emailing my boyfriend’s interviewer, job searching when you share a name with a dominatrix who looks like you, and more

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

1. Should I email my boyfriend’s interviewer about how much he deserves the job?

My boyfriend is applying for an apprentice position. He moved states for me and I was wondering if it would be okay to email a possible employer about how much he deserves the job and tell them about how he moved for me and now I want to take a risk for him?

Noooooooo. Oh my goodness, no.

His girlfriend’s belief that he “deserves” the job will have exactly zero weight with an employer. Same thing for him moving for you and you now being willing to move for him. All that is totally irrelevant to them. They want to hire the person who’s the best fit for the job. It’s not a prize that they’re giving out; it’s a business decision, based on factors that you have no access to.

Sending that email would be likely to hurt his chances, because it’s such an inappropriate thing to do. Don’t do it.

2. Job searching when you share a name with a dominatrix who looks like you

During a long period of unemployment, I took some advice that I’ve read in several places and Googled my name. I was rather disturbed by what I found. The first several results belong to a dominatrix who uses my name as her stage name, and in many social media platforms. I clicked on her website and found that she even looks quite a bit like me. I wonder what, if anything, I should do about this? I really don’t want my name being associated with this type of business. I find it all rather embarrassing.

The typical advice when you’re trying to distinguish yourself online from someone with the same name is to build up your own internet presence so that it becomes clear you’re a different person — make sure you have a LinkedIn profile with a photo that looks as different from her as possible, write some articles, comment in a professional and smart sounding way on articles on professional sites like, for example, Harvard Business Review, etc. You might also consider using your middle initial professionally as a way to separate yourself from her. And there’s more advice in the comments on this piece from a few years ago about someone who shares a name with a porn star.

3. I’m hurt by a colleague’s behavior after my mother’s death

I have a dilemma and could greatly use your help in crafting an appropriate response to a former colleague who was also (I thought) a close friend.

Two and a half years ago, my mother, to whom I was extremely close, passed away unexpectedly. A former work colleague with whom I had kept in close touch called me the day after Mom died, ostensibly to see how I was doing (answer: not well). The conversation mostly involved her questioning me extensively about the accidental circumstances of Mom’s death. She did, however, make a point to ask me the date, time, and place of the memorial service.

And I haven’t seen or heard from her since.

I am a very loyal friend, and her radio silence was at first bewildering. Now I’m just terribly hurt and angry – furious, actually – and I have no desire to rekindle any friendship we might have had. (Caveat: in working through my grief, I admit that I didn’t contact her, either.) We work in a very small field and it’s inevitable that we’ll run into each other, very likely sooner rather than later at a professional conference or event. She’s one of those “shiny HAPPY!” people who never disagrees with anyone to their face; people who don’t know her well think she is charming and wonderful. I’m certain that she’ll greet me as if no time has passed and all is well between us. Can you please help me figure out how to respond to her in a way that is polite and professional but clearly communicates how hurt I am that doesn’t involve me A) flipping out on her publicly, or B) looking like a giant, cantankerous bitch in front of our colleagues?

I’m sorry — both about your mom and about this friend letting you down. I know it’s cold comfort, but there are an awful lot of people who do terribly with death and bereaved people; they seem to get so uncomfortable and unsure of what to say that they end up saying nothing/doing nothing. I don’t know if that’s the case with your friend or not (her phone call to you the next day says maybe that’s not quite it with her), but it’s worth considering.

As for what to do, I think “polite but chilly” is what you’re looking for here. You greet her, you are polite, but you don’t owe her any warmth or personal interest, and it’s fine to turn away as soon as politeness allows.

4. My coworker leaves work for another job

I work at an office in a college, so our hours are flexible and we have a lot of vacation time. A coworker of mine started last year and used all her vacation time in the first two months she was working, which already seemed odd to me but I figured it was a pre-planned trip that she couldn’t cancel.

But then she started to leave work early or take entire days/long weekends to go to another job. I don’t know what her arrangement was with our manager — if she was taking days unpaid or making up the hours. But I did get the impression from my manager that she did not know the extent of the coworker’s commitment to this other job when she hired her, and now we are all stuck with this situation.

My concern isn’t exactly the fairness in pay; I assume that is taken care of somehow. I feel like it’s unfair that she’s able to leave work whenever she wants with little notice to go to another (paying) job. Plenty of people in our office have children, families, hobbies that we would all love to just pick up on a Friday instead of working. She seems to create her own schedule when the rest of us are expected to give advance notice for something as small as a doctor’s appointment or a vacation day. She even planned a whole week-long vacation (booked flights, hotels) and THEN asked for the time off, which created a scheduling conflict with one of our events. And now that she does have vacation time, she’s using her paid vacation to go to another job and gets paid on top of that. Is that manipulative? I guess it’s her time to do with as she pleases.This coworker is also routinely late because she “slept in,” but she is good at her job when she’s here.

Am I being petty in even caring about this? I feel like I only care about it because it isn’t fair and it’s bad for morale, and not because it’s had a big impact on our workflow. Thank you for any advice you can give – even if it’s to just let it go.

I don’t think it’s a problem that she’s using her vacation time for another paying job; anyone else could presumably do that too if they wanted to. But it’s an issue if she’s (a) letting her second job impact her first job (leaving people in the lurch, having unanticipated absences that others than have to cover for) or (b) getting special treatment that others don’t get (which sounds like is definitely happening). It’s possible that she’s valuable enough that your manager is willing to make these exceptions for her. But it sounds like that might not be the case, and that your manager feels stuck with the situation (which, as the person with authority, she’s really not).

You could certainly point out to your manager the ways this is impacting on your work. You could also point out the disparity in the context of asking whether these same benefits are available to the rest of you — as in, “I know Jane has been leaving early on Fridays when she judges that her workload allows it. Is that something the rest of us can do as well?” If your manager says something like, “Well, Jane has to do that because of her second job,” it would be reasonable to reply, “And of course most of us have things outside of work too that we’d love to spend time on” … and if you have a pretty good relationship with your manager and she’s open to this kind of thing, you could add, “It’s tough watching Jane be allowed to manage her schedule in ways that aren’t available to the rest of us, without the knowing the context for the disparity. Can you help me understand why her position is different?”

5. Remembering your start and end dates, and listing jobs on an application that aren’t on your resume

On my resume, I only include the last two jobs I’ve held. One I’ve been at for four years, the other for six months before transitioning to my current position. Before that, I had two temporary jobs (one seasonal, one through a temp agency) and they each lasted less than six months — two months and one month, respectively. So I no longer include them on my resume.

However, I had a moment of panic when applying for a state job which asked for your last 10 years of work history. I included the little temporary ones because it seemed prudent to do so, given that they’ll show on any background check, but I didn’t go back and add them to my resume, too. Is that going to be odd for a prospective employer who has asked for the past 10 years?

I also can’t remember my exact start and end dates at this point and usually aim for the best approximate. Is that okay? Am I freaking out for no reason?! I’m so ready to move on and I want to do the best I can, of course, in providing accurate information everywhere it’s asked for, especially since I’m after admin or secretarial positions and attention to detail is almost always listed somewhere as a requirement.

You’re fine. It’s perfectly normal to leave very short-term jobs off a resume, or to have things that you list in an application’s full accounting of the last 10 years that you didn’t include on your resume. A resume is a marketing document where you include the things most likely to strengthen your candidacy; it’s not required to be a full accounting of everything you’ve ever done.

And it’s very common not to able to remember exact starting and ending dates. You do want to get the month correct if at all possible, but it’s fine to list all the dates as the 1st or 15th of the month, or something like that.

{ 259 comments… read them below }

  1. Ad Issues

    I’m removing this because I really want to keep reports of ad issues out of the comments (where I don’t always see them and/or where they don’t always contain all the info I need to act on them) — can you either email me or fill out the ad report form (which is always linked just above the comment box)? That’ll collect all the info I need to be able to investigate (or if you email me, I can ask you the questions I’d need). Thank you and apologies for the issues you’re encountering.

  2. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life

    I’m not LW #2 but I was just telling a friend the other day of this exact same situation. I’m not sure why it doesn’t bother me more but I had a good laugh about it at the time and have only thought about it when people mention weird name coincidences.

    1. Hornswoggler

      Someone with my name is an exotic dancer in Los Angeles. My husband shares a name with a famous Reggae artist, the head of a satanist sect and a British army General among others.

      1. Boo

        Wait, how do you know about the satanist sect guy?! Does he have a website? LinkedIn? Is he endorsed for his skill at remembering the secret password and speed of removing chalk pentagrams from the floor?

        1. Dana

          Luciferians have churches and websites and monthly newslestters and such. There are a bunch of small religions that could be described as satanist and they’re all pretty much just church.

    2. rozin

      I never shared names with someone as exciting as a porn star or a dominatrix, but there are a LOT of people with my name including some journalists, real estate agents, scientists, and doctors (I’m sure my mom wished I was those people since she’s always wanted me to be a doctor). Most of them have the same race and hair color as me, and I don’t even show up until the third page on Google. I’ve found Alison’s advice of including the middle initial is the perfect way to distinguish myself.

    3. Candi

      I share my preferred name with a radio personality! But she’s at least thirty years younger and not a thing alike. And she doesn’t have my one-of-a-kind custom avatar. :p (Useless for work because it’s a fan thing, though. Oh well.)

  3. NicoleK

    #3 There can be any number of reasons why you have not heard from you friend.
    1. She’s weirded out by death and grief.
    2. She thought you needed time to deal with your loss and grief and then the weeks turned into months and so on. 3. You thought of her as a close friend and she thought of you as a casual friend.
    4. She’s not a very thoughtful person.
    5. If you were the one that always initiated contact, maybe it just didn’t occur to her
    5. Maybe something tragic happened in her life since you last spoke.

    Who knows….Also you didn’t reach out to her either. People aren’t mind readers.

