I got into a fight with my husband’s coworker over their affair, stressed out over a volunteer group at work, and more

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

1. I got into a fight with my husband’s coworker over their affair

My husband works at a restaurant, I caught that he was having an affair with one of his coworkers. I saw the all their text messages and confirmed some of it from their friends. Though I don’t know if they have a sexual relationship, I do know that they were hiding it from me and the coworker’s husband (part of the messages were “delete this conversation” or “you can’t text me right now because I’m at home”). I confronted my husband.

After three days, the girl texted me saying she was sorry, but of course I replied angrily and told her was going to tell her husband, to which she replied that if I wanted to fight, she’s down and she’ll be waiting for me at the restaurant. I told the business owner, but he did not do anything about it. I was pregnant at that time. After sometime, I went to the restaurant to eat and drink a little. We got into an argument outside and she pulled my hair and I pulled hers as well.

Can my husband be terminated because of that? It was his day off that day, and he was not there. Can she file charges against me because she’s saying I provoked her? Or can I file charges against her because I am still a customer when I was there and not just an employee’s wife?

Yes, your husband can be fired for that, and the restaurant manager might reasonably decide that she doesn’t want this kind of drama brought to work. It doesn’t matter that you were there as a customer. (And really, you can’t really credibly claim that you were just there as a customer when you’d already tried to bring the business owner into the situation anyway.)

Drop the idea about filing charges — which would be more drama — and stay away from your husband’s workplace. This is between you and him, not you and his coworkers.

2. Did my employee abuse his access to confidential pay information?

I am an HR manager and I recently reviewed one of my HR staff members. He does his work well, although there is room for improvement. I gave him a raise, well above the average, and he countered with an even higher number. There was no way I was going to agree to that number. I wanted to tell him to pound sand, but I told him I had to think about it.

He admitted that the way he came to that number was because he wanted to be closer in pay to another person in the company, who is at his same level but in another department. I feel this is an abuse of the access that he has. I discussed it with my boss, and her feeling is that it’s not an abuse because he has the clearance to view pay information. I’m curious to know what your thoughts are.

On one hand, it’s true that when someone is entrusted with confidential pay information, you need to be able to trust them not to abuse that access to use confidential info to their own advantage. On the other hand, it’s not generally realistic to expect that knowledge not to enter into their thinking at all. Plus, if someone were to use that information to point out legitimate inequities, you don’t want to discourage that.

Assuming there’s a legitimate reason for why his pay is different than his coworker’s (like different market rates for their type of work, or different responsibilities or qualifications), just explain that to him. You might as well see it as an opportunity to educate him about something he’s clearly wondering about, which is ultimately better than having the disparity gnawing away at him without him having any context for it.

3. I’m stressed out over a volunteer group at work

A teammate at work helped found an employee resource group. They sent me info on the various committees since they thought it was something I’d like to be involved with. Their goals are wonderful and I’ve love to support them, but I didn’t join because I wasn’t able to imagine being able to contribute in any way.

Fast forward a few months. Teammate tells me one of the committees needs a skill I have and that the committee leader will meet with me to discuss it. So I meet with Committee Leader and they describe the committee’s objectives. My skill didn’t seem relevant, so I ask how I can help and they didn’t really give an answer, but say they’ll send out an email with more details. I respond to the email saying I’m a little overwhelmed, and don’t know where to start or how I can help. Committee Leader says we don’t have to tackle everything at once, and can just pick one thing to start with.

It’s been a week. I haven’t responded to any of the email threads, and I’ve spent a few hours this weekend struggling to think of something to say or a way to contribute. This is taking up a lot of my time and energy just from worrying about and agonizing over it, and I feel like an idiot for not knowing how to help. (I realize I’m an adult and shouldn’t need so much hand holding, but I have high anxiety and not knowing what to do is paralyzing. Combined with my usual work stress, this is making me miserable.) I can’t just quit because I don’t want to disappoint my teammate and it’d be embarrassing.

How can I get someone to give me some actual direction? If a few weeks pass and I’m still miserable and unable to contribute, how can I quit without it being a huge embarrassment?

Well, it sounds like your coworkers just think that you’re smart and capable and maybe just want general help, and that these aren’t tasks that require specific skills but that anyone could pitch in on?

But if that’s not the case — or if you’re just not up for working that way — you could say this: “I appreciate you inviting me to join. I think the goals are the group are wonderful and I support you fully in spirit, but to be totally up-front, I’m not sure if I’m in a position to be able to be helpful in a practical sense. Is there something specific that you’re hoping I’d be able to do?”

If they want you to just pick something and dive in (which sounds like it might be the case), then you have to decide if you’re willing and comfortable to do that. If you’re not sure, you could say this: “It sounds like you’d like me to pick something and just start on it, but I think I’d need more guidance before being able to do that. I’d rather be given a specific assignment — is that possible?” Or you could say: “Jane mentioned that I have a specific skill you were interested in — can you tell me what that was and how you think I could use it?” And if you still don’t hear something concrete, you could say, “Well, if it turns out you want to give me an assignment, let me know — I’d be glad to talk if we can nail down something specific for me to work on.”

And if you want to back out entirely, you could say, “I looked over my workload and realized I’m not in a position to take on anything new right now so at least for now I don’t think I can help.”

4. Being honest in an exit interview when the boss is a very close friend

It’s possible I’ll be giving my two or three weeks’ notice at my current job within the next few days. I’ve only been in my current position for eight months. I work for a very small company (fewer than five employees) and the owner is one of my dearest friends. Although we are good friends, by my second week I knew I had made a horrible mistake by accepting her offer of employment, but quitting just wasn’t an option financially. I knew she could be difficult to work with, but what I didn’t know was how degrading, insulting, and rigid she was with her employees. Her micromanaging, manic, and overly emotional leadership style is alienating everyone in the office and we’re all pretty miserable. She has accused all of us of slacking off and taking advantage of her.

I genuinely believe her inability to successfully lead and manage her employees will keep her from reaching the business’s goals. Do I tell her as much? How honest should I be in my exit interview? There is absolutely NO chance I will ever work for her again, but as a friend I want her to be successful.

Does she take feedback well? Have you seen evidence that she’s open to self-reflection, even when it’s painful? Does she genuinely want to learn and improve herself? If the answers to those questions aren’t yes, I’d assume that being honest with her won’t end well. You might choose to do it anyway; there’s value in speaking the truth in this kind of situation, and you’re probably not sacrificing a hugely important reference if you do (you were only there eight months, and the fact that she’s a close friend makes her a pretty sketchy reference anyway) … but you’d want to be prepared for it to have ramifications for your friendship.

5. My top Google hits are tombstones

I have a common last name and an uncommon first name that was far more popular a hundred years ago. As a result, the top results when someone googles my name are entries for 19th-century women on genealogy websites and photographs of gravestones. I know it’s common for hiring managers to google job applicants, and I’m worried this will seem odd. Should I be trying to cultivate more modern search hits? Or am I being silly to worry?

I wouldn’t worry about it. It’s very unlikely that they will think you are a ghost applying from beyond the grave.

Plenty of people don’t have much of an internet presence, and hiring managers are used to seeing that (as long as you’re not in a field that places a high premium on it, like media).

{ 418 comments… read them below }

  1. WhiteBear*

    5.) Bonus points for submitting this in/around October… very well-timed and holiday appropriate :)

    1. OP #5*

      Didn’t occur to me at all. Although funnily enough my name is one that gets used as a placeholder on AAM.

  2. OP #5*

    Further complicating things is the fact that my online presence is split about 50/50 between my full name and a nickname, and I share that name not with copious amounts of long-dead women, but with somebody who got an elementary school in Missouri named after her. So if I go with one name the hits are all daguerreotype and tombstones, and with the other it’s all lunch menus and facebook posts about second graders.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It really will not matter, as long as you’re not in a field where a social media presence is part of the job (and if you were, you’d already know that).

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        Yup. I have no social media presence to speak of, and this has not hindered my current career in any way (it did hurt my writing career a bit though). In fact, I tend to think if I did have one, I wouldn’t be hired anywhere.

      2. OP #5*

        Yeah, I only added the info about the elementary school because I can’t help but be tickled at how silly a dilemma it presents.

    2. Purple Dragon*

      We have a woman who’s just started who shares a name with a fairly infamous child killer. It didn’t stop her from being employed (although I did check – the bad one is still in jail). I think tombstones makes it really obvious it’s not you so I wouldn’t worry about it.

            1. RVA Cat*

              At least Susan Smith is common enough (and enough time has passed) it takes a while for people to make the connection. I worked with someone with that name for years and she was in a very public, sales-related field with no problems.

              1. SouthernLadybug*

                It’s still very quickly connected in SC. Though everyone knows it’s just a shared name. It wouldn’t cause any issues at all.

      1. Artemesia*

        when my brother moved to a large US city to become CEO of a big company, the headlines that week were about the capture of a particularly creepy serial killer in that city who shares our quite uncommon last name. a bit awkward.

          1. Willow*

            I read an article about a guy named Dylan Roof who lived in the same town as Dylann Roof the mass murderer.

      2. Bend & Snap*

        I googled all the names we were thinking about for our baby (first + last), and our top pick turned up a teenager who killed her parents AND a porn star. That name got crossed off the list immediately.

      3. Pwyll*

        Scary. We actually had a situation where we found out that an employee’s husband shared a name with a convicted murderer. Someone mentioned it to her in passing (as in, “It must be shocking to discover he shares a name with someone like that!”)

        It really was her husband. He had served all his time and was free again, and they remained married.

    3. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      I have a bunch of genealogy results for my name, too, along with a smattering of women who are obviously not me (a classical music singer in Europe, for example, and a journalist on the other of the country). If you have things online that you want to highlight and you worry they’re getting lost – for example, you’re active on Twitter in a professional way – then you could put your Twitter handle or whatever on your resume. But you don’t have to go get active on Twitter for the sake of increasing your Google visibility. It might be an issue if the only results that came up when Googling your name were for someone in your area who had committed a terrible crime… but not an issue to just not be Google-able.

    4. Jeanne*

      You need a good resume, a good cover letter, and some decent interviewing skills. All of those are way more important than your Google results. Everyone’s name gives some obituary or geneology websites. Workplaces who google are looking to see if anything horrible about you shows at the top like abusing children. You’re fine.

      1. Mike C.*

        Yeah, the google check is really little more than a “is this person infamous for some terrible reason” check than anything else.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Hmmm, not necessarily true. When I google a candidate, I’m looking to see what I can learn, well beyond infamy! (For example, if they’ve published articles on LinkedIn, I’m going to skim some of those, etc. — it can give a sense of their professional persona in many cases.)

          1. Chaordic one*

            This is true. Back at Dysfunctional Teapots, Ltd. we had an application for an internship from a very bright and promising college student who had a double major in journalism and ? (I can’t remember what else) who had written for her college newspaper. Most of the stories were posted online and, while some of them were “meh,” there were some that demonstrated great promise.

            I wouldn’t have know this if I hadn’t googled her name. After this I advocated very strongly for her being selected. She was a great intern and I like to think that it truly was a win/win situation for her and for Dysfunctional Teapots.

      2. Kyrielle*

        Most names, anyway. I have a cousin (still too young to think of such things) who had best be super-careful what she lets build online. They have an already-unusual-ish last name, and her mother gave her an unusual first name (I think it may be unique, actually, since it’s both an unusual derivative of a word, and not spelled *exactly* the way you’d expect from the word derivation). On the one hand, by the time she is old enough for a Gmail account, her name probably *still* won’t be taken. On the other hand, the *only* hits for her on the web right now are her mother’s account where she briefly mentions her children by name.

        1. Nolan*

          I’m in the same boat, uncommon last name, no one else has that first/last combination, so most Google searche results go straight to me. I have definitely contacted people to remove my name from an embarrassing website. Thankfully all the really crazy weird stuff from when I was a teenager was under pseudonyms, though the pseudonyms themselves are also somewhat embarrassing.

        2. Kore*

          I’m in the same boat – my last name is very uncommon and my first name has an uncommon spelling, so if you search my name you just get me. There’s nothing I’m horribly embarrassed by, but everyone who googles me will know exactly how nerdy I am (mostly results from panels I’ve been on at conventions).

