the current situation. And explain why – that you’re worried about finances, about it creating stress at home, etc. – while acknowledging and supporting his desire to find something else.

      4. Jennifer*

        Unfortunately I read this and thought, “husband just doesn’t wanna work any more and he’s going to make OP sole breadwinner while he vegetates.” I have been burned by this behavior before. Heck no, I wouldn’t let this guy quit to “job hunt” because he’s not going to.

    2. ThatGirl*

      You’ve been lucky and/or the economy has worked in your favor. You also have saved well to be able to do that.

      My husband left a toxic job that was putting him in some physical and plenty of emotional/mental health danger. He needed to leave. Unfortunately he did so at a time when the economy was tanking and it took him two years to find a new one. Granted he was being somewhat picky – in that he didn’t want to get back into another job he knew would be bad for him. But it was tough and we were lucky we could get by on my salary.

    3. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

      During the recession, I got laid off 3 times in three years. I’m an admin. First time, it took 3 months to find a new job. Second time, it was 9. Third time, it was nearly a year, and I had run out of unemployment and was sponging off my folks. Some people have jobs fall into their laps. I have never been one of those people. I’m job searching again. Have been for more than a year. I’ve only had one interview.

  5. Gaia*

    OP 5, to commiserate:

    On my first day at a new job one of my new coworkers asked me how old I was (we were comparing High Schools and graduation years). I blurted out 28 without even thinking. I had just turned 21. To this day I have no clue where that came from or why I said it. I was immediately obviously confused and corrected it. We all laughed and joked about how our brains get in the way of our intelligence at times.

    1. mander*

      When I was getting close to the end of graduate school I was feeling very sorry for myself for having wasted so much of my life on a useless degree. I was particularly annoyed that I was about to turn 40 the next month and didn’t have any career advancement to show for it.

      A year or so later I realized I was only 37 at the time.

      1. Jen RO*

        A friend of mine was convinced for 2-3 years that she was a year older than she actually was. We then had to explain to her that the first year of your life is “year 0″…

        1. Foxtrot*

          Oh, I think this is a cultural thing. Isn’t in some Asian countries count you as 1 as soon as you are born?

        2. brightstar*

          I once spent at least six months thinking I was a year older than I was. I’m not sure what happened, or if it was my dyscalculia playing into it, but I was sure I was 39 when I was actually 38. I was talking to my best friend (who’s six months older than me) and asked her how she felt about turning 40 She said she had over a year to go and my response was “Wait, so how old am I?” She still laughs at me about that.

          1. TootsNYC*

            I did this when I was 24–I would say I was 25 and then correct myself. The woman who worked for me thought it was funny, and she was the one who corrected me the most.

            Then I had a birthday, and at the work “party” (cake & juice), someone asked me how old I was. I promptly answered, “24.”
            I thought she was going to fall off her chair, she laughed so hard at me.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            I keep getting confused when I think about where a year ends–I’ve been my current age (51) for a year, but at the end of December, it’s a new year. But at the end of December, I’ve only been this age for seven months!

          3. NonProfit Nancy*

            Oddly enough, I did the exact same thing this year! I think the issue was that when I turned 31 I started thinking I was “almost 32” and then, having been almost 32 for a whole year it seemed right that I was now turning 33. Except I wasn’t – I was 32. My friends, who all knew my correct age, laughed at me when it came out – and I considered it an excellent birthday present to be younger than I thought I was!

          4. Marisol*

            I think the older you get, the easier this mistake gets. For me it’s my age, and remembering how I know certain people in my life: from a past job? From school? High school, or college? Were we from the same neighborhood? Etc. The social circles increase and expand exponentially.

      2. Karo*

        My mom once read a story about someone having done X by 35. My mother somehow did the math and decided that she (my mother, not the subject of the article) must be at least 52. She was about 45 at the time.

        We’re still trying to figure that one out.

    2. T3k*

      This reminded me of a time right after one of my birthdays, and I had to verify my age for something. A friend was with me at the time and I went “19! No, 20. No, wait, 21… I’m so sorry, I just had my birthday a few months ago.” I was half convinced the woman was going to make me whip out my license to prove my age at that point.

        1. LBK*

          I had a weird reverse version of that phenomenon, although not quite so far apart in age – for some reason I kept telling people I was 27 for the last 6 months despite the fact that I didn’t turn 27 until 2 weeks ago.

          1. Intrepid*

            I have a bit of both: in some corner of my head, I’m 23. Reality would kick in and remind me that I was 25, until I had my birthday– wherein that little voice jumped straight to “I’m 23! No, 27!” When did I learn to count again?

          2. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

            I do that all the time. I’ve found getting close to 40 cures that. I’ve remained 38 all year so far. (Birthday is in Dec)

        2. irritable vowel*

          Ha – for me it’s 19. That’s always the number that instantly jumps into my head when someone asks how old I am. Not that I would want to be 19 again AT ALL.

    3. Chloe Silverado*

      I did something similar! For some reason, on my 25th birthday I was convinced I was turning 26. I told multiple people it was my 26th birthday when they asked, and then I felt so weird about it that I never corrected myself. It was a little awkward the year after when I turned 26 again, but everyone just assumed they misheard me or misremembered the year before.

    4. Alton*

      As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been more prone to rounding my age up. Six months before my birthday, I’ll start thinking, ‘Man, I’m nearly 28. I’m practically 28….’ Then when my birthday roles around, I’m so used to thinking of myself as 28 that I think I’m turning 29.

      1. Adlib*

        I do that with my anniversary! As soon as 2016 came around, I started thinking we had been married 8 years even though our anniversary is in October. Now I keep thinking it will be 9 years in October when it will actually just be 8.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Ha, I’ve been rounding up to 9 most of the year (it will be 9 years in October) so much that I was half-convinced we were approaching 10.

      2. shep*

        This is exactly what I do too!

        Although now that I AM 28 and the “big” (I realize it’s not actually that big) 30 is looming the horizon, I’m REALLY holding on to 28. I may just turn 28 again next year. :)

        1. Purest Green*

          When I turned 27 I decided to start aging backwards. It didn’t work, but I also didn’t start decomposing at age 30 as society would have us believe, so that’s a plus.

          1. LBK*

            I hope the “30 = death” meme goes away soon. Most of my friends are over 30 and as far as I can tell, life gets better at that age because you’re more established and have more money to actually do everything you want to do. Not sure I see the appeal of being a broke 22-year-old sharing a crappy apartment with 3 strangers you met on Craig’s List forever.

            1. Kai*

              Agreed. I look forward to my thirties! Right now I’m 29 and it feels so fake, because I remember my aunts and grandmother always “turning 29…again” wink, wink. I hope to live a long time, so if 30 is supposed to be elderly, that seems pretty depressing.

            2. AnonEMoose*

              My 30s were so, SO much better than my 20s. I had more experience in the world and in the workplace, and so had more confidence and more ability to spot pitfalls. And you know what? So far my 40s are mostly rocking, too. Although I’ll admit it’s a bit weird when I realize that the guy ogling my cleavage at ren fair is young enough to be my kid.

            3. Kelly L.*


              The bad news is, my knee hurts. (Old injury, from when I was 20s and broke and couldn’t have it looked at.) The good news is, I have money and time and my own place all to myself and an idea of what I want in a friend or partner or job.

            4. NolongerMsCleo*

              I am 35, but keep thinking I’m 36, but so far my 30s have been WAY better than my 20s could have ever been. Although I had fun in my 20s, I’m truly happy in my 30s!

            5. (Another) B*

              I hope the “30 = death” meme goes away soon. Most of my friends are over 30 and as far as I can tell, life gets better at that age because you’re more established and have more money to actually do everything you want to do. Not sure I see the appeal of being a broke 22-year-old sharing a crappy apartment with 3 strangers you met on Craig’s List forever.


            6. AnotherAlison*

              30s aren’t bad, but somewhere in your late 30s you may realize, “This is just what I look like now.” I tend to look younger than I am, so it’s not too bad, but in my younger years my complaints have all been something that would change for the better (outgrowing acne) or I could change (lose 10 lbs). Now it’s like, well, I guess I have my mom’s knees forever now, even though the rest of my legs are perfectly fit and muscular. (The tradeoff of less youth for less caring what people think and more stability is totally worth it, though.)

            7. irritable vowel*

              I was thrilled to turn 30, because I felt like people were going to start treating me like an actual adult. And for the most part that was true. I also started taking myself more seriously instead of second-guessing everything, which was good. And when I turned 40, I noticed that I started standing up for myself more, and got way more comfortable saying no to people. Aging ain’t all bad! And I would argue that in fact, it’s mostly great. I wouldn’t go back to being in my 20s for anything!

            8. Nerfmobile*

              Yes! A co-worker had her 30th birthday late last year and was a bit sad about it. Another person and I (both well over 30) kept telling her how awesome it was to be 30 because you stopped worrying about what other people thought so much and your savings started to pile up (if you were doing it right) and you knew a lot more about what you really wanted out of life. Nothing wrong with being over 30 at all.

      3. Mona Lisa*

        This is exactly where I’m at, too! I keep forgetting if I’m turning 28 or 29 in a couple of weeks.

      4. Rebecca in Dallas*

        Yes, I spent several months telling people I was 30 when I was asked my age. I was 29, just rounding up in my head.

        1. caligirl*

          For a whole year, I was convinced I was a year younger than I really was. It was jarring to go from 42 right to 44!

    5. Not Karen*

      The other day at ren fair an employee asked me how old I was (to see if she should recommend the adult shows) and I took a moment to decide whether or not to tell her the exact number or just that yes, I was 21+, and I took so long to answer that she replied, “Are you sure?”

    6. AnotherAlison*

      I got confused the other day and asked my 12 year old something about remembering 9/11/01. He was born in ’04. My oldest was born in ’97, so I did have a small child running around when 9/11 happened, just not that particular child.

      1. Gaia*

        I was so confused why my nephew was asking about the news coverage like he didn’t remember the event.

        Until my sister reminded me he was born in 2008.

      2. NolongerMsCleo*

        My dad asked me a couple weeks ago if I was considering going to my 5 year college reunion. I told him, no I didn’t go, but my 15 is coming up and I’m not going to that one either.

      3. (Another) B*

        Aww. I can see what he meant though; I assume everyone who’s at least school-age remembers it… then I realize.

  6. Alienor*

    #4 Don’t know what sort of store this is, but it’s highly likely that the rule is for safety/liability reasons. I worked in retail for several years, and customers weren’t allowed in the store early because the overnight crew was restocking pretty much until the doors opened, and there were things in the aisles that they could have tripped over (boxes, flatbed carts, etc.) It won’t hurt them to wait outside for a few minutes–if they were that concerned about the store being open when they arrived, they could have looked up the hours before they went there.

    1. Lonris*

      I remember one morning when I was working retail, a guy was literally banging on the entrance doors to let him in. When I finally made eye contact, he made the “what’s the deal” gesture, and I pointedly looked at my watch and held up five fingers to indicate we opened in five minutes. He gave me the finger and walked away.
      It was a bookstore.
      I don’t know what he so desperately needed. Maybe the bathroom?

      1. neverjaunty*

        He desperately needed a lot of things, none of which are available from a bookstore. Common courtesy, for one.

      2. Murphy*

        I think sometimes people see you in there and assume “Well, you’re there, so obviously I can come in,” neglecting to consider all the things you usually need to get done before you open.

    2. TootsNYC*

      I also noticed this:

      You noticed these customers **during morning meetings**.

      Morning meetings are important, and having customers in the store during the meeting (and interrupting the meeting to let them in) is counterproductive.

      1. Amy G. Golly*

        Who knows – maybe these wayward customers are also wandering by around 3:00 am and being frustrated that the store is closed. Maybe this AM should just camp out in the store 24/7 to make sure that these poor folks who are somehow unable to comprehend the concept of “store hours” are never left unable to get into the building!

    3. Sketchee*

      Whatever the reason everyone is annoyed by waiting. It’s also pretty normal for customers to have to be patient and be required to wait. Most of us deal with the annoyances of life.

      It would be great if all stores would open whenever I felt like showing up. That’s not realistic or practical. So being overly accommodating beyond reason isn’t a stance to take in so many situations. Learn to be comfortable with the discomfort of others. It’s going to happen a lot in the world and we can’t save everyone.

      I’ve arrived at a store early or a restaurant late. It’s too bad when they’re closing. I’m reasonable and kind when they turn me away. If you wanted to do something, come out and thank them for their patience. A thank you is often better than an apology in these kinds of cases

    4. Rebecca in Dallas*

      This was so annoying when I worked in retail. The store hours are posted on the door. No, banging (or pulling) on the door won’t make it open any faster. Usually we were still opening the tills and there was money out.

    5. Sarah*

      When I worked at a big chain bookstore, we’d finish up our morning shelving around 10 minutes before the store opened and gather in the front for a quick company update and briefing on the various sales and promotions currently going on. By that point there were always half a dozen customers milling around outside the glass doors waiting to be let in. Some of them showed up 30 minutes early and sat in their cars or on a bench in the cold just to wait.

      I never understood why they felt the need to arrive 30 minutes before the store’s posted opening time when they could have stayed somewhere warm instead – the buses ran about every half an hour, if they were relying on that, and there was a Starbucks across the street that opened at 5 am where they could have gone to be warm. No idea why sitting around outside a store before opening time on any day other than, say, Christmas Eve or Black Friday is a thing.

      Our manager had them well trained, though. Some of them would peer inside, but not one of them ever knocked on the glass in all the time I worked there. The regulars didn’t even try the door since they already knew it would be locked.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      OP, don’t allow customers in the store before official opening time. Just don’t. Many retailers will accuse YOU of stealing. They will come up with some story so convoluted that you will not be able to refute it, and you will end up fired.