    That said, I would rehearse several bland responses in the event that you run into her at a work event. If things get awkward, excuse yourself by saying you need to use the restroom, get a drink of water, get some air, or talk to so and so.

    1. New Bee

      I’m reading it as that the OP thought this person would attend when she requested the memorial service details, and when she didn’t the extensive questioning about the circumstances felt nosy/gossipy. I agree with your (and Alison’s advice) and would add that she should extend the blandness/noncommittal responses to any questioning about why she’s not acting like a close friend. At least for me, I’ve sometimes felt obligated to explain when the person gets mad at me for not acting like we’re BFFs and then fallen back into the relationship until the next breach.

    2. snuck

      I ran into my arch nemesis the first time a few weeks ago.

      The situation blew up almost four years ago, not the same situation as yours, but basically the same outcomes – she had been particularly close, poked around in my life, and then declared herself absent. She too was a shiny happy lala type of person, who knows great personal privilege. I tossed and turned for a very *very* long time (this had deep reaching support network and family implications)… and eventually realised I didn’t want her in my life.

      Fast forward until a few weeks ago, on a family holiday on an island … at the only park on the island… and who else is there with her same aged kids? Ugh.

      I avoided her for a couple of days (made sure we weren’t there the same time as her)… when I finally had the gumption to face her I did, exchanged minimum pleasantries, and moved on from her with a polite excuse… the next day she bailed me up at the park and asked me all sorts of personal questions, I chose to answer some of them (as an active choice) and deflected others… and politely made my excuses and left.

      I feel better now. She’s been this big water balloon hanging over my head waiting to pop. It became a drama because of the unspoken stuff. I haven’t spoken to her about her behaviour, there’s no point, she hasn’t changed. But in chatting politely and within my own limits with her I got a chance to see that this wasn’t about me, it was about her… and who she is. And that has helped me feel more settled in it all.

      1. Nerfmobile

        I am sorry about the situation you found yourself in. But I love the phrase ‘great personal privilege’ and I am definitely going to keep it for use. There are several people in my life in exactly that state and it can sometimes be hard to reconcile their outcomes with mine. I can get resentful at times and this will be helpful in framing the situations in a more neutral way.

    1. EmmaLou

      We’ve run into so many online applications where they won’t let you leave boxes empty and want all three parts of the date. We just guess and hope we’re close.

      1. Crystalline (#5)

        Yes, yes, yes. You try to sneak by with the month and they’ll slap you back like “Excuse you, we also asked for the exact hour you began and the precise minute you left.”

        @DreamQueen: I do that if it’s allowed, though!

      1. snuck

        For the date fields why not just enter 1/MM/YY just to get through. Anyone checking isn’t going to toss your whole application based on an incorrect date field when it’s clear you’ve got the month/year right. And a computer can’t tell, it won’t know if you started on the 1st or 31st… just a person manually checking, who will work it out – that you don’t know the exact date. First, fifteenth and thirtieth are common dates to dupe date fields with.

          1. snuck

            Heh… I missed it. Was skimming. So definitely feel like I’ve seen versions of this same question before. Will read with more attention next time… all the way to the last sentence :)

        1. Mrs. Psmith

          Just wanted to chime in that when my husband applied for jobs with the state, he ran into the same problem of not remembering the exact day of the month he started jobs years ago (they wanted his ENTIRE work history. Hello, job busing tables in high school!). He just ended up using the 15th of each month as the start and end dates. He ran into zero issues doing that, and was hired for one of the positions he applied for.

          1. Crystalline (#5)

            That’s terrifying. I worked at an amusement park when I was about 15, and all I remember now is that it was terribly hot and I stood around wrapped in a stuffed snake an awful lot. At least most of them, at least that I’ve encountered thus far, don’t expect you to have manager’s names and company phone numbers beyond the last 3 or so.

            Thank you!

    2. BackintheSunshine

      I have a separate document with the following information in case I need it for background checks or other reasons:
      – every home address
      – company name, address, job title, name/title of last supervisor, and start/end dates and salary history
      – name and contact details for references

      I started this when I started leaving jobs of my resume and it’s proven helpful more than once.

      1. Ayla K

        I do the same thing! It’s so much easier referring to one document than trying to hunt all over the internet, my phone, e-mail history, and old address books trying to dig up everything I need. Take the time to build this document as you’re applying (so you know what to include and you have the information handy anyway) and it will save you so much grief next time.

      2. Yetanotherjennifer

        I have a document like this as well and it is so handy. Only takes a couple of minutes to keep it up-to-date. Even now when many applications are online, I still make sure I have a copy in my portfolio when I go to an interview.

      3. Crystalline (#5)

        I just started something like this when I re-wrote my resume and began job hunting again, but you’ve included more detail than I have…and some of this I do remember. Thank you, that’s super helpful! Addresses have been another difficult one, and I haven’t even moved *that* many times!

      4. Cath in Canada

        Oh man, I wish I’d done this when I was applying for permanent residence. I figured out most of the job start and end dates, but the home addresses were a nightmare… I always lived with roommates and moved at least once every couple of years on average. I think I might have been off by a month or two on some of them.

      5. TootsNYC

        I’ve heard the advice that you should redo your resumé as soon as you start your new job. (Updating a master document then would be good as well.)

        And then you’ll have it all ready to fill in your new accomplishments when you’re ready to start looking for a new one. I thought it was smart!

      6. Augusta Sugarbean

        Absolutely! Another suggestion – keep notes about job duties at each place and examples of tasks. I’ve been applying for jobs lately after being at my current place for over a decade. I was updating and rewriting my resume and can’t for the life of me remember what some of my job duties listed on my resume entailed.

    3. 2horseygirls

      I sat down, and created a “master resume” as far back as I could, with company names, addresses, phone, email, salary, start and end dates, reason for leaving, and every single detail I could remember about each job. It lives on a flash drive, and I print a copy to take with me or have handy for filling out applications, but no one ever sees it but me. It makes a good base for ‘save as’ > 161010 resume CompanyPosition

      1. TootsNYC

        I suggested to my college-age daughter that she start this sort of thing so she’d have it.
        And that she should include name and title of each boss or helpful colleague. LinkedIn can help with some of that, but companies have been known to go out of business.

        Also good to do w/ all health issues. Though maybe not on an electronic medium.

        1. hayling

          So true about health issues! Better to keep track of them now then have to try to reconstruct. I also keep a running list on my phone of all the medications I take so that it’s easy to fill out those forms at the doctor (or when giving blood!).

        2. Bethlam

          I keep a medical history spreadsheet. Lists of all medical issues, tests, surgeries, immunizations, physical therapy, medication prescribed, etc. I have columns for dates and category (test, illness, surgery, etc.), so that I can sort, and for the names of hospitals and doctors. On the bottom, I list all of my allergies, daily medications, chronic conditions, blood type, name of primary care physician, and abbreviated family history. When I go to a new doctor, I take a copy. Then when I’m given the form to fill out, I write “see attached” and give them the copy. I’ve practically been kissed by medical professionals for providing such a detailed, organized medical history.

    1. Artemesia

      I would bet that with many employers this would result in immediately putting the guy’s application in the discard pile especially where there are lots of applicants. Who wants to invite drama into their workplace and boundryless people mean drama. This would be a 100% bad idea — it would probably torpedo his chances most of the time and never help them.

      1. snuck

        This is where my mind would wander… and if I had 20 suitable candidates, and 19 of them played the business norms, and one didn’t (by their girlfriend contacting me)… then I’d select my interviews in the 19…

        Now… if your boyfriend gets an interview, and it seems appropriate and in context to a question… he can drop the fact that he’s moved interstate and plans to stay because he has a relationship locally that he moved for… but that’s up to him, and his interview.

        1. NotAnotherManager!

          Seriously. The only person outside my organization with whom I want to discuss someone’s candidacy is him/her, maybe his/her recruiter, and, if I’m serious about hiring the candidate, their references (a call that I will initiate). I don’t talk to spouses, significant others, parents, academic advisors, etc. I’m not hiring them.

          General rule of thumb: Unless your SO/child/etc. is incapacitated and cannot contact their employer or potential employer themselves, DO NOT CONTACT THEM. At all. Period. End of statement.

          I would really love to understand the thought process on this. What actual good do people think is going to come from making these calls/sending these emails? What possible bearing does a romantic partner’s recommendation have on an employment decision? Is any employer actually going to be impressed that someone moved for a romantic relationship (as opposed to worrying that the employee will leave follow the SO anywhere he/she goes)? This is a proposition with all downside and no upside.

          1. Collarbone High

            This makes me think of reality shows like Project Runway, America’s Next Top Model etc. where both the contestants and judges talk incessantly about “wanting it” as a qualification. When someone is eliminated, it’s because “they didn’t want it badly enough.” When someone is asked why they should win, the answer is often some form of “because I want it more than everyone else.” They also talk a lot about who “deserves” to win.

            I’ve often wondered if those shows are contributing to a mentality that if you really want a job, you deserve to get it.

              1. Brogrammer

                Yes! It’s ridiculous, but entertainment trains people to use hindsight to make assumptions about what went into the situation.

                Note how there’s no way to tell which team “wants it more” before the game is played.

            1. Lissa

              Any time the word “deserve” comes up in reference to jobs, I cringe. It’s almost always something like “deserve it because heart-tugging bad circumstances” “deserve it because I want it so much” or “deserve it because I tried really hard” but considering there may be dozens/hundreds of other applicants, even if these were the criteria by which people hired (spoiler alert; it isn’t), other applicants probably also “deserve it”.

            2. TootsNYC

              I still remember my under-employed post-college brother-in-law saying, “Don’t I deserve to have a nice apartment?” And I said, “Everybody deserves to have a safe place to sleep, but apartments go to the people who are able to pay the rent.”