        3. CMT*

          I’m fairly certain I’m the only one with my First Name and Last Name in the world. Googling my name comes up with some recent stuff and results from high school sports I participated in.

          1. Relly*

            I’m in the same boat as all three of you, although in my case the last name isn’t as uncommon as the first. Put “First Last” into google, and you get about ten hits, all of which are me. I feel like I’ve found my people! :)

            This is why I object to certain online forums which ask users to use their real first names … I might as well give out my street address. If anyone has ever met me, they’re going to know it’s me.

            1. Nolan*

              Similar to the forum thing: I do volunteer staffing for a couple conventions where everyone has to wear badges to get into the venue. I never put my full name on them, just write it as Nolan G, that’s enough if someone needs to find me. But once in a while someone suggests using full names and I’m always the only one seriously concerned because my name is more easily traced back to actual me. Thankfully, I’ve got good relationships with the people in charge!

        4. (Another) B*

          My first name is unique and last is Polish and extremely long. I am the only one out there. And how I wish old teenage Myspace photos didn’t exist anymore.

    5. Daisy*

      Dead people seems like a massive advantage over being confused with a notorious contemporary, or even just a load of boring normal ones. Get out there and be the best damn Fortitude Jones this century’s seen!

      1. Fortitude Jones (formerly Christopher Tracy)*

        Get out there and be the best damn Fortitude Jones this century’s seen!

        This is my new name. Thank you.

    6. Hotel GM Guy*

      I wouldn’t worry about it, OP.

      When you Google my name, a well-known NHL player comes up because we share the same first and last names (although his last name is spelled different by one letter), and I just don’t show up at all. The entire page is stats, his wikipedia page, and new articles about him and his team.

      I’m glad I don’t live up north, though. I’ve only ever had 3 or 4 people light up and say “like the hockey player?”. I would imagine it would be much more common if I lived in a place where people followed hockey.

      1. Kit*

        I’m Canadian and desperately want to know who it is, so you’re definitely lucky you don’t live here!

        My search results are all about an American soccer player who shares my last name. It doesn’t matter at all for my industry.

        1. mskyle*

          I have an MMA fighter and a NASCAR driver who share my name but they’re both fairly low-profile. I was on top of the Google results for our shared name for a while but lately I’m pushed to the second page.

        2. Hotel GM Guy*

          I’d tell, but that would pretty much be outing myself on here, lol. Might as well just post my LinkedIn.

          They did win the Stanley cup within the past 5 years, though.

      2. Naomi*

        A friend of mine from high school has a similar situation–she shares a fairly uncommon full name with an internationally ranked tennis player.

        OP, you’re probably fine. If there’s something specific you’d like employers to find, such as related work you’ve done in your field, you can put links on your resume. But it sounds like you’re just concerned about whether your current search results will reflect badly on you, and I don’t think anyone is going to jump to the conclusion that you’ve stolen a dead person’s identity.

        1. Bibliovore*

          it must be very sad for that recent college graduate who shares my name. lots and lots of head shots of an old lady academic.

          1. lex*

            There’s a young model/actress with my rare name, she’s like 20 years younger than me and when our name is googled there are pics of my middle aged self. We do exchange the occasional email however, and it’s endlessly hilarious to me that there is an IMDB page with my name on it.

            1. SL #2*

              A musician friend of mine shares a name with a well-known tech CEO. Same common nickname and everything. They follow each other on Twitter and Tech CEO gives my friend a (joking) hard time about taking all the social media handles with their common name first so he’s stuck with things like Firstinitial_Lastname.

              And apparently, Tech CEO gets regular emails from Friend’s family asking him when he’s coming in for Thanksgiving so someone can go pick him up from the airport.

            2. mondegreen*

              I also share a name–and the first page of Google–with a minor actress (or two, unless she changed her name and look a lot over the years). Nobody has pointed out my namesake(s) in interviews, so I’m not worried for the OP.

      3. many bells down*

        I get a female professional poker player. Searches on my maiden name get a model. I am most definitely not a model, and although I enjoy poker as a game, I have no poker FACE so I’m certainly not going to play professionally.

      4. Nanani*

        If you lived in Canada pretty much all the NHL players are well known, so I bet you’d get your name misspelled his way 99% of the time.

    7. insert witty name here*

      I agree with Allison. Employers don’t care. It’s a great story to tell at parties though.

    8. Joseph*

      There are a few industries where your online presence and social media savvy matter – journalism, social media management, etc. Outside of those industries, being an online ghost is probably the best you can hope for. Because, really, what happens if you can be easily tracked by an online search?
      >Best case scenario, they find something that speaks well to your character and it helps a little, but not drastically. The company probably appreciates that you volunteer for your church and will think a bit more highly of you because of it, but they still will make their decision primarily on your merits.
      >Middle case scenario, they find things that legitimately don’t affect their decision at all. Photos of your kids/family, sports fandom, hobbies, etc all fit into this category.
      >Worst case scenario, they find things that they find questionable and mark you down for it. This could be convictions/legal issues or things which are legal but your interviewer could personally view negatively (e.g., drinking).

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Sometimes, for some companies, yes. But sometimes employers are looking at more than that, depending on the candidate — like articles you’ve published, videos of speeches you’ve given, etc. (Those obviously only come up for certain types of jobs, but I find stuff like that for candidates all the time, because of the nature of the jobs I’m hiring for.)

    9. Temperance*

      This seems like a good thing? Being untraceable online = wonderful.

      There is a woman who shares my name who is a drug addict and abusive parent, and I’m constantly worried that it might pop up on internet search results. (I regularly receive emails regarding her kid’s foster care placement.)

      1. Scotty Smalls*

        Wait? What? That seems like such s breach of privacy. They don’t have her real contact info?

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I used to get phone calls for Child Support Enforcement (my landline was one digit different). You wouldn’t believe what people said on the voice mail. One woman left her social security number! I called her back and told her she got the wrong number and it would be better just to leave her phone number so they can call her back, because DAMN.

          When I cancelled the landline, I told the CSR about this problem and he said they would retire the number so someone else didn’t get inundated with their calls.

        2. many bells down*

          I’ve had this happen too, getting emails for women who share my name. One was for some lady in Missouri’s health insurance; I assume they mis-typed the email, because that one was in my “real name” inbox. I also got a notice from Best Buy about “my” cellphone that was for another name-twin in Texas. That one was weird because it went to an email address that was like ilovepie@email.com and didn’t contain my name. I was guessing that they just clicked on the wrong Many Bells in their database.

        3. Elfie*

          My husband once got an email from some woman who obviously thought she was emailing her estranged husband. It went on and on about how she wanted to give him another chance, etc, etc. He emailed her back saying she had the wrong address; he wasn’t the Mr. Elfie that she thought he was. He never heard back. I do wonder about her, though – I hope she did have her husband’s contact details, and he hadn’t deliberately given her the wrong address.

    10. Trout 'Waver*

      This has come up before here. Because we all work with trade secrets here on a daily basis, I view a discreet web presence as a positive.

    11. Cemetery Gates*

      Mine leads to stories about the discovery of a mass burial of orphans. It has never once come up in conversation or an interview.

    12. WhichSister*

      It is one of the advantages of having a nice classic name. I recently went back to my maiden name after divorce and I also get a lot of hits for ancestry.com My first name is “old fashioned” (bibical). My last name is unusual but not as uncommon as I once believed. If you googled me father’s name you will get a college in the UK! By the way, if you googled my nickname (common for my full name) with my (former) married name which is pretty common, well you would get the personal revealing website of someone with the same name! So i am grateful for returning to my maiden name and family trees

    13. NW Mossy*

      I share a name with a yarn artisan in the UK and several US-based scientists, and it doesn’t seem to be hindering me in my completely unrelated field of endeavor. It’s fine, truly.

      1. chumpwithadegree*

        I have a very common married name and an uncommon first name. Googling my full name only brings up several toddlers in the old country, where my name is again popular.

      2. AshleyH*

        my maiden name search (which was a super common first and last name) brought back results for a college soccer player and a porn actress!

      3. Elfie*

        My maiden name is shared with a Page 3 model who supposedly had an affair with David Beckham. Which was much more interesting when I was single. Now, my married name is VERY unusual (apparently there’s only about 300 of us LastNames world-wide – there’s a cool website that shows the geographic dispersal of your surname), but I do share it with someone else who lives in the same area as me, although we’ve never met. She’s the only LastName around here that isn’t actually related to my in-laws!

    14. SimontheGreyWarden*

      Up until I got married, my oldest cousin’s wife and I had the same name (she took his last name when she got married and used her maiden name as her middle name – and her maiden name started with the same letter as my middle name, so we were both Simon T. Grey for a number of years. She was a professor and I….am now also a professor. So for a little while Google searches brought up some of my online writing posted through a college lit mag, her CV, both our facebook pages, etc. Very common first name, very uncommon last name, and it all came together that way. When I got married I didn’t change my name, I just tacked my husband’s name to the end so it’s now Simon The Grey Warden. Googling Simon Grey, Simon Warden, and Simon The Warden all bring up different results who are not me. I don’t worry about it; I don’t particularly want my students googling me and finding my sappy college poetry again.

      (names changed to protect the innocent, obviously.)

      1. Cath in Canada*

        I used to work with a prof who had a cousin with the same last name and first initial. They both worked on extremely similar things – like, they both studied teapots using a particular specialised imaging technique, but one focused on dark chocolate teapots and the other was a white chocolate specialist. And they both used to worked in the same city, although not at the same university. Trying to keep his CV up to date with all the right publications was a nightmare.

    15. Moonsaults*

      In my experience, people only google you to see if you’re a mess online or wanted in 37 states for murdering prostitutes. You really don’t need to put so much thought into it!

      If you have no online presense, that’s typical of most folks who are private citizens.

    16. Venus Supreme*

      It’s fine. Apparently I have a similar name to a famous Brazilian wrestler, so he’ll pop up in my name search. Also, my mom’s maiden name is my first name so she sometimes shows up too… Nothing embarrassing, just an unusual group of posts that make me giggle.

    17. Bonky*

      About 15 years ago, when I was pretty new in the workforce, there was a top Google hit for my name which couldn’t have been much worse: it was someone who wrote really skeevy erotica about elves.


      It worried me to death, but it never affected any of my job searches. Thankfully.

      1. Relly*

        Ahahaha I would have been tempted to show up and ask if they’d Google’d me, and then leer. “So, what do you think of … ELVES?” *Wink!*

        This is not the best response if you are actually seeking employment, though.

    18. EP*

      My top google results are both flowers, power plants, a rate my professor site, and other people’s facebooks. Only using my city & state do you get to me (and its my elance profile and my brother’s wedding website).

    19. Lily Rowan*

      I actually love that most google results on my name are dead men. At least it’s clear that’s not me!

  3. I'm not a lawyer, but ...*

    #5 all of my Google hits for my unusual name are for lawyers. Mostly living, but still. Hence my username. But no one seems to mind.

  4. Christopher Tracy*

    #1 – Lawd. The messiness of this whole situation is just too much for the workplace, and if I was the manager, I would fire your husband and the coworker, and ban all three of you from the premises.

    #3 – I too joined a small committee of colleagues at work recently at my supervisor’s suggestion and have no idea what it is they want me to do. But then again, it’s a new pet project of a work friend’s that’s in its infancy, so nobody really knows what the hell’s going on. I’m like you, OP, in that if I’m going to devote time out of my workday for stuff like this, there needs to be a clear agenda and tasks for me to take on. I don’t mind coming up with ideas for things, but it’s not my group and I’m newer and, thus, not trying to step on any toes. I think asking for direction is totally fine, and then if no one gives you any, feel free to sit back and wait. Seriously. Do not stress yourself out about something that’s not a core function of your job. This sounds like a volunteer effort, so start treating it like one. They’ll let you know when they can use you or they won’t. Reiterate your desire to be of assistance should they need it and then let it go.

    1. seejay*

      Totally agreed on #1. That’s a bucketful of dramalama waiting to tip over again and might be way messier than pulled hair and name-calling the second time around. ><

      1. Artemesia*

        me three — I would have fired both in a heartbeat.

        and #1–the person who wronged you is your husband — deal with him

      2. Anon Accountant*

        Yes I would’ve fired both employees and banned all 3 also. Issues such as this can escalate and get so much worse than hair pulling next time.