      From years of experience OP, you let customers in and they thank you by coming even EARLIER. Another thing that can happen is that you accidentally ring up a sale before opening time. Great, now it’s in the computer system. Someone, some where will find it and call your boss.
      It’s not worth the hassle no matter which way you look at it.

  7. Annonymouse*


    You might also open up your workplace to other problems that Alison didn’t mention.

    What if they want to make a purchase and you’re still in the morning meeting? Don’t they have to wait then?

    What if it’s a purchase small enough to take out of the store? If there’s no one to stop them or pay they might just take it “for the inconvenience”.

    What if someone gets injured or is engaging in dangerous behaviour? (I’m thinking children of customers here). Wouldn’t you be more liable as there was no one to stop them?

    I understand where you’re coming from, I’m big on customer service too. However you’ve got to weigh the minor inconvenience to the customer against the downsides to the company. It’s not worth it.

    1. Sherm*

      Yup, in all the retail places I’ve worked at, letting customers in early was very Not Done. You’re there before the customers for a reason, whether it’s to tidy up the shelves, get the cash registers ready, or whatever. If you have to attend to customers during that period, you can’t get those tasks done.

      1. KR*

        Cash registers were what I was thinking. We put all the drawers in 10 minutes to opening, sometimes less. Also, I need that time before opening to prep for the day and oftentimes don’t get a cashier in until we open. You might not mind, OP, but other departments might.

        1. LBK*

          Yeah, in the 3 stores I’ve worked at the morning tasks were pretty tightly scheduled because no one wanted to get there earlier than they had to. If you got into the store 15 minutes early, some departments that didn’t require setup probably wouldn’t even have associates in them yet.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        We had a thing at the cafe in CA called a merchant coffee–other people who worked downtown and in the shopping center with us could come in before we opened (through the back) and get a plain cup of coffee in a small to-go cup for a quarter. ONLY people who worked downtown–and one dude who didn’t (I disremember why at this point in my old age, LOL). So anytime we had a new person working days, we had to tell them, “That’s Wakeen. He will come in and get a merchant coffee every morning. Don’t give him any crap; just let him have it.”

        A ton of people hung around downtown at all hours of the day and night. So the merchant coffee thing was sort of hush-hush, to keep all the homeless and buskers and panhandlers from swarming us in the mornings when we were trying to open.

    2. Engineer Girl*

      Store hours are usually posted on the door. You can Google them. If people are looking frustrated it’s probably because they are frustrated with themselves that they didn’t plan properly to be at the store when it was open. If they get annoyed that the store is closed when it said it would be closed then they really aren’t the type of costumer you want to attract. Really. You don’t have a duty to be open to appease someone’s poorly planned whims.
      And you know what? If you open at 8:45 they’ll be knocking at your door at 8:35. Some people just push boundaries.

        1. Robin B*

          In high school I worked at Thom McAn, and every morning I worked there were customers waiting outside the gates for us to open. 90% of the time they held bags– they were always returns. When we did let them in, they’d be angry because we had no cash to give refunds that early. (Many of the shoes had been worn the night before for a party or something, but that’s another story.)

            1. Sparky*

              My favorite story about my father concerns the time he was working as a manager of a restaurant in Louisiana in his mid-20s, which would have been about 1975. One morning he had just opened and a guy came in for breakfast. He then tried to pay for his $5 breakfast with a $50 bill. My dad didn’t have enough change in the till to break the $50, so he told the guy not to worry about it, and then my dad put $5 in the till to cover the guy’s breakfast.
              After the guy left, the cook came out and said, “Do you know who that was? That was Terry Bradshaw!” My dad didn’t watch football, so he could not care less about who it was, he was just annoyed that he’d lost $5.

              My goal in life is to meet Terry Bradshaw and demand he pay back that $5.

      1. SusanIvanova*

        Yep, “notalwaysright” and similar websites are full of tales of customers who get upset when the store isn’t open when they get there, whether it’s 15 minutes to opening or just 1. And then once they’re inside they continue to act like thwarted toddlers. Nothing will make them happy.

        1. Engineer Girl*

          I just went over to that website and found the “not always closed minded” series that is a perfect example of people who don’t get it.

        2. DataMonkey*

          Yea – when I worked in retail in a store in the mall, customers who arrived early would knock on the glass doors to be let in. I couldn’t let them in early due to the store’s policy and they would get really upset even though I explained the reason when the store opened.

          I don’t have a solution for you, OP. Just sympathy as it’s a bit annoying to have to listen to complains the first thing from customers!

        3. Elizabeth West*

          You get the same thing at garage sales. I set my last one up inside the garage so I could just open the door and pull a few large items out. And I put a sign at the end of the driveway with a barrier that said, “NOT OPEN YET.” When I got set up and got the door open, I turned the sign around to “SALE NOW OPEN” and moved the barrier.

          I have no qualms about telling people I’m not ready yet, and I didn’t give two sh!ts if they liked it or not. The next sale I have will be when I move (please universe let it be soon), and I plan to do the same thing.

          1. Grapey*

            I was the opposite way – my yard sales were just so people could give me cash for crap I didn’t want anymore! Early birds were willing to give me money without haggling so I totally took it!

      2. Lindsay (Not a Temp Anymore)*

        This. OP, PLEASE on behalf of all retail workers everywhere, manage these people’s expectations and teach them that the store opens when it opens.

        If your hours are clearly posted on the door, there’s no reason to peer in unless they’re trying to find someone to guilt into letting them in early. They’re being rude here, not you.

        1. Snarky Librarian*

          Yes. This so much. I worked retail for many years and we all dreaded working with an assistant manager like this. We had specific morning tasks to complete and if we had a morning meeting we had to actually attend the meeting, and weren’t available to help customers then! If OP thinks customers are irritated at having to wait until opening how does she think they feel if she lets them in early and there is no one on the floor to help them or ring up their purchases??

          I’m really shocked that the OP thinks that is good customer service, ignoring store policy and setting up her staff to fail when they have to scramble by trying to do morning duties, attend a store meeting AND wait on angry customers. The people that bang on store windows before opening hours and demand to be let in early are not the most reasonable people to deal with.

    3. iCoffeePot*

      Plus you might be setting up your other shift coworkers to some unwritten standards they didn’t know they have to match. The customer will complain vocally “Hey that other person always opens up for me early. This other store attendant is doesn’t. Fire him/her!”

    4. MK*

      I really don’t understand why the OP thinks this is a bad policy. All stores have opening hours, all customers know that, and no one but an entitled jerk would be annoyed that the staff are’t rushing to open early just because they happened to arrive too soon.

      That being said, I understand that the optics of a store full of staff and customers waiting outside isn’t great, which is why most stores I know keep the blinds down till they open.

      1. Myrin*

        I agree completely. I honestly don’t even understand what there is to “disagree” with – if a store or any other kind of public venue opens at a certain time, then it opens at a certain time; that is not some kind of unethical injustice that would better be abolished or else the reins of terror are going to take over, it is simply how things are. Barring someone being chased by an axe murderer and trying to flee into your store, I don’t see any good reason to open your doors before the official opening time which is usually clearly communicated.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          The customers may not be add aggravated as OP thinks, either. I sometimes arrive at a store without knowing the opening time, and it always seems that their posted hours are too small for me to see from the car. So I get out and check to see if they’re open, then read the hours posted on the door, and if they’re opening within a few minutes, I go back to my car to wait. Maybe the looking in the door to see if they’re open reads as “impatient customer” to the staff, but I’m not. I know that stores have hours and I don’t expect to be let in early.

          1. paul*

            I do this a lot, particularly smaller stores that don’t have functional websites.

            On a related note, why the heck don’t stores and other public places post up their hours in large signage that’s easy to read from the road?

          2. Anon13*

            Yep, same. Or, sometimes in cases of a shorter wait, I don’t bother going back to my car, I just wait outside the store. I’ve worked in retail quite a bit, so I know there definitely are some impatient people, but some people really don’t mind waiting and don’t expect the store to open early.

            1. SarcasticFringehead*

              And it’s entirely possible that I’ll look annoyed when I’m waiting outside, but maybe I’m annoyed that I forgot to check the hours, or that somebody hasn’t texted me back. Or maybe that’s just my face, because my neutral face shades toward “spectacularly pissed off” real quick if I’m not paying attention.

          3. Kyrielle*

            This! Very much this. If the weather’s nice, and it’s not long to opening, I may stand around just outside the doors. Not because I expect to be let in early, but because I plan to walk in as soon as they do open.

            The only aggravating thing involved in the process, to me, is the hours being too small to be read from a distance…and somehow they almost always are. There’s one place in town, I think, where I can read the hours without getting out of my car.

          4. Meg Murry*

            Yup, this is me too. I could totally see how “squinting at the tiny print of the open hours in sun glare” could look like “annoyed customer” to someone inside. I promise, I’m not annoyed that you aren’t open before your posted hours – I’m just annoyed that I can’t read your posted hours at a glance.

            That said, if the hours on the store don’t match information available online, OP could point out that *that* is annoying customers, but customers aren’t entitled to enter 15 minutes before the store is scheduled to open just because the employees are there – the store opens when it opens.

      2. Jaydee*

        My guess is it’s just a lack of experience and thinking “oh, this is just something nice to do for a few of our customers” not realizing that EVERY store ever has had customers looking cranky outside their door 15 minutes before their clearly posted opening time.

      3. Coffee and Mountains*

        Could you imagine the online review? They are supposed to open at 9:00. I got there at 8:45 and the doors were locked and they wouldn’t let me in. :(

        1. Rusty Shackelford*


          It wouldn’t say that, though. It would say “I got there just a minute or two before opening time, and they wouldn’t let me in. They were all just STANDING THERE, right in front of the door, doing absolutely nothing, and they wouldn’t let me in!”

    5. mander*

      If they got there early it’s their problem. Maybe they were in the area anyway and decided to just wait outside instead of doing something else for that 15 minutes. If they complain as they come in, so what — your hours are clearly posted, right? It’s not reasonable to expect a store to open early just because it’s more convenient, and it’s not reasonable for you to feel guilty because people “look frustrated” because of your opening hours.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Plus, if I were OP’s manager, I’d be fairly aggravated that the OP is basically training the customers into behavior that is going to be a PITA for everyone else. OP should really listen to their manager on this and just follow company policy. And learn to be a little more comfortable with some customers grumping about it.

    6. LBK*

      Totally agreed – if the store isn’t open yet, it’s usually because it’s not ready to serve customers yet, not because the staff had everything ready to go an hour ago and has just been sitting around twiddling their thumbs until 9am. I understand the impulse to want to help people, but consider all the pragmatic issues Annonymouse brought up and realize that you’re likely not really going to be helping the person, you’ll just be stacking additional frustration because they had to wait to be let in AND then there was no one in any department to help them yet AND the cash registers weren’t set up yet and so on. Don’t do it and don’t feel bad that people can’t read numbers on a sign or sit and be patient for 10 minutes. Customers aren’t entitled to anything outside of your store policy.

    7. LQ*

      As a customer who will patiently wait (if I want to go to a store first thing on Sunday the bus gets me there 15 minutes early or so, I’m happy to wait, I’ve got podcasts) it makes me crabby when people reward the bad and demanding behavior of people who can’t understand that the staff have things to do. Stop rewarding people for bad behavior (and realize plenty of those people aren’t that aggravated, usually that’s a minimal number and you can keep it minimal by sticking to the normal schedule).

      This isn’t actually better customer service.
      (And please take very seriously the liabilities and legalities!)

    8. Annonymouse*

      Also you can bet your ass if something goes wrong during those extra 15 minutes that the boss is going to hold you responsible and if what happens is severe enough you can get written up or even fired.

      A customer ringing the service bell. Constantly. While you are trying to do your meeting / opening procedure

      People stealing things because the doors are unlocked and there is no staff around.

      Someone tripping over something not cleaned up yet that was scheduled to be done in those 15 minutes. That’s a lawsuit waiting to happen right there.

    9. TootsNYC*

      Also–they’re not entitled to come into the store until the store is open. No matter how badly they want to.

      Just because people want things doesn’t mean your company is rude to not give them those things.

      I’m wondering if there are other areas in your life that you tend to over-accommodate in. Be sure to stand up for yourself!

    10. AndersonDarling*

      When I ran data for a retailer, if a store rang purchases before the opening time, the sale would fall into the previous day’s sales. Not great.
      And if the store rang sales before the grand opening, then the system would automatically set the store to operational status. That was a nightmare.

    11. Whats In A Name*

      I also think that this has a bad chance of snowballing out of control – 10 minutes early becomes 20 minutes early becomes 30 minutes early. Especially when customers are repeaters.

  8. Hattie McDoogal*

    OP4, as long as your hours are clearly posted, just let the customers wait. It’s pretty annoying for your staff for you to be letting customers in early – presumably you and they are scheduled to start when you do (before you open) because you have duties to attend to before the store opens. I used to work in a very popular restaurant that always had people lining up before we opened. Staff were scheduled to start anywhere from one to four hours before we opened, because we had shit to do to get ready for customers. There was one manager who often took it upon himself to let them in early, which caused no end of headaches for us (even if we happened to have everything ready, because sometimes those 5-10 minutes before the orders start pouring in are the only time all shift you’ll have a chance to get something to drink/go to the bathroom/go for a cigarette).

    1. T3k*

      This. I worked at a tiny company that had set hours. Admittedly, they were slightly different (like 10-6, instead of 9-5) but the owner was the one who, despite having set the hours, would let people in early, or answer the phone before we officially opened. I lost track of how many times I tried to explain to her that if you do that, the customer is going to get stuck thinking we open at that time and will get irritated when another employee down the road doesn’t let them in until opening time. Plus, the reason I showed up 10-15 minutes early was so I had time to prepare myself for the day, NOT to get straight to answering phones where they most likely ask a question I don’t know the answer to and the one who does isn’t in yet. So many headaches…

    2. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Depriving the staff of their rightful prep time is also no way to have them in the right frame of mind for good customer service. It’s a good way to set up a dynamic where they start off the day resenting the customer and potentially carry that frame of reference forward for the rest of the shift. Good boundaries that let customer service reps have a little control over their day leads to better customer service from them.