          2. Emilia Bedelia

            I think it’s just inexperience. You and I and everyone else who has ever worked in a professional environment is cringing at the thought; someone who hasn’t necessarily had that experience just wouldn’t know. I’ve seen some insanely unprofessional things happen in a lot of workplaces, and I can absolutely see why someone may think a polite and earnest phone call wouldn’t be completely out of line.
            It’s a pretty egregious misstep, sure, but I don’t get the complete outrage that people are expressing at this. That’s why the LW asked the question- she didn’t know whether it was appropriate or not.

            1. Liz

              It’s also difficult because it’s so contextual. Tons of people get jobs by being in networks and knowing a guy who knows a guy- and gets talked up by the right person at the right time. This is in many respects exactly the same thing- but yet totally not.

          3. Anon1

            It does make me wonder if some people just get stuck in this “I Am A High Achiever Who Gets Things Done” role at some point in their lives and just don’t ever look around and ask themselves if their go-getting ways are actually helping in a given situation.

      2. Grey

        Right. The boss will be wondering how far this might go. Hiring him suggests to you that your letter was helpful.

        “My boyfriend really deserves that promotion/raise”.
        “My boyfriend needs to work less overtime”.
        “My boyfriend needs Skittles in the vending machine”.

        Sure, you probably wouldn’t do that, but they’re not going to risk it.

    2. New Bee

      To add (because I once had to talk a family member out of doing this for her child, except it was for not getting into an undergraduate program*), your opinion has no relevance to his fit for the job because we’re all positively biased toward the people we care about. It sounds like the move had a positive effect on your relationship, which is great, but that’s none of the employer’s concern, and it’d be weird to expect a professional reward for a personal choice (wouldn’t you find it weird if he got rejected and the employer said, “We went with Ned because he has two kids which trumps moving, sorry”?).

      *Good on you for writing AAM to ask! My family member told me this in passing, and I had the same reaction as Alison’s first line plus a 45-minute “oh hell no, and let me tell you all of the ways this will massively backfire” conversation.

      1. Artemesia

        This. I had a kid who didn’t get into an undergrad program after being out a couple of years having flunked out of his first college. He is supersmart with scores to prove it and I thought they should accept him — they wanted him to go to a community college first to prove himself which I knew would be disastrous for him. So did I call them? Hell, no. I coached him on the kind of appeal letter to write; he wrote, made the case in the two years since leaving college he had worked and supported himself and was now committed to work hard and asked to be admitted on probation for a semester to flagship state school. They admitted him and by the next semester he was in the honors program and he graduated Summa cum Laude (one notch better than his mother back in the day.) A parent or spouse or girlfriend simply cannot meddle directly in the SOs job, school or whatever; the only effect you can have is on their behavior and they need to decide if they want to take your advice.

        1. Brogrammer

          Good for you for giving him the support he needed. And good for him learning to do what he needed to succeed.

          But I do have to ask – why would going to community college have been disastrous for him? There’s no shame in being a transfer student.

          1. Doreen

            Might not have anything to do with being a transfer student. My son ended up at a community college (commuting) and stopped after he got his associates. I think if he had gone away to a four year college , he would have gotten a bachelors. Just because if there’s a convenient stopping point, he’s likely to stop- and regret it later. (Three years later, he now wants to finish the bachelor’s)

            1. SimontheGreyWarden

              This was how I read it. My husband went to community college just out of HS, blew things off, withdrew before failing out in his first semester, and then worked for a decade before deciding to go back to school. He finished that AA, but even though he is very smart he did not continue on for the BA. He kind of wanted to, but he also kind of wanted to play video games, and then he got a decent job using the AA and the thought of going back to school is pretty distant for him.

            2. TootsNYC

              Also, a four-year college might put you into classes for your degree program right away, which is very motivating. Community college may tend to put you in more general stuff.

              Also, I know this was true when I was a kid: There were different types of people at community college vs. four-year. And the sorts of people you’re in class with can make a big difference in your motivation, etc.

    3. Purest Green

      Agreed. I understand that OP 1 wants to help, but this isn’t the way. Perhaps instead you could direct him to this site and be supportive of his search behind the scenes.

    4. Liane

      Judging from past posts and comments on the site, IF a prospective employer really wants to know the SO’s take* on the move, the employer will invite them both to a city tour and/or meal as part of a late-stage/final interview. T

      *probably only in higher-level positions, academia and moving to another country

    5. Jenbug

      Most definitely. I work for a staffing agency and I get people calling all the time wanting to know about jobs for their >insert relationship here< and I have serious reservations about hiring those folks because it makes them seem incapable of doing things for themselves.

  4. Gaia

    OP1…no. I would be really skeeved out if I got that email about a candidate. In fact, I probably wouldn’t consider them further. And honestly, he doesn’t want to work for someone that isn’t weirded out by this kind of thing.

  5. Cat steal keyboard

    #1 No no no. But I did wonder if AAM has it weong that the risk they want to take is moving for the boyfriend – I thought when they talked about taking a risk they meant by sending this email? Which would still be all of the nope, obviously…

    #3 I get why you’re upset but is it possible she was waiting for you to reach out?

    1. Jeanne

      I thought the same that girlfriend’s risk was writing to the employer. No matter the interpretation, the advice is the same. Don’t do it!!

    2. Turtle Candle

      I interpreted it as you did–which is even more wrongheaded, because writing the employer is minimal risk for the LW (the most they’re risking is a rude response, and even that is less likely than just getting silence back), but potentially disastrous risk for the boyfriend (as everyone has noted, this could tank his chances).

      1. LeRainDrop

        I suppose it’s also a risk to the girlfriend that her boyfriend will break up with her when he finds out that she went around him and contacted his prospective employer!

  6. J

    I’ll never understand how people can think that contacting their significant others/daughter/son/etc’s employer for whatever reason whatsoever (unless they are so sick that they can’t move) will be a good idea.

    1. (different) Rebecca

      My ex-husband always wanted me to hang out with his bosses while waiting for him to get off shift, and I was all, ‘…noooo, that’s okay…’

    2. eplawyer

      I don’t either. Is this the natural extension of helicopter parenting, where people have learned love means overstepping boundaries and doing things for the other person that only the other person should be doing? Because honestly, just like helicopter parenting it hurts more than it helps.

      1. LQ

        I wondered if this stems from an earlier era where women were expected to be an extension of the spouse in some white collar jobs, so you were hiring both parties.

      2. Tuxedo Cat

        I think some of it is the economy still and feeling like you need to do whatever it takes to get a job.

        1. Product person

          I think some of it is the economy still and feeling like you need to do whatever it takes to get a job.

          Except that people should already know that this type of behavior is much more likely to prevent someone from getting a job, and that’s the puzzling part.

    3. MK

      Have never been that movie where a SO meddles in their patner’s career and it works out great? Because I can think of several such plot devices off the top of my head. Sadly fiction frequently promotes the idea that grand dramatic gestures and over the top emotion win the day.

      1. the gold digger

        Fiction also assumes that people with children don’t buy life insurance and also name guardians in their wills without consulting said guardians so that when both parents die in a crash, it is a huge surprise to the guardians that they are now in charge of one or several children and have to move them into a small apartment because there is no money to keep the house.

        Was I the only one who thought “Raising Helen” and “Life as We Know It” had to have been written by complete idiots?

        1. Candi

          Nope.

          They also don’t seem to get that guardianship can be refused, or that a legal guardian and the physical guardian don’t have to be the same person.

          Refusing the guardianship can mean all sorts of fun in the courts.

  7. Stellaaaaa

    OP3: This is one of those instances where people treat you how they would want to be treated in the same situation. Your friend probably likes to be left alone when she’s grieving. There are any number of reasons for why she might have planned on attending the funeral but ended up not being able (emotionally or otherwise) to attend.

    Is there something else here lurking beneath the surface? If a friendly work colleague skipped out on my mom’s funeral, I’m not sure it would register with me, and I doubt I’d hold it against her over two years later. You weren’t even working together at the time. It’s somewhat likely that she asked about the service out of politeness but never planned on attending.

    1. Daisy

      3. Yes, I was wondering if the OP was doing OK generally. This seems like an awful lot of mental energy for a former colleague she hasn’t seen, even accidentally, in two and a half years, and is unlikely to talk to again. (She says she’s going to bump into her ‘sooner rather than later’ but I’m not sure why, given that it hasn’t happened in such a long time.) OP, have you thought about talking to someone? About how you’re feeling, that is.

      1. Mookie

        If the OP is concerned about running into the former colleague, she’s concerned about it and she probably knows the likelihood of her doing so better than we do; she may be scanty on the details that make this so because she’s asking for specific advice–proper decorum–about a specific problem–negotiating a tricky former relationship in a professional environment with grace and tact. She also seems to know how she’s feeling–“terribly hurt, angry[, and] furious”–and is not soliciting advice about her mental or emotional health. Precisely why she resents this colleague and why her absence “registers” is not actually important or our business.

        1. Daisy

          What a bloody sanctimonious comment. It’s an agony aunt column, of course none of the letters are ‘our business’- that’s never stopped anyone discussing anything before.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            I didn’t think Mookie’s comment was sanctimonious. She’s presenting a counterpoint to the comments she’s responding to (which would have the counterpoint I presented to them too).

      2. Letter Writer #3

        LW #3 here. Actually, I’m doing OK – time helps quite a bit, – but I appreciate the concern. The reason this issue has become important is that I’m about about to publish the results of a long-standing research project, and will be presenting my work at several national meetings. As my field of expertise is very small (about 400 people in the US) it’s very likely I’ll run into my former co-worker at one or more of the meetings.

        By way of explanation, she was actually more than a former co-worker; we were (I thought) relatively close friends – we spoke regularly after I left our shared workplace and went out to dinner once or twice a month to catch up. I realize and accept that, for whatever reason, she doesn’t want to be friends anymore, but I do think that ghosting on a friendship immediately after a death in the family is remarkably bad timing. But one good thing did come out of this situation: it taught me how valuable and kind it is to check up on a grieving friend or acquaintance 3 or 6 or 12 months after their loss, when the reality of the death of a loved one really sets in.