        1. Christine*

          #1 — employer does need to get rid of both. I have a girlfriend that lives in Las Vegas and she met this guy that traveled to Las Vegas on business quite a bit. Started seeing him, turned out his was married and local. She didn’t find out until his wife assaulted her in the parking lot. Confronting the other woman at the work place can blow up in your face in ways you can never imagine. I’m surprised that the manager didn’t have the wife arrested for causing a disturbance at the work place and fire both employees. I do not agree with having a relationship outside your marriage, but be smart … keep it away from where you get your paycheck.

          1. Sas*

            Actually, would disagree on both, unless you mean the wife ( I know she doesn’t work there, but she could have been taken out of there that day.) that went to the restaurant and the husband that works there. If it wasn’t for the fact that we found out that the husband cheated, there’d probably be a different consensus on the wife going to someone’s work place to start something. As someone else said, it’s the husband she should be focusing on.

    2. Parenthetically*

      Lawd, indeed, plus giant eye-roll. It’s a miracle her husband and the other woman weren’t fired on the spot and the police called. She went to the restaurant to “eat and drink a little”? Suuuuure.

      1. RVA Cat*

        Bonus points if the restaurant has a liquor license. Hoo boy this could get ugly fast. You do not want that kind of drama to escalate to broken glass and hot grease.

    3. Michelle*

      Agreeing with everyone about #1.

      OP#1- if you are reading the comments what, exactly, did you hope to accomplish by going to the restaurant to “eat and drink a little”? It sure seems like you went looking for fight and if you are/were still pregnant, why the hell would you try to fight anyone? If you keep doing stuff like that, you are going to end up with an unemployed husband.

      TRY to let it go, get some counseling and suggest your husband look for employment elsewhere.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        I’d also like to know what the expectation was related to contacting the owner — was he supposed to counsel his employees about the morality of affairs? In general, I think NOT involving your spouse’s manager in your marital affairs is a good rule of thumb. I cannot think of a situation, other than my being incapacitated and unable to come to work, in which my husband would need to say more to my boss than a friendly hello at the company picnic. I genuinely do not understand people’s contacting their spouse’s manager. The number of situations in which this is NOT unprofessional is so small that it’s almost nonexistent.

        1. Anon 12*

          When I was an HR Director I had a very senior leader come to me and tell me that one of her employees was having an affair with a married man. Employee was an outside salesperson and the love interest was some industry connection she hooked up with at trade shows. Senior Leader apparently thought HR was the morality police and that somehow this had something to do with her employment. People had weird expectations about how paternalistic employers should be when it comes to these things. Now, if there was public hair pulling involved, yes I would have fired the employee.

    4. Koko*

      Agree on #3. If this isn’t your passion, feel free to keep not replying to emails until you have something to say. In most of these scenarios it’s OK to remain on the committee and be somewhat passive/inactive. The people who really care (if they exist) will step up, and they almost never want to kick people off a committee for not participating enough. They’d rather have you contribute even one thing a year than nothing, and they aren’t losing anything by letting you stay on their email threads.

      You might even set up a separate email filter to divert messages from this committee to a special folder that you can just review once a day.

      1. OP #3*

        It’s actually related to something I volunteered for in a totally different capacity for a few years in college, so I think I’m at least somewhat passionate about it, and I do want to help. It’s just that I don’t know how to help

        Filtering the messages to a different folder if possible is a good idea so I can at least control when I’m being stressed.

        Thanks for pointing out it’s okay to be passive/inactive. I think most of the committee members are new, and I’m new, so I’m not sure how active everyone else will be yet. I may be imagining that everyone should be participating much more than is realistic.

    5. TootsNYC*

      Re: Christopher Tracy’s comment about #3 (volunteer group):

      I think you can say, “I like the goals, and I like the idea. But it’s stressing me out to have to invent activities and projects. That’s more original thinking thanI have bandwidth for here. So if you have a very specific thing that I can do, by all means ask me directly, and I’ll probably be willing and able.”

      It’s totally OK to be really specific about how you can help and what level of involvement and originating energy you want to put forth. In fact, I think it’s the considerate thing to do.

    6. Tequila Mockingbird*

      #1 reminds me of an episode of Jerry Springer.

      Honey, depending on your finances, consider leaving your husband. He is the real problem, not his coworker or her husband or their boss. His philandering will not go away – trust me – and will only get worse with time, especially if you have more children with him.

      And for God’s sake, get some counseling. Who the hell gets into a physical fight while pregnant? Have some self-respect.

    7. OP #3*

      Thanks for pointing out that I can sit back and wait if no one will give me any direction since it’s a volunteer thing and not part of my job. My brain has been going through a “What do I do?!?!?! I must do something NOW! But I’m busy with my work! What do I do?!?!?!” cycle. While I think what the group wants to accomplish is important, it shouldn’t be top priority and driving me so crazy since it’s technically optional/extra.

      1. Fortitude Jones (formerly Christopher Tracy)*

        You’re welcome! I used to do it too, believe me, so I get it.

  5. Alienor*

    Now I want to see a letter from a ghost applying from beyond the grave. “Dear AAM, I died in 1889 and feel this is hindering my job search. How do I explain the 127-year gap in my employment? Is it a positive that I won’t be using the company’s health insurance? I don’t need a chair either as I mostly just sort of hover. Please respond soonest.”

    1. PABJ*

      Or “Dear AAM, I died in 1882 and don’t feel like my coworkers are aware of how much I do around the office. Whenever I try to talk to them, no one ever responds. They never notice the small ways I help them out by moving things around to make them easier to find. They also turn up the heater way too high for my liking and still complain that they are too cold when I am around. Yesterday, one of them even hired an exorcist to get rid of me. How do I improve my standing with my living co-workers and get them to acknowledge my contributions?”

        1. Captain Radish*

          As silly as it may be, it’s an interesting thought experiment. IS there such a thing as death discrimination?

          It MAY actually come up in the not all to distant future: I was alive at one time, but after I died I had my conscience transferred into a robot. My old job doesn’t want to keep me hired due to my death. Do I have any legal standing here?

          1. Kelly L.*

            I remember this would come up sometimes in the early Anita Blake books, when they were more in the mystery genre. Somebody would get turned into a vampire and there would be legal questions about whether they got to keep their stuff or whether, because they were technically dead, their heirs inherited it.

            1. Marzipan*

              I mean, fair enough if they’re loaded. In real life, who is really going to argue with Vampire Aunt Cecily about whether she can keep her collection of china dogs, though?

          2. Retail HR Guy*

            Technically death would be a disability under the ADA since it is a condition that severely impairs the activities of daily living. However, a dead person would typically not get the protections of the ADA because they are not otherwise qualified to do most job duties even with reasonable accommodations.

            I say most because I do not want to rule out the possibility of there being jobs out there that could legitimately be performed by dead people. DMV worker, maybe?

            1. nonegiven*

              It has come to the attention of management that employees who die on the job are failing to fall down.
              Employees found dead in an upright position will be dropped from the payroll.

        2. Kassy*


          Probably depends on if your death affects the ability to do your job. Is corporeal form a bona fide job requirement?

    2. Cat steals keyboard*

      “I’m also being missed off of emails and ignored in meetings. It’s like I’m being ghosted. Do you think rattling some chains would help? I just feel so invisible. It’s like I’m dead to them.”

    3. Pot Meeting Kettle*

      Dear AAM, despite my obvious seniority I am passed over time and again for promotion or raises. In a fit of anger I went to my boss, hovered a meter above the ground, spin my head around 180 while shrieking unholy verses. Do you think that action had be bad for my professional reputation? How may I salvage things with my boss and tell him that the priests he hired is unnecessary?

        1. Kelly L.*

          Dear AAM, someone is drinking the blood I left in the fridge for my lunch…

          Dear AAM, how do I request accommodations for a medical condition that occurs every full moon…

    4. Purest Green*

      Dear AAM, I have an annoying situation. As a summonable being, I’m often pulled away from my work abruptly. As you can imagine, this impacts my productivity as I have trouble re-focusing when I come back from whatever Ouija-board summoning circle called me there. I can’t change or stop the summons, so what can I do about my performance and making sure my boss understands why this is happening?

      1. Not Karen*

        You should chat with the folks from State Form and see how they handle being summoned away from their office abruptly.

            1. Scotty Smalls*

              Oh my goodness! I can’t stop laughing. That was awesome! Insurance fanfic is a new genre for me.

        1. Hibiscus*

          Mallory Ortberg posted a link to her original ghost story on The Hairpin. I think Ghost would be a great coworker–friendly and positive!

    5. OP #5*

      Plot twist: I really am the long-dead woman in the google results, and that really is my tombstone in the photos, but I adjusted the story due to Alison’s well-known anit-apparition bias.

      1. OP #5*

        That’s anti-apparition. I died long before the invention of White Out, so don’t get me started on autocorrect.

    6. EmmaLou*

      I think they may need the medial coverage for some good counseling adjusting to this new stage of “life.” And I’d think that attempted exorcisms might leave some scorch marks to be attended to.

  6. Going anon*

    #1 – You were extremely lucky that the restaurant owner didn’t call the police on you when you were outside arguing with the coworker.

  7. lokilaufeysanon*

    I would fire both LW’s husband and the co-worker, quite frankly. Neither sound like people I would want working for me. They both need to learn not to poop where they eat, tbh. And as a boss, it would bother me that one of my employees was essentially trying to set up a fight at the workplace. Honestly, that would be something I would want to know about, and I find that such actions on the part of the co-worker shouldn’t have been ignored.

    That said, as far as the affair is concerned, the husband is the one who bears the brunt of that blame. LW1 needs to really think about if she wants to stay with him and I think he needs to find another place to work (at least if they do stay together).

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      It seems to me the husband and coworker are equally to blame and the OP reacted badly to the situation.

      Why is the husband more to blame?Whatever happened between him and the co worker they were both willingly involved, and it wasn’t him making threats, or fighting in the restaurant car park.

      1. MadGrad*

        The cheating significant other is always the one to blame in an affair. The other woman/man made no promises to the one cheated on, and has not been entrusted with their feelings or trust (friendships or other relationships with the cheated on aside). A naked supermodel could drop herself from the sky butt-first onto my boyfriend’s lap, and he would be completely blame-free in terms of our relationship so long as he does not engage. If he does, it is because he made the mental calculation in some way that satisfying his desires in that situation were worth more than my feelings or trust. It’s not about whether or not the other is a good person (whole other debate) – they are less to blame because they didn’t make the decision to betray my trust in the way the SO did. Any claims of “can’t control myself” or “it just happened” is BS. To quote Captain Awkward – if something like that “just happened” it’s because you made it happen.

        1. Stellaaaaa*

          I find the concept of blame to be misplaced in instances like this. The other woman isn’t responsible for the relationship she’s disrupting, but only a lousy person knowingly pursues a married man. He could turn her down and that woman would still be a crappy human being.

          1. MadGrad*

            Agreed. Once again though – that implies equal lousiness on both parts, because the husband also pursued/engaged with a married coworker. Plus, double-time, they both chose to cheat on their partners.

            I just think it’s always important to remember that the other person isn’t the problem – the cheating SO is. Trying to shift the blame is a natural response when you want to protect yourself, but you wouldn’t be hurt if your SO hadn’t reciprocated the cheater person’s advances. The other man/woman only exists as such because your SO followed through and made it happen. Coming to terms with this can save you a lot of heartache (and also kicks the sexist ideas of “helpless blameless dude easily seduced by awful sinful woman” in its stupid teeth) .

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              I’m always surprised at how many people disagree with this. (I’m not one of them.)

            2. Mike B.*

              The other woman/man makes a convenient scapegoat–if it’s her/his fault, after all, then the relationship must have been healthy before the affair. The wronged spouse can thus return to blissful ignorance until the next time her/his spouse is attracted to someone else. But surely that won’t happen again, right?

              Three out of the four people in #1 are being utterly tacky, and the manager would do well to wash her hands of all of them.

              1. Athenian*

                You wrote “knowingly pursues a married man”. She may not have “pursued” either him or the relationship – maye he did the oursuing? Your ording casts her int eh role of the temptress luring him into it.

                She may not have known he was married. He may have lied to her – many married men who cheat do.

                And frankly even if she did know, and did pursue him, it’s not on her to keep HIS wedding vows. The only person breaking those is him. Blaming the other woman is misogynistic bullshit.