      1. Joan Callamezzo*

        This is a really good point. Not retail, but I used to staff a business where I had to open up at 8 AM. When people started pounding on the door at 07:45 because they heard me moving around inside, or the phone started ringing incessantly at 07:55, I was irritable for at least the first hour of my shift and I’m sure my customer service skills suffered. It’s a bad way to start the day.

    3. Joseph*

      That prep time is required to get things ready. Think about it like this: Those employees are getting paid normal hourly wage for arriving early, at a time when there is no revenue coming in because the doors are closed. Your owner, who is typically tight with a buck (most successful owners are), is willing to pay for this time because he recognizes the importance of having everything prepared. In letting customers in early, you’re short-circuiting that process – so when a day comes that prep work takes longer than normal (e.g., big delivery, trouble with the register, staff member stuck in traffic, etc), you’re going to be stuck because you won’t have that little extra bit of float room to finish things up before customers get in.

    4. E*

      What about the scheduled work hours for employees? Allowing customers in early could end up requiring employees who aren’t supposed to be on the clock yet to have to clock in to help the customers.

      There’s a ton of valid reasons why the employees should stick to the posted hours of operation for a business, and customers can wait a few minutes.

    5. Kelly L.*

      Yep. Customers who come in early are going to find that the cash drawer isn’t in yet, or boxes of shipment are all over the place.

  9. Canton*

    OP1, is there an option for your husband to change his schedule so that he only works 4 days a week? That will give him a day for interviews and to recharge his batteries. He can just say he needs to do it for personal reasons.

    1. KayDay*

      This is exactly what I was about to suggest. Not just to re-charge, although that’s certainly an option, but this way he could also devote a specific period of time, when he is normally working, to apply to jobs. Even a half day off per week would give him a solid chunk of time (when he’s still in “work mode”) to search/apply.

    2. Bellatrix*

      It crossed my mind as well, but only if his job can easily accommodate that. If his workplace will have to make special arrangements to cover for him and then he tells them he’s leaving a couple of weeks after implementing the new schedule, that’s kind of going to suck.
      But I certainly understand how difficult this must be for him. I remember being so worn out from OldJob I couldn’t even update my resume – but I did and got out. It’s often not so much about time per se, but energy: a toxic workplace drains your willingness to do anything.

    3. It'sOnlyMe*

      I was going to suggest something similar. Instead of leaving his job, is there any way your husband can take a leave of absence for a few months, or use unpaid sick leave, or family leave etc to take an extended break? He can then recharge his batteries, job search and still have a tie to his employer while searching to show he is currently employed.

      Job searching is daunting for the experienced, for someone who has never had to job search I imagine it is difficult to even know where to start. I would suggest finding a professional to help put together a great resume and finding someone (yourself, a friend, the AAM book, a recruitment agency) to actually help lay out a guide as to what a job search actually looks like in 2016.

      It’s challenging. Good luck and I hope it works out well for you both.

      1. Temperance*

        This isn’t for sick or family leave reasons, though, and seems like it would be an unethical use of either.

        1. anonderella*

          “I’m *sick* of this job and my *family* wants me to *leave* it.”

          : )
          (I do agree with you – no sleep and I feel cheeky..)

        2. Science Teacher*

          Mental health reasons could qualify. Maybe seeing a therapist/counselor would help him find some clarity on his situation as well.

        3. It'sOnlyMe*

          That’s why I said Unpaid Leave, I don’t think is unethical at all. And if OP’s husband is struggling, there’s his mental health to consider as well.

          I was commenting quickly as I was on break but what I meant was generally speaking, can he use leave – any leave – to take time off. By using leave, technically he is still employed and can reference that he is employed while he is actively searching; and there’s a job to fall back to if he doesn’t find something else. And he may keep his benefits, contacts etc. When possible, I would try to stay employed while looking.

      2. Lauren*

        Or does he have enough vacation where he can take one day off per week (Monday or Friday) for several weeks and designate those his job-hunting days? It will just look like three-day weekends to his current employer and if he is working with a resume writer and/or headhunter that will give the professionals time to work and then they can consult on his day off.

    4. Mints*

      I don’t know how comfortable he is lying, but he could also make up a recurring appointment. Like leaving every Wednesday a couple hours early for “allergy shots” or a “chiropractor.” The structure might help.

    5. Golden Lioness*

      Or go to a 30 hr schedule where he leaves early every day. That way he’s still there 5 days a week, but still has enough time to recharge, fill applications and interview.

  10. Stellaaaaa*

    OP1: Take it seriously that your husband has never had to look for or even really apply for a professional job. It’s not surprising that he hasn’t made any headway on his own – He likely doesn’t know how to look for a job. He’s never had to use his resume. He needs to be walked through the process.

    1. Liane*

      And–this is no reflection or you–as his wife, you are probably the wrong person to be his coach (same for his mom). He needs someone who both knows how it is done and for whom the search isn’t personal.

      Good luck to you both.

      1. Rat Racer*

        This is so very true. I’ll share some of my own experience here and say that my spouse was in a miserable job at a “hanging on by its fingernails” company for five years and actively talked and hypothesized about quitting for the last two of them. Fear of rejection – and also inertia – kept him from moving forward, despite all his career success before this awful job. And it drove me batty to hear him talk about how unhappy he was and never do anything about it.

        I learned that any prodding – no matter how gentle, or how logical it seemed – totally backfired. It was impossible for him to see me as an objective party, and my oppositional stance to the status quo gave all his anxiety about rejection and change someone to rally against. So, I just let it drop (with very gritted teeth and a lot deep breaths).

        He had to come around on his own. And eventually he applied to and found a new job on his own volition and timeline, and he is SO much happier, (as am I, and our children and our dog). My point is that – and here’s just an opinion based on my own experience – you can’t carry this stone for him. He has to decide that leaving is what he wants and dredge up the gumption to make it happen on his own.

        But the whole “quit first and then start looking” idea is insane. And as a business partner in the corporation of your marriage, I think you’re on very firm ground to vote “no” on this strategy.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          And as a business partner in the corporation of your marriage, I think you’re on very firm ground to vote “no” on this strategy.

          I like this.

    2. Sketchee*

      I would seriously suggest getting Allison’s ebook on the subject. It was written especially for cases just like this!

    3. cleo*

      This. I highly recommend finding a good career coach or career/outplacement center that can provide him structure and a road map. A peer accountability group for job hunters might be really good for him too.

      The job market has changed so much that most everything he kind of knew 15 years about job hunting is outdated. When I was laid off after 16 years at the same job, I kept saying that I felt like Rip Van Winkle. The job hunting world had changed without me paying any attention to it.

      In Chicago, The Career Transition Center has coaching, peer groups and workshops for people like your husband who are mid-career and looking to change jobs and/or fields. It was a life-saver for me. I assume other cities have similar organizations.

  11. "Computer Science"*

    #4, I’m not sure of the end result here- are you trying to prevent your customers from being unhappy you’re adhering by your posted hours? Bypassing your manager’s wishes creates a wealth of other issues: your staff need to be prepared to open fifteen minutes earlier than normal, and your clients will have a skewed understanding of how your business operates.

    It’s normal for customers to be upset about everything. Adhering to your posted hours of operation isn’t something to apologize for. Your customers will deal with the minor, justifiable, ridiculous inconvenience.

    1. Candy*

      “It’s normal for customers to be upset about everything.”

      Seriously. If you make them wait, they’ll be upset. If you let them in, they’ll be upset that things aren’t set up and ready for them to shop. Or those who showed up on time will be upset others were let in early. There is really no winning in retail. And if your hours are clearly posted on the door there is absolutely nothing wrong with unlocking them at the stated time.

      In every customer service job I’ve ever had people waited outside in the morning to be let in, just ignore them. They’re not as upset about it as you think. But you know who will be if you keep letting them in? Your staff. Your opening staff have jobs to do — counting cash, refilling stock, etc — that is intended to be done without the distraction or liability of customers, let them do it. Opening staff are scheduled to start work before opening hours for a reason.

      1. LBK*

        +100 to your second paragraph. Your employees are scheduled at a certain time based around certain expectations for how much time they’ll have to prepare before customers are let in. Don’t mess with that unless you want to cause huge resentment – and resentment from your employees is a lot worse because you’ll see them every day, versus a mildly disgruntled customer who might never come back anyway.

      2. Joseph*

        “Your opening staff have jobs to do — counting cash, refilling stock, etc — that is intended to be done without the distraction or liability of customers, let them do it. Opening staff are scheduled to start work before opening hours for a reason.”
        Yeah. I said this upthread, but the reason that your owner is willing to pay for people to work at a time when there are no customers (i.e., no money coming in!) is because the owner recognizes that some tasks just can’t be done properly when customers are running around.
        The absolute worst case scenario here is cleaning: You are opening the company up to a major liability claim if a customer slips due to an employee washing the floor or gets sick from the cleaning chemicals or the like. Because the insurance company and/or customer’s lawyer will rip you apart when they realize that the store was directly ignoring its’ own policy on doing such tasks primarily when the store is closed.

    2. Temperance*

      YEP. I will never forget when I was opening the restaurant at the hotel where I worked (at 6:00 a.m.) and a man followed me in through the restaurant and then threw a fit because I didn’t have any coffee ready. We didn’t open for 30 minutes.

      1. the gold digger*

        In his defense, it was 6 a.m., he was stuck at a hotel, and he was in desperate need of coffee. No excuse for rudeness, but man, I can see the dilemma, having been a business traveler who is already miserable and JUST WANTS A DARN CUP OF COFFEE.

        1. Temperance*

          There was a 24-hour gas station right across the street that would have loved to serve him a coffee. It was also a weekend, and he was up early, by choice, for a run (which I only know because he made it clear to let me know that he needed coffee BEFORE HIS RUN).

          1. the gold digger*

            Then he was completely wrong. Who gets up that early on a weekend? And who can drink a cup of coffee before going out for a run, especially in a strange place where he doesn’t even know where the public restrooms were? He sounds like a jerk.

              1. the gold digger*

                Saw that! I was in Aix en Provence (did I spell that properly?). It was the middle of the afternoon, broad daylight, on a main street – and this guy just unzipped, took it out, and did his business.

                1. Panda Bandit*

                  Lol, that’s amazing! He couldn’t have gone to a quiet side street? Google says you spelled it right, btw.

            1. Temperance*

              It was so strange! Especially the coffee part!

              Also, my college town didn’t really have public restrooms, especially not at 6 AM!

          2. AnonEMoose*

            Most hotels in my area have coffee makers right in the room. It may or not be good coffee, but it’s coffee.

      2. Whats In A Name*

        Don’t most hotels have coffee makers in the room anyways? Or at least little community stations that are usually available 24/7?

  12. Kathlynn*

    Yeah, I think op1’s husband needs to talk it out with someone, and get an actual plan in place. Maybe that is op1’s, or some type of therapist/coach. The OP and her husband have my sympathy, as I spent almost 7 years at a job I hated (also straight out of school) . I almost always wanted a new job, but never had the attention span, energy, or time needed. Luckily my tiny network got me a new job. Not the best place, but my stress levels are lowest they’ve been in a long time.
    Hope the op1’s finds a good job soon.

  13. Nina*

    OP #1: Sounds like a lack of motivation. Job searching is trying under any circumstances, but I get why OP is frustrated. OP said that they’ve been through this for years and she herself has job searched while employed and unemployed, so it’s not like this process is new.

    For whatever reasons husband has not tried applying elsewhere, quitting to job search just feels like a band-aid. If he had time off to complete his resume and didn’t even do that, then it doesn’t make quitting his job entirely look so good. And it’s one thing if he actually buckles down and looks for a job, it’s another if he’s waiting for the “dream job” to materialize. Either way, they can drain their savings very quickly.

    1. Michelle*

      Plus, if husband quits and nothing happens for awhile, that could cause even more procrastinating and possibly even depression. Job searching while depressed is HARD.

      OP#1 needs to think about how resentful she *might* feel if the husband quits and ends up using all of their savings .

      1. AndersonDarling*

        I’m also wondering how the OP will feel if the husband hasn’t found a job in a year. My husband was unemployed for 2 years, that was our entire marriage plus some more. There were many times I thought we were done because I couldn’t take the strain.
        The husband needs to understand what will happen if he doesn’t find a job in a few months. Not just finances, but the marriage.

  14. Tau*

    So #5 happens to me all the time, with me saying some sort of nonsense or something that’s not true by accident. The situation you mention is very familiar to me – the question was phrased in a leading way, making it clear that a given answer is expected (in this case, “yes my kids are in kindergarten”), you’re under stress, your brain decides it doesn’t have the power to actually parse the question and figure out a response in an appropriate timeframe and so instead just tosses back the answer they’re clearly expecting. Whoops! So, you know, you’re definitely not the only one.

    I’ve found that if you try to correct yourself immediately it’s not a big deal – “oh, whoops, I have no idea why I said that! I meant X.” This is obviously no longer possible, but even so I think Alison’s way is the best way to go. Correct it if it ever comes up again, be aware that it’s quite possible it won’t and that the person has long forgotten your comment (or that they remember “X’s youngest is in kindergarten” but not from where they know that, so that if you correct them they’ll just assume theymisremembered something somewhere along the line). Reaching out proactively in any way would just make it a way bigger deal than it needs to be.