        1. Artemesia

          I blew up a very close friendship in my late teens because I withdrew when her brother tragically died in an accident; I just didn’t know how to respond and avoidance ended up being distancing and hurt her and ended the relationship. I was a doofus who didn’t know how to behave in the face of something so awful and I was selfish to make it about my feelings and not hers. Grownups should know that reaching out is a minimally appropriate thing to do. I think you have good advice about being blandly ‘cordial’ but keeping your wall up if that is what you want. You can be polite without inviting her back in and without making a fuss.

        2. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.

          I deal with death terribly. I lost a lot of people young, including being widowed when my children were small. You’d think that I’d be good at helping others, because of that, and instead I’m the worst. I freeze up into panic and just, freeze. I’ve managed to sit through one funeral in 20 years and while they didn’t have to cart me away it was close there for a bit. Every death flashes me back.

          I absolutely remember everybody who was there for me, and I am forever grateful. I wish I could be that person and maybe somebody I’ll have that looked at.

          None of that is an excuse, just a story from the other side for a different perspective.

          1. Stellaaaaa

            I usually send a quick message saying, “You will be in my thoughts” or “I hope you have happier days soon” (that one is for when people experience multiple losses in quick succession- I realize it’s odd out of context). It doesn’t obligate the griever to answer and it’s not putting you in the position of asking if you can help or integrating yourself into a sad situation.

        3. Anon in NOVA

          I agree with everyone who has said she just may not have known how to respond. Also- is it possible she sent flowers to the service or something and you never found out? Maybe that’s why she asked for the details?

          I often make the mistake of not reaching out to people after life events, thinking that when they’re comfortable they’ll come to me. I also recognize that if they are genuinely deeply offended and don’t confront me about it, the friendship was likely not a great match on either end. I do feel very icked out by all of the questions she asked you, though.

          1. AnonAnalyst

            I do this too. I reach out to offer condolences and try to figure out if there’s anything I can do to help with planning the service or bringing meals, etc. But after that, I tend to leave people alone, thinking they want some time to themselves without being bothered.

            I do try to reach out every so often to see how they are doing, but sometimes other things come up and more time ends up passing than I intended. I usually end up calling the person and apologizing profusely for my radio silence, but I can see how the colleague might be in this awkward place now where she doesn’t know what to do because so much time has passed.

            That’s not to excuse her for ghosting, but maybe when you do see her she will be apologetic before you have the chance to say anything.

        4. Is it Friday Yet?

          I think you should be honest with her. You should tell her almost word for word what you just said in the second paragraph. I also deal horribly with death and end up just saying nothing because I am worried about saying the wrong thing. It could be that she found herself in this situation and then just wasn’t sure how to break the silence.

    2. mazzy

      This letter irks me because I’ve known people like this. The distinction from other people here is that OP says they have a history of being inconsiderate but have a great reputation because they are one of those “shiny happy people.”

      You’d be surprised what some people get away with as long as they are super polite on the surface and always smiling and making nice small talk. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve known who were the adult version of “popular” because their demeanor was such, even though there was no action to back up their social status. Meanwhile, the person with resting bitch face who’d give you the coat off her/his back has trouble making friends.

      I guess my point is that I don’t see a reason to think to hard about why this person didn’t show up because they’ve had a history of not being a great acquaintance.

      1. Liane

        Yeah, I have known a few of these folks. My one uncle (Dad’s brother-in-law), who passed away when I was a young child, was one of them. I only learned most of the details after I was grown. Dad always said that Uncle Jamie was easy to like (and they did get on) because he was friendly and had a big smile, which I recalled. Uncle Jamie, however, also, did mean and even wrong things that made Dad–rightfully in at least once incident–furious. Dad never did or said anything to Uncle Jamie because my aunt didn’t want him to intervene.

      2. Jules

        As a happy shiny person, your comment makes me sad. It takes a significant effort to be happy shiny despite having a crap week, month or year. But some of us were brought up to have a public face and a private face. I have a BRF myself but only when I am hidden in my cube or knee deep in work. It takes a lot out of me to be happy shiny interested when I am deeply introverted.

        When I flake, and I do, it’s not because I am not interested in you (the general you) but because I have used up all my banked up social credit. Remember, as a happy shiny person, I have to be happy and shiny to EVERYONE. People I like, people I don’t like, people who don’t like me. And while it’s easy to call me fake, I think because I grew up being the ‘cheerleader’/’people pleaser’/’dependable’ person of the people around me, it becomes a habit. I have very limited number of close friends and chances are, unless we socialize out of work (i.e. you know my spouse and kids), you probably are not one of them.

        So it’s easy to judge the happy shiny people, don’t be fooled by the glossy facade. There is a deeper person in there. Do you know the person underneath?

        1. HannahS

          Well, your line “When I flake…[it’s] because I have used up all my banked up social credit” is a summary of what the rest of us are saying is a problem. One of my (former) closest friends used up all of her social credit being a beneficent social butterfly, and had none left for me, and thus flaked out when I really needed her. She prefers to use social energy to be someone who makes everyone she meets feel good, which is entirely her prerogative, and while I know that her mannerisms with others aren’t fake at all, I feel like she unintentionally deceived me. Like, she’s so dependable! So kind! So supportive! She makes me feel like I can count on her! Medical crisis? Never mind, she’s busy making acquaintances feel good wayyy over there. Making people feel good on a day to day basis is really great, and I’m glad you do it, but do be sure you aren’t making people feel close to you if you aren’t able to follow through.

          1. Jules

            But here is the problem. Are you really her friend or are we friendly? While I am likely to flake on people I am friendly with, I don’t with my friends. Don’t mistake my friendliness with we are BFFs.

            1. HannahS

              Look, if *you* manage to make everyone you meet feel good without making them think that they’ll be able to later rely on you for support when their parents die, then you’re doing it right, and none of the above applies to you. But that’s definitely not the OP’s situation, it wasn’t mine, and it’s not the situation many of us are describing.

        2. Crystalline (#5)

          I think, as Happy Shiny People, it’s our responsibility to make sure that doesn’t happen. So we *don’t* flake on our real friends, the ones who are there for us when we need them and hope for the same when they need us. It’s not fair to them to say “sorry, used up all my allowance today on people that don’t particularly matter. You do and all, but I’m out for the day. Possibly the week. I had a meeting!”
          I’ve also explained this to the friends whom it might affect, and if I know they’re having a problem, I’ll reserve some of that ‘credit’ just in case. If I don’t, and I’m ‘out,’ well, for certain people I’ll overdraw. Because it’s more important for me to be the friend for them that I’d like to have, than it is to light up a stranger’s day, every day, all day.

          Your mileage may vary/you might already do this/insert all the usual disclaimers here, this is just my opinion and personal experience.

          1. Product person

            You’re kinda casting your pearls before swine, working harder to impress the people who don’t matter.

            Excellent point.

          2. Jules

            Nope, unless we are BFFs, everyone gets the same happy shininess. And one wonders if someone bothers to really know what is behind the shine.

        3. Barney Stinson

          Things I’ve observed in more than half a century:

          1. Everyone has a pile of crap to deal with. Some people have bigger piles, or stinkier piles, but everyone has crap. You talk to anyone long enough you’ll find a brother in prison, an aunt who can’t control her drinking, a cousin who’s a con man, a close relative who’s an addict, a parent who’s dying. No one is immune, no one is exempt, not even the happy shiny people.

          2. We tend to think that everyone else fully understands what they’re doing and why. We think that everyone else knows why they freeze up about going to a hospital or a funeral, or why they blurted out something inappropriate at the wrong time. Question: do YOU always know what/why you’re doing? Have you never walked away from a situation muttering “WHY DID I SAY THAT? WHY DID I DO THAT?”

          I didn’t think so.

          I’m thinking the coworker had every intention of going to the service, but then ran into a situation (personal or otherwise) that had to take precedence and then felt awkward about reaching out about it. I know that if my own aging parent had a crisis I might have to miss even my best friend’s parent’s funeral. Or if I got called out on a business trip I’d have trouble getting out of it so I could attend a non-family member’s funeral.

          And maybe the coworker didn’t think she was as good friends with the LW as LW thought. That happens, and it’s not necessarily anyone’s fault when it does.

      3. The Kurgen

        OMG, mazzy, “Meanwhile, the person with resting bitch face who’d give you the coat off her/his back has trouble making friends.”
        Me ×1,000,000!!

        1. Stellaaaaa

          I call the Shiny Happies “the people who have nice personalities but don’t do nice things.” Their insistence on being liked by everyone usually also means that they turn a blind eye to abuse or nastiness in the larger social circle…because they just want everyone to get along! And then ten years down the line they wonder why the good eggs drifted from the group and only the jerks are left. Being popular usually means putting up with and ignoring a lot of borderline abusive behavior.

      4. E, F and G

        I remember hearing Mrs. Crandall’s Boarding House by the Irish Rovers once and these lines always stuck with me:

        Missus Crandall is a lemon, She can never be a peach
        But the law of compensation is the one I always preach;
        You can always squeeze a lemon, Have you tried to squeeze a peach?

  8. A Person

    Op#4

    I worked with someone similar to your co-worker. She started out full time at the same time as I did. She seemed to determined to test the limits of acceptability re: PTO, Time in Lieu. Eight months in she got a second job and went part time but was still allowed all sorts of liberties which drove me up the wall since I’m very much, give an inch, take an inch. I distinctly remember another co-worker saying, “Boss said that because co-worker has to work at her other job A Person has to pick up some more overtime”.