          2. AcademiaNut*

            Psychologically, if you want to reconcile with your cheating spouse, and stay in the marriage, you’ve got to move past the feelings of anger and hurt and betrayal you have towards them. Dumping all of those feelings on the affair partner is a convenient shortcut to that – you can stay mad at them as long as you want, and it can let you sidestep the really messy and difficult emotional work of coming to terms with the fact that your partner chose to cheat on you, and what it means for your relationship. It becomes all about the evil other, and how they caused the problems.

            You can see the same thing when kids forgive their father for cheating, but hate his new wife (the affair partner) with a deep and implacable hatred.

            1. Chinook*

              There is also the fact that that the cheater will be living with the consequence of their action whereas the affair partner seems to get away from the relationship scot-free. Basically, they paid no penalty for being part of the disruption of a third party’s life and that just feels wrong to the third party.

          3. Sadsack*

            You know nothing about the coworker in this situation and, therefore, cannot judge her as a lousy person.

                1. sunny-dee*

                  She cheated on her own husband with a married man and then threatened his pregnant wife and physically attacked her when she saw her. How much more do you need to know?

        2. Isabel C.*

          Here to agree.

          I *don’t* generally get involved with people in non-open relationships, for a number of reasons, but if I did, that would be on them: my tits do not have mind control powers, last I checked. Aggressively pursuing someone in a relationship, without any indication that they’re open to that, is *tacky as fuck* (“have an SO” kind of means you start at a position of assumed disinterest, and at best should be super subtle about inquiring further), but we don’t know that was the case with the other woman, and “tacky” is not the same thing as “to blame.”

      2. Purest Green*

        The husband is 100% responsible for cheating on his wife. While I think the person who cheated on her own husband and challenged a pregnant woman to a fight is very likely to be a terrible person, she isn’t involved in the fidelity (or lack thereof) between OP and her husband.

    2. MadGrad*

      I’m just stunned and tickled (in a drama-loving trainwreck-watching way) whenever I hear stories of people challenging others to fights. ADULT PEOPLE. PLANNING TO PHYSICALLY FIGHT OTHER ADULT PEOPLE TO VENT THEIR ANGER. LIKE CHILDREN.

      Endless cringe.

      1. Panda Bandit*

        I read over that letter a few times trying to figure out if these people could possibly still be in high school.

        1. John Laurens*

          Number one! The challenge; demand satisfaction
          If they apologise no need for further action…

        2. Murphy*

          Is it because people don’t wear gloves all the time anymore? I feel like it would be easier if you could just whip a glove out and slap someone with it.

        1. Arielle*

          I asked my fiance (who is from Maine) if he thought LePage was doing a deliberate Hamilton reference. He did not think it was very funny.

      2. Julia*

        I can believe it. My new neighbours seem the type. I dread leaving my apartment or coming home now.

      3. Menacia*

        Yes, I can remember those feelings of jealousy from high school, and hormones may have made me a little nutty, but even then I certainly never fought with someone over someone else. If two people are mature, and have a good relationship, you talk it out with each other, you don’t bring in the third party because it’s NOT ABOUT THEM. Until this mentality changes, we will always have shows like Jerry Springer (and now the one by his employee Steve What’s-his-name). Even Judge Judy, whom I love, and who does not suffer fools, seems to be getting tired of calling people out on their stupidity (but it still entertains me to no end!).

      4. Mallory Janis Ian*

        We had a neighbor (a young woman in her early thirties) who challenged one of the older ladies in the neighborhood to a fight. The young woman’s children were wreaking havoc in the neighborhood, shrieking all over the place and running around in the older woman’s flower beds with complete disregard. The older neighbor went to the younger one’s house to have a polite conversation with her about keeping her children in line, and the younger woman’s response was to ask her if she’d like her a** kicked. :-0

        1. Nunya*

          Reminds me of a viking meme: “Fight me if you wish, but remember, I am old for a reason.” Older women generally have a few tricks up their sleeves that don’t require direct combat.

  8. Jeanne*

    It’s amazing to me how many people write to AAM for marriage advice. The workplace advice in the first letter barely skims the surface of what’s going on. Maybe we need tag team advice with AAM and Dear Prudence.

  9. Rebooting*

    OP1, what exactly did you expect the business owner to do? He’s not your boss, and this is business between you and your husband. He has no obligation to get involved in the business of his employee’s wife.

    1. caryatis*

      The boss probably should have done something when their employee threatened to fight someone — while on the job no less.

    2. snuck*

      Fire both of the employees for having a relationship and bringing their drama to the yard.

      Fire the other woman, for inviting violence into the workplace.

      Find two new employees who do not do drama at work.

  10. Daisy*

    1. ‘I went to the restaurant to eat and drink a little.’ Unless you genuinely live in a town with no other restaurants, shops or vending machines, this is obvious nonsense.

        1. Captain Radish*

          She could have had a hot pocket for breakfast, a hot pocket for lunch, and have been dead by dinner!

          1. Cat steals keyboard*

            And then joined the commenters above to lament her employer’s failure to accommodate her being dead.

          1. K.*

            I managed to muffle mine, but barely. This might be my favorite AAM comment, and I’ve been reading for a good five years.

        2. JB (not in Houston)*

          I’m so borrowing this line for everyday use whenever somebody has caused unnecessary personal drama at work that day.

    1. Anon Accountant*

      Agreed. It almost seems like an “ambush” where the other woman wasn’t going to say something back because she was at work and wouldn’t want to jeopardize her job.

      Maybe not the correct choice of words with ambush but I feel like the OP1 wanted to confront in a place where the other woman wouldn’t “fight back” or “tell her off” because of other customers around. Please excuse autocorrect mistakes I may have missed correcting.

      1. MashaKasha*

        Except for the part where the other woman “replied that if I wanted to fight, she’s down and she’ll be waiting for me at the restaurant”.

        No one looks good in this story.

    2. Whats In A Name*


      This happened to a friend of mine. Her husband had an affair at his restaurant job. He quit, they worked through it, it’s been 10 years since the infidelity and woman is long gone and she still refuses to go to the restaurant. Even though they moved on and arguable have an even better marriage (somehow) she sees no need in tempting old memories or reverting to the past.

    3. Anon for this*

      I’m being nitpicky, but it’s an odd thing to explain. I went to the restaurant to… What is it that people do in restaurants? Eat and drink. But it wasn’t a big deal. I went there to eat and drink a little. Not fight.

      1. Stellaaaaa*

        I was confused by the verbiage if “drink a little” when she’s pregnant. You don’t say “go out to drink” when you’re pregnant and ordering soda.

              1. LBK*

                I live in the city and I can easily picture this happening at the bar at the end of my block. There is no geography exempt from interpersonal drama.

        1. LBK*

          I was pregnant at that time. After sometime, I went to the restaurant to eat and drink a little.

          I read the “after sometime” as juxtaposing with the “at the time” in the previous sentence, implying that it had been a few weeks/months and she was no longer pregnant.

          1. Here, kitty, kitty...*

            Oh, good Lord. Generally speaking, some things should not be consumed while pregnant. Period. I *really* hope the OP was talking about club soda or something.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Nope, it’s between her and her doctor (and there are plenty of doctors and entire cultures who see no problem with a pregnant person having an occasional glass of wine, for example, although that’s not something we’re going to debate here), and it’s inappropriate for strangers to tell her what to do with her own body.

            2. Honeybee*

              Actually, research in this area shows that small amounts of alcohol are probably fine for pregnant women to consume during pregnancy. All of the studies that have been done about fetal alcohol syndrome and such have been done with women who are heavy drinkers. I’m not saying that pregnant women should go out and chug vodka, but the judginess is especially irritating because it’s based on falsehood.

      2. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

        It’s the “why tempt fate?’ argument.

        At the point the OP went down there, nothing was really resolved from her standpoint. The only reason to go in and eat is to (a) stake a claim in her husband, or (b) cause drama with the coworker.

  11. Ruth (UK)*

    5. I have a very common first name – it was the most popular name in the year of my birth and I had 4 other people of my name in my class in school (Ps. It’s not Ruth. But I use Ruth often because my great grandma, who also has an extremely common name, changed her name to Ruth when she ended up at school with 13 people of her original name).

    My surname is also common but not hugely so, but confusingly has 3 main spelling variations (think like Alison and Allison) AND can be a first name, and when it’s a first name it is a unisex one…

    Basically, there’s a person with the same first and last name as me registered at the same doctor surgery as me… And someone who has a spelling variation of my surname but otherwise has the same email as me. At work our emails are firstname.lasname@company.etc and I am firstname.lastname5… (on the upside I guess if anyone googled me, it would be clear enough I’m impossible to find among the mess of other people with my name)

  12. Dangerfield*

    OP5, as far as I can tell the only other person ever to have my combination of names is a long dead May Queen from a tiny West Country village. She has a more comprehensive online presence than I have. It’s never been a problem!

  13. SandrineSmiles (France)*

    OP 1 :

    It doesn’t matter that you were pregnant at the time. Your husband has an affair ? Confront your husband and do not engage anything/anyone else.

    You behaved childishly and I don’t see why the business owner should have done anything about it other than fire your husband AND the coworker. Seriously, what did you expect ? Also, saying you’d tell her husband ? Are you actually a five years old in disguise ?

    From what the letter is saying, you went to the restaurant KNOWING she would be there. Eat and drink ? Surely, if it was just for that, there was somewhere else to go ? Especially since your husband was not there ? No, this wasn’t innocent, you went without your husband because you thought you could do something about the whole thing, and you simply made a spectacle of yourself.

    She threatened you but yes, you provoked her by coming to the restaurant anyway. And also, I don’t suppose being an employee’s wife grants you any special status… so yeah.

    I’m really sorry for being so harsh, but this makes me really mad. I know what cheating is like, and yeah the person you’re supposed to be mad at is your SO, not the other person. Because, more often than not, the other person either has no idea or believes things will be over soon, yadda yadda yadda (been there, done that, wore the tee-shirt and paid the price) . Why would you concentrate on the other person ? Why are you not lashing out at YOUR husband and taking HIS hair out ?

    I cannot say more here because of privacy reasons, but lemme tell you, I’m quite glad things did not turn out that way for me. Because no matter what I’d have been out in a heartbeat.

    1. Temperance*

      I *do* think that the other person bears some guilt and responsibility … but I think it says a lot about a man’s (lack of) character to cheat on his pregnant wife.

      1. Captain Radish*

        I’m not convinced there was actually any cheating going on. Based on OP1’s letter, there was nothing overtly sexual going on. It could have been nothing more than OPs husband being friendly with one of his coworkers who happened to be female. I’ll admit the “delete this text” is suspicious, though.

        This is also probably painted because I think monogamy is a bit overrated, personally.

        1. Captain Radish*

          Edit, because you *can’t edit!* (Seriously, Allison, this needs fixed!)

          Having read it again, the “delete this text” and the “don’t text me at home” may simply be that the OP is nuts and her husband knows this. My wife went full paranoid every time I so much as looked at another woman, so having one that texts would probably have put her off the deep end.

          It’s not fair to the guy to have to end a friendship because of this (if this is indeed what was happening. We’ll probably never know exactly).

          1. Gandalf the Nude*

            Oh, come on. We’re supposed to take OPs at their word here. She calls it cheating, so let’s believe that for the terms of their relationship that it was cheating.

            Look, OP #1 doesn’t smell like roses here by any means, but folks here are getting awfully judgmental. Call her dramatic. Call her immature. Question her judgment. Those are all warranted. But the comments calling her trashy and looking forward to her Springer appearance are far meaner than we should be to any OP.

            1. Captain Radish*

              I rarely take anything at face value and thus have to question if “cheating” actually happened. I suppose if the OP thinks it’s cheating it IS. However, it may not be by any one else’s definition.

              1. Temperance*

                I do think the fact that the other woman flipped her lid when LW threatened to tell her husband shows that something illicit was going on, even if it wasn’t sex.

                1. Captain Radish*

                  The underlying issue is that we are only getting one side of the story. If it played out as the OP has stated, then yes I would conclude exactly the same.

                  Being a devil’s advocate dictates that we can draw no solid conclusions if there is anything questionable.

                2. Captain Radish*

                  Also, the simple fact that the OP ostensibly picked a fight with this other person signifies to me that she’s not really of the right mind to begin with.