    1. OP #5*

      My brain is telling me that I need to rush in there and make it obvious right away that I messed up, and another part of it is telling me to never bring a photo of her near the place, lol! I needed this middle of the road REAL advice as to how to handle it.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        I definitely wouldn’t worry about the photo thing (or misspeaking the child’s age in general).

        I have coworkers that I may have worked with for a couple years on one project years back, and then I don’t see them again for years until I bump into them in the break area. I had a coworker ask me how my baby was doing. My baby was probably around 10 at the time of that convo, but he was a toddler when we were on the project team together.

        More recently, I’ve had my boss ask me about my older son, and the way the question is phrased, I have to redirect that he is in college now. . .even though he I spent all spring talking nonstop about graduation, senior stuff, etc.

        People at work aren’t keeping up with your kids’ stuff.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        LOL I totally understand that impulse, but you’re overthinking it. It will be fine. :) No one is going to equate a conversational brain fart with an actual professional mistake. Anyone who would is a loon.

  15. WayOfTheTeacup*

    OP 1: I also couldn’t convince myself to get serious about job searching, so I quit my job so I can focus properly on it. AND THEN I realised how stupid the action was when the job offers did not in fact come running into my inbox (that was the most sobering and worst part) and I was faced with the very harsh reality that money will not be coming in at the end of the month. Nothing like THAT to make you get serious about job searching and applying everyday. I definitely spent all my jobless months searching the job sites everyday and applying to more offices than I had thought I would have to.
    Seriously though, if I could turn back time, I would definitely have not quit my job until I found a new job. And I don’t even have dependents on my income!
    Also, I think job searching while you have a job is also far less depressing. A refusal to hire can be scoffed off with “Well at least my boss is still hiring me and paying me wages” as opposed “OMG nobody wants me I am worthless”. (I never thought I would sink into job searching depression, but I did.)

    I’d say don’t quit his job first. At the very least, try writing the resume and applying for some jobs first to test out the market and how desirable your husband is (hiring wise). Baby steps.

  16. iCoffeePot*

    #5 – LOL totally know how you feel. Sometimes in that kind of conversation, where you are super nervous and stuff, words just sometimes come tumbling out. It’s like the verbal form of watching yourself drive down a cliff.
    At least you just said something of not much consequence as opposed to an offensive joke!

  17. Kat*

    For op1, I wouldn’t spend money on a resume writer or job coach. In a whole week, he couldn’t “update” his resume? As in, he didn’t even have to write it from scratch? What did he do with his time off? Because that’s what he is going to do full time when he quits without a job lined up. If you don’t want to hold his hand, I suggest an industry recruiter – who won’t get paid until they find your husband a job.

    1. Stellaaaaa*

      Yeah…plus, it’s one thing to add new skills and update his job title, but after 15 years in his only post-college job, how much updating is really necessary? We’re not talking about a major reformatting. He only has one job to add.

      1. chickabiddy*

        Alternatively, since he hasn’t needed to show a resume anywhere for 15 years, it might actually require much more than an update and polish to make it competitive. I’m not really defending the lack of action in the planned job-hunting week, but he may be starting pretty much from scratch and need a *lot* more guidance than most mid-career folks. I agree that a investment in a book, career coach, therapist, industry association membership, etc. is likely a better use of funds than quitting and living off savings.

        1. LBK*

          Yeah, even if it’s just adding “one job,” that job should probably take up a substantial amount of his resume considering it accounts for the majority of his professional experience (or at least all of his recent experience, if he’s older and has 30+ years of career history total). It is fairly akin to starting his resume from scratch, assuming he literally hasn’t updated it at all since he got his current job.

      2. Jack the Treacle Eater*

        “In a whole week, he couldn’t “update” his resume?”

        “We’re not talking about a major reformatting. He only has one job to add”

        There seems to be some impatience and intolerance here, and perhaps in the OP. ‘What, you couldn’t even do that little task?’

        I’ve learned from recent experience that the way CVs / resumes are done now is utterly different in content to the way they were done 15 years ago. Yes, you could just jot down the extra job – but it won’t help you find a new one.

        The OP’s husband almost certainly needs to review all his experience, particularly that from his current job, and assess his skills, strengths and achievements. If he’s not sure what a new job looks like, he probably needs to put time into understanding his values, interests and motivators.

        If he’s going to do what’s recommended, and target a resume to a specific job, resume writing may not even be job 1. Before all that, he needs to understand the way the current job market works. And if he’s never really had to job hunt, he’s probably totally lost to start with. If he really is demoralised and demotivated, he’ll be finding it very difficult to know where to start.

        Been there, done that. I was eventually able to access a career coach, and found it completely invaluable.

        1. Temperance*

          It *is* a little task, though, when you consider the fact that he had at least 40+ hours, plus whatever he would have spent commuting, to do it. Or even, I don’t know, research current resume styles.

        2. Mockingjay*

          I think there needs to be separation between the job search and their personal life. Treat it as a business problem. Hire a resume writer who can give objective feedback. (You hire plumbers to fix problem pipes. Same thing here – hire a professional to help with the problem.) Suggest the husband write a business plan for the job search, breaking the search into manageable steps. (The same as he would in his job.) Resume, market research into desired field and salary, list of job sites, LinkedIn profile, etc.

          Reframing the situation from personal to business might allow a different, more productive mindset for both the husband and the OP.

      3. Colette*

        It’s not just typing the job title and dates – he needs to figure out what he’s accomplished in that job, and that’s not trivial when it’s a long term job. It’s entirely possible it’s overwhelming.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          And when you’re disheartened and depressed from being stuck in a bad job for so long, it’s even harder to make yourself believe that you can even do it properly.

          1. Meg Murry*

            Yes, I’m willing to bet the husband is so beat down by his current job, working on his resume just sends him into a “I’m never going to get out of this situation! This is hopeless!” spiral. And even more so if he has a case of impostor syndrome resulting from bad bosses telling him he’s terrible/hopeless/useless/not good enough, etc.

            Plus if he’s been exhausted and overworked lately, I could easily see how the first week off in a long time could turn into a week dealing with all those other little things that he hadn’t gotten around to in a long time, or doing activities he enjoys that he hadn’t done in a long time.

            I agree with others that before quitting he would be better off working with a professional to help him update his resume, or a therapist to help him get into a better frame of mind. Or just go have coffee with some of his former co-workers that have since left his current toxic workplace to talk to them about how they got out and how to get there.

            The other more general advise I have for the husband is to set aside the resume and just sit down with a notebook and pen (or a blank document if he really hates writing by hand). Now think about if one of his references (that liked him!) were called – what would they say about him? Write that down. What if his boss was trying to take credit for his work accomplishments? Write that down. What if he was trying to make a sales pitch for why his company should get the contract for a new big job, why should they hire him and his department over another company? Put that down too. I’ve found that, especially when I’m in an impostor syndrome spiral, I can’t find a way to brag about my accomplishments – but I can if I think about it in terms of what my boss, co-workers or customers would say about me.

  18. Nico m*

    #2 thing is, a Good or Adequate candidate is also going to suffer in the crappy job. Are you going to helpfully sabotage every application?

    1. Tammy - OP #2*

      Thanks for your advice, Alison! While a small part of me is somewhat relieved to read that in some universe I have a duty to my employer not to sabotage the hiring process, I still feel extremely guilty for not reaching out to this candidate. (They took the job.) I know little about my future coworker besides suspecting that they have a significantly different personality to mine, and it’s possible they may not be as frustrated by our workplace as I and others are.

      Glassdoor hadn’t occurred to me, but I am going to follow up on there when I transition out of this position, though I am concerned that the small size of our organization (eight or so employees) will make my feedback, despite our high turnover, easy to trace. Our director has benefited from that, I think — small workplace, plus morale is so low that when people leave they tend not even to care enough to give feedback, they just want the heck out ASAP. Though I know I seem gripey here, I actually value the work my organization does and it’s too bad that people are either too scared, too burnt out or too ticked off by the time they leave to offer constructive (or any) criticism.

      1. sunny-dee*

        My previous department has horrible morale because of awful, awful management. We had one woman who kept recruiting coworkers from her former workplace because, she claimed, that previous workplace was even more toxic than hours, so they’d be better off. Except … they weren’t. Her first recruit started saying a week into the job that she had made a horrible mistake leaving her other place. I heard that two more people who came after I left were similarly shocked and unhappy (though I don’t know if they were as unhappy as Recruit #1). Everyone in our department was baffled that she kept trying to bring on former coworkers because the rest of us wouldn’t do that to our worst enemies.

        It’s a pickle. I never found a good way to handle it myself.

      2. zora.dee*

        To do Glassdoor but try to deflect attention from yourself a little, I waited a few months to post, and then I put a ‘fake’ date that I left the company. Changed it by one year (can’t remember if I did earlier or later). You don’t have to put a title, you can leave it as just general “Former Employee” if you are worried the title would out you. I might be fooling myself, but in a place that also had high turnover, I felt like that gave enough benefit of the doubt that it wasn’t super obvious it was my post.

  19. Jack the Treacle Eater*

    OP 1, sorry, this might be a bit lengthy so bear with me.

    I was made redundant after a fair few years in a job I’d been headhunted into, so I hadn’t had to actually job hunt in probably 20 years. I found I just didn’t understand the current job market, what hiring managers were looking for, current job hunting conventions, where and how jobs are advertised these days, and so on.

    Further, the workplace I was in had become extremely toxic after changes of management, so I was very demoralised, had pretty much no confidence, and didn’t have the energy needed for an effective job hunt. It takes a long time to get over that, and will affect job searching for many months.

    Though I’m fairly organised in work, I can see now I just didn’t have what was needed to structure a job search effectively. It’s taken me over a year to learn, and to understand myself, my skills and motivations enough to put together good resumes and applications; I’m still not there yet on putting together a good interview.

    I was also lucky to be able to access a good, professional career coaching service. If I hadn’t been able to, I might well still be floundering now – to be honest, I still do at times.

    Despite everything I”ve learned, job hunting while out of work is hard. I haven’t just been job hunting; I’ve been successfully freelancing to keep my hand in, and volunteering for very worthwhile causes; yet I could tell you many stories about the prejudice of some hiring managers toward those not in full time work.

    I had no choice about my situation; you have. Perhaps the first thing to do is set aside thought of resigning for the moment and start to put some structure to the job search – block out just an hour or two each evening, or perhaps three evenings a week, and allocate that time to specific job search activities.

    If you have savings, it might be worth thinking about whether a career coach or advisor could help – or even whether such services are available free in your area. An experienced advisor giving the job search some structure, as well as the external discipline and guidance, might be invaluable.

    Whatever you do, the process can’t start with ‘sit down and write a resume’ or ‘decide on your dream job’ – that’s not how it works. From experience, I’m certain you need to start by understanding strengths, skills, values, motivators, what a structured job search looks like, what hiring managers look for and so on; that’s not a quick process and it’s one where your husband will need your wholehearted and honest support and input.

    All of this can be done evenings and weekends to start with, even if you then decide that a full time job hunt is what’s needed; but if you’re going to do this, it does need structure, realism and honesty.

    1. Rebeck*

      This is basically me right now. Made redundant from a job of six years, in an industry where there are limited jobs in the area where I live. The redundancy came out of the blue with no warning at all (government, plus my role was actually vial to the functioning of the business unit and I still have no idea how they think they’re going to function without someone in that role.) I’m feeling completely at sea.

    2. Colette*

      I worked for a large telecom company for 12 years. The first six years were great. The last six were non-stop layoffs. I really wanted to leave, but it was really difficult to be in that environment all day and then be optimistic enough to job hunt. Plus I hadn’t job hunted in 12 years, so the whole thing was really overwhelming.

      In other words, I have a lot of sympathy for the husband.

      When I was finally laid off, I started job hunting right away (with help from the outplacement service), but realistically I wasn’t effectively looking for several months. (It took seven months to get a job).

      Questions for the OP to consider/discuss with her husband:
      – if your husband quits, how long can you financially survive without him working?
      – what kind of support (that’s not you) does he have access to? Are there formal groups he can participate in? Do you know people who are good at job hunting, or who regularly hire people?
      – is he willing to do the work it’ll take?

  20. Vanilla*

    #1 – One of my close friends could have written this about her husband. He has worked at the same place for 15+ years and is miserable for many reasons. She asked me if I would help him with his resume and potential job leads ( we are in the same industry and I work on resumes as a side business).

    This was over a year ago and nothing has changed since then. He is still at his job and to my knowledge, he hasn’t applied for any jobs. Its worth mentioning that my friend is the breadwinner in her family, so a lot of the financial pressure falls to her. This is the only place he has ever worked in a professional capacity.

    It is very common to feel demoralized when you are stuck in a job you hate -the last thing you want to do is put yourself out there, subjecting yourself to rejection. But honestly, no one is going to knock on your door and offer you a better job. IMO, a lot of people like to complain about their jobs but the fear (or laziness) of going out and looking for something better gets in the way. The OP may have to get tough with her husband and lay it on the line for him and remind him that he hasn’t taken any major steps to fix this problem, therefore, his situation is very unlikely to change.

    OP, does your husband have EAP benefits? If so, it might be worth him talking to a therapist on how to get “unstuck.” I did this myself about a year ago and ended up getting a better job a few months later.

    If you what you have always done, you will get what you have always gotten.

    1. J.B.*

      It can be really hard to take action when you are in the midst of a bad job, it colors your entire perception. And being married to someone who HATES their job but won’t seem to take concrete action is stressful and depressing too. Therapy can help. So can taking a hard look at finances and seeing what it would allow. I would start with therapy. Your husband needs to decide what he really wants and then to work towards it. You can’t do it for him. It may be that ultimately quitting the job will give some useful space, but a lot of preparation needs to happen first. Such as:

      – really updating the resume
      – getting finances in order, knowing what savings are available
      – networking like crazy! Does he have former colleagues he keeps in touch with? Start there!