    Sure, I was happy to take the overtime, but to hear it that way made me very disillusioned since co-worker was was then allowed to take the time back when it was convenient to her. Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything I could do as management approved it. When her second job ended she was pretty much allowed to dictate her own schedule when she came back to the company as a semi-full time worker. In the end, the reason she was allowed to do all that was that management liked her. Fortunately, I’m not working for that company anymore.

    I know the economy is a mess and second jobs are a matter of necessity for some people but I find it a little disingenuous that neither Jane nor your Manager have taken steps to either make her schedule reasonably predictable or offer some explanation of why she’s allowed all this slack. They don’t have to lay it all out but to not give even a bare-bones explanation seems a good way to build resentment.

    1. Scorpio

      LW 4 here – thank you. It sounds very similar to this situation. I also won’t mind taking on her work, but I don’t think it’s a good reason to ask someone to jump in to another person’s job unexpectedly. It seems like if we had advance warning, it wouldn’t be a huge issue. I’m glad you were able to leave.

  9. Panda Bandit

    #2 – Depending on the job you’re interviewing for, being mistaken for a dominatrix could be a plus. I’d be so tempted to put a whip on my belt and walk around with an authoritative attitude.

    Alison’s advice for distinguishing yourself from her is good. I think any reasonable employer will understand that with over 7 billion people on this planet there are bound to be a bunch of people with the same name. Best of luck on your search.

  10. Jolie

    #2 I know a British academic named Rob Ford – so he shared a name with that infamous Toronto Mayor.
    He uses Twitter professionally, so on Twitter he is Rob Ford (Manchester). I think he does the same on most other professional networks. Still didn’t stop many people some years ago for angrily tweeting at him to resign his mayoral position

    1. Bad Candidate

      After/during the first presidential debate a few weeks ago some people angrily tweeted at Jon Lester, the Cubs pitcher, instead of Lester Holt. You don’t even need to have the same exact name for people to get it wrong. Lester redirected them to the correct person. (GO CUBBIES!)

      1. flap

        The funniest one, to me, was people sending angry tweets to Chris Evans the American actor that he was ruining Top Gear (the intended target being Chris Evans the British TV dude). Even being Captain America doesn’t make you immune!

        1. LBK

          I enjoyed when people started sending angry social media messages to Rachael Ray after Beyonce released Lemonade, thinking she was Rachel Roy (which she hilariously responded to by posting a lemonade recipe on her Instagram).

          1. Bad Candidate

            Hilarious. If I’m going to rip someone a new one, I make darn sure I’m sending it to the right person!

        2. Cath in Canada

          My favourite was some poor American guy who has the handle @Harper. During the last Canadian election he started off tweeting stuff like “Canadians, please stop being mad at me!”, but then started replying to people in a hilariously snarky way :D

    2. Qmatilda

      I have two friends, Julia Roberts and Matt Lauer. Actually Julia introduced me to Matt, but that’s neither here nor there. Both get tweets/emails, etc. for their famous same-namer. Matt’s twitter feed was especially funny after the town hall that the famous Matt Lauer hosted.

  11. Bluesboy

    #4 If you do speak to your boss about this, think carefully first about how it might turn out.

    The fact that your colleague gets treated differently isn’t fair, there’s no doubt about that. But if your boss thinks about this and comes to agree with you, there are only two ways to make the situation fair – either extend the same freedom to everyone, or take that freedom away from your colleague.

    In many offices, extending that flexibility to everyone is impractical, so probably the result is that the freedom is taken away from your colleague. Net result to you: You have no extra freedom or flexibility – nothing has changed for you – but your colleague now hates you for getting involved in something that she thinks is between her and her boss (letter to AAM ‘I had an agreement with my boss to have flexibile hours and my jealous co-worker torpedoed it’). Possibly even some of your colleagues would feel the same way, isolating you.

    Don’t get me wrong, I sympathise and it ISN’T fair. Just make sure that if you do talk to your boss, you’re prepared for potential consequences.

    1. lascozzese

      +1000

      I wouldn’t make this about fairness tbh (although it ISN’T fair, I hear you) but about making sure that your co-workers scheduling doesn’t effect your work, or that it does so minimally.

    2. Scorpio

      LW 4 here. Thank you for your response! I definitely do not plan to bring it to my manager. She is keenly aware of what’s going on and has checked out of the situation. Also, I like this coworker and wouldn’t want to damage her situation just because I thought it wasn’t fair. Unless something directly impacts my work in a way that I feel is detrimental or unmanageable, I’m going to suck it up. I wrote in mostly to wonder if I’m ok in including this in my ongoing impression of poor management and inconsistent standards, or if I was just being petty. I’m glad to hear you and AAM agree it’s not fair. Thanks again for the advice.

      1. Purest Green

        Has anyone else in your workplace ever asked for the same kind of flexibility your coworker is getting? Don’t get me wrong – this would likely bother me too – but if one coworker is getting a benefit that I’ve never taken advantage of, then that’s more on me than anything else.

        1. Scorpio

          No, but I don’t know if anyone has asked for it. The way my manager has handled it has made it clear to me, however, that she thought it would be” a day here and there” (which we do have the flexibility to take even though it is *preferred* we give advance notice).

      2. LBK

        She is keenly aware of what’s going on and has checked out of the situation.

        I’m confused by your manager’s passivity in this situation – she’s making it sound like she adopted a problematic child and now she just has to make the best of it. If she doesn’t think the way your employee is operating is appropriate, shouldn’t she…y’know, manage?

        1. Scorpio

          Yes, she should. That’s just not how she operates as a manager (think someone who wants to be your friend and your boss). So…poor management.

    3. LBK

      Hmm, this seems like an odd take on the situation to me. If the coworker ends up being mad because she stopped getting special treatment, that sounds like her own problem to deal with. It’s her own fault for abusing whatever leeway she may have been given by the manager – it’s not the OP’s fault if she took it too far. You abuse your privileges, you lose them, and it’s extremely petty to be mad that someone else called you out on it.

  12. Former Retail Manager

    OP#3….so sorry for your loss. Great advice from Alison and others above. The only thing I could maybe guess, from my own anecdotal experience as to why your friend ghosted you, is either

    a) she is truly terrified of death and even being around someone who is grieving is too much for her and after so much time passed it became awkward to reach out to you and she was perhaps embarrassed by her own treatment of you
    OR
    b) she is one of those shiny HAPPY people that likes to mostly talk about herself and superficial topics. I’ve met my share of these folks over the years who have tried to strike up friendships but s**t never gets real in those friendships. The topics remain mostly surface and when you’re down and out and really need a friend they are nowhere to be seen.

    Regardless of which it is, best of luck in the future. Losing anyone close to you is never easy and this person certainly didn’t help matters.

    1. LuvThePets

      OP #3, I am sorry for you loss. I would be devastated to lose my mom. However, never forget that you don’t know what is going on in someone else’s life. Back in 2012, my husband and I had 3 close family members in the hospital almost non-stop from mid-October through Mid January- major surgeries, can’t take care of yourself, life threatening stuff. At one point, we had three people in two different hospitals, one of which required round-the-clock help because she also has disabilities on top of her surgery.

      Shortly after we finally got everyone well, my young teen daughter began having serious mental health problems and was eventually diagnosed with bipolar. She has developed some additional chronic health issues, so in any given month we might have up to eight dr and counseling appointments. On top of that, my husband and I both still work full time.

      Very few people know about all that we have had going on, for several reasons- a big one is out of respect for my daughter’s privacy and because of the terrible stigma. However, if I were your friend, I would not want to burden you with everything that fell on me all of a sudden. For a while there, it was all I could do to be there for my own family, much less be strong for someone else. I hope it all works out for you.

      1. Pixel

        Wow. I hope you had lots of supportive friends, neighbours and extended family, and that you are able to get a breather. What complete madness to go through.

        Our family is dealing with some mental health issues as well, and to be honest it sucks the life out of me (and life, work and the universe don’t stop just because I want off). Hoping for quieter times for us all.

  13. Lucy Honeychurch

    I was that two-job person in #4 for a while–I took a full-time position that paid less than minimum wage only on the condition that I could keep my part-time job and make those student loan payments. So I did miss several Saturday events and left early on a few Fridays, obviously letting management know ahead of time. I couldn’t have afforded to keep the full-time job without doing that, and management was okay with that trade-off. You don’t know what your coworker’s full story is, even if it seems unfair fron the outside.

    1. Scorpio

      LW 4 here – I completely understand – our jobs are not high paying ones. Having the second job in this institution is common and I applaud my boss for working with someone to help them make ends meet. I think the issue here is how management has given her zero accountability for her scheduling and she’s taking more liberty than she should in scheduling vacation without time-off approved or checking our calendar. It’s more a management issue than a coworker issue. I value you sharing your side of this type of situation. Thank you.

      1. TootsNYC

        This may be your opportunity–bring up the inconsistency in scheduling, and the last-minuteness, etc., and suggest that your boss work out everyone’s schedules and vacations and post them.

        That might be a tool that will just apply a little pressure so that things are more visible.

        Also feel free to say things like, “You’re leaving already?”

    2. Fish Microwaver

      It’s still unfair if the same sort of flexibility is not extended to everyone. Often in these situations one or a few are given flexibility at the expense of others who are left to finish the work or provide coverage. These others are often taken for granted and not considered for any perks.

      1. Scorpio

        Absolutely, and that’s the culture here beyond this situation. I’m not very confrontational and I don’t think that pointing out this thing among the many other double standards would do any good.

  14. Jaypea

    Removed because off-topic. (I keep comment threads here focused on the letters in the post.) Feel free to email it to me or post it on the Friday open thread.

  15. Jessie

    OP #4: Any chance her “second job” is actually reserve (military) duty? I know several reservists who have been questioned about their time off by coworkers. Most employers are pretty flexible with the fact that reserve duty can encroach on normal work hours (and are required to be by law, in most cases.)