            2. Purest Green*

              But the comments calling her trashy and looking forward to her Springer appearance are far meaner than we should be to any OP.


          2. Newby*

            To be honest, it is still a betrayal of trust if the husband did something he knew would make his wife unhappy and decided that it was ok so long as he was sneaky.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I agree–that sort of behavior can seriously erode your faith in someone. But even if OP is pathologically jealous, that is a problem they need to resolve off the employer’s clock.

          1. Captain Radish*

            I understand that, but one person’s definition of cheating is not necessarily any other persons. It could be that the OPs husband is doing nothing but being friendly with the other person (who happens to be female) and enjoys spending time with her as a friend. He could also realize that his wife is utterly paranoid and horrible (as my wife was at one time) and needs to keep the friendship on the down low because he knows his wife will royally spaz on him. Is it cheating? By her definition it is, but by any reasonable human it’s not.

            I’ll admit, I jumped to “scummy husband” with everyone else, but the OP didn’t say anything about the confrontation with the husband which makes me suspicious that this is a scenario where a reasonable human would not consider this cheating.

            1. Temperance*

              Ah I just assumed it was yet another case of “let husband off the hook, go after The Other Woman”.

              My husband has some female friends, one of whom I do not like or respect and am uncomfortable with him seeing one-on-one. He … respects that, because he knows why I dislike her, and agrees about her lack of character. There’s no friendship important enough to let it interfere in our marriage.

              1. Captain Radish*

                This could be a similar scenario to yours except the husband disagrees with his wife. Again, it’s impossible to find out unless we get OP1’s husband here, and based on the trashing she is getting I doubt we will hear from either.

                1. Relly*

                  But if he disagrees with her, he should be up front about it, and tell her that he is going to socialize with his friends regardless of her feelings. Doing it behind her back is a betrayal of her trust, so even in your devil’s-advocate position, he is not treating his wife fairly.

                  (And if she is being thoroughly unreasonable, he can choose to leave, or to confront her — that doesn’t excuse lying by omission.)

              2. Whats In A Name*

                I think your husband is handling this the right way by respecting your wishes. I think that whether you agree or not (which in your case it sounds like he does) you should have enough respect for your s/o to not “sneak” about anything – relationships, money, etc.

                I def don’t think OP is innocent in her approach, it’s easy to react in the moment as she did on the phone. But I do think over time the going to the restaurant was the wrong approach and even if nothing sexual was going on there was a secret relationship and in a strong marriage/partnership that just shouldn’t be going on.

            2. SarahTheEntwife*

              If that were the case, the coworker’s reaction really doesn’t make much sense. She all but challenged the OP to a duel and flipped out at the thought of her husband being informed.

        2. LQ*

          A marriage is an agreement where both parties agree on the terms. If they say it is cheating it is. Whatever that is. You can do what you want with your relationships but to say that someone else’s agreement of appropriate and inappropriate isn’t ok doesn’t make sense. If they say texting with someone is cheating then that is what they’ve agreed to. (Assuming the agreement was made by fully consenting adults.)

          1. Jessie*

            I think what Captain Radish may be saying is that the OP and husband perhaps did NOT actually agree – that the OP’s definition of cheating is different than the husband’s (as well as perhaps most people’s).

            But I don’t think it matters much to the advice whether he was cheating or not. Either way, this should have been an issue between the husband and the wife to work out – to go through the painful part of figuring out if there was a betrayal, or if OP has an unhealthy and/or abusive controlling and jealous streak. Needling the other woman – by going to to the restaurant to “eat and drink a little” (i.e., sneer at her) and then fight with her solves NOTHING. Whatever problem exists in the marriage is still there after the fight. Only now, the entire restaurant and every one in it thinks the OP is horrible and the OP’s husband may soon be out of a job.

      2. BPT*

        It’s not that the other person in the affair is blameless or anything. It’s that the spouse gains nothing real by focusing on the other person or blaming them. It doesn’t matter how much at fault the other person is, the OP’s quarrel should be with her husband. That is the only relationship she has any control over. (Not that she can control someone else, but she can control whether the relationship continues or her role in it.) Her husband is the one who decided to cheat on her. That’s all that she needs to focus on. The other person is just a distraction. If it wasn’t her, maybe it would have been someone else.

    2. Frumpy*

      I personally don’t see threatening to tell her husband that she is cheating on him as childish – most people never go through with it because they don’t KNOW the husband. It is a fair threat when there is an affair in the air. Being immature would be to go and tell anyone that’ll listen about her having the affair.

      It also seems clear that she went there for a fight – to me, since she went when her husband wasn’t working, she was making it so that he couldn’t intervene and stop the situation for escalating to a hair pulling fight. In theory she had every right to be there and should’ve just calmly ate her meal and left without drama – but I am sure she was running her mouth about the affair to all that’d hear.

      I am actually disgusted that she knowingly went into that restaurant, and probably instigated a fight, when she was pregnant. If I was pregnant and knew I could get my butt handed to me going to a certain restaurant, I would avoid it like the plague. This could’ve been much more violent than hair pulling, the coworker could’ve landed a solid hit to her stomach and ended her pregnancy.

      I agree with your advice that you should deal with the douche husband and nothing else – but the coworker was also the one that initiated contact with the wife (how is that ever a good idea???). After she was threatened she should’ve just called to inform the manager she was threatened (I am sure she added a tonne of drama in the story), inform the police that she was threatened, and then stay away from the restaurant.

      I really hope the manager fires both the husband and the coworker for allowing this to escalate to this point… plus banning them all from coming to the restaurant.

      1. Blue Anne*

        >I am actually disgusted that she knowingly went into that restaurant, and probably instigated a fight, when she was pregnant.

        Yes, this is the part that’s really horrifying to me.

        1. Christopher Tracy*

          My eyes seemed to have skipped over that part when I initially read it because I just did a double take and had to re-read. This is now beyond messy and into straight effed up territory.

        2. OhNo*

          I was assuming that the “Sometime later…” that preceded that meant she was no longer pregnant.
          At least, I hope so. Otherwise that’s a whole mess of wrong.

  14. Brandy in TN*

    Can you imagine being a customer going to the restuarant and seeing two women outside pulling hair and screaming??

    1. Sunshine*

      I used to work night shift next door to a strip club. Picture that scene you describe, only with sparkly bikinis and an audience.

      1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

        Try bartending in the strip club :/

        I once saw a girl get snatched so hard by her from behind that her feet came out from under her.

    2. LQ*

      This could have happened at the place I worked in high school (with high schoolers…mostly, the adults who worked day shift were fairly adult). When stuff happened the regulars thought it was hilarious. The people not from around there would leave. Quickly.

    3. periwinkle*

      Bah, amateurs. Just imagine this happening in a hospital’s pediatrics outpatient clinic.

      Our customer satisfaction scores for that month were lower than typical, if I recall correctly.

  15. Murphy*

    5) My first name is a common middle name, so if you google me you get anything and everything that clearly isn’t me. You could find me in there occasionally before I got married, but not anymore. I’m OK with this.

  16. AdAgencyChick*

    #4, if you can’t tell your friend what you think to her face, outside of an exit interview, I wouldn’t spill anything in the exit interview either.

    If there are fewer than five employees, there is no way that feedback from an exit interview can be kept truly confidential. Even if the person who takes your exit interview doesn’t mention your name, your friend will know — in a company that small, who else could it be? So then on top of any bad reaction she has to negative feedback, she will also be mad that you tried to give it to her anonymously.

    I’m not saying don’t tell her the real reason why you’re leaving — if you think she can take the feedback well because it’s coming from a friend, go for it. But don’t do it via the exit interview. If you think she’ll be upset by the feedback I’d just say in the exit interview that you found that working with a close friend turned out not to work well, and that you’re choosing to move on to a place where you can draw clearer boundaries between your work life and your personal life.

    1. Knitchic79*

      I read the letter as the exit interview was going to be with her friend.
      If I’m wrong your wording is good though. Definitely the way I’d phrase it to my coworkers when I told them I was leaving.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        Oh, you’re right. I initially read the letter and wondered, “who is even going to be doing the exit interview in a company with less than 5 employees, if it’s not her boss?”

        OP, you know your friend best. Have you had to have tough conversations with her outside of work? How did it go — was she defensive? Did she not get angry at you, even if she didn’t agree with the criticism?

        Basically, I would tell her only if you think she won’t hold it against you (although she may hold your leaving after 8 months against you, anyway). The next time you’re job hunting, people are going to call her for a reference, so I’d be wary of doing anything that permanently colors that reference.

        (That being said, if I were OP and were asked for that boss’s contact info for a reference, I’d do so with a caveat: “My stay at that job was so short in large part because I realized that our friendship was too close to sustain a working relationship, and I’m not sure she’d be the most objective reference. I’d suggest contacting Lucinda, Wakeen, and Jane instead.”)

    2. LoFlo*

      Are you sure that there will be an exit interview? If your friend complains about her business to you after you leave, you might have an opportunity to be more candid about your experiences.

      1. Ayla K*

        Seconded. I used to work at a 4-person company and there was definitely no exit interview. On my last day, they gave me some nice parting gifts (a book and gift card), wished me luck, and I walked out the door. OP4, this may be a moot point.

  17. Captain Radish*

    I’ll say the same thing to #5 that I always say when this pops up: my name generates some kind of oddball biblical “code” that supposedly can be used to generate money. I have never had issues getting a job.

        1. LQ*

          Have people been asking you for lottery numbers, or giving you seemingly random documents and asking you to find the pattern, or talking about anomalies?

          1. Captain Radish*

            Not that I have noticed. I do get emails from my boss for proofreading, though. Does that count?

            1. LQ*

              Maybe your boss is secretly trying to get the codes from you. (Also I’m weirdly replying to all your stuff today, …maybe it’s me?)

  18. Allison*

    #1 . . . Wow. Just wow.

    Look, I realize you’re upset. I’ve been cheated on, I know what it feels like to hate the other woman. He did wrong, of course, but how dare she mess around with someone she knew was committed to someone else – who does that to another woman? We’re supposed to be on the same team! You feel betrayed, and that’s understandable. Hell I won’t even fault you for contacting her. But going to the restaurant and getting into a fight? Even if she “started it”? No, not okay. It was immature, trashy, and an all-around bad decision that only made the situation much worse.

    1. Knitchic79*

      Yeah we just went through this at work. Two coworkers started a relationship, his wife and her friend cane in and chased her into the back. Fight broke up before it started, but it was high drama with side choosing and having to only take messages for them to avoid phone harassment. It’s just calmed down now months later.
      I know your hurting #1, but don’t feed the drama llama. Deal with your spouse at home and leave her and hers out of it. Ultimately you’ll happier for it.

  19. Fluke Skywalker*

    Look, you want to confront the woman your husband is cheating with, fine, whatever. But don’t do it at their workplace, because I think most bosses would fire your husband and the coworker and never let y’all back on the premises. You so obviously went there looking for a fight, then were upset when you got one. Also, are you an actual child? Because this is childish.

  20. Roscoe*

    #1 Not to justify any of their behavior, but I think you are trying to make yourself a martyr here. Yes, you were wronged intially. However to then go to HER place of employment after the issue you two had was basically provoking her at that point. Was there no other restaurant you could have gone to? Whether or not you have a right to provoke her is up for debate, but you did it. So you can’t be mad that something happened. If your husband gets fired, you will have some of the blame for that.

    #2 I get why you are upset, but you have to ask yourself is their point valid. Should they get paid more than you offered them. No matter how they came about this information, as has been pointed out on here before, if there is a legal issue with it, then you may want to consider that. Also, I wouldn’t say they breached confidential information. It is information both you and him had access to. He didn’t bring it up to someone else.

  21. eplawyer*

    LW#5, I think there is a lot of bad advice out there about how you MUST have an internet presence to be anyone these days. If you don’t have it, you are, well, dead. But, as noted by AAM and numerous other people, it really doesn’t matter. Yes, employers may google you. But they are looking for negative things. As long your mugshot doesn’t come up, or a letter about you getting into a fight outside your husband’s workplace, you are fine.

    Don’t get hung up on this because someone other than AAM told you about the importance of an online presence in your job search.

  22. Anononon*

    I have an uncommon last name, so it used to be the only Google results were me and articles abouta woman who was killed the year after I was born. However, thanks to the work I’m in now, you get pages of my legal filings when you search me.