      1. J.B.*

        Also, I should clarify. I wouldn’t start networking “to find a job” specifically. I would start it to keep in touch with old friends, get out for lunch, get some breathing room. Certainly ask them to keep an ear out, but this is not networking with hiring managers. Maybe volunteer with a professional organization. It is to keep active with something work related but outside of his current job.

  21. Myrin*

    I’m very glad that other commenters are being sympathetic and helpful towards #1’s husband because I find myself being stuck on but he says I’m not being a supportive wife if I don’t tell him to do what he “needs” to do and it colours my perception of him in a negative light, to be completely honest. Which is not relevant since I’m a random internet stranger how knows neither OP nor her husband but OP, if this is part of a pattern of how he speaks and behaves towards you and you find yourself being uncomfortable with it/not liking it, let it be said that at least in my opinion these feelings are completely justified.

    1. Jack the Treacle Eater*

      I picked up on that, but I also picked up on ‘done taking the reins’, ‘didn’t even do’ and similar comments. I appreciate there is some frustration here, but it slightly comes across as though there is some understanding and honest discussion required on both sides.

    2. Christopher Tracy*

      Yeah, that’s a very manipulative turn of phrase, so I’m just going to pretend the OP is paraphrasing and wrote what she thought he meant rather than what he actually said because yikes.

    3. J.B.*

      I have been there, there can be complicated dynamics. Support needs to be what makes most sense for the FAMILY, but he needs to make his own decisions. She can’t push him into it.

      1. Whats In A Name*

        Yes – this. It’s a partnership but when one forces their hand resentment can build up. He needs to make a decision that she can get on board with and support, and one that is realistic in their current situation.

        1. AnonEMoose*

          Yes – you can be supportive of a person, without necessarily being supportive of a specific action or actions that person is taking or contemplating. “I love you, and I’m here for you. I don’t think X is the best idea, for ABC reasons.”

    4. Naomi*

      OP1, others have suggested bringing in a professional to help your husband with his job search, and this is exactly why: so you don’t have to balance your role as his career counselor with your role as his wife. His career counselor needs to be able to tell him hard truths like “it will be harder to job search if you quit your current job.” If this message comes from you, he can deflect it with emotional manipulation–you’re not being supportive enough! A professional career counselor has no emotional attachment to your husband and won’t go home to him at the end of the day, which puts them in a much better position to tell him things he doesn’t want to hear.

    5. Golden Lioness*

      This reminds me of a lady that I was trying to help while she was job searching. I met her for a long coffee, went over the resume, gave her ideas and strategies, several websites to check networking events in her area, etc. A couple of weeks after we met I followed up to ask how she was doing and she replied “waiting to see what you will do for me”… sigh. I felt sorry for her, but at that point I knew I could not help her. I sent her a reply saying that the only person in charge of her search was herself, and that I could not offer her any jobs, and that she needed to start to take charge of her job search. Very frustrating!

  22. Kathlynn*

    For situations like op1, I feel like I need to say this, not to armchair diagnose, just as food for thought. A lot of mental health issues make it hard to actually deal with things or get things done. You can seem like you have no issues at all, and yet be struggling to do anything. And being at a really bad job makes things like looking for a new job even harder. So a person who constantly says they are looking for/want a new job or things like that, they may have reasons beyond motivational issues or lazyness that are holding them up. Though even motivation is a loaded issue, because of *why* a person might lack motivation (ex/anxiety and imposter syndrome)

    1. RVA Cat*

      I was just thinking “learned helplessness” from both the job, and also possibly some family dynamics with his mother (how is she “making” her married, mid-30s son do stuff anyway?).

  23. Chriama*

    #4 – people understand the concept of store hours! You’re not doing anyone any favors by teaching them that they can expect to be let in early. If you really want to go the extra mile, I would recommend making sure you open the doors *promptly* at opening time. I remember waiting outside the drugstore until 5 minutes past their stated opening hours – that was really irritating. But stop letting them in early.

  24. Chriama*

    #1 – As a compromise, can your husband look into taking an unpaid leave of absence? I don’t know how FMLA works or if there’s another program he can take advantage of, but this job has made him unhappy and stressed out for a while. Would attending a therapist, even just once a week, be enough to cover him under those benefits? At the very least, if he’s been working there for 15 years, I think an employer is more likely to grant him a 3 month unpaid leave of absence than risk losing him entirely.

    I do think that it can be really difficult to job search when you’re burnt out and dealing with life and family on top of work, and a week wouldn’t necessarily be enough time to recharge. However, I also get kind of a weird vibe from your letter that there’s some frustration or resentment here. What’s with his mom needing (and being able) to *make* him take a week off work to job search? And it is insensitive to insist you’re not being supportive because you don’t want him to quit his job. At the same time, if you guys are in a place where you can afford for that to happen (and you trust that he would take anything he had to if your financial circumstances changed) then it can be valuable to take some time to refocus and reposition yourself. Just because you had to do it doesn’t mean he has to. Either way though, it sounds like you guys need to talk about more than just his job search.

    1. Temperance*

      Okay for FMLA, you need a qualifying medical reason. It’s not just there for people to take leave whenever the mood strikes them. He might be able to take a sabbatical for other reasons, but not through the FMLA.

      I also disagree with the idea that LW’s husband should be able to just quit his job on a whim because he’s miserable there. He’s been there for 15 years; he can handle a few more months while he actively job searches.

      1. Chriama*

        FMLA was just the first thing that popped into my head. I think an unpaid leave of absence should be possible for someone who’s worked at the same company for 15 years. Also, I don’t think he should just be able to quit his job on a whim – in fact, based on past behaviour, I would say it’s a risky thing to do. However, I was responding to the OP’s comment where she said she’s job searched while employed before. If it’s something he can afford to do, and reasonably likely to turn out well (e.g. has he risen up under external pressure before), then it’s not a bad idea just because she couldn’t do it.

        Overall, I feel like OP is tired of being the practical one. He hates his job but won’t look for a new one, last time he had to be cajoled into taking time off to search and then didn’t do it, and now he’s talking about quitting with nothing lined up, ignoring the pattern of his past behaviour and making OP feel like the bad guy for not unconditionally supporting him. To me, it sounds like either the job search is putting some serious strain on their marriage or revealing some cracks that they need to discuss. I don’t know that a new job will fix all those issues.

  25. Allie*

    As someone who worked my fair share of retail and food service jobs, I would have been very irritated if OP4 had been my shift manager. At 15 minutes before, staff isn’t expecting to have to be ready, so you may be checking something in the back or chatting with a coworker and not logged in to the register. Also, you may not be done with things that shouldn’t be performed in front of customers like getting change out of the safe (which, in a few places I worked was time locked during store hours). You’re setting up your staff to get yelled at or complained about because they aren’t ready. And that isn’t looking at things like liability issues. Don’t do it. It’s not a good way to treat your staff.

    1. Temperance*

      THIS. I had a lot of food service jobs, and it was never a good thing when someone would open the doors early. With food service, you often aren’t *ready* for customers until opening time. I’ll never forget the total wackjob who screamed at my friend and me because we didn’t have “Texas weiners” ready by 10:30 in the AM (and we didn’t even have them on the menu) at the movie theater where we worked.

      1. Allie*

        I worked at a Little Caesar’s in high school and while we were required to have a certain number of hot and readys at any time, they wouldn’t be ready 15 minutes early. You were supposed to throw them out regularly when they got old and that would just be wasting pizza. And yes, people did try to come and buy pizza at 10:30 in the morning.

  26. Knitchic79*

    #4 Yeah opening early is really not done, for all the reasons everyone has already said. Liability is the biggest, our store is just not covered if a customer gets injured before we open or after we close. It’s just too big a risk. I get where you’re coming from on wanting to make the customers happy, but you’ll feel worse if one gets hurt trying to navigate the mess that is retail before you get floors cleared. And really if they are that upset that you won’t open early they are going to find something else to pick at if you do open early, some people’s hobby seems to be complaining about customer service. (I won’t get started on tales of woe lol, we all know of what I speak.)
    #1 It sounds like spousal unit is overwhelmed and 15 years out of any kind of job search I can see why. I think set aside two evenings a week and start by working together to decide what you both need from his new job. Then move on to where one looks for a job these days. Then the resume and cover letter. I get if you don’t feel up to helping anymore, but you understand these skills from practicing them and he has never developed them at all. Maybe give it one more shot before bringing in hired help on this. His telling you that you just have to be supportive of whatever decision he makes…umm no, with something this big it is not a decision he makes it’s one you both make. But I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and call it him just being overwhelmed and lashing out a bit. Good luck to both of you!

    1. Joseph*

      “some people’s hobby seems to be complaining about customer service.”
      Yeah. It’s like do you seriously not have *anything* better to do with your life than waste time yelling at a near-minimum wage retail employee?

      1. Jennifer*

        I think it gives people joy to bully people who cannot say no to them.

        My office will occasionally close in the middle of the day for a few hours for some event or other, and there are always people who decide to leave early and open the office “so we can help people.” I know I’m supposed to be all “yay for helping!” but seriously, people aren’t gonna learn to respect our CLOSED hours (which they do not anyway, there’s banging on the door and slipping papers under the door as is) if you open early to help people. Why are we bothering to close the office then?

  27. Stan*

    OP #1:

    Suggest that your husband look for a local employment group. My city has a handful aimed at different groups. The best one is run by a retired recruiter and some friends. They go over resumes, talk strategy, and generally provide community support for professionals who are unemployed and/or looking to make a change. He could also check with his alma mater or alumni network. Some outside support may be just what he needs.

    1. J*


      Join the job search group at your church, local library, or community center. Given that he’s never searched for a job before, and that search/hiring advice across the internet can vary (and he has no way to evaluate what seems relevant vs what seems ridiculous, he would probably benefit from a little more hand-holding. And I concur with the poster above who said it probably shouldn’t be you doing the hand-holding.

  28. Roscoe*

    #1 To me this is more relationship advice than job search advice. While I get that in theory its harder to find a job when you aren’t working, for some people having that time to focus does work. My last 2 jobs I got, I wasn’t working when I got them. Once, my contract had run out and I didn’t renew it. Once I got laid off. Even though I knew both of those things were coming, the not having a job really motivated me more to find something. Now it may be true that I was willing to settle more, but that is my story. Now I don’t know your husband, but I think if he hasn’t gone through this, maybe you should let him. Figure out a plan, and let him get into the right space. Because I have also had jobs that sucked so bad that I didn’t want to do anything after I left for the day.

    #4 I worked retail back in the day, and to speak for your employees, please stop doing this. If you know you open at 10 am, those last 10 minutes of the morning with peace before you have to deal with people are great. Don’t take that away from them. In my experience, people who were lining up early aren’t always the most pleasant. If they are mad that you aren’t letting them in before you open, they definitely aren’t reasonable. Don’t subject the employees to that because you feel bad. Thats just selfish

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I tend to agree that this goes into more relationship advice for OP1 .

      I have a couple things to think about.

      1) Spouses cannot be everything to each other. Explain to him that you do not want him doing your root canal and it’s probably a bad idea for you to rebuild his car for him. There is no such thing as a comprehensive spouse. We have to bring outsiders into the picture all. the. time. Here my husband and I had docs, lawyers, tax people, plumbers, furnace repair people, you get the idea. We hire a parade of people to fill in our knowledge gaps. This is what we all do. He needs to talk to professionals about his job hunt. Explain that you have given your best advice and it is time he move on to talking with professionals.

      2) Sometimes people are just too close to each other to be of help in certain types of situations. This varies with people as to type of situation and the amount of help that is accepted or expected. It sounds like your husband expects you to be of more help than you have in your skill set. He gets tense when you don’t help enough and you get tense because you can’t give enough. This is not fair for either one of you.

      Am chuckling. If you guys had a 5 ton boulder in your front yard that you wanted to get rid of, neither one of you would expect the other to move it. You both know the other one can’t move a 5 ton boulder, so you have to hire someone, call a neighbor with a big tractor, whatever. But some situations are not so clear. Sometimes it seems like the spouse that cooks every day SHOULD automatically know how to cook French food. But that’s not how things work. Likewise here, your hubby has a lot going on, bad job, no job hunting experience, needs resume beefed up, needs a plan, has no energy to do all this, PLUS still has to work and do stuff around the house. I am tired just listing this, it sounds all too familiar.

      You are not going to be able to fix all these things, nor is it reasonable to think you would. There is only so much you can do then you are done. Make a plan. Will you help scan ads for potential employers? Will you look at his resume when he gets it fixed up? Name the parts that you will actually help with. Encourage him to find that parade of people who will help with the other parts. He has no plan, but you could use a plan yourself. Figure out where you are willing to contribute to his efforts but also draw your lines.

      You know it’s funny. My friend had no plan for problem X and X has been going on for months and months, annoying the crap out of both of us. So I decided, screw it. I am taking over step C of this problem X. I did all the step Cs I could find. My friend was stunned. Having C done made problem X look so different. See? I made a plan and I drew my lines. Now my friend is working away on the parts of X I need help with. For my friend with to get a plan for X, I had to get my own plan and that inspired her to run right at X. Build your plan, where are you willing to help, see if that inspires him to build his.

  29. Aloot*

    #1: Could a longer vacation/unpaid leave as a trial period where he can *show* you that he is indeed going to put a lot of work into finding a new job help? Based on how he achieved nothing during the one week, it doesn’t really bode well.

    Plus, how much savings do you actually have? How many months of one income can your finances take before you start going into debt over it?

    #4: Where does this stop? Customers show up at 8:45 and you let them in. They start showing up at 8:40 and you let them in. What if they show up at 8:30 looking pissy and frustrated, would you still let them in?

    What if they then start showing up at 8:25?