    1. Scorpio

      Good thought, but it’s not. I would definitely write it off in that case! Hopefully other readers in my situation will consider that as a possibility before jumping to conclusions. Thank you for bringing it to the table!

      1. Jessie

        Ah, great. Just checking. I remember I got back from my two-week AT once (which caused me to be gone during a particularly hectic time) and a coworker kind of coldly asking me how my “vacation” went and saying “must be nice” etc.

        1. jamlady

          Ew awful. My husband actually switched shifts with someone today because the other guy got back from AT late last night and didn’t want to start at 6 am today. Really not a big deal. Why can’t people just be normal and supportive?

          1. Jessie

            It’s not that they’re not supportive: they just don’t think about it. Someone is gone during a really busy time when it’s a real nuisance having them out of the office and some people automatically assume it’s something you have control over, like vacation.

  16. Frumpy

    #3: The fact that she was asking specifics about the service and the circumstances makes me feel like she was probably put up to calling OP to dig up the dirt. Not everyone or anyone would be able to call someone and get this info.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      Or she could have intended to go to the service but for whatever reason didn’t. Someone I worked with and admired passed several years ago, and I followed up with former colleagues to ask about the specifics of the service. The day of, I was dressed and ready to go, but I experienced such an overwhelming feeling of loss and sadness that I couldn’t bring myself to drive over (I knew I was a wreck, and it didn’t seem safe to drive in that condition). I’m not proud of myself, but I certainly wasn’t trying to dig up dirt when I asked about a service I ultimately didn’t attend.

      It’s totally possible that this person is shady, but it seems unhelpful to assume bad intent right off the bat.

  17. Lalita

    I think Alison is going to have to start a sort of commandments of what NOT to do on her site since the question posed by OP#1 have been asked in every incarnation possible (i.e. “can I email my husband’s/wife’s/son’s/daughter’s/in-law’s/godchild’s/friend’s prospective employer/current employer about how wonderful they are/perfect for the job/need time off/how this job is ruining our relationship?”) The answer will always be NO. Unless they are in the hospital, unconscious and you’re reporting it to their employer or prospective employer, the answer will always be NO, non, nahin, bu-yau, nien, niet, não and whatever is NO in any language I don’t know.

    1. Dot Warner

      “Lucy, there is one word that means the same thing in English, Spanish, and French. You know what that word is? NO.” – Ricky Ricardo

  18. KR

    The silence from your friend is definitely something to be upset with her about especially since you were going through a hard time but some people just don’t like funerals and you shouldn’t hold that against them. Friends of mine have died and I didn’t go to their services – I just don’t believe funerals help people at all since they are already dead. The whole practice just feels excessive and over emotional to me. Perhaps she thought you would be overwhelmed enough that day or she had another commitment or had something else going on that required her attention or something and then just didn’t know how to restart communication again.

    1. the gold digger

      You don’t go to the funeral for the dead person. You go to support the friends and family of the dead person. Nobody likes funerals. Nobody. You go anyhow because you care about the people left behind.

        1. Izzy

          For some people, seeing the person dead, or seeing the casket lowered into the grave, helps with closure, although it’s painful. According to one such person, it is harder to cope with loss when the person “just isn’t there any more.”

    2. ThatGirl

      It is your prerogative not to go to funerals, and that’s fine – but they are for the living. They are a goodbye ritual that helps a lot of people find a sense of saying goodbye. And friends and family showing up are a show of support for the survivors.

      My husband hates wakes and funerals. He doesn’t deal with death well. But when his grandpa died rather suddenly in July, and the memorial was delayed a couple weeks, he found himself at loose ends until the service, because it didn’t quite feel real and he hadn’t really said goodbye.

      So while you make some good points, I think you should be sensitive to the fact that services are really meaningful and important to some people.

      1. KR

        I do go to funerals when someone needs my support, for example my fiance’s grandmother died last year and I went to the services with him. I don’t disagree with anything you’re saying here.

    3. fposte

      If you dislike funerals more than you like the bereaved, then staying away seems fair. But if you’re good friends, you do stuff you don’t like to help them when they’re in need. If you have a funeral phobia or something, you can do something else around that time to be supportive, but if you don’t do that either and ghost instead, it’s reasonable for the bereaved friend to consider that there just wasn’t the friendship there that they had hoped.

      1. TootsNYC

        “you do stuff you don’t like”

        I find myself really frustrated lately, because it seems like I hear so very many people (my kids come to mind–maybe I was not that great a parent) who kvetch and moan about having to do things, or being expected to do things, they don’t like.

        Like wear a suit, go to a funeral, eat foods they aren’t allergic to but just don’t much care for.

        1. fposte

          I think it’s a learned tolerance, and I think you’re right that we’re at an interesting time when it comes to discomfort; IMHO, we are, in our usual binary American way, finding it hard to distinguish between “this discomfort matters and is something that you are entitled to take steps to honor” and “all discomfort should be avoided.”

        2. Annie Moose

          I am the kvetchiest, whiniest, moaniest person about social events and stuff like that, I am perfectly happy to hole up in my apartment and stay there forever. And I’m dreadful at empathy, it doesn’t come naturally at all. But man, some things you just have to do or put up with, you know? Not everything in life can be about me and my preferences. In fact, most things in life shouldn’t be about me and my preferences.

          Anyway, I talk myself into doing this stuff by telling myself it’ll help me be better at social stuff if I make myself do it. :P Eat the gross salad. Go to the funeral. Drive an hour to see your parents on the weekends. Whatever.

        3. Clever Name

          We’re going through a lot of this with my 9-year-old. He’d rather stay home and play video games than go to school. We’ve had many conversations about how he’s an adult-in-training, and every adult has to do stuff they don’t want to do. Like going to work. Or funerals.

    4. nutella fitzgerald

      I totally get not liking funerals, I’m just not sure that it’s only “some people” who don’t :) Is funeral crashing a thing?

        1. the gold digger

          Actually, yes! My great-uncle’s funeral was at the chapel at the assisted living place where he had lived. The reception was in the dining room and there were plenty of people coming by to look at the food and to help themselves.

    5. TootsNYC

      My mother said once that just seeing all the faces at her father’s funeral was a comfort–even if she never really got to talk with them that day.

      And you never know whom you’ll be comforting. I went to the memorial service for a former colleague who died after a long battle with cancer, and several of us coworkers found ourselves bolstered and comforted and kept company by one another.

  19. Brett

    #5 A good rule of thumb when doing these “background check” kind of applications for state and local government is to do the same small amount of effort the background checker might do.

    Google the contact number for your employer (if you don’t already know it), and then call them up and try to confirm your dates of employment and your manager. If they have no exact dates but do have a manager and that manager still works for the organization, call the manager and ask if they know the dates of employment.

    Whatever your best answer is out of that, write that down. The background checker will get the same answer and you will be fine.

    If the job is with a law enforcement agency (even a non-commissioned position, but especially a commissioned position), then you need to do the extra effort of a records request from your former employer, if possible, and a credit report to try to get better dates if the employer cannot initially verify dates. Some other options are an IRS form 4506-T (free tax transcript) or Social Security form SSA-7050 (detailed earnings history, has a $136 fee). A state/local background checker will use a 4506-T to check for missing jobs but it is not useful for dates. I have never seen anyone use the SSA info in a background check, but it will have a high level of detail.

    1. TootsNYC

      I got an earnings history from the SSA in the mail as part of a records check–I think I saved it, but maybe not. Anyway, if someone gets that, it might be smart to hold onto for this reason.

    2. Crystalline (#5)

      Quite helpful, thank you so much! I wouldn’t have thought about the Social Security forms.

      I have done The Google in an effort to fill in gaps, but one of my previous employers has changed contracts, moved locations, the whole 9 yards–I did get lucky in finding my supervisor’s name on something else I’d written down ages ago, but the rest? Ugh. I’d have no problem calling the seasonal job because we left on such good terms, but the other one not so much…I guess that’s where sucking it up comes into play. LOL. Thanks for all the excellent advice!

  20. Allison

    #1, I’ll echo everyone else, don’t do this.

    If I got a resume from a perfectly qualified candidate, and their SO (or parent, or friend, or neighbor, or anyone other than a professional connection) contacted me about why I should consider them, I’ll want to do anything but that! If there were no other candidates in the running and we were desperate to hire someone, AND the candidate’s resume perfectly aligned with what we were looking for, I may want to talk to them, but reluctantly, knowing they have someone in their life who oversteps professional boundaries like this.

    In other words, if your boyfriend could get the job on his own merit, your letter will almost definitely hurt his candidacy.

    If a candidate was not qualified, a letter of recommendation from a personal connection is not going to convince us to give the person a chance.

    1. plain_jane

      This. For example, if you got into a fight with your bf, would you call up his work? Would you call them up to ask why he didn’t get a promotion/raise? To complain his manager gave him bad hours? From a manager’s perspective, you’re making him sound like more work to deal with.

  21. Case of the Mondays

    OP #4 – It seems like you know these absences are due to a second job. However, I want to caution you to not try to read too much into it when colleagues have different arrangements than yours. Equitable does not always mean equal. There are many situations where I am not allowed to share with my staff why someone has something the others don’t. For example, ADA issues. I’m not going to walk around and say “hey guys, Jane has IBS so she is going to get more breaks than the rest of you and flexibility on punctuality.” Same goes for FMLA. I’m not going to say Joe is getting more time out of the office than you because he has therapy. Also, my employer doesn’t do equal benefits across the board. At least for the professional roles (management, legal etc) they each negotiate their own contract. So, one employee might have 4 weeks vacation while the other has 3. There is a default policy but it is also negotiable at hire Jame may have less vacation time but have a higher salary than Joe for example. I won’t be disclosing those things.

    Rather, if people ask, I’ll just say that everyone has their own unique circumstances that we accommodate as required by law and when we have the means to be flexible, such as if work load allows, we will be when not required by law.