    (I also used to be the only me on Facebook, but a woman had to go and marry a guy with my last name and change her name. :/ )

  23. Rey*

    #3, if you do decide to back out, I would strengthen the language just a little bit. Alison suggests “…so at least for now I don’t think I can help,” but I recommend taking out “I don’t think” and just saying “at least for now, I can’t help.” I’m sure this volunteer committee is great, but they do seem to be taking soft language as an opening to negotiation rather than a statement. I can see them replying to “I don’t think I can help” with “No, you totally can! Here’s how! See?”

  24. Temperance*

    Re LW #3:

    I regularly get “invited” to different committees etc. at work, because of my “skills”. Maybe your workplace isn’t like mine, but it’s always to do low-visibility, low-importance projects (like selling daffodils for Daffodil Days), and nothing that will actually benefit me whatsoever. So … I decline, every time.

    1. OP #3*

      I think it’s low-visibility, but it does seem important for the people it will help out. :]

      What the heck is a Daffodil Day for?!

      1. Loose Seal*

        I don’t know about Daffodil Day but my chain of banks has Tomato Day on the first Friday of May every year. They have hotdogs and other picnic foods to give to the customers and every customer that day gets a tomato plant. (Needless to say, everyone with even the most tenuous banking connection with them drops by that day.) They’ve been doing this my entire life and I think it’s a very cool customer appreciation day.

  25. Kriss*

    #5: of course they won’t think she’s a ghost. They’ll think she’s a vampire or an immortal a la Highlander.

    I did like that Levi’s commercial from the late 1980s to early 1990s–we hear a narrator talking about the history of Levi’s as we see old photographs across the years from the beginning of photography to the present. The photos are set up in a gallery & there is a large group of people gathering for a group portrait but we notice that the people in the group portrait are the people from the old photographs just as the narrator finishes with, “as all you vampires would remember.”

    1. jhhj*

      I don’t see why you’re discounting the possibility that they think she’s a time traveler here.

    2. SimontheGreyWarden*

      I like this idea for the most boring x-man, kind of like wolverine if he didn’t have the claws and the metal and Hugh Jackman’s face or any of the rest of it. Just living forever, drifting from one job to another when it is time to move on.

      1. OP #5*

        In the end there can be only one. I’m applying for jobs at places other highlanders work so I can destroy them, and I don’t want HR to get wind of it.

  26. Trout 'Waver*

    OP #2, You’re being unreasonable here. You have vetted this employee to be able to see everyone’s salary. Of course he’s going to see that he’s underpaid compared to other people on the same level. And of course he’s going to use that information in negotiation.

    What if his job was to compile data on your pay scale versus your local industry average to determine retention risk, and in doing his investigation he found out that he was underpaid. Would you be upset with him for using that information?

    Or flip this around. What if you were significantly underpaid and you knew it due to having access to pay information. How would you feel if your boss disciplined you for using that information in negotiating a raise?

    1. Sunflower*

      Totally agree. I normally don’t veer into this territory but I have bad vibes from the entire tone of the letter. OP calling the employee’s actions ‘abuse’, saying he wanted to tell him to ‘pound sand’ for throwing that number out there. Sure you might be thinking ‘no way’ but what exactly do you find so unreasonable about an employee asking to be paid what someone in a different dept, with the same title, makes? I presume if their work was incredibly different and that warranted the pay difference, that would be easy enough to explain to him and you wouldn’t have written this letter. Sounds a bit like the ‘you should be happy to have a job/any raise’ type of manager.

      OP, you could lose this employee if you go down this path. I really like Allison’s advice. Manager has a chance to have a conversation with the employee who clearly has this on his mind. I worry the issue is that there is no good reason that other guy makes more and now OP has some explaining to. Please listen to your boss OP. Hes right.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Yeah, I’m also confused by this. The way to get people happy with their salaries isn’t to hide them from knowing other people’s salaries or to have them pretend they don’t know other people’s salaries. The way to get them happy is to pay them a fair wage and explain why there are disparities.

      I used to be a teacher, and I can’t imagine telling a student who complains about her grade in relation to a classmate’s grade, “How dare you even mention another classmate’s grade? What an abuse of information that classmate gave you! Pound sand!” No, if the grades I gave were fair, I’d explain why she got the grade she did instead of the one she wanted but didn’t earn.

    3. Frustrated Manager*

      Hi. I’m #2. His pay rate is well within what the market dictates. The other person is in a different department, different title, different job duties, has worked for the company longer. We conduct pay scale reviews annually and do a double check at the time of the performance review. He figured that since the other person’s manager and I are the same tier management level that that makes him and the other person equals. By that logic, the receptionist is his equal too. He is exempt and the other person isn’t. Apples to oranges all around. I have had access to salaries for almost 20 years and in that time I have never looked at anyone’s salary and said “I think I should be paid what Don is getting paid because he’s a manager and I’m a manager.” My evaluations and raises are based on the fruits of my labor and that is how I evaluate and determine raises for my department. I have bounced this off of a few friends and family members, who are also managers at their companies, and most have agreed that he misused the access he has to confidential information. I posed my question to see what the masses had to say. Thanks for the feedback.

    4. snuck*

      I disagree… on a caveat.

      Just because you have system access to look something up doesn’t mean you SHOULD.

      If the employee had no reason to look up a peers pay except out of curiousity (or to further his own pay negotiations) then he should be counselled on the appropriate access to information.

      This would show a lack of understanding of business norms around what is acceptable. If he knew the peer’s pay rate out of the course of his normal duties, then fine, but if he had to look it up specifically for this negotiation then he had no business accessing that information, no “legitimate business reason” that was sound. Now… if he wanted to know, and asked… then fine… but to go searching about in the HR systems for whatever information you want to find out? No thankyou, not appropriate.

    5. Vicki*

      I would also add to OP #2 – You wanted to “tell him to pound sand”???

      You need a reality check and some training in how to be a better manager, especially if you’re in HR.

  27. Jubilance*

    #2 – Just because your HR employee has access to confidential information, that doesn’t mean that he needs to know it. I remember when I first got my security clearance, the idea of “need to know” was drilled into my head. Now in my current company, the idea “need to know” for confidential information is strongly pushed through our trainings.

    Even if you have clearance to access certain information, if you don’t have a need to know that specific information, it’s out of bounds, and that’s what your employee did. How would that other employee feel if they knew that this person now knew their salary, and only looked it up to get a raise for themselves? This needs a reprimand and the entire dept needs a refresher in handling confidential information, since even your boss is confused.

    1. LQ*

      This is what I couldn’t place my finger on. We go with “a business reason to access the information” but it is very similar. If you see information in the course of your actual job that’s different than having access to and looking up information for a nonbusiness need. Like you don’t use the DMV database to look up your daughter’s boyfriends. I know it happens in the movies, but movies aren’t real life and in real life you can and should get fired for that.

      1. Jubilance*

        This actually happened a couple of years ago here in MN – a lot of police officers were using their DMV access to look up family & friends, or random women they met (eww). Some people lost their jobs and they had to put new safeguards in place. I don’t understand why people don’t understand the concept of using your access for a legit purpose, not just to be nosy.

        1. Trout 'Waver*

          There is a constitutional right to privacy that exists between the government and private citizens that doesn’t exist within HR at a private company.

    2. Roscoe*

      There may have been a valid reason for him to know it though. That isn’t exactly clear. But in general, I assume that anyone in HR or accounting knows my salary information. He may have been putting together spreadsheets. Its not fair to assume he just went snooping for other people’s salary.

      Even still though, he could be bringing up a valid point. If this was a woman who found out somehow that she was making less than a man, I think people would be a little more understanding of why it was brought up.

    3. Kyrielle*

      If he accessed it for curiosity, I agree.

      If he accessed it in the course of doing his job (does he process payroll, or did he need to assist the other employee or that employee’s manager with something that required viewing it?) and it just stuck in his brain, that’s a different scenario and would be okay, I think. (Not to consciously say ‘gosh, I’m going to use this’ but just…some things you can’t un-know.)

    4. Trout 'Waver*

      I strongly disagree with this. The employer has access to all this information and is using it to their advantage. Why can’t the employee who has access to this information also use it in negotiation?

      As for how I personally would feel if someone knew my salary and used it for their benefit in negotiation? I would freely tell them if I thought it would help. Besides, I take it for granted that everyone in HR knows my salary whether they handle payroll or not.

      1. LQ*

        I’m all for salaries being public information, I’m less for someone using private information. If this was salary information available to everyone, or you are advocating for that I’m all for it. But for me using information you have a specific business reason to access for another reason is not ok. It could be because I work for a government agency and that would be a horrible breach of public trust, but if someone has access to my record that says I have depression in HR and then they use that to not promote me? I’m going to be JUST as furious. Even if they had a reason to see it, and even if they simply couldn’t unknow that information.

        I’m entirely for making all salary information public, talking about it a lot more. I’m not for people using information they have restricted access to in ways that are inappropriate and I think this is inappropriate.

      2. Jubilance*

        Once again, just because you have access to something doesn’t mean you should or have the right to use it.

        If the OP’s employee had gone to the other person, asked about their salary, and the other person told them – totally fine. It’s the secrecy. I bet $5 that the other person has no clue that this HR employee knows this information, or is using it to try to benefit themselves, and themselves only.

        This isn’t a case of all salaries are public, or where the HR employee is advocating for equal pay amongst all employees – they are simply trying to get a better deal for themselves, using confidential information, and that’s the part that’s wrong to me.

        1. HRish Dude*

          You’re asking for bureaucracy for bureaucracy’s sake, though. If he knows the salary information through his normal work, he shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to find out information he already knows in order to make the exact same argument.

        2. Trout 'Waver*

          It’s not confidential information to the employee in question, though. It’s information that the employer has granted him access to as part of his job.

          1. Gandalf the Nude*

            Sensitive information, then. The employer grants access to this information for specific purposes. I have access to our background check service for the purpose of screening new hires, not to investigate my online date. I have access to a company credit card for the purpose of making business-related purchases, not to float my personal expenses. I have access to the company car for the purpose of running work-related errands, not to save on my own gas money. I have access to salary information for the purpose of processing payroll, not to negotiate a better rate for myself. To use any of those tools outside their intended purpose is a betrayal of my employer’s trust when they gave me access to those things.

            1. Trout 'Waver*

              I think a better analogy would be if you were selling the company walnuts instead of labor. Let’s say you were getting $0.25 per walnut and the company was paying someone else $0.35 per walnut. You found this out from a flier they sent you for another purpose. Would you ask for $0.35 per walnut?

              Why is it any different when you’re selling labor to the company?

              1. snuck*

                Because the company didn’t send out a public flyer about paying others 0.35…

                Using your analogy…

                You are a walnut collector, you collect them for 0.25
                You see on your supervisors desk a file that says “walnut collectors pay rates” while you are sorting the time cards for him.
                You look in the file and see someone else is getting 0.35, and thus ask for a raise.

                Your job was to sort the time cards, not go reading other files about other people.
                Whether you are WORTH 0.35 isn’t the argument here, it’s whether you should be reading the pay rates file.

            2. Vicki*


              He shouldn’t publish it online. That doesn’t mean he needs to pretend he never saw it.

              People! We get “I found out that my co-worker with the same job makes more money” letters all the time. How he found out isn’t the issue. He didn’t hack the database. There’s no ethical or legal issue here.

        3. Cranston*

          I disagree that its wrong just because its restricted data that wasn’t used for purely altruistic motives. The employee has access to it and brought up a legitimate concern. Why shouldn’t he advocate for himself? If the employer takes issue with this, they can revoke his access to the data.

          Companies tend to pay as little as they can get away with. Salary transparency is the only way to be paid a fair market rate in some cases, especially for people in protected classes.

          1. snuck*

            That’s a different question though. Should my company be transparent about pay rates?

            The question here was “Should my employee use restricted information others do not have in his salary negotiation” .. without information about whether he was legitimately looking at the information.

            I would go back to “don’t base your pay request on what someone else gets, base it on what you do, and why you deserve what you are asking for”…

    5. LoFlo*

      I worked in payroll for 25 years. I got used to seeing what everybody made, and it never bother me. What somebody made was between them and his or her manager, and I don’t know the details.