    If your boss has told you to stop, then stop doing it before it ends up impacting your job. Instead of trying to change the policy – which is likely in place for several good reasons – you could try to make a good appeal for changing the opening time to 8:30 instead. But likely, the ones in charge have weighed the pros and cons for that and have decided on 9:00 for a reason.

  30. Government Worker*

    I see echoes of my marriage in OP1’s letter. I basically stumbled into my first two post-college jobs, which got me to eight years out of school with some generally applicable skills but no focus and no clear idea of what I wanted to do. Job searching made me incredibly anxious and I just couldn’t make myself apply to new jobs, which was incredibly frustrating to my wife – she saw that I was unhappy with my employment situation and wasn’t taking steps to remedy the situation.

    But I didn’t know what I wanted to do, didn’t feel qualified for anything interesting, didn’t come across job listings that I thought I had a chance at getting that didn’t look horribly dull, etc. I just couldn’t make progress on actual job hunting because I was starting too far into the process – trying to update my resume and apply for jobs without a good idea of what I even wanted out of my career. Eventually my wife and I made a bargain (related to her job timeline/having kids/moving across the country) that I would use the next year, while still employed, to get things figured out. I had an hour-plus each direction train commute that year, and I spent at least one direction each day on it – doing the exercises in career guide books, reading about different fields, scheduling informational interviews with alumni from my college doing interesting stuff, etc.

    And it worked. Eventually I chose to go back to grad school, which I loved. Apply to grad school is just as annoying as applying to jobs, but since I was excited about it I was able to motivate myself to do it. And the job search at the end of grad school (and for internships during) was a breeze. I could succinctly describe exactly what I was looking for and network to find good opportunities. I could find job listings that I was both excited about and qualified for. I applied to like 5 jobs total and got offers from 2 because I was able to keep my search focused. And I’m in my first post-grad-school job now and I love it.

    So I think OP1 and her husband need to take a step back and not worry so much about resumes and applications at the moment. Does her husband know what kinds of jobs he’s looking for, and is he both qualified for them and excited about them? Or if not excited, at least not filled with existential dread at the whole job search process? If not, start there – it takes time and real effort, maybe a therapist or a career coach or a life coach, but it’s worth it.

  31. Any mouse*

    #4 I’m surprised you didn’t notice this before you were assistant manager. Although it sounds like you are working closing shifts if you only noticed this at meetings.

    I’ve seen customers show up an hour really, some who looked peeved because we opened on time, there are customers who would not leave the store, and those that showed up as the doops were being locker or right after wanting to be let in for “just one thing”(in my experience it never is ).

    Opening early -besides being a liability – sets unreasonable expectatons on everyone including yourself. Even if customers understand that you are the only manager who opens early…what happens if you can’t because you are short staffed or someone is running late?

    Also it’s getting close to Christmas so you’ll probably have extended hours and yes people wI’ll show up early. You may think because the store is opening early it won’t happen but it will. Christmas is stressful enough without adding that to it.

    1. the gold digger*

      My favorite, when I was working at Macy’s over Christmas one year, was the people who would come to the register at 11:59 p.m. with a stack of clothes for which they wanted price checks. And there were no tags on the clothes. Which meant I could not look the price up in the register. Because I cannot do magic.

      There were two young women one night who were there with daddy’s credit card and who were very, very impatient with me as I tried to explain that I could not give them a price based on the data I had in front of me. To find a price, I needed to find a like item so I could get a darn bar code to look a price up in the system. No bar code, no price. They just didn’t think I was working fast enough and didn’t think that keeping someone at the store past midnight, which was when the store closed, was a problem. “You’re getting overtime, aren’t you?” they asked.

      No. I wasn’t. I was part time temporary. I was not interested in knocking myself out at midnight for nine dollars an hour before taxes.

      1. any mouse*

        I had an assistant manager who (at a previous store) had to get mall security to remove someone who cursed and was shaking the gate (door) of the store because the store was closed – it was after closing time on Chrstimas eve. Which is their problem not the stores.

        Also I worked at a store where we did deliveries and there had been bad storms (closing some airports) and also icy road conditions and it was really really really cold. So deliveries were delayed – sometimes because aiports were shut down and sometimes because it was too dangerous to send our drivers out. I answered some of those calls and found that people got mad when I explained it was for employee safety. I switched to saying that it was to keep purchases from being damaged and it was recieved much better, which made me hate the customers.

        At Christmas I also had a customer (different store than the two mentioned) snarl at me “you don’t deserve a break” when I said I couldn’t ring her out because I was going to take my lunch. Even if I wasn’t the cash registers were fully manned so there was no place to ring her out. She didn’t want to wait in line like everyone else. The manager had us on a strict break schedule because due to trying to accomdate customers the schedule had gotten messed up and there were 2 days when people weren’t able to get their breaks becuse their shift had ended by the time it was their turn.

        So customers will take a mile if you give them an inch. Not every single one but enough that you have to be strict with everyone.

    2. Joseph*

      “Also it’s getting close to Christmas so you’ll probably have extended hours and yes people wI’ll show up early. You may think because the store is opening early it won’t happen but it will.”
      Retail and food service exist as a miraculous temporal oddity:
      1.) No matter how early you open, there will be someone who shows up early before open.
      2.) No matter how late you close, there’s going to be someone who walks in two minutes before close, usually with a horrible problem or ridiculous order.
      3.) No matter how you modify your hours, the above two items will still be true.

  32. Purest Green*

    For OP #1, in addition to the other advice here, it might help if you make sure you both have things to look forward to during the week and weekends, something other than his miserable job and searching for a job. I’ve been in a similar situation to your husband, and the drudgery of job > at home dwelling on job > job > at home dwelling on job, etc. was probably worse than whatever was actually going on to make me dwell in the first place. If he can get out of his own head then that might go a long way to improving things.

  33. Allison*

    #4, I know you mean well, but by “softening” the opening time, you’re setting a bad precedent. As others have said, customers might expect other associates to open early, and others may start wanting to come in 20 or 30 minutes early, because it doesn’t seem like your set hours really mean anything. And if you’re flexible on when you open, people may start to expect flexibility on other policies that are inconvenient, like return policies or coupons. You may have already done some damage by letting people in early, but stop it now. Say “sorry, I can’t do that anymore” and have that be the end of it.

    Sometimes store managers can make the decision to let someone in early in an extenuating circumstance, but that’s a big exception. If people expect to come in before the store “officially” opens, that’s their problem, and not a sense of entitlement you have to cater to.

    1. Grey*

      Yeah. I’m imagining what it must be like for anyone else who has to open the store on time.

      “The other manager lets me in early! Why are you being so lazy?! Let me in, now!!!”

      1. Allison*

        It’s already a line entitled customers like to use to get their way. “But the other manager did it for me!” “the other location let me do that!” “your competitor takes expired coupons.”

        OP, if you work for a chain, bending the rules could not only undermine your store’s policies and manager’ authority, it could lead to people expecting to be let in early at other stores in the chain.

        Also, once one jerk gets their way, they might go and tell their friends “you should go to the Chocolate Teapots store in Mill St., they’ll let you in before 9.”

  34. Anon 2*

    #1. I would make a deal with your husband. Once he has a couple of interviews scheduled and he has completed the thank you notes, you will not object to him quitting.

    I would want to see actual progress to show that he’s serious about the job hunt. But, I suspect that one day he’s just going to come home and say that he quit his job.

  35. Collie*

    #2 — I’d add that if you’re going to reach out, phrase your email in such a way that encourages her to call you, especially if you’re reaching out with your work email (which I suppose is the best alternative). If you’re going to be guiding here away from the position in your answers or suggesting she’d been misled during the interview, my guess is you won’t want it in writing.

  36. Rusty Shackelford*

    A lot of things about #1 bother me, but mostly this part:

    His mother convinced him to take a week off of work so we could kick off the job search and figure out what he wants to do, but he didn’t even finish updating his resume. Now, he wants to quit his job so he can job search full-time. He’s convinced that the current job is demotivating him too much to search on off-hours. He wants to dip into our savings while he searches full-time for his new dream job.

    I really want to delve into the fact that his mother convinced him to do this. But I won’t. Instead, let’s just examine the fact that he had an entire week to get his job search started, and he didn’t even get his resume updated. Yeah, I know, a 15-year-old resume is going to need a lot of work. But a week? An entire week, and he couldn’t get it done?

    His resume isn’t undone because he didn’t have time to do it. His resume is undone because he’s not going to do it. Either he’s unable (because he’s depressed, demotivated, lazy, frightened, traumatized, addicted to binge-watching Netflix, secretly illiterate, or whatever) or unwilling. And, you know, I get that. I’ve been some of those things. But none of that is going to help him find a job. He’s been talking about this for YEARS. Something is stopping him. And that “something” is not his current job. His current job is the thing motivating him to leave.

    So now he wants to quit his job so he can devote all of his time to finding another one. He’s already had a trial run of not working and devoting his time to finding a job. And he did not accomplish diddly. There is absolutely no reason to assume he’s going to be any better at it when he has months instead of days. And as others have pointed out, finding a job while unemployed is likely to be more difficult than he thinks.

    Since his mother seems to be so convincing, maybe she should convince him that he needs to find a job while he’s employed.

    1. Allison*

      Really. Updating a resume is the first step to launching a new job search, you can’t really do much until your resume is ready to go. It can be a daunting task, and sometimes the first step in a major life change can be the hardest, but if you’re gonna take a week to look for jobs, you need to update your resume on day 1.

        1. LQ*

          I think that it can be hard to update a resume that was the same job for a long time. I had the same job for nearly 10 years. But while I was the same title for 99% of the time, the work was radically different. It was only “the same” in that I did all of it and it all served the mission. But it was so very very different. It was like being a chocolate teapot designer, marketer, sales person and radio personality. Because those things go together. But they all fell under my one job title. I ended up with 4 resumes for each of those parts of the job and for each of the kinds of work I could do. So it took a long time to build each of those sets of things to look good considering I’d mostly only had one post college job. I spent way more than a week making it. (And this was after I’d been sort of keeping it up to date over the years, which I really hope he’s been doing.)

          (That said if it was only making chocolate teapots for 15 years then it should be easier.)

          1. Allison*

            But you spent that week working on your resume. I’m under the impression OP’s husband procrastinated on the task and didn’t spend much, if any, time getting his resume in order.

            1. LQ*

              Yeah, I sort of assume that as well. But there seems to be an idea that just one job should be super easy to slap in a resume and voooop out the door. It can be, but it can also be complex. And it is ok if it takes a decent investment of time. But you really do need to be getting somewhere in that time.

            1. LQ*

              I think part of it is what counts as working on the resume and what did he actually do. For me? It included several informational interviews (actually informational, like how did you get here and each of them helped with my resume in their own ways), a whole lot of asking colleagues if I could please sneak a peak at their resumes (which a lot of them were happy to do and was very helpful). It wasn’t fully done in a week. But you could have seen serious progress. I’m guessing that isn’t happening here. But if there is progress? Yeah, it can take a long time. If he slapped a few sentences on paper and quit? Eh. Not impressed. If he went out and read the whole back archives of all the resume related AAM posts I’d guess that would take more than 40 hours itself. But at some point you have to act.

    2. the_scientist*

      Yeah……..this is setting off a few alarm bells for me, too. My reading of the letter is that OP1’s husband seems to want her to do the heavy lifting for him. Otherwise, he’s either unable (doesn’t have the tools/knowledge) or unwilling to kickstart his job search himself. The emotional manipulation (“you aren’t a supportive wife if you don’t tell me what I need to do”) is icing on the red flag cake. There is a difference between being supportive, and being taken advantage of, and I get the sense the OP1 has been doing the majority of the emotional labour in this partnership for a long time and is frustrated…for good reason!

      There have been a lot of good suggestions about leaves of absence, accessing the EAP, job coaching/professional resume review and individual counselling, but I would add that it may be worth OP1 and her husband visiting a couples/family counsellor. I am reading this as being the latest incident in a long pattern, and attending counselling together may be helpful for getting to the root causes and building some more productive patterns.

    3. Jennifer*

      I second all of this. I smell “slacker,” to be honest.

      I have been burned on this kind of behavior before and it ended a relationship. I am a clerical peon and cannot afford to be breadwinner to someone who’s refusing to even try to hold up their side. I know/have known a good chunk of people who hate working (at any job) and this is usually how it starts. I just hope husband doesn’t spontaneously quit or start behaving in passive-aggressive ways to get himself fired.

  37. Temperance*

    LW #1: Your husband should not quit his job without another lined up. If he couldn’t motivate himself to even edit his resume on his free week …. I highly doubt he’s going to jump right in to being productive and motivated in his search. Also, is his health insurance tied to his current position? Going without healthcare is a risky proposition, and a frankly stupid one if it can be avoided. I had a medical crisis, completely unexpected, earlier this year …. and would have had to file bankruptcy if not for the fact that my health insurance paid well over $200k for my care and I had a reasonable out-of-pocket.

    It sounds like his mother is a bit too involved as well, but this isn’t Captain Awkward, so I won’t say too much on that front. ;)

  38. Izzy*

    A long time ago a large department store in my area had a waiting area with comfortable chairs and coffee for their early bird customers to wait until the store’s opening time when shopping began. It was very gracious of them, but probably not practical for a small store.

    1. Tomato Frog*

      Free coffee, sitting, and department stores are three things I love. This would just make me so happy.

  39. LQ*

    If he does quit (which I’m very much on the side of don’t for a lot of the reasons mentioned above) I think it is a good idea to sit down and really look at the math. How much savings do you have? How much savings are you (both) willing to spend down? At what point does he start to look for less desirable jobs? At what point do you (op) have to take a second job to support the household? (sorry, it might come up) Go through and plan those things out. I think it is also really important to look at personalities here. Specifically risk and how you (separately and together) handle it, because that’s a lot of what is going to matter here.