    1. Scorpio

      I completely agree with you. Many people with chronic illnesses or mental illnesses who have to leave work or take days off in order to care for themselves, and this is something everyone should consider when they jump to the conclusion that someone is “playing hooky” or taking extra breaks.

      That’s not the case here, and there is more complexity in this workplace than I laid out in my question in an effort to be concise. For instance, we recently had a new mother quit because the schedule was not flexible enough for her (even with on-site daycare). So, the double standard of flexibility has definitely come to the forefront of many of our minds.

  22. Joseph

    #5: Can anyone justify why companies even *want* the exact date? Knowing the month is completely reasonable since a resume saying you started work in 2015 could mean “Nearly two years of work experience” (January 2015) or “less than one year” (December 2015). But the day? Frankly, there isn’t much difference between “started on May 31st, 2015” and “started on May 1st, 2015” – either way, the reader is going to mentally round that off to “about a year and a half”. Is there some justification I’m missing?
    And yes, I am aware this is almost certainly an automated application/form, but *someone* had to set up the form in the first place and decide “yeah, I care about the exact day”.

    1. LBK

      I think Taleo or a similar software publisher are probably the ones making that call – most companies that do online applications aren’t coding their own, and I doubt most existing developers offer the level of customization that would let you choose whether you ask for the day or not.

      1. Anna the Accounting Grad

        Which in turn raises the question of why Taleo et al thought employers want the exact day. (I also kind of wonder if they initially wanted to ask for the start time, too, but got pushback. But then, I’m strange like that.)

        1. Turtle Candle

          Honestly, as with many software situations, the answer may be “the developer in charge of coding that part plugged in a standard date format requirement into the field on autopilot, and nobody thought to question it very hard.” A lot of weird software decisions come from that–not a deliberate choice but simply falling back on a default and not having anyone think to ask whether the default makes sense.

          It’s especially likely in a case like this where the person inconvenienced is not the person purchasing the software, because then even the customer might not notice that it’s odd.

          1. LBK

            Yeah, I’d say at least 80% of questionable programming choices boil down to “some just did it the way that made sense to them without thinking about how it would actually be used”.

            1. Emily, admin extraordinaire

              Using a date-picker makes it less likely that non-acceptable formats will be entered. If you just put an open-ended field, you could get all sorts of nonsense. At least with a date picker, you get a date, even if you don’t need to be as precise as a date-picker forces you to be.

          2. ArtK

            Yup. Poor design would be my first choice for this. Databases tend to want dates in full timestamp format (as in YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS.mmm), so be glad at least that someone isn’t asking for the exact time down to the millisecond.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      For the government (not private companies), it’s almost always in order to do a background check for your security clearance.

    3. HRish Dude

      I think Taleo is just set up to where everything inside is MM/DD/YYYY. Simpler code = less things to break.

    4. Brett

      For state and local government, exact dates can also matter for pensions. Often pension plans are shared between multiple entities (e.g. all state agencies, all school districts in a state or region, all fire departments in a region, etc), so knowing your previous employers and the exact number of credited days working with them influences how you are hired as well as your starting benefits.
      (Also, rarely, there can be laws involved if you previously worked for a registered vendor that specify a waiting period between working for that vendor and working for the agency that has a contract with them.)

      1. CMT

        Or because of their restrictive hiring requirements. When my old boss applied for a new job, she had to send HR a spreadsheet with her past experience to show them that she met the experience requirements and I believe it did come down to the day. But government is weird like that.

    5. Crystalline (#5)

      Have to say I loved your question and the resulting thread. I’ve muttered that question to myself many times now.

  23. Whats In A Name

    Before I even read #2-#5 I have to ask this question.

    Does it seem like there is an overabundance of questions in regards to significant others reaching out to their other half’s employer lately? Why on earth do people think this is OK? Is there some kind of interview training that talks about this as a strategy (kind of like the hard close we’ve talked about?)

    1. Sami

      I think it’s always a mistake to do this…but I understand the frustration you feel on behalf of family or friends who struggle in what can seem an unfair game.

    2. Stellaaaaa

      It might be a by-product of the economy and the housing market. Younger adults often can’t afford to move out of their parents’ homes unless they’re splitting rent with a partner and that gets really rough when one of the people is stuck in long-term post-college unemployment. It gets really tempting to “help” your partner get a job when the alternative is packing up and moving back in with mom.

  24. Mike B.

    #4 – I’d be very tempted just to start pushing the boundaries (the odd hour here and there, not entire last-minute vacation days) and see what happens. If your coworker indeed has not been given a special accommodation, it would appear that your manager just isn’t willing to address the situation–the entire office following your coworker’s lead might either win everyone a new perk or force your manager’s hand.

    But I wouldn’t do this before getting some clarity on what her arrangements really are, and making sure your other coworkers are on the same page about it. It wouldn’t do to discover that she has a valuable skillset you aren’t aware of and can credibly demand special treatment, or that your coworkers don’t care enough to rock the boat.

    1. Scorpio

      I think I’ve gotten what I needed – to know that this is indeed mismanaged. I have a good track record and wouldn’t risk it just to prove a point. That said, there are others in the office who may see it as worthwhile to try this out.

      1. MM

        Are you in a position to bring it directly to coworker? Sorry that managmenet is left your entire office in this position, I’d at least start recording these instances of her being given special treatment, especially when it impacts you or your other co-workers work/lives. That way if anything comes of it or it gets to the point where it really needs to be addressed by someone higher up you have a record of events.

        1. Scorpio

          Thank you. I just hate to be a tattle-tale and seem like I’m taking note of someone else’s schedule who I don’t manage. She and I are the same level employee and though I have been here longer, that’s about all the seniority I have. Although obviously it’s something I notice, I think writing it down might come off as a little extreme. The bigger issues it has caused have definitely been noticed and subsequently ignored by management.

  25. Ella

    #5– For what it’s worth, I work for the state, and have had to fill out job applications like the one you describe. I still leave off insignificant jobs, if I don’t find them relevant, and I’ve never had any problems. It may be different for you, but just wanted to contribute that. They also ask for salary history for each job, but since it’s not a required field (i.e. the form will still submit if left blank), I’ve also started leaving off that information too.

    1. Crystalline (#5)

      Thank you! I’d love to snag a state job, so that really contributed to the dose of anxiety over possibly doing it wrong. Yes, thankfully some fields are allowed to be left blank…a saving grace when I’m sitting here thinking “Well, I’m pretty sure it was more than minimum wage?”

  26. Billy

    For #5, I have a separate document that is a complete list of (almost) everything I have ever done. It helps not just for cases where the application is asking for a more thorough history than my resume, but also helps me tie my past to potential new assignments (“Teapot sorter? Well, I was on the teapot-sorting committee five years ago — they gave us thank you ribbons, so they must have liked our sorts”).

    1. Crystalline (#5)

      I’ve started doing that too! Glad I’m on the right track here. That’s a great point. I’ve written down the job descriptions so I can easily copy-paste them (since applications often have an awful habit of asking for everything at least twice) but I could see that being awfully useful for cover-letter material as well.

  27. Jeremika Xu

    #1 is such a waste of a question. There are many more important questions to be answered. UGH!

    1. LBK

      Geez, that’s kinda rude, both to the OP and to Alison. This is a free blog – she can answer whatever questions she feels like.

    2. Allison

      Rude.

      I’ll give that perhaps AAM could have answered it privately since this has been touched on before, but it is helpful to remind us all that it’s not a good idea to get involved with an SO’s job or job search.

    3. AthenaC

      Well clearly it’s not a waste since people keep asking this sort of question from time to time. That suggests to me that the principle of not interfering with a loved one’s job search is not yet universally known and thus should be communicated again. And again. And again, if necessary.

      1. Kelly L.

        Right–not everybody is going to go back through the archives, so it’s a good idea to touch on common questions sometimes (I know she does “should I follow up with the hiring manager” fairly often too). We’re not going to have duck clubs and potted plant poops every day!

      2. TootsNYC

        It reminds me of the Miss Manners perennial: “Can I ask people to give me money for my wedding instead of gifts.”

        She said once that she gets that question SO often that she feels it’s important to repeat it.

      3. Ask a Manager Post author

        Yep. Same thing with questions about following up on job applications, and a zillion other things.

        I happen to particularly like the questions like #1.

        1. KR

          This is a great comment.

          But seriously Jeremika Xu, we like to treat our OPs respectfully so that they keep asking questions.

      1. Almond Milk Latte

        I plant two new Alisons for every question of mine she answers to make sure she’s around for future generations.

    4. Crystalline (#5)

      I’m glad Alison makes those decisions and not you–someone mentioned that they were fairly sure they’d seen a question like mine before, too (as evident by the link Alison posted!), and I *have* gone through archives reading and searching for relevant material. Each question is important to the asker. Plus, she does answer several things a day, so it isn’t like you’ve been cheated out of anything. :)

    5. Stellaaaaa

      Questions like #1 are particularly helpful to the young job searchers who only visit here once or twice to get resume advice, and who make up the bulk of Alison’s visitors.

  28. Dzhymm

    OP #2: I recently interviewed a gentleman by the name of Tom Riddle. I made it a point to keep it entirely professional and not make any Harry Potter references, but my fellow interviewers just couldn’t resist the bait…

  29. Kelly

    #5 – I doubt that most employers would disqualify you because you were off on the date. This is a case where as long as you’re within the spirit of the question you should be fine, e.g. not trying to “stretch” your employment period to make it look like you worked for that employer longer than you did or trying to cover up a period of unemployment.

    1. Crystalline (#5)

      I can hope! I suppose it’s an additional worry because there are many candidates circling the same job (thanks, Indeed, for telling me 100 people have already applied) and I worry that a small mistake can easily disqualify me over someone else who didn’t have that problem. Thank you for the reassurance!