      The only time I really was bothered was when I didn’t get a pay increase and was told that nobody in our division in my pay band got one either, which I knew was a lie. I didn’t pull the data, which I could easily do, but I let management know that I could. Their response was that it was not ethical for me to pull the data. mmmm what about lying to me?

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        I hear you there. Lying to employees about their pay relative to their peers has been the norm everywhere I’ve worked.

        1. LoFlo*

          What was so galling was that I reported this data to other departments as part of my job, and it wasn’t even on my manager’s radar that I did this. Needless to say, he was one of those hands off management types. Lots of other problems in the department due to his management style.

    6. Vicki*

      No, this does not need a reprimand.

      Salary information — information that is explicitly allowed to be shared by employees among themselves cannot be considered “Secure Confidential Need to Know”

  28. Tennessee INFP*

    ” It’s very unlikely that they will think you are a ghost applying from beyond the grave.” – Possibly the best advice ever given on AAM.

    1. SL #2*

      But, you know, black magic is one of many occupational hazards, so perhaps this is a ghost who was raised as a result of said black magic?

  29. ZVA*

    LW3: Something similar happened to me… A colleague asked me to take notes for my company’s safety committee meeting; I didn’t want to but felt uncomfortable saying no. When my boss found out, he told me it wasn’t a good use of my time; I emailed my colleague and said I couldn’t help him, but the next time he saw me he said “Oh it’s only an hour once a month, you’d be helping us out so much”—so I agreed again! I ended up emailing him later (again) and saying thanks but no thanks (again) and he let it drop after that. However, this caused me a lot of anxiety that—had I simply said “Thanks for thinking of me, but I don’t have time for that right now” early on—I could have avoided altogether.

    Long story short—don’t do what I did! It sounds like you can just quit, and I’m sure it won’t be as embarrassing as you think—plus, you’ll feel so much better afterwards. Just email your coworker something like Alison suggested. “I’m realizing that my workload’s too heavy to take on anything new right now, so I won’t be able to help after all. I appreciate your thinking of me!” (You can add “Apologies for any inconvenience” or something if you think it will help…)

    1. Temperance*

      Let me guess … you’re female? Because it’s silly to me that you should have to take notes at a meeting you wouldn’t have attended, but I’m guessing that Mr. Important wanted to pass the buck?

      1. ZVA*

        Yep, I’m a woman (as was the former note-taker; she wouldn’t otherwise have attended the meeting either)—and every single member of the committee at the time was a man… I have no idea why one of them couldn’t have taken the notes (I mean, I have a pretty good idea, but you know). This didn’t immediately send up a red flag for me at the time (I was fairly new to the workplace) but in hindsight it’s just absurd.

        1. SimontheGreyWarden*

          When men’s hands are writing notes, their brains can’t come up with all the important ideas. Silly woman. /s

        2. Temperance*

          It’s because their man brains are just so big that they can’t bother themselves with something so silly. ;)

    2. OP #3*

      Yes, I think I could have handled it better earlier on. Like, gotten my teammate to be specific about what my skill would be useful for and how I could help out so I’d feel more confident. Lesson learned! It’s hard to think in the moment.

  30. Nolan*

    #5, I have the opposite problem, I appear to be the only person with my name, so most Google search results relate back to me in some way. I’d love to have a bunch of useless results come up for me! Instead, when I was preparing for my last job search, I had to actively go through my results and try to scrub my name from several embarrassing sites from when I was younger (no potential employer needs to see pictures from when I used to LARP!). I never was able to get my name removed from one site, couldn’t find the admin, but I was eventually able to push it back to page 3, I don’t expect anyone to be going back that far.

    On a related note, I have heard having your Facebook page set to private is supposed to make you look bad, but it hasn’t seemed to make a difference to me. Supposedly it makes it look like you have something to hide, but I just don’t want strangers reading my posts, and I definitely don’t want them commenting on them.

      1. Nolan*

        That’s also how I feel about it. I don’t want some weird randos looking at all my stuff, and I don’t post often, or even with super personal stuff. But if someone is constantly flapping their dirty laundry around on the internet for all to see…

    1. Kelly L.*

      I have most of my stuff locked on Facebook, but I do try to have an innocuous public post once in a while. I want to create the impression of “I’m totally work-safe, but I exist!”

    2. MoinMoin*

      If I were the hiring manager and already liked you, seeing the LARPing would make me like you more, but that’s just me.

    3. OP #5*

      Re: Setting your Facebook profile to private makes you look bad: I’ve heard the opposite– that it’s wiser to lock your profile down since it’ll make it less likely embarrassing, silly, or less-than-professional posts/photos will show up when people Google you. Either way it’s moot in my case, as my Facebook account is in my nickname.

  31. Clever Name*

    OP#5- I misread the title as “trombones” instead of “tombstones” and thought wow, cool! Either way, tombstones or trombones, I really don’t think you need to worry.

  32. Parcae*

    My Google-ganger is… more recently dead. The first couple hits when you search for me (common first name, uncommon last name) are for a woman with the same name, college major, and approximate age who died in a car accident a few years ago. It’s weirdly sad, since I never met her but sort of feel like I know her.

    Anyway, I assume employers see the news articles about her death when they search for me, but no one’s ever mentioned it. What are they going to do, accuse me of stealing her identity? I don’t have much of an online presence, but a deeper dive into the Google results suggests that 1) I am a real person who is 2) not dead. For my industry, that’s good enough.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Hey, come on, please be kinder to letter writers here. (And we don’t need to judge pregnant women for what they consume. That’s between her and her doctor.)

          1. Mreasy*

            Also, she could have meant “drinking” as in, consuming a liquid beverage of any type, like what one often does alongside “eating”. But yes, what Alison said.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Y’all, let’s move on from this. We do not need to be monitoring what pregnant women consume (and this group is normally good about recognizing that, so the focus on it today surprises me)

  33. Lora*

    OP1, I am going to give you the same advice my lawyer gave me when I was getting divorced: You will never regret being civil, no matter how hard it is.

    Look, what’s done is done, so looking to the future:

    You will need your husband to have a job, whether you stay with him ultimately or not. Do not disrupt his workplace again, ever. If he needs to be served a legal summons at work, your lawyer will arrange to have that done by a service. You can’t get child support/alimony from someone who is unemployed. It is in your financial interest to have him making as much money as possible in the event that either you go to court to set child support/alimony rates or in the event that you need money for furnishing a nursery.

    Unless you are saving someone from imminent death, there is no reason to touch another adult ever who doesn’t want to be touched. If someone pulls your hair, call 911 and press assault charges.

    1. Ineloquent*

      I don’t generally pass out quotes from Confederate officers, but here goes.

      Robert E. Lee was an extraordinary military man. He attended West Point as a young man, and made it through without obtaining a single demerit. He proved his leadership in the Mexican American war, he was well loved by his troops and the civilian population alike, and he was always regarded as a perfect gentleman within society. When asked what advice he had for a young man just starting out in life, he only said ‘Deny yourself.’ To learn control over your own emotions, urges, and desires makes you a strong, unbreakable person. Those in control of themselves ultimately control the situations around them, and consequently come out on top.

      You have been put in an intolerable position. Your husband, the father of your unborn child, has been unfaithful to you, emotionally if not physically. You have every right to be enraged. But control yourself – use this anger to fuel your drive to:
      – Seek out employment, if he’s the sole provider. You want to have a financial safety net to fall back on if this doesn’t work out.
      – As calmly and rationally as you can, discuss this situation with your spouse. If possible, attend marriage counseling, either alone or together.
      – If he is unrepentant or you cannot stomach staying with him, retain a divorce attorney and work out alimony, visitation, child support, etc.
      – Take care of yourself and your little baby. You may be in a terrible position, but you need to think about that tiny life you are carrying. He/she didn’t ask for this, and he/she can’t protect themselves. You must reduce your stress, eat well, cease drinking, and stay out of all dangerous situations such as restaurant fights. I know that you probably don’t want an internet stranger telling you what you should and shouldn’t do with your baby, but you need some grounding because your world was just flipped upside down.
      – Stay away from the other woman. She will just stress you out and make you angry. No good can come from physically confronting her again. (That being said, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with reaching out to her spouse – she made her bed and she should have to lie in it now.)

      There’s a lot of piling on in this thread, and it’s not super helpful. Now that you’re a bit removed, time-wise, from the fight and the initial discovery, hopefully you’ve realized that the confrontation was a bad move. We all make mistakes, especially when we’ve had a shock, when our emotions are jacked with, and when we’re fighting for the things we care about. retreat, lick your wounds, and come up with a winning strategy. Cat fights aren’t it.

      1. Whats In A Name*

        This was a very good response. I feel bad that a lot of people are piling on OP but not actually offering useful advice. This is great.

        1. Lora*

          Yes, this.

          If you and your husband decide to split up, the best thing is to keep it civil and calm because lawyers are $$$expensive$$$ and unless you have at least $500,000 or more worth of assets to protect, a contentious divorce will cost more money than it’s worth. If you can keep it civil enough to go to mediation, that is much cheaper and only costs a couple thousand. It sounds like his co-worker intends to cause trouble, and that can only make the process much worse – don’t accept phone calls, emails, or any communications from her. There is nothing she can say that will be of any use to you. What you and your husband do is up to you and him and nobody else.

          Therapists are cheaper than lawyers. You can let all your feelings out to work through with a counselor. Otherwise, bottle it up as much as you can and be as civil and polite as possible.

          Another useful piece of advice my lawyer gave me: It’s not actually possible, in most cases, to get justice for how you have been wronged. The best you can possibly hope for is evenhanded protection and division of assets. It’s infuriating, but if you make decisions and act with that in mind – with the idea that you are trying to put your future self in the best possible position for recovery and moving forward – you will end up in a much better place.

          1. AnonAnalyst*

            “Trying to put your future self in the best possible position” seems like good advice for life in general, beyond preparing for a potential divorce.

            I’m sure it was satisfying in the moment to get into a fight with this woman outside the restaurant, but the OP seems to be recognizing some of the possible repercussions for that now, when it’s too late.

            I hope the OP can use this as a learning experience and, in future interactions, think through what response is likely to put her in the best position after the fact. It may not be the one that will feel as satisfying in the moment, but it hopefully won’t be one that leaves her with concerns of being arrested or her family losing part of its livelihood. I mean that genuinely, so I hope it doesn’t come across as condescending!

      2. Trout 'Waver*

        Robert E. Lee also has the distinction for being the only person offered command of both sides of a war, to my knowledge.

        1. Ineloquent*

          True! He sided with the Confederacy purely because he couldn’t abandon his state. He was widely recognized as a brilliant strategist, so it was a huge blow to the Union.

      3. Mreasy*

        Can we all stop assuming this mother was drinking alcohol when upon multiple readings there’s no reason to read it that way? I promise, sober people can get in fights too, particularly when they’ve been completely emotionally thrown.

        1. Pari*

          Who says they’re going out to drink when they don’t plan on consuming alcohol?

          Q:How about we go out drinking?

          A:Sorry I don’t drink.

          Q:You mean you don’t consume any liquids?

  34. a different Vicki*

    I have a relatively uncommon name, and had a bit of internet presence when fewer people were online. I got email once from someone who shared my name, after a friend of hers said something like “I didn’t know you’d been to Hong Kong, and had a tattoo.” Until then, I had thought I was the only person with that exact name.

    Some years later, when googling potential dates and employees became more of a thing, I emailed her to say “FYI, so you won’t be caught unprepared: in case someone googling asks you about being bi or polyamorous, you can tell them it’s that woman in New York who you aren’t even related to.” By now, that stuff might be swamped by photos posted by a third person who shares our name.

  35. slackr*

    Let’s not be hard on OP#1. This sounds like typical service industry drama. Probably in an establishment with most of the staff in their early 20’s. Not exactly a background of professional, businesslike behavior. I cringe remembering all the workplace fiascos I got caught up in when I was very young.
    This sounds like a chapter out of Bourdain’s book…

    1. Venus Supreme*

      I agree. I think some of the comments are leaning more towards plain mean than tough love. Trashy? Jerry Springer? Uncalled for. When we imagine ourselves in these situations, we think of ourselves at our 100%…

      We don’t know how old OP #1 is. We don’t know what her relationship with her husband is like. We don’t know what the coworker is like. We don’t have the full context. We do know her description of the fight put her in an unflattering light, and I hope further comments are not so quick to cast judgement.