  40. Not Karen*

    #5: I still remember the time I told an coworker it doesn’t get below freezing in Massachusetts. I meant below zero. I guess I still had Canada on the brain (where they use Celsius and freezing is at 0).

  41. Larina*

    OP 5, let me tell you a story.

    When I interviewed for the position I have now, the interviewer asked me how I felt about deadlines. He has a low, mumbling voice, and I 100% heard it as “How do you feel about dead lions?” Keep in mind this was right around the time Cecil the lion was killed, so there was a little context for a question like that. I was very confused. I ended up asking for clarification, because I was completely flabbergasted.

    Now, it’s my favorite story to tell at work, because I feel so, so silly about it, and it always gets a laugh. If it comes up at work, try to laugh it off. I know that can be hard, but this sounds like a good fun story, not a horrible error.

    1. OP #5*

      Thank you for the laugh! I am literally laughing out loud at this story! I am most definitely making this a bigger deal than it needs to be. I have been a stay at home parent for so long that getting back out there and feeling like I am making a step “up” adds onto the pressure of feeling like I can’t make even a simple mistake. And there IS quite a gap between kindergarten and 5th grade, haha! Thank you for the advice!

  42. Tax Accountant*

    “His resume isn’t undone because he didn’t have time to do it. His resume is undone because he’s not going to do it. Either he’s unable (because he’s depressed, demotivated, lazy, frightened, traumatized, addicted to binge-watching Netflix, secretly illiterate, or whatever) or unwilling. ”

    Ding ding ding!!! Completely agreed. He wont do it until he’s ready, and quitting his job is not going to make him ready. It will just make him unemployed.

    This letter gave me flashbacks to the time my husband quit his job to “find himself” a couple years after we got married. He spent months (7 months? 9 months? I’ve blocked it from my memory at this point) doing stuff like reorganizing the linen closet, and saying things like “I feel like a boat adrift at sea with no oars” and occasionally halfheartedly applying for a random job. He got no interviews because it was in the middle of the recession, and because he didn’t know what he wanted.

    We were living on my salary of $25k a year. I handled it well (not!) by becoming an angry, nagging basket case. But of course, that helped nothing. I had to wait until he was ready to do something. Right about the time I was getting ready to look for a divorce lawyer he decided to go back to school. Which he did, and then got a great job afterwards and is now doing very well for himself. All’s well that ends well. But it was horrible. So horrible. I hope you make it very very clear to your husband up front what you are and are not willing to put up with. My husband is now making noises about wanting to do another job change, but he’s been making these noises for about two years and has done nothing about it. I’m just keeping quiet and watching this time. We have a kid and a mortgage now, so there’s more on the line. I think where the inertia comes from with my husband is his extreme perfectionism. He wants to be so sure that he’s doing the right thing perfectly that he is completely immobilized.

    I went back to school too (while working full time) because I was so traumatized by the experience of him suddenly quitting his job. I’m a CPA now and fully capable of supporting myself and him if necessary. So, that’s something that was a positive outcome. I realized that I am a healthier martial partner when I am not relying on him so much. Being healthily independent makes me less of a harpy.

    1. J.B.*

      I’m sorry for that experience! I’m glad you can support yourself and your child now if he does take any more boneheaded moves.

    2. Whats In A Name*

      So sorry for your experience but so glad it seems to have worked out in the long run! Talk about learn by burn!

  43. Tammy - OP #2*

    (I accidentally posted this in reply to another comment, I had intended to post it on its own. Sorry for double posting.)

    Thanks for your advice, Alison! While a small part of me is somewhat relieved to read that in some universe I have a duty to my employer not to sabotage the hiring process, I still feel extremely guilty for not reaching out to this candidate. (They took the job.) I know little about my future coworker besides suspecting that they have a significantly different personality to mine, and it’s possible they may not be as frustrated by our workplace as I and others are.

    Glassdoor hadn’t occurred to me, but I am going to follow up on there when I transition out of this position, though I am concerned that the small size of our organization (eight or so employees) will make my feedback, despite our high turnover, easy to trace. Our director has benefited from that, I think — small workplace, plus morale is so low that when people leave they tend not even to care enough to give feedback, they just want the heck out ASAP. Though I know I seem gripey here, I actually value the work my organization does and it’s too bad that people are either too scared, too burnt out or too ticked off by the time they leave to offer constructive (or any) criticism.

    1. Jennifer*

      I think that problem is going to come up with whoever you hire there, honestly. You need more people even if you wish they could get a job elsewhere.

  44. C Average*

    Re #1

    Before you make any decisions, if your husband is amenable, he should consider being evaluated for depression. There’s a lot here for any reasonable person to be depressed about, and if he is dealing with depression, it’s got the potential to hinder a job search. He should deal with the depression first. (And I know the reaction to this is probably, “But the job and the job search are depressing me! If I find a new job, I will feel better.” And this is partially true. But recognizing and addressing the depression should still be at the top of the to-do list, before finding a new job, because the patience and hard work and resilience needed to undertake a job search aren’t within the capabilities of a seriously depressed person. They’re not. And that behavior you describe–spending a whole week not even knowing how to start–sounds like potentially the frozenness and inertia of a depressed person. Or hey, it could just be a lazy person or a burned out person. But the depression angle is worth exploring.)

    Fifteen years is a hell of a long time to stick it out in a difficult and unpleasant environment, and I’m sure he has some complicated feelings about having sunk that much of his life into something he’s now considering abandoning. Tenure at a workplace is one of those things that feels like it should be important. It’s like being in a bad marriage: it feels different to walk away from a bad marriage after twenty years than it does after three years. Economists can natter for eternity about the sunk cost fallacy, but it’s a real factor in a case like this.

    The prospect of undertaking a job hunt for the first time in middle age is potentially overwhelming, especially if he happens to read the news. The economy isn’t great, and it’s easy to find stories about how rough the job market can be for older workers.

    The idea that he’s in this battle on his own–which his comments about you not being supportive suggests is his perception–could also contribute to a depressed mood. I agree that you shouldn’t unconditionally support him in taking the nuclear option here–it sounds like your finances couldn’t comfortably sustain that choice, and as others have said, it may not be a wise choice anyway, given the difficulty of finding a job without currently having a job. But a depressed person may not think about this stuff rationally. He may simply reach for something that sounds appealing, grab onto that, and lash out at you because you’re not falling in line with his preference.

    So yeah. I hope he can get to a good therapist and talk some of this through before doing anything drastic.

    1. animaniactoo*

      My husband loop spirals “You don’t support me, you always make me feel bad about myself, everything is always my fault.” and then I have to pull out “I have done X, Y, and Z. I have continued to do F & G and L to boot. Oh, and just yesterday, I said that [blank] was MY fault, thank you.”

      In his own words, he loses perspective and becomes a drama queen. Pulling him up short with concrete examples generally means he fumes and then gets over it and apologizes the next day. And then we’re good for 8 or 9 months until he falls back into it again and we repeat the cycle. Obviously I’d rather not repeat that cycle, but it is what it is, and there’s been enough good to make repeating the cycle worthwhile. And it’s not like I’m perfect over here either…

      1. animaniactoo*

        Sorry, that was meant to be an alternative, not a rebut. Definitely could be chronic or situational depression, and I agree that just escaping the job is not enough to address that. I meant to add on to my own comment below so I will here that looking for ways to do some serious self-care for both of you while dealing with all of this could help a lot. It doesn’t have to be expensive, it just has to feel good to you. Whether that’s spending an evening together binge-watching something or giving yourselves the space to each go off and read a book separately or making the effort to catch up with friends, spend some time on a hobby you enjoy, or whatever. Sometimes one of the easiest for us is researching and trying new recipes because we’ve gotten bored with the dishes we make the most often.

    2. AnonEMoose*

      This is, by and large, what I came here to say. Getting him to a doctor to be evaluated for depression sounds like a really good first step here. If nothing else, it could rule it out, and that’s useful. And if it does seem like there may be an issue, some medication + therapy could really help.

      This also depends on the type of work he does, but would temping or working as a contractor be an option for him? I’ve done that a few times in the past – kept money coming in by working with a temp agency while searching for regular work. I was lucky in that my spouse had a full time job with benefits, so was able to keep health insurance that way. It could also be a way for him to get experience with other companies and build his network. However, it’s very dependent on the type of work he does; not everything lends itself to this approach.

      And, in my experience, until you’ve built a good reputation with the temp agencies, you do need to be persistent about contacting them. Once they know you’re capable and reliable, it gets easier, and then it just depends more on what they have available. But it’s a way of keeping some money coming in, at least.

  45. Betsy*

    #4—As everyone has said you definitely should not open up early. But it does sound like you are having the morning meeting where the customers waiting can see you, so it may appear to them like a bunch of employees are just standing around chatting while they wait. If it’s possible, I would choose somewhere out of sight for the meeting and that might help with customers getting impatient.

      1. Petronella*

        Not to the customer with the entitled mind set. He sees bodies in the store and all he knows is that they must be available to serve him at his convenience. He’s not interested in how the store runs or how other people’s jobs work.

        1. CMT*

          Yeah, but nothing is going to change the entitled customer’s mindset. I wouldn’t cater to that demographic; they’ll never be happy.

  46. animaniactoo*

    LW1, I sometimes have a similar dynamic in my marriage as what it sounds like you’re describing. I am supportive – to a point. After that, I push back. And I make it clear why I am pushing back. It’s not just because it sounds like a risky proposition to me. It’s about what I feel I’ve put in at that point, and what I am now being asked to put in, and how comfortable I feel doing that.

    I love him – but loving him doesn’t mean giving up caring and looking out for myself as well. Our marriage vows had very specific phrasing about what we were committing to as a partnership. “I will hold your wishes and needs as equal to my own”. Equal. Not above, not below. But equal.

    I get that you’re frustrated with your husband right now. I am willing to bet he’s frustrated and burnt out and miserable and willing to grab anything that *looks* like a lifeline to him.

    However, you, it sounds like rightly, have the experience of him to say that this is unlikely to be the lifeline he thinks it is and are not comfortable taking that risk.

    Towards that, what I would discuss with your husband is not how comparably difficult what he wants to do is, but rather your experience that is driving your hesitation in supporting him in doing it. Because I suspect that if he were motivated and proactive and had a track record of actually following through on the things he says he is going to do, you actually WOULD support him in this. You’d be willing to take the risk, with a relative assurance that it would be made up down the line, and the dedicated effort would be there in the meantime so that you didn’t just feel like you were being taken advantage of.

    “Hon, I do support you and I have for a long time. My concern is that you have made several tries at this, with help and support from me, and those efforts haven’t been very organized or dedicated on your side. This feels like you asking me to go further down the rabbit hole, and that’s scary to me, because of the position that it leaves me in if this turns out the same way. It is seriously scary to me. I want to support you, but I also need you to give me something more concrete to hold on to and support. A dedicated plan of action for how it will work. Goals, timelines, and some follow through that I can have confidence in. I am willing to sit down and brainstorm with you how to get to that space – including career counseling or coaching that is not me. Because I do support you and want to see you happy. I just need something more to work with so that I am not scared out of my mind.”

    And fwiw – as a victim of burnout a few times in my life – I think that for most people, a week is not enough time to do much more than decompress from what you’re currently dealing with. Getting up the energy to do more than that has always taken more than a week or two’s distance from the problem.

  47. Audiophile*

    As someone who’s had her fair share of toxic jobs and at least one true bout of unemployment, I don’t recommend the husband leave this job without something else lined up. With 15 years at the same company, I would expect any competent interview to really dive deep into his employment history there, why he left/is looking to leave, etc. And he’d have no choice but to list them as a reference, all the more reason to stay until he gets an offer.

  48. Audiophile*

    As someone who’s dealt with her fair share of toxic jobs and at least one real bout of unemployment, I don’t recommend the husband leave this job without something else lined up. With 15 years at the same company, I would expect any competent interview to really dive deep into his employment history there, why he left/is looking to leave, etc. And he’d have no choice but to list them as a reference, all the more reason to stay until he gets an offer.

  49. C Average*

    Re #4

    Oh, Lord. Policies are what separate us (the employees) from the animals (the customers). Policies are GOOD. Policies are what entitle us to say, “Actually, we’re closing now. We’ll open again at ten tomorrow.” They back us up when we have to say, “I won’t allow you to talk to me like that. I’m happy to help you, but please don’t swear. See that sign that says ‘we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone?’ That’s about to be you.” Or “I cannot do the thing you’re asking me to do because it’s dangerous, and we have a policy against doing dangerous things, even when customers tell us they really, really want us to.” They put boundaries around what is and isn’t our responsibility as worker bees.

    Please respect and reinforce those well-drawn boundaries, rather than letting your staff get manipulated by pushy people who can’t be bothered to read an Hours of Operation sign right in front of them.

  50. Catabodua*

    Yeah, please do not give in to the customers and let them in early. Think of them as toddlers wanting frosted cupcakes for breakfast and then having a fit when you’ve told them no. It’ll make it easier to just ignore them.

    Also – the store I worked in actually had the registers electronically hooked up to corporate so we couldn’t ring on a register before a certain time or after posted closing times. The overnight batch process kicked off and/or they weren’t online yet. So letting customers in would only piss them off more when they found out we couldn’t check them out for another 8 minutes.

  51. Whats In A Name*

    OP #2:
    Assuming you have input into the candidate being hired, since you are on the panel, can you actually reframe it to your supervisor/hiring manager that while his background seems like it’s a fit for his position the culture might not be and therefore could result in turnover in the position.

    I ask because I once was in a similar position, however as the 1st interviewer I was able to make the call. A PR guy for a professional football team applied for one of our sales positions – he was a “great on paper, dynamic in person” guy but the culture he was different to was way different and acclimation to ours seemed unlikely. Everyone, including VP of HR and hiring manager were ok with no brining him back for a 2nd interview based on that information alone.