  30. AthenaC

    OP#4: To speculate for a minute, it sounds like your colleague is taking advantage of a culture mismatch. It sounds like you guys all had a culture of asking permission ahead of time, and your colleague is much more aggressively announcing her plans and asking forgiveness after the fact. Now, some work cultures if you don’t get aggressive and demanding and announce your plans as fixed and nonnegotiable, you never get PTO or whatever you need. Other work cultures (like yours, it sounds like), you need to be a bit softer and more collaborative, otherwise you come across as someone who is steamrolling everyone else.

    My first suggestion would be to have someone sit down with her and explain the culture of this office to see if that changes anything. She may be one of those people (like me) who isn’t going to pick up on the fact that she comes across that way unless someone explicitly spells it out for her. If your manager won’t do it, you can probably get away with it if you do it like a “welcome to our office” chat.

    Good luck!

    1. Scorpio

      You’re totally right! She isn’t taking advantage of the system or scamming us, she just thinks that’s how it works. She’s young and a bit immature. I’ll wait and see if she got the message on this last vacation incident.

      1. AthenaC

        If no one has said anything to her, I don’t know that I would “wait and see.” Again, hopefully she responds by saying “Oh – my bad!” and then starts giving you all advance notice of some sort.

  31. Mental Health Day

    #3 Mother’s Death

    First, I am sorry for your loss. I lost my own mother a few years back, also unexpectedly, and remember very clearly how I was treated at my own job at the time.
    What AAM says about many people not knowing what to say or how to act, that is absolutely true. And, to be honest, I think I had handled these things awkwardly in the past before my own Mother’s death. Now that I have been on the other side of things, I no longer feel awkward offering sincere condolences in person to the bereaved.
    That said, I think you’ll need to weigh the person’s reaction within the context of what you know about them personally. Certainly, on its face, their behavior does seem awkward and inappropriate.
    I know when I went through this, there were a number of individuals that i essentially “gave a pass” to over their awkwardness. For example, my own manager who sat less than 10 feet from me, simply emailed me her condolences. Initially, I was pretty taken aback by that. But, I then put it in the context of her having elderly parents with serious health issues. So I knew two things about her situation: A) she had never lost a parent, B) she was terrified of that happening very soon. After I thought about it like this, it helped me to realize that there was no malicious intent, it was just a case of this person being terrified about their own situation.
    Your mileage may vary, of course, but I would lean toward letting this go (unless you have reason to believe the person was just being obnoxious). I would only quibble with AAM’s response a bit and say I don’t think it is “some” people that that have difficulty acknowledging and dealing with death. I think it is actually most people. Doesn’t make it right, or comfortable for the bereaved, but I wouldn’t torpedo an otherwise good relationship over this.

    1. CdnAcct

      I just wanted to comment to say that I really admire how generous you are, it’s really tough to be empathetic like this when you’re in a very difficult time. For myself, I’m extremely awkward with expressing condolences to people, and always overthink it, often ending up not saying anything. If they tell me themselves it’s fine, but if I hear through other people or a department email, I’m never sure if I should say something to them, and when, if it will bring up their grief again, etc.

      It also doesn’t help that my mother has said that she really hates when people just say “I’m sorry for your loss” because she feels it’s phony – if I don’t know the person who passed, I really don’t know what else to say, but grieving can be like weddings in that everyone has their own specific preferences. I read a blogpost a couple years ago with hundreds of comments on someone saying what condolences they hated, and it just made me anxious with how many contradictory ideas are out there (in the post and the comments).

      Anyways, I’m trying to get better at this since it seems most people do get comfort from condolences.

  32. Not Karen

    #5: If you want exact dates for your records (though I agree with Alison that you don’t need them), next time an employer runs a background check, you could ask for a copy (which you are entitled to) and use the dates that show up on there.

    1. fposte

      I believe they’re only required to give you a copy if they take adverse action based on it–if they run a background check but decide they need somebody who knows Unix, they don’t have to give you the background check.

      1. Brett

        The background check normally comes after a conditional offer of employment too, so the delineation of whether or not it was a factor in the decision is more clear than other factors would be.

    2. Brett

      They only have to provided with the credit report (if one was involved), not the entire background check.
      That said, you should never fail a background check just because you had dates wrong. If you obviously concealed a job or significantly lied about your length of time at a job to pad your experience, then you would fail. The key, though, is the lack of integrity, not just making a mistake.

  33. A dominatrix

    OP #2: The advice provided is solid. I think it’s also helpful to remember that almost all sex workers use a pseudonym, and the general public understands that this is industry standard (just look at the proliferation of “find your stripper/porn name” quizzes and memes.) I would be very surprised if a potential employer googled you and came to the assumption that you were doing sex work under your real name, and that you and the dominatrix are the same person.

    1. OP#2

      Thank you, great point! I am miffed, though, that she had to pick my real name. Of all the names on the entire planet. . . .

  34. Kate

    #4, I couldn’t help feeling was none of the LW’s business. I realize s/he is irritated that someone else gets to leave early and there is a perception of picking up the slack, but it’s not clear from this letter whether the other employee had a preexisting arrangement with the employer in relation to outside commitments. It’s also not clear which job came first; if anything, it sounds like perhaps the coworker was (partially) hired away from the other role. The one thing mentioned that I agree is definitely problematic is the scheduling of vacation before time off was requested.

    As employers, we have observed this problem firsthand. When an employee with physical disabilities had a prior arrangement to enable him to leave early when he did not feel well, coworkers who had no need for special accommodations began trying to leave early all the time. The LW seems to think s/he is entitled to inside information about someone else’s schedule, or even to enjoy the same schedule, and the suggested response about how we’d all love to do other things with our time seems excessively snarky. What is reasonable is to say, “We seem to have a communication problem here. So-and-so keeps taking off at times when I expect them to be here helping me/doing this. Can you help me figure out what is going on so I can plan better?”

    1. Scorpio

      I’m LW #4 and I’ve tried to comment back to everyone who has left their input here. I do think that as this person’s backup, I am privileged to know when she won’t be in the office. This job she has is not a disability; it’s a hobby. Say…she’s called in to go teach a watercolor class in another state. So, that’s where I was coming from in saying we all have things we’d love to go do. I’m sure that came off as snarky and it’s not something I would say in talking to management. Obviously, if she had a disability or a family issues to take care of, I wouldn’t perceive her leaving without notice as a problem.

      1. DArcy

        No, you’re really not entitled to that information. As neither her manager nor your company’s HR department, it is simply not your job to judge the validity of your coworker’s other commitments, as you imply by saying, “if she had a disability or a family issues to take care of, I wouldn’t perceive her leaving without notice as a problem”. If you feel her behavior is causing a problem in the workplace, you have the right to politely and constructively bring that up with management. If you are not satisfied with management’s response, you have the right to seek employment elsewhere.

        1. Scorpio

          Yeah I mean…I feel like I should be told when she’s not going to be in if she knows ahead of time. It’s really not that difficult, especially if she’s going to take a week of vacation and leave me to do some of her work. I’m not demanding to know the details of her commitment. Just the dates.

    2. Stellaaaaa

      As employers, it’s your job to reevaluate things when a preexisting arrangement (that you thought had been totally resolved) suddenly starts becoming a problem among your whole staff. You don’t shut down the conversation by saying, “Jane and I worked this out between the two of us six months ago and therefore it can never ever be discussed again.” You say, “Hmmm, this is causing tension that we hadn’t anticipated; it is no longer just between me and Jane, but rather among the entire staff. Also, I’m going to look at whether or not Jane really has been pushing beyond the parameters we set when she was hired.”

      1. DArcy

        If you’re a boss, a manager, or an HR person, then yes, such evaluations and re-evaluations are definitely part of doing your job right. If you’re a coworker, then they are neither your responsibility nor your business.

  35. sarah

    OP #4. I do think it’s totally fine to talk to your manager about this, but I would be prepared for the answer to be “universities are weird places.” As an example, my dad works at a university, and has written into his contract that he can use up to one day per week PAID time for doing freelancing and other contract work. Yes, that’s right! He can basically get double paid for his time if he seeks out freelance-type work as long as it is somehow related to his job description (like using the same knowledge/skills). I thought this was totally nuts when I heard it, but apparently it is not all that unusual for high-level/valuable university employees, because the university has an interest in people going out and doing cool stuff with “Professor at University X” or whatever attached to that cool stuff. So, it is possible this is either something typical for the specific job title your coworker has, and/or something she negotiated. Again, universities are weird creatures!

    1. Scorpio

      You’re so right. I’ve seen things in a few years here that would be completely unacceptable or just plain WEIRD at other businesses/institutions.

  36. Audiophile

    #5 I just encountered this myself last night while applying for a job. Some of the dates , I remembered, the others, I just guessed. This wasn’t even for a state job.

    1. Crystalline

      Augh! I’m sorry. On the other hand, great timing for the question? :D Haha. Good luck to both of us nailing it down.

      (Love your name!)

  37. Ereha

    Related to the #4 response – interestingly enough for me what jumped out to me was the fact that this employee is regularly ‘double-billing’ for her time. As a self-employed person in a profession where conduct is almost entirely self-monitored this is red-flag. Essentially your arrangement with your employer is that they are paying you for your time (and presumably you’re doing work while ‘on the clock’); having two employers paying for a single amount of time is taking advantage. Now, I get that the fact that PTO is a benefit for those not self-employed but it still jumps out to me as a way of gaming the system.

    1. Scorpio

      It’s totally within your right to use your PTO as you wish. It just doesn’t look great to others when you do that type of thing which is exactly what you’re pointing out. Especially if you use up all your PTO.

  38. SSL

    For the case of the coworker using vacation time to go work at another job, go check your employee handbook if you have one. Most of the companies that I worked for (mostly large companies) all had specific policies that said you could not use paid time off if you were going to be earning money at another company during that time. If there’s not a policy then it shouldn’t be any business of the OP, other than the impact of the unplanned time off and how that negatively impacts the workload.

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