      1. Anon 12*

        On the flip side, maybe it’s a good reality check to see how people react to public hair pulling between scorned wife and work affair. Seriously, you invite judgement when you do something like that and at least she’s on the other side of a computer for the feedback. I guarantee you that anybody who witnessed it, including the husband’s boss and co-workers thought worse than has been said here.

        1. Floral Laurel*

          The people who witnessed the fight probably have more context than what we’ve been given -a one-sided letter posted on a career/professional advice column. And what they’ve thought hasn’t been publicly posted online under a username for OP to read.

  36. TootsNYC*

    #3, volunteer group:

    If a few weeks pass and I’m still miserable and unable to contribute, how can I quit without it being a huge embarrassment?

    No one should ever be embarrassed to quit.

    You are totally entitled to decide how you want to spend your time, energy and attention.
    You get to choose whether to spend energy on a volunteer group, and you shouldn’t feel “huge embarrassment.”
    “I don’t want to after all.”
    You get to choose whether to date someone, whether to sit next to them on a bus, everything.

    Now–in many situations, you might benefit from giving some version of your true reasons (if, for example, you’d like to help if the conditions were right) because that might provide a solution you’d welcome.
    And almost always, you don’t want to be unnecessarily harsh, so “thanks anyway” and “sorry” are useful social tools. But they’re not actually true expressions of gratitude or apology. They’re just “soothing niceties.”

    1. Whats In A Name*

      No one should ever be embarrassed to quit.

      I was just going to write something similar – as a task that is not a part of the core function of the role the OP should not let anyone make them feel bad about wanting to focus on getting their job done over anything else.

    2. ZVA*

      +1 million to this. I totally understand the embarrassment—I’m prone to anxiety and overthinking even the smallest things—but in a case like this it’s okay to say no at any time… Like Toots said, all you have to say is “I don’t want to after all” or “Turns out this isn’t the right fit” or “I actually don’t have time in my schedule for this” or whatever else. I usually soften with “Thanks anyway” or “I appreciate your thinking of me,” and I try to be genuine about it. The important thing, though, is to know you’re doing nothing wrong!

    3. OP #3*

      Thanks for the new way of looking at it! I also feel guilty thinking about quitting (but, in your vein of thinking, I suppose I shouldn’t since they’re not entitled to my time, and if I do something it’s a favor, if I can’t then I just can’t, they’re not losing anything).

      1. Loose Seal*

        I’m gonna clue you in on how we southerners handle requests like this:

        “Aw, thanks so much for thinking of me. It’s too bad I can’t do that thing. But, really, you are so sweet just to have even thought about me.” Repeat or add similar “how kind of you!” sentences until their eyes start to glaze over.

        All said with a brilliant smile and in a very earnest tone. It’s like the compliment sandwich’s third cousin twice-removed.

  37. Diane*

    #5: Right as I graduated college and began job-searching, a story came out about a teacher with my name (my first and last, her middle and last) who slept with her underage student. Even though I had tons of published clips as a journalist, the stories about her were so new/well-trafficked that they always came up first. Nobody ever mentioned it to me during interviews or a reference check (her mug shot and age proved we were different people), but it was so awkward.

  38. Charlotte, not NC*

    Don’t fight in a restaurant. Besides all the other excellent and obvious reasons already given, you’re surrounded by hot appliances. I was in a restaurant during a fight between two line cooks, and one brought his arm down on the grill during the struggle. The whole building smelled like burning flesh.

  39. Alton*

    I have an uncommon name, and while googling me does bring up some stuff related to me, I was a little annoyed because some of the results appeared to be websites advertising illegal downloads of the show Supernatural. My name has nothing in common with the show. It was weird.

  40. Moonsaults*

    Unless you work for Jerry Springer, you need to find the proper amount of shame that you got into a hair pulling match with someone at your husband’s place of work. You’re a mother, what the actual f’.

      1. CMT*

        Thank you for pointing this out, and the pregnant woman judging that was going on, too. That’s a big reason why this place is so great! <3

  41. designbot*

    #4, I’d encourage you to say something. It will be hard for your friend to hear, but if she can manage to listen it will be to her benefit and the benefit of her employees. You’re in a unique position to be able to get through to her that the rest of the team doesn’t have, and I think if you deliver it with kindness you can salvage the friendship. You can emphasize that you think your friendship will be able to continue more easily now that you’re not one of her employees and you can be invested in her success without getting drawn into the day to day tensions of the office, which have been very stressful for you etc.

  42. Chris*

    I think some here are being overly judgmental of OP #1. Look, going to the restaurant was wrong. Fighting was really wrong. But being angry at the other woman isn’t out of bounds. She’s angry and lashing out – perhaps in inappropriate ways, but being angry at the other woman is expected normal human behavior, I would think. After all, it sounds like this just happened. She is going to need some time to get perspective on this.

    As for the husband, he should already be job searching, not because his boss may fire him, but because his job right now is to show remorse and start the long process of making her feel safe again. That can’t happen if he is working in the same place as his affair partner.

    1. Lissa*

      I think for a lot of people, it’s just that the idea of two grown adults “duking it out” is so ridiculous and outside their (our) frame of reference that it’s hard to get past that. I agree that she totally does have the right to be angry at the other woman. I just have a really hard time with the idea of two people getting into a hair-pulling physical altercation like that because I have never seen people behave that way since high school. I’d feel differently if it were “screaming match” or “angry text conversation”, I think.

  43. Qweert*

    1 Am I the only one surprised that the owner did not fire the woman as soon as op sent him the text? If I were the owner I would have zero tolerance for my employees inviting folks to duke it out in the back!

  44. Jules*

    #2 I am sharing what my boss shared with me when I first worked in a role which give me access to everyone’s pay.

    They are just numbers. If you can’t be mature and deal with it, this is not the role for you. As these confidential data goes through your hands, you need to take your emotion out of the equation or you can’t work in this role. I’ve trained multiple people since. Some can’t take it and moved on and some kept on going knowing what they know. What you need to do is be real with your employee. Why he is paid what he is paid? What can he do to get paid more? What does a superstar performer look like. What would a market pay someone like him? Is he really underpaid? If he is, you need to be his advocate.

    Playing comparison game is BS unless you are doing the same things, with the same experience and the same qualification. Are they working the same hours? On the same projects? With the same stretch targets? Don’t go to the negotiation table with, well, so and so is making XYZ, I should be making that too. AAM has multiple advice about talking about pay to your boss. Negotiating.

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      If OP #2 knows a good reason why the person in the other department is making more money, they should be prepared to state the reason. It has the potential to be very motivating to hear that Other Cowoker gets more money because they completed a certificate program or were very successful at a certain project. Because that implies the company rewards competence.

      But, in this situation, it looks like HR Employee is negotiating for a higher raise, and Op #2 is finding fault with how he knows rather than what he knows. If it truly is non-negotiable, then OP #2 should state so clearly and not punish HR Employee for attempting to negotiate. If there is a reason why HR Employee doesn’t deserve to make as much as Other Coworker, they should be prepared to state why.

      Punishing people for attempting to negotiate destroys morale. So do unexplained pay discrepancies for that matter.

    2. Frustrated Manager*

      Hi all. Thanks for weighing in. I am the one who asked question #2. The employee who I reviewed works directly for me. He is paid well within what the market is paying. We max out raises at 4% and that is what I offered. He stated that he had a degree and a few years of experience under his belt and felt he deserved more. He had taken on extra duties and received a title change months prior to his review. He countered with a 7% raise. He raised some valid points. I thought about it overnight, but still felt that his overall performance didn’t merit more than a 4% increase but I was willing to budge a little. With the change in job title and classification, he was no longer eligible for a bonus that is offered to hourly employees. I increased the raise to cover the minimum amount that he would have qualified for in the bonus program, which is something we had NOT done in the past for others. The following day I presented the new rate to him and he accepted it but I could tell he was clearly not content. I asked him what was driving him to $X and that’s when he said that Jane Doe made $X and he thought that he should be paid the same. Jane works in a completely different department. He cannot compare himself to her. They do not have the same job duties or responsibilities. His logic is that Jane’s boss and I are on the same management tier level and so then he and Jane are on the same tier level. Jane has worked for the company for at least 5 more years than he has. She has excelled at everything that she has been tasked with. She has never demanded anything and has deserved every raise she has been given. We conduct salary surveys annually and make sure ALL of our employees are paid a fairly. The next big difference is that he is exempt and she is non-exempt. Her professionalism is at a higher level than his. She is more mature than he is. I was just blown away when one day his argument was “I deserve more” and the next day it was “well so and so gets paid X and I should be paid the same.” He does a lot and the department depends on him however, if he would have threatened to quit, I would have accepted his resignation. I’m from the times of you got a new title in lieu of a raise and you only asked for more money if you could back up your request in numbers. I once had to remind a previous employer that as a result of my aggressive safety campaign and the fact that I hounded adjusters to close out old wc cases, our overall wc expense went down over $100,000 from one year to the next. That got me almost a 10% raise. People feel they are entitled nowadays.

      AAW and Jules, thanks for the feedback.

      1. LBK*

        Thanks for following up, OP! Towards the end you reference coming from something of an old school background, but I’m “new school” (in my late 20s) and your reasoning seems perfectly sound to me – nothing old school here. I don’t think anything has changed about being expected to back up your request for a raise with examples of your performance meriting it. Although I also don’t think entitled people are a new phenomenon – every generation has had to learn the ropes and train themselves how to calibrate their expectations when they’ve entered the workforce.

        This part in particular raised an eyebrow for me:

        Jane works in a completely different department. He cannot compare himself to her. They do not have the same job duties or responsibilities. His logic is that Jane’s boss and I are on the same management tier level and so then he and Jane are on the same tier level.

        It’s one thing for your employee to have an inflated perception of his performance, but this is just flat out illogical – your place on the org chart has pretty much nothing to do with your salary expectations, it’s all about your actual role. I think you did the right thing by taking the change in his compensation structure into account and meeting him in the middle. I’d explain everything you outlined here to him if you haven’t already – maybe with less direct comparison to the employee he’s comparing himself to, since you don’t want to deaden his spirits, but I’d make it clear that it’s a false equivalence to be looking at people with completely different functions in order to set his salary expectations.

  45. animaniactoo*

    Sigh. I just did my annual Google me, and thanks to the wonders of Geni.com and Ancestry the first page now pulls up me, my parents, and one sister. By the 5th page (all the results are me or related to me), you can find out where I went to high school, my current address and 2 former addresses. Although I am still incorrectly being listed in one place as living in my parents’ home that I moved out of over 20 years ago.

    I think I’d rather have tombstones come up than be so identifiable.

    1. OP #5*

      When I google my full name including my middle name the first result is a genealogy website’s entry on me, and the preview test reads “OP NUMBER FIVE, mother of zero.”

  46. OP #3*

    @ Alison/AskAManager: Thanks for answering my question and for giving me scripts to use!

    I did end up responding to some e-mails (though I don’t know if my responses were helpful or stupid–feels more like the latter at this point). I’m going to try to calm down and give it another week or two and see what happens. And then if nothing changes, I’ll use your and the commenters advice to try to get more direction, and I’ll just leave the group if I feel things aren’t going better after that.

  47. Chaordic One*

    OP #1, I had planned to give you some street fighting (and hair-pulling) tips, but since that seems to be frowned upon, I will restrain myself.

  48. Printer's Devil*

    OP #1, I don’t care how good that restaurant is, give it up and stay the F away. Don’t tempt fate. Or drama. Or dramatic fate.

  49. BlueWolf*

    I have a pretty common first and last name combo so you can’t really find me by just by name. It sure makes getting a professional email a pain since all the name options are taken. I ended up having to use my first and middle initial with my last name and some numbers.

    Also, most of the results are for a figure skater. And the crazy thing is we’re pretty close in age so we actually have a mutual friend on Facebook (I went to high school with him and then he attended the same college as her).

  50. Catalyst*

    OP#5 – I’m late to the party here, but I honestly wouldn’t worry about it. There is nothing you can do about sharing a name with others and it making it hard to find you on the internet. I share a name with an author (exact same spelling, even with my first name being spelled uncommonly) who has written over 20 books. I’m almost impossible to find in a google search because of this.

Comments are closed.