    1. Tammy - OP #2*

      That’s a good tip for the future, and one I’ll keep in mind. In this case, our director had more or less made up her mind before the candidate ever came in that this candidate was the perfect fit for the job — no way I could have talked her out of it.

  52. animaniactoo*

    OP#4, I think that you would do yourself a favor to examine why you feel it is so necessary to accommodate people who have if anything set themselves up to be annoyed. Or why you think they’re annoyed at you and your employees, vs annoyed with themselves, their employers, their schedule for that day or that week. Why are you taking it on as your job to “solve” their annoyedness, and thereby taking more responsibility for it than they are?

    By and large, a store not being “open” despite employees being present is so standard for a variety of reasons, including being able to setup for the day and hold a morning meeting in private before being ready to serve customers, that any expectation otherwise is unreasonable on the face of it. And should not be rewarded with any more than a defense of the store employees in their ability to continue to do what they *need* to do in order to prepare. “Yes, I’m sorry you had to wait, but we need to set up and make sure everything is in working order before we can open for the day and let customers in.” Repeat ad nauseum.

    In the meantime, rather than trying to convince your manager to change the policy – ask your manager why the policy exists. What does it serve? Because if you want to change something, first you need to understand why it is the way it is because otherwise you have no idea what other effects your proposed change is going to have or need to address.

    And again – please think about why you feel the need to solve a customer’s issue that they’ve created themselves by showing up before the store is open and then being annoyed about it. It’s the kind of impulse that can make you very very vulnerable to being taken major advantage of in ways that harm you both short term and long term.

  53. Rebecca*

    #2 – I’ve been so tempted to put typed, anonymous notes under the windshield wipers of anyone who interviews here saying ‘GET OUT WHILE YOU CAN’. I’d never, ever recommend working for this company to anyone, let alone a friend, unless they were literally about to be homeless with zero income. It would be a good stop gap, resume filling spot only. It’s not a career, and there are so many bad management things going on it’s staggering. I hope no one ever puts me on the spot to tell an interviewee about the office culture; I’d probably have to fake a coughing fit and run away to get a drink.

    #4 – keep to your start times! There are always people who think they are special and that others need to bend to their needs because of what, I don’t know exactly. I volunteer at various events during the year, like fund raisers, and there are specific start times. One of them is always at 4:30 PM. We serve ice cream, cake, and various other food items. There are always people who show up at 3:30 PM, ask to be served, whine when we say “no”, and mope around until 4:30 PM. Last year, I was carrying cake slices on a large tray outside to our cake stand, and one of them sneaked up behind me and tried to snatch a piece of cake off the tray! I asked her to please wait until 4:30 PM, and this adult woman said “but I want my cake now!”, like a child. I treated her as such, and told her no, she needed to wait until 4:30 PM, and then she could have cake. It’s maddening. What people don’t see is that many of us are exhausted from working a full week at work, staying up very late the night before doing food prep, getting 5 hours of sleep, if we’re lucky, then coming back to do even more food prep for hours in the morning. We need the time in the afternoon to get everything done. The start time is there for a reason.

  54. jhhj*

    It isn’t up to you, LW#1, to tell your husband what to do. You’re his wife, not his mother, and he’s an adult, not a toddler.

    But if you want to, you can say you will support him by telling him what to do:

    – Stay in his job (it’s easier to job search while employed)
    – Find a career or job search counsellor and meet with them
    – Listen to this person and spend (reasonable amount of time) per day on job searching.

  55. disconnect*

    OP 1, make your husband read (at least part of) the gigantic thread on Metafilter about emotional labor. Your description makes him sound like he’s depressed and overwhelmed, and the last thing I’d normally suggest is that he take on something as heavy as that, but he needs to understand that you are doing a METRIC FUCKTON OF WORK RIGHT NOW BECAUSE OF HIM. Your needs are just as valid as his. He needs you to support him? That’s what you’re doing! It may be invisible to him, but that doesn’t make it any less of a job on your part.
    OP 1’s husband, your wife needs you. She’s frustrated and angry and tired. You can start to fix that! Start taking care of your life, take some of the load off her shoulders, and work with her. Keep talking to her, and start actively listening to her. Get a therapist. And note that this is all orthogonal to your job search. By all means, hire a career coach, make contacts with recruiters, reach out to past colleagues and old friends, but do all that stuff alongside your relationship building activities.

    1. AnonEMoose*

      This! Thisthisthisthisthis! He needs to understand that this is not just “all about him.” You have a stake in this, too, and it’s a significant one.

      My DH has depression. Mostly, his is managed fairly well with medication. But at times, he struggles. And when that happens, there is emotional labor that falls to me. Sometimes of the “take a deep breath, and don’t snap back at him, no matter how much you want to” variety. Sometimes of the “Ok, I’m going to take care of X myself, because he’s not in a good place for it” variety. And I do it, because I love him, he supports me when I need it, and it’s not a 24/7 sort of thing. But it’s work, no question.

  56. Ashley*

    Hahahaha! I want to quit my job and spend my day searching for a ‘dream job’ too. Honestly, I would be more supportive if he had been there for a year and miserable and needed something to shake things up. Then, I could see, quitting, and get a couple of part-time jobs. He has been there for 15 years! It his only professional job. There is absolutely NO WAY being unemployed is going to make him MORE motivated.

    I get it, I spent 4 years in a company that sucked my soul. Job searching is SO HARD when you hate your job because you want to check out when you get home. But you have to do the work to find a new job.

    He has been there 15 years – he is not great at initiative or action steps. It might be a good to look for a therapist or a life coach to help with that.

    You said it, ultimately HE need to be responsible for the change. When I was unhappy at work, I got addicted to the complaining, poor me attitude. The problem with that is you feel like you are doing something. You’re not, just making yourself more miserable.

  57. Dovahkiin*

    LW#2 – A former boss of mine handled this beautifully early in my career when I applied for a job at her company. After the 2nd interview and a short meeting with the founder of the company, she sent me an email thanking me for my time, expressing how excited she was at the opportunity to hire me, and then asked if I’d be free later that week for a coffee to discuss the workplace culture.

    I said yes, and then over coffee, she gave me the skinny: basically “there are x behavioral/dysfunctional problems in our workplace. This is how I’ve learned to deal with them. As your manager, I will shield you the best I can. If you work here, I can’t promise it will be all sunshine and rainbows, but we do believe in professional development and you can definitely get X, Y, and Z skills here.”

    I took the job because I was 24, hungry, poor, and desperately wanted a job in the publishing industry. (Plus I had worked retail and was already used to seeing the worst human behavior. I’ve been spit on at work before) She was right about everything – and she was a GREAT boss and stuck up for me when it counted and she really did keep the worst of the dysfunction off my back. I also worked hard to learn those X, Y, and Z skills and and after 1.5 years I left with a better skill set.

    She wasn’t job searching at the time, which makes it a bit different – but I still think you can say something like “There are some issued with A and B in the workplace. This is how I’ve learned to handle them. I just want to give you the whole picture before you say yes.” I think the timeline my former boss used was to wait till she got the ok to make the offer before talking to me. That way she wouldn’t have to have “the talk” with every applicant.

  58. Brett*

    #4 To add to a lot of comments above, also many robberies happen either just after open or right before close. Unlike thefts, where volume and traffic help hide it, robbers want to operate when there are few people around, especially if it possible that not all the employees have arrived or are in place yet.

    Closing late is very risky for robbery, but opening early carries a similar risk. If you have some staff engaged in meetings and other duties before open, the risk is even worse.

    1. kapers*

      I used to close a store alone and I’d get people yanking on the door as I was trying to bag up the cash! These people scared me because if they lacked the sense to read the posted hours, the boundaries to adhere to them, and the decency not to startle teenage girls, then what else were they capable of?

      In the morning maybe it’s not as scary but I’m guessing you would not keep your job if you took it upon yourself to let in a thief, or someone who slipped and fell, etc., before official hours. Insurers are very particular about that.

      Plus anybody who pouts about a store not being open special for them before it’s supposed to be is an entitled baby, and the last sort of person you should waste your accommodating attitude on.

    2. Rocky*

      When I worked retail, not having customers in the store before opening and after closing was a Huge Thing for this very reason. You couldn’t close out the cash registers until all the customers were gone and the doors were locked, and you had to open the registers before anyone was in the store. One place I worked, there was some story about an employee being mugged on an escalator when she was taking cash to the office at the end of the day. I don’t know if that was true, but that was the “We are f’ing serious about this” cautionary tale for employees.

  59. Photoshop Til I Drop*

    LW #4, where do you see this ending? If people know you’re opening a few minutes early, they’re just going to start coming even earlier than that. Soon you’ll have a yard sale situation on your hands. The cycle won’t stop.

  60. ArtK*

    LW #4
    I can tell you have a great deal of empathy and an instinct to make other people happy. Those are great, when practiced in moderation. I’m going to go a bit beyond Alison’s advice to point out some other things.

    When confronted with someone who has a problem, there are two questions you need to ask yourself. First, can I do anything about this? Second (and more important) is, should I do something about this? Be wary of taking on problems that firmly belong to other people. The case in your OP is just such a one. These people arrived before posted opening hours – if they’re unhappy, it’s a situation of their own making. Could you fix their problem? Sure, by opening the doors. Should you? No. First for all of the reasons Alison gave, but also out of concern/respect for your co-workers. You may be ready to face customers 15 minutes early, but they may need that remaining 15 minutes undisturbed. Don’t solve the customer’s problem by giving your co-workers problems.

    Customer can’t find an item in their size? Absolutely you should help solve that problem. Customer wants an item in a color that isn’t made? Sorry, can’t be done.

  61. Antti*

    OP4: Yeah, insurance is my first immediate thought on this one. If I got word that something happened to a customer at your business because someone had let them in before or after hours and there is a pattern of this happening, I would be seriously considering non-renewing your business’ insurance.

    And also, from a former retail/food service perspective, I wouldn’t be happy with a report or a manager doing that either because at least from the food service angle, we’re simply not ready to serve anyone until the store opens because we are still doing our opening preparations and such. The customer will ultimately still have to wait, which annoys them and puts additional pressure on the crew to hurry up and finish so they can get to the group of early birds.

    It can be annoying if there are a lot of people out waiting for the store to open, but ultimately they would be the unreasonable ones for expecting to receive service before you’re ready to open. It really is on them if they’re showing up 15 minutes before opening and they have to wait.

  62. Michelle D.*

    OP #4: I’ve worked many retail jobs in the past, as a sales associate, department manager, and assistant manager for a junior clothing store. I hate that awkward feeling of people just standing around while you wait to open, so I’ve been inclined to want to open early. But there’s no coming back from that. It’s enough for managers to accommodate customers who decide to come in last minute and shop, while you’re trying to close things down. Opening early was where I drew the line. The moment you do it for one customer, the more others will expect you to do the same for them. There have been plenty of times when we were conducting morning store meetings and disseminating pertinent info to the staff so they could plan their day accordingly. We simply couldn’t open early if we wanted to for that reason. A lot of times things just aren’t ready to open the store 15 minutes early.

    Personally, I’ve never been that type of shopper. I think it’s so rude to stand in front of a door waiting for a store to open or to come in five minutes before closing. I’m not sure of your store’s policy, but if it’s in a mall, I think they have these rules in place for a reason. If it’s a standalone store with a private owner, I think you should discuss it with your manager and team. It’s something I think the entire team should be on board with, because it may be clearing your conscience to let them in early, but your teammates may be inconvenienced. In my opinion, you run the risk of theft, unreasonable expectations, and risking your overall safety. It’s not your fault if they come early expecting service. Stores don’t have a walk-in, open door policy and it’s up to them to wait in the car or not leave from home too early.

  63. The Rat-Catcher*

    “He’s convinced that the current job is demotivating him too much to search on off-hours.”

    Maybe a change of viewpoint is warranted here. I think he’s only thinking this because he has another way out, in his eyes – living on savings/your income. My DH is miserable at his job too, but we don’t have the money for him to quit and wait it out to find something else. So when he gets beaten down by his job, he focuses on his way out – finding something else.

    It does get draining after a while and I don’t mean to discount his mental state here at all.

  64. Anon today*

    #1 – I so feel your pain. I have listened to complaining for years. Hubby’s job is annoying, I get it, but do something about it that doesn’t involve simply quitting with nothing in hand. Mine took the test to get into grad school for a teaching credential (teaching would have paid less than his position but that’s okay) but never took a single class. Now years later he tells people our financial planner advised against changing to teaching because of the offsets in teaching retirement plans against social security benefits. Yes, there is some offsetting but we never made a decision that his being miserable was better than living with that outcome. He just found complaining easier than being affirmative. When I gently try to steer him towards ownership of the outcome (because after all, he stayed at the job instead of finding another one) he tells me not to “go all HR on him”. Now that we’re older the convo has changed to “I have to retire early because I can’t stand it” so instead of giving “HR” advice, I do a spreadsheet and total what he will earn in salary and benefits over the next 12 and 24 months and show him that without commentary. The numbers tell the story and he has been sticking it out.

  65. Candi*

    #4 -on the worker side: I worked at a family owned dollar store once upon a time. Barely above minimum wage, no benefits, paper title was eventually supervisor because that’s all the boss could afford to give me.

    She still shelled out for me to arrive an hour before opening when I had those shifts, because there is stuff that needs to be done with no customers around. Cleaning, stocking, till count, so on and so forth.

    On the customer side: I can’t drive. That means I get a ride or catch the bus. That means I often arrive early at the store, the doctor’s, the service carrier, the bank… I deal with it. I read or play on my phone. I do not expect businesses to make an exception for me because of my circumstances. Hours are hours are hours, and I have to deal.

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